Tag Archives: Website Tips

The Retail Online Shopping Experience Differs for Generation Z: Are You Ready?

Generation Z Online Retail Shoppin Experience - Eminent SEO

There’s probably nothing more generic than the phrase, “Let’s go shopping”! Over the years, how people go shopping has changed just as much as where they go shopping because with online purchasing, the how, where, when and why of shopping shifts – in an instant.

Consumers demand choices, more than ever before. With Generation Z moving into the forefront of retail business owners’ minds (as they should), the face of the retail online shopping experience is only part of the larger picture in targeting consumers’ wants to equal product niches and availability.

Retail Websites Need to Drive Intrigue, Not Just Sales

Generation Z Girl Entertained By iPad - Eminent SEOSome U.S. retail hubs, like JCPenney, have totally missed the mark on changing consumer behavior. Sure, they have websites, but doesn’t everyone?

If your web presence isn’t more than a poster board for your corporate culture or a lengthy display ad for your wares, what is it really doing for you? Better yet, what is your website really doing for your customer?

According to senior national retail consultant Catherine Mountain, brick-and-mortar retailers have been closing their doors in record numbers in recent years because they were, and are still, “homogenized.”

“Generation Z wants a compelling reason to shop at your business,” said Mountain. “There has to be a good why. They have the money, but they don’t want their time wasted. When they figure out what they want, which might take a while, they are ready to act and don’t want to wait for delivery.”

Even online retail giant Amazon.com is opening physical stores, as Mountain pointed out.

If retail online shopping experiences don’t create interest or provide content that engages the viewer and leaves them wanting more, all you really have are multiple landing pages, a destination. Generation Z wants so much more. They want the journey.

Gen Z Craves Unique Experiences Where Retailers Provide the Tools

Though there are exceptions, as a whole, each generation comes with a mindset or unspoken cultural guidelines. The young people of Generation Z are fueled by innate intelligence and seldom take things at face value. Why should they? What gets their attention is unabashed authenticity, and more.

Generation Z appreciates:

  • Innovation
  • Craftsmanship
  • One-of-a-kind products
  • Customization
  • Anti-establishment
  • Quality
  • Meaningful customer service
  • Purchases with cause
  • Good stories

Discriminating? Perhaps. Selective? Undoubtedly.

Where did this mentality come from? It came from them, honestly. In fact, it’s how Gen Z was raised.

Childhood and Parenting Play a Role

Generation Z Parents Want Children To Work In High School - Eminent SEOThere is an interesting oxymoron embedded within Generation Z. On one hand, they are dedicated to social consciousness to a point where if you don’t have it, you’re just not good enough.

On the flip side, they want to be taken care of through a level of service that is more than attentive, but actually intuitive. Is this an impossible expectation?

Let’s dive deeper.

Digital communication for Gen Z is not a choice, but their only reality. The intuitive nature of the internet shopping experience over the years has blossomed and is somewhat oversaturated with deceptive pay-per-click ads and data-mining techniques that mirror online consumer behavior, to a point. Gen Z desires change, not merely for the sake of change, but with purpose. It’s just how their minds work.

Their parents believe in entrepreneurship and, more than likely, both are working. Helicopter moms were replaced by empowering role models that pushed coping skills instead of protective barriers.

These children and young adults are self-directed and do not have the fears that many millennials carry. If a Gen Z child wants to know something, there is no hesitation in asking. Their individuality is the new norm, as conventional attitudes are not only so yesterday, but offensive.

The Evolution of Shopping

2.6 Billion Generation Zers By 2020 - Eminent SEOFor decades, there was an art in shopping known as salesmanship. Today, people don’t want to be sold, convinced or coerced into a single purchase. Generation Z personifies the compilation of generations before it.

Baby Boomers want their shopping experience to be simple, Generation Xers want it fast and millennials don’t want the purchase to involve any work.

Meanwhile, Generation Z wants all of the above – but honest, transparent and specific to their needs, every time.

Loyalty Matters

Many retail online shopping experiences include special rewards programs or referral incentives. These fall flat on the Generation Z population. They know that these programs are geared to benefit the retail business more than the customer, as businesses are trying to pursue customer retention and build their list of prospects.

Ernst & Young learned in a 2015 study that only 30 percent of Gen Zers thought that a rewards program made a store worth their attention, compared to 45 percent of millennials. To gain customer loyalty from Gen Z requires the retailer to show them respect and loyalty first. It appears that the adage “respect is earned, not given” is resurfacing.

Cause and Conscience Matters

Even the way business engages social consciousness has transformed. In the past, many companies included a charitable component as an afterthought or a requirement to garner tax benefits and positive press from the media.

Generation Z can see through it and demand that altruism is an integral part of a business’ platform. Even Stevens, a local sandwich shop in Gilbert, Arizona, fulfills the Gen Z requirement. For every sandwich it sells, the owners donate a sandwich to the hungry. To date, Even Stevens has provided more than 1.2 million sandwiches to help eradicate hunger in America.

What’s Your Story?

When you appeal to Generation Z, your marketing world opens wide with possibilities. This is the target audience that yearns for a good story. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and if your product/service and company culture resonates with them, they will be your best marketers.

Your brand voice will become their brand voice, socially sharing their consumer experience every step of the way. If you have an on-site retail center or store – the benefits are even better.

The Resurgence of Brick-and-Mortar Shopping

With research and inquisitiveness leading the buying lifecycle of Gen Z, many retailers are fulfilling the need for more a personal touch with the redesign or new construction of actual on-site stores.

International retail chain AllSaints has addressed the changing needs of the consumer to positively engage Generation Z. Young people can go to any AllSaints location, after ample research online, and gain more product knowledge from hipsters who live in big cities and speak their proverbial language.

AllSaints’ website, physical stores and customer experience engage interaction through a consistent, no-nonsense brand voice, displays, and high-end, private-label products.

Brick-and-mortar shopping isn’t a dinosaur. Generation Z has provided the reason to bring it all back in the form of shopping with purpose.

If your business needs an online refresh or strategic update to align with new target audiences, Eminent SEO can help! Give us a call at 800.871.4130 today to learn how.

Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Vol. 63: Another New ESEO Team Member; Google Explains What Crawl Budget Means

Eminent SEO News: The Team Continues to Grow

Thanks to some new clientele and additional projects, the Eminent SEO team is rapidly expanding. In the middle of January, we added another member to to team, and we plan to have at least five more people start this month!

Meet the newest member of our staff here:

Jacqlyn Cvitkovich - Eminent SEO Tall

Jacqlyn Cvitkovich – Social Media Strategist

Jacqlyn is the newest asset to our social media team. She is responsible for maintaining and expanding our clients’ social media presence on all major platforms through compelling visual and written content. With a background in music and an affinity for pop culture, Jacqlyn looks to develop unique social strategies to drive traffic to clients’ websites.

Welcome to the team, Jacqlyn!

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What’s New in SEO: Google Clears Up What Crawl Budget Means

If you’ve ever heard the term “crawl budget” when talking to your web department or a digital marketing agency, you may have had trouble figuring out exactly what they were talking about.

Google Crawl Budget - Paul Rudd What - ESEO

Don’t sweat it: It’s not an easy concept. To clarify what crawl budget really means, Google recently released a blog post on the topic. In the very first sentence, Google department head Gary Illyes acknowledged that he’s heard many definitions floating around for crawl budget.

Illyes continued to say that he’s not certain what crawl budget means to different SEO experts and marketing agencies, but that he set out to clear up what the term means for Googlebot, Google’s web crawler that peruses websites for new pages and content to index for the search engine.

Illyes then stated that most websites don’t have to worry about their crawl budget. Sites with “fewer than a few thousand URLs” will be crawled efficiently, most of the time, he wrote. Very large websites, however, need to take their crawl budget into account.

Highlights of the Google Blog Post

So, what exactly is a crawl budget? Here are the key takeaways from Illyes’s blog post to help you understand what crawl budget means:

  • Crawl rate limit determines a threshold for how often and how fast Googlebot can crawl your website without overloading your server.
  • Crawl demand refers to how often Googlebot should return to your website to crawl its pages, based on popularity, new content, etc.
  • Crawl budget, thus, is a combination of crawl rate limit and crawl demand. Essentially, it’s how many pages Googlebot can crawl on your website and how frequently it should crawl the site.

If you want to learn what your site’s crawl budget is AND set your crawl rate limit, all you have to do is use Google Search Console. Keep in mind that if you set a higher crawl rate limit, it doesn’t necessarily mean Googlebot will crawl your site more often.

For more on crawl budgets and to read Illyes’s answers to FAQs on the topic, read the full Google blog post here.

