A business providing services to a local market should not underestimate the importance of local SEO services. Local SEO efforts often produce more website traffic and more leads. Higher conversions result when your local listings are optimized to accurately reflect your business information, products and services.
Our Omaha SEO team can tell you over and over about why local search engine optimization is important, but how about I just SHOW you. But before I do… let me tell you one more time.
GMB, Apple Maps and Yelp are all big players in local SEO
An optimized Google My Business (GMB) listing will help you pull up in Google for relevant searches – as this information pulls into the local map-pack (see graphic below), which has high visibility. If you haven’t yet setup your Google My Business account, start there. You can use our Step-By-Step Guide to help get you started.
Apple Maps listing helps your business rank well for Siri voice command searches. And with over 700 million iPhones currently being used worldwide, many users are using Siri search on their Apple devices. And, Yelp provides Apple with access to some of its business page information, including reviews. So, optimizing your information and managing reviews for Yelp could not only assist you in organic rankings, but can also help with visibility in Apple Maps.
To help you visualize
Here’s an example Google search for Dentist Omaha.
You will see the paid ads appear at the top of the page, then the map pack, then organic results. Then at the bottom of the page are more paid ads.
What does this mean?
This image shows us two things. First, it shows us the importance of having a local SEO strategy. The map pack pulls in GMB pages organically based on the search query, matching the GMB listing with the keyword(s) being searched. And, the first organic result is from Yelp. While that isn’t the case for every search result for every product or service, Yelp still ranks well for local product and service queries.
Second, this image shows the need for a holistic approach to your search marketing strategy. A Google Ads strategy partnered with local search optimization AND website search engine optimization efforts will help your business appear in all three sections.
The short answer… quality content is important because it’s important to the search engines. There’s not a single client who walks through our door who doesn’t care about success in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). And if Google loves good content, then you should too! The strategy of website design has made major shifts over the last few years. The goal has always been for good user experience; and years ago, our Omaha web designers and web developers would put most of the focus on functional and beautiful design for the best experience possible. Functional and beautiful design are still important to user experience, but now we must also put heavy emphasis on website content. So, let’s approach your website from a more holistic point of view. Let’s build a website that is both beautiful to the eye and rich in valuable information.
Where should you start?
You can start by understanding how results are served on Google. Google’s algorithm is multifaceted and based on more than 200 factors. But Google’s focus when serving results is relevance. Google does not see the design of your website, but instead sees the words and their location. Because of Google’s commitment to serving relevant websites and content, high quality content serves itself. This is not keyword stuffed content. This is content that is readable, that is appropriately placed on the correct page, that is keeping a user on your website. This is more than just plunking in a keyword every-so-often.
So, you think you optimized your pages…
You’ve selected your primary keywords based on what you think your potential customers are searching. Or even better, perhaps, you’ve partnered with our Omaha SEO team to do some in-depth keyword research and analysis. And you’ve tried to integrate your keywords into your web page titles and H1’s, and as frequently as possible into your content. But if your website content is only a few sentences per page, with very little substance, your efforts hold very little weight in the search engines. In fact, it’s often more beneficial for you to invest in creating valuable content than implementing our one-time SEO optimization.
What’s the next step?
The only way to know your best way forward is to analyze how your website is performing. Though Google Analytics and Search Console you can see how each page is ranking, how you’re performing for your desired keywords, and what your user time on site and bouncerates are for each individual page. Quality content is going to establish, at least three critical factors for SEO success:
The search engines will read it and rank it according to its context and value.
Users will likely be funneled into the website, decreasing user bounce rate.
If your questioning the value of any page on your website, I’d venture to say you probably need to rewrite it. And as a website design company who approaches your website from a holistic point of view, quality content is not only important from an SEO perspective, but also from a design perspective. Did you know that we have a copywriter on staff? Quality content is worth the time and financial investment because it can, and will, bring in new business. So, let us help you improve on every facet of your website – design, performance, content.
A Nebraska small business owner recently called us asking about our SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services. He had signed up with an “SEO service provider” who promised a #1 ranking in Google for only $100 a month. And it worked – for one month. The next month his site dropped to page 6 in search results, far worse than before. Now the “service provider” (Can you read my sarcasm?) was telling our caller that he would have to pay a lot more money to fix the damage. Damage caused by this provider’s “services.”
Unfortunately, this provider took actions that not only didn’t help our caller’s ranking but likely severely damaged his website’s reputation with Google. Recovering from such penalties will take much longer than 1 month and more than $100.
You can protect yourself from cheats and liars by knowing a few facts about SEO.
No one can legitimately promise a #1 ranking
Even the best SEO agencies in the world are limited by one fact: SEOs are not Google. Google’s engineers make their own decisions and they carefully limit public information about how it all works. SEO practitioners depend on close readings of everything Google engineers say and on research by industry leaders. Legitimate SEO practitioners are experts on the research but they also know their powers are limited.
