Blog Posts about Organic Search by Scott Gombar

SEO Case Study on the importance of having a secured website

Case Study: The Impact of SSL on Your [Google Search Results]

Case Study: The Impact of SSL on Search Results Your Business Should Pay Attention

Summary:  SSL Certificates on a website have become increasingly important.  83.33% of first page Google Search Results have an SSL certificate installed.  This study determines if there is a direct impact on your SEO plan and search results by having an unsecured site.

What this SEO Case Study Found:

  • 83.33% of Google’s First Page Search Results have a secured website
  • 95% of generic, one-word search queries that appear on the first page of Google have SSL installed.
  • When performing hyperlocal searches using town and state in the query the number drops to 74%
  • Overall searches using town and state are minimal to non-existent
  • Local businesses can rank for one-word keywords, locally.
  • Having an SSL certificate on your website does improve your search ranking on Google for high volume keywords.

There’s been so much said about the impact of having an SSL certificate for your website.  It used to be that only sites that handled financial or sensitive information required this extra layer of security.  For the last few years, Google has been indicating SSL will become increasingly important for ALL websites.

Some SEOs and business owners believe there is no need for an SSL certificate.  Others believe it weighs heavy on their search rankings.  Still, other SEOs believe there is more of a correlation rather than a causation as it relates to search rankings on the SERP.

I decided to test search results to determine who was right and how having an SSL certificate on your website can impact your search results.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer.  The short answer is it encrypts data.  When you visit a website, you may notice that some websites have HTTP or HTTPS in front of the web address.  The “s” in HTTPS stands for secure.  You may also notice a lock icon or other icon indicating a site is secure.  In Google Chrome you will see small “I” in a circle.  This indicates the site is not secure.  Clicking on the lock/secure or i will provide more information.

secured site for SEO and Google

We technically don’t use SSL anymore.  We now use TLS (Transport Layer Security).  However most still refer to the extra layer of encryption as an SSL Certificate.

Results May Vary

To understand the results of my case study you will also need to understand how Google Search works now.  When you search for something using Google it will pull results based on multiple factors.  This is determined by the Google Search Algorithm.  Those factors can be:

  • Your Geolocation
  • Relevancy to your query
  • Quality of the website
  • The device you are using
  • Previous search query results (if you are logged in to Google)
  • Age of the site

There are more factors, but we will just use those for this case study for now. Your search results will not look exactly like mine because of some of these factors.  This helps insure the relevancy of your search results.  A dentist in Meriden CT may not be relevant to you.

The Results of SSL Certification’s Impact on SEO

I performed numerous searches.  Most of the searchers were service related businesses but a few were product based.  I did not include restaurants in my research.  The first page of Google almost always has 10 organic results.  Since most people do not go past the first page my results are based on Google’s first page results.  I did not include Ads or Google 3 Pack results.  The results are the percentage of first page results that had an SSL Certificate installed on their website.  You will see where this gets interesting in a little bit. Here are the overall results:

  • Generic (1-word search query)-95%
  • Overall-83.33%
  • Searches with the state included (CT)-80%
  • Searchers with town included (Hyperlocal)-74%

As you can see from my results the majority of first page results have an SSL certificate installed on their website.  As you drill down based on the location the number gets a little lower.  That kind of makes sense since you’re more likely to uncover local businesses who have not adopted an SSL Certificate.

Or Does It?

But Scott, you said geolocation was a factor in your search results.  Why should I add (mytown mystate) to my search if Google is doing that for me?

And Scott, so far all you have proved is a correlation, not causation.  Isn’t it possible that the reason such a high number of first page results have SSL certificate is that those site owners understand the importance of it?

Good questions, I am glad you asked them.  For this, I am going to use some specific results to show you why SSL is important.  My case study proves there is an impact.

The first result that blew my mind was:

Dentist in Meriden CT

Only 40% of the first page results had an SSL certificate installed on their website.  That seemed like a really low number to me based on the other results.  Most queries were somewhere between 80-100%.

It got me to thinking.  Is this because Meriden is a smaller city compared to say New Haven CT?

Dentist in New Haven CT

80% of the results of this search query had SSL installed.  Now it seems to make sense. Bigger city, more options for Google to return.

Wait for it!!

Let’s do some more hyperlocal searches and see what percentage of first page results have SSL installed on their websites.

Roofers in Meriden CT – 100%

                Doctors in Meriden CT – 100%

Taxi in Meriden CT – 80%

                Food Delivery Meriden CT – 80%

                Lawyer in Meriden CT – 50%             

Whoa! I guess roofers and doctors have good SEOs and site owners.  That last one blew my mind though.  Before you ask, yes Attorney in Meriden CT returned the same result as far as percentage of sites utilizing SSL.  I don’t count Food Delivery as a restaurant.  There are services that offer to pick up and deliver food for you.  Some of them were restaurants.  Kudos to their SEO.  Interesting that Uber Eats was not on the first page.

