Why Verifying Your ‘Google My Business’ Profile is a Must for Local LA Businesses

By | Local SEO | No Comments

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Do you operate a small or medium-size business in Los Angeles? Would you like to enhance your online exposure and drive more traffic to your website – all in one easy step? It sounds impossible. But, as leading Los Angeles SEO experts, we know that claiming and verifying your Google My Business listing can put your business on the map…both figuratively and literally.

Not familiar with GMB? It’s a free directory listing that combines Google+, Google places, and Google maps. Through it, you can manage your online Google presence on one single dashboard, while also increasing your exposure and local search traffic.

Your local Los Angeles customers can then:

  • View your address, phone, website and operating hours
  • See photos of your storefront and a 360-degree video of your business
  • Find out what others are saying about your business via an aggregate star system and online reviews
  • Get directions to your location
  • Connect with your website or Facebook page

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If you’ve been doing business in Los Angeles for a while, Google might already have your company information in the system. However, if you don’t claim it online and then verify it through a phone call or postcard, your site won’t be given the same weight as other similar businesses with verified GMB listings. As a top SEO firm, we know this can then influence your rankings, resulting in sales lost to your competitors.

So how do you claim your GMB listing? It’s easy:

First, go to www.google.com/business and click ‘Start Now.’ Enter your name, address and phone (NAP), as well as business hours, website address, and category. It’s critically important to ensure the NAP information you enter matches the information displayed on the website it links to. You’ll then have to wait a couple weeks for a postcard with a verification code to arrive at your business location. You can also request verification via phone call.

Once you get your verification code, go back to the GMB website to enter it and follow the prompts. Your listing is now verified and open for business!

But don’t stop there. There are a variety of steps to take that can help you get the most out of your Google My Business listing and rank higher with it, including:

  • Posting content and regular updates. Include a short intro about your business and what you do. You can also publish news and special offers or promotions. And if you post to your website news page or Facebook profile, you can also share and promote that information on your GMB listing – further enhancing SEO for your Los Angeles website.
  • Using photos and video throughout your listing. Add your logo, a profile photo, and a cover photo to highlight your business. This is important because according to Google, listings with photos get 35% more clicks than those without them. You can also post videos to provide more in-depth, behind-the-scenes information. Just make sure the images and videos you post are professional quality.

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  • Encouraging customer reviews and social check-ins. With customer reviews, your star rating will then be displayed on the map for searches. A high rating can then boost the click-through rate from a search engine results page to your website. In addition, positive reviews improve the chances of a customer actually visiting your business.

Don’t have enough time to devote to building an effective GMB profile – or managing your local SEO efforts? Contact YouthNoise, SEO experts. We have the proven local SEO experience and track record to help you dominate search engines and increase your local rankings.

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5 Quick Tips for Improving SEO for Your Philadelphia Business

By | Local SEO | No Comments

 

Imagine this scenario: You operate a Philadelphia bakery specializing in sports-themed cupcakes. You have a great website with colorful, enticing photos and spot-on copy points. But is it ranking on the first page of Google for localized results? In other words, when a prospective customer types “sports themed cupcakes in Philadelphia” into Google, is your bakery one of the first results they see?

If not, then you have some work to do. Whether you run a bakery – or a law firm, manufacturing facility, retail shop or other type of business competing in Philadelphia, local SEO helps to increase your search engine rankings. This, in turns, means more customers will be able to find you and potentially buy from you. And the statistics back this up.

In fact, according to Google research, 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day. Likewise, 34% who searched on a computer or tablet did the same.

As leading SEO experts in Philadelphia, PA, we know if you’re not a tech expert, local SEO can sound complicated. But there are actually some small – and simple – steps you can take to dominate local rankings. Here are 5 of them:

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Tip #1: Improve your on-page SEO.

 Sure, there are aspects of on-page SEO that are quite technical. But there are also parts of it that you can do yourself. For instance, make sure you optimize your title tags and site URLs with important keywords; build a site that loads quickly; and sprinkle (lightly!) keywords throughout your site content. Keep in mind, though, content quality is more important than keyword density.

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Tip #2: Get more backlinks to your site.

Backlinks are links from other quality websites to your own. They’re important because Google uses them to help determine how relevant and valuable your site is – which can impact how high your site ranks in local results.

So, for instance, if the top local foodie blogger in Philadelphia posts a rave review of your Eagles cupcakes on their website, you just earned a powerful backlink. There are many other ways to build backlinks, including guest authoring your own articles on industry blogs or sponsoring local community events and having the event website link back to your own.

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Tip #3: Verify your Google My Business profile.

Today’s consumers no longer use the phone book; most turn to the web. And when searching for a local product or service, the local listings are what they will see first – which is why investing in local SEO for your Philadelphia business is so important.

The good news is you can improve rankings by taking two simple steps: 1) verifying your Google My Business listing and 2) making sure that your contact information (name, address, phone) is consistent across the web.

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Tip #4: Post fresh content, especially videos.

Sites with dynamic and ever-evolving, high quality content typically rank better than those with static information. So publish new blog posts, press releases, images to your photo gallery, and upcoming events regularly. Video too is an engaging way to interact with customers and can get more organic traffic to your site then plain copy. That said, don’t publish a bunch of fluff on your site just for the sake of posting more content. Quality always outranks quantity in SEO.

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Tip #5: Make sure your website is mobile friendly.

More users than ever will be viewing your site on a phone or tablet, rather than a computer. In fact, 80% of consumers own a smartphone and use it to search the Internet. So having a responsive site designed for mobile traffic is important for providing a positive user experience. Not only that, but Google takes into account your website’s mobile compatibility when ranking your site. Mobile friendly can therefore mean higher rankings.

