Marketing Tips for April 2017

Hello, I hope you are enjoying our wacky spring.
This month we have three interesting reads for your business

  • My introduction to Google Search Console and how to diagnose issues with your website and its appearance in Google Search Results
  • How much money should you spend on AdWords?
  • 16 SEO Experiments that will change how you think about Search Engine Optimization

I hope you find this month’s content useful. And remember, I’m only an email away.

Introduction to Search Console

What is Search Console (aka Webmaster Tools)? Why should you set up a Search Console account?
Search Console informs you of your website’s health and how it’s appearing in Google’s Results. It’s an essential tool and central location for diagnosing issues with your website and how potential clients find it. Basically, Search Console lets you improve the way your site is presented in google so you can get more customers.
My presentation will show you how to set it up and give you a brief introduction on what’s available.

Read or watch my presentation

Using Adwords? Don’t know what to spend? Markeing Profs assembled a series of Infographics by Word Stream which illustrate differences in AdWords spending across industries. This is just a brief intro, but it’s a good place to start if you have no idea about what you should be spending and what you should be looking for in terms of results.

See the infographics.

By the way, click on the “X” to read the content, no need to sign up.

This listicle from SEO Sherpa covers 16 Search Engine Optimization experiments from across the Web that show what really matters when trying to get your site and business discovered by potential clients. There’s lots of great stuff here, for those of you who feel comfortable implementing this type of thing:

  1. Click-through-rate does indeed affect organic rankings
  2. Google’s mobile emphasis really did affect businesses
  3. Backlinks may boost your site even after they are removed
  4. Duplicate Content is not the end of the world
  5. The Top Spot is not what you think it is

And much, much more
Read the article.

 

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Google Search Console Presentation

On April 22, 2017 I gave a presentation on how to set up and use Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools).

It’s 45 slides long, you can view it here:

I have also created a narrated video if you would prefer watching that:

 

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Marketing Tips February 2017

I hope you are enjoying this weird and warm winter – the warmest February I can remember. It’s a little disconcerting to me, as I keep changing coats, and wearing the wrong thing all the time. I’m sure there’s a great segue in here somewhere, between the confusing weather and the confusing world of marketing your business online in 2017. What we have for you this month:

  • A relatively easy way to improve your search engine presence for some of your targeted keywords
  • An easy to read infographic about how to market your business using social media
  • Lastly, a pretty good guide on how to use social media for your business.

Enjoy. And, as always, I am only an email away if you have any questions.

 

SEO is daunting. However, anybody can handle non-technical SEO if they put your mind to it. This article goes into great detail about how you – yes, you – can use a process and free tools to figure out which pages of yours are doing “not bad” in the search rankings, and change them to ranking well.
If you’re willing to put the time and effort into it, this is accessible to anyone. You can take the landing page you want to rank well and ensure it does.
Read the article.
As a bonus: if this article from Orbit is too daunting, I wrote something called “What the Hell is SEO?”

Yes, another infographic. Just like the one I shared with you last week, this infographic is actually useful. Things are changing drastically in the search engine world but less so in the social media world (at the moment), so don’t worry that it’s a 2016 infographic. It’s still a pretty helpful checklist. Printing it out is a problem, so I would just read it and see what you can learn and incorporate those tips into your daily social media outreach.
View the infographic. (Use your cursor to zoom in.)

If you’re really uncomfortable on social media, I wrote a little something on how to interpret the various “social signals.”

Lastly, we have a pretty good guide at how your business should behave on social media. It lays out things that may seem common sense, but you’d be surprised the number of times people fail to do these things.
This article is behind a sign up wall, FYI, so if you are having trouble viewing it, you can sign up for free. The content they send is often useful.
Read the article.

Ask me a question any time at riley.haas@gmail.com or on skype at riley.haas
Check out my services

What the hell is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s online marketing jargon for a category of things that a site owner can do to make their site perform better online, all other things being equal (and they’re not).

But so often SEO is treated like some kind of mystical spirit. I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard a business owner say “I need SEO” or “I need my SEO to be better” or, more honestly, “What the hell is SEO, anyway?” I’ve even heard people within the online marketing industry use the term in such a way that I wasn’t sure they knew what it means. And that’s okay because it’s not something most people know the definition of.