Here’s Where it Gets Interesting

Based on the information I have provided so far you would think that searching Lawyer in Meriden CT and just searching Lawyer would return the same results.  Right?

You would be hugely mistaken.

 

Same search, same computer, same connection to the internet.

If I just search using the following queries I get much different results:

Lawyer – 90%

                Attorney – 90%

                Dentist – 100%

Those are huge discrepancies.

Why is this so important? 

Google recognizes where you are searching from and returns results based on your location.  In theory Lawyer and Lawyer in Meriden CT should return the same results.  If we analyze search volume according to Moz’s Keyword Explorer Tool, we find that the number of searches per month for each keyword (phrase) is:

Lawyer in Meriden – no data (meaning no search queries)

Attorney in Meriden — no data (meaning no search queries)

Dentist in Meriden — no data (meaning no search queries)

Lawyer – 70.8k-118k per month

Attorney — 30.3k-70.8k per month

Dentist – 118k-300k per month

I am certainly happy to see more people search for Dentist than Lawyers.  These numbers are for nationwide searches (US).  I don’t need to analyze in Meriden results any further because there are none.  Let’s go to the Google Keyword Planner and drill down some more.

If you recall from my Keyword Research blog post I talked about using Google Keyword Planner to research keywords.  I also talked about Moz’s Keyword Explorer tool.

In Meriden CT

Lawyer – 20 per month

                Attorney – 20 per month

                Dentist – 70 per month

If you’re a lawyer, you have 40 chances to show up on the first page of Google in Meriden per month.  If you’re a dentist, you have 70.

We know that Google’s Search Results are returned based on your location.  It used to be trying to rank for a single keyword like Lawyer or Dentist was mission impossible because there was so much competition.  Now you’re only competing locally for these coveted keywords.  Your SEO should absolutely be optimizing for these one-word keywords as well as long tail/LSI keywords.

I noticed while doing the research that Dentist Near Me (90) gets more searchers locally than Dentist (70).  I checked the first page results for Dentist Near Me results and 60% of the results had SSL on their websites.

What We Learned

The results returned for the more powerful single word keywords had a very high percentage of SSL certificates installed on their sites (90-100%).  While seldom or never used keyword phrases returned different results including a lot of results without SSL certificates.

The seldom or never used keyword phrases should not be part of any SEO strategy as it will not yield any results.  If your content is written for your audience and not for Google (as Google recommends) then those keywords will naturally be a part of the search results.  That means the more competitive keywords that do yield results should be your focus.  If the return on these keywords shows that a higher percentage of the websites returned have SSL installed, then that would indicate Google is using security as a ranking factor. Google may be using ranking as more of a ranking factor then most believe.

The results of this case study prove that SSL Certificates need to be a part of your SEO strategy.

Final thought.  In July Google Chrome will start warning users of ANY site that does not have SSL installed. The message will warn users that the site is not secure.  This further indicates Google’s desire for a secure internet and the importance they place on having an SSL Certificate.

future nessage for unsecured websites in Chrome starting July 2018

This warning will likely scare users off your website increasing your bounce rate.  A high bounce rate is an indication to Google that your content is not relevant to the search query used.  This will mean your search rankings may take a hit because you did not install an SSL certificate. This is an indirect correlation to not having an SSL certificate installed on your site.  While there has been no official word you may also see a negative impact on your search rankings as a direct result of you not having SSL installed on your website.

OK, time for me to go talk to some lawyers and dentists!

 

 

SEO Graphic

First Steps to SEO Success – URL Structures | Scott Gombar CT SEO

SEO GraphicFirst Steps to SEO Success – URL Structures

So far, we have talked about the following as it relates to a Successfully SEO Plan:

This step is a little bit easier and quicker once you get going.  It’s also much easier if you take this into consideration prior to putting your website together.  Having to change the URL structure after the website has been created is a much larger task.  You may also have to consider 301 redirects when changing the URL structure of an existing website.

One of the often-overlooked items for on-page SEO is the structure of your URLs.  Keywords can be identified in the URL of a page.  Whether you are developing a website in WordPress, another CMS or you are creating pages with your own code, the URL structure is easy to set up.

In WordPress, under Settings>Permalinks you should set up the URLs of your pages and posts as Post Name.  This will make it easier for you to set up the URL structure.

