Updates & Opinions

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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Why Internal Linking is Essential and What to Do About it

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inner page linking 300x300 Why Internal Linking is Essential and What to Do About itThese days, SEO is becoming an incredibly complex profession.  You can get away with simply having back linking done, which is still the crux of any SEO strategy.  But, SEO is growing more and more beyond that.  To really be successful on  a long-term basis, you should also have high quality content your audience enjoys, a social media presence, and decent on-page SEO (here’s a link for your reference).

On-page SEO has several sub-factors to pay attention to:  keyword density/placement, keyword usage in the title, content interesting to your visitors, and internal linking.  Today, I’d like to expand a little bit on the topic of internal linking.

What Internal Linking Used to do for your Site

Back in 2007, Google used to allow this to factor more significantly in your search engine rankings.  If you created links between subdirectories and subdomains on your site, Google would see that as linking between two different sites.  If you don’t know what a subdirectory is, it’s a directory under the main directory of your site.  For example, it would be http://www.example.com/subdirectory, and you could increase your rankings by linking from http://www.example.com/subdirectory1 to http://www.example.com/subdirectory2.  The same idea applied to subdomains.

Doesn’t it seem a little weird that Google would increase your rankings just because you did this?  At some point, Google thought so too, so this tactic doesn’t increase your rankings anymore.  Some people still claim Google likes this, but the extent to which it does is so small it’s not worth your time and effort.

What to do about Internal Linking Now

Of course, Google is a much different beast here in 2012 than it was in 2007.  But, internal linking still isn’t that complex of an idea to understand.  If you’re going to do anything, then here are the couple things worth your time and effort

  • Make sure your keywords appear in the URL of your subdirectories/subdomains
  • Develop a web of internal links

If you’re running a blog and you’ve optimized your titles, then this should already be done.  If you’re running an e-commerce site, make sure the format includes those keywords in the URLs.  Hopefully you have a tool that automates the URL formatting!

In regard to internal linking structure, you can use a plugin for WordPress called YARPP (Yet Another Related Posts Plugin).  There’s actually many plugins that perform the same function, but YARPP also automatically creates links at the bottom of your posts to other related posts.  It also has a cool feature that lets you adjust how related other posts are, so you can send people to what really is the most relevant to their interests.

One warning though:  If you want a site with a more professional/corporate feel, YARPP’s multiple links definitely give your site a smaller/personalized feel.  A small, personalized feel generally sells better to people online, but it’s not for every company.  For companies who want to maintain that feel, add a manual call-to-action at the bottom of your page by saying something like, “If you enjoyed this article, then you’ll also like (article name).”

Why Should You Care about Internal Linking Structure?

So here’s the important information you’ll really want to know.  Internal linking structure does the following:

  1. Reduces bounce rate (the number of visitors that visit one page on your site and leave)
  2. Increases visitor on-site team
  3. May help slightly with SEO

Points #1 and #2 are really the key.  The fewer people that bounce and the more they stay on your site, the more likely it will be that they eventually become your customer!

Did you find this article helpful?  If so, you might also like Performing Keyword Research 101: The Basics

Dan StelterWhy Internal Linking is Essential and What to Do About it
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How Does Content Affect SEO?

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Years ago, when search engine optimization was in its infancy as a profession, you could build a bunch of back-links, get those keywords in the right spot on the page, and you had a pretty easy time getting to the top of the search engine rankings.  But, staying near the top of the search engine rankings is becoming increasingly difficult.  While back-links still remain the foundation for keeping you ranking high, the fact is content is quickly playing an increasingly strong role in how you rank.

How Google Evaluates Your Content

The most important thing for SEO as far as content goes is to have content meaningful for your audience.  Meaningful content gets shared, and sharing means you receive more back links.  Google simply cannot evaluate how meaningful your content is to your audience, but social signals such as Google +1s and retweets give Google a clue the content is liked by a certain number of people.

In addition to those shares, however, there are many other factors that go into how Google evaluates your content for rankings purposes:

  • Trust.  Domain names that end in .edu or .gov are automatically trusted by Google and receive a slight rankings boost over all other domain names.  This is because content at these sites tends to be higher in quality in the first place because it’s written by people who are already experts in their own niche.  PageRank is also another trust/authority signal.  If your site has a higher PageRank, its content is likely to rank higher than a site with a lower PageRank.  Notice, however, that the term “more likely” is used.  Just because one site has a higher PageRank than another does not mean that site will actually rank higher in the search engines – it’s just more likely.
  • Word flow.  Google does check how your content flows.  If it’s worded awkwardly, Google ranks it a little lower than content that reads well.  Yes, Google is that good at checking quality.  If you outsource your content to a foreign person or country, you may want to reconsider, as the quality of non-native English speakers is markedly different than the quality of native English speakers.
  • Spelling/grammar.  Spelling errors and grammatical mistakes hurt the rank of your content as well.  All of it should read absolutely perfect.  A spelling error here and there probably doesn’t hurt your rankings at all, but why even allow the opportunity for your rankings to take a beating?
  • Keyword density.  Overoptimize your content, and you’ll find you get nailed in the rankings.  What is the “right” keyword density?  There is no magic number, but if you’re around 1.0%, with some keywords in the title and H1, you’re good to go.  If you go any higher than 1.0%, you run the risk of overoptimization, but it’s okay to some extent.  Google will always need a method for understanding what your page is about, and which keyword to rank it for, so keywords will always be important – just don’t overdo it.

When you’re writing content with these points in mind, you’re maximizing the SEO benefit you’ll get from it.  Writing stellar content is not an easy process, so be sure to take it seriously when you develop your own.

If you enjoyed reading this article from Devenia, you might also enjoy Reasons Why Backlinking is Important (And How to Do It) .