Link schemes are a bad bet
Some “SEO service providers” say they’ll get thousands of social media mentions and many thousands of links to your site. Run, don’t walk, away from someone offering you that “service.” Google knows these schemes exist, are constantly uncovering systems that operate them, and penalizes sites that receive those kinds of links and mentions. In the case of the business owner that called JM, his story had all the tell-tale signs of receiving a Google penalty. If your prospective SEO doesn’t show concern for good quality links, their work is likely to cause your site more harm than good.
That being said, there is a correct way to build links to your site: Creating good content that’s valuable to your audience. I’ll cover this in a future post.
More than a few charlatans are willing to sell you empty promises for easy money. The truth is SEO, done correctly and without causing harm, requires months of work and costs a lot more than $100. If you can’t put that much trust in a prospective SEO, then trust your instincts, walk away, and find one you can be confident in.
A good SEO should be interested in your business
The point of a website is for new customers to discover your business and for everyone to buy your products or services more easily. SEO is one set of tactics to support that strategy. If your prospective SEO isn’t interested in your business, what you sell, and who your desired customers are, they’re not prepared to make decisions that will support your strategy and benefit your business.
When you’re considering hiring an Omaha SEO service provider, it pays off to take it seriously. Don’t look for a cheap deal. Find an SEO who knows what they can and cannot promise and who is interested in helping your business succeed online.
It all comes back to user experience. Whether its design, functionality or content – a successful website provides a user with value.
User experience is so important that it’s become the main driver for Google’s algorithm updates over the last several years. And it’s been said in some major SEO studies that one of the most critical factors for SEO success is user time on page.
User time on site is directly correlated to user experience. If your website design is pleasing, if your functionality is friendly, and your content is engaging and valuable the overall time on site will increase. Abandoning visitors increase the bounce rate (user gets to your website and leaves without clicking anything), which reduces conversions and profits.
You can find out your average user time on site through Google Analytics under Audience > Overview.
Here are five tips from our Omaha web design and SEO team for increasing user time on site:
Spruce up design
Your website design gives users a first impression. The design entices or turns away a user before they even start reading the content. So, make that first impression count with a website design that’s clean, functional and accurately reflects your business.
A user-friendly website will also be mobile-friendly. Make sure your website is using responsive technology. Google will reward your website for responsive technology and the added value and readability will increase time on site for mobile users, also increasing your organic rankings.
Among Google’s guidelines for content is “make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.” Contrary to the old-school way of thinking, keywords stuffed into mindless or irrelevant content will not increase SEO value. Your website content, page structure, design… everything… should be geared toward adding value to your users.
This is relevant to pages relating to your core services and to your website blog. Feeding Google consistent content through a blog/news page can be great. But the quantity of content is no longer a key factor for SEO success. Instead, focus on quality of content. If you are unable to produce quality content for your blog, then get rid of it (or hire JM to do it). A blog that’s not being updating with quality content is likely doing nothing for your SEO value and it’s not building credibility for website visitors.
Keep users interested by pointing them to the next thing they’ll want to read. Across your website, link to related services or key team members when relevant. On blogs, link to other related articles whenever possible. This will help provide more relevant information that will appeal to user’s direct interests and be good for your website’s SEO.
Links are crucial SEO ranking signals. Inbound links, outbound links and internal links help Google figure out what is relevant and authoritative.
Optimize website performance
You have less than one minute to keep a visitor on your website. And if even a small portion of that minute is being spent on load time… you’ve likely lost your visitor. You can check your website load time using free tools like Pingdom, and if you’re load time is more than 4 second… you need to make some changes. You can consider:
Getting a new website host: Nothing you can do to optimize your website will make any difference if you have a bad website hosting company. There are VERY cheap hosting options available. I, for one, love a good deal. But you’re not looking for a good deal when it comes to website hosting… you’re looking for reliable, secure and support-focused website hosting.
Use a caching plugin: Caching can result in a 10x speed gain over a non-cached website. And the plugin is free!
Remove unnecessary plugins and update: WordPress (our preferred platform) has lots of cool plugins. But they may be slowing your website down. So, you need to weigh the options and get rid of the ones you don’t need. Also, updating your plugins is critical for site performance AND security.
Optimize images: There are plugins available that can compress and optimize images for faster load time. Or, you can make your images smaller to increase load time.
Attract the right users
A great design, good content, internal links and fast load times are not relevant unless you’re attracting the right users to your website in the first place. Use keywords and long-tail keywords that your ideal customer will search, bid on these keywords for Google Ad campaigns, and create good meta descriptions so users will understand what they’re clicking on before they get to a page.
After making modifications to your website and strategy to increase user time on site, check your Google analytics and analyze the success of each page, individually. Your data will help you make informed decisions.
