Browsing posts tagged "seo tips"

How to Build Authorship with rel=author and rel=me

April 9th, 2012 @ 9:06 am

In some of your recent Google searches you may have noticed certain entries that stand out because they have a mugshot of the author adjacent to the link, like so:

 As you can see the benefits of having this enabled are obvious- anything that makes your site stand out from the rest is going to increase CTR (click through rate) and help you rise in the rankings, so there’s no reason not to set up authorship, especially since it’s not an overly technical process.

First we need to understand how Google goes about verifying authorship, how does the algorithm know which pages belong to who? This process relies heavily on your Google+ profile, so if you haven’t already created one and fleshed it out, now would be a good time. Keep in mind that the avatar you use will be the one that shows up in the SERPs, so use a presentable one (yes, it should be a shot of your face).

Let’s go over how the ‘rel’ function works before diving into implementation. We can use rel=x when making links to specify what type of link it is and how it behaves, in our case rel=author ties our identity to the content and tells Google that a specific account is responsible for all pages linked to it, which gives us those more prominent search results. In order to use a rel tag, you can add ?rel=author to the end of a link- or if you have access to HTML you can use rel=”author” tag before the href part. By using a combination of rel=author and rel=me tags, we are telling Google to enable Authorship for certain sites and articles.

There is essentially 3 links involved in this process that Google uses to complete the handshake between your site/article and Google+ to verify that you are the owner of both. First, each article that you write must link to an author profile page on the same site using rel=author, which can be a page of your choosing but is most often either your profile page or the About page. This establishes a connection between your articles and your author profile page, but now that profile page needs to be connected to your Google+ page. To do this you should have a link to your Google+ profile from your author page using rel=me, and your Google+ profile should link back using the Contributor section.

So to summarize:

  • A link from your blog posts or articles to your author page using rel=author
  • A link from your author page to your Google+ profile using rel=me
  • A link from your Google+ profile to your author page in the Contributor section

This may seem a tad confusing if you aren’t technically inclined, but thankfully there are several options for those of you that want to make this a tad easier. Google has an alternate method using email addresses and a form that you can submit, but there are some reports of this taking longer to aggregate. There is also a WordPress Plugin called Authorsure that pretty much does all the work for you besides linking back from your Google+ account, it really streamlines everything and makes it very easy to implement properly.

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On-Page SEO in WordPress for Beginners

April 5th, 2012 @ 9:42 am

Search engine optimization is a multifaceted and complex pursuit, but it’s very easy for beginners to implement SEO best practices on their pages using WordPress because of the user friendly interface and myriad of helpful plugins- but of course these tools will do no good unless you know how to use them effectively. Today we are going to be running through the essentials of how to implement on-page SEO on your pages using WordPress and the best tools to do it with.

Basics of onpage SEO

Before we get into the specifics on optimizing pages in WordPress, we should do a quick rundown of the most important on-page factors that you should be paying attention to.

Your keyword should be present in the title, a few times in the content, and ideally in a subtitle or header as well. A lot of people overdo it and end up stuffing their keyword unnaturally, but this isn’t necessary and search engines are getting a lot smarter about this. Keyword density doesn’t have to be above %1 or so, anything above %2 is overkill. The best way to optimize for your keywords in the content is to make sure the writer is knowledgeable about the topic and uses industry terms- Google reads through your pages for certain words related to specific topics and niches and uses them to determine what your page is about. If your writer is using a lot of ‘fluff’ in their articles that isn’t on-topic or just doesn’t produce helpful content in general, you should consider getting a new one. When it comes to your money site, quality is much more important than quantity.

Choosing an SEO plugin

There is a monolithic selection of SEO WordPress plugins to choose from, but for a beginner it’s a good idea to choose one of the most trusted and reliable all in one packages that streamline the process. Here are few plugins that can serve as a complete on-page SEO solution for your web pages:

Yoast SEO – Yoast is one of the best choices for beginners because it makes the entire process very easy to understand. The presentation is very clear and it even gives you some very helpful metrics in real time as you compose your article (or paste it in) so you can constantly keep track of keyword density and whether you are following best practices (keyword in first paragraph, etc.)

All-in-One SEO – This is another full SEO solution for WordPress that many webmasters rely on- the layout is very simple and it’s easy to customize the parameters of each post individually. It also supports e-commerce sites and automatically generates META tags, it’s extremely customizable for advanced users but is still great right out of the box for beginners.

Keywords, Titles, Meta Description, and Density

Each article that you add to your website should be targeting a profitable keyword that you find during keyword research (using a service like Google Keyword Tool), preferably a long-tail that you can easily rank for. This keyword should appear in the title of your article, the URL, the Meta description, and throughout the article itself. This can be very easy or fairly tricky depending on the keyword, get creative but don’t make it obvious and force the keyword where it doesn’t seem natural. The Yoast plugin makes some great SEO suggestions under the ‘Page Analysis’ tab while it actively scans your article, which is very helpful if you aren’t perfectly clear on what search engines like to see.

