September 2012

Google News Uses News_Keywords – Are You Prepared?

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Google is constantly changing its algorithm to provide better search results to its users.  Why?  Because that’s how you run a business –photodune 1233301 typewriter keywords xs 300x199 Google News Uses News Keywords – Are You Prepared? by giving the market what it wants.  With more than $500 billion to its name, Google stands to lose a lot if it gives Bing or Yahoo any chance at all.

What’s its latest innovation?  On September 19th, Google announced it was allowing the new META tag “news_keywords.”

Who Should Care about This Development? 

Not every website is going to be concerned with this change.  Mostly, it affects people who use content as a part of their marketing campaign.

Your site must be included in Google News, and getting inclusion into Google News requires jumping through a series of strict hoops.  If you’re not sure whether or not you are included in Google News at this point, simply go to http://news.google.com and enter the command site:yoursite.com.

How can You Capitalize on this Change?  

If you already have search engine optimization services, you might be interested to know that content amplifies the effects of SEO.  Google likes fresh, high-quality content, and so do your site’s visitors.  I’m not saying you should run out the door and get all set up with Google News, but if it fits into a content marketing strategy you’re planning, by all means use it.

If you are planning a content marketing campaign, what this new META tag allows is an easier way for you to tell Google your keywords without spamming them in the headline or content.  From a writing perspective, you can clean up what you are saying and deliver a more relevant message to your audience, while also satisfying search engines – a content marketer’s dream!

What Do You Do? 

If you have an IT team, they should be able to add a form to your CMS that allows you to add the keywords in a text box – not too difficult.  Otherwise, you’ll have to enter them in with HTML code on your own, which is actually a fairly challenging process for the non-techie.  Rather than fascinate you with the exciting coding details, I’ll just provide you with a link to a tutorial.

That’s basically all you do.  For content marketers, the ability to focus more on creativity and less on the keywords is a huge leap.  If you’re looking to amplify your site’s SEO, however, this is a new, and potentially very effective, tactic.

If you enjoyed reading this article from Devenia, you might also like 5 Reasons why Your Site Needs Meaningful Content.

Dan StelterGoogle News Uses News_Keywords – Are You Prepared?
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5 Signs You’re Working with the Wrong SEO Company

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wrong call 199x300 5 Signs Youre Working with the Wrong SEO CompanyIn the world of SEO, any company can make any promise they want.  Well, technically it’s illegal to make false promises, but a company in India can represent itself as being in the U.S., get your money, and move on.  Situations like this do happen, but they’re not the rule.  However, you understand the point:  you never know who you’re working with until you actually have experience working with them.  If you don’t have experience working with multiple SEO companies, then you should be aware of 5 signs that indicate you are working with a company that doesn’t provide you with good value:

  • They promise thousands of links within months.  This is possible to do, but it’s a bad idea.  Google likes to see what it calls a “natural” linking pattern.  If it sees no links for a long time and then a dramatic spike, this looks very unnatural.  Your rankings will suffer as a result.  However, Google rewards consistent hard work.  If your links are built at a slow, steady rate, it may not be desirable from your end, but it will be from Google, the guy who makes the rules.
  • They include content on your site that is not part of the front page navigation.  Even that SEO content, which helps optimize your site for various keywords and provides a little value to visitors, has to be a part of the main navigation.  If Google finds out you’re not doing this, then they get upset and can penalize or ban you from their search engine rankings.  When a company creates SEO content like this, make sure they link to it from the front page of your site.  This can be done in a discreet way so people don’t visit it.
  • They’re hard to get a hold of.  It’s tough to get a hold of anyone by phone anymore.  Companies that pick up the phone are worth their weight in gold.  But, if you work with a company that doesn’t communicate via phone, don’t necessarily be worried.  Many are used to communicating via e-mail.  The only time you should be worried is if they don’t return your communications.  This point sounds simple, but how many times do people end up ignoring this and lose their money?
  • You find duplicate content that they created.  What exactly is “duplicate content?”  That’s hard to say.  There is no doubt that content that is 90% the same from one page to the next is duplicate.  So what percentage is the cutoff point?  No one knows precisely.  But, if you find content on your site used on another site, you will experience damaged SEO rankings.  If you find content on your site that is used repeatedly except for changes in keywords, that’s duplicate content also.  This should never appear in any company’s work.
  • Content is written for search engines not people.  The priority of quality content is for it to be written for people, not search engines.  Yes, it is important to get those keywords in there.  But, the idea written should be valuable and of interest to your targeted audience/market.  And, it should make sense.  Writing for search engines turns into rambling gibberish and nonsensical language that is difficult to understand.  And, it’s easy to pick out the keywords.
  • You can’t find your site in the SERPs.  If your site doesn’t rank anywhere in the search engines, then you know you’re working with a poor SEO company.  How can you check this?  Simply type, “site:www.mysite.com,” and if Google returns no results, then you’re not listed at all.

