Posted on September 25, 2015 by Thoughtwire News - SEO, Websites
Earlier this month we heard rumblings of a new change in Google’s algorithm thanks to a Hangout with Google Switzerland’s John Mueller (read more about the talk here). While no announcements have been made, what was said may create a new checklist item for SEO workers. The importance and utility of structured data and Schema has long been understood, but it may become a part of Google’s ranking algorithm. In order to understand what it means, we need to break this down into a few parts and answer some questions.
What is Structured Data?
Structured data (synonymous with Schema) is simply a very clear way to tell search engines what your website is. Typically, search engines crawl your website looking for keywords, titles, headings, etc. to find out what your website deals with in order to rank it. As a website administrator, you can add code to your website that clearly tells search engines your company name, hours, phone number, address and even cite specific reviews. This data then helps search engines place you in rankings and even show your information more clearly. For instance, if someone searches “ABC Restaurant hours” and ABC Restaurant has informed Google what their hours are, Google can display the hours of the restaurant without requiring the user to comb through search results to find this information.
Why Do I Need Schema?
Currently, the biggest benefit of Schema is given to users. While it allows companies to somewhat control their search engine presence, it eliminates a barrier between a user’s question and the answer. By doing this, not only are you helping search engines display your information, but you are answering some of the most common questions asked by your customers (both potential and current). Every company should be using structured data because it is an easy way to clarify what your website stands for, which both customers and search engines appreciate.
What if I Don’t Have Structured Data?
What Mueller’s comments suggest is that not having structured data could very well hurt your search rankings in the long run. While your rank is not affected by structured data yet, in the future it may be. Suppose that your company sells used cars. If you are Google and are trying to match a user’s question of “Used Cars near me”, would you rather show them a website that has clearly told you it sells used cars or take a chance that your algorithm has correctly defined another website. For Google, there is no guesswork in showing the website with structured data. If you are the company without Schema, it makes perfect sense for Google to rank your competitor above you.
If your website has yet to add structured data, contact Thoughtwire Media to begin helping your customers find you.
Posted on September 18, 2015 by Thoughtwire News - Development, SEO
Testing different versions of your website’s design and content is an important step in improving your website and increasing revenue. Unfortunately, most people do not have a site that generates enough traffic to run these tests easily and quickly. In the world of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), there are plenty of lessons to be learned by the experiments ran on other websites. Look below for some of the lessons you can take away from CRO case studies.
Advertise Your Most Appealing Offer
Every company wants to know what they have to offer customers to maximize their revenue. By using different versions and offers during an experiment (read more here), Electronic Art’s The Sims™ was able to identify which of their offers appealed most to their customers. By displaying that offer prominently, they were able to increase their game registrations by 128 percent. The lesson here: performing a simple content-switch experiment can lead to great results.
Pricing Page > Prices
In this study for Basekit, a redesign of their pricing page led to a 25 percent increase in purchases. They were not testing a new pricing model or seeing how a new offer might perform. All the company had to do was change their pricing table to a more modern, clean structure in order to increase sales. If you have a basic spreadsheet-like design for a pricing table, consider a heavy redesign to increase sales.
Never Doubt Color Psychology
Button color tests are one of the easiest and most profitable tests to run. Take this test for example. By switching a sign-up button’s color from green to red, Performable was able to increase sales by 21 percent. If someone told you that you could earn 21 percent more money by changing a color, you might break a finger trying to change that color so fast. There is no single best color to increase profits, but button testing takes minutes to set up and can potentially have huge payoffs.
The point to all of these tests is to demonstrate how website experimentation tools like Optimizely can unlock the potential of your site. If changing a button’s color earned you more money, wouldn’t you do it? If advertising “Offer B” instead of “Offer A” increased your revenue, wouldn’t you rewrite your website? With each experiment you run, there is a chance to increase your revenue. Those hidden increases are spread across every page on your site. If you are interested in getting the most out of your website, contact Thoughtwire Media today to discuss how to optimize your website.
Posted on September 17, 2015 by Thoughtwire News - Marketing, SEO
In an age when video dominates how people receive information, SEO experts have looked to YouTube as another tool to be optimized for search engines. YouTube SEO is still a new field, but already there are tips and tricks to making your videos work for you. Whether your company is currently running a YouTube channel or is still in the planning stage, here are a few quick tips for using YouTube for SEO purposes.
