5 SEO tips for maximizing Facebook traffic and visibility

Since 71% of online users have Facebook, a business Facebook page is likely a part of your branding. Just like your website, SEO is just as important as your Facebook is almost a second home page. While social media marketing can be expensive, Facebook SEO is completely free and can easily be improved to benefit yourself and your target audience with these steps:

  1. Effectively brand your name and URL

Choose a good name. This cannot be changed, so be careful and selective when creating your page. The first word is most important by Google’s standards. Keep it simple and concise and avoid stuffing it with keywords. If visitors get a vibe from it being “spammy,” they will either unfollow you or leave your page. Trust the rest of your page to attract your target audience. Additionally, customize your URL. Unlike your name, your URL can be changed to one of vanity once you have at least 100 “likes.” Again, be specific and concise to improve your likeliness to be found. It should be unique to your brand, but still easy to remember.

  1. Complete your entire profile

Ensure that your profile is filled out as much as possible, keeping all information, content, and pictures uniform to your other social media channels and similar to your website. This consistency looks professional and makes both your Facebook and website easier to use. The About Us section is particularly important because it is similar to a meta description. It needs to be short enough to be displayed in a search engine result, but also contain the most important keywords for your target audience to find you. Use keywords strategically, but try not to overuse them with more than six essential keywords.

  1. Include sufficient contact information

By displaying as much contact information as possible, whether it is phone number, address, email, and business hours, Google is able to display your information faster to those who need it. As Google prioritizes local information, your address and location is becoming more important to be available. Think about searching nearby businesses to visit: the ones with the highest accuracy will be more helpful to those searching.

  1. Utilize all new features

Facebook is constantly implementing new features, especially as advertisements continue to grow on this platform. The call-to-action tool allows visitors to easily interact with your page, whether it is signing up, booking, contacting, playing a game, downloading an app, shopping, or watching a video. Messenger, payments, and saved replies are other great features that truly allow your Facebook to be a second homepage for your target audience. Utilize them, and your customer interaction will be greater on top of an already solid SEO.

  1. Post and share strategically

Not only should you make sure the first 18 characters of posts are using specific keywords, also include plenty of links to your website. Google boosts pages with links to relevant websites, thus boosting your Facebook. You can include a raw link your post text, or you can use Facebook’s feature to attach a link. Either can be beneficial, especially depending on if you use images with your posts, which you always should! Search engines love images, especially if your content is unique and relevant.
The most important part of implementing good Facebook practice is not for SEO, but to maximize the user experience. By creating a cohesive brand between platforms, your target audience is more likely to engage with your business. As always, never try to manipulate your SEO. Be honest and get honest results.

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.

3 SEO Podcasts for Your Listening Pleasure

In addition to using blogs to learn more about SEO, podcasts are full of useful information. Podcasts provide news, tips and pointers on different topics and can help make a commute or other downtime more productive. Listening to an SEO podcast could make your SEO more successful, without cutting into your already busy schedule. Here are three great SEO podcast recommendations from the Searchable to get you started.

 

SEO 101

SEO 101 is, as the intro goes, your introductory course on search engine optimization. This podcast eases listeners into the basics of Search Engine Optimization without a lot of the more technical jargon. With over 200 podcasts, SEO 101 has covered a lot of different topics and their backlog probably contains some sort of information on the question you have.

Their recent episode on how to improve local search results gives a good feel for the podcast’s style and feel. Ross Dunn and John Carcutt, the hosts  of the show, discuss Google’s method for determining quality content by taking information from all around the web, finding the best answer, and then breaking it down for listeners.

SEO Rockstars

If you feel you have graduated from 101, you can also check out their sister podcast SEO Rockstars. SEO Rockstars covers topics in a bit more detail and bring in a variety of experts to participate in the conversation. Although this podcast is a bit newer, their backlog still covers quite the variety of topics, including covering many topics more in-depth than SEO 101.

A recommended podcast to listen to, especially for small business owners, is the Small Business SEO value. Here, hosts  Chris Boggs and Frank Watson discuss the importance of owning websites and how to avoid “#SEO lies” in order to get the most value from your SEO efforts..

Edge of the Web

Both Edge of the Web’s podcast and the website in general are an absolute treasure trove of great SEO content. The podcast, a product of Indianapolis based Site Strategics, breaks down different SEO topics with interviews of industry professionals and an open, funny personality.

Site Strategies CEO Erin Sparks, leads a rotating cast of other Site Strategies employees and other experts in a discussion of SEO tactics and other digital content. In a recent podcast, they brought Barry Schwartz onto the show to talk about his experience as an expert in the search engine field.

If you don’t have time to listen to the whole episode, Edge of the Web will post highlights of the podcast on their YouTube page. Another major tool from the website is their Score Your Site tool where the people at Site Strategics will take a look at your website and give you feedback for free!

 

Podcasts can be a valuable tool not only for improving your SEO, but also for all aspects of your business. With over 60,000 podcasts out there, one is bound to help answer some of your questions.

For a quick glossary of terms you may hear on these podcasts, check out our Go-To Glossary for SEO. For current trends in SEO check out our Evaluation of 3 SEO Trends of 2016.

Head Towards Better SEO With Headers

Headers are more than just an exciting soccer move, but actually play a very important role in Search Engine Optimization. Incorporating headers into your website can help improve web traffic and SERP rankings.

The Basics

Headers are a part of a webpage’s architecture that help separate titles from the main text of the page. There are six levels of headers  that start with header 1, or h1, and go all the way down to header 6, h6.  H1s are the most important, usually the title on the page, and are a very broad description of the topic at hand. As the header numbers increase, their text gets more specific, but they also become less important. For example, let us look at the headings for a hypothetical ice cream shop.