Dan StelterHow Does Content Affect SEO?
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3 Reasons to Tune out the Hype about Social Media and SEO!

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If you follow search engine optimization at all, you’ve probably heard about Google’s increasing focus on social media signals and how they can affect SEO in a positive way.  Is social media necessary to ranking highly on Google?  Not at this point, but it will be interesting to see if that becomes the case in the future.  Can social media help boost your rankings?  It sure can.  Should you make it an absolute priority on a tight budget?  No way!  Here are some reason why you don’t have to get stressed out over the fact you don’t have a strong social media presence:

  • To be effective, it really takes a ton of time and hard work.  And, I do mean a ton of time and hard work when I say that.  Are 100 followers going to make a strong difference to your search engine rankings?  Not likely.  Would 1000?  Maybe a little.  How about 20,000?  Now, that might make a difference.  But, Google doesn’t care so much about your follower count as it does about the quality of those followers.  Quality followers share your stuff.  Did you know it’s possible for anyone to get 20,000 followers?  It is – there are agencies that will happily help you get 20,000 spam followers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, and other obscure parts of the world.  But, a high follower count does you no good if these people don’t care about what you say – which is usually the case when outside agencies make extravagant promises about follower counts.  It takes several years of hard work, and a little luck, to get high follower counts.
  • It’s hard to monetize social media.  Professionals themselves are still trying to figure out how to make money on social media.  The fact is that for most companies, it’s really difficult.  What do you post to keep people interested and engaged on a regular basis?  Will this lead to them making a purchase when you offer it in the future?  It’s hard to say, really.  To really do a social media strategy right, it takes a ton of time and dedication – at least several month’s worth.  And, you have to track everything so you know what works and what doesn’t.  If people aren’t sharing your stuff – it’s tough to figure out why and what action you need to take in order to encourage them to make the shares.
  • Back-linking is still king.  When it comes to boosting your rankings in a hurry, back-linking is still the foundation of any SEO strategy.  It is losing some of its strength, but how else is Google going to determine how important your site and its content are in relation to others?  Yes, social media are a factor, and yes, the quality of your site’s content is a factor.  But neither of those tell Google which keywords you are ranking for, or how highly you should be ranked.  Back-linking still remains supreme, although social media and content do provide a boost.

If you’re on a tight budget, a social media strategy just isn’t worth the time or effort – not for SEO reasons, and not for making sales.  The only people who can guarantee returns from social media are either 1) really popular in the first place or 2) have a certain amount of luck on their side.  If you have extra time and money to experiment with, go ahead and try out a social media strategy.  Otherwise, leave it alone.

Dan Stelter3 Reasons to Tune out the Hype about Social Media and SEO!
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4 Reasons Why Google Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon…

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You probably already figured this, but Google isn’t going away anytime soon.  Sure, they’ll probably eventually fall away sometime, but who knows when that will be?  At this point, the most likely thing to stop this company from growing further is Congress…what if Google appears to be operating as a monopoly?  Other than potentially becoming a monopoly, Google has almost no chance of ever being taken over by another company.  Here’s why:

1.  Its incredibly well-thought-out algorithm.  While Google still doesn’t return perfect results, it does return the best results of all the search engines out there by far.  The algorithm is made of more than 200 factors, is kept totally secret, and they’re testing thousands of changes year-round.  People still talk about Yahoo! and Bing, but it’s hard to understand why, as Google currently owns 80% of the U.S. search traffic and 90% of worldwide search traffic.  However, Google could still improve, and let me show you one reason why.  I searched for the term “NFL jersey,” and here’s what came up:
nfl jersey Google Search 300x116 4 Reasons Why Google Isnt Going Away Anytime Soon...
See that visited link at the top?  At the time of this writing (8/9/12), that is the fifth-ranked term for “NFL jersey.”  If you follow the link, you are taken to a website with incredibly poor grammar – something a 10-year-old could easily have written.  I couldn’t locate a contact address, but Chinese companies are known for selling American sports products cheaply, so it’s a reasonable guess that’s what this is.  The conundrum comes in with position #6, which is a result from Nike, a global corporation!  You’d certainly think Google would rank Nike ahead of this Chinese outfit, but it didn’t.  Google is great, but its algorithm isn’t perfect!

2.  Manual support.  In addition to its algorithm, which isn’t perfect (yet), Google has 27,000 employees.  For many of them, their job is to manually review websites to ensure people aren’t trying to game Google’s ranking system.  27,000!  It’s going to be awfully difficult for another company to develop a sophisticated rankings system and hire the right personnel to support it.

3.  The average consumer loves it.  Google pisses off internet marketing professionals routinely, but the fact that it makes use of the American capitalist system by understanding what the market wants and delivering it to the market in a way better than anyone else can means it’ll be around for some time.  Look at how crowded with advertising Yahoo! is.  It resembles the front of a newspaper or magazine, not a search engine.  Bing’s look at least copies Google’s, but that’s as far as any resemblance of Google goes.  It doesn’t even compare in its ability to return relevant search results.

4.  Google isn’t just about search.  Although it dominates search right now, Google has so many other tech-related holdings that make it a beast to contend with.  You know about its office productivity suite.  You also know about Google+, which some predict will have 500 million users (Facebook has 900 million) by the end of 2012.  It also has Chrome, a competitive browser, owns YouTube, another popular social media channel, heads the development of Android, and finally, it’s coming out with new glasses to help you organize and stay on top of your digital life on the go!

When you look at it this way, Google isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and it’s not just because of its ability to provide unequaled search results.  What should you do now?  Learn how to make the most of its algorithm by ranking your site highly, so you can reach the most people in your target market!

Dan Stelter4 Reasons Why Google Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon…
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