Now that you have this set up it’s time to create a page.  By default, WordPress will create a URL based on your page title.  If you read the previous step (page titles) then you are already creating SEO friendly page titles.  There may be an occasion where you want to modify the URL further.  In WordPress this is easy.  Right below the title of your page or post the URL is displayed.  Click the edit button to the right of the URL and edit it as necessary.

One item to consider is stop words.  Some SEO Experts believe that certain words, called stop words, can have an impact on how Google ranks your site.  This may have been the case at one time, but it is no longer true.  Stop words are common words such as:

  • The
  • A
  • On
  • Go
  • An

First Steps to SEO Success URL StructureThere is no longer a reason to be concerned about stop words.  You should try to keep URLs to 5 words or less but there isn’t a hard limit set by Google.  Research shows that shorter URLs do get more clicks, but I don’t believe searchers pay too much attention to URLs when clicking on search results.

Creating URLs Manually

If you are creating web pages manually using HTML, PHP, ASP or another language then you probably already have the knowledge needed to create URLs.  The same best practices should still be followed when creating the URL structure of your pages and overall site.

URL Best Practices for SEO

  1. URLs should be ‘almost’ legible to humans-For example, if my URL is 5-things-your-seo-forgot-to-do-how-its-hurting-your-business this will make sense to a human. If I just add random numbers and letters after my TLD (top level domain) it is not readable.  In fact, I do use random numbers and letters when I am testing something and don’t want anyone to find it.
  2. Include keywords in your URLs. Yes, it counts. Include one keyword or long-tail keyword in your URL structure.  Using the example above you can easily determine that the keyword I wanted to focus on is SEO but there are other items that could return in search results.  For the example URL above, I basically used the title of the page.  Think of it as another opportunity to use your focus keyword in your content.
  3. Shorter URLs Where Possible-This is not for Google. This is for your audience.  Your audience is who you really want to create content for, isn’t it?
  4. Don’t Use Dynamic URLs Where Possible-Using URLs that end in something like php?language=en&inhalt=id=99 should be avoided. They’re ugly and can sometimes discourage people from clicking on them.
  5. Use Hyphens-in the example I used in point one I included dashes to separate words. This makes it easier to read.  Underscores are also acceptable but it’s best to use hyphens.  Spaces will work but this then adds a %20 to the structure of the URL.  This makes the URL a little harder to read.
  6. Avoid repetitive keywords in the URL structure. This includes folders.  For example, if my URL is com/local-seo/local-seo-steps this looks spammy.  It almost looks like keyword stuffing.  If you know anything about SEO then you know that keyword stuffing can negatively impact your SEO now.

SEO Hero

301 Redirects

If you are editing the URL structure of an existing website that has already built up authority and backlinks, then you have some things to consider.  Your best bet would be to create 301 redirects from the old URL to the new URL.  As an example:

Examplewebsite.com/page.php is changed to Examplewebsite.com/more-informative-url.php then you will want to add a 301 redirect.  A 301 redirect tells Google and other search engines that you have permanently moved the content of the page to a new location (URL).  I wrote a quick post about how to create a 301-redirect a while back but it’s pretty easy to do if you have access to your htaccess file.  Just insert the following:

RedirectPermanent /oldpage.html http://www.yourdomain.com/newpage.html

WordPress also comes with plugins to manage redirects.  This might be easier for less technical website owners and/or multiple redirects to set up.

Next, we will talk about Meta Descriptions

Get a Free Audit of Your Website SEO!!

 

 

6 Hacks to Beat Your Competition on Voice Search and Google

6 SEO Hacks to Beat Your Competition on Voice Search in 2018 and Beyond

Google Assistant (Duplex) Announcement at Google IO and What It Means to Your Business

6 Hacks to Beat Your Competition on Voice Search and GoogleSummary

  • Google announced the next generation of the Google Assistance in May 2018
  • Google Assistant’s name is Google Duplex
  • Google Duplex will be able to schedule appointments and carry on conversations
  • Businesses will need to adjust their SEO strategy for voice search
    • Create conversation and relevant content
    • Ask & Answer questions your audience/clients will ask
    • Add rich snippets to utilize microdata/schema
    • Ensure your website is mobile friendly and fast
    • Create long-form content that includes short, concise answers
    • Answer your phone

During Google IO (May 8th -10th, 2018) Google announced the next phase of its Google Assistant development. It is well ahead of where most people anticipated it would be.  Its name is now Google Duplex and let’s just say Skynet is real.

Google Duplex takes the digital assistant to a new level.  Soon Google will be able to place calls, set appointments and carry a conversation with the person on the other end.  Google Duplex will also be able to call businesses to confirm hours of operation on days where hours might be adjusted, such as holidays.

