Nine SEO Metrics and Terms that You Need to Understand

SEO Analysis

In today’s digital world, search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo! have become powerful tools that play a large role in the success or failure of many companies. Ranking high in search engine results can help a business gain market share and strengthen their brand. When a business appears on the first page of search results for key terms, whether the consumer is actively searching for the business or not, it can directly result in leads and sales. The consumer will start to identify with the brand and build perceptions of the company just by seeing them at the top of the page. Having low results in search engine queries can hurt your business as much as good results can help. No matter the circumstances, all businesses should be on the first page for a certain term, such as their company or CEO’s name.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a website so that it appears higher in search engine results. Improving such results can be a lengthy process that requires much effort. In order to improve results, one needs to pay close attention to key performance indicators associated with SEO. Tools such as Google Analytics allow developers of a website to track metrics vital to a website’s SEO success. However, none of these statistics will help if one does not truly understand them. Below are nine metrics and terms that one needs to know in order to improve their SEO: Continue reading “Nine SEO Metrics and Terms that You Need to Understand”

10 Things YOUR website NEEDS to be successful

Website collage with multiple devices

The internet is now the main way for businesses to gain exposure. It’s an easy and fast way to get found, communicate with clients and bring in new business. This is your first impression- make it count!

When developing or maintaining a website, there are quite a few factors to consider since websites can easily help or harm a brand. What should the site include? How can I maximize the return on my investment? These are all questions that can be answered by considering a few important factors that you must consider to gain traffic and build your reputation.

Domain Name

The domain name is the primary way to brand your site (apart from your logo/design). This is what will be typed in the search bar to locate your site. Using a .com domain is be best because of its popularity — many individuals believe that .net sites are less reputable. Use .org for organizations and nonprofits only.

You want your web address to be simple, but including a keyword can help SEO (ex. www.longislanddivorcelawyer.com). Something long and difficult to remember may result in loss of visitors to your site.  We recommend using your company’s name or a keyword-based description. Continue reading “10 Things YOUR website NEEDS to be successful”

How to Choose the Right Keywords

5 Tips for Making the Most Out of Your Business’ Keyword Strategy

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), keywords are extremely important. Keywords are the words or short phrases that Internet users type into a search engine when looking for a website, business, service or product. In regards to SEO, search engines use keywords when analyzing and prioritizing websites. By including strong keywords in the content of your website, the meta tags, ALT tags, your domain name and each individual page name, your search engine rankings will dramatically improve. Apart from SEO purposes, keywords should also be used in blog entries and your Web advertising campaigns. This article will explain how to choose keywords that will boost your business’ online visibility and bring you higher conversion rates.

  1. Know Your Target Audience — Before determining which keywords to use, you must know exactly what your target audience is most interested in. Your keywords should consist of words or phrases that potential customers are most likely to use when searching for your business, service or website. Ask yourself: what would my potential customers most likely enter into a search engine? Once you are familiar with your audience’s needs and mindset, you can begin compiling a list of potential keywords.
  2. Brainstorm — Come up with a list of potential words and phrases that your target audience might use to find your business online. The goal is to show up as high as possible in search engine results when people search using these keywords. Generate a list of words or short phrases that relate to what your website is trying to promote, sell or offer to your target audience. Try to stay away from very popular keywords because the more competition there is for a keyword, the harder it is to rank high for it. You can narrow your keyword phrases by adding a location or town. Also, rather than repeating the same keyword over and over again in your Web copy, it’s best to use the keyword’s synonyms. This way, your content will be more interesting for readers and Google won’t mark you as a keyword abuser.
  3. Use Keyword Tools — There are plenty of tools on the Web that will help you determine the monthly activity or popularity of potential keywords. For example, try using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. This useful tool can help you get keyword ideas for your overall list and, more specifically, for your Web advertising campaigns. Through this keyword tool, you can find keywords based on your website’s content and also identify negative keywords. Here are several other keyword tools available on the Web:
  4. Keep an Eye on Your Competition — By taking a look at your competitors’ meta tags, you can see which keywords they are using and get an idea of which words and phrases are most common in your industry. By using programs such as Web CEO, you can measure how well you, and your competitors, come up in search engines and, essentially, how easily potential customers are able to find your website. You can also try entering one of your desired keywords into a popular search engine to see which websites show up the highest for this word. While you are aiming for keywords that your target audience is most likely to use, you also want keywords that don’t have as much competition. If you can find a balance of strong keywords and less competition, you will have a better conversion rate.
  5. Adapt When Necessary — Over time, keep track of words and search phrases to determine which keywords you should keep and which you should remove. If you find that some of these words are no longer relevant, opt for different ones and monitor what works and what doesn’t.