Don’t have the time or resources to focus on local SEO? Call YouthNoise. We can take the guesswork out of SEO, increase your local rankings, and drive more traffic to your site – all while you focus on other business priorities.

The History Of SEO Penalties – And How You Can Learn From It

By | SEO | No Comments

Search engine optimization has been important to the health of websites for a very long time. It is difficult to make a successful website if it is not showing up in search engines.

Some people have tried to game the system so that their sites would shoot to the top of search engine rankings. While this occasionally brought site-owners short-term success, it eventually leads to SEO penalties.

Anyone that owns a website should be aware of the history of SEO penalties. When you look closely at these penalties and why they were handed out, you will see that there is a lot you can learn about proper search engine optimization.

Bad Links

Search engines look at some factors when they are trying to determine how to rank a website. One of the things they consider is “backlinks.” They look at how many sites link back to a specific site. If numerous sites are linking out to a website, the search engines will assume that the website meets a high level of quality.

Many site owners have tried to exploit this. They have bought thousands of cheap backlinks for next to nothing and then waited for the traffic to roll in.

However, search engines can see the sites that are linking out to other websites. If a site has a high number of bad links, that site will not see its search rankings rise. Instead, the site’s rankings will plummet.

Search Engine Penalties

Hidden Links

Some sites have tried to conceal various links from the general public. Site owners know that search engines are not able to “see” a site the way a person does. Some designers hide tens or even hundreds of links in their CSS or Javascript coding.

Search engines have adapted and learned how to spot these hidden links. If site owners try to hide links to trick search engines, they will usually be hit with some SEO penalty.

Excessive Downtime

It is normal for sites to experience downtime every once in a while. Even the biggest sites on the internet, like Facebook, have experienced periods of downtime.

No site will be penalized if the site goes down every once in a while. However, if a site is down all the time, that site’s search rankings will fall.

It is vitally important for site owners to make sure they have enough bandwidth the support the level of traffic that they receive. If their site is always failing to load in, their site will eventually fail to show up in searches.

Spun Content

Producing a consistent content is an excellent way to bring up your search rankings. When a site updates regularly, it will be crawled by search engines more frequently. Also, the site will be able to include a wider variety of keywords.

Creating content takes much work. Some site owners have tried to circumvent that by “spinning” content. They take original content and then have it altered slightly before they post it again.

Search engines have gotten much better at detecting spun content. When they see this sort of content being regularly used on a website, that website will be hit with a penalty.

If you want to reap the benefits of original content, you are going to have to create original content.

Keyword Stuffing

Keywords are one of an essential component of SEO. Including keywords in your content is one of the best ways to ensure that readers will be able to find your site.

Search engines do not have a problem with keyword content. However, they do have an issue with content that is overloaded with keywords.

When you use keywords, you need to use them in a natural way. If you force keywords into your content, it is possible that an SEO penalty will be forced upon you.

When you look at the history of SEO penalties, you will notice a common theme. The majority of penalties exist because people have tried to trick search engines.

If you want to attract search traffic to your site, you should focus on creating high-quality content. Avoid cheap tricks; these sorts of cheats could wind up harming your site in the long run.

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6 SEO Myths You Have Believed that Will Destroy Your Business in 2017

By | Onsite Optimization, SEO | No Comments

 

SEO (search engine optimization) when broken down into its most basic form, consists of only two things: on and off-site SEO. While they are both an integral part of your overall strategy and success, the misinformation and constant shifts within on-site SEO have resulted in the propagation of some pretty damaging myths.

And since on-site optimization serves as the foundation upon which all of your other SEO efforts stand, I felt that it was important to address some of the mistakes that you might be making so that you can start the new year off with a fully optimized website that is kicking and rearing to take 2017 by storm.

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1. On-site SEO Requires You to Hire an Expert

While this particular myth has provided some incredibly lucrative entrepreneurial opportunities over the years and is grounded in truth, it has also prevented many entrepreneurs from achieving their true potential.

Yes, there are aspects of on-site SEO that are extremely technical and require an in depth knowledge of coding and website development. And yes, if you can afford the investment, it is generally more expedient to hire a professional SEO firm or consultant so that you can focus your time elsewhere.

However, optimizing the essential 80% of your on-site SEO is a task that nearly anyone can do regardless of their current technical abilities.

Just about any skill that is required to get your website up to the modern standards of SEO can be learned by anyone, and learned rather quickly.

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2. Every Title and Description Needs to Have a Keyword

One of the most common things that you will hear from SEO gurus and consultants is that you need to include one or more keywords for each title and description on your website. These title tags and meta descriptions are what your audience will see whenever they pull up the search engine results page, and they are meant to provide both Google and your viewers with meaningful information about the page’s content.

And while there is no detriment to including at least one keyword within your title tags and meta descriptions, it also isn’t necessary. Google has started indexing and providing content ratings using semantic searches, which means that it is now better to focus your efforts on accurately describing the content of your pages.

This will lure readers in and result in a higher number of click-throughs on your page. And, some studies have suggested that the higher your CTR within the SERPs is, the higher your rankings will be.

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3. More (content) is Better

We live a society that constantly propagates the myth that more is always better. Whether this is more money, more fame, more muscles, or, in our case, more content. The problem is, more is not always better, especially with regards to SEO.

Yes, you want to have several hundred words of high quality content on each page. Yes, you need to have an effective content marketing strategy that includes the regular addition of new pages and posts that provide tremendous value to your audience. But simply loading up your website with superfluous content to try and land yourself in Google’s good graces is never a good idea.