 

<h1>Scoops Ice Cream Shop Menu</h1>

<h2>Soft Serve</h2>

<h3>Chocolate</h3>

<h3>Vanilla</h3>

<h4>Toppings</h4>

<h5>Nuts</h5>

<h5>Sprinkles</h5>

<h2>Milkshakes</h2>

<h3>Chocolate</h3>

<h3>Vanilla</h3>

<h3>Strawberry</h3>

 

As you can see, as the header numbers increase, the topic gets more specific, from the menu, to the title of the page, to the type of ice cream, to the ice cream flavors, to the toppings before taking a step back to move onto a different type.  It is important to note that you cannot skip levels in your headings. Jumping from a h1 to an h3 will break the HTML coding. Additionally, every page should have one h1 heading, but only one h1 heading. H1s are the most important heading, but having more than one creates confusion both for customers and search engines.

 

Headers and SEO

So how exactly do headers help optimize your webpage?

Importance

Headers help denote important title text from the rest of the information on the page.  Google’s Hummingbird algorithm uses headers, especially the h1 and h2s, to determine pertinent information on the page and help put relevant sites on their result page. Looking back at our example from earlier, the ice cream shop would rank well for “local soft serve”, a h2, but be ignored for “local sprinkles”, a h5.

Organization

Organization, both for you and the visitors of your web page, is another benefit of headers. Headers help to provide structure for the pages, as well as keep them organized. Pages look better and can make content easier for users to find.

Consistency

Search engine algorithms compare headers against the body text of a page when determining what to put on a results page. Headers that match the body text get ranked higher, while mismatched headers and text will fall in the rankings.

 

Pitfalls of Headers

While headers are an easy thing to start with when optimizing your website, there are a few things to avoid.

Too Many or Too Few h1s

Each page should have one h1 heading, but only one h1 header. The h1 header is a vital part of the page layout and SEO, but multiple h1s usually confuse both readers and algorithms.

Spamming Text into Headers

Headers are important in identifying keywords and other important information on a page. However, tons of headers or headers with paragraphs of text are viewed as spam by some algorithms and hurt your search engine standings.

Hiding Text

One older method of getting higher rankings on search engines was to put keywords unrelated to your product in headers on your page, but coloring them the same as your background. This prevented everyone but the search engine algorithms from seeing the text and would cause irrelevant pages to pop up on SERPs. Now this practice is considered unethical and your page will be penalized.

 

Although they do not have the biggest impact on your SEO,  headers are an important part of your optimization process and an easy way to score some goals early on.
For more basic SEO, check out our Basics of the Basics article. For more pitfalls to look out for as you begin your journey, check out our 5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Beginning Your SEO Journey.

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!

Rock the Moz Bar

Here at Searchable, we have already talked about Moz a number of times, including their blog and their On-Page Grader. Today we are going to take a look at the Moz SEO Toolbar, an in-browser extension for Chrome and Firefox that lets you track SEO while browsing the web. While there are some upgraded features available with Moz Pro, we will be focusing on getting the most out of the free tools in the Moz SEO Toolbar.

The Basics

Being an in-browser tool, the Moz SEO Toolbar is always there to provide background information on your webpage or what makes a competitor’s website rank so high. The toolbar has two main features, the SERP overlay and the web page analysis.

SERP Overlay

The SERP overlay is a feature that helps explain why different web pages rank so highly on Google, Bing or Yahoo search. In this overlay, each result is shown with their page and domain authority scores. Page authority serves as an indicator of how strong the individual page is, while domain authority shows the strength of the website as a whole. For example, let us say you want to start a boutique cat clothing store. The Google SERP if you search the term “cats” looks like this:

Cats Search Engine Result Page
Each of the top 3 posts have mid-range page authority ranking and 100 domain authority. It would be very hard to break into this SERP.

On the other hand, if you search cat boutique, this is what the SERP looks like:

Cat Boutique Results Page
These pages have a much lower page and domain authority score on average. As a result, ranking high on the cat boutique SERP would be a much more attainable goal and something that would take a lot less time and effort.

Web Page Analysis

In addition to the SERP overlay, the MOZ toolbar also lets you gain insight into the what ranks certain pages so highly. Keeping with the cat boutique example, we can look at the top ranking result when you search for cat boutique.

Hemmingway Web Analysis

Hemingway’s has low page and domain authority, but a low spam score and decent Facebook activity. The low authority rankings mean the page does not have that much clout and is susceptible to being passed on the SERP. However, the low spam score means search engines are not penalizing the page for Black Hat SEO, and the Facebook activity shows the company is active on social media.

The two tools on the left of the toolbar help dig a little bit deeper into the page. The Magnifying glass over the web page is the page analysis tool. This tool pulls up information about a website that is important for SEO, such as headers and meta descriptions.

Page Analysis Tool

The other tool is the highlighter tool, which highlights links on the page.

Link Highlighter

In addition to looking into competitors, the web page analysis feature can also be used on your own web page. When used on your site, this tool can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses or point out holes in your website’s SEO.

As pointed out earlier in this article, and as can be seen throughout the images, there is a full version of this toolbar. The full version will give you access to more metrics and analytics and can be tried out for 30 days free of charge. The free version of the Moz toolbar should be more than enough to get you started on your SEO journey.

For the Chrome version of the Moz Toolbar click here. For the Firefox version, click here. For more posts about free SEO analytics tools, read Ana’s article on 4 Free SEO Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed.