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4 Simple Steps to Improve Your Small Business SEO

4 Simple Steps to Improve Your Small Business SEO

You have probably noticed we’ve been talking a lot about search engine optimization (SEO) lately, but you probably don’t know why. Well, it’s partly because small business SEO is vital to the success of your business. However, we’re talking a lot about it because it’s becoming clear that most small business owners already know how important SEO is. The problem is, they try to either do it themselves or they hire that guy in some basement who sounds like he knows what he’s doing and charges less. What we’re seeing is a lot of common mistakes made that harm instead of help business’ online presence, and that results in lost revenue.

4 Simple Steps to Improve Your Small Business SEO

It should go without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway: SEO is a beast of a skill to learn. There are a million and one ways to do almost everything. Every day, someone else comes up with a fresh new hack or trick. What we teach you in this blog, are things we know work from 10 years in business and over 20 combined years of experience in the industry.

1. Use WordPress

Yes, that means a switch from Wix, Weebly, Square, Drupal, or whatever else it is you’re using and use WordPress. And if you can, we even recommend that you START with WordPress. Even if you have a small budget and those “drag and drop” sites are “cheaper.” While we know there are many web-hosting platforms, WordPress is bar-none the best for SEO. It has the ability to grow with you and your business. Here are a few things we like about WordPress:

WordPress Is Best for SEO

A big part of this is due to free plugins like Yoast. Yoast allows you to set the SEO Title, Meta Description, and URL, so they are all optimized. It also uses the Flesch Reading Ease to score the readability of your content—something that’s incredibly important. Yoast checks for duplicate content throughout the site as well. It alerts you if you have two or more pages competing for the same keyword (something you want to avoid).

We could go on and on, but we’ll leave our love for Yoast summed up in an image of pure happiness: posts with all green happy little dots. For Yoast, red is bad, orange is OK, and green is perfection.

WordPress Is Best for Design

We use WordPress exclusively. That’s in part because of the freedom it gives our designers in creating beautiful and specialized websites for our clients. If you want a beautiful and straightforward 4-page website, you got it! If you want an intricate e-commerce site, you got it! WordPress will make it easy to allow your website to grow as your business does.

2. Focus on Mobile First

A couple of years ago, Google announced it would favor mobile-friendly websites. Another term used for “mobile-friendly” is “responsive.” That means the site conforms to the size of the phone or device it’s on. The user experience on mobile is just as good, if not better than on a desktop computer. Since mobile use accounts for over 52.2% of all website traffic, you can understand why Google, and now us, puts such an emphasis on mobile. Your mobile site should load fast and be user-friendly.

A simple way you can optimize the mobile version of your website is to make sure you avoid large images.

That’s right—while the desktop version of your website has the space and storage for videos and large graphics, the phone does not.

A great example of this is the website we recently completed for Jurassic Storage, here in Eugene. On the desktop version, the site opens up with a video in the header that goes over the property. It’s fun and gives viewers a birds-eye view of the storage facility.

However, if you’re on your phone looking for a local storage unit, you’ll see a more straightforward website that still gives the consumer the information they need.
You can see with the mobile version of their site, the button is larger. In addition, the information people are after most is front and center.

3. Blog Consistently

Yes, that means you, Mr. Plumber, and local HVAC company. Every single business that wants to dominate their market online absolutely needs to be blogging. We’re not talking lifestyle blogs but educational and informative blogs that don’t just bring value to your customers but also are optimized to bring in more website traffic. More website traffic means more business. Simple as that.

When you read the 2018 State of Inbound Marketing by HubSpot, you will see that 61% of marketers say that growing their SEO and organic presence is their top priority, and 55% of marketers make blogging their second-most important priority.

Here’s a secret (that’s not a secret): You can’t have good SEO and a strong online presence without excellent and consistent content. Investing in high-quality and optimized blog posts is a wise way to spend some of that marketing budget.