Use Keywords in Your Video
No matter what type of SEO you are doing, keywords are king. Even with YouTube, including the right keywords in your title, description and video are important. Make sure to write long descriptions for every one of your videos (over 150 words) and include keywords in those descriptions. Also be sure to include your company name, address and contact information in the description of your video. If you want to take it one step further, then you can work to actually use certain keywords in your videos. By using keywords in your videos, Google will use its auto-caption technology to capture those keywords and associate them with that video. You can even transcribe your own videos if you want to be sure those keywords are captured.
Choose Your Topic Wisely
Your topic is even more important than your keywords. Your company does not want to be competing for markets of millions of customers. Finding a niche market in your industry that would benefit from videos the most is the best method for success. Use this SerpStats tool to discover what topics are best for your industry. Be sure to click the “only questions” filter once you enter your search term to discover what questions customers might be asking. Use your videos to answer those questions.
Understand How YouTube Recommends Videos
Now it’s time to understand how YouTube ranks videos. The best thing to understand is that subscriptions hold far more SEO power than likes. If YouTube sees that a viewer subscribed to your channel after watching a video, that video will rank much higher than if that viewer simply liked it. You need to build your YouTube campaign around gaining subscribers. So instead of doing a company overview video, create a playlist of specific videos that detail your company’s products. Be sure to answer industry questions and consider making a “Debunking ______ Myths” series to continually answer questions viewers might have. By building video series instead of single videos, you give viewers more reason to subscribe instead of like.
YouTube SEO is still a new field that is constantly changing. If you or your company needs help building a YouTube community, contact Thoughtwire Media today.
Posted on September 16, 2015 by Thoughtwire News - Marketing, SEO
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the list of tips and tricks can stretch a mile long, but they will forever be overshadowed by one fact: content is king. What you put on your site to gain a visitor’s interest will prove more useful than any SEO tactic. Ask yourself this question: “If my website had the first search engine result for my industry, would I be able to keep it by engaging users?” The fact is, even if SEO strategies work perfectly to drive traffic to the website, if your content does not engage that traffic then SEO is pointless. The best way to engage your visitors is through your visuals. We are going to talk about Photographic SEO, or the practice of using your website’s visuals to help SEO efforts.
Taking a Clean Picture
For many small businesses, the photos that are used on their website are taken by the owner on a basic $100 camera. The sad truth is that visitors can spot this instantly. When it comes to Photographic SEO, hiring a professional photographer to take the pictures for your website can do wonders. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but clean, crisp photographs build a sense of professionalism to your site that builds trust and portrays quality. If you cannot afford to hire a professional photographer, then Shutterstock and iStockPhoto may become your best friend. If you plan on using stock photos, however, make sure that you exclusively use stock photos. If visitors see a high-resolution, edited photograph next to your cheap camera’s photo, the progress is destroyed.
Showcasing Your Business
Clean, quality photographs on a website are pointless if they do not show visitors what they want to see. Imagine navigating through a hotel’s website, but only seeing pictures of the outside or the surrounding area. Even if the pictures are absolutely beautiful, you won’t be purchasing a room until you see the inside. Better yet, imagine shopping for a car online, but never seeing an image of the entire car or the interior. Your pictures need to showcase what your business has to offer. If you are selling products online, then make sure to take multiple picture from different angles of each product. If you sell services then showcase customers using that service. Until a visitor sees what they are getting for their time and money, they won’t spend either.
If you are worried that your website’s visuals aren’t leading to sales, contact Thoughtwire Media online or by phone at (800) 367-2570.
Posted on August 28, 2015 by Thoughtwire News - SEO
With the rise of mobile search engine capabilities, customers are searching for local businesses like never before. So when people in your area search for “XYZ Service near me,” how can you be sure that your business shows up? That is where local SEO comes in. By making sure that your business’ information is correct and consistent across all sites and directories, you can ensure that your business is being found by potential customers in your area. Here are some common local SEO mistakes that could be hurting your local search rankings.
1. Inconsistent Name
Your business only has one name, so why should it be called anything else online? When you list your company in directories, create social media profiles or run advertisements online, each of these need to have the same exact company name. If you are listed as “XYZ Bakery Co.” and “XYZ Bakery Company,” your local visibility will suffer. Decide on a company name and stick to that name under all circumstances.
2. Incorrect Address or Phone Number
Maybe you recently moved or perhaps your business is now located where a previous business was. In either case, you need to make certain that your business is the only one shown at your specific address. The same rules apply here as with company naming, too. Pick a very specific address and keep it consistent. It is important to note that some directories will not list a toll-free number primarily. Be sure to include a local number first, then add a toll-free option later. Additionally, some directories will not accept a P.O. Box address. In this case, list your physical address then add a mailing address later.