January Blog Roundup

We started off January with a different kind of blog post, one that explains how our company is pitching in to help a local business that suffered a major setback last year. Also on our blog, we offered an in-depth look at progressive web apps, a new technology that combines the best features of a phone app and a mobile website.

The January highlights of our blog are as follows:

Phoenix Graphics Firm Think Graphics Rebuild - Eminent SEOEminent SEO Pitches In to Help Phoenix Graphics Firm Rebuild Scorched Office

Last year, Think Graphics & Printing Solutions lost its downtown Phoenix office when a fire overtook the building. When we heard the heartbreaking story, we felt called to help this fellow Arizona business! Find out how we are helping Think Graphics raise money to rebuild its office, plus how you can pitch in too.


Progressive Web Apps Technology - Eminent SEOProgressive Web Apps: The New Frontier for Mobile Browsing and Marketing

Have you been exploring the ways that a mobile app could promote your business? Well, read this blog post first, because there’s a new alternative. Learn all about progressive web apps, a Google-developed technology that brings app-like features to mobile websites.


Our Commitment to Ethical Marketing

When you enlist Eminent SEO to help out with your website, your social media accounts, your email marketing or any other channel, it’s important to point out that we are committed to ethical hiring and marketing practices.

We don’t use black hat tactics to help your site climb up the search engine rankings, and we don’t cut corners when producing content on your behalf. We pride ourselves on transparency, and team works closely with yours to expand your brand’s reach and drive traffic to (and conversions on) your website.

To learn more about our ethical marketing practices and how we can customize a strategy to expand your digital presence, talk to us today at 800.871.4130!

 

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Progressive Web Apps: The New Frontier for Mobile Browsing and Marketing

Progressive Web Apps Technology - Eminent SEO

For mobile and web optimization, having the best of both worlds is typically a far-fetched dream for businesses. However, in 2015, Google developers defied the status quo of mobile browsing by creating progressive web apps (PWAs). They resemble the mobile apps we are all used to, but are quite different: more accessible and no drain on your phone’s hard drive. A far-fetched dream is now a reality.

What Is Progressive Web App Technology?

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are a method of software development. PWAs differ from other applications because they unite traditional websites with mobile applications. Modern browsers, such as Safari and Microsoft Edge, offer extensive benefits that have not been usable through a mobile device in the past.

However, PWAs seek to fuse the features of web browsers with the convenience of mobile devices. The increased popularity of mobile device usage among consumers places a demand on companies to follow suit with mobile-friendly websites. While making a hybrid of the best of web browsing and mobile browsing is the goal, it’s also the primary challenge.

Mobile Sites vs. Mobile Apps

Mobile sites receive more traffic than mobile apps. Companies that are not well-known tend to do better with mobile sites than with mobile apps. An established or a widely known company can easily transition from a mobile site to a mobile app because customers are familiar with the brand and want to further interact with the company through a different interface.

However, lesser-known companies are Mobile Sites Vs Mobile Apps - Eminent SEOusually discovered by prospective customers through a wider range of communication, which is the benefit of mobile sites. Potential customers who have never heard of a certain brand are more likely to stumble upon the business through the broad exposure of a mobile site, rather than the exclusive loyalty of a mobile app.

While mobile sites are usually better for wider visibility, mobile apps consume more of a user’s device time. Mobile apps are useful for customers who have interacted previously with a business. That means most small, local businesses or B2B businesses would find mobile apps unprofitable. However, if a customer, or potential customer, has browsed a company’s website or entered the doors of a business, then a mobile app could be effective to keep a line of communication going.

For example, Schlotzsky’s has an app that tracks the number of sandwiches a customer has purchased, providing a visual countdown until the consumer reaches a free entrée. The app features much more, though, such as company updates, special offers, alerts, franchise locations and a menu. Since Schlotzsky’s is a nationally recognized business, a mobile app enhances its brand loyalty and communication with customers.

The Benefits of Progressive Web Apps

PWAs maintain the strength of a full-blown web browser without restricting mobility. The computer’s web browser isn’t reduced in power, just size. In the past, users might have hesitated to use their mobile device over a computer web browser due to the latter’s complex functionality and powerful processing system. However, pulling out a laptop while standing in line at the grocery store isn’t practical.

On the other hand, users loyal to their mobile devices objected to using computers or laptops for their bulkiness and long loading times. From their perspective, the convenience of reaching into a pocket and sending an email within seconds was more practical than commuting to their desk space to boot up a computer. However, to profit from the ease of mobile browsing, the hefty sacrifice of web browsing’s power was non-negotiable.

PWAs put an end to the past give-and-take of internet browsing commonly endured by the business community. Here are the benefits PWAs have to offer:

Push Notifications

Real time, fast updates of a user’s apps that summarize priority information instead of accessing an email address or waiting to log in on a computer.

Better Layout

More responsive arrangement and simpler navigation than the mobile version of a traditional website.

Offline Accessibility

The PWA runs continuously, even when offline. While working behind the scenes, it tracks the user’s actions, all without direct user communication.

Hardware Utilization

Hardware features such as geolocation, microphone and camera are embedded and accessible in PWAs.

Less Data Consumption

This means less lag time for users in delayed or restricted internet access locations. Less data consumption could also make a big difference when it comes to users’ monthly phone bills.

Community of Internet Users

PWAs don’t require a download and are free, making them more likely to attract a larger number of active users.

How to Optimize Progressive Web App Content

Web Apps Unsupported Browser Icons - Eminent SEO

The future of online communication is paved by PWAs. App developers need to remain cautious of Google’s page indexing and implement correct coding methodology to counteract it. Companies should strive for a powerful online presence by utilizing the best SEO practices to inform users and retain customers.

PWAs supplement current websites but, at this time, are less effective independently. After a company’s website is established, bulked and refined, incorporating a PWA is the next business step.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • Don’t send clients to an unsupported browser site.
  • If supplying information from several URLs, utilize “rel=canonical” to avoid identical content violations in the eyes of search engines.
  • Don’t use the AJAX crawling arrangement on original sites.
  • Don’t use hashtags. Googlebot doesn’t store URLs that use this symbol, and several PWAs possess a hashtag (#) in their URL address. The result is erased content past the hashtag, or pound sign. The solution is to use a URL structure according to SEO best practices instead of URLs that include a hashtag.
  • Ensure a website is viewable through the lens of Google. The Fetch and Render feature in Google Search Console accomplishes this task.
  • Double check that sources are accessible, and not restricted by robots.txt.
  • Limit hyperlinked sources, especially JavaScript files, to prevent partially loaded pages.
  • Cautiously use JavaScript, as some search engines may be incompatible with it.
  • Denote website changes with a sitemap file when utilizing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).

If you feel like you’re ready to get started on your first PWA, check out Google’s dedicated Progressive Web Apps platform.

The Next Steps

Mobile Phones Mobile Technology - Eminent SEO

Mobile apps were once the next step for companies with an established brand, and they’re still valuable in many cases. However, the recent creation of PWAs is the next logical step for most businesses, as they foster enhanced company communication, stronger brand loyalty and easier user navigation.

While the benefits of PWAs are staggering, the construction of such a website may seem overwhelming. That’s where Eminent SEO comes in. Eminent SEO can help build a new website from scratch – one that has mobile responsiveness and customized features for smartphones. To learn more, call us today at 800.871.4130.

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 62: Three New ESEO Team Members; Google Penalizes Pages with Intrusive Mobile Interstitials

Eminent SEO News: 3 New Hires

As the Eminent SEO client base expands, our team does as well. Over the last month, we have added three new members to the Eminent SEO team, and we’re looking to hire more!

Meet the three newest members of our team:

Trista Sobeck – Content Writer

Trista is the newest writer here at Eminent SEO. We already have her working on website pages, blog posts, eBooks, newsletter, social media posts, marketing emails and more for our premium clients. Trista has a Creative Writing degree and comes to us with a background in writing for everything from small boutique agencies to Fortune 500 companies.

Welcome to the team, Trista!


Trista Sobeck Content Writer - Eminent SEO

Holly Salars – Outreach Coordinator

Holly, our new outreach coordinator, is performing administrative duties for Eminent SEO, in addition to publishing blog posts for clients and building business relationships on their behalf. Holly has a background in several industries, such as health care, hospitality, food and beverage, construction, child care, addiction rehabilitation and more.

Welcome aboard, Holly!


Holly Salars - Outreach Coordinator - Eminent SEO

Theresa Nacho Montiel – Senior Graphic Designer

Theresa is the new Senior Graphic Designer at Eminent SEO who produces strategic and original imagery for website designs, blog posts, social media posts, eBooks and more. Theresa has more than 10 years of experience with Adobe programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator, and she believes that design is more than pretty pictures: It’s a business solution.

