• 17 Great WordPress Plugins
    19/11/14 Social Media

    17 Great WordPress Plugins

    Many websites are run on WordPress, and most likely, yours is too.  You know how, with your smartphone, you get frustrated trying to do something and find out from someone else there’s an app that does what you want? Plugins work the same way for WordPress.  They’re very simple and add a tiny piece of functionality to your website.

    The Golden Rule:  Use as Few Plugins as Possible

    When you have a plugin that does what you want, life’s good. But before you go installing plugins, it’s important to know a few things first:

    Plugins can stop your website from working.  You can get a number of different error messages that completely stop your website from loading.  This happens because many plugins are designed in non-standard ways by people who are not professional programmers.  Also, plugins can interact with each other in bizarre and unexpected ways.

    You can use the same plugin on two different websites and have it break one website but not the other.  This could be because of its interaction with other plugins or the WordPress theme.

    Most are free.  This is a good and bad thing.  On the one hand, you don’t have to pay for most plugins.  On the other, if you need technical support, it can be hard to find.

    They’re not all straightforward to use.  Many are designed by people from foreign countries who speak English as a second language.  They design good plugins, but the language barrier sometimes causes difficulties.  Even though plugins are supposed to be easy to use, sometimes that’s not always the case.

    With all that being said, it is okay to install plugins.  You just have to make sure you install ones that have a high number of good ratings from the WordPress community.  Paid ones can be better than their free counterparts, but you should still do your research on those too.

    Instead of spending hours researching which plugins work best, check out this list.  I’ve done the research for you, and these plugins are safe for your website to have:

    Backup.  Google wants websites with large amounts of content, so it’s essential you back it all up.  Backup Buddy and UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore work well.  You only need one of the two – choose your favorite.

    Anti-spam.  Have you ever visited a website, read the comments, and then wondered why you read one that has nothing to do with the conversation?  Or maybe you see comments trying to sell products.

    Those are spam comments.  The reason they’re done is to either sell something or get a link for SEO purposes.  You can start getting hundreds of these just weeks after launching your website.  WangGuard is a good one, and so is Antispam Bee.

    You could also try Akismet, which is free for personal use, and $5 per month for business use.

    Load your site faster with caching plugins.  Faster page load times get you better search rankings and more sales.  Simply put, caching stores your posts/pages as static files, rather than dynamically loading them every time someone visits your website.  These static files are then served to your visitors.  It’s faster to load your posts and pages this way.  W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache are the recognized leading cache plugins.

    SEOWordPress SEO by Yoast is the best one far and away.  It helps optimize your content for a chosen keyword.  It also shows you what your page’s title and meta description look like in the search results.  And, it checks to see how easy your content is to read, and gives simple recommendations to make it easier to read.  Search engines and website visitors will love your website’s content.

    Google XML Sitemaps makes it easy for search engine spiders to identify and access the complete structure of your website.  And every time you create a new post, it notifies all major search engines.

    Website security.  Isn’t it amazing the Heartbleed exploit has existed for more than two years and no one noticed until very recently?  Crazy in this day and age.  Some WordPress hacks are so sneaky you don’t even discover them until your users or host tells you, or you get a notice from Google saying your site hosts malware.

    You can never be too careful when considering your online security.  There’s a free and paid version of iThemes Security, which used to be known as Better WP Security.  The free version will do, and it’s fairly comprehensive.  WP Simple Firewall adds a few layers of protection when you login to prevent hackers from gaining access.  It also filters SPAM comments too.

    Social Sharing.  Social Popup is a good one for adding social sharing icons to the side of your blog posts.  Jetpack is free, and does a ton of other things in addition to social sharing.  You’ll get some simple stats about your website, be able to allow users to subscribe to your posts and comments, and you can display links to related posts at the end of your posts.

    Image Management.  Images take the longest to download.  To your users, this means pages load slower for them.  They’re more likely to leave your website if you allow your pages to load slowly.  WP Smush It reduces the size of your image files without reducing their quality.  So your visitors get two benefits:  high-quality images and faster page load times.

    Other essentials.  Google Analytics for WordPress allows you to integrate Google Analytics with ease.  You still have to go to Google Analytics to view your data, though, unless you also install Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.  Another really cool one is WordPress Heatmaps.  This actually shows you where on your website people actually click.

    WordPress has more than 30,000 plugins available, and this is a brief list of 17 helpful ones.  Choose your favorite, and enjoy a better-functioning website!

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  • Causes for Ranking Loss Identified & Successfully Remedied
    19/11/14 SEO

    Causes for Ranking Loss Identified & Successfully Remedied

    This post is about things I have identified as causes for sites not placing well since the last quarter of 2013.

    I don’t know if related to Hummingbird, or Panda/Penguin specifically, because they are things that have always been problems that could kill rankings. However, the issues did not affect the performance of the sites until October 2013, which is when they all fell off the first page into nowhere land.

