Domain Authority: What It Is & How You Can Boost It
For business owners who are (and should be) constantly working to boost SEO (search engine optimization), understanding Google ranking factors is key. In fact, domain authority is one factor among 200 which Google uses to calculate domain ranking scores.
Every business owner prays for high Google rank and FREE (organic) website traffic. However, many assume that by increasing website authority, automatic boosts in both Google ranking and organic website traffic will be the natural result. While it’s absolutely true that beefing up your website authority is advantageous, you also need to focus on getting those coveted high-quality backlinks from strong, authoritative websites.
In short, domain authority is a ranking metric. This metric predicts how your company website might rank on SERPs (search engine results pages). The ranking score ranges from 1 to 100 and the higher your website’s score, the better you can expect it to perform in search engine page results. The authority of your domain speaks to its relevance to a given topic, however it is not synonymous with page authority which entails on the ranking of specific pages and not an entire domain.
Digging even deeper, domain authority measures the potency of a website’s backlink profile in comparison to all the other websites in their index. All major SEO tools use this metric, however the difference lies in the name and method by which it is calculated. For example, the Domain Rating website authority metric runs on a logarithmic scale from 0-100. Logarithmic simply means there is a greater challenge in going from DR 69-70 than 9-10. If you are still confused, let’s approach this as if we are talking about a computer game. Let’s say that you started the game with a status of “good” and, after a couple of hours, reached a status of “great”. However, obtaining an “outstanding” status is going to take you several months of hard work and dedication. Even then, there are no guarantees of ever reaching this highly sought after status.
You should also understand that the logarithmic scale means that a website that has a DR 20 rating holds more than twice the authoritative status as a website with a DR 10 rating.
Factors for calculating domain rating:
- Number of referring domains: the number of websites which link to a website or specific page. It’s important to note that a higher number to referring domains is not necessarily synonymous with a higher domain rating because only ‘followed links’ are taken into account when it comes to domain rating calculations. Domain rating isn’t improved with UGC links, nofollow attributes and sponsored links nor can subsequent links from the same website boost your domain rating because backlinks aren’t taken into account. Only referring domains factor into the calculation.
- Domain rating scores for linking sites must be factored into your domain rating calculation because anyone can obtain endless low-quality website links. At the end of the day, it’s all about quality over quantity because backlinks with low domain rating scores aren’t going to increase your own domain rating like backlinks from sites with high domain rating scores will. In other words, you want backlinks from sites who have continually increasing domain ratings in order to increase your own domain rating score. It’s best to think long term from the standpoint that if you build a link today from a DR 15 site whose owner works equally as hard as you have to guild authoritative links long term, then it stands to reason that that same link could eventually be from a DR 40 site at some point down the road. In other words, if you only ever built on that one link, it would be logical to expect your domain rating score to increase over an extended period of time. If you find sites with low domain rating scores, but they have a great deal of potential, then it could pay off in the long run to build links from those sites. You just need to verify that potential by checking their content for high-quality material and check their link growth. Consult your local SEO Jacksonville expert regarding this process. The referring graphs domain will reveal the potential of the stie. If the graph slopes upward, you have a solid indication that their domain rating score is on the uptick and will spike over time.
- Referring domains each have a number of sites to which they link. For example, if you build a ‘followed’ link from Guardians of the Galaxy and another one from Space Monsters and both have the exact same domain rating score, how would you know which one would contribute most to boosting your own domain rating? It really all depends upon how many sites each one links to with a minimum of one followed link. In other words, the more inimitable the sites to which a website links, the less domain rating value it is able to pass. It’s best to check the Linked Domains report using the filter ‘followed’ links. For example, Guardians of the Galaxy links to nearly fifty times more websites than Space Monsters. Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t going to improve your website domain rating, but Space Monsters certainly will. It’s important to note that there are a number of factors which go into determining a solid backlink. Not all links from Space Monsters carry more authority than links from Guardians of the Galaxy.
Increasing Domain Rating:
You can easily increase your website’s domain rating by building more ‘followed links’ to your site as long as sites from which you obtain those links don’t have lower domain rating scores and as long as they aren’t already linked out to a ton of websites. If your domain authority is ranking between 20 and 30, it will be much easier to improve than if it ranks between 70 and 80. Let’s break down the numbers and what they mean:
- Below 30 = bad.
