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Tag: SEO

13
Oct

It’s All About Chemistry…and SEO

A good infographic uses something familiar, something you understand, to help you grasp something new or confusing. So why in blazes did Search Engine Land decide to use Chemistry (which most people don’t understand) to help people grasp Search Engine Optimization (which most people also don’t understand)? Smh.

Realistically, though, certain subjects, like SEO, can only be boiled down so far. And the categories this graphic gives are golden. Let me walk you through it.

Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

What the Colors Mean

To start, note the color groupings. As marked, the blue columns are “On-the-page” SEO factors. Basically, these elements have everything to do with your website – how it’s built and what content you fill it with. You have direct control over these factors. The green columns by contrast are the “Off-the-page” SEO factors. You don’t have direct, immediate control of these. But your choices and strategy have everything to do with influencing them. For instance, with the penalty for spammy links to your site increasingly severe, links must now be earned rather than bought, farmed, or stolen. How? Write helpful stuff and earn the respect of other professionals through networking. Oh, and you don’t have to choose between these. You should do both.

But what about the red boxes under each column? Those are negative factors – things that hurt you. We’ll come back to them as we look at each column.

As a side note, the difference in color tone also reinforces the value each factor has. Darker colors = More important.

What Each Column Means

On-the-page SEO factors are grouped in three columns: Content, Architecture, & HTML. Off-the-page factors are grouped in four: Trust, Links, Personal, & Social. We’ll walk through each.

Content

The quick and skinny is your website should have fresh, quality content stemming from competent research and expressed using the keywords your clients will be using to find you. In contrast, “thin” content, which may penalize you, contributes nothing to the web. It’s like when you got that F on that college research paper because you just stacked block quotes out of one book.

Architecture

This groups is unavoidably technical. Essentially, when the Google bot comes to call (or “crawl”), it needs to be able to find your pages and see all your content, even on mobile – and it wants it reasonably fast. Ideally, each page will be unique and its URL will reflect the content somewhat. Bonus points if your site is secure (https://). Never build your site to display differently to bots and humans. That’s called “cloaking”. It’s bad. It will hurt you.

HTML

Believe it or not, this is less technical than that last one. A good web agency (ahem) will make it easy for you to set your page titles and descriptions and will build your site with thought to what your header tags communicate about each page. But it’s probably going to be up to you to write up these relevant titles and useful descriptions. Things to avoid are keyword stuffing and hiding text.

Trust

Search engines want to know if people trust you, if you are considered an authority in your field. Though we can’t say exactly what contributes to Google’s ascription of authority, it probably includes solid linkage from within your field, social mentions, site engagement (e.g. “How much time did the user spend on my page?”), site history, and the identity of your authors. Negatively, a history of piracy complaints and too many ads cluttering the content may undermine trust in a site.

Links

Many people know links help your SEO. Here are a few things you might not know:

  1. It matters who is linking. Links from within your industry, especially from leaders, are worth more.
  2. The text of the link matters. It’s the linker’s way of saying “This website is the place to go for ____”.
  3. Quantity still matters, but the number of sites linking is more important than the number of links on a site.
  4. Some links can hurt you. Avoid trying to buy links or spamming other blogs with links to your site.

Personal

This column focuses on the individual. Is your site relevant to the country and locale they are in? Do they or their friends have a history of using your website or sharing it on social media?

Social

While Google+ has been the only social media source directly factored into search rankings, SEO experts widely recognize the value in building a following on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites and getting them to share your links. The more people sharing your stuff, the more people coming to your site – that’s good SEO and that’s good business.

 

If you are new to SEO, this is just enough to get your toes wet. For more details, check out Search Engine Land’s full guide or Moz’s Beginner Guide to SEO.

24
Sep

6 Ways to Make Your Restaurant Website More Appetizing

There are certain mysteries of the universe you and I will never understand: What is dark matter? How does gravity work? Why do humans need sleep? Where did that other sock disappear to?

But near that the top of that deeply perplexing list is one question that nags me almost incessantly: Why are all restaurant websites terrible?

It’s a sad reality, but it doesn’t have to be this way. By following a few basic principles, you can take your restaurant website from flavorless to five stars.

1. Make it responsive

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: It’s critical that your website be beautiful and functional on each and every device. If it’s not adhering to the principles of responsive web design, it’s going to be a navigational nightmare for anyone looking to find your hours, menu, contact info, etc.