Welcome, welcome, welcome!
More About Theresa


Theresa Nacho Montiel Senior Graphic Designer - Eminent SEO

What’s New in SEO: Google Targets Intrusive Mobile Interstitials

Have you ever clicked a link on social media or in Google Search and you were served a full-page pop-up that you had to click out of to see the desired content? If you hate when that happens, you’re not alone.

Just last week, two high-ranking members of Google confirmed their company began targeting websites that use so-called intrusive mobile interstitials before serving the content that actually shows up in the search engine results. Basically, Google has started penalizing pages that are interrupted by an interstitial right out of mobile search. A penalty will either put the page out of Google’s radar or push it way down in the mobile search results.

Google officials, however, said that the penalty does not apply to pages the user could click through to after landing on a certain page from search. In other words, if you open a website from Google Search and an intrusive interstitial only pops up after clicking to another page on that website, then the site won’t suffer any penalties.

Here are some other instances where certain interstitials won’t warrant a Google penalty for a website:

  • When the interstitial is for legal obligations, such as to verify the user’s age or warn them about cookies
  • If the interstitial pops up ahead of non-indexible content that is behind a paywall
  • When a pop-up banner only covers a small portion of the screen and is easily dismissible

But Who Uses Intrusive Interstitials?

An obvious example that comes to mind of a website with intrusive interstitials is Forbes.com. Whether you’re going to the homepage or you’re clicking on a specific Forbes article from social media or search, you’re immediately served a “Quote of the Day” full page before arriving at your desired reading content. This is true whether visiting Forbes from your mobile device or desktop.

Forbes Intrusive Mobile Interstitials Screenshot - ESEO

While the Forbes interstitial is fairly benign and it still takes you to your desired page after 5 seconds (unless you manually click out of it), it’s still quite frustrating if you’re trying to pull up an article quickly. The “Quote of the Day” page isn’t an ad by itself, but as you can see, they sneak an ad in there while you’re waiting for the article to appear, which is more prominent on mobile.

The Forbes site has been doing this for several years, but its web content team might want to put an end to it, based on Google’s recent targeting of this practice. Then again, Forbes is a news website and may not care all that much about organic search engine rankings, so it’s anybody’s guess as to whether they’ll kill off the “Quote of the Day” interstitials.

For those of you who do care about your organic rankings, the lesson here is to get rid of intrusive mobile interstitials that cover most, or all, of certain pages on your website. You’re especially going to want to do this if the pages in question show up high in Google mobile search. To read more about Google’s new penalty rollout, check out Search Engine Land’s report.

December Social Media Roundup

We had a busy, but rewarding holiday season here at Eminent SEO. How were your holidays? As the month progressed, we again saw strong engagement on our Instagram account. See the best of our social media shares from last month:

A photo posted by Eminent SEO (@eminentseo) on

A photo posted by Eminent SEO (@eminentseo) on

A photo posted by Eminent SEO (@eminentseo) on

A photo posted by Eminent SEO (@eminentseo) on

A photo posted by Eminent SEO (@eminentseo) on

A photo posted by Eminent SEO (@eminentseo) on

A photo posted by Eminent SEO (@eminentseo) on

A photo posted by Eminent SEO (@eminentseo) on

December Blog Roundup

On the Eminent SEO blog in December, we covered a pair of social media-related topics. One dealt with social media directly – copywriting for social media – while the other has very close ties – GIF images. So if you want to upgrade your social game, read through the following blog posts very carefully. Below is an overview of those two posts.


Why Well-Written Social Media Copy Makes Difference - Eminent SEOWhy Well-Written Social Media Copy Makes a Difference

While the average social media manager doesn’t have to be a writer, per se, it is still imperative to write strongly on any social platform. Learn why strong social media copy makes a difference, and get a few tips on how to write specifically for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


Beginners Guide To GIF Images In Marketing - Eminent SEOGIF Images Are Clever Tools in the Right Marketer’s Hands

Animated GIFs are the life of any social media thread, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. Are you familiar with the five different types of GIFs? You’ll learn all about that plus the legal considerations of sharing GIFs when you read this insightful blog post.


Quality over Quantity Marketing

Now more than ever, Eminent SEO is a firm believer in (and practitioner of) quality over quantity when it comes to digital marketing solutions. That’s why we refer to ourselves as a boutique marketing agency.

It’s easy to see that one great blog post can do more for a website and a brand than several mediocre posts. Likewise, one viral social media share can pay more dividends than dozens of run-of-the-mill social posts. This is why when we look over a client’s objectives for the month, we don’t think in terms of, for example, how many blog posts they need, but instead we ask, “How can we produce remarkable content that knocks it out of the park for them?”

In short, we focus on quality over quantity because readers now demand it, and because that’s what it takes to excel in today’s SEO environment. Anything less would be uncivilized.

To learn more about our unique approach to marketing and how we can help your business, call us today at 800.871.4130.

Happy New Year!

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Is Keyword-Rich Anchor Text No Longer Necessary?

Is Keyword-Rich Anchor Text No Longer Necessary - Eminent SEOAsk any SEO specialist about anchor text, and you may unwittingly spark a lively debate. It’s often a source of both angst and confusion.

With the Google Penguin series of algorithm updates, knowing anchor text best practices is even more important. Here, let’s look into all about anchor text, its role in SEO, and how to make it work for you.

Anchor Text Defined

Anchor text is simply any text that is clickable on a webpage that links to another place on the web. For example, in the phrase, “Eminent SEO can help improve your email marketing strategy,” the anchor text (“Eminent SEO”) links back to our website.

If this link were featured on another website, then you have an example of a process called “link building,” and it’s good for SEO. However, the phrasing can either help your search engine rankings or harm it. The difference is in how you approach your own website’s anchor text, as well as that on other sites that link to yours.

Different Types of Anchor Text

Five Types Of Anchor Text - Eminent SEOSay we’re trying to rank for the keyword “marketing strategy.” There are several types of anchor text that other websites might use to link to ours:

Exact Match

An exact match only anchors the exact keyword we’re looking for:

Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Partial Match

A partial match (also known as a phrase match) anchors the keyword in a phrase:

Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Branded

Branded anchor text would link back to our company, Eminent SEO:

Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Naked URLs

A naked URL has no unique anchor text, just a web address:

Example: Eminentseo.com can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Generic

Generic anchor text provides instructions, but does not include any branding or keywords.

Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy. Click here to go to their website.

How Anchor Text Influences Search Rankings

Search engines such as Google use anchor text as a factor in determining a page’s topic and how it should rank. In other words, using the anchor text “marketing strategy” should indicate to Google that the page on the other end of the link is a good fit for that search engine query.

In theory, the more times we score a backlink with the anchor “marketing strategy,” the higher we should rank for that query. But SEO is rarely that simple.

The Problem with Early Anchor Text

When Google’s search algorithm was less refined, the search engine relied heavily on anchor text, perhaps too much so. Around 2008, the company explained that it thought anchors provided more accurate descriptions of websites than the sites themselves. While the practice was sound in theory, it proved to be too easy to manipulate.

SEO specialists could easily cheat the system back then and tie certain adjectival phrases to a specific group or individual. Fair or not, two of the more famous “Google bombs” prior to 2010 were the association of the search phrase “miserable failure” to George W. Bush and “worst band in the world” to Creed.

Google’s Crackdown on Some Keyword-Rich Anchor Text

As a result, the search engine giant began to crack down on the way people could use anchor text for search engine optimization. The largest shift came in 2012, when the first Google Penguin algorithm update released. Its aim? Punishing low-quality and manipulative practices for link building.

Anchor text was one of Penguin’s primary targets, and companies who pursued exact match anchors aggressively saw their Google rankings plunge overnight. The Penguin update was a sort of Black Tuesday for SEO practitioners, who then had to come up with another way to put their websites at the top page of web results.

Companies, too, became twitchy about anchor text, some believing that only branded anchor text was allowed – and that all others would be punished by Google.

How Does Google Punish Anchor Text?

Original Google Penguin Update Affected 3 Percent Of Websites - Eminent SEODoes Google punish everything but branded anchor text? In a word: no. But there’s a right way and wrong way to include anchor text.

Over-optimization of anchor text, for example, is frowned upon. Search engines such as Google and Bing want backlinking to occur naturally. In other words, links should only be in your content if they make sense or if they lead to relevant content. If you have too many links, or if your links look contrived, the Penguin filter could demote the page.

While this sounds harsh, in reality, the original Google Penguin update only affected some 3 percent of websites. If own your content contains links in less than 50 percent of the copy, chances are you will not be affected by Penguin.