Because SEO was one of the earliest acronyms coined to describe online promotion techniques, it has remained the most mysterious. PPC (Pay Per Click) is not mysterious at all: you pay someone (Google, Bing, Facebook) to display your ad. It’s simple. Not SEO.

This is because what SEO is has changed over the years, at least in terms of techniques, if not the end goal. And it’s also because SEO is not one thing, it’s a set of things.

I think the best way of thinking about SEO is by breaking it down into two categories: non-technical SEO and technical SEO.

 

Non-Technical SEO

When I say “non-technical” what I mean is that anyone can do this kind of SEO. As noted at the top of this post, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The goal is to make your site as appealing as possible to the search engine (principally Google these days), and ideally more appealing than your competition.

There are various ways of doing this but the biggest and most important has always been the use of keywords – words that your potential customer or client is using to search for what you provide.  If I am running a Vietnamese restaurant just outside of Gerard Square mall, I need to think about which keywords I want to use to get people to come to my restaurant. Here are some possibilities off the top of my head:

  • Vietnamese East End
  • Vietnamese Gerard Square
  • Pho East End
  • Pho Gerard Square
  • Pho Gerard
  • Vietnamese Gerard
  • Etc

In the early days of search engines, you could “stuff” these keywords into the top of the page and rank really high in the search results. (Un)Fortunately, those days are long gone.

But you still need to tell your prospective customers where your Vietnamese restaurant is located, so you need to make sure that the content on your site contains all of these keywords and more while, at the same time, making sure your content is readable, user friendly and answers the questions of your visitors. Google (and Bing) uses a whole host of metrics to determine whether or not people like your site once they find it, so you can’t just list off a bunch of keywords and hope for the best.

There are other aspects to non-technical SEO – such as meta-tags, which sound technical but are not – but basically it all amounts to the same thing: showing Google that your site is relevant to a particular group of people.

You can do this yourself. Seriously. (I can show you how.)

 

Technical SEO

The other side of SEO is the technical side. In this case ‘technical’ means that it involves working with the code of your site at some level. (Truth be told, there are a few aspects of non-technical SEO that can involve your code, but many CMS have plugins so that you don’t have to touch the code.) And that means that you usually need a developer to do this stuff for you.

Basically, technical SEO involves making sure your site complies with the standards set by Google (and Bing, to a much lesser extent) in terms of how your website operates. This includes things like the load time of your site (how long it takes for a page to display to a user) and whether or not your code is following Best Practices. These things need a developer to fix, but you have a ton of free resources online that can tell you what’s wrong before you go out and hire developer. So there’s some good news.

Continue reading “What the hell is SEO?”

Market Your Small Business January 2017

Happy New Year!
Yes, it’s belated.
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and have already started implementing your New Year’s Resolutions, :).
My New Year’s resolutions are:

  • Move in with my girlfriend;
  • Make enough money with this business of mine to go part time in my day job;
  • Continue my current exercise regimen for the entire year;
  • Publish my latest book;
  • End all newsletter subscriptions I do not read (I write this recognizing that this could be shooting myself in the foot, so I hope you find this newsletter valuable);
  • Speak to someone about changing my investment strategy.

Sometimes I look at these and think ‘that’s why too much’ and other times I think I’m letting myself off the hook. I’m sure you know the feeling.

2017 is already different on the digital marketing landscape so, in the first of the articles this week, I hoe to help you figure out how to navigate this brave new world of “mobile first.”

 

Handle the Mobilepocalypse

Aka what you should do now that Google is going “mobile first.”

What does “Mobile first” mean and why should you care? This article I wrote covers the newest change in search engines: google is going to display mobile pages first. That may be a huge problem for your business or, if you have a responsive site, it may be completely inconsequential.
To find out whether or not you should be actively working to comply with the latest requirements from Google, read the article.
This is a really, really big deal (if the term “mobilepocalypse doesn’t quite tell you that, the I should stress that it’s a really big deal) so if you have concerns or questions, please either comment on the article or send me an email at riley.haas@gmail.com.