3. No Categories or Services
Let’s say someone searches for “Local Wedding Cake.” Now, unlike earlier, they are searching for a specific product instead of a company. If you want “XYZ Bakery Co.” to be shown, then you need to make a consistent list of your products and services. It is also extremely important to define your business category. For “XYZ Bakery Co.,” they need to specify whether they are a catering company, bakery, wedding shop and so on. Once you have your specific business category decided, keep it consistent across all platforms. This will help make sure that you begin ranking for local products/services searches.
4. Not Going the Extra Mile
So now your business is well defined and search engines should be able to identify you to local searchers. What now? If you want to start dominating your local rankings, there are a few extra steps to take. Firstly, make sure that your website is using schema language to help search engines identify segments of your site. Schema language allows Google to answer questions about your business such as its hours of operation, even if they are not listed on your front page. These steps allow your site’s information to be indexed by search engines quicker in some cases. Next, you can work on including your location in you site’s titles, URLs, etc. This will put your site at an even greater edge for searches in your area. Lastly, be sure to always link back to your website from directories or social media profiles. These links give your site credibility and will help with search engine rankings.
Is your company’s information consistent across the internet? Are you showing up first for local searches? If not, call Thoughtwire Media at (800) 367-2570 to get started on your local SEO strategy.
Posted on August 21, 2015 by Thoughtwire News - Marketing, SEO
In recent years, marketing departments have been rapidly expanding with technology. We have seen more focus on social media strategists, SEO specialists and content marketers than ever before, but some companies are approaching this incorrectly.
When you begin to think of SEO as a separate department from marketing, then your SEO strategy will fail. The truth is that SEO, social media and content marketing are all different parts of a grand marketing strategy. Your content writers and social media specialists need to understand basic SEO if they want to succeed. Likewise, SEO experts need to have a comprehensive knowledge of social media tactics and content strategies. Each of these areas works to inform the other, and by doing so the entire marketing strategy is more effective.
For example, your SEO team may outline the key words and phrases that your website should rank for. Your content writers will then include those keywords in their titles, subheads and content. Your social media coordinators will use those keywords when promoting your site. Your advertisers will work to place ads on search engines for those keywords and so on.
When it all comes together, then the SEO team works to find new keywords and strategies. By doing this, the efforts of the marketing department are united and more effective. Without support from social media, your website will not receive the authority needed for search rankings. Without keyword-focused content, your blogs won’t drive traffic to your site. This is why SEO and marketing should not be treated as separate departments, but instead SEO should be seen as a method of uniting and improving your marketing strategy.
If you have yet to form your SEO, social media or content strategy, contact Thoughtwire Media by filling out our online form.
Posted on August 20, 2015 by Thoughtwire News - Development, SEO
If you are currently running a website, but are completely foreign to Google Analytics, your website is underperforming. Put simply, Google Analytics is possibly the single most important tool in any site owner’s arsenal. We aren’t here to admire the tools of Google Analytics; however, we are going to explain how tracking your website’s data can keep you from missing out on important opportunities.
Understanding Your Real Market
Every business exists to fulfill some sort of want or need. Most business owners believe they have a firm grasp on what their customers want, but the truth is that customers’ wants are constantly changing. Let’s pretend that you are a catering company who only caters weddings. What if you began tracking the search terms your customers use and discovered that 15 percent of your traffic comes from people searching for “corporate event catering” and other related terms? You would realize that you are alienating 15 percent of your customer base by having a site made exclusively for wedding catering. Understanding what people are searching for gives you a direct line to both current and potential customers.
Maximizing Revenue Opportunities
No matter how your business makes money, your website should exist to help you make money. It is likely that our catering company would have some sort of contact form for visitors to fill out and through those forms, the website is helping to generate revenue. What if you noticed that 50 percent of visitors who began the form left before completing it? You would consider shortening the form or using clear language to maximize the amount of visitors who fill out the form. There are hundreds of ways to maximize revenue opportunities through a website, but you miss out on all of them without Google Analytics.
Seeing the Future of Your Website
By keeping track of your website’s visitors, clicks, etc., you are able to spot trends early. For site owners without Google Analytics, there is a huge gap between when customers are/aren’t buying and when you notice it. Knowing where your site is and where it should be helps you constantly be aware of how your company is doing. Google Analytics removes the gap between what your customers are/aren’t doing and when you know about it.
Even if you have Google Analytics installed on your website, you may not be using it to its full extent. Call Thoughtwire Media at (800) 367-2570 to start making the most of your website.