This isn’t a complete list of signs you’re working with the wrong SEO company, but these are some of the red flags.  Have you noticed these, or other, signs?

If you enjoyed this article from Devenia, you might also like 5 Reasons Why Your Site Needs Meaningful Content.

Dan Stelter5 Signs You’re Working with the Wrong SEO Company
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Taking VirtueMart to the top of Google

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What does it take to get top placements in the search engines with a VirtueMart-based website? Below is a step-by-step guide on what to do to improve your rankings.

The first thing you need to look at, is the URL’s in the shop. You need to turn on search friendly URL’s in Joomla. Without doing so, you will get a lot of duplicated content indexed by Google’s bots, and that will result in never getting anywhere in the search results.

The next you need to check, is if there are any broken links at your site. Make sure all images are present, and that you have not linked to pages that does not exist.

Keep improving the product pages

We have now gotten to the part of checking the content of the product pages. Are you giving enough information about each product and category for Google’s bot’s to have anything to read? Each page of the site needs to have enough text for the bots to understand what the page is about, so you will have to describe each product and category as well as you possibly can.

Keep the end user’s attention by adding good pictures and illustrations for each product and category. Don’t think  that “this is something I’ll look into later”. Work thoroughly through each page, and ask yourself: would I buy this product based on the given information?

The next thing you need to do, is to get the pages shared in social media. Add a module that will make it super easy to share the product pages, and make sure the sharing buttons are easy to find.

Getting links from other peoples websites

Now, we have gotten to the hard part: getting other people to link to your pages. This is something you might need help with from us, but you should still try to do this yourself as well. Make a list of people you know that has a website, and that might want to link to your products. Ask them either by phone or send them a mail. Call your suppliers of products and ask them to link to your store.

Keep track of what you are doing

While working on the above, you also needs to keep track of how well your shop is doing. My personal recommendation is using Statcounter’s statistics service, but you might look at other third party solutions if you don’t like Statcounter. It’s not important what service you use, as long as you are fairly sure the service of choice gives accurate statistics. Google Analytics is another possibility for this.

 Rinse and repeat

Keep improving every little detail on the site. Is the template well laid out? Is it easy to find the shopping cart? Does people know how to proceed to checkout? All these questions needs to be asked, and you have to be critical. Find someone that knows nothing about how a shopping site is supposed to work and ask the person to make a test order. Listen to what is confusing and then find solutions to fix it.

The most important of all, is that the site is never finished. It will never be done. Invest time and efforts in to improving on all aspects of your store, and you will see people return and buy your goods.

What is your experience with Virtuemart when it comes to Google rankings?

Share your thoughts below, and remember to share this post.

Bjørn Are SolstadTaking VirtueMart to the top of Google
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The art of hard choices

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question mark man sitting inside The art of hard choices

Running a business is a long chain of choices that if done right will keep the business healthy and thriving, and if done wrong will crush your business in the end. Many of these choises are very difficult to make – simply because they are not very nice and they affect peoples lives in a negative way.

Last fall I had a very hard choice to make – and the decision I finally landed on costed several employees their jobs.

The background for this was that we had expanded in to several fields that we originally had stayed out of. Our original core business was link building, but at this point Devenia became more and more of a full service agency covering everything from building the website, hosting it to promoting it. We even provided logo design, and corporate design as well . What I thought was that it’s better to provide more services to handle as big part as possible of each of our clients online marketing needs, and several of them did in fact insist on us handling it for them sinse they were tired of dealing with many providers themselves.

By itself, I guess the above idea of being a full-service online marking company was not a bad idea, but it turned out that it did not quite suit our culture. In fact, the whole thing spun out of control very quickly, because we got closer and closer to directly losing money.

The consequences of my poor judgement just got worse and worse for every month, and in the end I found myself occupied with solving internal problems instead of actually bringing more business to the company or developing our system. For every 100 mails I received, 90 of them where internal things. Before this, I had to deal with maybe 10 client-mails a day. At this point it had turned in to a never endig stream of internal stuff ranging from discussions to direct quarrels between employees.

top 5 predictions on the future of google 187x300 The art of hard choicesOf course some would now say that what I have described is normal and what you have to expect from a company in growth. I agree – there is nothing unusual about it, but it had a damaging effect on our profits, and it would have crushed us eventually if nothing had been done to rectify the situation.

In early January I realized that I had to make that unpleasant round of calls to the affected staff, and I had to let them go.

The art of hard choices is a very unpleasant path to walk, but it’s very important to realize that running a company is not about being popular – it’s all about profitability and building something solid that have the potential to last.

In the end, it all went pretty OK, and we are more profitable than ever.

