Blog Posts about Internet Search by Scott Gombar

first steps to SEO Success - Meta Tags

First Steps to SEO Success – Meta Tags [And What to Avoid]

It’s been a while since I added to this series.  My plan was to finish the series and turn it into an eBook by the end of the year.  I guess I better get moving a little.

What We Will Discuss:

  • What Are Meta Tags
  • What Meta Tags are Deprecated
  • What Meta Tags are Important
  • Other Meta Tags

So far we have covered:

Now we’re going to talk about one of the more misunderstood and often abused areas of SEO.

What Are Meta Tags?

first steps to SEO success meta tagsMeta Tags are not visible when visiting a web page or blog post.  They are inserted into the header code of a web page.  They provide more information about what the web page or blog post is about.  They also provide other information to search engines.

There are meta tags that are useful to search engines, and others that are no longer useful.

If you are using a WordPress site it is easy to add Meta Info.  Most SEO plugins assist with providing meta information.

Yoast SEO plugin is my SEO plugin of choice on WordPress.  It is the most widely used SEO plugin.  Be sure to do your own research to determine what works best for you.

Most CMS or Website builders provide tools to add the appropriate meta information to your site.

If you are building a website with your own code, then you will have to manually add the appropriate code to your web page header section.

Meta Tags are short snippets of code that provide information about what your web page or blog post is about to search engines.

Why Are Some Meta Tags Useful and Others Not?

Let’s start with Meta Keywords.

Meta Keywords used to indicate to a search engine that a web page should be shown when a searcher queries for that keyword.

The problem was website owners and SEOs would stuff this meta tag with irrelevant keywords.  This created a negative user experience for people looking for specific information.

Meta Keywords can still be added but it’s pointless as major search engines do not use this information anymore.

Meta Description is used to describe what a web page or blog post is about.

A meta description is a one or two sentence synopses of the web pages content.

Google and other search engines won’t display much more than this.

Meta Descriptions are still very useful.  One thing to note is that Google does not always display the meta description in the search results.  Many times, Google will opt to display content from the web page or blog post itself.

There is no clear explanation as to why Google might choose to display content from the web page versus using the meta description.  It most likely depends on the search query being entered.

This is a typical Meta Description

<meta name=”description” content=”Meta Tags Are an Important Aspect of Search Engine Optimization.  Learn what they are and which ones can help you rank on Google”>

meta description tags for SEO

Google has stated that using keywords in a meta description will not help your SEO.

Where meta descriptions will help is enticing searchers to click on the web page.  Writing a compelling meta description, possibly with a call to action, is more likely to drive traffic than ignoring the meta description or using something generic, or keyword stuffing (which won’t help AT ALL).

If you read my blogs on a regular basis then you will know I talk about engagement all the time.  Google uses engagement statistics (bounce rate, time spent on a page, shares, etc..) to determine a page’s relevancy.

If a page has a low bounce rate and good engagement statistics, then there’s a better chance it will rank higher.

If searchers are clicking through a search result because of a well-written meta description, and stay on the page, visit another page on the site, leave a comment or share the page then Google considers the page to be more relevant.

If a page is considered more relevant there’s a good chance the web page moves higher in the search rankings.

Meta descriptions should be 160 characters or less.  Short meta descriptions will usually not have great results when shown.

Google has tested longer meta descriptions in the past.  As of this writing, the meta descriptions are not parsed beyond 160 characters.

Title Tags

We talked about web page and blog titles and their importance in an earlier blog post.

Title Tags are the meta tag used to tell search engines what the title of the web page should be.  This is an important meta tag as well.  This might be the most important of the meta tags.

Google will not serve up other information for the title tag.  The title of your page might make or break your clicks and visits.

<title>First Steps to SEO Success – Meta Tags [and What Not to Do]</title>

meta title tags for SEO

I wrote a lot about Titles and Title Tags in my post about Page and Blog Titles for SEO Success.

Title tags are probably the most important meta tag for your SEO.  This is why I dedicated a separate section to title tags.

Let’s talk a little about what might make the above title successful.

The title describes what the blog post will be about.  It also gives the searcher a reason to click through.

The searcher might ask if they are doing something wrong that could be hurting their SEO.

There was a study done by Brian Dean of Backlinko that showed using parenthesis or brackets significantly improved CTR (Click Through Rates).

These meta tags are probably the most recognized but there are a lot more.  Let’s explore.

[trx_button type=”square” style=”dark” size=”huge” fullsize=”no” icon=”icon-search-1″ color=”#ff4500″ link=”https://www.scottgombar.com/free-local-seo-audit/” popup=”no”]Get a Free SEO Audit Instantly[/trx_button]

Other Meta Tags

Meta Robots Attribute

This tells Google what it should do with your web page or blog post.  There are two attributes that you can assign to this tag.

Index/NoIndex tells Google whether the webpage should be indexed on the search engine.