Don’t know how to analyze the data? Our Omaha SEO team can. Don’t have time to write valuable content? We have an experienced copywriter. Don’t have the ability to make the changes that need to be made? No problem. We can help!
While web marketing is our jam, we still believe in the power of traditional marketing to reinforce your online brand. Even at JM, we use traditional marketing efforts in the Omaha metro and we believe the branding power it gives directly effects our SEO.
For years, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been thought to be a keyword game. Yes, using strategic keywords and regularly contributing rich content is still a factor in organic ranking. But search engines use many factors to determine a site’s rank and most do not rely on keywords.
What factors do search engines use for SEO rank?
In 2017 SEMrush conducted a ranking factors study, analyzing the importance of 17 different factors for organic rankings. The top five factors are:
Direct website visits
Time on the site
Pages per session
The factors that I’d argue can be strongly correlated to traditional marketing efforts are:
Direct Website Visits: Users arrive at your website directly, typing in your domain. This indicates to Google that the domain has high authority and value.
Backlinks: A backlink is any link from another website to your website. This indicates to Google that other people believe in the value of your website.
Your marketing strategy “in-real-life” reinforces your company’s online presence. When people discover your offline brand, they are more likely to visit your website than to drive to your storefront and walk in.
Search engines know this and they recognize these direct visits as a mark of a strong, real life business. Since direct website visits are one of the greatest factors of high search rank, branding your business offline is a crucial part in strengthening your business online.
Also, develop relationships and partnerships in your community. Think speaking engagements, guest blogging, newspaper articles, supporting public charities. All of that community involvement and the publicity connected with it can bring even more potential customers to your site. It’s good for the place you love and it’s good for your SEO.
The point is…
If people see a bus ad, hear a radio ad, see your logo on a sponsorship banner, hear you speak at a seminar… they are more likely to look up your company directly, giving your business domain a powerful boost.
Being involved in your community by doing good and providing education can give you brand power AND SEO power through direct visits and backlinks.
So look at your current marketing efforts. Are they working together? Do they elevate your brand offline AND increase the value of your SEO efforts online?
Google Analytics can tell you a lot about the results your efforts are producing. And if you don’t know how to analyze that data, we do. Let our Omaha-based SEO team help you put together a comprehensive SEO strategy that can help you build power!
Launching a new website is exciting… and there are many critical steps to be taken pre-launch to carry over organic rankings from a current website. Because lost organic search rankings and decreased traffic is NOT exciting. This post is the third in a series about preserving SEO value when launching a new website. A website should not only keep its rankings in Google, Bing and other search engines with a new website launch, but it should also incorporate new SEO opportunities – which were either not utilized in a previous website build, or not yet known.
Website content is so much more than just content on a page. Website content, in this context, includes text, images, new pages, H1 tags and webpage titles. All these items working together (along with countless other criteria) help Google rank a website.
A website that’s been around for years has been ranked according to it’s content. And depending on the website, this could either be a great opportunity to implement quality content on each page, tag each image appropriately and properly title the webpages… or a devastating botched SEO effort with lost rankings.
The Data Doesn’t Lie
Good decisions can only be made by looking at data. If a website has little-to-no content, H1’s have never been optimized and images are not tagged… it’s fairly safe to say there’s a lot of room for improvement in a new website launch. However, if you’ve worked hard over the years to create good quality content packed with keywords, optimized each page with relevant H1 tags and properly tagged each image in an extensive gallery the data can tell us how to move forward with preserving work that’s already been done.
By sifting through analytics for bounce rates, total traffic, organic rankings, keywords and several other items, we can determine if your current strategy is successful or where it can be improved.
Room for Improvement
If there is room for improvement with the designing and launching of a new website, there are a few thing our Omaha web design and web marketing team would recommend implementing prior to launch.
Clear, concise, keyword-rich text on all pages
Strategically selected keywords and keyword phrases
Optimized web page titles and H1 tags
Clear calls to action
Strategic landing pages for AdWords/social campaigns
To be clear, building a strong presence in the search engines does not happen overnight. Implementing even just a couple of the items above is a step in the right direction and can contribute to a long-term strategy.
Carrying Over Success
If, upon evaluating the data, it seem that your current website is performing well in the search engines then it’s best to keep things as similar as possible on the new website – URLs in particular. If you can keep the URL structure and page names the same, it’s ideal. Any changes should be done strategically and for the greater good of website performance, and not just done for the heck of it. Also, where you have page content that currently performs well you’ll want little, or no, changes. There will be plenty of opportunities to tweak the content post-launch, after it is indexed and ranked. This includes well tagged images.
And as for carrying over webpage titles, H1 tags and META descriptions, your old site may allow you to easily export all the key on-page elements to import into the new website. By keeping these items the same, it offers the same benefit as keeping the web content on the page similar. You can always go back post-launch and make updates as-needed, but avoiding a severe loss in SEO ranking is more important than making any major shifts in webpage titles or H1’s before launching a new website.