Infographics were so trendy a couple years ago. Now not so much. Why, because we all discovered that, though they’re pretty, they often don’t contain much (or any) relevant information.
Well this infographic about how to maximize your business’s presence in Google’s local search algorithm really is worth looking at. It’s about a thorough a summary as you can get of how to do this in picture form.
Many of you rely on clients or customers in your local area for your continued success. This infographic will show you how you can appear in the search engine results ahead of your local competition.
View the infographic. (Use your cursor to zoom in.)

We always hear stuff about “Ranking #1” or getting on the front page of Google. If you talk to an SEO agency, they will talk your ear off about it.
The truth of the matter is that “#1” is kind of a myth – there is no one first place in Google, rather than are millions or even billions really, because for every different search term there is (potentially) a different “#1.”
The good news is that this means your site could potentially be #1 for a particular service or product you offer. But there’s lots of hard work to get to that point. And that hard work is always changing, because the Google algorithm is always changing.
This comprehensive article (about a half hour read) presents a massive study of one million webpages to tell you what worked in 2016 to get to the top of the Google search results. Though it is a little technical, I recommend it if you can spend the time, as this kind of comprehensive study is much better than following the instincts of an SEO agency.
Read the report.

Ask me a question any time at riley.haas@gmail.com or on skype at riley.haas

 

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2017 Mobile

How to Market Your Business in 2017

Happy New Year.

2017 is bringing with it lots of changes on the digital marketing landscape.

None is bigger than Google’s decision to show mobile pages instead of desktop (regular) pages. That means that, if there is a desktop version of your site and a mobile version, Google will show the mobile version in search results.

WHAT?!?!

Relax. It might not be the end of the world. If your site is “responsive,” that is, if the site adjusts to fit the size of the device, then everything is fine. You don’t have to do too much to prepare.

But if your site is not responsive, if it is serving two different versions of the same page, the regular webpage and a special mobile page, you may want to change things.

 

Is My Site Responsive (i.e. Mobile Friendly)?

How do you know whether or not your site is responsive?

  1. Use a tool like MobileTest.me or mobiReady
  2. Enter one of the urls from your site
  3. If the page displays correctly on all the devices, you’re okay.
  4. If not, you might need to speak to a developer.

(Alternatively, you can just visit your site on your smart phone.)

 

Yay! My Site is Responsive!

If your site is responsive, the next thing to do is to make sure your site is mobile friendly in other ways. What I mean by this is that what worked for desktop doesn’t necessarily work for mobile. Google has certain standards for things like page speed (how long it takes for your page to load) that are higher for mobile. You’ll need to make sure your site is up to stuff.

You can use mobiReady to get tips, but Google also has a tool. Since Google is the way most people find your site, you should take what this tool tells you seriously. Unless you’re very handy with code, you’re going to need a developer to make these improvements.

You’re already more than half way there, with a responsive site, but you need to make performance upgrades in order to keep pace with everyone else.

 

Oh no! My site isn’t responsive!

If your site is not responsive, meaning that you see different pages displayed on the devices in a mobile test, or you see broken page elements on different devices during the test, you will need a responsive site, eventually.

However, maybe the time to do that isn’t now. Maybe you don’t have the budget for it. In the meantime,

  • If your site serves mobile pages (meaning that there are special pages that display to mobile phones and tables, often denoted by /mobile/ or /m/ in the url) then you need to check those pages (all of those pages) to make sure that they are working and that they have the same (or better) content than your regular pages. The mobile pages will be what your users will land on.
  • If your site doesn’t have mobile pages and isn’t responsive, you need to figure out which is the better option: temporarily serve mobile pages while you can prepare to go responsive (which means creating a host of new pages and content), or go responsive. Not an easy choice I know, but if you don’t do it, you risk eventually dropping out of the search results all together.

 

I have no idea if my site is responsive or not!

If you are not sure, even after the running the test, you should ask your developer. If you do not have a developer you can get a hold of, you should reach out to someone who can help you.