If your keyword appears in all of these places and your article is authoritative and helpful, the on-page portion of your SEO is complete. Now your focus should be on link-building and outdoing your competition, try to offer your visitors something that the other pages are missing- Google pays attention to the pages that users most often click on and don’t bounce from.

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How to Pick Effective Exact Match Domain Names (EMDs)

March 29th, 2012 @ 9:28 am

While registering a domain is a very quick and easy process, there are many factors and best practices to keep in mind as you purchase web real estate in order to maximize your site’s effectiveness. The domain name is one of the primary identifiers for your site for both visitors and search engines- it should make it clear what your site is about and ideally should match the title of your website.

While it isn’t as simple as just picking something that sounds catchy and relates to your topic, it really isn’t much more complicated than that. Your only other responsibilities will be some basic keyword research and flex your marketing muscles to end up with a domain name that’s memorable and accurate for human visitors and streamlined in a way that search engines can easily identify you.

Choosing Exact Match Domains – EMDs

You’ve probably heard this phrase thrown around a lot when people start talking domains- and with good reason because it’s a very important principle that sets up an important part of your overall SEO strategy. An Exact Match Domain is a domain that contains the main keyword you are targeting in its exact form, meaning if your main keyword is “blue widget accessories” an EMD would be bluewidgetaccessories.com or something like blue-widget-accessories.net.

So what advantage does this practice give you in terms of SEO? Domain names are a big factor that search engines take into account when putting your site through their algorithm, so any keyword contained within the domain is associated with every page on your site (especially the homepage), which reinforces your sites association with the topic.

It sounds a tad confusing but it really isn’t as hard as it seems. To come up with an effective EMD for your site you need to start with a foundation of solid keyword research, use a reliable keyword analysis tool like Google Keyword Tool and make a list of viable and profitable keywords that you intend on targeting (this means keywords that have enough traffic to be profitable while having as little competition as possible). Try to put a more general term in the EMD, long tails are certainly where the low-hanging fruit is but we need our domain to fit every piece of content so it needs to be an appropriate title for your niche.

An example would clear things up. So let’s say we want to make a site about kayaking equipment and we are looking for a good EMD. After some keyword research, let’s say (for the sake of the example) that the term ‘high-end kayak gear’ is getting a good amount of traffic and that we can easily beat the competition on page one of Google. For an EMD, a good choice might be highendkayakgearreviews.com, or high-end-kayak-gear.net, or highendkayakgearblog.com. As you can see, adding a word or phrase to the beginning or end of the keyword is a great way to fit the term in the domain name if the most obvious ones are already taken. From this point on you can write a series of articles related to high-end kayaking equipment to go after some less competitive long tails while reaping the benefit of the EMD, optimizing the home page for ‘high end kayak gear’ would also be a good idea.

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Why Load Time is Important and How to Speed up Your Site

March 1st, 2012 @ 9:10 am

The time it takes for your web page to load completely is a paramount factor in both the user experience and in the eyes of the search engines. Its effect is manifold and every webmaster should concern themselves with the speed of their website to ensure that otherwise interested visitors don’t bounce away to a competitor because they got tired of the wait.

Fortunately there are many ways of optimizing elements on your webpages to make load times a lot snappier, any website owner worth their salt will make use of these techniques to reap the benefits of faster load times. Most of them are fairly simple to implement, and if you are using a CMS like WordPress there are often plugins that do all the hard work for you, just be sure to check out where they come from.

Remember- no matter how well you optimize your on-page elements, your host needs to have the resources to handle the amount of traffic you send to it or there will be bandwidth issues that slow things down. If you are anticipating a spike in traffic that your current plan can’t handle, try out a VPS hosting plan.

The effect of load time on SEO

Search engine traffic continues to be one of the most reliable sources of exposure, and optimizing your web site to rank for keywords is an important part of running a successful website. That said, the amount of time it takes for your page to load is actually a pretty big SEO factor for a few reasons.

One reason is that Google can tell how long it takes for your page to load measured in seconds, its crawlers can detect how much information your page is displaying and whether that information is properly optimized for the user. If you aren’t following standard best practices for web development then you can expect your sloppy code to show up on Google’s radar.

On top of that, if your page loads too slowly then you will see a big increase in bounce rate (users who immediately leave your site). While the obvious implication is that you are losing traffic, this problem extends even further than that. Google also keeps track of your bounce rate (you can see it in Analytics and GWT), and you can be penalized if it’s too high.

So we see that having a poorly optimized page can really sabotage us and make it impossible for your site to reach its potential, so let’s do something about it.