For more information on keywords, please read our article, “On-Page Optimization and Keywords.” You can also contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

What You Need to Know About SEO

SEO-Pre-Production

Search engine optimization (SEO) is absolutely critical to modern marketing. With millions of new Web pages flooding the Internet every day, search engines are forced to sift through the clutter and develop a ranking system to prioritize websites. In the most basic sense, SEO is everything that helps your business get ranked higher and receive optimal exposure from these search engines. This is so important because your position on organic search engine results correlates with the number of leads generated by your website. For those who are new to SEO, this article will explain the most important factors that affect these rankings.

  1. Content — Compelling content is perhaps the most important and influential factor of search engine optimization. Every Web page you create should contain unique content that is fresh and relevant to your industry and keywords. Strong content is quickly picked up by the major search engines and pushed to the top of the search results. When writing your Web copy, see if you’ve answered the needs of your customers or clients. What kind of content are they looking for? Depending on your industry, you may offer guidebooks, downloads, a FAQ section, multimedia and other pages that are of value to your audience. It’s also important to ask yourself (even if your content meets the needs of your audience): What makes your website stand out from those of similar organizations? The more valuable and unique your website, the more traffic it will receive. For more information on the importance of content and how you can create better content, please see our article, “Why Quality Content Reigns Supreme.”
  1. Your Web Page Must be Crawlable — In order to build traffic, your website must allow search engines to easily “crawl,” or access and index, the information on your site. If your content cannot be crawled, it won’t be ranked or indexed by search engines. To ensure that your website is crawlable, use search engine-friendly CSS code, include a simple and clean navigation, use text links and incorporate a keyword-rich URL structure. Once your website has been fully optimized, crawled and indexed, it will be much easier to attract organic traffic from Google and other major search engines.
  1. On-page SEO — On-page SEO refers to all of the production requirements on the specific individual pages you are trying to rank. When developing your Web presence, make sure that every page is fully optimized since it’s possible that individual pages of your website will rank higher than your homepage. Start out with a strong, well-thought-out design, incorporate a frequent updating strategy and pick a domain name with potential keywords in it. It’s also important to name your individual Web pages using keywords. For example: www.yourcompany.com/keyword1-keyword2.html. Use proper programming and avoid “black hat” methods to prevent blacklisting by Google and other search engines. These black hat methods include repeating the keyword in your content too often, having duplicate websites and registering many domains and interlinking them all. For more in-depth information on on-page optimization tips and techniques, please see our article, “On-Page Optimization and Keywords.”
  1. Relevance — Your website and individual Web pages must be a close match to the term that is being searched. To boost your site’s relevance in the eyes of popular search engines, make sure that every title, header, link, graphic name and page on your website is somehow relevant and connected to your subject and desired keywords.
  1. Off-page SEO — Off-page SEO refers to the external aspects which attribute to rankings, or everything that happens off your website that builds traffic and leads to higher search engine ranking. The most important factors to consider are the external pages linking to your website and the level of authority these pages have. For example, submitting your website to popular Web directories and social bookmarking websites that have high authority will benefit your overall SEO. For more detailed information about off-page optimization and long-term strategies to improve your SEO, please read our article, “No, We Can’t Get You Those Results Overnight.” An important factor of off-page optimization is the level of authority given to your Web page. The more authority your Web page has, the more likely it will rank high for certain keywords. To maximize your authority, secure as many backlinks as possible from as many high-authority sites as possible. Since authority is an aspect of link-building, you can build authority on the Web by utilizing off-page optimization methods such as submitting your site to Web directories, using social bookmarking websites, blogging regularly and other techniques to engage users with your content and drive traffic and legitimate backlinks to your website.
  2. Link Building — Link building is critical to enhancing your SEO and attracting people to your website. Backlinks are so important to SEO because some major search engines, such as Google, will give more credit to websites that have a high number of quality backlinks. This doesn’t mean buying links or using link farms — backlinks should only be coming from credible sources. For example, backlinks from websites such as Google, YouTube and free submission websites are given more authority and link value. The four major factors that affect link value are:
    • Whether It Is a No-Follow or Do-Follow Link — Focus on obtaining do-follow links, which contain a special HTML Markup that notifies the major search engines to follow the destination inside the link. Always avoid link farms since these can actually hurt your search engine ranking.
    • The Authority of the Page Your Link Appears On — The higher the authority of the page your link appears on, the more SEO credit your backlink will hold.
    • The Number of Other Links on the Page Linking to You — The more links on one page, the less SEO credit each link possesses.
    • The Anchor Text of a Link — Links that have desired keywords in the anchor text (the clickable text in a hyperlink) are the most valuable to you, in terms of ranking for those keywords.