Think about the ways in which most folks come across your website. Facebook, Yelp, Urbanspoon and Google Maps are all huge traffic sources, and the majority of their users are browsing on mobile devices. If I’m on the go and looking for a place to grab a bite, I’m going to reach for my phone. But if I open your website and see a desktop view (or even worse, nothing at all because you’re still using Flash), chances are I’m dining elsewhere.

2. Lose the PDF

If I’m coming to your website from a mobile device, the last thing I want to do is download a huge PDF file on my slow connection (and small data plan). Even if I’m able to get it open, I’m still going to have to zoom and pan around on this multi-page behemoth to find what I’m looking for.

Not only does a PDF offer a poor user experience, it isn’t optimal for SEO or analytics tracking either.

A far better alternative is to add your menu items in good ol’ HTML markup. This will allow them to adapt to screen size, be easily parsed by Google, and change quickly when needed. No more contacting your graphic designer for a single text tweak every time you want to make a menu change, and better yet, no more frustrated potential diners.

3. Hold the cheese

oatmeal

The great web comic The Oatmeal has a clever post about restaurant websites. In it, he offers a quick list of things people look for when browsing:

  • Menu
  • Specials and happy hour info
  • Address with a link to Google Maps
  • Online reservation system that actually works
  • Hours of operation, parking and contact info

The above should be a simple wish list to fulfill, but unfortunately these things are either a) not present, or b) impossible to find amid all the clutter.

Restaurants websites are so often full of cheesy components that do more to distract than inform potential diners. Instead of over-designing and overwhelming, try to follow these rules:

  • Don’t make critical pieces of information difficult to locate
  • Save the ambient music for the restaurant itself
  • Keep design flare to a minimum
  • Put any extra content (i.e. videos, photo galleries, letters from the chef / owner) on separate inside pages and keep the homepage clean and practical

 

4. Express yourself

If your aim is to provide customers with an elegant, white tablecloth-style dining experience, that aesthetic should be reflected in your site’s design. The same is true if you’re a sports bar hoping to provide elevated bar food and a fun atmosphere.

Your website often serves as the first point of contact with potential diners. You want them to come away with an accurate sense of the experience you’re trying to provide. If you don’t, you risk failing to meet expectations.

5. Keep it current

I’m sure you change your specials on a weekly or monthly basis. You probably rotate out several menu items seasonally, too. Why not give the same thought and care to your website?

Relevant information about drink specials, happy hours, and updated menu items entice potential diners to pay you a visit. However, outdated versions of the same information can scare customers away. If you’re not updating your information online, how can I trust that you’re putting the maximum effort into your food or your service?

6. Connect with the customer

One of the easiest ways to endear yourself to potential diners is to connect with them on social media. Even if you’re not able to update your website weekly, surely you’re posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram regularly, right?

By displaying links to these profiles prominently on your homepage, you provide customers with a simple way to see that recipe you’re testing or the new patio you just opened.

Overwhelmed?

Unsure of how to implement all of these changes? We can help. The Kestrel Co. builds each and every website according to the best practices of responsive web design and search engine optimization. We create beautiful sites free from clutter, and ensure that your identity and vision are expressed in every detail. And, we provide simple and practical solutions for you to keep your site’s content fresh.

Eager to get started? Let’s chat!

30
Jun

Solve your mobile woes with responsive web design

Picture this: a friend shares a link on your favorite social media platform. Intrigued (or just bored and otherwise doomed to scroll until your thumb falls off), you click. You wait a brief moment for the page to load…and your heart sinks.

Everything is tiny, zoomed out, illegible.

Determined to read whatever it was your friend felt compelled to share, you pinch to zoom in, pan around, then pinch to zoom back out a little. After 10 seconds or so, you’ve got the text centered on screen and big enough to read. Feeling victorious, you plow on.

A couple paragraphs in, you see the author has linked to something relevant you’d like to read, so you tap that link…or at least you try. But your fat finger misses, and all of the sudden you’re somewhere else entirely.

You hit the back arrow in your mobile browser, but when the page reloads, you’re right back where you started: tiny, zoomed out, illegible. Frustrated, you give up and head back to the aforementioned social media platform, never to return.