- 30 to 40 = less than average.
- 40 to 50 = keeping your head above water.
- 50 to 60 i= okay.
- 60 to 70 = pretty good.
- Above 80 = you’re rocking it.
Try to avoid building links to random pages as this process isn’t going to work favorably to boost your domain rating score nor will it actively beef up your organic traffic. In other words, your primary goal should be to link build specifically to pages that you would like to rank higher on Google. When your focus is solely on increasing your domain rating score, your organic traffic will suffer. Organic traffic is more closely associated with the number of referring domains to a specific page and not so much with the domain rating score of a particular website.
Building links to a page you’d like to rank in Google:
Quality is key. People don’t want to link to subpar content. You need to ensure your content is noncommercial, helpful and has an established history of getting backlinks. It’s tough to get links to content that is solely about money making. Focus on creating helpful blog posts or a utility such as a calculator or another type of free tool. Furthermore, incorporating stats that can easily be referenced by other bloggers all fall under the category of “helpful” and are known to attract backlinks from over 800 referring domains.
NOTE: It’s crucial that when you are searching Google for the topic related to your content focus that you check out the number of referring domains to pages with a top-ranking status because the higher the number of links, the better!
Selecting a solid topic:
Check out seed keywords on Keywords Explorer by checking the “all keywords” report. This report will reveal keyword suggestions according to the seed.
You can then build a comma separated list with words such as why, how, who, what, guide, stats, etc. to add to the “include” filter. Make sure to then check the “any word” toggle which will ensure topics with higher citability and utility are filtered. You should also filter for keywords which have a higher score for Keyword Difficulty. For example, anything over 40 should yield topics which have a good track record for getting links. Pages which have a high Keyword Difficulty score will have tons of backlinks because that score is based on the average number of linking websites to high scoring results. You can then create content in line with search intent once you’ve found a relevant topic in the results.
Stay authoritatively relevant. People need to know your content exists in order to link to it. You’re going to have to spread the word and start contacting relevant people: people featured in your post, those who’ve authored content regarding similar topics and those who’ve linked to content regarding similar topics. Remember: internal linking improves important page authority.
Be sure you are always working to build high-quality links from websites which are authoritative and relevant to the pages you want to rank because your domain rating will naturally soar based on this practice.
If you’re looking to improve your domain rating, contact Marlin Consulting Solutions today. We can assist you boost your domain authority and reach your dream domain ranking.
What You Need to Know About HTTP vs. HTTPS
Consumers spend nearly one million dollars online every sixty seconds, vulnerably entrusting their personal and financial info into the hands of business owners. While this is obviously great for the bottom line, attackers are becoming increasingly skilled at getting a hold of sensitive login and payment info such as credit card and bank account numbers. These annoying hackers don’t discriminate and will go anywhere regardless of the type of business or location. All they need is an untrusted router or IPS. This means that all public WiFi networks can be vulnerable to security threats. You need to know for certain that your website isn’t going to be one of them.
What is HTTP & HTTPS?
There are protocols for the transfer of sensitive info to the internet and this is where HTTPS and HTTP come into play:
HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol.
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.
HTTPS encrypts HTTP requests and responses, ensuring that hackers do not see specific payment info. Instead, they see random, nonsensical characters. Basically, it’s like shipping off your household documents in a fireproof, indestructible lockbox with a secure combination. Only you and the recipient would know the combination. If the box were to fall into the wrong hands, your documents would be secure. The “wrong hands” wouldn’t have the combination.
What you should know is that multiple things occur during the formation of a HTTPS connection, but the most important thing to note is that HTTPS relies on Transfer Layer Security (TLS) encryption in order to secure connections.
Now, a lot of things happen when a HTTPS connection is formed. Mainly, HTTPS relies on TLS (Transfer Layer Security) encryption to secure the connections.
Let’s talk about TLS Certificates:
TLS (also known as SSL or SSL/TLS) certificates are a type of digital certificate issued by a Certificate Authority (CA). Installing a TLS certificate on your server is the only way to enable HTTPS protection on your company website.