For more information, please contact The Public Relations and Marketing Group at (631) 207-1057 or johnzaher@theprmg.com. You can also visit our blog for more valuable articles, advertising spotlights and more.

On-Page Optimization and Keywords

Working with Domains

• Pick a domain name that has potential keywords in it.
• Choose to pre-pay your domain for a few years in advance. Genuine sites plan on staying around for a while.
• If you’re using a shared server, you may want to do a blacklist check. If you have spammers on your server, you share the same IP address with them and so you may be considered a spammer.
• There are multiple ways to reach your home page; make sure your site is set up to redirect the other ways. For example, yourcompany.com, www.yourcompany.com, yourcompany.com/index.html, www.yourcompany.com/index.html all should redirect to the one you pick. Google considers these to be four separate pages, instead of one.
• Name your Web pages using keywords, for example, www.yourcompany.com/keyword1-keyword2.html.
• Never block your domain registration information using a privacy feature. Doing so may cause search engines to consider you a spammer for your anonymity.

Use Proper Programming

• Use the words “image” or “picture” in your photo alt descriptions and captions. A lot of searches are for a keyword plus one of those words.
• Make sure you have at least one text-based navigation link to make it easy for search engines to find the other pages of your site. Search engines have trouble following links using JavaScript-based images. These alternate text-based navigations are usually found at the bottom of a site.
• Stay away from developing websites with Frames because you cannot link to a specific page of the site. Use Flash and Ajax minimally. Search engines cannot read anything inside Flash and cannot see inside the Frames.
• If you MUST have a splash page with Flash or something of the sort, you also MUST place content and link text below it.
• If you aren’t too slick with CSS, putting your menu on the right-hand side will ensure spiders will crawl your main content first (after). Spiders read sites top to bottom, left to right. • Get rid of code bloat. JavaScript and CSS code should be moved to separate external files. • Make a dynamic XML sitemap to submit to search engines. • You should have a customized error page. If a potential customer finds a broken link, they can be supplied with links back to the site. • You should have a robots.txt file which is used to restrict search engines from reaching certain parts of your site. It also tells search engines where your dynamic XML sitemap is located.

Displaying Your Content

• Keep your content text-based as much as possible. Search engines cannot read text that is embedded in an image. If you use images, make sure you assign an alt tag and title tag to each image. An alt tag is seen when the image cannot be displayed. It is also used by the visually impaired.
• Keep your content changing and fresh. Outdated content will rank lower than more recent content.
• If your site’s content does not change often, then your site needs a blog. Once you have a blog, it’s important TO BLOG ON IT or you will receive little to no results. Crawlers crawl for content; if your site’s content doesn’t change, the crawler will come back less and less often. Three blogs entries a week is proficient.
• You should have a good content-to-code ratio. This means, even though you enjoy spinning images, with cool effects, and flashy junk, your content-to-code ratio is poor. A blank white page with optimal content will always do better than code-stuffed junk pages.
• If you are writing a substantial article, then you are most likely dealing with sub-topics. These sub-topics should be split in to separate pages with their own optimizations.
• Put high-quality outbound links related to your Web site. This doesn’t mean you should link to your competitor; it means you should link to a site that is within the realm of what your site is about and use the keywords considered by Google for that site. This shows users that you are in good faith and not a spammer. A higher ranking will give you more traffic than outbound links. People leave when they haven’t found what they’re looking for; chances are you’d have lost them anyway.

Using Keywords

• Pick relevant keywords that potential customers may search for. Try to stay away from very popular keywords. The more competition for a keyword, the harder it is to rank high with it. Try narrowing your keyword phrases by adding a location or town.
• Use keyword phrases in the content on your pages and in the headings. Repeat keywords throughout the content making some bold or italicized – this tells search engines that these words are more important. Make sure each page has a good amount of content – search engines love a lot of text.
• Don’t try to cram keywords and pull a fast one on a search engine spider. Programmers are constantly rewriting code to find people who try to abuse the spider, and they will find you eventually. So basically, BE LEGITIMATE – write content for a reader and NOT a spider.
• Use keyword phrases in the title of each Web page. Each page should have a unique title. Don’t list your company name in your title – most potential customers won’t be searching for you specifically. The words towards the beginning of the title should be the most important.
• Use the keyword and description meta tags in your site. Each page should have unique keywords and descriptions.
• It is always best to use keywords in anchor text (links). “SEO tips” is always a better anchor text than “Click here.” Crawlers also consider the surrounding text nearest to the anchor.
• Give each page a focus on a single keyword phrase. Don’t try to optimize the page for several keywords at once.
• Rather than repeating the same keyword over and over again, it is best to use the keyword’s synonyms. This keeps your content more interesting for readers, and Google won’t think you’re a keyword abuser.
• The best places for juicy keywords is the beginning and end of your page. Sometimes that’s not where it “looks” best to viewers; in such cases, it’s optimal to use CSS to place your keywords at the top of the source and not change the visual layout.