This is exciting and scary at the same time.  This combined with a rapidly increasing focus on voice search (Gary Vaynerchuk’s VoiceCon is on May 22nd in New York City) should emphasize how voice search is becoming more of an integral part of our daily lives.  Comscore estimates that by 2020 50% of all searches queries will be done through voice.  Gartner estimates that by 2020 30% of voice search queries will be done using a device with no screen.  https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/04/10/voice-search-statistics-2018

 What does this mean for SEO and your business growth? 

It means if you are not taking voice search seriously you better start.  This is going to sneak up on everyone faster than mobile did.  Not including this in your SEO and marketing plan could prove detrimental in the coming months and years.

Google, Amazon, and Apple are the primary players in voice search at the time of this writing.  Google and Amazon are clearly the leaders in voice search.  If you have used either of these services, then the potential is evident.  If you pay attention while you or someone else uses Google or Alexa then it should also be clear there are subtle nuances between voice queries and text queries.

It’s also a safe bet that Facebook and other social platforms will add voice search features in the future. Whether your focus is social or search, the result is you will have to optimize for voice queries. Voice queries are not the same as type or text queries. The only real question is how soon you need to start considering voice search as part of your content marketing strategy.  The answer is NOW.

Truth be told no-one can say for sure how voice search will impact SEO.  Most SEO solutions providers have a good idea of what will happen.  What is clear is how quickly voice search is evolving and the impact it is having on local search and SEO.  Something else that’s clear is you will not be presented with 10 results on a page when you ask your virtual assistant a question.  You will only get one result.  You’re not competing for page one anymore.  Now you will compete for number one.

6 SEO Hacks to Beat Your Competition on Voice Search

Voice Search Graphic SEO 2018

  1. Adjust Content to Be More Conversational & Relevant

There is a difference between the way someone types in a search query and the way someone verbally asks a question.  If you don’t know what I mean, then try it out yourself.  Ask Google or Siri a question and then think about whether the way you asked is the same as you would type it in.

Case studies so far have shown that there are several factors that return results for a voice search query.  One of those factors is the tone of the query response.  Conversational pieces of content fared better on voice search.

It’s still early for the results to be concrete. Voice search is still evolving.  Early case studies may not be relevant in a few months.  That said the early case studies make sense.  People would rather receive search query results in a conversational tone.  Take a little time to think about the conversations you have with your peers, yourself and even your virtual assistant if you are already using one.

  1. Ask & Answer Questions Your Audience Will Ask

When people use voice search they typically ask a question or issue a simple command.  Questions require short and too the point answers.  You’re already seeing this on the Google Search Results Page (SERP).  Many times, if you ask a question it returns a result at the top with bulleted answers or a one-sentence answer.  This is called the knowledge graph.

The knowledge graph results are often the result you get when using voice search.  The knowledge graph began showing up on Google Search in 2016. It’s almost like Google has been planning this all along.

How do you get results in the knowledge graph?  Answer questions.  There are many ways to come up with questions and answers.

  • What are some of the ways you can come up with questions to answer on your site?
    • answerthepublic.com lets you ask a question and returns different variations of the question. This is sort of what Google does with RankBrain (Machine Learning).  Google’s goal is to identify the searchers intent.
    • Ask existing clients and/or audience for questions they may have and answer them.
    • Use Quora to find questions related to your industry. Add them to your site and add answers.
    • Use Google’s Question and Answer section on Google Business listings to create relevant questions and answers.
    • You will also notice in my more recent blog posts I also include a bullet point summary near the top of my blog post. I am working my way backward on the rest of my blog posts to do the same.  Either a 1-2 sentence summary or a few bullet points will be added.
  1. Rich Snippets/Microdata

You’ve probably heard about rich snippets.  You may have even talked to a marketer about them.  Are you using them?  Statistics say you are not.

36.6% of Google Search results include at least one rich snippet, but only .3% of all websites use them.  Search Engine Land April 22nd, 2014.  While this has likely increased, I heard on a more recent podcast (within the last few months) that adoption of rich snippets is still very low.

Rich Snippets are derived from Structured Data added to website code.  This structured data makes it easier for Search Engines like Google and Bing to understand what a web page is about.  Structured Data also helps search engines extract important information from a web page.  That information might include things such as:

  • Hours of Operation
  • Location
  • Blog Author
  • Type of Content
  • Events
  • Local Business Info
  • Reviews
  • And a lot more.

Structured Data uses specific language.  The structured data the major search engines use comes from Schema.org.  It is important to note that Rich Snippets or Structured Data is not exclusive to Google. In fact, Google, Bing, Yahoo all use it as well as Twitter, Facebook, and other social platforms.

