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What Developers Should Tell Clients About SEO Optimization

“Why isn’t our website ranking higher on Google?”

This often means you – the designer or developer – might receive questions like the above. Clients want to know why their site isn’t performing as well as it should.

After all, that’s what they’re paying you for, right?

But what happens when the website is finished to the client’s specs, but it’s still not performing well?

Sometimes the fault for an underperforming website falls back on you, even if it’s not directly included in your scope. That’s why it’s important to be able to identify potential reasons why a website might underperform, and know how to respond in those situations.

Here are a few things that might be hurting your client’s website performance.

“Your Domain Authority Is Too Low”

Appearing on the first page of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is a common concern for many clients, and it might be one of the reasons they came to you to build their site in the first place.

But according to RankBrain, the most search traffic goes to the first result, with click-through rates (CTR) decreasing significantly after the second position.

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Google also reports that 34% of search results – yes, even those on the first page – get no clicks at all, and that 12% of all clicks go to the top 100 search-traffic-receiving domains.

So not only is it important for sites to rank high, but they really need to be number one to see significant traffic from their SEO efforts.

But one of the reasons they most likely won’t see the first page SERPs is due to low page authority. As mentioned, unless you’re in the top 100 domains, you may not rank on Google.

It doesn’t matter if your site is the best designed, most beautifully crafted website in the world. If you don’t have high site (domain) authority – a predictive score dictated by Moz and used by Google to rank results – you won’t rank.

This is doubly true for new websites. New sites usually start with a score of 0-1. For reference, well-established sites, like Facebook and Wikipedia, are close to 100.

If you’re developing or designing a brand new site for a client, and they complain about not showing up in Google, tell them that they need to focus their energy on driving traffic in other ways.

Paid ads, more posted content (on a blog, typically), or social media traffic can all help to improve domain authority.

Another reason why a site may not be showing up as high on Google’s SERPs is due to low or poor quality backlinks – links that point back to your website.

According to Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, high-quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search.

In fact, the top ranked pages on Google have an average volume of 100,000+ high-quality backlinks.

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High-quality backlinks can be notoriously difficult to get, especially for new sites, because they require other more popular sites (think top 100 domains for best results) to link to your landing pages or content.

The good news is that quality does make up for the lack of volume. A link from a relevant website in your niche, for example, might be worth 100 links from a lower quality source.

So how do you earn high-quality backlinks?

Over time you may naturally gain some links from other websites, especially as your organic traffic grows from regular content production or social traffic. But in order to gain the quality and volume needed to rank, you need to make some effort.

The first step is to focus on providing valuable and high-quality content on your website. This should ideally come from a blog that can be frequently updated, and not just landing pages.

Google looks for fresh content when considering rankings. Former Google Fellow Amit Singhal once explained that, “Different searches have different freshness needs.”

In other words, fresh content is needed for all your desired keywords.

You then need to find ways of sharing your content on other sites in order to create those backlinks.

Try posting content as guest blogs on larger editorial sites, or by linking to it on sites like Quora. You can also syndicate traffic from sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, both of which have domain authority ranks close to 100.

If you’re curious about your current site backlinks, you can use a free tool like Backlink Watch. Other paid sites like Open Site ExplorerMajestic SEO and Ahrefs will give you a lot more information as well.

If clients don’t know why their site isn’t performing, you might recommend they try some link-building strategies, like guest blogging on popular editorial sites or asking customers to link to you on their landing pages.

“You Need to Optimize Your Content”

Because content plays a big role in how Google ranks sites – from the freshness of the content to the links it contains and more – it’s important that sites are creating content that can be shared.

In other words, a pretty website is not enough. It has to have more content.

And that content needs to be optimized so Google knows what to do with it. CTR for content on Google’s first page SERPs increases by 667% for posts that appear as Featured Snippets.

Featured Snippets are selected search results that appear on top of Google’s first page in a special box.

If you’re not sure how to get a Snippet, or you don’t yet have the domain authority to get a Snippet, there are other ways you can optimize your content to rank higher.

Posting content that is engaging – keeps people on the page and has a higher number of conversions into another action, like an email subscription (etc.) – can also improve your relationship with Google.

Their algorithm can track how long someone stays on a page, and what other actions they take and whether or not they click on other content from your site.

Creating content that keeps people enthralled will help improve search results.