I am offering a free digital marketing Q and A in January, during which you can ask me about your mobile-friendly questions.

Sign up now

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How to Set Up Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools)

Once you’ve set up Google Analytics, which will let you see your visitors, you should also set up Google Search Console (which used to be known as Google Webmaster Tools), which will tell you about your site’s health, how it complies with Google’s requirements for a good site experience, and other information. It seems confusing, but basically think about it this way:

  • Search Console is for basic site information
  • Analytics is for site traffic (visitors)

Don’t worry! You don’t need to a be a webmaster to do this! Once you have your Analytics account set up it’s actually quite easy.

Go to google.com/webmaster or webmaster.google.com:

Home page

Click on the green button.

Once you are in the console, you want to “Add A Property,” which is the red button in the top-right:

Add A Property

Then you put your url in the pop up. Click “Add.”

Then you will be asked to verify your account.

The “Recommended method” to verify your account is usually to upload a file to your server.

Recommended Method

That’s not something you’ll have to do if your site has already been added to Analytics. Instead, you can click on “Alternate methods”:

Alternate method

And then once it’s verified you will be able to use Search Console to see your site health. Also, Google will email you with suggestions about how to make your site better.

We’ll cover how to use Search Console in a later post.

 

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Is Google Analytics set up and working on your site?

Recently, one of my clients launched a new site for a program he just recently launched. He was really proud of it and rightly so; it looks beautiful. So he showed it off to a colleague. One of the first things the colleague noticed is that Google Analytics was not installed on the website. This is a great reminder of one of the fundamental lessons for small business owners setting up new sites: your developer does not do SEO and will not set up any tools unless you ask them.

Do I Need Google Analytics?

Yes, yes you do. Unless you either a) don’t want to know what traffic is coming to your website or b) have an alternative program that you know and like (and then you wouldn’t be reading this post…), then you need Google Analytics. It is a requirement, one of the fundamental requirements of having a website.

If you’re not comfortable setting up, your developer should have zero problems setting it up for you. But you must ask your developer to do this. I have launched many websites and in every single case the developer did not set up Analytics until asked, or I did it myself.

More than once I have gotten angry with a developer for not setting up Analytics but later realized that I had never asked him to do so. Once again: Don’t assume your developer will set up your Analytics account.

 

How to Set Up Google Analytics

  • If you’re using wordpress, as most of you are, setting up Analytics is quite simple.
  • If you are using a different CMS, such as Joomla or Drupal, the process is different but not that much more complicated.
  • If you are not using a CMS, then it will require a developer.

 

Using WordPress

  1. Once you are logged in to your site, find “Plugins” on the left-hand side menu. Click on “Installed Plugins.”
    Wordpress plugin menu
  2. Click “Add New”
    Plugins
  3. In the search field type in “Google Analytics Dashboard for WP” or some combination of those words. You do not have to pick this plugin; it’s just my preferred plugin for Analytics. But it’s worth looking at both the installs (800,000 in this case) and the star rating before picking the one that’s right for you.
    Add plugins
  4. Click “Install” and then “Activate.” If you can’t activate it from the same screen as you installed it, you will have to go back to “Installed Plugins” to Activate it. How you do this will depend upon which version of WordPress you are using.
  5. Go to analytics.google.com. If you don’t already have an Analytics account, you will have to create one, either with a gmail address or with the email address associated with your business and your website.
  6. Once in the Dashboard, click on “Admin” and then click on “Create New Account” on the left panel of the Admin page.
    Analytics: create new account
  7. Complete the steps to name your account and property. Don’t forget to pick the correct time zone.
  8. Go to the plugin’s “Settings” and click “Authorize Plugin”
    Plugin authorization
  9. “Get Access Code”
    Get Access Code
  10. “Allow”
    08-analytics-wp
  11. Paste the code into the appropriate field in the other tab, which should still be open, and save the code. Double check that the UA number is the same in your plugin and your analytics account!
    Same UA number!
  12. Save changes and you’re now tracking your website visits!

Congratulations, you now have Google Analytics set up on your wordpress site.