What are your experiences? Is there a way to do something like I describe without having to do the really hard choices?

Bjørn Are SolstadThe art of hard choices
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Second site up!

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Our second site (www.devenia.com) is then moved from Joomla to WordPress. The transition went pretty well and you are now seeing the result.

The main point of moving everything from Joomla to WordPress is the fact that Google really loves WordPress for some reason. I have actually not quite figured out why they love WP so much, but it makes sense to go for the Content Management system that is “preferred” by Google when rankings in the serps is obviously our main focus.

The next step is getting the third English site of our over to WP. Will have that done in a few days.

When we have all sites up and running with WordPress, the next step is to get the blog posts from devenia.com synchronized with the other sites. I have found a neat little plugin that I believe will do the job.

What is your experience? Does Google love WordPress more than other CMS’s?

Bjørn Are SolstadSecond site up!
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Sharing is caring

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When I deal with client cases, I often end up doing a lot of explanation about things that seems to me like being pretty obvious. But, during the years, I have come to realize that there is a growing gap between what I as a seo expert think is pretty obvious, and what the person in the receiving end is able to process in his head.

So, I try to share the knowledge as good as I can, so both clients and other interested are able to understand what we doing SEO as a living is actually spending our time doing.

I will try to post here often, so you can follow the knowledge sharing in a simple and straightforward way. Stay tuned.

Bjorn

Google+: View post on Google+

Bjørn Are SolstadSharing is caring
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Change of hosting to speed up load times in WordPress

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Update 24th of August 2013: Read at the bottom of the post how this went.

After going through all technical aspects of this site, I have come to the conclusion that there is not much more we can do with WordPress to speed up the loading  times of the site. So, it’s time to look for other measures that can help – even if it just helps marginally. Anything helping speed up the pages is helpful when it comes to our ranks in the search results.

So I have already tested using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) without it really doing much to get faster load times. It was about the same speed as on our own dedicated server in Oslo.

So, next up is wpengine, that claims to have the fastest hosting of WordPress in the industry.

I am now going to sign up for wpengine for a year, and will ask out technician to move the site over to it. I will keep you updated on the progress and what we experience down the road. When the site is running in their network I will tell you about it so you can check if it helped.

Right now the loading time for this page is around 5 secounds more or less. My goal is to get it down to less than a second.

What is your experience with wpengine? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Update: Oh Boy! Are they faster? YES! Very! The pages loads in less than a second now. I’m very pleased with WP Engine.

Update:

It turned out that the load speeds did not really have anything to do with the hosting after all. When I initially set up the site in WordPress, I wanted to make it multilingual, and used WPML for this purpose. I did some serious miss-configurations, that caused a lot of problems.

My experience with wpengine has not been as I had hoped, so the site is back again on our own server in Oslo, Norway.

wpengine has a few problems that don’t rally end. It has been a constant problem during the whole year with a 503 Bad Gateway message while saving posts and pages. Also, they are pretty harsh on not allowing many plugins because of the resources the plugins are using. I also find their hosting to be a bit too pricey comparing to what I feel they provide.

I’m not saying you should stay away from wpengine. I’m just saying they are not for our needs.

What is your experience with wpengine?

Use the comment form below to have your say.

Bjørn Are SolstadChange of hosting to speed up load times in WordPress
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If, then, that – extremely useful automation of posting

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There are a number of plugins that can be used in WordPress to automate the process of spreading a new post via social media and directly via mail. The problem I have faced with this, is that the more plugins you activate, the bigger is the chance that one or several plugins are conflicting with each other.

For us, this lead to a number of problems on our site, the biggest being slow loading pages. In fact, it became such a big problem for us that the pages took 10 to 15 seconds to load. Some times they loaded in 30 seconds.

Working with SEO, we know that slowly loading pages leads to lower ranking in the search results when you search for specific terms in Google, so this has been bothering me big time.

The solution is to load as little plugins as possible, and look for other ways to do things.

By using If, then, that that, I set up the automation of posting to Twitter and Facebook as well as firing a chat message to Google Talk and sending mail to myself if someone retweets or asks a question regarding a post.

The service is free, and it’s extremely easy to set up different recipes for the triggers you would like. These recipes might as well being about wake-up call in the morning.

What is your experience with Plugins in WordPress? Are they causing trouble for your site? Please share your story below in the comments.

Bjørn Are SolstadIf, then, that – extremely useful automation of posting
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How to Construct a Facebook Fan Page Strategy

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facebook 300x203 How to Construct a Facebook Fan Page StrategySocial media does have some SEO benefits, and the role social media plays in enhancing SEO may grow in the future.  We’ll see what Google decides to do with that.  But, there’s no doubt that right now, social media can be used to add more long-term customers for your business.  Today, we’ll talk about Facebook, and how you can create an effective marketing campaign that grows user engagement and more long-term sales.  Here’s what you do:

Know who your audience is

If you don’t already know basically everything you need to know about your ideal customer, then now’s the time to find out!  Certain customers will appreciate certain kinds of posts more than others, so it’s important to know exactly who you are talking to.

