5 SEO Mistakes that You Could Make While Redesigning your Site

For many companies, it can be a real nightmare redesigning their website. A common problem revolved around the redesign is that although it might improve a certain aspect of the website such as a better looking design, a higher conversion rate or perhaps your branding and messaging has improved, it can also weakening another aspect of your website such as a dramatic drop in SEO traffic. Many online marketers have been saying all along that it is important to incorporate SEO into the redesign of your site.

Besides the strong emphasis and boat loads of information that many authors have written about when it comes to SEO in the redesign of your website, there still remains the issue of traffic lost after the redesign of a site and many businesses are still suffering from this. When it comes to the redesign of your website, there are 5 specific mistakes you should avoid.

  1. Your Main Website is not Indexed While Your Dev Site Is

This is a simple fix; however it does tend to happen a lot more than you would think. When it comes to the dev version of your website, it is important that you ensure your content is blocked from being in Google’s index. This is because through all your attempts, your live version of your website could still have links pointing to specific dev version pages of your website.  This type of mistake still tends to happen even when people know about this potential issue. There are a couple easy ways to ensure your dev website doesn’t appear in search engines:

  • Placing a no-index tag on all of your pages
  • Having a robots directive block on all dev content

Once your dev version of your website has been blocked, it is vital that you don’t have your main website version blocked. You’ll have to eliminate the no-follow tag from all code directing to your primary domain if this is the approach you take. If this was done for your entire site, you will probably see it immediately, however, there have been websites that have made this mistake with their site’s subsection only and then wonder why their blog or a particular subdomain drops in organic traffic.

  1.  You don’t Have Your Analytics Installed Correctly

You have to ensure you install the analytics code correctly when you are redesigning your website.  Some common mistakes that you can avoid in this case include:

Create a New Profile – When using many of the analytics providers like Google Analytics, for instance, any historical website data can be erased when you create a new profile and cause problems with historical tracking.

Mishandle New Subdomains – If you are creating your first non-www subdomain or a new subdomain, be sure you track them.

Checking for Code – Ensure any code is transferred over to your new website.  Besides checking all code to see if Google Analytics is properly installed, you may also crawl your site to look for any GA code that is missing with a solution such as ‘Screaming Frog’ or ‘GA checker’.  You can also use the tag assistant plugin from Google to check certain pages for problems.

Just like all website activity, if you can’t track your SEO traffic and goals accurately, you risk seeing a major drop in organic search activity.

  1. Changing URLs and Link Structure Accidently

This is a big problem that gets overlooked frequently in website redesign. This could happen when you:

  • Move content to a subdomain from a subfolder (or the other way around)
  • Change a subfolder’s name
  • Change the URL’s page slug

Things to take into consideration when there is a change in URLs:

  • Keep the structure of your URL the same unless you absolutely have to change it for reasons like usability or functionality
  • Use tools such as Majestic SEO or Open Site Explorer to find pages that have link equity pointing at them and when redirecting pages to a relevant page, using the permanent 301 redirect feature
  • For SEO, subfolders are recommended over subdomains, however, make sure you handle all content migration correctly
  • Make a 404 page that has links to information that is relevant and be sure you follow the best SEO practices when it comes to these 404 pages as well as http status coding

This type of issue can really decrease your search traffic for a long time period; therefore sites really need to take caution when changing up URL structures.

  1. Using New Features and Codes

An additional issue that websites have is when they add in newer features without considering SEO.  For example, a common version of such is hiding static HTML content behind AJAX and JavaScript. Although there are usually good reasons for introducing AJAX into the functionality of your website, you’ll need to make yourself familiar with Google’s suggested implementation, same functionality alternatives and the overall effect this new functionality will have on your search traffic. In addition to AJAX, you may end up accidentally:

  • Trap crawlable text of your site in images for design purposes
  • Cause SEO issues due to changing your website’s pagination
  • Changing the title tag structure of your website or blowing up specific meta descriptions or title tags for whole sections of your website
  • Slow down pages and increase the load time of your pages (you can use Google Page Speed Insights tool to check page speed problems)
  • Negatively affect mobile usability and page speed for your website (use Google’s mobile friendliness tool for checking usability problems or Page Speed tool for mobile insights)

In some cases, you might consider lower search traffic worth the improved functionality, but knowing the potential effect on your website traffic (identifying new functionality impacts on pages as well as search traffic for those pages) will enable you to decide how you plan on implementing new features. This will allow you to implement this functionality so it is SEO-friendly.

