FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE HIRING A SEO PROFESSIONAL
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Every business that has more than 5-10% of their traffic coming through mobile search needs a mobile site. Budget constraints or website structure often preclude using a responsive design, which most online marketing consultants agree is the best solution. Using a mobile site is budget-friendly and an application that can be used by all industries, but there are potential SEO and User Experience concerns when it comes to using a mobile site. Here is a short checklist that will cover most of the major considerations to keep in mind when creating a mobile site for a local marketing company:
Review your mobile site from a fresh perspective. Make sure that navigation is clear and easy, and make sure that you evaluate using different smartphones and tablets. Make sure that you view the sites using the primary devices that are listed in the mobile traffic section of Google Analytics for your site. Check the load speed of your responsive site using the Google Page Load Speed Tool. Finally, be certain that the design of your mobile site is consistent with the design of your website.
Do redirects properly send mobile visitors to the mobile page and the remainder to the main website page? Do mobile visitors have an option to view the desktop site?
Google Webmaster Tools will tell you if Google is having trouble crawling your mobile site. Just check Crawl-Crawl Errors and select the tab for “Smartphone.”
All mobile pages should be submitted via an XML sitemap to Google using Google Webmaster Tools.
Be certain that there is a mobile page for each desktop page and that mobile content is edited to avoid being too wordy. Unnecessary images and videos can be a distraction on mobile.
Bottom Line: A few basic checks when creating a mobile site can help to ensure that your mobile visitors will not be doing the quality control on your mobile site for you. It can also ensure that you do not see falling search engine rankings based on a lack of a proper mobile site set up.
Eric Van Cleave is a Partner in Zenergy Works, a Santa Rosa, California SEO, Website Development and Online Marketing Firm.
Study: Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest Send More Referral Traffic Than Google+
Shareaholic released an annual report highlighting social media traffic trends for the period from September 2012 through September 2013.
According to this study, Google+ has driven less than one-tenth of one percent (> 0.1%) of all referral traffic to its publishers over the past year. The top three referring sites over the past year were Facebook, with 8.11% of referrals; Pinterest’s was 3.24% and Twitter’s was 1.17% compared to Google+’s 0.06%.
The study also measured the growth of the social media platforms as referral sources over the same period and found that Google + was at just 6.97 % compared to (58.81%), Pinterest (66.52 %), Twitter (54.12%) and YouTube (52.86%).
Study: Over 50% of Engagement on Facebook Posts from Mobile Devices
ShopIgniter did a study encompassing more than 2,000 posts with 2 billion impressions in the first 6 months of 2013. The study revealed that 51.4% of engagement on Facebook posts was from mobile devices and the average conversion rate from Facebook traffic was 4.4%.
The engagement rates of different post types was also tracked, and showed surprisingly high numbers for paid posts for photos (5.785%) and offers (4.186%). Unlike search engine users, Facebook users seem to not mind sponsored posts. The full report is available at ShopIgniter.
Google: Responsive Design Does Not Technically Give Your Site a Rankings Boost
Even though Google does officially recommend responsive as the approach to going mobile, John Mueller of Google states that having a responsive design doesn’t give you more of a ranking boost than using either of the other two accepted approaches to smartphone optimized sites.
The key however, is that Google does not favor non-mobile friendly smartphone sites in rankings.
Google’s John Mueller said:
“No. Google currently doesn’t differentiate sites like that.
You may see indirect effects (smartphone users liking your responsive site and recommending it to others), but we don’t use that as a ranking factor. We are starting to use common configuration errors to adjust the rankings in smartphone search results though.”
Bottom Line: Google might have taken a little bit of a hit on this week’s review, between backing off of its clear endorsement of Responsive Design, if only a little bit, and finding that the naysayers who have said all along that users are creating Google+ sites because Google makes them as part of Google Local Listings may be right. Facebook comes through with shining marks on sponsored information that does not seem to “put off” users and gives a very targeted, effective platform for advertisers.
Eric Van Cleave is a Partner in Zenergy Works, a Santa Rosa, California Online Marketing, SMO and SEO Company.
Are you keeping up with the latest web trends of 2013? You might want to consider it. The saying “first impressions matter” is true in more than just job interviews. When people find your website due to your amazing SEO marketing or email campaigns, they’re going to give it a few seconds’ glance before deciding whether you’re worth their time. A website that looks like it was plucked out of 1997 is going to leave them looking for a time machine, not your products and services.
Why’s it so important to keep up with the times? Because an easy-to-navigate, visually appealing site that falls in line with what users are already used to is going to increase your conversion rates. People who spend a lot of time online (which is most people these days) are going to be accustomed to a certain aesthetic. If they’re not getting it, they’re going elsewhere to find it.