With SEO, quality is more important than quantity. You will need to build up enough content to get picked by search engines in the first place, but once that has been accomplished, shift your focus to the quality of your content and not just having high amounts of content.

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4. We Already Did SEO Once

This is one of those myths that really grinds my gears. I am not sure who started it or why, but the belief that SEO is static, that it is so simple you can merely set it and forget it is not only blatantly false, but downright dangerous.

The algorithms that Google uses to determine page ranking and website relevance change on an almost constant basis, and while I am not suggesting that you need to “redo” your SEO every week, you should take an audit of your SEO practices and performance at least once every other month.

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5. You Need to Create a Separate Page for Each of Your Target Keywords

Like I have said, most of the myths within this article are grounded in reality, and this one is no exception. Back when keyword optimization was the driving force behind SEO, this tactic worked wonders. However, in 2016 and beyond, this method will be mildly effective at best and a massive waste of time at worst.

Instead, you need to tailor your pages to follow certain themes that are important to your audience. Focus on the quality of the content you are producing instead of matching it to certain keywords. Because, at the end of the day, the only way to truly become a master of SEO is to create content that people want to read, share, and promote into virality.

Conclusion

SEO can be one of the most confusing and challenging aspect of running any online business. But it doesn’t need to be. By eliminating the biggest myths that are perpetuated throughout the SEO industry, you will be able to severely reduce the amount of time required to become an SEO powerhouse.

What are some SEO myths that you have believed before? How did they affect your business?

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How To Establish A Strong Web Presence By Using A Holistic Approach To SEO

By | SEO | No Comments

 

The relationship between Google and digital marketers has always been a complicated one. Since the company first launched in 1998, Google’s imperfect algorithms have allowed digital marketers to find ways to manipulate search in a manner that improves site rankings at the expense of site quality.

Luckily, Google has developed efficient algorithms over the years. The newer, fresher code has changed the rules of ranking—quality is now paramount. As a result, both user experience and site content have improved.

What does all this mean for your business?

It means that, with a basic understanding of Google’s algorithms and a holistic approach to SEO, you can establish a rock solid presence on the web. It also means that your internet presence will be one that’s legitimized—reflecting your identity and mission while providing users with the information they need.

Here’s the information that can help you:

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Google’s search mission is (and always will be) to provide the most relevant information for users in the fastest time possible. Everything it does (and doesn’t do) revolves around this mission. It’s taken over a decade, but Google has finally built what appears to be the perfect algorithm.

The three Google quality checks are Google Panda, Google Penguin, and Google Hummingbird. Each was created for a specific purpose, but with a common goal of delivering quality content that answers—in the best way possible—the questions users ask.

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Google Panda

In the eyes of Google, content is king. Google Panda is how Google legitimizes content by rewarding quality over quantity. One of the ways digital marketers have manipulated Google is by stuffing content with keywords. This approach no longer works, thanks in large part to Panda.

How does Panda work? The three important aspects of Panda are:

  • Word count
  • User generated content
  • Search query matching

Panda doesn’t reward word count. It discourages it. Again, quality over quantity.

A 75-word quality message that gives users the information they’re searching for is better than a 300+ word message that’s stuffed with excess keywords and fluff. In order to capitalize on this, your content strategy should be simple: create content that answers users’ questions in the least amount of words possible.

Benji Hyam said this well: “People who are unfamiliar with this space [will] think that writing a 750 word post will make them more successful than a 300 word post (or vice versa). I don’t think word count matters at all. Word count isn’t going to make one company blog more successful than another.”

Panda regulates user generated content by devaluing sites with spam—mainly in the form of guest posts and forums. This might come as quite a surprise, but don’t let it discourage you. You should neither get rid of nor not add quality user generated content.

Panda values content that matches search queries. Your site should provide specific answers to the specific questions users are asking. The best way to achieve this by reading and examining search queries.

Once you figure out exactly what users are asking, you can inspect (and possibly alter) your content. Note: if you change your content, it should be done in a manner that reflects the mission of your company—search manipulation tactics are neither necessary nor effective.

Google Penguin

Penguin was created because of the high value Google places on links. A legitimate, quality site is one that other sites promote via a backlink. The idea makes sense—no good business would link a site that can’t help their users/customers.

Penguin analyzes links to determine legitimacy. If a business uses low quality links or links purchased from directories or spam, Penguin will find them and discredit the site. This can be difficult for digital marketing strategies because previous algorithms rewarded site linking regardless of quality.

In order to work with and meet the standards of Penguin, you should conduct a link audit. The above mentioned low quality links should be sought out and removed if found. While performing your audit, keep the following in mind:

  • Domains determine quality
  • Only high quality sites should be linked
  • Promotional links don’t need to be removed (Penguin does not discourage them)

Optimizing your site for Penguin is easily done if you put the above mentioned information and recommendations to use. Remember to always choose quality over quantity, and eliminate spam.

Google Hummingbird

Search evolves in a manner that users are constantly increasing the length of their search queries. Currently, search is at point where it’s being deemed “conversational”. The level at which users and search engines interact is unprecedented.

Hummingbird was created to improve this new type of search. Unlike Panda and Penguin, it doesn’t target spam. For this reason, site optimization is difficult. It’s recommended that content be examined to ensure it answers both short and long search queries. Sometimes there can be more traffic, and business, to be won in “the long tail of SEO” than by focusing on short, more popular search queries.

Conclusion

As has been mentioned and alluded to throughout this article, quality is what matters most to Google. Your approach to SEO should be a holistic one—centered around your new found knowledge of Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.