The CA acts as a trusted third-party in the relationship between server and client. While TLS certificates can be issued by almost anyone, browsers only support publicly trusted CA’s. It’s easy to check website TLS certificates by clicking on the lock icon in the browser’s address bar. You will also be able to see the issuing CA and you can easily click through the certificate to review info such as the “issued to:” line. There are various types of validation protocol for TLS certs which determine whether the certificate will be free or paid.
- FREE TLS CERTS only do domain validation and they come with your hosting and CDN plan. A CDN is a network of servers linked together with the goal of delivering content as quickly, cheaply, reliably, and securely as possible.
While basic domain validation is great for websites and blogs that don’t utilize consumer personal and payment data, you’re going to need more than the basics for your business website.
- DV TLS CERTS give the appearance of security, but have no “Issued to:” line on their icon. “Let’s Encrypt”, a non-profit CA, issues the most common DV TLS cert which is used by most companies who offer automatically renewable, free TLS certs. DV-only certificates are the only TLS certificates issued at scale automatically.
- Organization Validation (OV) & Extended Validation (EV): It’s likely that your website collects sensitive payment info, so EV might be the better solution as its verification process is more rigorous. EV runs about the same price as OV and it is considered to be more trustworthy.
- Wildcard & SAN TLS certs are fabulous multitaskers as they secure numerous (sub)domains simultaneously and side step the need to purchase more than one TLS cert in order to perform multiple functions. EV TLS, for example, would be great for mcs.com, however an additional cert would be necessary for blog.mcs.com.
Wildcard certs also multitask in securing innumerable subdomains. SAN certs can also secure multiple domains.
HTTPS strengthens SEO
HTTPS beefs up your website’s privacy, security and SEO goals via:
- Verifying that the website is the correct one on the server.
- Mitigating third party tampering.
- Ensuring greater security for consumers.
- Communication/URL encryption.
- Personal data protection (browsing history, credit card info, etc.).
- Preservation of referral data.
- Lightweight ranking signal.
- Enhances security and site speed.
Furthermore, there is a strong theory which suggests that HTTPS has the potential to improve website dwell (a strong ranking factor). Also, bear in mind that if your company website is on HTTP and you are relying on Google Analytics, for example, for website analytics, referral data will NOT be passed from HTTPS to HTTP pages. Most of the web runs on HTTPS which is how most clicks on links from other websites (your referral traffic) is sourced.
HTTPS also utilizes modern protocols (such as TLS 1.3 and HTTP/2), enhancing your website’s overall speed and security. This might not make sense as HTTPS can appear slower than HTTP on paper due to the multiple added security layers, BUT it is a prerequisite for the utilization of modern security measures and up-to-the-minute performance technology. Staying current is crucial as Google views page speed as a lightweight ranking factor.
The Setup Process:
- Start with HTTPS at the onset. This will avoid migration errors and you won’t need to worry about HTTP. Your hosting provider or WordPress maintenance services Jacksonville can easily guide you through the necessary steps in support of the most current HTTP and TLS protocol version. The final step: implement HSTS.
- If your website is already HTTPS enabled, ask your hosting provider to guide you through the process of checking for common errors. You probably aren’t set up correctly.
- If your website is still running HTTP, the difficulty of migration will depend on some variables: website size/complexity, type of CMS, hosting provider and technical abilities.
While you might be capable of doing the migration yourself, here are some things you should take into consideration:
Review your CMS/server/hosting documentation and cautiously proceed. You’re going to need to take your time as there are multiple steps which must be executed on the migration checklist. This process could take a TON of time to complete and there’s no guarantee that you will be able to perform it correctly. Consult WordPress maintenance services Jacksonville in order to ensure a future-proof implementation and your sanity!
Sidestepping HTTPS migration mistakes:
Even if you could complete the entire HTTPS migration checklist, you’d probably still come across some errors. Here’s the deal:
In 2016, 10,000 top-ranking domains were found to have the following HTTPS mistakes:
- Sub-optimal HTTPS on 90.9% of domains.
- 65.39% of domains did not have HTTPS working as it should.
- Temporary 302 redirects on 23.01% of domains rather than permanent 301s.