    1)     Bad Backlinks – and by this I mean specifically:

    Free Directory Links – These are links on spammy, free directories. They are bad neighborhoods, because any site can be listed on them, so it’s where sites that can’t get good links go to get links, like porno sites for example. To see examples of these types of directories, all you have to do is Google “free links directory”.

    Blog Comment Links – This is where you go to a blog, make a comment and link back to your site with a keyword.

    2) Having more than one domain name pointed at your site, and it’s pointed incorrectly. Instead of it being 301 redirected, it’s 302 redirected or not redirected at all. A 301 redirect tells Google the site moved to a new domain permanently (this is the right way to do it). A 302 is temporarily moved. Google sees 302 redirects and/or no redirect at all, as two separate sites with duplicate content. They also see the non-www and www versions of your site as separate sites. For example, https://www.thetruthnetwork.com and https://www.bestdallasseo.com – When you go to https://bestdallasseo.com you will notice it redirects in the address bar to https://www.bestdallasseo.com. This is called setting your canonical url, and prevents Google from indexing both versions. Your site needs to be represented one way, either with or without the www, and under only one domain name.

    3) Having bad links (as above) on an old domain that is redirected to your site. Your current domain may not have bad links, but your old one might. And if old is redirected to new, all those bad links still count against you.

    4) Not having original content, or someone copied/stole your content. You can check this at copyscape.com.

    5) Targeting a city in your main SEO where your office is not physically located. Since Hummingbird (from what I’ve noticed), Google seems to only be serving up sites for local searches that actually have a physical location in that city. Example: you are going after Dallas as your main seo focus, but you are located in Plano. It doesn’t mean sites don’t still slip through and manage to rank without an address, but it’s an exception to the rule when it does happen (and might be because the site is very old, is being grandfathered in, or has a bunch of trust, which equates to ranking power with Google. The solution is to target the city where you actually are located, or get an executive suite address from a company like Regus.com for the main city you care about ranking for (not a UPS or postal center address or P.O. box). You’ll also need a Google+ (map listing) page for the address, and citations in the major business directories from a company like Yext.com, and BBB membership listing your address is a VERY good idea. I have written several blogs about this, which you can find at: https://www.bestdallasseo.com/free-advice/

    If you have not joined your local BBB, I suggest you do so. Here is the person to contact for the Dallas area:

    Brian Reagan | District Manager – Phone: 214-740-0343 – Email: brianreagan@dallas.bbb.org. He is VERY helpful, SEO knowledgeable (on the board of the DFWSEM) and speaks at conferences. He is interested in your success online.

    The above are major issues I have encountered recently, that once corrected have repaired rankings. Make sure they are not issues you have if you have lost your placement on Google.

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  • How to Improve Your Local Search Results
    19/11/14 SEO

    How to Improve Your Local Search Results

    Search engine optimization doesn’t have to be hard, speaking from a purely technical standpoint.  It’s mostly hard work, and just using white-hat techniques Google says to use. Sure, there are some things you can do to get more out of what you do, but just remember the bottom line when it comes to SEO:  focus on providing value to people who visit your website.

    Most small business owners are so time-strapped, that they just don’t do these basic things that could greatly improve their Google local search results:

    Consistent NAP Use

    Your name, address, and phone number (your “NAP” information) must be 100% consistent across the web.  You see, Google trusts websites and businesses that have been around longer.  They want your website to be much like your physical business location – always in the same place, and easy to find.

    One mistake you might make is to use “Suite” instead of “Ste.” when entering your NAP information online.  You can use either way, but just make sure it’s exactly the same. You can check it here to see what I mean.

    Regularly Produce Content

    Many business owners seem to understand blogging is important.  But because they’re strapped for time, you can often visit their website and see one update made 2 months ago, one 6 months prior to that, and nothing else. I’m not criticizing here (because I am also guilty), just discussing the facts.  You don’t have to go crazy with content.  About one 800-1000 word blog post per month does the job.  But, the more you do, the better.

    And if you want to get highly active social media profiles and build a community that comments on your blog, you’re going to need several blog posts per month.

    Have a Nice, Clean, Modern-Looking Website

    This is important for SEO for a few reasons:

    If your website looks too old, people might think you’re not in business anymore.  If they click on your website, look at it 2 seconds, and then leave, in technical terms, this is called a “bounce.”  If the percentage of people who bounce off your website gets too high (greater than 50% or more), Google might think your website isn’t a match for what they’re looking for.

    Then, your rankings will take a hit.

    The second important aspect of a website is how fast it loads.  A second or less is ideal, while 2 seconds or less does the job.  Google views a fast-loading website as offering a good user experience, and it wants those websites at the top of its rankings.  Slow load time also affects sales.

    Digital marketing thought leader KISSmetrics conducted a study, which found sites that take around 4 seconds to load lose around 22% of their sales right off the bat.  That number falls to about 10% at 2 seconds, and 3% or so at 1 second.