What About Link Quality?

Penguin also punishes links that don’t lead to authoritative websites. This discourages rank inflation. Quality backlinking to reliable information ensures your page is relevant. Don’t use anchor text just to grab a keyword. It looks unnatural to Google and will hurt your ranking.

Exact and Partial Anchor Text Still Wields Influence

So, does Penguin punish exact and partial keyword anchor text? A study by Ahrefs sought to find the answer. The study involved analyzing 51 keywords in competitive niches from finance to health, both exact matches and partial matches. Ahrefs found that both exact and partial keyword anchor text continue to have some influence on the top spots in Google searches.

The key here is density. For exact keyword matches, aim for it to be in no more than 1 to 2 percent of all anchor text. Partial matches are more forgiving: 30 percent of anchors containing a keyword phrase are safe from Google penalties.

Anchor Text Best Practices

Google Has Over 200 Ranking Factors - Eminent SEOThe (not-so) final word on anchor text: It continues to influence the top spots in Google searches, especially in competitive niches. But … it’s not as heavily weighted as it used to be since Google now has more than 200 ranking factors.

Don’t be afraid to use keyword-rich anchor text in your own web content, though. If done well, it will help your search engine rankings. Observe some basic best practices:

Make Your Links Relevant

We talked a little bit about the importance of link relevancy in SEO, but it’s more easily understood with an example.

Say you own an aromatherapy store, and you love to blog about it. Ever eager to share your passion with others, you spend a little time each day reading about the newest in aromatherapy. You find an article about a study linking aromatherapy to increased levels of mood-boosting serotonin in the brain.

When you write a blog about this later, you could link back to the study in a couple of different ways:

“To read the study, click here.”

OR:

“A study outlines the effect of aromatherapy on the brain.”

SEO best practices dictate the second phrase (“effect of aromatherapy on the brain”) is more effective, because it is relevant to the topic at hand. Remember, search engines are interested in producing results that are beneficial to the user.

Vary Your Keywords

Google is wary of keywords and anchor text that appear over and over again. If your site’s backlinks all contain the same keyword-rich anchor text, it’s usually a sign those links weren’t acquired naturally.

Shoot for a variety of keyword anchor text, and don’t use the same one each time. This is where the statistics for partial match and exact match keywords come in. In general, try to earn only a few exact keyword matches. Partial keyword phrases are more forgiving, but variation helps in each phrase or term.

And when you’re linking internally or externally, don’t make your anchor phrases too long. Best practice dictates that they should be eight words or fewer for maximum benefit.

For example, if your aromatherapy store is the only store in Atlanta selling sustainable, ethically sourced essential oils, you might want others to link to your website with the keyword phrase “sustainable essential oils in Atlanta.” However, you want the keywords to be varied so you can avoid Google penalties. Similar phrases like these might help:

“Here’s a great site for sustainable essential oils.”

OR:

“Buy quality sustainable oils in Atlanta.”

Each anchor phrase carries pieces of the original keyword, yet they’re varied enough to pass the Google algorithm’s muster.

Bottom Line: Don’t Disregard the Power of Anchor Text

Although dwindling to a degree, anchor text continues to carry weight for current search engine algorithms. Early over-reliance on anchor text has led to a crackdown on the way we use anchor text for SEO purposes. Your mission is to keep earning relevant backlinks with varied keywords, which will help your site earn a place near the top of Google’s rankings.

Search engine optimization is essential for the success of your website. Eminent SEO can help optimize your content (including external links) as well as review your backlink profile. Just call 800.871.4130 if your company needs help with better content and earning stronger backlinks.

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Keep Your Domain Game Strong: Setting Up Your HTTPS Address Improperly Can Cause SEO Issues

Setting Up Your HTTPS Address - Eminent SEO

Be honest: Have you ever tried to fix a problem and accidentally made it worse?

Perhaps you were trying to update your operating system on your computer to make it run faster, only to realize that the new OS isn’t compatible with all your most-used programs.

How about when you’re out to eat with friends and ask the waitress to separate the checks, only to find that you or someone in your party inevitably ends up paying more than they wanted, leaving sour moods and subpar tips for your sweet-natured server.

Or, maybe you added salt and spices to your favorite recipe, only to find out the you’ve ruined the flavor that you grew to love.

Well, when it comes to search engine optimization, there are a few ways that changing up the recipe can result in a less potent presence. Your website may not be broken, but improving your SEO is no simple fix.

The shift from HTTP to HTTPS has left many websites with losses that boil down to improper implementation. Let’s take a moment to address the most common SEO mistakes related to this upgrade, why they’re problematic for your website, and how to fix them.

Everybody’s Switching for the Weekend

34 Percent Google Search Results HTTPS - Eminent SEOAccording to the tech news website Search Engine Land, Google has been making a push for sites to move from HTTP to HTTPS, and reportedly 34 percent of Google search results now begin with an HTTPS prefix.

To give a little context for readers unfamiliar with the differences between HTTP and HTTPS, the former stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and describes the process of data exchange between your browser and the server of the website you are visiting. HTTPS contains the same acronym with an added “S” that stands for “secure.”

HTTPS sites are encrypted, which means they have an added security measure to protect confidential online interaction and transactions. Switching to HTTPS makes your site more secure, and Google anticipates many more sites making the switch to this type of domain in the coming years.

Why Would That Affect My Search Visibility?

By switching to HTTPS but keeping your HTTP site live, you run the risk of producing the same content, which would be counterproductive for your search engine rankings. Imagine cloning yourself, and then giving your clone the same name, address, phone number and social security number as you. Many of us are unwittingly doing this with our websites and their search visibility.

While the result is the same – keywords being searched and the user being led to your site – in the competitive field of SEO, the path that leads to your site is a significant factor in determining your site’s search rankings. The overlap of material on two different sites is called duplicate content, and is the biggest mistake web developers make when switching to HTTPS.

Two Roads Diverged in the Woods

Do you know about canonicalization? It’s the simple fix for multiple URLs that lead to the same piece of content or, more commonly, to the same website.

For example, the URL https://www.homedepot.com/shophammers links to the same content as https://www.homedepot.com/store/?home_improvement/hammers. Canonicalization is the process of creating tags so that all similar content points to a dominant site or page. This eliminates the chance of making search engines choose between different pages when delivering a search result.

Link Dilution

Predictably, this is called link dilution – when a single page appears to receive less traffic because it’s being split up between multiple sources. This is the problem that your website faces without canonicalization.

Think of Puff Daddy and all the names he’s gone by over the years. Basically, if he wants to gauge how much search volume he has garnered, then he’ll find a way to point names like “P. Diddy,” “Diddy” and “Sean Combs” to the name he’s going by now. If he’s not able to canonicalize all of his past and alternative names to his current moniker, then he won’t have an accurate picture of his total search volume.

Puff Daddy Mase - ESEO

Basically, proper canonicalization tells search engines which content you’d like them to see and judge for ranking purposes. Will there be alternative URLs out there that basically show the same content? Perhaps, but properly canonicalizing your content means that one source will get all the credit for the alternative versions, and then you’ll have a clearer picture of all related web traffic.

Searching Everywhere for You

These can be difficult concepts to understand, and it gets even more complicated when you consider crawl budget. When Google evaluates your website, it sends its search “spiders” (what better creature to navigate a web, right?) to help the search engine index all topics related to your site: keywords, headlines, synonyms, etc. It also gives you the results in an order that it thinks is most relevant to your search query.

For every website that Google encounters that might contain information useful to you, it searches all the subpages as well. This is known as your crawl budget – the number of subpages Google will sift through to find information useful to the searcher. When you have duplicate content and haven’t taken advantage of canonicalization, the search engines are working twice as hard to find the same information.

Imagine you’re a librarian, and someone asks you to highlight every mention of the word “cake” in the entire library. Now also imagine that someone has made copies of every book in the library, and you still have to find every mention of the word “cake,” including in the copies. You can imagine how much tougher the job would for the poor spiders doing basically the same task!

Give those spiders a break by tightening up your crawl budget and taking advantage of canonicalization. There are plenty of sites tell you more about indexing and crawl budget. Take some time to look those topics and learn more. Google lays it out pretty fantastically here.

What You Need to Do When Setting Up Your HTTPS Address

If You Dont Have Time To Do It Right John Wooden - Eminent SEOTo fix link dilution and other possible errors, Tony Edwards of Elite SEM, in an article for Search Engine Land, suggests 301 redirecting all HTTP URLs of your unsecured website to equivalent HTTPS versions.