“Blackhat” Methods

Avoid using these methods to prevent blacklisting by Google and other search engines:
• Having duplicate websites.
• Auto-generated content.
• Repeating the keyword in your content too often.
• Redirecting the home page.
• Using small pixel text or hidden text on your pages. For example, white text on white background.
• Submitting your site to a “link farm.”
• Cloaking: this means displaying a different version of your web site, depending on the IP address of those accessing it.
• Registering many domains and interlinking them all.

Navigating Google Analytics

by Steve Gerbino, Web Developer, PRMG

How the System Works

Google Analytics is a powerful Knowledge Management System and Geographic Information System. It gives everyone with access to the Internet the capability of understanding how the world views, manipulates, and navigates their website using the latest data mining technologies. Its ideal availability makes it one of the top analytical information systems used by small businesses.

Getting started is extremely simple, and tracking starts immediately. A Google account and access to one’s Web server is needed. The user then navigates to the https://www.google.com/accounts/Login page, enters their account details and follows the steps necessary to create an analytics account. Google will then provide the user with a JavaScript code to apply to each page they would like to track. They may then view the status to make sure everything has been installed correctly.

Once it has been verified that the JavaScript code has been implemented correctly, Google Analytics will begin collecting data on the visitors to the user’s site. Reports are made on a 24-hour basis, so they can be viewed the next day. Once the 24-hour period has passed, the user can now click “View Report” to enter their dashboard, summarizing all of the data collected.

From here, the user can get a complete overview of the information collected on their site — how many visits, how many are unique, how long did the visitors stay on each page, where are they located geographically, what browser and operating system did they use, what version of Flash do they run, do they have JavaScript capabilities, what percentage each page was landed on, and where the traffic originated, among other useful data. You have the option to customize your dashboard, to show you the ratios that you want to see. You can customize your own ratios, graph types, and location of the information on your dashboard.

A menu is located to the left of the user’s dashboard. This is where they can get more specific in each data collection category.

Each menu item provides a more detailed report on each category, including Intelligence, Visitors, Traffic Sources, Content, Goals, and Custom Reports.

The first menu item, Intelligence, is a new feature for Google Analytics. It is an alert system to identify irregular patterns recognizable by Google Analytics. Users can set their own custom alerts and allow Google Analytics to alert them when their system sees an issue. This can be handy when users analyze many websites that they don’t visit daily. They can see a drop in visitors for a day and find out that there is some problem with their site, such as coding, DNS, worms, or other forms of computer crime.

The next menu item, Visitors, is a highly powerful view of individual visitors to the site. Here, users can view how many visits, how many absolute unique visitors, how many page views, average page view per visitor, the time spent on their site, their site’s bounce rate, and percentage of new visits. It also shows the users the connection speed for their visitors. You may ask, what is a bounce rate? A bounce rate is a ratio of people who land on someone’s site and immediately leave. The goal of the user is to lower their bounce rate, which is increasing the time on their site. Up at the top, there will be a linear graph of visitors over time. One can see if the changes they made had a negative or positive effect on the amount of visitors they have had with just a glance.

Visitor also contains several sub-menu items including:

  • Benchmarking – compares the user’s site to sites of similar size
  • Map Overlay – shows the user geographical locations of visitors
  • New vs. Returning – new visitors vs. visitors that return to the user’s site
  • Languages – languages spoken
  • Visitor Trending
  • Visitor Loyalty
  • Browser Capabilities – Flash version, JavaScript support
  • Network Properties
  • User defined

Traffic Sources

Traffic Sources is very useful in determining how someone’s site is doing. This will show the user where their visitors are coming from. Direct Traffic means that the visitors actually type in the user’s address in the browser. This usually indicates a returning and loyal visitor. Referral sites are people who’ve clicked a link for another website and landed on their page. Having many referral sites increases the user’s traffic and ranking dramatically. Here, they can see exactly what websites are bringing them the most traffic. Thirdly, Search Engines will show the users what traffic that search engines are bringing them. Not only do they show users what visitors Google has referred to their site, but they show them what they actually searched for in Google to get to their site. Now the user know what keywords are hot and what’s going to get them more traffic. This page is extremely handy.