    Third, your website should be “responsive” in design.  That means it displays perfectly on desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablet PCs.  Google’s actually endorsed responsive design publicly, and it doesn’t too often make it publicly and distinctly clear what it wants from websites and SEOs. If it’s not responsive, at least make sure you have a mobile version of your site.

    Finally, you also have to use the minimum amount of code behind the scenes to make this happen.  That’s highly technical so I won’t go any further into it, but know that less is more when it comes to code, and that websites have to be designed with SEO in mind from the start.

    An example of a good website would be:

    Looks modern

    Simple, easy to navigate menu at the top

    Good use of color to keep things interesting, without going overboard

    Very fast load speed

    Logo in the upper left tells you who they are and what they do immediately

    Claim Your Google Places Account & Get Active on Google+

    Here’s an article on how to if you haven’t yet. Also, a regularly updated G+ business page with a few social media posts monthly, could help increase the number of people who have you in their circles, and also potentially help you get more social shares (which are a significant ranking factor for Google these days).  Here’s a detailed post on a simple social media strategy time-strapped SMB owners can use.

    Get Online Reviews

    I wrote a whole post about getting online reviews.  Not only are good reviews a booster for your search rankings, but reviews allow you to do market research and see what about your business needs to improve to make your customers happier.

    If you have a misbehaving employee, long wait times, or a product that breaks too often, people aren’t afraid to let you know online.  If you ask for feedback in-person, most customers are less truthful because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

    You want to be above at least 4 stars, and ideally 4.5 stars or more.

    So as you can see, although the website coding tip is fairly complicated, most of these are not.  Internet marketing is more about providing value to your website visitors and doing consistent hard work than anything else.

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  • Need Online Business Reviews?  Read This!
    19/11/14 SEO

    Need Online Business Reviews? Read This!

    Google’s publicly stated a number of different SEO benefits that reviews provide your website:

    When you have 10-20 reviews, Google ranks your business higher – according to Higher Visibility

    Reviews also offer fresh content (if you choose to post them on your site), and this helps satisfy the Google Fresh Update

    Besides that, the fact that you have a good average rating encourages more people to use your business.  In fact, 52% of those surveyed by Hubspot said positive customer reviews make it more likely they’ll purchase from that business (compared to 28% who choose based on location and price alone). And, what people say in those reviews can also increase sales – and especially so if what they say is results-oriented.

    If you’re not already aware, one site that really stinks for reviews is Yelp.  They’ve received tons of complaints, including allegations they filter out positive reviews, allow negative ones, and do so with more frequency when the company in question refuses to purchase advertising through Yelp.  Some also claim Yelp deletes positive reviews offered by reviewers with profiles that aren’t highly active.  So whatever you do, stay far, far away from Yelp.

    There’s only about a million other business review sites online, so which are the most important?  Here are a few:

    • Google+ Local
    • The BBB
    • Angie’s List
    • Citysearch
    • Merchant Circle
    • Epinions
    • Insider Pages
    • Yellow Pages

    You don’t need to be on all of them, but you should get listed on 3-4 or so to start.

    Now here’s the question you really want the answer to:

    How do You Create a Strategy for Getting Online Reviews?

    If you’ve been wondering how to get online reviews, you don’t have to worry about it too much.  It’s actually pretty simple.

    Some ideas for getting online business reviews:

    Ask for them in Person.  Wait until you’ve made a customer happy, and then ask them to review your business online.  Mention the site you’d like them to use though – otherwise you might get them from an undesirable website (like Yelp).

    If your customers are under 30… Consider using your social network profiles to ask for a review.  They do everything online, so it’s pretty easy to get them to take action.  Encourage unbiased, honest feedback.

    Do you have an e-mail list?  If so, that’s a great way to ask for a review.

    Don’t have a list, but do have the e-mail?  Send an e-mail to your customer about 3 days or so after service.  Inside the e-mail, add links to the top sites from which you’d like to receive reviews.  Better yet, just make that part of your signature so you don’t have to type the links up over and over again.

    If you do most of your business by phone… Try following up with your customers using a comment card.  Use return postage on the card, attach it to your invoice, and ask for the review.

    For customers that purchase in-store… Include a short note at the bottom of their receipt.

    For smartphone users…  Add a QR code to your business or comment cards they can take along with them.  When scanned, this should take them directly to your desired review site.  Yeah, it costs a little, but QR codes are pretty simple, so it’s not a huge additional expense, and the business you get from the better reviews will more than offset the cost of the QR code.

    Create a dedicated testimonial section on your website.  It’s as simple as can be – and you’ll get reviews from your desired site.  On that page, you could embed your reviews, which also helps your SEO.

    Some Additional Tips

    Now that you have some strategic ideas in place for getting more online reviews, let’s talk about some things you should and should not do.