Posted on August 12, 2015 by Thoughtwire News - SEO
When Microsoft unveiled that 14 million people were using Windows 10 only one day after its release, it was clear that the latest operating system is here to stay. Aside from a new interface, Windows 10 comes packed with new features, most of which will have little effect on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). A handful of these features, however, may require changes to our SEO strategies. We breakdown what features and changes may have impact the world of SEO.
The Internet Explorer killer’s goal was to compete with Google Chrome on speed and it has definitely succeeded. Faster page loading could lead to lower bounce rates for many sites that struggle with loading times. The integration with Cortana could definitely lead to increased web searches for those who are migrating from Internet Explorer, but we will cover Cortana later.
Right now, Microsoft Edge’s lack of extensions and features may keep current Chrome and Firefox users from taking advantage of the browser, but over time we may see a shift over to Edge that will require websites to take advantage of its features. For e-commerce sites, Edge’s on-screen annotation could potentially be used to share products and sources, but for now we have no means of tracking if visitors are annotating pages.
The personal assistant from Microsoft has become an integral part of Windows 10. If Microsoft’s hopes come true, users will be asking Cortana for all of their questions instead of Google. This means increased relevancy for Bing listings. Additionally, Cortana is set up to automatically pull information out of web pages such as phone numbers, hours of operation, etc. This will put more importance on schema so that Cortana can find your business’ information easily.
Windows 10 on Multiple Devices
With Windows 10 aiming to create a fluid experience across tablets, desktops, gaming consoles and phones, we might begin to see the influence each device has on search engines. This year Google changed their algorithm for increased mobile friendliness. Perhaps search results will be tailored to show more relevant results for gaming consoles. Be sure to keep an eye on which devices your users are finding you on and, if you haven’t already, start work on making your website responsive.
Thoughtwire makes it our mission to adapt strategies as technology changes. If you want your website to perform better on Windows 10, call Thoughtwire today at (800) 367-2570 or contact us here.
Posted on June 24, 2015 by Thoughtwire News - SEO
In the world of SEO, it’s very important that your website acquires healthy backlinks. At Thoughtwire, these link-building strategies are referred to as off-site SEO. They have the power to help or harm your website’s search engine ranking.
Some backlinks are spammy, unnatural and don’t make sense. Others, especially ones from reputable educational or government websites, prove that your URL is legitimate and has a healthy relationship with other proven businesses.
How can you find a list of inbound links to your website? There are several free SEO tools online, including a link analysis report found here on Bruce Clay, Inc. Simply scroll down, enter your URL and see the results.
Don’t just stop there. What you do with this data is extremely important. First, there is a process to removing bad backlinks. Second, you will want to analyze your competitor’s backlink profile to see where you can do better. Finally, you’ll need to pursue additional healthy backlink opportunities.
Link building and backlink analysis can be overwhelming, especially when you consider it’s only one aspect of the larger SEO picture. That’s why we’re here – to implement on-site and off-site SEO strategies that help your business increase its presence online.
Call us at (800) 367-2570 or contact us here to get started.
Posted on June 5, 2015 by Thoughtwire News - SEO
If you’re unaware – last June Google rolled out, Google My Business. Not to be confused with Google+ brand pages, Google My Business is a place where you can claim your physical listing on Google Maps, list address, hours, phone number, etc., and garner reviews.
Google My Business allows for businesses to claim their listing and have a map like this show up in search results.
A Google representative recently posted in the Google and Your Business Help Forum, that inactive Google My Business accounts may be contacted by the company:
“In some cases, we may contact Google My Business users via email to confirm that they are still actively managing a business page. If a user is unresponsive to our attempts to contact him or her and has not logged into Google My Business for a significant length of time, then we may unverify pages in the account. We’re doing this in order to continue to provide users with the best experience when they’re looking for local businesses like yours.”
Managing your Google business listing
Chances are, even if you haven’t done anything to claim or manage your local listing on Google, your business still appears on Google Maps and in Google’s search results. It just doesn’t appear with all the details necessary, and considering the statement above, it may not appear at all if you don’t do anything.
The easiest way to take care of this problem is to contact Thoughtwire and ask about what we call, Hyper Local SEO. This involves claiming your local business listing on Google, displaying your company’s correct addresses, phone numbers, local maps, etc., and consistently optimizing and managing your listing so potential customers can find it easier.
When consumers conduct local searches for say, “businesses near Main Street,” or they directly search for your business, it is essential that your company appears! With information constantly at their fingertips, consumers are conducting local searches more frequently. Your company can’t afford to miss out on their business because of an inactive Google My Business account. Call us today: (800) 367-2570.