  1. Not Aligning your Messaging with your Keywords

The last problem when it comes to website redesigns having a negative effect on your SEO results is when you leave a keyword strategy behind that was previously effective to change your website’s content to suit new messaging.  This again, would be your decision if you ultimately decide that it would be more valuable to tweak the messaging rather than target specific terms you were previously targeting. Just be clear of the impact changes to your on-page content and title tags and what it can do to your website search traffic.

Conclusion

In each of these cases, the intent behind these changes is for improving your website in some way.  To get around it all, you’ll need to know which changes to your website will lessen your rank in search and come up with a strategy to lessen any possible risk in SEO resulting from your website redesign.

7 Important Plugins to Use When Installing WordPress

Since it is easy to develop websites within the WordPress CMS (content management system), more businesses that are web savvy are beginning to develop their own websites using the WordPress platform. A lot of the functionality of WordPress sites come from using various custom plugins which were designed for open source CMS. You will find below, 7 of the more popular plugins that are essential and simple to use which can be included in your WordPress installation.

Site SEO and Functionality

Contact Form 7

It is essential to have an easy way for users to contact you quickly which will help with website conversions. An extremely flexible yet simple plugin for this is the Contact Form 7 which will allow you to add contact forms on your website. It is one of the more common plugins for WordPress probably because it is so simple to use.

It is easy to customize its functionality by combining it with other plugins like HoneyPot or Akismet. However, some types of customization such as forwarding to a custom-made thank you page might require a bit of tweaking and likely some Googling.  But, there is so much you can do with the CF7. When it comes to support, the developer of this plugin is really active in the support forums of WordPress, therefore, any issues you might encounter are addressed fairly quick.

Yoast’s WordPress SEO

One particular plugin that comes highly recommended is WordPress SEO by Yoast.  It is actually among the plugins with complete SEO functionality out there. This plugin will allow you to perform just about any type of SEO function, even direct editing of robots.txt and .htaccess. Because of this, however, a lot of newer webmasters tend to get confused with some of the features.

The All in One SEO pack is better for newcomers. The All in One SEO pack is definitely a better fit for people who think Yoast’s SEO plugin is a bit too much. All in One offers the most basic and essential SEO functions in the WordPress admin, all on one page.

Spam Prevention

Akismet

Today, spam commenting to blogs is very outdated as well as considered a black-hat SEO tactic.  However, you will still find numerous spammers out there attempting this action.

The Akismet plugin will filter out a great deal of this comment spam from your website and puts them into a specific comment folder where you can come back later and review them manually. The worst spam is blocked and deleted through the Akismet Web plugin which frees disk space and keeps your website running efficiently. This plugin is included with any standard WordPress install.

Contact Form 7 HoneyPot

The Honeypot is a simple addition to the CF7 and offers your basic spam prevention functioning to any of your website forms you create using Contact Form 7. Although this plugin doesn’t prevent spam that is hand delivered, it is good at preventing spam detected through spam bots which use scripts for sending spam to contact forms.  There are special fields added to your Contact Form 7 which users are unable to see, however the spam bots can. Should a spam bot fill out this invisible field and submit, the form submission is not validated and the message will not go through.

Backup & Security

Wordfence Security

Although you can’t hack proof a website 100%, this plugin is designed to help keep your website up-to-date as much as possible to prevent hackers from getting access. It performs deep, automated server-side scanning of your site ensuring that your site is free of malicious scripts and malware.

WP-DB-Backup or WP-DBManager

There are many reasons why you would want to create quick and easy backups of your website to your WordPress database.  Although you can usually do this through your hosting panel, in some cases, this isn’t always an option.

Both the WP-DB-Backup and WP-DBManager plugin will enable you to back your website’s database up from inside the admin area of WordPress.  Both plugins work efficiently and basically do the same thing, however they do function slightly different technically.

The WP-DBManager was created by Lester Chan, a long time, well-known WordPress plugin developer.  He has over far more plugins displayed in the WPMU Top 100 list of plugins than any of the other developers. This plugin remains very maintained and active.  The WP-DB-Backup plugin is another solid choice and has been updated over 2 years ago.