Structured Data is going to play a big part in voice search results as this information is easier for search engines to decipher.  It’s also easier for mobile search results to be returned based on structured data.  Many voice searches are performed on mobile.

Let me get on my soapbox for a sentence or two.  If your site is not optimized for mobile, rich snippets, and voice search, you are going to miss out on a huge chunk of search results.  This will cost your business a lot of money.

  1. Mobile Friendly and Fast

Alright, I mentioned it already.  I have mentioned it in other blog posts and podcasts.  I will continue to mention it until most businesses are taking it seriously.  Mobile search represents more than half of all search queries.  Many of those searches are done using a virtual assistant.

What do you do when you try to load a website on your phone and it takes more than a few seconds?  Most of us will close it or go back to the search results to load another page.  We will do the same thing if we load a web page on mobile and cannot view it or navigate it properly.

This impacts your search results because your bounce rate increases.  Bounce rate is a user engagement factor.  A high bounce rate and low time spent on a web page tell Google your web page is not relevant for the search query it is being returned for.  It will not be found via voice search if it is not mobile and fast.  Google wants FAST.

Google has already started rolling out mobile first indexing.  Google says that this only impacts sites that are mobile friendly but sites who are not have also received notification from the Google Search Console.  Page speed has also continued to gain importance, especially on mobile.

  1. Long Form Content

Google almost anything and you will see that most of the responses are long form.  Of course, it depends on the industry and your competition but the longer and more diversified your content the more likely it is to rank high in the search results.

The average word count of a voice search result page is 2,312 words. Therefore, Google tends to source voice search answers with long-form content. ~Backlinko Voice Search Analysis 2018

While word count helps the content rank higher on Google, short concise answers help your content be the query result on voice search.  When creating your content, you will have to provide short answers (the above study suggests that results were 29 words or less on voice search) while creating long-form content, at least 2000 words, that is engaging.

I mentioned industry and competition.  It is important to keep an eye on what your industry is doing as a whole and what your local competition is doing.  It’s even more important to stay one step ahead.  Don’t create content just a little better than what your competition is creating.  Create content that crushes their Google rankings.  This might seem harsh but at some point, a current, or new competitor will figure out that they need to put more focus into search results.  When they do you don’t want to make it easy for them to take what you worked so hard for.

Creating long-form content is one way to ensure it will not be easy for your competition to take your search rankings.  Creating long-form content that invites engagement is also a way to make you the authority in the eyes of your ideal audience and in turn Google.  Becoming the authority means you have a better chance of getting in the knowledge graph and being found for voice search queries.

  1. Answer Your Phone

This should seem like a no-brainer but unfortunately, it’s not.  Answer your phone.  Google is calling.  One thing that is clear from the samples of Google Duplex (and they were real samples) is that Google will place calls to set appointments.  If you are in a business that takes reservations or appointments it will be even more important to answer your phone.

Imagine if 50% of search queries were now voice.  Now imagine if that search is for an Italian restaurant or a hair salon.  Who will Google find?  When they do will the phone number be correct, and will someone be available to answer the phone?

As mentioned earlier Google will call businesses on holidays to check what their hours are.  I know of an Italian Pastry shop that lost a lot of business because Google showed them as closed on Christmas Eve.  They were indeed open, but this is another example of why your Google Business listing is critical, and why it will be important to answer your phone.

You’re probably scratching your head trying to figure out why businesses must be told this.  I was once hired to handle SEO for a local locksmith.  I set expectations and clearly explained what would happen during our time working together.  For 5 weeks the locksmith complained because he could not be found for New Haven Locksmith.  He was two towns above New Haven and was number 11 in the search results.  He was abusive and liked to insult people.  After 5 weeks I had enough and fired my client.  It was the first time I had ever fired a client but in retrospect, I should have never taken this client on.

During this 5-week engagement, the locksmith was ignoring phone calls and email requests for service calls.  He was only focused on getting to page one with New Haven Locksmith (which happened 5 days after I fired him).  He was turning away business in a highly competitive industry.  Traffic and results were being driven to his web properties but this locksmith was not focused on delivering a positive customer experience, or any customer experience.  He wasn’t focused at all.

There are a lot of businesses, especially smaller businesses, that do not answer the phone on a regular basis.  Don’t be that business.

 

Final Thoughts:  Voice search continues to evolve and become more and more a part of our daily work and personal lives.  It’s clear that voice search and virtual assistance will be a big part of how Google and other search engines return results.  While these 6 Ways to Improve Your Search Results in Voice Search may further evolve it’s safe to say that these are areas that will need your SEOs attention in the coming months and years.