Follow/NoFollow tells Google whether the links on your web page should be trusted (Follow) or not trusted (NoFollow)

There are other meta tags that are specific to social media.

Open Graph was originally specific to Facebook.  Open Graph meta tags pass information from your web page to Facebook.  This is how Facebook can identify:

  • The page title
  • The description
  • What image to use
  • Author
  • Date
  • And more

Today Open Graph is used by Pinterest and Google Plus as well.

You can set up Rich Pins for Pinterest.  This is an extra step that is done through the Pinterest platform.

open graph meta tags for Facebook and Pinterest

Some of the more common open graph meta tags are:

<meta property=”og:title” content=”What Happens When You Stop Doing SEO? [It’s Not Pretty]”/>
<meta property=”og:description” content=”What happens when a business decides to stop doing SEO on their website? The results are pretty dramatic and can impact a business immensely.”/>
<meta property=”og:type” content=”article”/>
<meta property=”og:image” content=”https://www.scottgombar.com/what-happens-when-you-stop-doing-seo-its-not-pretty/”/>

what happens when you stop doing SEO post on Facebook

 

Twitter also has meta tags to do the same.  Twitter meta tags are often left out of blogs and web pages.  This is a lost opportunity for many site owners.

twitter meta tags

What About Rich Snippets?

When I created my SEO Checklist several years ago rich snippets were not widely used yet.  They still have not been implemented by most of the websites on the internet.

Rich Snippets or Microdata is like Meta Tags in that it provides microdata about a web page to search engines.

I wrote about Rich Snippets and Microdata briefly in this blog post. 

Since more is being said about Rich Snippets and their usage on Google’s Search Results Page I will add that to my next blog post in the First Steps to SEO Success Series.

While it has not been declared outright it is possible that one day Rich Snippets (Schema.org) will replace meta tags.  Google is relying on the information from rich snippets more and more.

If I were implementing an SEO strategy today I would include both meta tags and rich snippets as part of my strategy.

Next up in this series is Rich Snippets and Schema.org

[trx_button type=”square” style=”dark” size=”huge” fullsize=”no” icon=”icon-search-1″ color=”#ff4500″ link=”https://www.scottgombar.com/free-local-seo-audit/” popup=”no”]Get a Free SEO Audit Instantly[/trx_button]

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!

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

8 Ways to Recognize Cold Calling SEO Scams

8 Ways to Recognize Cold Calling SEO Scams by Scott Gombar CT SEO

Cold Calling SEO is Scummy

8 Ways to Recognize Cold Calling SEO Scams Is scummy even a word?  Well as I am putting this blog post together Microsoft Word has not marked it as a grammatical error.

I hear it all the time from business owners.  They get unsolicited cold calls from Google asking them if they need help with their Search Engine Rankings or SEO or Search Engine Optimization.  I too have gotten this call.  It usually starts off with something like “Are you the owner of the business?”.  This is an immediate indication that this is not a call I want, but I usually play along because I like to torture these spammers.  Let’s call it what it is. It’s spam over the phone.

It’s usually one of 3 spam/scam calls.  The Google call, the IRS call or the business loan call.  They always ask for the business owner and have never done their homework because if you knew what I did you wouldn’t even waste your time claiming to be from Google.

Just like the IRS or Commercial Lenders, Google does not cold call people.  There it is in plain English, please share it, copy it, get a tattoo of it, whatever helps other business owners not lose thousands of dollars on unqualified or black hat SEOs.  Google does not cold call people.  Yes, Google does call people if you are an advertiser.  They do this to make sure you are using the platform effectively, but Google does not have a platform for organic search results per se.  They do have tools, but they do not cold call you to ask if you are using Google Analytics correctly.

As I was researching for this blog post I came across several blog posts about how SEOs can be successful at cold calling business owners.  These were on marketing and SEO agency blogs and I was shocked to see that businesses were agreeing to terms with the cold calling SEO agency, over the phone.  They don’t sit down with the agency to learn about their best practices.  They don’t have a clear understanding of the terms of the contract.  They don’t even know what the person who will handle their SEO looks like.

The cold caller’s strategy for generating leads is simple.  They search Google and any business that is on page 2-5 of the search results gets a phone call. One blog post even had a link to their script.  Out of curiosity, I looked the blogger up on Twitter and his account is suspended.  I wonder why.

I don’t have a problem with the way someone chooses to earn a living or gain clients if it’s not hurting anyone.  If you’re cold calling and representing your business as one that can practice ethical SEO while helping to grow a business, and you run your business in such a manner, then I would be OK with it.  The problem is most, if not all, of these cold calling SEOs do not practice ethical SEO and generally take the money and run.  This leaves business owners with a bad taste for legitimate SEO agencies.  I have heard this from business owners on several occasions as well.