    Avoid creating fake reviews.  It’s tempting to do, but don’t do it.  Review sites are becoming aware of this and are removing the fake reviews.  And if you’re customers discover this is happening, you’ll lose a ton of trust.  If you get caught, you could also get fined for it.

    Don’t offer incentives for reviews.  This could actually hurt your business more so than anything else.  Your top customers could feel hurt you’re willing to manipulate the system like this.  Additionally, you’ll also get biased information, which means you can’t make solid business decisions.

    Do ask promptly.  The shorter you ask for a review after the time of service, the more likely you are to actually get the review.  An article at Search Engine Land claims you can get completion rates of 80-90% when you do this.

    Fill out your business profiles.  You always want to have the appearance that your business is active, so make sure your profiles are fully filled out on all websites where you want to get reviews.  It’s a good idea to include pictures of your business, staff, products, and services as well.

    Respond to as many reviews as possible.  If you’re smaller, make sure you hit every single one, at least thanking people for their feedback.  Others will notice how much you care, and that may be enough for you to choose them over another business.Address negative reviews.  If you can contact a person who makes a negative review and resolve the issue, do it.  Then, follow up the review with comments, if you were able to come to a resolution that makes the customer happy.

    So if you’re wondering how to get business reviews online, that’s the short of it.  Yes, I know, more to manage, but also very necessary and helpful to take care of in today’s business environment.

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  • The 8 Best Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips Ever
    19/11/14 Social Media

    The 8 Best Small Business Social Media Marketing Tips Ever

    Do your social media profiles resemble the Texas town of Adobes?  What, you’ve never heard of it?

    That’s because it fell from a booming farming community in the 1870s to a town of lonely and abandoned ruins and buildings sitting in a rocky prairie (It’s about 6 miles southeast of the town of Chinati in Presidio County if you ever want to visit!).

    If your social media profiles look like that, know the situation isn’t hopeless.  In fact, small businesses tend to make the same mistakes repeatedly, and they’re relatively easy to fix.

    What should you do?

    Analyze your social media profiles and see if you can’t create a small business social media strategy that works for you and your followers:

    Post Regularly

    With any social media profile, consistency is key.  With so many accounts, you see bunches of posts for a while…and then nothing.  Other times you see 2 posts this week, 1 the next, and then nothing.

    Remember, social media is a conversation – just like you talking with your friend standing next to you.  To keep the conversation going, you have to say interesting things and ask questions.

    What do you really need to be consistent?  It depends on the site, but if you do around 3-4 updates per network per week, that’s all you need.

    You can get away with more on Twitter, if you really like to post a lot.

    Posting Only about Your Company

    Of all the mistakes small businesses make, this is by far the biggest one.  People do want to get to know your company.

    But before they do, they want something of value from you first.  From the 1970s – 1990s, businesses used a top-down approach of advertising:  we’ll shout it at you until you buy it.  So it seems many small business owners believe this approach still works today.

    It doesn’t.  Consumers want a personal experience on your social media sites.

    Keep in mind the 80/20 rule:  80% of your posts should offer value (news or information from third-party sources in your industry), while 20% should offer promotions and updates regarding your company.

    Use Different Forms of Media

    Your posts should include videos, images, infographics, links, reports, white papers, case studies, and so on.  Getting good information to your market is important, but equally important to your followers is how they consume the content.

    By switching things up regularly, you keep things interesting on your social media profiles.

    Use Calls-to-Action

    Isn’t it obvious that people should buy your company’s products and services?  It may be to you, but do know this:  they’re much more likely to take your desired action if you tell them to.

    Keep in mind that 80/20 rule once again:  20% of your posts at max should encourage your visitors to make a purchase or act on a special offer.

    Use Diverse Post Types

    We already talked about using diverse forms of content in your posts, but you should also switch up how you present your posts.

    For example, ask a question, post a survey, write a joke-of-the-day, post an astonishing fact…you get the idea.  Then, study which types of posts work best at your social media accounts.

    Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.  Ask your followers for ideas – they’ll be happy to provide feedback.

    Interact with Your Audience, and Address Complaints

    View social media like you’re having a casual conversation with an interested customer who just walked into your store.

    What if they look annoyed and you say nothing?  They probably won’t come back, so instead you ask them how you can help.

    The same rule applies to social media.  If someone complains or says something negative about your business on your profile (it’s inevitable and happens to everyone), address it.  Ask your customer how you can resolve the issue, or get their contact information, resolve the situation privately, and then post the resolution on the site.

    Public complaints are your opportunity to show your customers you care, and you’ll win more followers and increasingly engaged ones when you successfully resolve their concerns.

    Want More Followers?  Promote Your Profiles

    The best way to get more people to follow you?  Give them something for following.  Run a special contest where a randomly selected winner gets a free dinner.

    You have to be careful on Facebook though because it has rigid rules regarding contests.

    Make sure you promote your contest both online and offline.  Most businesses that do promote their Facebook profiles have a sign that says “Follow us on Facebook” on their front door.