 

Static sites makes for unhappy customers

If you think you’re alone in this experience, you’re certainly not. A recent Google study found that “96% of consumers have encountered sites that weren’t designed with mobile in mind” and “48% reported feeling frustrated and annoyed” when this happens.

headdesk

That frustrating and annoying experience is the result of something called “static web design.” It’s the way most websites were designed for years and years, until the mobile phone came along and tore up the web design handbook.

To be more specific, “A static page layout […] uses a preset page size and does not change based on the browser width.”

Static websites are perfectly fine when viewed on most desktop computers, but the problem arises when you try to view those same pages on a tablet, mobile phone, etc.

In an effort to solve this problem, a few enterprising companies began building mobile-specific versions of their sites (think mobile.nytimes.com, for example). Many of these are still around today, and they do a fine job. However, in most cases, this requires two completely separate code bases and content management systems. With this setup, mistakes are easily made and headaches abound.

So, how do we solve this problem?

 

Responsive web design to the rescue!

Enter responsive web design, or RWD for short. It’s the magic pill you didn’t know you needed until now.

What exactly is this miracle cure? Smashing Magazine defines RWD thusly:

“Responsive Web design is the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.”

In layman’s terms, it means that no matter the size of your device (be it a desktop computer, a tablet, a mobile phone or even a smartwatch), the website will look great. Text is big and legible, photos take up the appropriate amount of space, and there’s no pinching to zoom or panning required. This, folks, is web utopia.

responsive web design yes and no

Not only are responsive web design sites easier to use, they’re good for business.

According to that same Google study referenced above, 74% of users visiting a mobile-friendly site said they were “more likely to return to that site in the future” and 67% of users said “when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service.”

Additionally, if you have a site that isn’t mobile-friendly, you could be sending traffic away from your business and into the waiting arms of your competitors.

dr-evil-crying

To quote Google again:

  • 61% of users said that if they didn’t find what they were looking for right away on a mobile site, they’d quickly move on to another site
  • 79% of people who don’t like what they find on one site will go back and search for another site
  • 50% of people said that even if they like a business, they will use them less often if the website isn’t mobile-friendly

 

Google lays down the law

Knowing how deeply frustrating these static sites can be for mobile users, Google has begun penalizing websites that don’t meet its mobile-friendly standards. The search giant announced this change last year, and as of April 21, 2015 is offering priority to mobile-friendly websites when users search on a mobile device.

“A lot of small businesses are going to be really surprised that the number of visitors to their websites has dropped significantly. This is going to affect millions of sites on the web,” Itai Sadan, CEO of website building company Duda, told Business Insider.

Is your current site mobile-friendly? If it wasn’t built (or redesigned) in the past five years or so, I’m guessing not. You can use this tool to find out for certain.

In this new reality, here’s how a mobile-friendly site will appear in Google’s search results:

mobile-friendly

That Mobile-friendly label lets mobile searchers know they will receive a good experience when they load the page, and it also means the page will appear higher in search results.

If you’re a business owner trying to drive traffic to your product, this matters quite a bit.

According to an Advanced Web Ranking study, 71.33% of searchers click a link from the first page of Google’s search results, whereas only 5.59% click links on pages two and three.

Additionally, “the first 5 results account for 67.60% of all the clicks and the results from 6 to 10 account for only 3.73%.” That’s a HUGE gap. You want, nay, you need to be among the top results.

ranking-position-CTR-2

 

How we can help

When you choose the Kestrel Co, you’re guaranteed not only a beautiful, hand-crafted website, but also one that is built from the ground up using responsive web design priciples. No tiny text, no pinching or panning. Everything just works. Desktop, tablet, mobile and beyond.

For your customers, this means a better experience across all devices. For your business, this means happier customers, better search position, more clicks and more revenue.

Coupled with the SEM strategies Warren mentioned last week and the fresh content on the blog Ryan goaded you into starting, you’ll be at the top of Google’s search results in no time. Your customers will thank you, and you can feel better knowing that there’s one less frustrating static site floating around the internet.

thumbs up

16
Jun

8 Reasons We’re Blogging and You Should Too

For some time I’ve been thinking, are blogs dead? Maybe they’re just dying. Google Reader is gone and we rarely stand around talking about this or that latest blog post. And so, should you should blog for your business? In my attempt to understand search engine optimization (SEO), inbound marketing, and user acquisition, over and over I keep getting hit over the head with the need to have a blog.