InfiniteWP

Last, for the move advanced webmasters, the InfiniteWP is a superb plugin for updating, managing and backing up various WordPress websites. It is a multi-functional plugin which provides both duplication and backup so it does tend to be a little confusing to webmasters with little experience. Still a very amazing plugin.

Local SEO 101: The Basics of Local SEO

Local SEO should be an important part of your marketing strategy if you own a local business. In this article, you will be given some of the basic tips and information so you can get started with this type of SEO; even if you are a complete newbie and not very tech savvy.

Local SEO Explained

This type of SEO involves optimizing your business website for local search engine results. Regardless if you are a restaurant, dentist or yoga studio, you want to be targeting local customers in your city and focusing on SEO locally should be a goal.

Organic Results versus the Local 7-Pack

When local search is involved, the majority of search engines have a couple sets of results; the Local 7-Pack and the organic results. Only local businesses that have registered with Google are featured in the Local 7-Pack.  However, with the organic results, the results that are the most relevant are displayed.  This includes review sites like Yelp, directories like The Yellow Pages and obviously, local businesses. Optimizing your website for both Local 7-Pack and organic results is preferable which will allow you to cover more search results.

You could even go so far as to ensure your business reaches the top Yellow Pages and Yelp listings.  If you see other local businesses in the search results but not yours, there are many different reasons for this.  Below are some steps you can take immediately to get your business site on Local 7-Pack.

Laying the Foundation

As mentioned above, only Google registered local businesses are featured in the Local 7-Pack which is why it comes as a surprise that more local businesses haven’t signed up.  It only takes a few minutes to do this.  Below will get you started.

Look for an Existing Listing

Prior to starting a new listing, you first want to explore what information on your business is already out there.  You can go to: Google.com/business to do this and sign in.  Then just type in the search box your phone number (not your business name which a lot of people do). Here’s why:

Say you enter the business name – ‘Dr. Muyal & Associates’ which is a dental practice for this example, you will see that it comes up with only one hit (Toronto). However, based on their site, there are a couple of locations for their practice; one in Thornhill and the other in Toronto. So, by entering their business name only, it could appear as though they only have one business listing and their Thornhill address was missing.

Taking the same example, if you were to put their Thornhill phone number in the search field, their listing for Thornhill now appears under a different alias.  Typing in the phone number is always a better idea since you don’t always know what name they put down for a listing.  For a case like this, it would be a good idea to contact Google and have their business names fixed so there is consistency with both locations.

Register For Google Business

After you have checked to see if there is any information on your business an don’t find any, it’s time to add it.

  1. Visit: Google.com/business
  2. Click on ‘Get On Google’
  3. Create your account or sign in
  4. Add your business name
  5. If no listings came up for your business in our check above, click on ‘add your business’
  6. Type in all business details
  7. Click on continue and wait for the postcard Google will send you.  Once you get this postcard, you will be given a pin number which you will use to confirm your location.

Typically, there is a 2 week waiting period for the postcard to arrive, however there are still some things you can do while you wait.  During this time, ensure your profile is filled out completely as well as your listing.  This will ensure customers have no problems understanding your business.

Some Tips for Helping you Fill your Profile Out

  1. Include images that catch the eye – On 7-Pack, these will show up by hovering your mouse over the listing.
  2. Fill your hours in accurately – (many people just skim this part over, however, you can miss out on potential customers if your business shows up as being closed when it is really open).
  3. Ensure your listing is in the proper category – Google will use this criterion to determine the relevance your business is to the search.
  4. Include keywords and a thorough description (don’t stuff keywords).

Build your Local Presence

Now that your profile is added and Google is aware of your business, use the following strategies to improve your relevance.

1.Build Citations

The mentioning of your business on the Internet is known as a citation. This can be a simple mention of your business with or without a link. It could also be a complete listing of your business address, name, website and phone number.  Citations validate your business and tell Google your business is legitimate and a member of the local community.

Including Citations

Citations are not all the same. For example, if you have a dental practice in Toronto, it would be better for it to be listed in the Toronto dental directory versus a more generic worldwide directory.  Keep in mind when you add citations that your business name should be the same all over the web as should your phone number and address.  Also, citations can contain duplicates just as Google listings, so be sure to check to see if it already exists before adding it.

