301 Redirects: How They Affect Your SEO

A 301 redirect is a way to redirect traffic to a current and updated web page. These are necessary if a URL is broken or no longer active. 301 redirects are important for user experience, which can also strongly affect the SEO of your website.

301 or 302?

To first clarify, there are two kinds of redirects. 301s are permanent and include PageRank, MozRank, Page Authority, and Traffic Value. Previous pages will be removed from Google’s index and replaced by the new page. Some percentage of “link juice” will be lost in addition to PageRank.

Alternatively, 302 redirects are temporary. These are best used if testing a new webpage. 302s can be used as a temporary detour while fixing a page. They may not pass any traffic value to the new page, so it is best to avoid them if possible. All PageRank, MozRank, and Page Authority will remain the same, and the detour page will not gain any traffic value. After working hard on the SEO of your website, you don’t want to sacrifice your accumulated SEO value for a 302 redirect. They have the potential to greatly harm your SEO if created by accident, so they should be used sparingly and with care. Google will still view them the same as 301s, but it’s best to be specific and relevant and stick to 301 redirects.

But my SEO?

Search engines like Google will quickly notice the change to a redirect. Your SEO is immediately affected. However, if your website is large and complex, it could take a while for Google to completely forget the original page. If your website is new, you shouldn’t need any redirects, but it is important to realize the immediate effects of your website’s SEO.

301 redirects are a great way to accidentally test your SEO. Moz tested Google’s theories to see how much 301s can actually change your SEO, and they found results identical to Google’s predictions. On average, SEO is 15 percent below where it would be without any redirects. If your SEO is well-established, you could have better results despite the 301 redirect. However, if your website is extremely new and undeveloped, then that redirect could produce even worse SEO results. While 15 percent is only a benchmark, you can develop your own measurements using MozBar. By testing your redirects, you are able to see the ease of use for visitors while ensuring traffic is continuing correctly.

Still, Watch Out

While it is possible to add or delete 301 redirects, it is best to keep them forever. If you do remove a 301 redirect, then Google’s connection to your web page is broken, and the reputation of your domain becomes flawed.

Still, it is important to not redirect all old pages to a homepage. While this may seem like a holistic fix, it actually causes Google to view these pages as a 404. Instead, redirect old pages to other internal pages instead of a homepage. Your site and content is likely to change, so redirect old pages to newer, more updated content to help your visitors and your SEO.

In Conclusion

301 redirects can multiply quickly as a website gains more content and web pages. While necessary to redirect broken or outdated pages, it is best to build your website carefully to avoid them. If you don’t redirect your page at all, then there will be a dead 404 page, which should be avoided at all costs. Even if your website is relatively new, it is important to pay attention to URLs early on to ensure traffic is logical and allows for growth.

Does Yelp Help My SEO?

If you’ve followed our blog for a while you should know that the more inbound links and keywords found online regarding your website, should theoretically boost your SEO. But what about online reviews? Online review websites such as Yelp, Zagat, and even stores themselves can make or break a purchase decision. In an age of content shock and an overabundance of products and services, it’s become increasingly important for marketers (and small business owners) to be present at a consumer’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). The ZMOT is the moment before a purchase decision and it is crucial to gaining brand awareness in an age of ever-present technology.

The Power of Yelp

IMG_6526

IMG_6527IMG_6528

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Images are screenshots, edited on Picmonkey]

If you are a small business owner, you likely know the importance of online reviews. They can sway the opinion of a potential customer in seconds, the outcome being either good or bad for your business. According to Search Engine Land’s post on whether or not Yelp really matters, Yelp is definitely important for SEO. Nowadays Google does take into account a company’s presence on Yelp. Google measures things like how many reviews a business has on Yelp, and how positive each review is. Google then factors this into their search engine ranking accordingly. Since Google’s Pigeon update rolled out, Yelp now shows up higher on the SERP than ever before. When typing in the name of a restaurant, Google most likely returns results that have Yelp within the first three results. This is good news for Yelp and (potentially) good news for the small business owner. In an age of localized search and mobile phones, it’s important for small business owners to take advantage of Yelp. Below are four steps to fully utilizing Yelp for your small business. 

 

 

Step #1: Claim your business.