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Know that content is king, links play a strong role in Google’s classification of your site, and conversational search optimization is important. Examine and alter your site’s content while keeping the information in this article in mind.

To speed up the process of building your web presence, seek help. Hire a digital marketing agency who knows their stuff. Trained SEO professionals see things that most business owners do not, and can quickly make changes that have an immediate ROI.

In addition, they can talk to you about how adding site features like mobile design and pay per click, both of which can acquire new customers.

Sound tough? It really isn’t. Use the tips I’ve laid out here and the strong internet presence you want (and deserve) can become a reality.

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9 Life Changing SEO Tools to Help Double Your Traffic This Month

By | SEO | No Comments

If I told you that you had to get from one end of the country to the other, how would you do it?

Before you answer that, let me ask you another question.

How would you not do it?

You wouldn’t walk, right?

You probably wouldn’t harness up a horse and buggy, and you probably wouldn’t even take your car.

If you were smart, you would Uber over to the nearest airport and buy a plane ticket, simple as that.

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And yet, if you were to ask most entrepreneurs what approach they would take to growing their traffic and their business, most of them don’t take the “airplane approach.”

They seem insistent on doing things the slow way and “walking” a thousand miles.

And I don’t mean like the Vanessa Carlton Song.

However, if you are ready to kick off your hiking boots, unharness your horses, put your car back in the garage and hop onto the next flight towards doubling your traffic

Then this is the article for you.

I am going to show you how using a few simple tools will change your business forever.

If you take advantage of these tools, you will be able to generate more traffic than you ever thought possible in record time.

So ladies and gentlemen, go ahead and grab your bags because Youth Noise flight 117, headed towards massive business success, is boarding.

1. Google Analytics

Honestly, putting Google Analytics on this list is almost overkill.

Nearly every online entrepreneur and marketer in the 21st century is already taking advantage of this powerful tool to grow their business and gain valuable insight into their traffic statistics.

However, for those of you who are not, stop what you are doing right now (after you finish this article of course) and start your Analytics account.

Google Analytics allows you to track every conceivable metric that you need to improve your ranking and increase the traffic to your website.

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Seriously… Every conceivable metric, this is just the Google Analytics Dashboard.

From the highest performing backlinks generating the most visitors, to the user engagement on each page, to organic traffic generation, Google Analytics allows you to track it all.

If you can learn how to take advantage of this tool, you will quickly be able improve your traffic, user engagement, and search engine ranking… For free.

2. Moz.com’s Open Site Explorer

One of the greatest SEO tools available to the modern entrepreneur is moz.com.

Somehow, Moz has managed to combine a friendly UX and simple design with a plethora of impressive SEO tools that allow you to take your business to the next level.

Even if you decide that Moz premium is not worth the investment for your business, the free version still offers an incredible amount of value and several high end SEO tools.

The first — Open Site Explorer — will be the focus of this segment.

Open site explorer allows you to dive deep into the crevices of your web strategy and explore the content and link building opportunities that you are not currently taking advantage of.

You can track a variety of tests over a period of time to fully optimize your link profile and uncover new strategies for enhancing your ranking.

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You can even “spy” on your competition to uncover exactly what strategies are working for their website and use this knowledge to build a more effective link building campaign for yourself.

However, the fun doesn’t stop there.

In addition to their open site explorer tool, Moz also gives you access to their Keyword Explorer and MozBar.

The Keyword Explorer helps you uncover the best keywords to target for your website so that you can quickly improve your ranking and create viral content.

MozBar, on the other hand, allows you to once again get in touch with your inner secret agent, don the James Bond tuxedo, and spy on other sites.

With MozBar, you can analyze the metrics of any site that you are visiting to uncover what is working for them and what is not.

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With the combination of these three tools, you will be powerfully equipped to take over the world of SEO and launch your website to new heights.

3. Screaming Frog

So far you might be thinking, “Well, these tools are great, but my real struggle with ranking my site isn’t with content and links, it’s with technical SEO.”

Well, luckily for you, I have just the tool to solve all of your technical woes.

Screaming Frog (no, not the guy from the Muppets) is an SEO tool that is focused on on-page, technical SEO fixes to improve the rankability of your site.

Screaming Frog

Like Google Analytics and Moz, Screaming Frog comes with plenty of free tools that you can take advantage of as soon as you finish this article.

It allows you to find and fix missing or broken links on your site, ensure that your titles and metadata are up to date and optimize, and will even generate a free XML sitemap.

However, if you are a big spender (or an intelligent investor), the premium version of Screaming Frog clocks in at only $200 a year, making it one of the most affordable tools on this list.

4. Hootsuite

I can already see a couple of you scratching your heads in confusion.

Wait”, you’re saying “Isn’t Hootsuite a social media tool, not an SEO tool?

And to answer your question, yes, Hootsuite is a social media tool, however this does not mean it is not also useful for SEO.

You see, social media has become one of the most integral parts of optimizing your website ranking and generating massive amounts of traffic.

Without a strong social media presence, your company will slowly get cut down by its competition until you are like the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Your company will be on its last legs screaming “Come back you knaves, I can still fight!” as you sullenly sit back and watch your competitors walk away with all of your traffic.

However, if you want to be the King Arthur of the SEO world, slaying dragons and becoming the most respected Knight at the round table, then Hootsuite is your proverbial sword in the stone.

Hootsuite allows you to easily master and automate all of your Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Instagram marketing.

Hootsuite will help you to create and execute effective campaigns that will expose your content and your brand to thousands of new eyes.

And once you have done that, your SEO success is all but guaranteed.

5. GTmetrix

User experience is often an underrated aspect of SEO performance.