Well, we’re tired of resisting. the Kestrel Co. is now the proud owner of a shiny new blog. There are lots of reasons we’ve decided to start, (I’ve outlined eight of them below) but at the end of the day it’s good for business. It’s good for our business, and if it’s good for our business, I think it would be good for yours as well.

The RSS feed model of blog reading is indeed dead, but creating shareable content that builds your social media presence and improves your search engine ranking is alive and well.

So here they are, eight reasons why we’ve started this blog and think you should get one going for your own company.

1) A blog is good for customer relationships.

In a relationship, when communication starts to fade, everything else follows,” said someone at some point in some publication.

It’s true in marriage, friendships, and client relationships. If you’re not talking, things probably aren’t going all that well. When your client has a need for services you provide, the farther you are from their mind, the less likely they are to contact you.

Blogging regularly reminds your current and potential customers that you are around, active in your field, growing your business, and able to service their needs.

2) An active blog increases search result placement.

Google is always crawling and indexing your website. They are looking for a number of things: structured content, responsive design, and content appropriate to the site’s title and keywords. But for our purposes, one of the most critical components they’re hunting for is fresh, well-written content.

There’s honestly only one way to accomplish that: some type of content feed. You can call it an event gallery, social media aggregate feed, or updates. At the end of the day, it’s a blog.

Google will see your new blog content and interpret that as an active site that search users are likely looking for. The result will be better SERP (search engine results placement).

3) Every blog article increases your online exposure.

Prior to today, the only search referrals this site (kestrelco.wpengine.com) could have received were based on the small amount of copy we have on the homepage. As of today, we also now have the possibility of ranking if someone searches “why should I start a blog”.

Next week when we post about Search Engine Marketing, we will have tripled our indexed subject matter and widened our search footprint and online presence by a factor of two or three.

The much-discussed “long tail” of search refers to highly specialized, low-traffic search terms that represent a significant amount of total searches. Translation: lots and lots of people are searching online for lots and lots of random things. You can’t realistically optimize your site for every long tail search term, but you can certainly write blog posts targeting niche keyword phrases that are likely to draw highly qualified prospects.

4) A blog will attract more traffic to your main site.

woody and buzz talking about bloggingIf your website has no blog, your homepage is the main entry-point for site visitors. With a blog, users will come to an individual article on your site. If their interest is piqued, they’ll hit your homepage, explore your services and related information, and hopefully they will contact you and convert to a paying client.

The blog becomes one more entry point for your sales funnel. It’s not magic, but it’s pretty basic. Provide information that people want to consume and you’ve increased your sales potential.

5) Each blog post has long-term marketing potential at minimal cost.

Unlike billboards, radio spots, print marketing, and pay-per-click models, blog posts live on the web forever with little to no on-going costs (monthly hosting costs for your website being the only real cost).

The post only takes a few hours to craft but once it’s published, it will live in the nether world of the interwebs in perpetuity. You can’t beat free marketing!

6) A blog article provides shareable content that points to your site.

If you don’t write anything, there is very little you can do by way of driving your Facebook and Twitter followers to your site. If you have nothing to share, it’s hard to gain new followers and build your audience.

Write blog posts, share them as links on Facebook and Twitter, encourage folks to interact with the posts, and you’ll widen your social media footprint and drive more [potentially convertible] traffic to your website.

7) Consistent posts will position your brand as an industry leader.

According to a Hubspot survey, 60% of businesses who blog acquire more customers than those who choose not to blog. There are hopefully lots of reasons that’s true (as I’ve outlined above), but one of the reasons more customers trust their blogging partners is because they see those partners as industry experts.

You’re blogging, you’re interacting with new ideas, you’re talking about trends and patterns, habits both good and bad. You are an industry expert. Your client followers see that, trust that, and look to you more often when they need an expert in your field.

8) A blog provides a platform to tell your story.

Every company has a story. A blog gives you a place to tell it. Your story is the how and why of who you are. Sharing that with readers shows your authenticity and passion and therefore engenders trust.

Back in the day, the only way to shape your brand voice was through print media. Today, a simple blog post corrects misunderstanding, reveals your personality, and displays your excitement and passion for what you do.

That’s it! Go do it. If you need help, don’t know how to get started, or want us to talk through the marketing potential for your existing site, contact us.
here comes our blog