    That’s a good start – now promote the giveaway.

    Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin…

    The big dogs (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube) can easily consume most of your week if you’re not careful.

    So what exactly should you do?  You should be on Facebook for sure, and that should be your primary concern (that’s where you can get real business from the fastest).  Twitter is also a must (especially if you’re B2B), and some sources claim teenagers and other demographics are leaving Facebook for Twitter.  Pinterest is hit-and-miss – if your market is female or if your business lends itself well to visual advertising, (dentists, construction contractors, restaurants etc…) use it.  Google+ has several hundred million users, virtually no engagement, but great SEO benefits, so use that too (don’t expect to get business – just SEO benefits from the shares).  YouTube works well – just shoot videos with your smartphone and post – a very simple (but credibility-building tactic).  LinkedIn should be pretty low on your list – it typically works best for bigger businesses.

    Use Hootsuite, an app that allows you to manage all your social media profiles from one place.  You can also schedule your posts for all profiles, and the app is free.

    Make it your goal to spend around 2 hours per week (max) managing your social media accounts if you use all 6 of these.

    Small Business Social Media Marketing Involves Hard Work

    I’m not going to lie – it’s difficult to get a serious following and real business from social media.  So many people and businesses have a presence on it, that it’s difficult to stand out.

    But if you follow these simple tips and take the time to turn your offline customers into followers, you can reap some real business benefits.

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  • How to Craft a Social Media Plan of Your Own
    19/11/14 Social Media

    How to Craft a Social Media Plan of Your Own

    As a small business owner, you’ve already got more than enough to contend with on your plate.  Now after you talk with your SEO professional, they’re telling you that you need to get social shares to rank well!

    How the heck are you supposed to do that in addition to all your other responsibilities?

    Well, if you don’t have the time to develop your own social media plan, then here’s a quick, cookie-cutter one you can use that gets more follows and shares.  It works on a limited time budget, and you can establish a reasonably strong presence on 4-5 social networks.

    Figure Out Which Social Networks You’re Going to Use

    I already wrote a post for you that discusses who is present on which social network.  Once you analyze who your target market is and which social networks you actually need to be present on, it’s time to develop a posting strategy.

    Let’s evaluate even the most time-intensive scenario.  Say, for example, you decide it’s important to be on the 5 biggest social networks:

    Facebook

    Twitter

    LinkedIn

    Google+

    Pinterest

    So here’s what you do:

    Follow the 80/20 rule of posting:  A big mistake many small businesses make is to post stuff that’s all about their business.  Marketing to people on the web doesn’t work by you broadcasting your message exclusively.  That type of social media plan will get you little engagement and few new followers.

    Instead, 80% of your posts should share useful information not from your company (use sources like info from industry leaders, informational sources, or entertaining sources), while 20% of your shares should be about your company and its special offers.

    But won’t that turn someone else into the expert?

    That’s not how selling on the web works.  Instead, because you provide access to the best information available, people see you as having their best interests at heart.  If you share mostly your own stuff, they think you only have your own concerns in mind, which turns them off and causes them to leave.

    When they’re ready to buy, they’ll buy from you (if you follow the 80/20 rule) because they believe you are truly concerned with them.

    Be consistent:  There’s no precise number of posts to share on each social media site.  However, general rules do apply to each one.  Caroline Melberg shares some general guidelines on how to share at each network:

    Facebook – A few times per week is good at Facebook.  4-6 posts should do, and you can even do 1-2 times per day if you’re ambitious.

    Twitter – Users are comfortable with several posts per day.  You don’t have to post that much, however, if you don’t want to.

    Google+ – Treat it about the same as you do Facebook – 1 post per day or so works.

    LinkedIn – LinkedIn works better for group discussions and one-on-one interactions.  If you post a couple status updates per week or so, that’s all you need.

    Pinterest – Even though some dataheads have researched almost everything, I don’t see any conclusive research on Pinterest pinning frequency.  Just keep it safe and easy, and pin as often as you post on Facebook.

    Use tools to automate tasks:  If you try to manage these social networks manually without any tools, I’ll 100% guarantee you that you will quickly run out of time and quit posting to your favorite social media sites.

    You can post to all networks with free apps like Hootsuite and Buffer.  They let you schedule posts far into the future too.  They’re starting to restrict features on the free versions, so I’m not sure how long the free versions will remain useful.  But for now, they do the job.  And if you do want to get much more serious and pay, Hootsuite costs $10 per month and buffer $50.

    If you really like social media a ton, use Klout to track how influential you are on various social networks.  And if you like data on how each of your social media profiles performs, Social Report isn’t a half bad tool (you get 30 days free and it’s $9 per month thereafter).

    Mix up the post type:  In general, plain-text posts get the least clicks, comments, and shares.  It’s okay to do them, but most of the time it works better to post a little media with each share as well.  Pictures, videos, quizzes, question & answers, funny stuff – do everything you can to interest without going over the top.