Traffic Sources also contains the following sub-menu items:

  • Overview
  • Direct Traffic
  • Referring Sites
  • Search Engines
  • All Traffic Sources
  • AdWords
  • AdWord Campaigns
  • Keyword Positions
  • TV Campaigns
  • Keywords
  • Campaigns
  • Ad Versions

Content

Content can be viewed over time, of course, at the top. Users can get a more detailed understanding on the most viewed content on their site, and a variety of other really useful information regarding what content is visible on their site.

Content sub-menu items include:

  • Overview
  • Top Content
  • Content by Title
  • Content Drilldown
  • Top Landing Pages
  • Top Exit Pages
  • Site Overlay

Site Overlay is an interesting item. It will bring up their website with a Google Analytics toolbar at the top and then put an overlay over their site so that it is shown in sectors. Each little slice of the user’s website will have a click-through percentage. This gives them a very powerful visualization of where people are actually clicking on their site. Users can find every link with a white tab showing them the percentage that it was clicked. Where are the hot spots? Where do people never click? This all can be shown with Site Overlay!

Goals

Goals are set by the user. They are pages the user wants their visitors to end up. If the user’s company is selling goods, they may set your goals to the Order Completion page. If the company is looking to get more members on their site, you may set a goal to the Registration Activation page. Another capability of Goals is funneling. A funnel is a path the user specifies from start to finish to achieve a goal. They may specify several funnels to a goal, and once a funnel is specified, they can then analyze where users stop the path or how long each step takes. On their overview, users will have a goal conversion rate — that is, the percentage of the visitors to the user’s site who have completed the goal you have set. This is a very powerful tool and can be used to improve the user’s intentions for their website.

The following are sub-menu items of Goals:

  • Overview
  • Total Conversions
  • Goal Verification
  • Reverse Goal Path
  • Goal Value
  • Goal Abandoned Funnels
  • Funnel Visualization

Positive and Negative Points

Cons

There aren’t many cons to begin with. Google Analytics is JavaScript code, and if users are looking for information about how Bots are hitting and viewing their site, Google Analytics cannot do this for them. JavaScript is not enabled in a text-based session of a bot. Also, viewers that do not have JavaScript enabled will not be tracked. This number is extremely low and will probably affect less than 1% of the user site’s population.

  • Does not track bots
  • Does not track users without JavaScript

Pros

The Pros outweigh the Cons significantly. This software is absolutely free. It costs the Web developer nothing to have this information system working for them within minutes. Why would Google offer such a great service for free? Well, the answer to that is easy. Google realizes the value of data, and with Google Analytics, users have the option to submit anonymous data about their traffic and help Google keep their practices top-notch. Google uses an opt-in approach to this, meaning the user, by default, is going to submit anonymous data to Google. They can easily uncheck the box to stop this.

  • Cost-free
  • Very powerful
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to understand
  • Totally customizable
  • Integration with other systems
  • Integration with Google AdSense & AdWords

Recommendations for Implementation

There is nothing else needed to prepare the integration of Google Analytics to a site. A basic knowledge of Web development and access to one’s Web server through their Web hosting service are all that is needed. The user simply places the JavaScript onto their site’s pages and begin analyzing data. Google could not have made it easier. Extensive training is unnecessary. Once the user logs in to their dashboard, everything is right there at their fingertips. For those who have an advanced system and wish to stream data into it, Google provides information on how to do this, as well as a number of companies who have already designed software to take this information and display it in many different ways.

Customer Service

Google provides a huge knowledgebase of FAQs, as well as a help forum. There are many best practice methods available and ways to improve one’s visibility all in Google’s documentation. One can reach customer service by logging in to their Google Analytics account and submitting a post on their forum, or searching their knowledgebase. Seeing as though their software is top-quality, anyone knowledgeable in Information Technology should see installation of this software as trivial. Any detailed questions have been addressed in their FAQ section, and the forum is reserved for more specific issues.

References

http://web-analytics-review.toptenreviews.com/free-web-analytics.html describes Google Analytics as both “comprehensive” and “easy-to-use”.

http://www.blippr.com/apps/337954-Google-Analytics users describe Google Analytics as “amazing,” “All of the tools you need to report from tracking page views to ecommerce,” “The most powerful analytics!!!” and “Google Analytics continues to make progressively better enhancements while the former leader WebTrends remains relatively unchanged.”

http://www.mediacollege.com/internet/statistics/software/google-analytics/ claims that Google Analytics is “The best stats application I have used.”