Claim your business on Yelp. According to Search Engine Land’s article on Google Maps, Yelp and Local SEO in 2015, once you’ve claimed your business, you are able to be “active” on Yelp. This includes everything from updating information to responding to reviews and uploading photos. Doing this not only lets Google know you are active and present on Yelp and therefore are worthy of higher search rank, but it also allows you to monitor the feedback on your small business.

Step #2: Keep your information consistent and up-to-date.

Make sure your business name, address, and phone number are consistent across all your platforms, whether it’s your social media, your website, or your blog. Google attempts to “verify” businesses on Yelp using contact information. So long as your information is consistent, you should be verified, which will in turn help your search ranking.

Step #3: Encourage customers to leave a review (to a point).

Yelp sticker
[Image Source]
As a small business owner, it could benefit you to encourage customers to write a Yelp review for you. In a day and age where Yelp reviews are one of the first things consumers look at, it’s beneficial for you to have a good amount of positive reviews. If your reviews happen to be mostly negative, there’s no way to really hide Yelp from the SERP. That being said, if you find that you have a good amount of negative reviews, the only thing I can suggest is addressing them. So, how should you encourage Yelp reviews? You may or may not have noticed that some businesses display a sticker in their window that says something like “Review us on Yelp!” or “People Love us on Yelp!”. This is one way to let your customers know that you appreciate positive Yelp reviews. Don’t go too crazy with this option, however, because the goal of websites like Yelp are to provide the most honest, reliable information on businesses. If you’re product is great and your service is reliable, you should not have a problem in this area.

Step #4: Engage, engage, engage

As with any social media platform, it’s always best practice to actively engage with your customers. If someone leaves a lovely review of your business, respond and let them know that you appreciate it! If someone leaves a critique or a less positive review, respond and tell them you will address the issue ASAP. Customer service and customer engagement is everything!

Bottom line? You MUST be on Yelp and other online review websites. Ever since Google’s Pigeon update, these review websites often rank higher than a company’s actual website. It’s crucial for you to have a presence on review websites. Have any other tips for navigating Yelp and other review websites? Leave suggestions in the comments below.

5 Easy Ways To Protect Your Website From Hackers

Websites are like houses. They both contain valuable information about important people. You wouldn’t leave your house unlocked overnight and you shouldn’t leave your website unprotected either. This blog post is going to lay out some tips on protecting your company’s information so you don’t end up like Target. We will be going over the highlights from Entrepreneur’s article on web safety.

  1. Passwords: This may seem really simple, but passwords are the first step of protection against hackers and malware. Here are some tips to designing a secure password:
    • Use at least one uppercase letter
    • If your system allows, use at least one symbol like “_”
    • Use a set of non consecutive numbers, 1234 is much too easy
    • Don’t use the same password in multiple places
    • Update your passwords frequently
    • This article provides a step-by-step guide in creating a strong password
  2. Updates: It’s important that you stay up-to-date on the latest hacking techniques and malware technologies. If you don’t know how these things work, then you can’t effectively protect your website against them. Also, updating software frequently is the easiest way to defend against the bad guys. Software updates help to patch up and loopholes and protect your website from the latest technology threats        

    picture of a desktop being protected from the internet by a brick wall
    Firewall
  3. Web Application Firewalls: Like in the picture above, a firewall goes in between your server and the data connection. John Rampton of Entrepreneur explains:

    Most of the modern WAFs [Web Application Firewalls] are cloud based and provided as a plug-and-play service, for a modest monthly subscription fee. Basically, the cloud service is deployed in front of your server, where it serves as a gateway for all incoming traffic. Once installed, web application firewall provides complete peace of mind, by blocking all hacking attempts and also filtering out other types of unwanted traffic, like spammers and malicious bots.

  4. Plugins: HostGator’s article on how to protect your website against hackers suggests using plugins to beef up your web security. Plugins are particularly helpful if you are working with website management services like WordPress. Although plugins are not nearly as comprehensive as firewalls, they can give baseline protection to rookie website owners. There are a host of plugins available. HostGator recommends two freebies for WordPress, Better WP Security and Bulletproof Security. If you are willing to invest some money in a security plug-in, the site recommends SiteLock.  
  5. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL): According to SSL.com’s article, SSL can be defined as, “the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral. SSL is an industry standard and is used by millions of websites in the protection of their online transactions with their customers.” Confused? Check out this helpful video, which visually explains everything you need to know about SSL. If you haven’t implemented SSL on your website, check out SSLTools.com for helpful information on your next steps.