Paid Services

Since it can get fairly tedious adding all your business listings, you also have the option of paying for it to be done for you. Some paid services that are reputable include:

  • White Spark
  • Bright Local
  • Moz Local
  • Yext

Each has its own pros and cons, however.

  1. Include your Location on your Site

This is often forgotten by many people.  They exclude their city and state on their site. This step ensures Google will know you are a local business in that particular city and will significantly improve your local and organic searches.  It is recommended that you add your city and state to the following:

  • Your title tag
  • Your H1 tag
  • Your content

Your goal is to drive relevancy signals and not stuff keywords in your content.

  1. Add Schema Markup

This will help Google get a better idea of your site. Specific markup tags tell Google where on your site your address, phone number and name are.  An easy way to do this is by following the steps below.

  • Visit: http://schema-creator.org/
  • Select organization and then Local Business
  • Add details; copy code you will find on the right and paste to your site
  1. Grab Some Reviews

An essential part of ranking on Local 7-Pack is in the reviews. The more you have; the better. Plus, customers usually turn to reviews to help with buying decisions. In fact, according to a study done by Bright Local, it is said that reviews are trusted by 88% consumers and are deemed as important as personal recommendations. Don’t skip this important step.

Conclusion

You will find more advanced techniques available that you can use, however, these steps are easy adn will put you one step ahead of many of the other local businesses.  Don’t hesitate to get going with this, the quicker businesses adapt, the faster they thrive.

8 Methods to Implement Today to Improve Your Content’s Shareability

If you want to increase brand awareness, one of the first things you must do is create shareable content. Great content is an essential factor in creating a strong foundation for your website. In fact, it is one of the most impactful factors that can increase online engagement and has even been instrumental in improving relationships with existing clients while gaining the attention and trust of new clients.

When you create content that offers value to your readers, you will gain their trust and provide them with the perception that you are an expert in your particular niche. Content that is written properly will become instantly sharable and spread across social media and search results.

If you are ready to improve the shareability of your content, then using the eight tactics here is a must.

Who’s Your Audience?

Can you even answer this question? If not, this is definitely where you need to start in your quest to create sharable content. You need to know who your audience is and what they want to know in order to create content they will want to read.

One of the best ways to do this is by putting yourself in their shoes. When you have this new perspective, then you should ask yourself if the content that you have published in the past is addressing their concerns. If not, obviously some adjustments need to be made.

If you are not offering concise and clear solutions to their problems, then they have absolutely no reason to share the content to anyone else who may benefit from what you have to say.

Create an Interesting Title

You have one chance to get someone to even take a look at the content you create and that is by creating a title that is captivating and draws them in. You have to make sure it stands out with all the noise that is out there. There are a number of different approaches you can take in terms of creating title but just be sure it screams “HEY- READ ME!” without actually saying those words.

Create the Right Type of Content

If you have content that is too thin and that consists of too much repetition or useless information just to make it seem “better” then you will quickly find that your reader’s interest is not long lasting.

If you want to be certain that this does not occur, then you need to publish the right type of content. This is achieved by creating content with subheadings, bullet lists and articles that offer step by step instructions. These are not only easy to read, they are also extremely valuable.

Always Create Unique Content

This is similar to the previous step and focuses on whether or not the content is right for the person who reads it. However, in addition to being valuable, it also needs to be unique. Each piece of content needs to offer new ideas to readers.

Add Media and Images to Your Content

You need to be sure that you break up your text with visual elements that will make it easier and more appealing to read. Content that includes videos or images is much more likely to be shared than content that does not include this. However, you cannot add just any random image, it needs to be relevant to the content that you have created.

Publish Content to the Right Influencers  

While knowing your audience is crucial, it is also important to think about how you can connect with influencers in your community. When you have these people believe in what you have to offer, it will increase the possibility that it will be shared.

Create a Consistent Voice for Your Brand

If you want to have a consistent audience, it is essential that you create a consistent voice. The brand voice of the content needs to be recognizable and distinctive in order to successfully build trust with your audience. When you create a familiar voice across all of the content pieces, it will not take as much effort for your reader to digest it.

Track Your Shareability

If you are going to put this much work and effort into creating killer content that delivers value, you need to track the results. This means that you need to keep up with how many times it is shared and there are a number of tools that can help you do just that.