If voice search will account for 50% of all search queries in 2020 and 30% of those will be on a device without a screen what will you be leaving on the table by not adding voice search to your strategy?

 

 

 

 

Cold Calling SEO Scams

What is SEO and How Can You Dominate SEO in 2017?

What is SEO and How Can You Dominate SEO in 2017?

what is seoOne of the questions I am asked most often when I tell people what I do is what is SEO?  I get asked this question so often that I have found myself just defining it as part of my answer, something like I optimize websites to increase traffic and revenue for businesses.  I decided it was time to explain exactly what SEO is and what you need to know about SEO in 2017.

What is SEO?

The Definition of SEO

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization.  The short definition of SEO is the optimization of a website or landing page to make it easier for people searching the internet to find it.  SEO is not a new tactic or technique.  In fact, it’s been around for well over a decade.  If you’ve been in marketing at all then you have likely heard of SEO (shockingly I have spoken to marketers who have no idea what SEO is).  SEO is an art and a science.

SEO is an organic process.  That means if you are handling your own SEO you are not paying to rank your website on any of the search engines.  You are doing this without advertising and paying to improve ranking.

SEO requires a lot of knowledge on how the major search engines work and the changes they make to their algorithms.  Not keeping up with changes can be detrimental to your SEO plan, and ultimately your business.  This is why SEO experts like me are able to charge for this service.

You can fix your own leaky faucet and you might get it right but you might also miss something and create a bigger problem later.  You might also break something else in the process and create an enormous problem.  SEO works the same way.  Doing SEO wrong can set you back; in some cases years.

With the above definition, I will tell you that SEO has evolved dramatically, and continues to evolve daily (literally).  One of the main reasons that SEO has evolved so dramatically is the evolution of how people search.  We don’t search the internet the same way we did even a year ago.  Let me give you a few examples of what I mean:

  • Today if we’re looking for a product we’re more likely to take to Amazon or eBay than we are Google
  • With the influx of voice recognition software and hardware (Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google) it’s not uncommon to pick up a phone and use the voice search or to use a standalone Bluetooth speaker with voice recognition to get an answer
  • People routinely use YouTube (the second most popular search engine in the world) to research how to do something or get a product review. People would rather watch a video than reading.  They also want to be educated on a product or service before making a purchase
  • Often someone using Google to search will revise their search 3-5 times to find what they’re looking for. This has led to the development of machine learning (AI) to determine a searcher’s intent rather than what they type in (or speak).  Google’s AI is called Rankbrain.

How Do I Dominate My Own SEO?

diy seo memeFirst, let me start by saying you need to know a few things to get started.  If you are going down the DIY SEO road then you are likely using a CMS like WordPress, or a website builder like Wix.  If you choose WordPress I would highly recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin to help you manage SEO.  The website builders have some SEO components built into them but they can be limiting.

You can download my free On-Page SEO checklist to help you with the first part of SEO.  Review this document and implement all the action steps listed and you will be off to a great start.

Ultimately the way to dominate SEO is by thinking of your audience first, not Google or Bing.  Develop and write content for your audience.  If you sell cars then explain the advantages of a certain car in terms your audience will understand.  If you are a painter then develop content around deciding what type of paint you should use or what colors work best in different scenarios.

If you’re an SEO expert then develop content that helps business owners understand why SEO is so critical to a business’ success and how to determine if the SEO is done properly on their site.

Content comes in many forms.  Develop content in video, photos, infographics, written, and audio.  This ensures you are appealing to different types of leaning.  By doing this you will likely increase engagement which has become an important part of what Google looks at in determining ranking factors in 2017.

Content that your audience wants is one of the most critical pieces of any successful SEO plan.  Once the content is developed you can worry about the other more technical items and SEO tricks & hacks.

Here are some SEO hacks & tricks that have worked well for me recently:

  • Repurposing & remarketing content. Take an older blog post, update it and share it across social media
  • Sharing a blog post that Google has indexed on your site to other blogging platforms
  • When developing content include different forms of content (video, audio, images). Video especially will increase engagement
  • Share, Share, Share. There are tons of ways to share your content.  Do it.
  • Include Power Words in Your Title and Content
  • Don’t develop content around a singular keyword phrase. Use variations
  • Use Google Search Console to determine keyword analytics and build on positive results

one does not simply type in one search queryThat should be enough to get you started.  Things are changing in 2017.  If your SEO is not changing with it then you will suffer.  Some things to look out for in 2017 in my educated opinion:

  • Google will continue to put more weight into engagement analytics like bounce rate, time on page, and shares.
  • Google will penalize “fake” traffic. This means if you are somehow manipulating clicks to your site you will be penalized.  One of the more common methods of doing this is to encourage people to search for something and click on your site.
  • Businesses will place more value on SEO, and good SEOs will become harder to find. Larger businesses will in-house SEO.
  • Video will continue to drive SEO results and become more important to your SEO success.