Here are just a few reasons we are huge fans of blogging:

1. They keep working for you, even after you pay, unlike ads that stop working the second you stop paying.
2. You can rank for multiple keywords from one 1,000-word blog. That means one blog has the potential to bring in hundreds/thousands of website visitors you usually wouldn’t get.
3. Blogs help you build brand trust and loyalty.
4. Blogs help you convert readers to buyers.
4. Hire an Editor

We have a handful of freelance writers from all over the country who help us keep up with the demands of content. However, no matter how good they are, we forbid them (and even us here in the office) to edit their work. That’s why we have a few high-quality editors we use for all content.
While nobody is perfect and typos happen, you significantly reduce that risk by hiring a professional editor. Just like we all cringe when we see grammatical errors or typos, so does Google. So, clean up that site and make sure your grammar is top-notch.

Contact Us Today

We know all these simple steps to improve your small business SEO seem simple to us because we do it day in and day out. If you’re not feeling adventurous or, don’t have the time, reach out to us, and one of our Spyders will be happy to do the heavy lifting for you.

Don’t Make These Common Meta Description Mistakes

Don’t Make These Common Meta Description Mistakes

No one wants to invest a great deal of effort in writing content for their website only to find out that they’ve made huge mistakes in helping search engines find it. In our work developing websites and helping our clients to improve the optimization of each piece of content on their site, we’ve found there are many common mistakes when business owners try to write their own meta descriptions. In this article, we’ve outlined some of the most common meta description mistakes made and not only how to avoid them but how to publish content Google will want to show off.

What is a Meta Description?

When you search something on Google, the first page shows you the most relevant content to your search. One of the things that contribute to the popularity and relevance of one web page over another is the light grey description below the title and web address, known as the meta description. This text can be a direct quote from the page it references but ideally, the description is a carefully constructed sentence strategically formatted to get the best search results and most clicks.

There’s no law that dictates what you can and can’t put in this area. If you want to write, “this is my page, click here click here, CLICK HERE”, you absolutely can. But we guarantee that won’t convince Google to rank you higher when compared to your competitor’s pages. If you want Google to take you seriously, you’ll want to strategically formulate your description.

Length

One of the first things to consider when writing your meta description is the length. There is a limit to the number of characters that your description can contain before Google cuts it off. If you Google anything, you’ll see that half the time, a given description clearly isn’t finished, but Google finished it with an ellipsis.

Whatever the synopsis of your page says, it should be anywhere between 120-158 characters, which if you’re geeky like us, maxes out at 920 pixels.

Just so you know, these and the following words equal 158 characters. When the last word is “stop”, you’ll know that I’ve reached the maximum possible – STOP.

It’s almost nothing! That last “stop” shows exactly what Google does to your sentence. If it’s incomplete it doesn’t matter. So write carefully and pay attention, because we all know how easy it is to ramble.

Think About Your Copy

Now that you know how much to write in your meta description, the next step is to think about content. You only have a limited amount of space, so be sure to maximize it. A common mistake we see is that the meta description author does not consider their audience.

When you have a customer or a target audience, you want to understand them. You want to know the words that they respond to and use them. If you know the language that makes your audience tick, tailor that language into a readable, clickable phrase.

You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) use big words. Don’t even write out numbers, just use the symbol. In fact, using numbers or symbols in your text catches the eye and can be very useful to convince readers to click on your page rather than someone else’s.

Think about what makes you click on a page. What are the things that convince you to choose it over another? Remember these tips when creating your copy and you should be able to craft a catchy meta description with no problem:

  • Talk to your customer
  • Use compelling phrases (calls to action)
  • Use numbers/symbols
  • Keep it simple

Don’t Try to Trick Google

Common Meta Description Mistakes

Some people think they can pull one over on Google. Let’s face it, Google is smarter than all of us. Let’s not anger the A.I., shall we?

When writing your meta description, keep it similar to the content of your page. Sometimes people try to write a description that’s catchy but not really relevant to lure visitors to their site, but what they may not realize is that Google knows. Google always knows. It’s kind of like Santa in that regard. If you’re strategically honest, Google will reward you, but if you’re bad, it’ll give you coal in the form of hiding your website on page 100. So just don’t do it.

Keyword Content

A big mistake people inadvertently make is not utilizing keywords to their full advantage. If you have a blog post or a page that serves a specific purpose, it’s guaranteed to have keywords, even if you haven’t ranked for them yet.

