Author: Mikal E. Belicove
You know you must leverage Facebook, Twitter and word-of-mouth marketing to increase awareness of your brand. But the fact is, websites remain infinitely more popular with consumers than all of the business pages on social media sites combined.
Only 22 percent of those of us online in the U.S. visit a branded social networking page such as those found on Facebook, while 62 percent of us regularly visit branded websites, according to the latest Global Web Index report. If you were starting to let your site become outdated or haggard, consider a refresh. After all, as these figures note, websites still matter.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t ignore yours:
1. Branding: Since it’s your site, you set the design, which affords you the flexibility to optimize the user experience in ways that directly support your business model and brand-related goals. There’s no competition on your website, just a branded experience that you direct yourself.
2. IT and Engineering Jurisdiction: When you control your own site, you have complete jurisdiction over its code, hosting environment, page count, content, plug-ins and more. Just as I mentioned above with regard to branding — here too you have the elasticity required to make small or sweeping adjustments at will, an advantage you don’t get with third-party websites. With sites like Facebook, you can change minor graphics and some content but not code, navigation scheme, server speed or the graphic user interface.
3. Content: Speaking of content, more of it can be found on your own website than on a third-party utility or platform, and none of it competes side-by-side for your visitor’s attention. Create compelling and useful content that speaks to why someone is visiting your site and you stand a higher chance of that visitor taking action with respect to your products or services. And since inventory (i.e., web pages) is virtually unlimited on a site under your control, you have ample opportunity to add additional content and calls-to-action in the format you deem most appropriate.
4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): If garnering multiple, relevant and highly positioned placements in the SERPs (search engine result pages) is part of your sales and marketing strategy, a website is a must. When properly coded and managed, your site delivers natural and sustaining search results that drive qualified traffic to the exact pages on your site where you want visitors to be.
5. Analytics: While many social utilities, platforms and networks provide access to data related to demographics associated with who accesses your profile and how often they do so, website analytic tools go much deeper. They can provide you with the type of business intelligence you need to determine in real-time how your online marketing performs and stacks up against the competition.
Don’t think for a moment that I’m suggesting you drop social in favor of your own website. What I’m advocating is that you lead first with your website, followed by leveraging social, email marketing, point of purchase, mobile, apps and other forms of marketing and outreach to drive traffic to your website where you can generate qualified leads who convert to paying customers.
For the original article go to: http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/220307
Author: Ken Mueller
The other day I was sitting in a client’s office for a meeting when they got a phone call. The person who answered listened, then looked at her boss (my client) and said:
“Do we want to be on the front page of Google and Bing?”
Without missing a beat, my client replied:
Now, it’s not that my client doesn’t want to be on the “front page of Google”. It’s that she understands that this is basically, at worst, a scam, and at best, empty promises.
You may have even gotten one of these calls. They often ask you if you want to be on the “first page” or “front page” of Google, and in some cases I’ve heard them say,
“There’s an opening on the first page of Google, are you interested?”
as if slots open up and it’s there job to help fit you in.
If you get these calls, I hope you’ll run the other way. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here’s why you need to steer clear:
1. There IS no first or “front page” of Google – It’s not a newspaper or magazine. It is a search engine that is constantly changing. Every search you do comes up with a different front page. In fact, you and I could do the same exact search on our own computers and come up with different results. We could even be sitting right next to each other and might get different results for the same search.
Why? Because Google and others are doing their best to make your searches personal. Their ever-changing algorithm is increasingly taking a number of personal factors into consideration. These include: your location, your social graph/networks, and your personal search history, among other things.
You might not like this, but Google knows a lot about you, and they use that information to help improve your searches. They know where you are, who your friends are, and what your search history is. These all come in to play.
2. There is ALWAYS space free on the first page – Search engine optimization is not a once and done thing. It’s an ever changing process. Every spot on EVERY page is always up for grabs. Do any search. What you see in the top slot is there for a reason, but do that same search tomorrow, and you might see a different order in the top slots. There is a space free on the first page of Google and Bing. There is ALWAYS a space free as it is always changing, as is the algorithm. Google, Bing, and the others don’t slot special spaces just for you. It’s all part of that very complicated, and ever changing, algorithm I’ve mentioned.