People love talking about the importance of generating authority backlinks and developing killer content marketing campaigns, and who can blame them.

So do I.

But unless you have a solid UX none of these things will matter.

And one of the cornerstones of UX is your site’s speed.

You can put hours of effort and thousands of dollars into optimizing your SEO, but if users come to your site and are forced to wait through a 15 second page-load time, it was all a waste.

People simply don’t have the patience for websites that perform poorly.

With only two clicks and a couple of taps on the keyboard, they can easily find another resource equally as valuable as yours that loads within a reasonable time frame.

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That’s why I love tools like GTmetrix.

GTmetrix gives you all of the tools that you need to enhance the speed of your website to ensure that you are maximizing the experience of your site for all of your users.

It allows you to diagnose potential problems, examine the current speed of your site, and uncover the biggest opportunities for shifting your website’s speed into fourth gear.

6. Ontolo

One of the worst parts of any link building campaign is the research.

Spending hours and hours of tediously developing a list of potential opportunities to pursue is enough to drive even the most ambitious entrepreneur a little insane.

But what if you never had to do any of that research again?

What if you had a tool that did it all for you?

Well, with Ontolo, you do.

Ontolo takes the burden of research from off of your shoulders and carries it on its own, developing a list of potential link building opportunities for you to go after.

You simply input the requisite information and Ontolo gets to work compiling a comprehensive list of opportunities.

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So that means all you have to do is skim through the list and pick whichever links you think are most congruent with your business goals.

Now, if you are sitting back in your seat thinking that this may be too good to be true, wait just one second.

This tool doesn’t come without a price.

At $97 a month, Ontolo is not a minor investment for most business owners.

However, when you think about the free time that it will give you to devote to other parts of your business, the price becomes pretty marginal.

7. Ahrefs

Out of all of the tools on this list Ahrefs is one of my personal favorites.

The amount of value that it offers to experienced and beginning entrepreneurs alike is almost unparalleled by any other tool on this list.

Like Moz, it has an open site explorer that offers extremely detailed  backlink profiles for any website.that you select.

Whether that is your own site or a competitor’s.

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Ahrefs also comes with an impressive position tracking tool.

This gives you a comprehensive understanding of where your website stands in comparison to your competition.

And, as long as you are keeping a close eye on it, it allows you to gauge how effective your various tactics and campaigns have been in boosting your ranking.

Adding to the list of goodies at your disposal, Ahrefs also allows you to track keyword rankings and determine how well your content is performing.

And if that wasn’t enough, Ahrefs also gives you deep insights into your mobile performance with only the click of a mouse (or tap on the iPhone).

If that isn’t enough for you, don’t worry.

Ahrefs comes with a multitude of other SEO tools that will allow you to gain invaluable insights and transform your site from SE-NO to SEOMG. (corny, I know)

8. Google Trends

The final tool on our list is also the only tool that gives you magical powers.

You see, every entrepreneur who uncovers the hidden powers within Google Trends will immediately become clairvoyant.

Well, sort of.

While Google Trends doesn’t send you an Amazon shipment of crystal balls, scrying sticks, and tarot cards, it does give you an almost supernatural insight into current market trends.

It allows you to track current trends and get a jump on your competition by analyzing topics that have a rising interest level.

And while this is important in and of itself, where Google Trends really shines is in its ability to inform you of the subtleties of trend changes.

What do I mean by this?

Well, even though any given topic may remain relevant for a long period of time, the phrases that people use when discussing that topic may change.

This means that the keywords you will need to target and the language you will need to use within your content will have to change as well.

For example, in the past search engine optimization changed to SEO, e-mail changed to email, and user experience changed to UX.

By using Google Trends, you will be able to stay on top of all of these trends as they are happening and keep your business ahead of your competition.

Conclusion

If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, then you need to use every single tool at your disposal.

And if you want to succeed at SEO, you will use all of the 8 tools listed within this article to maximize your efforts and grow your traffic beyond what you ever thought possible,

So go out there, get to it, and in the infamous words of Jeremy Clarkson, become the fastest growing business … … … “In the world”

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The 15 Most Costly Myths in the SEO Industry Today

By | General, Local SEO, SEO | No Comments

Think you’ve got a pretty solid grasp of the fundamentals of SEO? You might want to think again…

Even if you’re an SEO OG and have been optimizing websites for years, there’s a good chance that most (if not all) of your SEO “knowledge” is nothing more than misinformation and meaningless tropes.

That’s right… You’ve most likely been misled about certain SEO “truths”, that are anything but. Part of the problem is that controversy sells, so, many sites carelessly publish articles that deliberately provide incorrect information just to generate buzz.

The other problem is that SEO is complex and ever-changing. What held true a few months ago could very well be completely untrue today. No wonder there are so many myths about SEO floating around out there.

Read on to see how I debunk 15 of the costliest myths in SEO today.

15 SEO myths that are eating up your profits

I’ll begin by quickly debunking the biggest myth of all: that you need to hire a professional agency to engage in effective SEO.

The fact is, virtually anyone can get the hang of SEO. The problem, however, is that best practices change so often that it’s difficult stay fresh. With that in mind, it makes sense to hire someone as your SEO watchdog. Your proverbial “man in the trenches” who stays on top of SEO trends and ensures that your sites stay in Google’s good graces.

Hiring an SEO manager is simple enough, but what others really eat into your budget? Here are 15 more SEO myths that you should look out for.

1

Having a top ranking on the search engine results pages, or SERPs, is advantageous, but it’s not the be-all, end-all when it comes to SEO.

This wasn’t always the case…

In the early days of SEO, achieving a top slot was a top priority. Today, however, that ranking must be backed up by top-notch content, or it won’t last long.