So the bottom line: when it comes to webpage content, H1 tags, page titles, page names, etc., if your current website is performing well make little-to-no updates until after launch. This is less work on your plate up-front, and will give you a chance to evaluate the performance of your new website’s design and layout before considering how to update the text on each page.
Rebuilding and relaunching a website brings much anticipation and excitement. And while significant effort usually goes into designing, layout and population, the critical steps of launch preparation and post-launch support are often overlooked – causing catastrophic results in lost SEO value.
As we began to discuss last week, in preparation for launching a new website our Omaha web design team implements many strategies and methods for retaining a website’s credibility in the search engines. A website should not only keep its rankings in Google, Bing and other search engines with a new website launch, but it should also incorporate new SEO opportunities – which were either not utilized in a previous website build, or not yet known.
Best-practices are often overlooked, because they can be laborious. It takes preparation, thoughtful execution and continued monitoring to ensure SEO value is retained. Let’s, first, hit one major checklist item in preserving SEO rankings in a new website launch.
If possible, try to keep the URL structure and page names the same. Less can go wrong this way. When your URL’s change, search engines can still serve the old pages they’ve indexed. When this happens, redirects must be implemented to avoid to serving your users the wrong content and to prevent old URL’s from displaying errors.
The 301 redirect is for both users and search engines and indicates to both browsers and search engine bots that the page has moved. For instance, www.examplesite.com/contact is now www.examplesite.com/contact-us on a new website. These will be considered two separate pages to the search engines until a redirect is in place.
Search engines take a 301 redirect to mean that not only has the page changed location, but that the content can be found at the new URL. It could take some time for the search engines to recognize this URL redirect and credit the new page with the ranking from the old URL.
Prior to launching you will want a spreadsheet of all URLs on the old and new sites, so you can implement and test 301 redirects. When the new site is live, you will want to crawl the old list of URLs to ensure everything 301 redirects correctly. Additionally, keeping the old website as a backup will aid in knowing how to implement unforeseen redirects.
Wait… there’s more
301 redirects are critical for ensuring success in the search engines after a new website launch. But this is just one piece in the larger picture.
A credible Omaha web design company will be able to execute these redirects, but it’s also possible for anyone – if you have the foresight and time.
Follow us in the weeks to come for more new website launch tips for preserving SEO rankings.
Many businesses seek a new, updated website to build credibility. And really – isn’t that what we all want for our businesses? Professional branding backed by the expertise and knowledge of trusted staff.
A sleek, professional website can go a long way in building credibility. But it’s the content that matters. Website content matters to Google and it matters to potential customers.
You’ve likely heard it before…. “Content is King.” And your website is no expectation to this often-understated mantra. So, if you REALLY look at your website content, does it do the following?
Clearly and concisely inform users of your product or service?
Carefully and thoughtfully utilize keywords for increased organic SEO rankings?
Portray the expertise and professionalism of your staff?
And while website design preferences have changed and search engine algorithms have adjusted over the years, good content has remained a constant for a successful website. Website content creates a connection with customers and prospects. Good design partnered with good content builds credibility with customers – letting them know you are the expert, your staff is capable and your products/services are the best around.
Good website content also increases conversions, because valuable information will help consumers to gain a complete understanding of what you do, the services you offer and how you can help them. As a result, your website will generate high quality leads from consumers who are truly interested in utilizing your products or services. And, most importantly, high quality website content that is optimized for the search engines will result in improved rankings (SEO) – bringing these high-quality leads through your virtual door.
Do you want improved performance for your website? Improve your content! Content is king. It matters to Google, and it matters to your customers. So, get writing, or ask us to help!
JM is rolling (literally) out a new marketing campaign to spread the good news of our top-notch design, powerful Internet marketing services and speedy web hosting support to all of Omaha. In case you haven’t seen it, we’ve launched a new advertisement – plastered on 4 Omaha-metro buses.
Boasting over 19 years in business, our firm is deeply rooted in Omaha – as we serve many businesses and organizations of all sizes across the metro. It’s our hope that these bus advertisements will build our JM brand throughout the metro-area and serve as a reminder to those looking for our services.
We cannot think of a better place to launch our latest marketing efforts, than an Omaha Metro bus. Its wide reach is unmatched, and it allows us to support a public system that provides economical and ecologically-friendly forms of transportation for all Omaha residents.
If you see our advertisement while you’re out-and-about, don’t forget to drop us an email to let us know what you think!
JM recently released a new 2013 radio ad on Omaha’s local KFAB station, with our very own CEO Jonathan Patton talking about our new SEO (search engine optimization) packages. Check out it and let us know what you think on our Facebook page!
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