It was pretty gruesome. You’d be wise to check for the most common migration mistakes:
- Are all of your website pages on HTTPS? Crawl your website thoroughly in order to find leftover HTTP pages (review your migration checklist). Ensure your crawler is up-to-date with all the required URL sources. You don’t want to leave any of those pages unchecked, however, be sure to note that pages which are not included in your sitemap which have zero links pointing to them won’t be discovered via crawling. Unfortunately, this happens with dedicated PPC landing pages quite frequently. You can export the URL list from FB Business Manager. Google Ads is another ad manager from which you could export a URL list. Next, ensure proper migration of orphaned pages and update to the newer HTTPS format in your campaign dashboard.
- Do you have HTTPS pages with HTTP content? A common mistake which occurs when the original HTML file uses HTTPS while loading BEFORE a resource file was updated to HTTPS. This particular issue is manifest in crawling and internal pages reports.
- Are your internal links updated to HTTPS? Unnecessary redirects occur when internal links to HTTPS are not updated, so be sure to update, update, update!
- Are your tags updated to HTTPS? Canonical and Open Graph tags and URLs need to be updated to HTTPS. Canonical tags inform Google regarding the most authoritative pages among a collection of duplicate (or similar) pages. Open Graph tags are used to optimize social media posts, some of which require URL tags. The easiest way to find pages with HTTP canonical and OG tags: set up a custom filter in Page Explorer and rewrite to https:// once migration is completed.
- Do you have failed redirects? A simple site audit will allow you to spot failed redirects. Just review the report and correct the issues. Upon clicking on “View affected URLs,” you’ll see a full report with default columns and metrics, allowing you to get a detailed breakdown of all the affected URLs.
Split up the redirects, but strive for the least number of redirects.
Review the number of inlinks (URLs that link to the URL affected by the redirect chain). Exchange the links on those pages for URLs that return a 200 HTTP status code and click through the number of inlinks to review all of them. Be sure to check the redirect chain URL inlinks as they will be tagged “standard 301 redirects” in the 3XX Redirects report when performing subsequent crawling.
Between 88-99% of Chrome browsing time is spent on HTTPS websites which means that the majority of high-traffic websites use HTTPS. While there is still much to be desired regarding TLS support quality, the migration process isn’t the “be all, end all” of HTTPS setup. Consumers will benefit from your efforts to “keep up with the Joneses” when it comes to trends in web performance and security. They will appreciate your implementation of up-to-the-minute features as manifest evidenced in your company’s bottom line.
Create a Custom 404 Error Page
There aren’t words sufficient for expressing the frustration of a consumer who experiences a 404 error message when visiting your business website.
A 404 not found error is an HTTP status code that means that the page you wanted to access couldn’t be found on their server. 404 errors are bad for business because:
- They drive consumers away from your website.
- They hurt your bounce rate.
- They cost you money.
Broken links are the cause of 404 errors. When webpages are renamed or moved and the internal link remains unchanged, a broken link is the result. If a web page has been permanently deleted, the page address changed or if there is a lack of proper navigation, broken links occur which generate a 404 error message.
When there is no custom page setup, the error can be quite generic and off-putting; the easiest way to lose potential customers. When consumers encounter 404 errors on your website, it decreases the amount of trust they have in your brand. These errors alert them that something is broken and, for whatever reason, you haven’t fixed it. This begs the question: What else has this company not addressed?
Customizing a simple 404 error page on your website has multiple benefits:
- Reassurance – A custom 404 error page provides reassurance to your consumers. They can clearly see that an error has occurred, but the page reassures them that it’s not their problem. A good 404 error page will offer links to resolve the problem and also a search box.
- Consistency – With the use of a custom 404 error page, your brand can be consistent with how your website is represented. Generic 404 pages are unbranded and can present a jarring experience to your visitors.
- Reduces bounce rate – When your visitors see a custom 404 error page, they’re more likely to stay on your website as they’ve been presented with alternative actions they can take. The custom error page helps to encourage them to stay put, rather than clicking back to the search engines.
- Customizable – One option that isn’t always considered is to turn the custom 404 error page into an opportunity for conversions. For example, you could add a special offer or a CTA that takes your visitors through to a lead magnet. These could be updated on a regular basis.