 

What is SSL? from SSL.com on Vimeo.

As always, If you have any questions or feedback please let us know in the comments section below!

Google Algorithms: Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird

[Image Source, Edited by me on Picmonkey]

Algorithms are intended to make internet searches easier and more accurate. They are intended to give you what you’re looking for without having to comb through five or ten pages of search engine results. You may have recently heard a lot of talk regarding Instagram’s new algorithm, however, the algorithm’s we’ll be discussing today are slightly different. In this blog post I will attempt to explain Google’s algorithms to you so that you will understand how they affect pagerank and search engine results. The 3 algorithms I’ll be discussing are Google’s Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.

Algorithm #1: Panda

Panda Update[Image Source]

This program was first released in February of 2011. According to Search Engine Land, this Google update is meant to stop poor quality websites from getting to the top of the search engine results page. Essentially, Panda is a spam-fighting algorithm. Google’s goal in creating Panda was to lower websites that have a lot of spam and raise websites that have quality content to the top of the search results once more. Search Engine Land also reported that it’s very possible Google “baked” the Panda algorithm into their core ranking algorithm in late 2015.  Like the rest of the algorithms we’ll be talking about, Panda did not replace Google’s principal ranking algorithm, it only replaced an outdated part.

 

Algorithm #2: Penguin

Penguin Update

[Image Source]

This algorithm was first introduced in April 2012. Like the Panda update, this algorithm was meant to filter out spam so search engine results would not be affected by low-quality websites. More specifically, this update addresses websites that buy links or unethically obtain them from link networks that are designed to increase Google rankings.  When Penguin was first released, there was a small uproar from website owners about their site traffic decreasing. This is likely because they were hit by Penguin and deemed to be spam. To remedy this, we suggest removing any spam from your website. If your site traffic has climbed back to normal levels even after purging your site of anything spam-related, we suggest using this form to alert Google to your problem.

Algorithm #3: Hummingbird

Anna's_hummingbird[Image Source]

This Google update was rolled out in September of 2013 and it’s purpose was to be “fast and precise”….like a hummingbird! According to Search Engine Land, conversational search is one of the things the Hummingbird update has addressed. In other words, rather than focusing on a keyword by itself, this update takes an entire sentence into account when ranking pages. This means that, theoretically, Hummingbird is allowing Google to assess the meaning behind words, rather than just the words themselves. This is a smart move when we consider the introduction of communication technology like Siri and Google’s version “Google Now”. Siri was introduced in April of 2010 and Google Now followed a few years later in July of 2012. Less than a year later, Google rolls out the Hummingbird update, which would make this technology easier to use. So when you ask Siri or Google Now, “Where’s the closest brunch place to my home?”, Google is now better equipped to provide the answer. If you’ve provided Google with your address, it will understand what you mean by “home”. If you say “place” Google should now understand that you mean a physical location.

This was just a brief introduction to some of the most popular Google Algorithms that have been rolled out in the past few years. Personally, I think algorithms can be highly beneficial to website owners and internet users alike. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

SEO blogs to add to your RSS feed

Right now, you’re probably thinking, “why would this amazingly helpful SEO blog promote other SEO blogs?” But if you think back to our post about link building campaigns, you will remember that being friendly, even with competitors, is helpful for a website’s authority. So, here are some pretty great SEO blogs that answer some more in-depth questions you might have about SEO and optimizing your content marketing.

The Moz Blog

Moz is already a leader in subscribable and downloadable SEO tools, so it is no surprise that their blog is a leader in search as well. When visiting the Moz Blog, you won’t find shameless plugs for their costly tools and devices. Instead your reading will open SEO doors that you didn’t know existed.

Much of the blog is devoted to how-to’s that are fairly straight-forward if you are looking to improve some aspects of your site. Even better, is Moz’s thoughtful posts on content marketing in general. These types of posts are great for those who are looking to expand on their website topics after you’ve been in the content marketing game for some time.  

keyword map
[Source: Moz]
One of the best things about the Moz Blog is the abundance of visuals. It’s sometimes to difficult to include relevant images or graphics in your post about SEO, which is not necessarily a topic made for visuals. Moz does an excellent job of creating visuals out of their data to help readers take in information more easily, like the chart on the right detailing keyword usage on a website.