If you have a blog about ways to lose weight, a keyword could be “weight loss”. Try to choose specific keywords based on your existing content to strategically amp up each page’s optimization through the meta description.

No Duplicates

Just because you can copy a meta description that you’ve already written, doesn’t mean that you should. Some people think that if one description is really good, it’ll be good for multiple pages. Not true. You’re just being lazy and not doing yourself any favors by having similar or repeated messages across pages on your website. By having variety, your pages will more likely come up in different searches, rather than all showing up at once.

In the end, there are many simple mistakes you can make when writing a meta description. The good news is that there are also simple solutions. If you pay attention to your audience, your content, and your keywords, you’ll be writing tantalizing meta descriptions in no time. For more tips and tricks on optimizing your website, visit our blog or better yet, talk to a Spyder.

5 White Hat SEO Techniques Anyone Can Do

5 White Hat SEO Techniques Anyone Can Do

While the terms and practices aren’t new to us, you’ve probably never heard of them. However, in a day and age where more and more businesses are being sold a lie when it comes to Search Engine Optimization, we’re finding it’s important you (the business owner) know about white hat SEO techniques.

So why are we talking about headgear accessories? What does it mean in terms of search engines? Fortunately, white hat (and its opposite, black hat) are pretty simple terms, but they cover a comprehensive attitude toward SEO and a variety of techniques geared toward that attitude.

For the record – UplinkSpyder is strictly White Hat SEO – we don’t even dabble in that grey hat that everyone else seems to. Read on.

What is White Hat SEO?

what is white hat seo

In a nutshell, white hat SEO techniques are the good guy method of Search Engine Optimization. White hat SEO follows the rules, such as Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, while still maximizing the search engine rankings of a website.

Quickly defined, “white hat” is any practice that will improve search rankings AND maintain the integrity of your website AND follow the search engine’s rules.

Why are White Hat SEO Techniques so Important?

what is white hat seo

When a webmaster, or your amazing digital marketing firm (hint hint), delivers quality content with integrity in a fast, user-friendly format, that is white hat SEO. Marketing firms that employ white hat SEO make content easy to find through the use of descriptive keywords and meta-tags.

White hat SEO is important if you want to maintain a good relationship with Google, and thereby get better rankings and standing in search engine results. If you follow the rules, i.e. the Webmaster Guidelines, and keep the search engines happy, you can climb rankings, please customers, and not get banned by Google.

Why do People Use Anything Other than White Hat SEO Techniques?

white hat seo techniques

It’s always a temptation to pick the “quick and easy” path to meet your goals, even if it leads to breaking some rules or using dishonest redirects, cloaking, etc. What a lot of people don’t like is that white hat SEO takes time. It’s natural and can be a slow process (especially for industries with lots of competition). Black hat SEO likes to speed up that process by using unethical techniques. It’s so common, unfortunately, that there’s even what some people call, “grey hat.” Grey hat is pretty much still black hat but deemed ok because “everyone else is doing it.”

Big Bad Black Hat

black hat seo techniques

Black hat SEO is the practice of using tricks and manipulation to bump up traffic and engagement but doesn’t follow quality guidelines. Black hat practitioners think that by using underhanded methods, they’ll trick users into engaging with their content or giving them traffic; they consider fast and dramatic results are more important than building a loyal customer base or a strong brand.

Digital marketers who use black hat SEO don’t consider the risks or take them seriously. What’s really heartbreaking about this is innocent, hard-working business owners will hire these marketers and pay too much, only to have their site flagged by Google. And these days a website that can’t be found online can mean death for a new business.

Some Common Black Hat SEO Tactics are:

  • Keyword Stuffing: We just don’t do this. It’s dumb. Your target keyword should only be used as it fits in the content naturally.
  • Duplicate Content (stealing it from other successful sites): We use industry-standard tools to ensure every.single.word we write for you is absolutely nowhere else on the internet.
  • Splogging: This is where so-called writers or SEO experts throw keywords in a program that spits out “content.” If you’ve ever seen content that literally makes NO SENSE – that’s what happened.
  • Paying for Backlinks: Backlinks are your friend. But paying for backlinks is like paying for friends. Just don’t do it.