- Shareable – Creating a memorable custom 404 error page affords you the opportunity for brand recognition outside of your own website. By injecting a little humor or self deprecation, an amused visitor may share your brand on social media with their followers. Clorox does a great job of turning an otherwise frustrating error message into clever, memorable entertainment.
You likely never considered a 404 error message to be a deal breaker, however your consumers sure do! All the website traffic you could lose over a dreaded 404 equals profit loss for your business. In addition to the direct impact of those lost visitors to your business, the indirect damage can be even more devastating! Take the time to customize a simple, clever 404 error message and reap the benefits!
How to Create the Best FAQ Page
Having a solid FAQ page on your business website is an absolute must! In fact, you really should have numerous FAQs relating to various services or products you offer.
Your FAQ pages:
- Streamlines customer service.
- Leads to happier customer experiences with your business website.
- Saves consumers time and eliminates unnecessary frustration.
- Prevents your customers from needing to contact you for simple answers.
- Reflects your personality.
- Improves SEO.
- Helps you build brand trust with your target audience.
As a business owner, you already know it’s important to put your best foot forward every chance you get. The same principle applies to establishing your FAQ page. You want to follow best practices in order to deliver the most value to your treasured customers. Unfortunately, a bad FAQ page can turn a customer away fast and at the most crucial point: when they are most curious to learn more about your products and services.
Here’s how you can ensure that your FAQ page is outstanding and one from which your consumers will gain value:
- Find your most commonly asked questions. First things first! You’ll want to know what your most frequently asked questions are before you can create your page. Where do your customers communicate with you? If you have a ticket system in place, you can easily access a wealth of data there. If your customers reach out through email or direct messaging, you can identify the most commonly raised questions which you respond to the most.
- Write your answers. Once you’ve identified your main questions, it’s time to create content and answer these questions. Be concise, yet offer informative answers. Your customers don’t want to be overwhelmed by copious amounts of text, wading through endless paragraphs for simple answers. Try to answer each question in a simple, clear way that your customer can easily and quickly absorb.
- Use categories. Splitting your questions up into categories makes it easier for consumers to find the answers they’re looking for. Think about which questions could be grouped into which category. For example, if you offer a subscription based product, you could group questions about billing and refunds under one category.
- Always keep your page updated. A big mistake that a lot of businesses make is allowing their FAQ page to become stagnant. In reality, customer questions change a lot, depending on their needs. It may be that you offer a new product or service or your target audience has changed. Your FAQ page needs to reflect those changes. Make sure to keep it updated with the latest questions.
Remember, the main goal of your FAQ page is to provide information on frequent questions or concerns. If the format is organized, providing useful information, you have another successful avenue by which to add value to the lives of your customers. You will find that your brand credibility is strengthened as you continue to build trust with your valuable customers. Your bottom line will thank you!
Choosing the Right Email Host for Your Business
Your email is a core tool for your business and it needs to be professional in order to consistently present the best image of your brand to your customers. For most business owners, their first venture into having a business email address is either a free or cheap email account purchased through a web host. While this might be acceptable as a short-term starter solution, free email addresses can be a serious red flag for consumers who feel it lacks credibility. In other words, you get what you pay for and free email is not good business.
When people see an email account that is from a free service, they may assume that you are reluctant to spend money, therefore the products and services that you offer may not be of the highest quality. Consumer perceptions are critical to the success of your business. Having a free email address may make those who are considering doing business with you think twice before they enter into a relationship with you. An easy remedy: register your business domain name in order to have a professional business email address. Businesses with professional email addresses are viewed as more established businesses. You might be surprised at how this simple, inexpensive step can easily open up a large amount of new business opportunities for you and your business.
No domain? No business investment.
Registering your domain name is very inexpensive. Failure to register your domain will likely be viewed as a direct lack of investment into your business. Customers may wonder where else you’ve cut costs (a.k.a. corners). This feeds into the perception that your products or services are of inferior quality.
Are you here to stay?
If you aren’t investing in one of the most inexpensive purchases a business can make, consumers will begin to question whether your business is here to stay. Customers need to be able to trust that you will always work with their best interests in mind. A professional email address reflects your willingness to invest consumers’ hard-earned money reassuring them that your brand is trustworthy and that you plan to stick around for a very long time. Having a legitimate business email address and email system is evidence of your willingness to invest in your business for the betterment of consumer experiences with your brand.