Don’t have tunnel vision about achieving a top ranking on Google–and don’t despair if you’re not there. Focus on developing relevant, useful, unique content, and everything else will fall into place.

2

Yes, Google has officially stated that social signals, such as Facebook likes and retweets, aren’t taken into consideration by the algorithms. However, there’s lots of anecdotal evidence suggesting otherwise.

What’s clear is that despite protestations to the contrary, major search engines like Google and Bing take cues from social signals to determine how useful and relevant a site is. Develop and maintain a strong social media presence to make the most of this.

3

It’s easy to see why this rumor just won’t die. In 2014, Google’s Matt Cutts famously tweeted that people should stop using guest blogging to get links because it doesn’t work.

What many folks don’t realize is that Cutts did a complete about face shortly thereafter and officially gave guest blogging his blessing. It’s not like it matters much, anyway. There’s no reliable way for a search engine to discern a “normal” blog post from a guest blog post.

4

/facepalm

How is this one still an issue? Although some of the dust has settled since the mobile revolution really got underway, assuming that mobile optimization doesn’t matter is a big, fat mistake.

Think about it: Google has officially come out to say that mobile friendliness is taken into account when rankings are assessed. Further, when a site is mobile friendly, it delivers a better user experience.

Don’t create a separate mobile site. Have your site developed using responsive web design, or RWD, so that it renders properly across all devices.

5

Snapping up as many top-level domains may seem like a great way to quickly boost SEO, but that’s not always the case. It generally holds true for .com and .net domains, but others won’t get you far.

Before investing in newer top-level domains like .guru and .company, make sure that your existing .com domain is relevant to the content of your site. Use keywords in your domain when it makes sense, but understand that relevance is far more important than keywords.

6

Yes, Google loves long-form content. Articles and other content that average around 2,500 words or so tend to perform well.

This isn’t universally true, though, and it should not be the basis of your SEO strategy. When the situation warrants it, long-form content is terrific. You see, the topic at hand must be complex enough to justify going into such detail.

Just because content is 2,000 words or longer doesn’t mean it will give you a big rankings boost. For that to happen, it must deliver value to readers, and it must be relevant to the main gist of your site.

7

Even though this hasn’t been the case for several years now, a disconcerting number of people still believe that SEO is mostly about using the “right” keywords.

Keywords still affect rankings–supposedly, less than 15 percent of a webpage’s ranking is influenced by its keywords–but other factors matter more nowadays. Properly addressing user intent is much more important, so make sure that people are getting what they need when landing on your website.

8

About 10 years ago, anchor text optimization was all the rage. Google got wise to some of the underhanded tactics that were being used though, so things are a little different these days.

That’s not to say that anchor text is somehow irrelevant all of a sudden. It is still a great way to enhance an SEO strategy. However, some old techniques should be shelved.

Most notably, avoid excessively using the same anchor text again and again. Diversification is crucial. Don’t just focus on keywords in anchor text, but mix things up with generic terms like “click here” from time to time.

9

This myth flies completely in the face of reality. If anything, optimizing images is more important than ever, as visual content has been growing in importance by leaps and bounds.

Since there’s no way for search engines to “read” images, you must optimize them yourself using titles, tags and captions. By describing each image in this way, you bolster your SEO and have the opportunity to appear in image searches as well.

10

When engaging in social media marketing, optimizing messages and content is, indeed, beneficial. By doing so, you make it easier for people to find the pieces that you’re trying to promote.

No, optimized content on social media doesn’t affect your search engine rankings. Instead, it provides another way to ensure that the right people find your content. Social sharing also enhances link building, so this is a win-win situation.

11

Given how much new content flies onto the internet every minute of the day, it’s safe to say that Google can’t possibly keep up with it all. Despite this, many people are under the impression that once they post something, indexing will quickly and magically occur.

This is patently false, but there are things that you can do to prompt Google to index new content. Most notably, use the Google XML Sitemap Generator plugin for WordPress to ensure that search engines are alerted to fresh content as soon as it is published.

12

For some reason, this misconception has gained new life recently. I can debunk this myth by stating the following: Google’s algorithms prioritize relevance and usefulness. Rambling on and on across dozens of pages won’t get you anywhere if the content on them is irrelevant or not useful.

If you legitimately need to add a new page, do so. Don’t add more pages to your site in the hopes of achieving a better ranking, or you will be sorely disappointed.

13

Given how quick and easy it is to add meta tags–in particular, for titles, keywords and descriptions–there’s no reason not to do so. Matt Cutts officially announced that Google doesn’t care about them, but they are still worthwhile additions to any page.

Using meta tags may not boost your site’s ranking per se, but they tell people what to expect from a given page and may therefore make it more useful and relevant to them.

14

Links will always matter, and they will always affect how webpages are ranked. Therefore, link building isn’t in danger of dying any time soon.

Still, link building has evolved considerably. The best link-building strategies focus on producing top-notch content that people naturally want to link to. Asking websites to randomly share links to yours is totally out.

15

This myth, in particular, costs many businesses dearly. They are told that SEO is a thing of the past and not to bother with it, and then they wonder why their sites flounder on the major search engines.

SEO is not dead. It has just changed, and it continues to change. The very fact that it constantly evolves certainly suggests that it will continue to be relevant for a long time to come.

Conclusion

If you’ve fallen for any of these myths, you have my sincere apologies. Now that you know the truth, you can move forward into a brighter, better online marketing future.

The bottom line here is to always be careful about anything that you read online. That’s as true about SEO as it is about anything else.

Which of these myths shocked you the most?