The Orbiter

The Orbiter is the web marketing blog of Orbit Media Studios, a web design and development company led by web expert Andy Crestodina. The Orbit team take turns writing posts, usually centered on their specialty topics. This is where to go when you want to know what the experts are thinking.

The blog’s voice is extremely easy to follow and makes the reader feel like an equal, which is important when it comes to the sometimes confusing and frustrating task of optimizing online content. Each post is broken down for easy-reading and, even when a post is long, does not leave the reader exhausted.

The blog’s topics are mostly focused on SEO, website optimization, and content creation, but there are also more general topics, like instructions for making a simple content mission statement. Not only does this blog want to help your business’ online presence, but the people behind it want to help your brand as a whole, which is comforting.   

Search Engine Land

If you are a part of a business that just needs to know what’s happening in the realm of SEO innovations, then Search Engine Land has to be number 1 on your list of sources. Be warned: this is not a blog to be visited by SEO beginners. If you have become comfortable with SEO jargon and carrying out web optimization tasks is a breeze, then you can give this blog a shot.

Search Engine Land blog home page
[Source: Search Engine Land home page screenshot]
By a simple scroll through Search Engine Land’s home page, it’s obvious that this blog cannot get enough of Google. Just look at the screenshot on the left of their current home page with four references to the big G without even having to scroll.

And why should they shy away from the number one search engine that essentially dictates all rules and regulations for SEO? Google’s algorithms, tools, and ranking systems are changing almost as quickly as a marketer can learn them, so why not stay updated?  

Search Engine Land posts about 4-5 times a day. This can seem a little daunting when you don’t have much time to skim through thousands of words for some practical information, but the deep content that this blog provides could be worth it. For marketers wanting to take their brand to the next level.

kissmetrics

infographic on e-commerce sites
[Source: kissmetrics’ infographic]
kissmetrics does not waste time on flashy layouts and witty blog voice. Instead, the writers behind this web marketing and tracking blog get right to business. It’s easy to tell that this blog is managed by experts in SEO analytics because of the varied and detail-oriented content.

Not only does kissmetrics offer helpful, step-by-step posts on measuring your SEO’s success, but there are also webinars, infographics, and marketing guides to skim through when you are looking for something more than words. Some of this content requires a subscription to kissmetrics, which will cost you. If you spend a few months with the kissmetrics blog and find it extremely useful for your business and marketing goals, then maybe throwing some money their way wouldn’t be the worst idea. In the meantime you can marvel at one of kissmetrics’ many thorough infographics. This one is all about making your ecommerce site trustworthy.

 

Hopefully these alternative SEO blog options didn’t make you completely jump ship on Searchable. We know we can’t cover everything, so we hope you can find something useful for your business’ SEO needs from other web marketing fanatics.     

Search Engine Optimization for Mobile Devices

These days, mobile is king. We hardly use desktops because we’re always on the go. When optimizing your site, it’s important to consider how customers are accessing your content. Yes, there is a difference between search engines on a mobile device and search engines on a computer. And yes, you must optimize for both. Here’s the how and why.

How are search engines different on mobile and on the computer?

According to the Clickz article on mobile optimization, there are a few key ways in which results differ. Just a reminder: Google uses an algorithm to determine the most relevant results. This algorithm determines what kind of device the person is using. If he or she is using a mobile device, Google uses a different algorithm to rank the results. The key difference is that the algorithm for mobile places a higher priority on location. This means that results are more “localized.”

So why do I have to optimize for both?

In his article on SEO in 2016, Gaurav Kumar explained, “Google’s algorithm update this year ensured that mobile-friendly websites get a search ranking boost on mobile searches. As more and more people use mobile to surf the Internet, Google decided to make it easier to find relevant, mobile-optimized websites. So, it now uses mobile-friendliness as a factor in ranking search results.” This infographic on mobile optimization shows that 70% of mobile searches lead to action within an hour, so it’s pretty obvious that mobile optimization is a must.

Okay so what can I do to make sure my website is optimized?

Before fiddling around and giving yourself a heart attack, you should check and see if your website is already optimized for mobile. It’s possible that you are ahead of the game! Google has a tool that will allow you to see if your website is mobile friendly. Website software users should follow Google’s special guide to mobile optimization on platforms like WordPress and Wix. There are plenty of places to buy mobile friendly WordPress themes. We like StudioPress and Theme Forest.