8 Ways to Recognize Cold Calling SEO Scams

  1. They claim to be calling from Google (Google does not cold call businesses about SEO)
  2. They claim they can get you the top position on Google Search Results (Run Fast)
  3. They ask if you are “the owner of the business”. They don’t mention the business by name, just say “the business”.
  4. They claim that your website is not indexed by Google. How did they find you then?  I love to ask that question.
  5. They claim Google has penalized your site. See response to the previous bullet point.  The only way they would know if you have been penalized is if they have access to your Google Search Console account.  (You do have one of those right?)
  6. There’s a delay in response after you say hello. These are computer generated calls.  We like to use the term robocalls.
  7. They sound disinterested when they speak with you. This is a good indication they’ve been rejected numerous times already.  This will take a toll on anyone and is another reason I don’t cold call.
  8. The call almost always comes from a hyper-local number. Meaning the number will have the same area code and prefix as your number.

Cold Calling SEO ScamsStill not sure that the SEO Cold Caller is a Scam?  I can tell you that any legitimate SEO service provider that I have ever spoken with or know of has not used cold calling as a method for gaining new clients. If you still want to go down that rabbit hole here are 8 questions you can ask yourself or the cold caller.

8 Questions to ask Cold Calling SEOs

  1. What is their website address? While you’re speaking with them view their website and check for inaccuracies with the information they provide on the phone.
  2. What is their phone number? Don’t assume it’s the one on your caller ID.  They probably spoofed their number.  Check that number to see if there are any complaints against it online.  A simple (you guessed it) Google search will reveal this information.
  3. Ask for references from current and previous clients.
  4. Listen for poor grammar. Do you want someone who cannot speak effectively to develop content for your site?
  5. This applies to cold email. If the email comes from a free account like Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail just delete it.  A respectable business will email from their domain (yourbusiness.com).
  6. Check for social media profiles for the business or “experts” from the business. If it is an incomplete social media account they reference (or in the case above it’s suspended) you can end the conversation.
  7. Check for online reviews. If there are none that does not necessarily exclude them, but it is a good indication they are either scamming you or very new to the industry.  More than likely if it’s an SEO Scammer.
  8. Get a second opinion. In SEO we suggest always getting a second opinion.  I can’t tell you how many times I have spoken to business owners who have been misinformed by another SEO “Expert” or are their SEO “Expert” is using questionable SEO practices.  Don’t agree to anything, especially a long-term contract, without a second opinion.

I hope this helps business owners understand what to look out for when it comes to cold calling SEOs.  If you want a second opinion on a proposal from an SEO, feel free to email us at bold@scottgombar.com or call us at 203.806.0736.

One last tip.  I see this all the time, so I am just going to throw this out there.  If the SEO Service Provider’s home page of their site has the title of “Home”, they are not by any stretch of the imagination an SEO Expert.

 

 

Episode 17 | The Keyword Show

the SEO Tear Down with Scott GombarEpisode 17 | The Keyword Show

I’ve changed the name of the show to SEO Hackerz but this is Episode 17 and on this episode, we talked about how to find the right keywords and how to best utilize those keywords.

We also analyzed a website today and discussed how the site owner could benefit from the very topic we discussed. This episode is the perfect episode for anyone just getting into a business and that has not purchased a domain name yet.

We discussed the tools that you can use to find the best keyword phrases (long tail keywords).  This list is also available on my on-page SEO checklist.  The list includes:

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • SEMRush
  • Spyfu
  • Google Trends
  • Google Alerts
  • Word Tracker

Once you’ve determined the best keywords to use it’s time to purchase a domain.  With the numerous TLD domain extensions, it is easier now to get an exact match keyword domain name.

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 15 Podcasting for SEO Dominance

the SEO Tear Down with Scott GombarEpisode 15 Podcasting for SEO Dominance

In previous episodes I talked about ways of getting backlinks. One of those ways is appearing on podcasts as a guest.

We have also talked about developing content in the past. Creating your own podcast and adding it to your website is a great way to add content to your site.

I talk about both of these on this episode of The SEO Tear Down.

Learn a tactic that will develop your personal brand while improving your SEO efforts.  Become the recognized expert in your industry and drive more traffic to your site and more revenue to your business.  It’s a win/win.Learn a tactic that will develop your personal brand while improving your SEO efforts.

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 13 | Link Building Secrets for SEO Domination

SEO Tear DownEpisode 13 | Link Building Secrets for SEO Domination

Link Building is one of the most challenging aspects of SEO. Many business owners are discouraged from doing it and many SEOs avoid it or take the cheap way out.

I talk about Link Building and some organic ways to get high-quality links back to your site, some of them are not so hard.

We talked about the following for link building and SEO:

  • Adding a link to ted.com (Ted Talks)
  • Adding profiles to blogging sites like Medium & Blogger.
    • We also talked about a strategy of sharing your original blog content mentioned in an earlier episode.
  • Adding profiles to industry related sites
  • Creating social media profiles
  • Guest blogging
  • Commenting on relevant, high-quality sites
  • Brief discussion of Penguin 4.0

Have a listen and if you want to feature your website on the next episode of the SEO Tear down sign up today.

 

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.