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  • A Foolproof Guide to the Major Social Media Websites
    19/11/14 Social Media

    A Foolproof Guide to the Major Social Media Websites

    Did you ever wonder who uses the various social media sites and why?

    The answer to that question could save you a ton of time and focus your social media marketing efforts!

    There’s at least 7 of them with enough subscribers to develop a presence on (Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Vimeo), so which one’s most worth your time?

    That all depends on who you’re marketing to.  It’s actually pretty difficult to find the precise demographics and how people use each network, so here’s that puzzle of information assembled into one nice place:

    Google+

    Moz has discussed there’s a high correlation between websites that get a high number of +1s and high search engine rankings.  In fact, out of all the factors, +1s are the number two strongest ranking factor, right behind page authority.  Google, however, has chosen to deny the findings in this study.

    But when you really think about it, why wouldn’t Google, a powerful corporation trying to compete with Facebook, make +1s an important search ranking factor?

    All that aside, while Google+ is pretty powerful for your SEO, it may not be the best place to build relationships directly.  Nielsen ratings tracks how long users spend on various websites, and in March 2013, users spent an average of just 6 minutes 47 seconds on Google+ – for the entire month.  In fact, only 25% of its users treat Google+ as a social network, while an astonishing 75% don’t interact with a single other Google+ user.

    Google+ is made up primarily of men – 70% of its users are male.  It may not get the most engagement currently, but because Google wants to take market share away from Facebook by integrating Google+ into every last aspect of the web, it’s worth getting some sort of presence on.

    Facebook

    Facebook dominates in terms of almost every possible social media statistic.  Regardless of how much income your target market has, they’re present on Facebook.  Business Insider released a report (discussed at Nonprofit Quarterly), that shows the following:

    68% of those with less than $30,000 per year in income have a Facebook account.

    That same statistic is 62% for those with incomes of $30,000 – $49,999, 69% for those with incomes of $50,000 – $74,999, and 73% for those with incomes of $75,000+.

    Out of all the networks studied by Business Insider, Facebook keeps the largest market share of older and wealthier users.  It’s no secret that with more than 1.1 billion users (which is also growing internationally), Facebook should continue to remain the largest, most active social media site for some time.

    The Nielsen report we discussed earlier for Google+ also indicates the average Facebook user spends around 7 hours per month on the site.  Out of all the major social media websites, none has an engagement level even close to Facebook’s.  The next highest is 1 hour and 29 minutes at Tumblr and Pinterest.

    If you don’t already have a presence on Facebook or you’re not actively engaged in a Facebook campaign, it’s definitely the place to be regardless of the market you’re targeting.

    Interestingly, with the notable exception of Google+, almost every social media website has a majority of female users.  In Facebook’s case, Social Media Today says 58% of Facebook users are female.

    Twitter

    Twitter is the most popular place for Millenials to hang out – 27% of the 18-29 year-old population is active on Twitter.  This compares to 16% for users age 30-49.

    The income demographics at Twitter are also very balanced.  16% of those with incomes less than $30,000 and 17% of those with incomes greater than $75,000 use Twitter.

    The average user spends 21 minutes per month on Twitter, with women doing 62% of the sharing.

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  • Multiple Addresses & Phone Numbers + Bad Google Rankings
    19/11/14 SEO

    Multiple Addresses & Phone Numbers + Bad Google Rankings

    If you are having a Google ranking problem, it is critical to make sure you do not have addresses and phone numbers you don’t know about cited online creating possible Google confusion or location spam.

    You can do this by searching for your company name on Google, Bing and Yahoo (and also check the local maps section of these search engines). Look for any current and past phone numbers and addresses you may have used.

    If you do have multiple addresses and phone numbers that are legitimate, you MUST dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s everywhere for the sake of your Google rankings. Each address needs the following, or should be deleted from your site and everywhere else online in my opinion. From what I have seen lately, something as simple as having another address listed on your website, unless you have properly covered these bases, could be hurting you on Google (even your map placement).

    Each address needs a unique phone number. Do not have multiple addresses listed with the same phone number.

    Each address needs a Google Places map listing and Google+ Business page.

    Each address needs to be listed on your website contact page and on the specific city location page, and you need to link out to each Google+ Business page via richsnippets code, so that it passes in the structured data markup testing tool. http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets

    Each address needs to be listed in the major local business directories like Yellow Pages, SuperPages, Yelp, etc. (I use Yext.com Power Listings for this.)

    Membership in the local BBB is also very important I think (because Google favors them in the rankings and refers to their database). I believe they will list your locations on your profile. The Dallas BBB will also link to you from their pages related to each city you service. I recommend contacting: Brian Reagan | District Manager 214-740-0343 – Email: brianreagan@dallas.bbb.org to join or if you have any questions. He is VERY helpful and interested in your success online.