This ensures that for every HTTP page of yours discovered by search users, they are automatically redirected to the new HTTPS site. This simple trick minimizes duplicate content and decreases link dilution.

Here are a few more steps that Edwards suggests to fix all of these issues:

  1. Ensure your HTTPS site version is added in Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. In Google Search Console, add both the www and non-www versions. Set your preferred domain to the HTTPS version.
  2. 301 redirect HTTP URL versions to their HTTPS equivalents sitewide.
  3. Ensure all internal links point to the HTTPS versions sitewide.
  4. Ensure canonical tags point to the HTTPS URL versions.
  5. Ensure your XML Sitemap includes the HTTPS URL versions.
  6. Ensure all external links to your site that are under your control, such as social profiles, point to the HTTPS URL versions.

As far as the old HTTP version of your website, you might as well “noindex” or delete every page from Google’s crawlers once your new HTTPS site is properly set up and you’ve 301 redirected everything. This way, you won’t have to worry about Google and other search engines docking you points for having two versions of the same site live.

Remember This

The internet is becoming exponentially more sophisticated. Don’t let your business suffer by neglecting to optimize your website for search engines (and users). Make your website secure by switching to HTTPS, but also be sure to take extra precaution and avoid the pitfalls discussed above. You, and your business, will be happy you did.

If you need help with setting up your HTTPS address, Eminent SEO can help you find a reputable certificate authority and take charge of the paperwork and many steps involved with making the upgrade. Just call us at 800.871.4130 to learn more!

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Weighing in on Thin Content: Does Your Website Need to Fatten Up?

Thin Content Ghost Town - Eminent SEO
All you’re looking for is a one stop-shop site to get all the answers to your search. Is that so hard to ask?

But what do you keep getting?

A slew of websites that send you on a wild goose chase, making you frantically click and open new tabs just to get the same insignificant answer over and over again.

We’ve all been there. We just want an easy search!

When They Ask for a Burger, Give Them a Steak!

Eminent SEO - Eat Steak - 7-06-16You don’t want to be a site that overpromises and underdelivers. Consumers want searches to be easy and straightforward, and they hate getting the runaround.

When you provide mediocre, irrelevant or scarce information on your site, you run the risk of losing credibility with your audience, therefore handing over any potential profit to the site that actually delivers.

So, What’s It to You?

The first principle to understand is that search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) have the right to check for quality and the power to set standards for your website to follow.

Google is, by far, the most-used search engine around the world, so it is important to understand that yes, it is your business, but your webpage and its quality and content also represent Google in a way.

The same way a restaurant sets uniform, grooming and tardiness guidelines for employees to follow, Google does the same for any website belonging to a business or individual. It’s not a stretch to think of yourself as a Google brand ambassador. After all, it’s trying to serve up high-quality, relevant content to its search users.

What Is Thin Content, You Ask?

Well, let’s talk about it! In a nutshell, thin content is not giving your drop-in visitors exactly what they’re looking for in search. Additionally, it lacks substantial content or interest. This can manifest in several different ways, so let’s discuss what thin content is and how to detect and prevent it.

Doorway Pages

Do you remember when you were a child going on a scavenger hunt? One clue led you to the next destination, only to produce another riddle to figure out. Luckily, as a child, part of the fun is there’s nothing at stake other than a handsome reward at the end. Well, in the SEO world, doorway pages are very much like leading visitors on a scavenger hunt, except their time and energy are more precious. And for you, time is money.

A doorway page is one that provides minimal content and instead tries to lead the user to a secondary page rather than providing the direct result or answer, aka the handsome reward. This can be extremely frustrating for consumers looking to gather information on a particular subject, product or service. With attention spans decreasing at an alarming rate, it is imperative that you shoot straight and provide a page with “meaty” and meaningful answers that hit the mark every single time.

Little Giants - Pump You Up - ESEO

The best thing to do with doorway pages is to kick ‘em to the curb! They are not necessary and only serve as fillers on your site. They also give the impression to users that you do not have any relevant, informative or original information to share with them, so they might as well go someplace else. You lose credibility, which means your traffic will go nowhere but down.

Spun Pages

At some point, everyone has had that one friend who hears you tell a joke that gets a good laugh, and then they later deliver that joke to someone else in attempt to get the same laugh. You just sit back and give them the “horse eye” knowing that you were the originator and wait to get the credit that’s due – but then you don’t. A great comedian is an original comedian, and although imitation is the highest form of flattery, it is only so when credit is given.

Spun pages are a lot like a bad comedian: They are a watered-down version of the original. These pages are a compilation of information from other sites, reworded (maybe) and renamed as their own. There is no new or interesting insight that makes it stand out, and no relevant contribution to the conversation. In all likelihood, the goal of your site is to build traffic and give your audience a reason to return. If there isn’t original information, you can kiss another opportunity goodbye.

Billy Madison You Blew It - ESEO

The trick to improving spun pages is to generate content from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Finding writers with experience and a certain expertise in that particular area can increase your rankings and can help you avoid being penalized for having a generic page, while also giving your readers something to look forward to. So, even when the topic isn’t all that original, the key is to write it in your own words and add value.

Low-Word Count Pages

The concept of “thin” is somewhat intuitive, so you can imagine that “low-word count page” means just that: The page is lacking content. Once a standard has been set, usually 300 words, if you have a page that dips below that line, it communicates to your audience that you do not have enough relevant information to provide them or that the content lacks depth. Once again, this encourages them to go elsewhere, taking potential dollars out of your pocket.

A very simple, yet often missed, solution for low word count is to simply increase it – not with “fluff” or “filler” words, but with fresh, engaging information that adds layers to the foundation you’ve already laid.

Granted, not every single page on your site needs to be deluged with paragraph after paragraph (such as “Contact Us” pages), but for everything else, take the time to make it interesting and helpful to the reader. Perhaps bring some statistics and research into the fold, and use your content to answer all relevant questions the average reader would have about the topic that brought them to your website in the first place.

Do You Need to Fatten Up?

New Girl - Nick Eating Burrito - ESEO

So, we’ve jumped in and discussed just a few basic examples of what “thin” content looks like – although there are plenty more scenarios – and touched on how to fix them. Now, let’s rewind for a moment and discuss how you can detect whether your website is “thin” or not.

It’s Time to Get with the Program

The most thorough way to go about detecting thin content is to take a multifaceted approach and tackle it from many angles. Luckily, there are desktop applications like Screaming Frog or Deep Crawl that start with the basics. These applications can do a word count scan and report pages that may need to be “beefed up.” The caveat is that they do not check for quality within the page, and instead focus strictly on word count, so don’t just stop with one of these tools.

Where Screaming Frog or Deep Crawl may leave off, Google Analytics seems to cover the rest of the ground. Google’s tool has the ability to see exactly how much time a user spends on the entire site, and can even break down how much time is spent on each page within a website, in addition to letting you know your “bounce rates.” Google Analytics can also do a general quality check of content within the website to decipher what appears to be relevant and what needs improvement.

However, relying solely on applications can still leave holes in your website that can only be addressed by doing a manual scan and audit of each and every page. Although potentially time-consuming and tedious, a manual audit is a sure-fire way to cover all your bases and ensure your website adheres to Google’s standards, so long as you know what you’re looking for. Hopefully, all you’ve been reading here has given you a clearer idea on how to identify and rectify your own thin content.

Conclusion

Just having any ol’ website isn’t good enough if you have any hope of building a business and reaching consumers. You must stay in compliance with search engines’ guidelines and stay on top of not only your competition, but SEO standards as well.

Thin content can severely impact your website and ROI if not monitored and quickly modified. First impressions are everything, and with the right attention to detail regarding your website – and a little extra “meat” – you’ll be sure to leave a lasting one.

Need help spotting thin content on your site and with producing high-quality information and media to replace or enhance it? Eminent SEO can help. Learn more about our Website Content Services here, or call 800.871.4130 today!

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Google’s Message Is Clear: Review and Clean Up Your Website’s Outbound Links

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Sweep Bad Outbound Links Under Rug - Eminent SEO

Earlier this month, several reports stated that Google started issuing a specific warning to various webmasters. The message hit at one miscue: “unnatural” outbound links.

Google reportedly first started sending this message out on Saturday, April 9, via email and Google Search Console. While it probably took some webmasters aback, others likely knew they had it coming.

In either scenario, the webmaster is going to have to make some clear changes before submitting a “reconsideration request” to Google in order to get his or her rankings back.

Let’s look further at the heart of the issue plus what the best practices are when it comes to outbound linking.

What the Outbound Link Warning Said

Google warned certain webmasters that it detected a “pattern” of outbound links that is “either unnatural or irrelevant,” violating the search engine’s Webmaster Guidelines. Therefore, the search engine applied a “manual spam action” to the website in question.