You can also help your odds by focusing on long tail keywords in your content in order to gain more organic search traffic and improve your odds of appearing in either a Featured Snippet or on the first page SERPs.

If clients want methods for improving their Google search rankings, tell them to produce more high-quality, optimized content.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to explain to your clients that creating a beautiful website won’t guarantee them a high ranking on Google SERPs.

Even if it’s fully responsive and includes SEO optimization, if it’s a new website, it needs more to be truly successful.

The top strategies they can focus on include an improved domain, adding backlinks and creating optimized content.

You should also remind them that it takes time to build a reputable and high ranking site, and they shouldn’t give up if they don’t see results right away. With a little effort, it will happen for them.

If you have a responsive site that’s relatively new, we can facilitate your site to help you, or us, create rich snippets, send your blog posts to multiple social media outlets and more.  Drop us a note and we’ll help you make it happen.

5 Steps for Building Your Reputation Strategy

by Jessica Seitz

5 Steps for Building Your Reputation Strategy

How does your reputation online affect your business offline?

We live in a day and age where consumers openly air their complaints online for all to see. Ask any business owner to think back to a negative review left online, and they’ll sigh, wishing they could have resolved their customer’s concern privately before public and permanent damage to their reputation was done. Studies show that businesses risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find one negative article on the first page of their search engine results. Two negative reviews on the first page? 44% lost. Four or more? You could lose up to 70% of potential customers.

by Jenna Treat

Why Automating Your Email Marketing Pays Off

Many business owners worry that automating their email marketing makes their business seem impersonal. In reality, when done right, email automation demonstrates to your customers just how well you know them. When you send your entire customer database the same email – the information may not be relevant to every customer. This runs the risk of customers disengaging with your emails, deleting them from their inbox, or even flagging the messages as spam. Instead, use automated email marketing to target key groups of customers with messages relevant to them.

 by Jenna Treat

Writing Emails with a Purpose

Do you ever get an email and think “what was the point of sending me this?” It wasn’t informative. It didn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know. It wasn’t actionable. So what exactly were you supposed to do with it?

by Jessica Seitz

Game’s on? Make sure your spot is the hotspot

If you run a bar, it’s never too early to start thinking about football season. We all want to make sure our spot is the go-to place to watch every game. So how do you get fans in the door? And how do you keep them coming back for more?

by Alyssa Wee

How to Get The Most Out of Your Restaurant Email Newsletter

A compelling email newsletter can be a very powerful tool for restaurants. They can inform customers about latest dishes and events and promote a restaurant’s unique personality to differentiate from other restaurants. But how can you ensure that you are creating an effective newsletter?

Look for our next blog post about creating compelling content.  Meanwhile, learn more about Spearhead Multimedia and Zenreach and how we create an automated, hands-off system to build your customer list, manage your reputation and keep your current customers informed. Learn more…

Special offer: Sign up between now and March 31, 2018, to receive a free first month and we’ll waive the cost of the access point (a $199 value). Sign up now.

 

 

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What Google’s New SEO Algorithm Means to Your Website.

Google’s New SEO Algorithm Looks for This When Ranking Sites

The rules of SEO are constantly evolving.

Search engines like Google update their algorithms so frequently, and it can be dizzying to know how to get your site ranked the way you want. One thing is clear, however: keywords just aren’t enough to get you the traffic you want.

So what will give you results when it comes to SEO? According to Google’s latest algorithm, Hummingbird, you need to build sitewide trust.

Trust is the core component of Google’s relevancy-oriented search, and without it, you won’t be relevant.

Building real trust with Google isn’t easy. The smarter the system gets, the harder it can be to rank. But don’t worry just yet. There are things you can do to ensure that your site still ranks the way you want it to.

Why Google’s SEO Algorithms Matter

Google’s algorithm rules aren’t arbitrary: they have a purpose. Before you can improve your SEO ranking, you have to understand the ultimate motivation.

Google’s main goal is to deliver the most relevant search results as fast as possible.

They use deep neural networks of data to create a system that can think like the human brain, or attempt to, anyway. This approach is called “deep learning” and it’s used all across the Internet to improve user experience.

It’s ultimately an effort to help computers process information the same way humans do.

So when you search for “best website design ideas,” you get results based not only on your query, but on your search history, what other people are searching for, and what sites have content that closely resembles what the engine thinks you mean.