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How To Mine Your PPC Campaigns For Golden SEO Keywords

By | PPC Strategy | No Comments

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Are your search engine optimization efforts falling flat on their face? It may be time to revisit to go back to the basics. Time to revisit the fundamentals of SEO. Time…for keyword research.

I already know what you’re going to say: “Keywords don’t matter that much anymore!” While it’s true that top-notch content matters far more than things like keyword density, the reality is that search engines still seek out patterns of keywords when ranking websites.

When all of your ducks seem to be in a row with your SEO campaign but you’re seeing little or no progress, it’s a good sign that you’re targeting the wrong keywords–and that’s a major problem.

There’s a ton of SEO on the web about pinpointing effective keywords for an SEO campaign, but one tactic in particular is often overlooked: keyword reports from PPC campaigns in general, and AdWords’ search terms report in particular.

Of course, this technique only helps if you engage in pay-per-click marketing. If you aren’t already using PPC, here’s another great reason to get started. AdWords PPC data is full of keyword-specific insights, creating a mutually beneficial relationship of sorts.

First things first, let me share a little secret with you…

Your keywords stink.

After being told time and time again to focus on producing high-quality content (and forget about targeting specific keywords), you’re probably scratching your head right now. As long as your content is relevant, unique and useful, shouldn’t it perform well?

In an ideal world, yes. That would be true. Reality is much messier, however. If you’re completely disregarding keywords when planning content for your site, you are doing SEO wrong–period.

If you’ve been optimizing your site for specific keywords and still aren’t getting love from the major search engines, you either have a content-quality problem or a keyword problem. Again, you already know how to produce first-rate content, so there’s only one logical conclusion: Your keywords stink.

Instead of swapping out your existing keywords for ones that are more detailed or more local or more whatever, consider getting yourself an incredibly powerful source of exceptional keyword data: Your PPC campaign.

Traditional keyword discovery doesnt always work

Depending on your niche, your audience, your site history, and a whole slew of other factors, traditional methods for identifying effective keywords may not work. Even if you make effective use of Google Analytics and other tools, you may find yourself losing big-time in the game of keyword rankings.

You see, drawing people to your site with specific keywords is only beneficial when those people actually want what you are offering. Therefore, traffic volume is not a surefire way to determine whether or not your keyword strategy is sound; conversions are.

Stop blindly relying on traditional keyword discovery techniques. If you have an active PPC campaign or two going, you are sitting on a treasure trove of incredibly useful information.

While most traditional keyword discovery techniques may get you somewhere eventually, turning to data from PPC campaigns should get you there much more quickly. That’s because all of the data is delivered virtually in real time, so you can easily see what’s attracting viable prospects to your site and what isn’t.

Kill two birds with one stone

Like most people who engage in PPC, you probably already spend quite a lot of time analyzing keyword reports to get the best return on your investment. After all, you don’t want your ads to run for terms that are too vague, or you are paying for clicks that are far too unlikely to convert.

Ideally, your ads should appear for queries from people who will find exactly what they need on your site. The same principle applies to selecting keywords for SEO. Because you pay for clicks with PPC, you are given in-depth reports about which terms prompt people to click. This very information proves incredibly useful in the world of SEO.

Mine the search terms report for effective SEO keywords

All too often, business owners treat PPC and SEO as completely separate beasts. While they produce results in wildly differing ways, both techniques revolve at least some degree around targeting the right keywords.

Every time you look at your search terms report, or search query report in AdWords, you’re looking at invaluable data…data that should be the linchpin of your SEO strategy. This is what I mean by killing two birds with one stone: a single report can help you optimize both your SEM and SEO campaigns.

The Most beautiful thing about AdWords’ search terms report is that it shows you how your ads performed when they were triggered by actual searches by actual people. Google gives you the exact words and phrases that people typed into the search box, so you can more easily get inside their heads.

Already using AdWords? Then you be intimately familiar with the search terms report. If you’re not, here’s the scoop:

  • Select an ad group or campaign
  • Select a date range
  • Click on the “Keywords” tab
  • Click “Keyword Details – All,” or check the boxes next to specific keywords and then click “Keyword Details – Selected”

That’s all there is to it. You will instantly receive an up-to-the-minute report about the search terms that people are using to see your ads. Simple, right?

Here are X things you can do with Search Terms data in AdWords:

1. Pinpoint high performing keywords

With the report in front of you, look for keywords and phrases that seem to prompt people to click through. The answers may surprise you.

If someone uses a specific keyword or phrase, sees your ad and then goes ahead and clicks on it, chances are quite high that they are at least somewhat interested in what you are offering. Therefore, it is smart to jot down those terms and phrases and consider using them in your SEO campaign.

Just as you use this information to refine your PPC campaign, you can use it to refine your SEO. In addition to helping you rank better for certain keywords, this approach helps you rank better for high-converting keywords. This is an important distinction.

2. Pay attention to low converting terms and phrases

Don’t just focus on terms and phrases that seem to prompt clicks from users. Look at ones that seem to leave them cold too.

When you find a keyword or phrase that isn’t working in your PPC campaign, you can add it to what is known as the negative keyword list. When you do, your ad will no longer appear when that keyword or phrase is used.

Employ the same approach with your SEO efforts by building a list of low-converting keywords and phrases. Analyze your content for those keywords and phrases and swap them out for ones that actually convert wherever possible.

You are sure to see an uptick not just in traffic, which isn’t so important in and of itself, but in visitors who genuinely want what you are offering. In turn, you should see a bump in your overall conversion rate.

3. Look for themes

As you peruse a search terms report, you will probably start seeing themes with regards to what prompts people to click through. For example, you may notice that people seem to respond more when words like “low cost” and “affordable” are used.