 

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Tips for September

Good morning,
It’s already fall. I can feel it in the air. I had so many things I was going to get done by the end of the year and now I’m not sure I’m going to get them done, with just over 3 months left. But with the cooler weather, hopefully there will be fewer distractions. And hopefully this month’s newsletter finds you a little more prepared for autumn than I feel at the moment.
I hope you enjoy the articles and video and here’s wishing you a very early Happy Thanksgiving.

 

This is a great,brief primer on some key factors you should be focusing on for getting more search traffic. Unlike a lot of the stuff I’ve shared with you so far, this one is written for the lay person (phew). And you can ignore that it’s written for a B2B audience, as it’s even more applicable for those marketing directly to consumers. Here are the “four crucial things” you can do, in summary:

  1. Understand domain authority – a metric that is a guestimate of how well your site will do in the search results
  2. Maximize your media list – this is really good advice that not enough people follow
  3. Request a link – hard (for me) to do but really worthwhile
  4. Incorporate your keywords – but remember, you still want your content to be user friendly.

Read the full article. Just click on the popup box’s X to read the article.

 

Warning: requires signup to read
This article details 3 basic ideas about how to do content marketing better. It requires signing up to Marketing Profs, which may or may not be something you want to do, as they will bug you far more than I do. However, as you can see from a number of their pieces I’ve shared, they do have some good stuff (though I find much of it too niche).
Is it worth signing up for this piece? Probably. You can always unsubscribe from their notifications later if you want.
Sign up and read the article.

 

We want to put out interesting, original content. And we are told all the time that we need to make our content original in order to get attention.
But Rand Fiskin of Moz tells us that republishing your old content (updated of course) can actually be better than writing something brand new. This video explains why Google would want to promote republished content (i.e. your updated old content) over “fresh” content.
Especially for all of us with little staff and little time, this is really encouraging information that lets us reuse and repurpose our old work.
Check it out.

Ask me a question any time at riley.haas@gmail.com or on skype at riley.haas

 

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Marketing Tips for the Solopreneur

I hope you’re had a wonderful summer. I’ve had quite the busy one myself and can’t believe it’s just about over. But it’s TIFF next week, my favourite time of year, so I’m quite excited.
This month we’ve got helpful articles and videos covering content marketing, social media marketing and SEO.
First, there’s a helpful, albeit brief, guide to creating content your potential clients and customers will actually want to read and share.
Then, we have a video on the perils of using social media as the only way to drive traffic to your website.
Finally, our second video is a little more for an expert audience: solving common SEO conundrums.
Enjoy!

 

This brief guide lays out a fairly straightforward way you can create content that past and future clients/customers will enjoy and share. The steps are

  1. Create buyer personas
  2. Finding your audiences pain points (including free ways of doing so)
  3. Creating a list of proven topic ideas
  4. Use the “CURVE” method to write your content (see the guide)

All of these are easier said than done, but the article gives some hints on how to do these things and a quick googling of any of the topics will find you many more articles on how to do these things. (Also, googling is basically how you accomplish step 3.)
Read the article. Just click on the X to ignore the signup box.

 

This video has some bad news. “Link building” – the process of getting other sites to link to you, thereby improving your position in search engine results – probably cannot be accomplished through social media. Social media is valuable; it’s valuable to share your content, products and services with people who won’t find it with the search engine, and it’s particularly important to building relationships and trust with your potential clients or customers. What this videos says is that what social media cannot do is elevate your search engine ranking in and of itself.
Watch the video.

 

Another Whiteboard Friday video – yes, I know, I share a lot of them, but it’s because they’re really good!
This one is more for experts. It examines 5 frustrating SEO experiences and how to possibly overcome them. Here are the five:

  1. Following SEO best practices doesn’t improve your ranking
  2. Your competition appears to be doing better than you through bad links
  3. I have no idea why my ranking goes up or down
  4. I can’t accurately quantify, predict or control my SEO
  5. Google is biased to big brands.

The content is definitely for people who know what they are doing when it comes to SEO. But if you do, this video is edifying.
Watch the video.

Ask me a question any time at riley.haas@gmail.com or on skype at riley.haas

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