    All your information everywhere; map listings, social sites, business directories, your website, needs to MATCH perfectly, down to the T. Your company name, address, phone number(s) and domain name need to be consistent, as in using #700 versus suite 700 or ste 700, etc.

    Another big factor is, let’s say you are actually located in a suburb of Dallas, i.e. Plano, but you are targeting Dallas with your SEO, meaning your meta-tags and content all say Dallas. If this is the case, you likely have noticed a sharp decline in your placement. The reason would be that Google does not see you as actually being a Dallas company because of your address. They seem to only want to rank sites for cities where they have locations. If you want to target Dallas, you need a real Dallas office address, or need to refocus your SEO on the city where your business resides.

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  • 6 Tips to Help Your Rankings on Google
    19/11/14 SEO

    6 Tips to Help Your Rankings on Google

    1. Make sure you have Google+ Authorship and Publisher code installed and working properly on your site.
    2. Install a sharebar on all your webpages so people can interact socially with your site’s content.
    3. Revisit your existing content and try to make it as unique, educational and informative as possible. Make sure you have at least 500 words per page, but 800-1,000 is better.
    4. Make sure you have a blog installed on your website and that you are socially active. Even if it’s only 1-2 posts per month, just be consistent. If you post too much people will block or tune you out. Your articles should be unique, worth posting and related to your main subject matter, not just a retelling of the news or an already existing story, not unless you add to its value with your own professional perspective and opinions. Then once posted to your own website’s blog, it needs to be pushed out to your own social sites (Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook) by clicking on your own sharebar buttons and sharing them with yourself. (Pinterest too, if the article contains an infographic, which will help get it a lot more love.)
    5. Work on getting connected to as many other professionals and companies as you can on Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest that are complimentary to your own subject matter, who might actually bother to read and interact with your articles. Your social efforts will fail without connections.
    6. Also share your site’s pages socially, and not just your blog articles, if they contain great informative content and are worth sharing.
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  • Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses
    19/11/14 SEO

    Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses

    Hi All,

    In checking and trying to install Google Authorship for some of my clients, which is what makes your picture show up next to your search engine listings, I recognized most did NOT have a personal Google+ account, only a Google+ Local (map listing) for their business. This likely applies to many of you then as well, so I thought I would take this opportunity to share some local SEO tips.

    Here is how I think Google+ is going to work in the future and why:

    Like Facebook, going forward, Google is not going to allow a business to have a Google+ Business page (which is equivalent to a Business Fan page on Facebook) unless it is connected to a personal Google+ profile. (Google+: https://accounts.google.com/SignUp)

    Facebook is stealing PPC revenue from Google because of their ability to serve highly targeted ads based on people’s personal interests and conversations. Not just my opinion – This is the main reason Google created Google+, to compete with Facebook. Eventually there will be paid advertising on all Google+ accounts, but first they have to get everyone to sign-up and use it. However, it is so confusing compared to Facebook (what I myself think and what others have routinely expressed to me), it’s not happening voluntarily as fast as they would like, so they are going to force us to use it by making it count towards Google rankings. Now Google +1s, which are equivalent to Facebook Likes, are definitely counting in the ranking metrics for Google (and so is Google Authorship, which is personal profile related).

    Now that it counts everyone will be signing up, who has a business and cares about rankings on Google anyway… And in the future to have a business account or a local map listing even, you will have to have a personal account that your business listing is claimed under. From what I’ve heard and read, all Google+ Business pages and Google+ Local map listings NOT eventually claimed under a personal account will go away. It’s one more step to ensure authenticity, prevent spamming, and the perfect way to force as many people as possible to use Google+ personally as a social platform whether they like it or not.

    Here’s what needs to happen:

    You need to create a personal Google+ for yourself if you haven’t already (using your current Google login if you have one (the one you already use to manage your Google+ Local map listing, Gmail account or other Google services).

    You need to claim or create a Google+ Business page under your same login and fill out both profiles as much as possible so they are 100% complete.

    You need to get in as many Circles as possible and acquire Followers who will hopefully interact with the things you post, both to your personal and business profiles.

    Once you have both a personal and a business page, then Google+ Authorship (personal) and Publisher (business) rich snippets code needs to be installed on your website, so that both Google+ accounts are officially connected/credited to your website and your personal profile picture can start showing up in your search engine listings. You can test your site here with Google’s Structured Data Tool.

    Your Google+ Local map listing and Business page need to have your legal company name listed in the company name field and NOT a keyword phrase. Your company name needs to be established as your brand, which is partly accomplished by making sure it matches on your website, Google+ Business page and Google+ Local map listing, Twitter, Facebook Business Fan page, and LinkedIn business page… Yes, even LinkedIn now has a separate page for your business you can create which is connected to your personal LinkedIn profile. What a confusing bunch of spread out mess to have to manage (that’s me putting it nicely and not cursing). You may need help getting all this set-up properly and integrated into your website (God knows I could use some help!)… whether that be through in-house training or hiring someone to just manage it all for you.