How to speed things up

There are a huge amount of factors that go into how fast your page loads, including your hosting, CDN (content delivery network), and on-page elements. Assuming you have chosen a reliable host and you have enough resources in place to handle your site and its traffic, let’s go through some methods to optimize all the stuff on your pages.

Images

Images are one of the bulkiest elements in terms of file size on any webpage and they are responsible for severe slowdowns if not properly handled. All images in a compatible format should be compressed (.jpg, .gif, .png is preferred due to minimal loss) using the method of your choice to minimize file size, in Photoshop you can use the ‘Save for Web’ feature to do this easily.

Also, avoid resizing your images after uploading them using HTML tags (yes- that includes the fields in WordPress image settings). No matter how small you make them using this method, the browser still has to load the full size image so it’s rather pointless. However, you should still specify the correct dimensions of your image instead of leaving the fields blank so browsers can allocate the correct amount of space to them.

Design and Coding

Poor load times are often the result of lazy coding and poorly optimized elements that can easily be fixed with a quick tweak. One of the most common issues for beginners is that their pages make too many http:// requests to outside sites for information. For example, if you grab an image from another site using its URL instead of saving it to your own server, your web page has to pull information from that URL every time the page is loaded which is much slower than hosting the file yourself. Any time you have the option of loading information from someone else’s server or saving it to your own, always go with the latter whenever possible.

Take advantage of using a cache system to serve pages- this basically saves simple static copies of your otherwise heavy and dynamically generated pages for users who haven’t interacted with your site in a significant way. WordPress users would be wise to try WP Super Cache, it’s simple to setup and the difference is absolutely noticeable.

Also, if you are using security measures on your site (https:// and SSL encryption) then you should make sure to only enable them on pages where it is necessary because encryption and certificates can greatly increase load times. Keep the security measures on payment forms and other areas where sensitive information is transferred, not on your regular content pages.

We could go on forever talking about all sorts of different factors contributing to load speed, some other good things to do are reducing cookies, using gzip compression, removing unnecessary white space, using ajax properly, staying away from flash, and moving your script tags to the bottom.

If you’ve taken all of this into account and your pages are still on the slow side, the problem could be shoddy hosting. Check out our Reseller Hosting and VPS Hosting for great load times and super reliable uptime.

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Proper Server Setup Equals Maximum SEO Potential

December 8th, 2011 @ 8:00 am

If Google has said it once they have said it a million times, having properly coded websites and properly configured servers are critical to maximizing SEO results. This is important because Google has taken the position that a site that is valued by the owner should be properly coded, and it certainly should have the basics of proper server setup. Just as page speed and proper markup gives a site an SEO bonus, so does a properly configured server that is hosting that website. This is why we have experts on staff that ensure all of our servers all properly configured, this way we know we are doing our part in enhancing your SEO.

The problem is that in a recent article by Conversation Marketing and highlighted by SEO Moz, Conversation Marketing found that only 69% of servers they tested were properly configured for some of the most basic of server functions. In fact I in a recent study of a hosting provider that advertises itself as a “boutique” hosting provider in order to justify their extra costs, it turned out that they too are far from perfect, even when testing the simplest of functions.

For example, when testing the homepage for any site the server should respond with a server response code of 200, which means everything is OK. But one site that was checked on the expensive hosting provider’s server delivered a 302 code. This is not acceptable because a 302 tells the browser that the page has been temporarily moved, but it will be back in the future, yet the page that was tested was actually present. The server should have responded with a 200 for everything is OK, or at worst a 301 which indicates a permanent redirect. A 302 is simply indicative of bad configuration.

When a non-existent page was requested at the same hosting company, it returned a 302 code. This does not make any logical sense and yet that is the code the server responded with. The server should have sent a 404 code indicating that the page does not and never did exist. This means that whenever a search engine tries to visit that site using a broken link, the search engine will think something is supposed to be there, but is not. That indicates to the search engine that there is a broken link or error on the site. On the other hand, if the server had returned a 404 error, at least the search engine would know that the error was in the originating link, not in the destination website.

All of this may sound trivial to the average SEO. But the fact is that when your competition has their sites coded properly and their servers configured properly, they have a distinct advantage over anyone that is delivering errors and incorrect codes to the search engines every time they visit the site. This is why our company has always employed experts in information technology, we know how important it is to the client to have their hosting provider always ensuring maximum up time and consistent correct server configuration.

Take the time to use our hosting service; we know how to properly configure a server. This is important for SEO and it is also important for overall server security. This concern over improper server configuration also reaches beyond the impact on SEO. Just think, if your current web host does not know how to configure the basics correctly, how are they going to maintain security on their servers should they come under attack from a hacker or other malicious software?

Our experts are exactly that, they are experts in maintaining the integrity of the server. What this means to you is that not only do you get proper configuration for SEO benefits, but you also get experts ensuring the integrity of you site, your information, and the information of your customers.

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