I have a few more theories but we will hold on to those for a later blog post.

The question is What is SEO.  We reviewed what SEO is and how to dominate it in 2017.  The truth is SEO takes a lot of time, testing, effort, monitoring and work, and some luck.  If you are not prepared for the long-term commitment it’s best to leave it to an SEO expert.  In short, SEO is HARD WORK.

Feel free to join me on SEO Hackerz (formerly the SEO Tear Down).  I broadcast live once a week and upload every episode to YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and my site.  Lots of SEO information and tactics to be had on this podcast, and I keep them 15-20 minutes.  See you there.

SEO is for the people

 

 

 

 

Episode 16 | Local SEO Domination – Crush Your Local Competition

the SEO Tear Down with Scott GombarEpisode 16 | Local SEO Domination – Crush Your Local Competition

There’s a little thing called Google Maps. You see it when you search for businesses. It falls between the ads and the organic results. How can you dominate this listing and other spots on Google, as well as Bing?

Set up your local listing on Google by going to google.com/mybusiness and on bing by going to bing.com/places.

We also talked about setting up a Facebook Page, LinkedIn Company Page, Yelp and other local directories like YP and Mapquest.

We also analyzed another website today. The SEO was already done for the site by another SEO provider. They did not do the job. Watch and Learn

Episode 14 | Dominate the First Page of Google

Episode 14 | Dominate the First Page of GoogleSEO Tear Down

This week I talked about dominating the first page of Google.  Have you ever googled something and discovered a number of listings back to the same site?  That’s Google dominance but how does a website owner dominate Google?

There are 3 areas of opportunity when it comes to the first page of Google.  At the very top is Google AdWords.  There are 4 spots there.  Capture one of those spots through advertising and you are on your way.  You have to create relevant, high quality ads to make this happen.

Second is Google Maps.  Set up your business on Google.com/mybusiness (I talked about this in a previous episode) and get reviews.  Show up in the 3 pack and you have accomplished step 2 of Google Dominance.

Finally you have the organic results.  The difference for organic results is you have an opportunity to rank more than once in the top 10.  I used my own results to make a case.  My website is first followed by LinkedIn, Facebook, Reciproty, Business 2 Community, Slideshare and other sites.  That means not only does my website rank on the first page but my social profiles do as well.  You can also have multiple pages on your site show up on the first page.

That’s Google Dominance!

We also analyzed a website for it’s SEO. This was our first episode using Twitter Live along with Huzza and Facebook Live.  Someone on Twitter asked that we analyze a chiropractic site live and of course I obliged.  Have a listen to see what opportunities exist for the site.

Episode 12 | Optimize Your Business for the Google 3 Pack

SEO Tear DownEpisode 12 | Optimize Your Business for the Google 3 Pack

How do you get your business in the Google 3 Pack, also known as Google Maps?  When you do manage to get your business listed how do you dominate the Google 3 Pack section of the Google Search Engine Results Page?

This week I talked about that very topic.  Adding real estate to the Google SERP by dominating the Google 3 Pack helps you dominate Google.  Here’s what you need to know to succeed on the Google 3 Pack.

First, the Google 3 Pack is managed by going to google.com/mybusiness.

Once you’ve created an account here are the items to ensure your success on Google Maps:

  • Thorough & Detailed Description including relevant long tail keywords
  • Profile Image, Logo and Cover Photo
  • Website URL
  • Phone Number
  • Email
  • Address
  • Hours of Operation
  • Have Clients Review Your Business
  • Connect to YouTube and Upload Videos

Ep 11 | YouTube Optimization for SEO

SEO is for the peopleEp 11 | YouTube Optimization for SEO

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last few years you know that video has become a huge part of marketing and the internet in general.  Business owners are encouraged to create videos and upload them to YouTube as a means of marketing their businesses.  And so they do.  They have no idea what to do from there.

The most popular search engine for millennials, and the second most popular overall, is YouTube.  YouTube used correctly is a very powerful tool in your SEO strategy but how do you optimize your video for SEO?

That was the topic this week.  We quickly discussed some optimization opportunities for YouTube.