What do I do if my site isn’t up to par?  

If you didn’t pass Google’s test it’s probably because you either haven’t optimized for mobile at all, or you’ve optimized using a problematic method. Either way, MOZ has a list of mobile SEO best practices that’s worth taking a look at.

There are three popular ways to optimize your content: Responsive Web Design, Dynamic Serving, and Different URLs. Google has stated that the best way to optimize for mobile is to use a responsive design, so we won’t waste your time going through the other two. The diagram below shows how responsive design works.

responsive web design diagram
Responsive Web Design. Source

 

 

According to MOZ, there are several benefits to using responsive web design. Firstly, you only need one URL. This is beneficial because it makes it easier for customers to remember your address. Having a single website also means that the authority of your brand is consolidated in one place instead of split in two. Secondly, responsive design doesn’t use any redirects, making your page load time quicker and thus improving your rank on search engine results pages. Finally, responsive design doesn’t require you to copy the information on one page to a mobile friendly page. No duplication means no time wasted!

You may be thinking, responsive web design is the best so I bet it’s going to cost me an arm and a leg. We have great news for you! Responsive design is actually the cheapest option out there. Messing around with code may not be your forte. If so, you can buy mobile ready html templates from places like, Creative Market. If you have any questions, please leave drop us a note in the comments section!

 

4 Free SEO Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed

If you are feeling fairly confident in your mastering of basic optimization for your business’ website, then it’s time to take your SEO tactics to a new level. There is a wide world of easy-to-use and free online tools that can help your website’s content thrive, as well as keep an eye on the competition. These free tools have received some love from SEO experts, so give them a go.  

1. Ecreative Link Juice Calculator

This first tool is for those pages on your website that you take pride in because they have a lot of outbound links directing traffic to your internal pages and other sites. But, believe it or not, too many links can actually harm your homepage’s authority, as well as interior pages. As web marketing expert Andy Crestodina notes, even an enormous site such as Amazon only has around 100 links in on its homepage.

Ecreative link juice tool
[Source: Ecreative results page for LUC.edu]
To use Ecreative’s tool, simply paste your homepage URL into the bar and press enter. The “juice calculator” will let you know if you have too many links and will normally give you a suggestion on how many links you should remove. For example, Loyola University Chicago’s homepage (LUC.edu) has 294 links on its homepage alone and this tool suggests they get that number down to around 100 to increase their link juice.

 

2. Moz On-Page Grader

Moz is a leader in SEO tools and expertise. They have a large number of great tools to choose from. One of the simplest is their On-Page Grader, which scans a page of your website and measures your keyword optimization. Moz uses 30 different criteria to calculate where your best optimization is coming from and suggests how to focus on the positive SEO areas of your page. The tool will also perform weekly page audits to make sure you are keeping up with the ongoing process of keyword optimization.

This tool is unfortunately only available for free during a 30-day trial. However, if you are a Moz Pro member, you can enjoy this tool as much as your heart desires.

3. Linkstant

Remember that link building campaign that your started six months ago? What happened with that? We know you don’t have an intern lying around who can answer these questions for you (and if you do, you are one lucky business owner). That’s where Linkstant comes in.

If you have lost track of where your inbound links are coming from and where they aren’t, then Linkstant can wrangle your incoming links in one place. Just create an account and you can get all of your links in order. This tool offer real-time information on what links are performing well and what links are duds. It will allow you to not only be satisfied with the amount of external links you have built, but to have confidence that those links are doing some good for your site’s traffic.

4. GTmetrix

When trying to optimize every little nook and cranny of your website, the simple things can get lost in the SEO shuffle. One of those “little things” is page speed. How fast or slow a page of your site loads can make your bounce rate (the percentage of visitors to your site land on a page, and then the site altogether) skyrocket, driving your traffic into the ground.

Luckily, GTmetrix can offer you an analysis of loading speed on every page of your site and can also offer suggestions on how you can make slow-loading pages faster than ever. Google actually uses page speed in its PageRank algorithm, so it is best to not overlook this on your own website.

 

These tools don’t have all of the bells and whistles that paid tools have, but they get the job done. For those marketers and business owners who have limited time and money, test the tools out before you commit to any paid subscriptions or software. Start with these tools and work your way up if you really want to work with the Internet’s most high-tech SEO robots in the future.