The smarter that the algorithms get – the more humanlike – the harder it is to “game” the system. Plugging your site with random keywords doesn’t work anymore, because Google can see through your attempt to keyword stuff.

Instead, you have to get Google to trust you. How do you do this?

In a book entitled SEO 2017: Master Search Engine OptimizationR.L. Adamslays the groundwork: You build trust with age, authority and content.

Building Trust with Age

You may think that using age as a ranking factor puts newer sites at a disadvantage, but know that with Google, age is more than a number.

Google relies on its relationship with your site over time to judge whether or not you’re trustworthy enough to list on the first few pages. Time is still a factor – the longer it knows you exist, the more likely you will be to rank – but if it sees that you produce value for visitors over time (you have heavy traffic, your site gets linked to, you produce frequent content, etc.), your relationship will improve.

For sites that have been around longer, this gives you an automatic boost to your rankings, which may come as a relief. For newer sites, or those that post less frequently, you will still have to build up your reputation over time.

Keep in mind that age doesn’t necessarily mean when you launched your site, though. Age refers to the indexed age, meaning when Google actually discovered you first. So if you had a site for a while but haven’t done anything with it until now, you will still be a baby in Google’s eyes.

Building Trust with Authority

If you don’t have age in your favor, you can also boost your ranking with authority.

In the past, you would build authority through your Google PageRank. The higher on the scale of 1-10 your site sat, the more trusted it would be. If you could link to more established (higher ranking) sites, you could boost your own score.

While Google still uses PageRank as a factor in SEO, they no longer gives public access to PageRank ratings, making it impossible to know how you actually fare. Instead, Google uses Domain Authority to determine the trustworthiness of your site.

Domain Authority is a score (100 points) developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERP). While it’s not a direct replacement for PageRank, it does allow you to see where your site sits in the rankings.

What makes Domain Authority helpful is that it gives you a way to measure the strength of your links. You can see exactly which sites are giving you the best boosts and which links are altogether worthless for your ranking power.

A few ways to improve your Domain Authority include:

  • Optimizing your internal links – Making sure links go to relevant content, use natural anchors that make sense to users, are linked to the right keywords, etc.
  • Creating more link-worthy content – Avoiding keyword stuffing, but creating content that does link out to other sites
  • Pursuing higher quality links – Linking to trustworthy (older, more established) sources, putting your site in a directory like Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor and the Better Business Bureau, etc.
  • Running link audits – Eliminating broken or bad links as often as possible

The better links you have (the better your link profile is), the better your Domain Authority will be.

Building Trust with Content

The other thing that Google looks for when building trust is fresh, quality content.

When you publish quality content on a regular basis, you give Google more opportunities to index your site for links as well as for targeted keywords (yes, keywords still matter).

Frequently adding content, like blogs or articles, allows you to optimize the article with pertinent keywords that can attract visitors to your site, and provides you additional ways to link to authoritative sources and higher ranking sites.

The trick is that your content has to deliver genuine value. In the past, Google’s algorithms would look at the number and frequency of keywords being used throughout the content on your site to determine relevancy.

But the trouble with this is that Google’s new algorithms actually punish keyword stuffing. Instead, the algorithm looks for specific keywords or keyphrases (even “natural language” search phrases and questions) that fall into the content naturally.

In other words, the keywords have to make sense in context – and yes, Google can tell.

This means that for content to help you build your credibility, it has to:

  • Be popular enough to attract traffic
  • Include relevant keywords naturally
  • Provide enough value that users share and save it
  • Include meta tags, title tags and descriptions
  • Be published frequently

The good news is that you can publish as much content as you want, as long as it’s high-quality. This can be one of the best strategies for newer sites looking to rank higher in SERPs, since Google will still build a relationship with your content even if you haven’t been around for long enough to have age or link authority.

Final Thoughts

If you want to create a site that ranks under Google’s new SEO algorithm, you have to focus on building a relationship with Google and steer clear of smarmy tactics like keyword stuffing or over-linking.

Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, Google thinks and acts more like a human when it processes your site, meaning that, in a way, it’s judging what you have out there.

In order to make sure it trusts your content, you want to produce content that offers value for searchers, build natural links and relationships with other high-ranking sites, and stick around long enough for Google to see you.

Ask us what we can do to help.  It’s easier than you think.