Your Channel

  • Get a custom URL
  • Add Cover Photo
  • Add link back to your website and social profiles
  • Add a thorough about section (did not discuss in video)

Your Videos

  • Include a descriptive title with a long tail keyword as the focus
  • Include a thorough description using long tail keyword variations in the description, and a link to your website
  • Include relevant tags.  Think of these as meta keywords for YouTube

Your Website

  • Embed the video on your website (blog post or page)
  • Include a description or transcription of the video
  • Optimize the post/page for On-Page SEO just like any other web page

There is certainly more you can do.  For example sharing the video is an important part of your SEO strategy.  Start with these steps and we will revisit at a later date.

Episode 10 Two SEO Hacks You Can Crush Your Competition With

the SEO Tear Down with Scott GombarEpisode 10 Two SEO Hacks You Can Crush Your Competition With

I wrote a blog post about an SEO hack that you can use (ethically) to increase traffic by 95% (or in some cases 200-300%).  I discovered some other hidden benefits to this SEO hack so that was the focus of this weeks episode.  Then I remembered that I wanted to talk about another SEO hack that I have used successfully several times now.

The first SEO hack involved repurposing existing website blog.  Read the blog post here to learn more about what I did and what the results were.

The second SEO hack involved your domain purchase and keyword strategy.  Basically if you research your long tail keywords before domain purchase you can get a domain with exact match keywords.  I have successfully ranked #1 within a few days on all major search engines.  I launched a new site 6 days ago with the same strategy and so far I am number 15 on Google, and number 1 on Yahoo and Bing.

I also talked about Google separating their index into 2 indexes.  One for mobile and one for desktop.  What will that mean to your business and website.

Can I build SEO friendly websites on Wix?  You can but you don’t get access to everything you need to win the SEO battle.

 

One Hack to Improve Website Traffic

This One Hack Will Increase Your Website Traffic by 95%

This One Hack Will Increase Your Website Traffic by 95%

Google Analytics Hack

I have read case studies of a trick that increases traffic by 200 or 300%. It’s an ethical method of increasing traffic so of course the nerd in me was intrigued.  I put the theory to test.  Here are the one trick and the results.  You may get better (or worse) results than I did.  I certainly would have liked a 300% increase in traffic but I got 95%.  I will take it.

The Hack

It’s really quite simple.  If you’ve been blogging on your site for a while then you probably have dozens, if not hundreds, of blog posts.  Go back to a blog post from a year or more ago.  The blog post should be primarily evergreen content.  Evergreen content is content that can be shared or used over and over again because the content is not outdated.

Once you find an appropriate blog post go through the post and update it.  Remove or update content that has a date.  Change a few images around.  Remove any content that is not longer relevant.  Add new content if there is any available.

In my case, I also found that I needed to update some of the on-page SEO elements.  I also modified the title but left the URL structure alone.  Remember if you change the URL structure you will have to add a 301 redirect.

OK, after reviewing and editing the blog post I shared it across most major social media channels.  I was moderately impressed with the results.

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The Results

1 hack to improve website traffic by 95%I had a traffic increase of almost 95% compared to the same time frame a week earlier.   I also had an increase of 67% over the same time period a year earlier. 

Compared to the week earlier there were also some other impressive, and more telling, statistics.

Page Views increased by 157%.  That means people were looking at more pages as a result of the updated blog post.  This is awesome.  You want people to look at more pages on your site.  This shows they are interested in knowing more about you and what you do.

Pages per Session increased by 32%.  Again, this is great.  More pages being viewed every time someone came to the site means they want to know more.

Average Time on Site increased by 5735%.  Wow..just wow.  People read the blog post and likely much more.

Bounce Rate decreased by 19%.  Great as well.  As indicated above people visited more pages while on my website.  This is truly awesome.

One Hack to Improve Website Traffic

An interesting stat was the new versus returning visitors.  The pie chart on the top is the newer results while the one on the bottom is from the previous period.  It makes sense that people who have been to my site before would return to read the article but when you combine that with the increase in page views and time on the site this equates to remarketing.  Most marketers and business owners know that you have to touch someone 7-10 times before you can close.  Instead of touching 16.7% of my audience for at least the second time, I reached 40% of my audience for at least the second time.

Awesome Website Traffic Increase

My quick case study shows what most marketers have probably suspected for some time.  You don’t always have to create new content.  Repurposing and sharing old content works well to drive qualified traffic to your site.

How do I know the traffic is qualified?  Well if it wasn’t qualified traffic the bounce rate would not have decreased and Page Views/Average Time on Site would not have increased so dramatically.  I drew the right audience by repurposing a blog post from over a year ago.

Practicing this one hack consistently will obviously have positive results on your traffic and on your business.  I would love to hear back from anyone who does this to hear their results.

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