Google added that the unnatural links it detected appear to be trying to “artificially boost” other sites’ search engine rankings. Basically, to Google, it looked like the sites that were flagged were trying to pass so-called link juice to other websites, among other suspicious practices.

How Webmasters Were Directed to Fix It

Google’s stern warning about outbound links was essentially a penalty upon the sites that were flagged. Receiving a penalty either hurts a website’s search rankings or kills them altogether. The penalty won’t be lifted until Google does a manual review of the site.

For the websites that received this latest warning, the webmasters behind them were directed to either manually remove the links in question or add “nofollow” tags to each one. The piece of code for asking search engine crawlers to not follow a link, if you’re wondering, is rel=”nofollow”. Once the webmaster has sufficiently addressed the outbound linking issue, Google advised sending a reconsideration request.

What Is an Outbound Link?

Just to be clear about what an outbound link is, it’s any clickable link that takes the user to an external website, which is why it’s also called an external link.

In today’s SEO climate, it’s recommended to be very judicious about how frequently you include an outbound link on your website. Any link (internal or external) that you don’t add “nofollow” to will be taken into account by search engine crawlers, making it a “dofollow” link, effectively.

If you’re linking to a low-quality website, a dofollow link could actually hurt your SEO value. Also, too many links (whether internal or external) could lower the search rankings potential of that particular webpage. Therefore, it’s best to use nofollow tags every so often when you’ve got a webpage with an abundance of links and/or if you’re linking to sites with low domain authority.

When Google issues a manual spam action on a website, it can apply to either a site-wide match or a partial match. A site-wide match means Google detected an issue on every page of a website, likely in a sidebar, the header or the footer. A partial match means the issue applied to just a single webpage or a certain set of pages on the site in question.

How Certain Websites Ran into This Issue

For quite some time, a common website practice was to link to several other websites either through text or images placed on a sidebar or in the footer of a page. Granted, this was never an SEO best practice, but some webmasters did this either as a partnership with other websites or because they simply liked those sites and wanted to give a subtle shout-out to them.

These type of links could often be paid for as kind of a one-way means of drawing some SEO power from an authoritative website. In other cases, the two sites linked to each other in a type of affiliate marketing scheme.

Today, this practice is going by the wayside, and Google may have just delivered it its final blow with the recent penalization of sites with unnatural outbound links. For a good example, let’s look at the website behind the screenshot that seemingly every media site is featuring when reporting on Google’s outbound link warning: SammiTheBeautyBuff.com.

Sammi The Beauty Buff Homepage - ESEO

While nothing looks amiss when you first land on the homepage, if you scroll just a little ways down, you’ll see a right sidebar that features several logos that link to other websites – all under a section called “Memberships.” Inside each review, there are also several product links (or that may have been for undisclosed free samples – but more on that point later). At first glance, this area may be what earned the website a penalty from Google.

Sammi The Beauty Buff Membership Links - ESEO

The webmaster of this beauty products blog must have gotten the message, because if you dig into the source code of the homepage, these are all nofollow links. If they weren’t before, they are now.

Say Goodbye to Blogrolls

If you used WordPress to create a personal blog in the past, you were practically encouraged to add a blogroll to your site. Also known as a links menu, a blogroll is a way to list other blogs and sites you find valuable or that are relevant to your specific blog. The blogroll can be easily added using a widget in WordPress, and it will show up in the footer or sidebar of your blog or website, depending on the theme you use.

Here’s an example of a blogroll in somebody’s sidebar, without calling out the site that is using it:

Wordpress Blogroll Example - ESEO

WordPress itself still has a support page that talks all about the blogroll, but given the direction of Google’s search algorithm, it’s likely this feature is going to be de-emphasized or abandoned in the near future.

WordPress is far from the only content management system or website builder that features a blogroll option. But, no matter which content management system you use, a blogroll or links menu is a feature you’re going to want to ignore going forward – if you care at all about search rankings.

A More Recent Development: Penalties for Exchanging Links for Free Products

After Google started issuing outbound link warnings, the tech giant eventually clarified why it was handing out penalties. According to Search Engine Land, the penalty appeared to be targeting free product reviews. This is because companies that provide product reviewers free merchandise are often looking for a dofollow link from the reviewer’s website to theirs.

So, Google has effectively put the kibosh on this practice. Can product reviewers still receive free stuff and write about it on their blog or website? Certainly. Google just asks that they disclose when they receive free items and then nofollow any links to the company that provided the product. This explains why the aforementioned Sammi “The Beauty Buff” was called out by Google earlier this month.

If, in fact, only free product reviews were the target of Google’s recent penalties, then most of these penalties would likely be classified as partial matches. An individual product review is generally going to take up only one webpage, rather than resulting in a site-wide external link just for the free item(s) provided.

Did Google’s Recent Warning Apply to Inbound Links?

Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land reported that he only saw a “few inbound link notification penalties” on the weekend when Google started warning certain webmasters of unnatural outbound links.

So, for the most part, websites weren’t getting penalized for having another site link to them, no matter how spammy or irrelevant the backlink appears to be. Instead, the sites hosting such a suspicious link are the ones that primarily landed on Google’s radar.

What to Do About Your Outbound Links

Even if you’re not a product reviewer, now is as good a time as any to review your website’s outbound links, since Google will certainly continue to target suspicious linking practices.

If your website has a static, site-wide sidebar, are there any external links featured? You can ask the same about the footer. It’s time to nofollow those links or contemplate if they even need to be there in the first place.

Other than those areas, you can also go through some of the individual pages of the site and the blog to see if there’s any area where someone happened to link to a plethora of external sites. You need to go in and nofollow most of those links, if they aren’t already, and consider if each and every link is even helpful for the user in the first place. If not, remove as necessary.

If your website has a partnership with another in the form of a dofollow site-wide link to theirs, tell them that current SEO best practices call for you to get rid of the link. Or, perhaps, you can compromise with them and turn it into a nofollow link – and maybe decrease the number of pages it shows up on.

Are ‘Nofollow’ Links Still Helpful?

Perhaps your site has scored a link on an authoritative website, but their webmaster wants to remove it in light of recent SEO events. See if they can just nofollow the link to your site instead.

Yes, the link juice goes away when someone adds a nofollow tag, but that doesn’t mean the link can’t still have value in a different way. If the hosting site draws tons and tons of visitors, some of them are eventually going to see and click the link to your domain, resulting in increased traffic for you. The number of clicks on your link per visitor is probably going to be pretty small, but it’s still better to give them that option than to not have it there at all, right?

But What if I’m Linking Back and Forth Between Several Interconnected Sites?

If you have a main website and a few microsites, or just several “sister” sites, it doesn’t hurt to feature links to all related sites in the footer of each one of the properties. Google is pretty savvy at understanding when sites are related. You don’t even have to nofollow the links in this case.

However, if we’re talking about dozens of websites, no matter how well they go together, you should avoid interlinking them, even with nofollow tags. In a 2014 Search Engine Watch article, Google engineer and video personality Matt Cutts was quoted as recommending only up to five links in the footer to other related websites. He added that if you operate 50 to 100 related websites and are thinking about interlinking them all, don’t do it – or, at best, only link to the four or five most relevant sister sites.

Internal and External Linking Strategies with Eminent SEO

Need help with evaluating which links to remove from your site and then actually getting it done? Eminent SEO can clean up not only your outbound linking strategy, but we can optimize your site’s internal linking strategy as well. We also can remove and disavow spammy or low-quality links that lead to your site, as well as help you recover from any search engine penalties you may have suffered.

We have been helping clients with their internal and outbound linking strategies for more than 11 years, and we’ve been updating our processes with every step of Google’s evolution. To learn more about optimizing your website with proper linking practices, contact Eminent SEO today at 800.871.4130.

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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How Easy Website Builders like Wix, Muse and Weebly Hurt Your SEO and Growth Efforts

Easy Website Builders - Eminent SEO

Websites today are getting easier and easier for the average user to create.

You don’t even have to be a programmer or web developer to see a website come to fruition. Some website-building services don’t even require you to know a lick of code in order to launch a new site. You can just pick a design template, drag and drop content, write a little copy, and then it’s up and live in a matter of minutes.

Because of the low level of technical skill, you’d think such a site would look pretty basic. However, some of these properties actually look pretty good on the surface, boasting modern layouts and large, high-quality images. And that’s a good portion of the battle right there when it comes to having a successful web presence.

While it’s nice to be able to put up a presentable site quickly for your customers or just anyone following you closely, these types of websites struggle with long-term growth. Such a shortcut can only get you so far.