How do you reach your current customers?  Use that medium to ask them to fill out a brief survey with some basic demographic information, and incentivize filling out the survey with a gift card towards another purchase at your company.

Develop an editorial calendar

At the beginning of any Facebook campaign, you’re just guessing at what types of content your users will like.  Be sure to develop an editorial calendar so you know what to post and when.  Research has shown people like approximately 1-4 posts per week, and they are most likely to read the posts on Sunday and Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.  Any more than 4 posts per week, and people tend to think you’re spamming their feeds, which causes them to leave.

Messaging

The temptation many businesses succumb to early on is to make all their posts about what’s happening at their place of business, and all the deals, specials, and products available.  This is a huge mistake.  People do want to know about your business, but making every post about your business is overkill and scares them away.  The golden rule of Facebook posting is to make sure 80% of your posts provide value, while 20% of your posts promote your business.  “Value” can be useful information that solves people’s questions and concerns, questions that encourage to people interact, or contests.

Content development

You can post questions and text-based offers, but your page will be incredibly bland and dis-interesting.  Online users want diverse forms of content.  Post pictures, blog articles, videos, infographics, motivating quotes, and just about any other form of online content you can imagine.  Some forms of content will be more appealing than others, and Facebook’s Insights will help you understand how people prefer to engage with your page.

Revise, revise, revise

Once you’ve put out a few posts for about a month or so, make sure to revise your messaging based on what Insights tells you.  Further, people’s whims can shift at any moment.  You might suddenly find after six months of running your campaign that people suddenly don’t interact in the same way they used to.  Who ever said social media was easy?  It’s not!

Follow These Steps and You’ll Find More Sales

The point with this is that by creating an engaging fan page for your business, you’ll drive more long-term sales.  The key is making sure people have a reason to go to your fan page.  Offer specials/contests exclusively to people who use Facebook.  Make sure the page is relaxed, fun, and personable.  Your customers and your bottom line will thank you for it!

Dan StelterHow to Construct a Facebook Fan Page Strategy
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5 Reasons why Your Site Needs Meaningful Content

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“Content is king” the saying goes.  Well, it sort of is, but internet marketing is so complicated these days that it takes much more than just content to generate a ton of sales for your site.  At the small business level (a few employees or so), content sometimes gets overlooked because these companies don’t have a large budget to dedicate to internet marketing.  Most of it gets chewed up with SEO, which is the right move to make.  But, as your profits and business grow, or if you already have great profits and want to grow them more, here’s why you need meaningful content:

  1. It increases conversion rates.  You’ll start to make more sales with SEO services simply because of the increased traffic volume.  But if people come to your site and all they find is a few boring services pages and little useful information, they’ll just leave.  Some will buy, but most will leave, never to return.  However, if you add content that is useful to your visitors and that answers their questions, then they’ll have a reason to come back again if they’re not ready to buy.  Add to this a newsletter to keep them informed, and you’re really in great shape.
  2. It increases SEO.  Get those keywords in your content at about a 1.0% density and put them in your title!  This increases the number of keywords for which you rank and the overall effectiveness of your SEO services.  SEO is so non-specific that you don’t know how or when you’ll rank for your keywords, but you can increase your chances by creating more meaningful content.
  3. It establishes you as an authority.  If you’re running a plumbing, electric, or other contracting company, you might think a blog has no point.  But for contractors like this, a blog is doubly important – you might be the only contractor in your area who’s blogging.  Blog around local keywords, and people will find your site first.  A few blog articles could grow your business by leaps and bounds.
  4. Google prefers sites with fresh content.  Google ranks newer content higher.  If you search for “President of the United States,” for example, you’ll find all kinds of content about Barack Obama, not George Washington.  Google assumes you want to read newer content because it’s more relevant.  If you do develop content, make sure to do it on a regular basis.
  5. People want to get to know you.  Nameless, faceless corporations are no longer who customers expect to buy from.  Today, they want to know who they’re buying from.  People get to know you through your blog and other content you develop.  Make sure to blog about people at your company, but only do it with 1 in 20 blog posts or so.  Some companies mistakenly believe customers want to know everything about their staff.  Customers do want to know your staff, but they don’t want to know your staff that well!

These are the five reasons to develop meaningful content for your site.  In the end, they all lead back to reason number one: to drive more sales.  It’s just the way things work online right now, so do your best to find a way to make it happen!

If you enjoyed reading this article, you might also like How Does Content Affect SEO?

Dan Stelter5 Reasons why Your Site Needs Meaningful Content
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