    CITATIONS ARE ALSO CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO YOUR LOCAL SEO

    All your citations, which are listings on directories and review sites like Yelp and Yellow Pages, likely need to be cleaned up. You can see what I mean by going here and entering in your company information – name, address, phone number, url. It will scan all the worthwhile directories Google looks at and considers to be important sources of 3rd party information, and will show you if you have mismatched company information or other local listings issues that need to be cleaned up. All information about your business – name, address, phone number, url – needs to be consistent across the web including on your website and social media sites. This applies to each and every location/address you have.

    Yext has a partnership with most of the important directories and provides a convenient control panel where you can fill out one profile to sync and manage all of your directory listings from a single place. If you are my local SEO client and want me to help you with this, I can set you up under my Certified Partner account. You would still have full access to your own control panel so you can work-on and manage your own profile yourself, but the advantage would be a little cheaper pricing. As a matter of fact, only through a Certified Yext Partner can you get the option to pay monthly.

    What you want is the Power Listings service, which you can learn about here. Normally the price is $527 per year (I believe). The price through me is $499 annually per address if paid in advance or $45 monthly per address (yes monthly costs a little more). This does NOT include my time for filling out and optimizing your profile. You can do that yourself pretty easily. If you are a current SEO client of mine, you have the option of paying for 1 hour of my time for set-up per address, and I’ll handle it for you (currently I’m $150 hourly). If you are on a monthly SEO services plan with me, there will be no additional charge for set-up, I will consider it included. You will just need to pay the $499 annual fee or I can add the the monthly cost to your current recurring payment. Contact me if you are a client and want to discuss it.

    Now a Little About Social Signals

    You should have a sharebar installed on all of your static webpages in my professional opinion, and not just on your blog pages, to make it easier for people to interact socially with all of your content. You can see what I mean if you go to my site www.bestdallasseo.com and look in the content heading area of all my static pages.

    You need to get as many people as possible to +1, Like, and Tweet your site’s content pages. For example, if you have a Facebook Fan page for your business and people go to it directly and then click Like, those Likes are not what is counting or being tallied in the ranking metrics. The ones that count are for your actual website domain itself. If you have a sharebar on your site’s pages, and I go to your home page or any page of your site and click Like, +1, or Tweet from there, those are the social signals that count towards your website’s search engine placement. At least that’s how it appears across all of the optimization reports and software I have looked at. It’s all about people socially interacting and sharing your actual website domain content.

    When you write and post an article, it should be posted on your physical website, not on one of your social sites only, like Facebook directly. Once it’s posted on your site or your integrated blog, you need to then click on your own sharebar icons, i.e. Like, +1, Tweet, LinkedIn and PUSH your articles OUT to your own social sites. This way if your Friends, Circles, Connections, Followers etc. interact with it, it not only counts as a social signal for your social site, but for your website domain as well, and is how you go about creating natural links back to your website from the social sites of all those who interact with your content. When they share it, they are sharing a page that originated on and links back to your website itself. This is what you want to happen and NEED to be working on. It’s crucial to the future of your rankings and is already affecting them.

    Thanks, and I hope this information helps clarify some things for you as a small business website owner! If you found this article useful, PLEASE show me some love by Liking, Tweeting or +1-ing it.

    All the best,

    Shelley Cates
    Dallas SEO Consultant
    (214) 212-2495

    Follow-up to this article originally written in July 2013

    Since I wrote the above, as you may be aware, Google’s Matt Cutts has put out a video stating that Google +1s do not count towards rankings on Google. It seems I was not the only SEO that formed that opinion, based on comparing numerous local top ranking sites, across a variety of industries for multiple keyword terms (after the release of the Penguin 2 algorithm update on May 22, 2013). Many of us were commenting on how sites with Google+ Authorship installed, especially those with the most Google +1s, seemed to come out of nowhere and start ranking in the top 5. It has been a huge topic of debate recently. I imagine, if +1s do count, that it might be considered an unfair trade practice (certainly seems bias to me). Bottom line, it is my own personal opinion after careful observation, but that doesn’t mean it’s fact and I do not want to publicly say anything that may be considered libel.

    I am not an SEO that seeks the limelight, speaks at conferences, or frequently expresses my opinion publicly, as often times what I think is controversial and not of popular industry opinion, which Google seems to largely control concerning SEO now. They appear to me, to be pushing their own agenda(s) for the sake of profit, and not so much for their claimed reason(s) of making their results of a higher quality for end users. The things they do certainly do not always seem to serve the best interests of web surfers, small business owners, and especially not my industry, which has somewhat become their enforcement crew. To disagree with them will often times get you labeled as being “black hat” by other SEOs. It feels like they are using us, SEOs, to carry their messages of conformity to websites owners, and at the same time causing us to kill our own industry, by promoting the fear of being banned for using any kind of method to manipulate their results… which is of course what we ultimately get paid to do.

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