When it comes to complying with the latest SEO developments, most easy website builders get left behind – or at best take months or years to catch up. Let’s take a look at why codeless website builders like Wix, Muse, Weebly and similar services aren’t built to help businesses scale.

How Easy Website Builders Struggle with SEO

If you’re using your website to try to reach new markets and build your clientele, using a codeless website builder is going to make that task difficult for you. This is because it’s going to be a battle to get (and keep) any page from your website to show up on the first page of search results.

Even though these easy website builders allow you to type in your own meta tags for each page, and they offer proprietary SEO-related plugins, they still fall short in many ways when it comes to helping your rank higher in search.

Here’s why:

Poor URL Categorization and Structure

When you’re organizing the navigation of your website, it’s best to keep the URLs of your main categories and sub-categories clean and succinct. The homepage and the main menu items are all considered Tier 1 pages. If you have any categories that have drop-down options beneath, those are Tier 2 pages.

In short, it’s best to not have any Tier 2, 3, etc. pages branching right off the homepage, URL-wise. For examples, for our site you will see the URL of our Services pages as https://www.eminentseo.com/services/. We then have three Tier 2 options (not counting Service Overview) that stem from our Services page (and even some Tier 3 pages not shown in the main navigation).

Eminent SEO Services Page

If you visit our Website Creation page, you’ll see this URL:

Eminent SEO Website Creation URL

It’s very important to have the main page of the “silo” in the URL before “website-creation/.” Otherwise, everything just looks like it branches off from the homepage, and Google’s web crawlers will have trouble understanding how your site flows and which pages deserve more emphasis than others.

With a Wix-created website, any page other than the homepage starts with a “#!” (sometimes referred to as a hashbang) right after the main address. Not only does this make for a messy URL, but it looks to Google like every page is just a direct extension of the homepage. Thus, it’s going to be hard for the website to rank for any of its Tier 2 or 3 pages – unless you search for the site name and specific service directly.

For example, we’ll look at one of the featured Wix sites: Butcher & Sons, a restaurant chain in Mexico.

Butcher And Sons Homepage

This site has a main menu category called “Sucursales,” which basically means “branches” or “locations” in English. The URL for the Sucursales page is:

Butcher And Sons Sucursales URL

And if you click on any of the six drop-down items under the Sucursales category, the URL will be structured as such:

Butcher And Sons Polanco URL

Notice how the top-level category, Sucursales, is disregarded when it comes to these Tier 2 pages.

Not good. And that’s no fault of Butcher & Sons.

With Tier 2 items branching right off the homepage, it’s like telling Google that all Tier 1 and 2 content is equally valuable. And for most websites, this is not the case.

As for Weebly and Adobe Muse websites, they don’t suffer from having hashbangs show up in their addresses, although many sites contain URLs ending in “.html” for their non-homepage content. This isn’t necessarily an SEO-killer, but it makes the URL longer and less eye-appealing. The best practice is to end your URLs like such: “services/.” Yes, ending with a forward slash is ideal.

Weebly sites appear to not be able to structure URLs optimally either. Tier 2 pages all seem to stem right off the home address. As for Muse, I had trouble going through its “Site of the Day” list and finding any website that even had Tier 2 pages visible from the main menu. Many of them had a menu that just directed to an anchored section of the homepage below the fold. In fact, I only found 2 out of the first 16 featured sites that had navigation that went deeper than the first tier. And when I did find such a site, all Tier 2 pages, you guessed it, branched right off from the home address. Tsk tsk.

Excessive Code

With the rise of codeless website platforms, many web developers noticed that excessive code was needed in order to make creating a website easier, particularly in Muse. In other words, lines and lines of code were used to offset the user’s lack of HTML knowledge.

Codeless website creators will have a hard time getting their content pages to rank well because search engine crawlers often have difficulty sifting through all of the extra code and figuring out what each page is about.

Excessive code also can lead to slow loading times, especially in the ever-growing world of mobile search. It should be noted that a site with slow loading times will prompt many visitors will bounce rather than wait for the entire page to load. Both slow loading times and high bounce rates cause rankings to suffer in Google Search, and people who use codeless website builders should be aware of these potential risks.

SSL Certificate Difficulty

If you’d like to upgrade the security of your website, obtaining an SSL certificate can be problematic with Weebly and impossible with Wix. SSL certificates create trust with your visitors and customers, and they’re projected to become a ranking factor in Google Search in the near future.

More on SSL certificates here.

With a Wix-created website, you actually don’t own your own content. They do. And since they basically own your website, you can’t add an SSL certificate whatsoever.

If you decide to add Wix’s shopping cart to your website, that will be SSL-protected, but otherwise, you’re out of luck with adding a site-wide security certificate. I’ll further explain the pitfalls of not being the sole proprietor of your website in a moment.

Weebly and Muse both allow you to add an SSL certificate to your domain, with some stipulations.

  • Weebly highly encourages you to purchase your SSL certificate through them. However, what they offer isn’t among the strongest types of such certificates on the market.
  • For an SSL certificate on a Muse-created site, you’ll have to go through your website host and a third party.

From looking through the featured websites on Weebly and Muse, it’s noticeable that most site owners aren’t utilizing an SSL certificate. Perhaps quite a few in the bunch don’t even know what an SSL certificate is – speculation of course.

You’re Not in Full Control of Your Content and Website

With Wix, you’re actually not in sole control of your own website. It may appear that way, but that’s all smoke and mirrors. While Wix’s Terms of Use says that you own all rights to any content you upload to your site, there’s this stipulation:

Wix Terms Of Use Ownership

This means Wix can modify the content on your site, remove it, or even feature or reuse it elsewhere. Your entire site could even be included on the platform’s featured websites page. But what if you don’t want to shout to the world that you’re using the Wix platform?

Wix Example Websites - ESEO

Other codeless website builders don’t infringe on your submitted content as deeply as Wix does, but they still retain to right to move or delete your material, especially if it’s copyright-protected, indecent or spammy. These platforms make it clear that you’re on your own if material you upload gets you into legal trouble.

Also, if you try to move your codeless-created website over to another content management system, it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible. With Wix, you can pretty much just copy and paste what you have, but you can’t download a page into a file that can be uploaded elsewhere.

As far as all Wix, Weebly and similar codeless website builders go, don’t even think about taking any of their graphics, templates, proprietary stock images, etc. over to another site. Only your original content can be taken and reused if you decide to create a website elsewhere.

The Times When Codeless Website Builders Can Work

Looking over the featured websites on Wix, Weebly and Muse, I see a lot of small restaurants, web design agencies, architecture firms and individual actors, pastors, public speakers, local bands and the like. Basically, these sites are like a slightly bigger about.me page.

You can think of a codeless-created website like a starter home. It’s affordable, it’s manageable, it works for the time being, and it allows you to get a sense of what you like and don’t like before you upgrade your space down the road. It’s also better than not having any site at all when it comes to handing out business cards or imploring your social media followers to visit your personal online space.

Like I mentioned earlier, many of the sites created this way actually look pretty good, as they are heavy on the visuals. Most codeless website builders even support shopping cart integration, so you can get a small ecommerce business off the ground. Overall, these types of sites are decent if you’re a one-person business or a startup with no coding experience and a tight budget.

Other popular easy website builders that require little to no coding include:

  • SiteBuilder.com
  • WebsiteBuilder.com
  • Web.com
  • Webs.com
  • Sitey.com
  • Sitelio.com
  • eHost.com
  • Squarespace.com

But You Want to Grow, Don’t You?

If you want to use your website as a means to help your business grow, relying on a codeless-built site is going to make that mission difficult. This is because an SEO strategy is hard to execute with these platforms. You saw that not only does Wix produce messy URLs, but Weebly and Muse both struggle with proper URL structure. That’s just one of many drawbacks.

Although Wix had the most minuses in the SEO analysis above, a common theme among all easy website builders is they seem to lag behind when it comes to Google’s changing standards, such as algorithm updates and ranking factors.

For example, Wix and Weebly didn’t jump into the responsive design game until somewhere between late 2014 and early 2015. Adobe Muse’s homepage didn’t tout the platform’s responsive capabilities until late 2015, and it still advertises this feature like it’s a new thing.

Adobe Muse Homepage Responsive Design

Your best bet at long-term growth is to find a digital marketing company that can not only create and host your website, but also implement a sound SEO strategy so your content ranks high in the search results. Eminent SEO has a team that excels in these and related strategies in order to help clients large and small succeed with their online presence. Click to learn more about our Website Creation services, or call 800.871.4130 today.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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To App or Not to App: Should You Put More Resources into a Mobile Site or Mobile App?