3. What keywords will they use? – In many business categories there are a variety of keywords that are used to find your business. If you’re a plumber in my area, the most likely keywords might be things like “Plumbers Lancaster PA” or some variation. That’s how I would look for a plumber. Because of that, some key words are higher volume than others, and those are the keywords for which it is harder to get a high rank. If most people search by “Plumbers Lancaster PA”, then those are the best terms for which to rank, but also the most difficult. On the other hand, you might be able to guarantee a high ranking for “My toilet is clogged in Lancaster PA”, but then again, how many people search for plumbers that way.
The point of this is that if they are promising top ranking for keywords that no one uses…you’re not getting anything. And if they are promising top ranking for the most used, heavy volume keywords? Too good to be true.
4. Define “guaranteed” – What’s the guarantee, and will you get it in writing? The only guarantees that will work for me are:
- We guarantee top ranking for YOUR chosen keywords, or your money back, or
- We guarantee top ranking for YOUR chosen keywords, or you don’t have to pay us.
Other than that, run away.
5. WHERE will I be on the “front page” of Google? – Locally? Regionally? Nationally? Globally? In my market or someone else’s? I happen to focus mostly on doing well in my local area and region. I know that to rank really high on a national level is out of my reach. You want to rank high in the right places. If you are a plumber in Lancaster, PA, ranking high in Lancaster, CA does you no good.
6. Where do you show up now? – Perhaps you’re already doing well and just need to maintain. I’ve seen cases where a good website that was performing well was scrapped for a less than stellar site and started falling in the search engine results. All because someone told the business owner that they could be doing better and the owner bought it. Quite often the people offering these guarantees haven’t taken the time to do their homework.
7. Organic or PPC? – Are you paying them to get solid organic placement or advertising placement in something like Google Ad Words? Organic placement is much better, but also much more difficult. Or are they merely going to charge you to get those pay per click placements at the top and in the right sidebar? And if it’s PPC, how much will it cost you, and again, for which keywords? PPC is not SEO, even though a lot of practitioners do both.
So what should you do?
There are reputable SEO folks out there who can work with you to optimize your site in a variety of areas, including title tags, content, etc. And then there are others who will cut corners and do things which can actually hurt your rankings and get you banned. These type of “black hat” tactics can happen on both a small scale on the local level, or even on a larger scale on a national level, as J.C. Penney’s found out earlier this year.
But don’t be taken in. When you get that phone call, either hang up, or ask the tough questions. Either way, be careful.
For the original article go to: http://bit.ly/nlYQxD
If search engines can decide to trust links or social accounts, can they learn to trust web sites? Sure, and many SEOs believe that site trust plays a big role in whether a site will succeed or fail with search engine rankings.
Is your site an authority? Is it widely recognized as outstanding in its field, area, business or in some other way? That what you’re aiming for.
No one knows exactly how search engines calculate authority and, in fact, there are probably multiple “authority” signals that are tracked. The type of links your site receives (lots of quality?) or social references (from respected accounts?) and engagement metrics may all factor in. Negative review might also hurt, as covered below:
But there’s little doubt that search engines do try to assess an overall authority figure. Just look through the questions that Google told publishers to ask themselves in May 2011, if they were hit by the “Panda” update. Trust, authority, expertise all come up:
Since search engines are constantly visiting your web site, they can get a sense of what’s “normal” or how you’ve behaved over time. Are you suddenly linking out to what the search engines euphemistically call “bad neighborhoods?” Are you publishing content about a topic you haven’t typically covered? Such things might raise alarm bells.
Then again, sites do change just like people do, and often for the better. Changes aren’t taken in isolation; other factors are also assessed to determine if something worrisome has happened.
In the end, a good overall track record may help you. An older, established site may find it can keep cruising along with search success, while a new site may have to “pay its dues,” so to speak, for weeks, months or even longer to gain its own respect.
For the original article go to: http://searchengineland.com/seotable/trust-authority-search-rankings