What this suggests is that your target audience is concerned about affordability. Add more words and phrases to your content that are along these lines to bolster your overall SEO efforts.

Don’t overdo it, though. Just because some folks are concerned about affordability doesn’t mean that all of your prospects are. Remember, segmentation is important.

You will likely identify other themes while perusing your reports, and they may even conflict with information that you have already gathered. This isn’t an anomaly. Rather, it probably means that you have a few different audiences to target.

4. Refine your SEO keywords

After updating your SEO keywords based on the info that you find in your search terms report, branch out by testing variations on each of the winners. You can most quickly do this by testing them in your PPC campaigns.

For example, if a particular keyword or phrase performs well, try variations of it. These may include common misspellings and synonyms, so get out your thesaurus. You can easily identify high-performing new terms for your SEO campaign in this way.

Also, test competitors’ high-performing keywords using the same method. If they work in your PPC campaigns, they will most likely bolster your SEO efforts as well.

Conclusion

As with most things related to SEO, persistence and consistency are key. Therefore, run your search terms report and analyze it often. Things change quickly, and your SEO strategy must be able to keep up. Using the right keywords is a huge part of that.

Don’t ditch your other keyword discovery techniques and tools. They are still useful. Just look at your PPC data as another way of refining and improving your SEO efforts.

How often do you look at search terms reports? Do you ever use them for SEO?

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A Space Shuttle Tank’s Legendary Journey Through Los Angeles

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While ET-94 never made its amazing journey to space, the huge space shuttle fuel tank is getting a second life. On Thursday, it was announced that the piece of machinery would travel along the Panama Canal and soon make its way through the streets of Los Angeles until it arrives at its new home.

That new home will be the California Science Center in Los Angeles. The tank, which weighs 32.5 tons, will join Endeavor, a space shuttle. One of the most surprising aspects may be the size of the fuel tank, which is longer than the shuttle. The ET-94 measures 27.6 feet in diameter as well as 154 feet in length.

The journey could take up to eight weeks this April via barge from a New Orleans NASA facility. After passing through the Panama Canal, the fuel tank will debark at Marina del Rey in Southern California. The following journey may be the most difficult part, in spite of the fact that it encompasses just 12 miles. The tank will be hitting the freeway and city streets, eventually arriving in downtown Los Angeles.

The road portion of the epic journey alone is likely to take up to 18 hours. The museum expects that the tank will arrive on May 21st, and not without huge fanfare. Preparation for the big day is already underway. Plans to trim back trees, raise telephone lines, and temporarily remove light poles will make for a smooth ride. It may have cost $10 million to move the Endeavor, but it will cost less than one-third of that to move the tank.

Tanks like the ET-94 were designed to be expendable; however, this one was never used. Only three tanks survive. This one was originally designed to fuel engines by holding oxygen and hydrogen before being dropped to burn or fall into the ocean.

This tank did not fly, but researchers did use it to learn more about the Columbia disaster. It was able to help researchers determine why the shuttle broke as it entered Earth’s atmosphere in 2003, which led to the deaths of seven crew members on board. Foam insulation had broken off, damaging one of the wings of the shuttle. This allowed the combination of wind and heat to take out the wing entirely.

By looking at the insulating foam of the ET-94, researchers were able to learn much about the piece that could influence the future of spacecraft.

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Los Angeles Unemployment Declines Despite Drops in Jobs

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In January 2015, Los Angeles, California saw an 18,000 drop in its employment numbers even though its unemployment rate for the previous month was relatively low at nearly six percent. This may seem strange, but once you ask a few people why they are out of work, it may make better sense. Perhaps Mary has not found the right fit for her, while Harry grows weary of never finding work and eventually gives up.

Los Angeles had about 4.4 million workers in January 2014, as opposed to the dropped numbers for January 2015. Surprisingly, Los Angeles county’s unemployment rate was the same as the whole state of California. Normally once the holiday season is over, employment numbers decrease anyway because the seasonal positions are no longer needed. This is expected to happen within certain businesses each year, and Los Angeles County started it with about 88,000 empty positions.

The numbers keep record of the progress, or lack of progress for the county within a given year. To the person who was holding out hope that their seasonal job would turn into a permanent position, those numbers mean unemployment. The devastation of the loss could make him or her decide to give up on finding another job, or make the long-term decision to go back to school. Earning a degree could be a step up to a more permanent position, giving that many SEO companies in Los Angeles prefer to hire people with some secondary education.

The Employment Development Department in California takes in affect the loss of those seasonal jobs after the holidays are over. With this factored in, Los Angeles still recorded a loss of 14,000 jobs in January. Unfortunately, the manufacturing business loss about 7,000 jobs. Once the adjustment was made by the EDD, the December 2014 employment number for Los Angeles was more like 4.37 million instead of the previous 4.4 million reported in January 2015. The seasonal jobs were not considered actual jobs. Therefore, the numbers could not reflect a loss of those jobs.

The loss also does not completely come from the elimination of seasonal positions. There could be companies needing to lighten their payroll for reasons such as filing for bankruptcy. According to the EDD, retail businesses suffered the harshest loss at nearly 19,000. Retailers are normally the businesses that tack on more workers during the holidays to meet the high shopping demand during the season.

Even though the unemployment rate drop for Los Angeles County was a good thing, there was a big drop in the amount of jobs to be had. All in all, Los Angeles had a 2.2 percent growth in payroll numbers from January 2014 to January 2015. This included up to 12, 400 for professional business services; up to almost 20,000 for food accommodation services, and health care and social assistance went up to a little over 27,000.