Mobile Site Or Mobile App - Eminent SEO

“There’s an app for that.”

There’s an app for almost anything now. And this might be a problem.

If your business is ready to ramp up its online and mobile marketing, it may be enticing to jump into the app game. But, before you do that, let’s temper that excitement a bit and take a hard look at exactly the market you’d be getting into.

Smartphone usage continues to climb, but the app craze of the early 2010s appears to have died down to an extent. That’s not to say smartphone users aren’t still loading up their hard drives with apps and that some businesses aren’t excelling on the app front, but your company should be cautious before making the leap into the marketplace.

An alternative to entering the app field is to upgrade your existing website’s mobile experience. In a recent blog post, we explained the rationale and logistics of making a website mobile-friendly. Now, we’ll look at what’s worth more of your time and resources in 2016: a mobile app or your mobile site?

The Mobile Web Landscape

Mobile traffic and search queries began overtaking their desktop counterparts in 2014. It’s worth noting that desktop traffic continuously grew from 1990 to about 2010 and has since leveled off, although it remains consistent.

So, while internet usage via desktop has remained steady over the last few years, mobile web traffic is on a meteoric rise. When comparing mobile web browser traffic to app traffic, mobile websites are seeing more than 2 times the number of unique visitors, according to a 2015 Morgan Stanley report.

However, loyalties to mobile websites aren’t as strong as they are for apps, and that’s both a good and a bad thing for the mobile internet. Smartphone users spend a great amount of time in their apps – 87 percent of their total time on a smartphone, to be exact, according to a 2015 comScore report. This means individual sessions in an app are usually much, much longer than they are on a specific mobile website.

The Mobile App Landscape

Phone Apps - Eminent SEOAlthough mobile apps comprise most of the time we spend on our smartphones, a majority of users aren’t just seeking out the latest and freshest apps to download. Here are some sobering facts to keep in mind as you consider jumping into the app market:

  • Separate reports from Forrester Research and Nielsen over the last couple of years have found that while smartphone owners use an average of about 25 different apps each month, only their top five apps (which differs by person) are getting a lot of love – more than 80 percent of a user’s total time in any app, in fact.
  • As of late 2014, according to Forrester Research, users spent a disproportionately high amount of time in the five following apps: Facebook, YouTube, Maps, Pandora and Gmail. You may have noticed that Google owns three of those properties.
  • The app market is only seeing serious download activity from the top 7 percent of all smartphone owners who download and use apps. This small demographic of serial app downloaders is actually responsible for 50 percent of all download activities.
  • A strong majority (65.5 percent) of smartphone users don’t download a single app over the course of a month, according to a 2014 comScore report. Of those who do make a download within a month’s time, most are only adding 1-3 apps in that span.
  • According to Forrester, social media and communication (WhatsApp, etc.) apps consume 21 percent of all smartphone minutes, not counting phone calls and text messaging. Gaming, streaming video, news, weather, music and sports apps also take up large chunks of smartphone owners’ time.
  • Apps tend to keep much of their traffic contained. This means that smartphone users are generally more hesitant to click a link and leave an app than they would be when on a mobile site, or even the desktop version of a site.

Analyzing Mobile Apps vs. The Mobile Web

You may have seen that apps beat the mobile web by a landslide when it comes to what takes up a user’s time on a smartphone. However, you also learned that mobile websites see much more traffic as a whole than apps do.

There is a quasi-monopoly on the app market. Google and Facebook mobile programs are dominating the competition. Other apps have found success, but they don’t account for nearly the amount of usage that Google and Facebook properties do.

On the other hand, the mobile web seems to be fostering healthier competition. Mobile web users appear to spread their attention over a wider range of properties, and they’re more likely to find a site they’ve never visited before.

Mobile web looks like the clear winner here going forward, but before we discuss how you can get a leg up on the competition with your mobile website, let’s look at a couple of cases where an app might still be worth your time.

Where a Mobile App Would Make Sense

If you run a small local business or a B2B type of company, putting your money and time into an app this year will likely be a waste of resources.

However, for certain businesses, a mobile app could be a great way to extend the experience for someone who has interacted with the company before. This means that the individual has walked into your store or is well acquainted with your website.

A mobile app could enhance the experience a customer has already had with your business. For example, many sandwich and coffee shops have moved from punch cards to an online app when tracking customers’ visits. It’s a sensible upgrade, and very helpful to the customer, when done right.

Schlotzsky’s Lotz4Me app records how many sandwiches you have eaten until you’ve earned a free one, and you can use the app to see the sandwich chain’s menu and all locations.

Schlotzskys Lotz4Me - Eminent SEO

The app also features company news and offers, some of which can get pushed to alert your phone. Mobile websites lack the latter capability. As you might imagine, some of the information from the company’s website (locations, menu and even news) has been repurposed to fit in the app, but it all helps build a better experience than simply seeing how close you are to a free sandwich.

Apps such as these are a logical extension of a business’s normal offerings, whether they usually take place online or face-to-face. A supplemental asset like this helps lead to more purchases down the road, while also building more loyalty to and appreciation of the specific company.

The national sandwich chain example might not be the best one if you own a restaurant or other type of local business with only one physical location. Asking your customers to download an app when you only have one locale might be a stretch, but perhaps you now have a few ideas on what makes for an effective app for the average business.

SaaS Success

It’s worth mentioning that software as a service (SaaS) companies can excel on the app platform, too. If they can get their product in an app form to work as well as their desktop version, then it’s a win for them and their customers. Even so, you’ll notice that this situation still only applies to users who have had prior experience with the company behind the app.

Apps aren’t generally a great way for an existing brand to grow its audience. Users either download your app because they’ve done business with you in some other setting, or they just never even find out or care about your app. The average smartphone user isn’t scrolling through Google Play or the App Store just looking for another app to download. Many have phone storage limitations to worry about, anyway.

If you do go the app route, you may not put up Facebook- or Google-like numbers, but you can still find success on the platform if you’re able to create a worthwhile experience – one that differs from your website – for your existing customer base.

Making Your Mobile Site Competitive

Eminent SEO Mobile ScreenshotCreating a mobile app only works in specific circumstances, so if those conditions don’t apply to your business, take the resources you were going to put into an app this year and direct them toward your website.

This starts with infusing your website with responsive design. How to test your site’s responsiveness and how to get started on making it mobile-friendly were previously covered in one of our recent blog posts. See here.

Having a mobile-friendly site helps with search engine rankings, and it helps you better compete on the mobile web, where many big opportunities await. From there, it’s all about employing the best SEO practices and keeping your site replenished with plenty of appetizing, worthwhile content.

Instead of spending time having a developer create an app, go back and evaluate how your site looks and functions on various screen sizes. What needs to be present? What can be condensed or hidden? Your content team should get together with your developer and make sure your site is providing the best possible user experience on devices of all sizes.

And finally, your site’s pages need to load fast. Even a 2-second delay can make all the difference between a bounce from your site and a conversion. Google’s PageSpeed Insights will let you know if any pages on your site load slowly and what you can do to speed them up.

Google PageSpeed Insights - ESEO

Speeding Up Your Website

Here are some quick steps you can take to get your website running more smoothly and quickly, especially on mobile devices:

  • Reduce scripts and move them to the bottom of the page.
  • Mitigate the number of plugins your site utilizes. Deactivate and delete any plugins you no longer need.
  • Compress entire pages with tools like Gzip.
  • Enable browser caching, which benefits return visitors.
  • Crop your images to the exact size they’ll be displayed in a desktop browser. Remove any image comments in the file. Reduce the color depth of all images to 150 dpi or lower. Never use BMP or TIFF files.
  • Make sure you don’t have pages using more than one external CSS style sheet. To see if you have more than one external style sheet on any given page, use this tool.
  • If you have any elements that load slowly but are must-haves, consider moving them well below the fold, so at least the top of the page loads quickly.

Conclusion

Although Google has begun indexing content from mobile apps  meaning it can show up in the search results, mobile web still appears to be the clear winner when it comes to where you should invest your marketing dollars in 2016. It behooves you to put your focus into competing on the mobile SERPs (search engine results pages) rather than in the App Store or Google Play.

If users aren’t as loyal to individual websites as they are to their top five apps, that means there’s a good chance they’ll eventually turn their attention to your site and see what you have to offer them. You’ll have a better chance on that front than you will with trying to woo new customers in the app marketplace.

There are some instances where an app makes sense, as mentioned earlier, but in most cases, mobile web appears to be the way to go.

To get help from a team that can make your website mobile-friendly and more competitive in the world of mobile search, talk to the Eminent SEO team. Just call 800.871.4130.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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