So how can you get up to speed with today’s biggest trends?
Pay Attention to Your Visuals
The most innovative sites on the web are adapting hugely visual designs using high-quality photography or illustration. The designs are literally huge – think big, bold, HD images. As more people are moving to mobile devices to browse the web (more on that in a minute), Retina Display-ready graphics are becoming a very big deal. Gone are the days when you can throw up a blurry 600px image of you with your arm around your dog and hope it’s good enough.
Visuals need to tell a story and give a sleek look to your design. There’s a theory that attention spans are becoming so short that we need to rely on images to hold attention now. No idea if there’s truth to that, but it doesn’t hurt to make things look nice. Clean lines, simple fonts, and bold imagery is the way to go. Even if you don’t have the professional photography, a good web designer can still create a spectacular design with fonts and layout.
Content Still Matters
Although many of the most innovative designs are moving in a visual direction, that doesn’t mean you should skimp on content. You just have to be a little more creative. Tell a story. Learn the art of brevity (or find someone who does). Make sure your copy is professionally edited. Aim for a genuine human connection rather than catchy buzz words. If you can tell a story in 100 perfectly edited words that punches someone right in the heart-guts, you’ve got it made.
Have you heard of parallax scrolling? If not, you should look it up. This isn’t a technique for everyone (or everyone’s budget), but it’s exactly the kind of eye-catching design that’s turning heads right now. These sorts of details will give your site, and your product by proxy, the sort of sophistication and style that consumers expect from their most trusted brands (think of Apple). You don’t have to go this bold. Sliders, design flourishes, creative use of color, or other elements can give you a stylistic edge over your competition.
Watch the Big Guys
If you really want to stay ahead of the curve, you should watch what the big sites are doing, particularly when it comes to social sharing sites. These are the places where millions of the Internet’s denizens gather, which means the user interfaces and designs are very intentionally done to keep users on the site. It also means that these are the layouts users are accustomed to using. Follow the innovators’ lead and you’ll find that users have a much easier time figuring out where to go on your website.
Plus, there’s the added bonus of reflecting a site that users spend hours of their time on already, which will make it feel very familiar. That means they’ll be less likely to leave immediately. We’re not recommending that you mimic Google+ on your homepage, just that you take a few leaves out of its book.
How Mobile Are You?
And then there’s mobile. The number of people browsing the Internet via smartphone or tablet is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s only upward from here. That means you desperately need to pay attention to the “mobility” of your website, not to mention the responsiveness of your layout. Do you have a mobile version? Is it easy to navigate? Is the pertinent information easily accessible?
At bare minimum, users should be able to easily access your phone number so they can call directly from their phone. It’s also recommended that they be able to use a map to locate you, and that you have conveniently sized product or service menus for them to browse.
These are just a few of the biggest web trends to keep an eye on in 2013. You don’t have to go to big brand level heights to have a functional design your customers will love. If you need some professional guidance for your new web design, our web team is here to consult with you.
Over 100 Million tablets (ie. iPad) will sell in 2012. PC sales are projected to decrease in 2013, an almost unprecedented event. According to a study by Nielsen, the majority of mobile subscribers in the United States own smartphones. The problem for website designers and business owners becomes how do you make sure that your web presence displays properly in all of these competing environments? The only sure answer is to create a Responsive Web Design.
A responsive web design uses code called “media queries” to determine the screen resolution of device that is displaying the website. The images and grids of the website are designed in a fashion that allows them to resize themselves to fit the screen. One version of the site morphs to display on the screen that the website visitor is using.
Many have been discouraged by the cost of responsive web design due to the fact that it is somewhat labor intensive for the web developer. In the long run, I firmly believe that responsive web design will be the most cost effective method of addressing the explosion in tablets, smartphones and even larger monitors that web users are using to view websites. From a marketing standpoint, Google itself has recommended responsive web design as the best practice in creating a site that is compatible with the new proliferation of web browsing environments. There is a proven protocol to optimize mobile sites and avoid duplicate content issues with the conventional site. But if you subtract the cost of time and effort required to create mobile sites and implement the correct strategy for mobile SEO from the additional cost of the responsive design, and factor in that the responsive web design is a long-term solution, the responsive design option becomes much more affordable, even for a small to medium sized business.
Bottom Line: Responsive web design is the best solution we have to effectively reach and provide a positive experience for the website visitors that use the ever-growing number of portable internet-enabled devices, such as smartphones, in the marketplace.
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