Google takes extreme measures against any form of spam or dishonesty; they may block part or all of a website, or merely drop that site’s rankings in search results. This is clearly not ideal.

5 White Hat SEO Techniques

5 white hat seo techniques

At this point, hopefully, you see the advantages in knowing what the guidelines are for white hat SEO. Read on to learn the top 5 best techniques for practicing white hat SEO so you know what to look for when hiring a digital marketing firm.

1. Provide Quality Content

This is the obvious one, and the most difficult. It’s tempting to pull content from other websites or throw thin, quickly-researched content onto your site just so you have something for users to look at. Putting the time and work into creating and curating quality content for your users will reap the most benefits in the long run.

2. Research Keywords

Keywords are the best tool for finding the right demographic for your business and website. When users run a Google search for their keywords, you want the right users to find your content. In other words, the users who are most likely going to benefit from and engage with your content because they are the ones that are most likely to convert. Google’s Keyword Planner tool is extremely helpful for keyword research and your white hat SEO techniques.

3. Create Easy Navigation

Develop your website so that it is fast and easy to find specific content. Also, make sure to speed up your site’s loading times as much as possible so that users don’t have to wait impatiently. Making your site mobile-friendly is imperative so that you can engage with all of the smart device users. This will help you keep users who stumble on your site because it’s not difficult or time-consuming for them to use.

4. Follow Search Engine Policies

As mentioned earlier in this article, following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines will keep your website safe from penalties and is the mark of good white hat SEO. You and Google have this in common: you want your website visitors to be happy and to keep coming back. Following guidelines will help you do that.

5. Post Frequent Content

The more consistently you update and post on your website, the more you will build a loyal consumer base because they know they can depend on you for up-to-date and fresh information, whether it’s a blog, formatting updates, or new events or products.

So that’s the scoop on white hat SEO techniques and how you can use them to build a reputation for integrity and honesty online. UplinkSpyder can assist with any of your business’ web development or internet marketing needs. We are a full-service provider and dedicated to making our clients successful.

Getting the Most From Your Website Content

Getting the Most From Your Website Content

If you are spending time writing a blog or a page for your website, you want to make sure that people actually read it and that you get the most out of it where search engines are concerned. With that in mind, please consider the following.

Readability

The math equation in the graphic below may have already sent you running scared from this blog. But if you want to know whether your blog will actually be read by most users of your website, pay attention. Luckily, if you have MS Word, you don’t have to do any math (look at the bottom of this blog for instructions.)

The math equation is called the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score and it ensures you are writing in plain, understandable English. It’s important when writing for the web because psychologically speaking, people don’t want to do as much mental work reading your website as when reading a novel or newspaper.

In other words, keep it simple and they might stick around longer.

Readability Part 2

  1. Use white space, bullets, numbering, and good punctuation.
  2. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.
  3. Use appropriate jargon. For instance, since ours is a technology related site, I could feel safe referring to search engine optimization or readability scores.

Search Engine Optimization

You really should leave Search Engine Optimization for the most part to your experts (hey, that’s us!) but when writing content, here are a few things anyone should do:

  1. Web crawlers can’t read images so tell them what the image is and include at least one keyword.
  2. Your title is the first thing the search engines read, so think about it and put a keyword or two in there, also.
  3. The same keywords in your picture and title should also be in your text.

For instance, for this article, my title keyword is website content and my image keyword is website readability. Hey look, those keywords are now in my blog a couple times. Yay me.

Figuring your Flesch-Kincaid Readability Score

Just in case the math equation still scares you and you don’t have MS Word, here’s a simple way to figure your score:

  1. Multiply the average sentence length by 1.015
  2. Multiply the average word length by 84.6
  3. Add the two numbers
  4. Subtract that total from 206.835

You want your score to be somewhere between 60-70 generally. 0-30 is WAY too high level for the average blog. 90-100 is probably too simplistic.

Here’s how you figure your score in MS Word:

  1. Go to Word Options
  2. Choose Proofing
  3. Ensure that the grammar with spelling box is checked
  4. Select the tick box for “Show readability statistics.”

Just in case you were wondering, the readability score of this blog is 66.3. Nailed it.

Readability