‘Free’ means ‘No technical support’.
I don’t know who you plan to call when your free email service goes out of commission because I can guarantee you that no one’s answering the phone over at Yahoo. With a true email hosting service, you will very often get technical support (you certainly would with us). In the event that your email service stops working at that critical time, you will be able to get the help you need. AND, let’s face it: any time is a critical time because communication is a top priority in any business.
It’s not for a business.
Although a free email address might be enough for your business now, it will definitely not be a good option as you continue to grow. Free email services offer a consumer-grade set of products and so the clever features offered in a business-standard email platform are immediately missed out on. Your business services need to be able to scale actively with your business successes. You don’t need the stress or potential downtime of having to change email services when you get busy. You won’t have time for that!
You are missing out!
Using your domain name in your email address is similar to how product placement is used in the movies to get people to remember that product looooong after the movie is over.
When you use your business domain name in your email communications, you are continually presenting your company name over and over again. It’s like free marketing. Failure to take this opportunity to market your own business is the same as putting a sign up for somebody else’s business over your front door. In other words, you are advertising for Gmail and not your own business. Google thanks you, but your customers won’t.
If your email has your domain name in the email address, you are cementing the name of your company into your potential customer’s mind. Do this over and over again and the customer will remember your company before any other company when they are about to buy your products or services.
Custom domain – cheap billboard.
Hosting your email separately from your web host is definitely worth considering because you can ensure that your website’s disk space doesn’t run too low. You want to make sure you have plenty of space for website content and, quite frankly, your business email shouldn’t be a “bonus feature” of your web hosting. When your emails and hosting are in the same location,you risk losing temporary access to everything if there is a problem with the server or the data center. Fortunately, there are a number of budget-friendly options:
- Google Workspace – One of the two best options for most businesses with excellent deliverability rates and access to a whole suite of tools.
- Office 365 – A great option with access to the Microsoft Office software that you probably already use.
- Zoho Mail – They have a very cheap starter plan that is good for conservative budgets and there are additional reasonably priced options available.
- Rackspace – Offers affordable, per user email plans.
- Namecheap – Affordable plans with good options, especially if your domain is already registered with them.
It’s worth spending a small amount of money so that you can register your domain, representing your brand to consumers as credible and trustworthy. In addition, is anything in life truly free? I think not, but the general cost associated with a business email system is significantly less than the cost of a customer facing issues such as deliverability or customer service problems. Customer relationships need to last for a very, very long time. An investment in your business email system shows consumers that you will be around for a long time.
6 Signs Your Website Might Be Outdated
There’s nothing worse than realizing your website is a little out of date and needs some care. It’s like hearing a rattling sound in your car when you’re driving on the highway. You know something needs to be done, but you worry about the cost.
Stop worrying! Let’s chat about six signs that your website might be outdated and in need of a tune up. Whether simply freshening up some old content or embarking on a complete makeover, we’ll get through it together! Here are some points we should consider:
- Is your content outdated? Review your website content to ensure it is in keeping with the current products and services offered by your brand. Have you posted recently or has it been a few months? Fresh content is crucial to a thriving business website. Consumers want the skinny on EVERYTHING! They like to be in the know. Clicking through old, outdated content is the fastest way to send customers on their way straight to your competition. Make it a point to post on a regular basis and keep a calendar of when you will post and the content you have posted. Even older content can be refreshed if it is still relevant. If you’re selling marshmallows, you need to take down your post about alligator infestation in Jacksonville. It just isn’t relevant to your product no matter how much you try to revive it!
- Are you noticing a decrease in leads and sales? Maybe you’re not receiving as many calls or emails from potential customers as you have in the past. Perhaps your leads have all dried up. You might still be getting SOME sales, but your numbers are way down compared to previous months/years. All of this is indicative of a stale website.
- Are you noticing a decline in the amount of traffic to your business website? Fewer visitors means less opportunities for you to show a potential customer that you’re a good fit for them. It also means that you are getting less FREE word-of-mouth advertising. One thing every good business owner understands is that consumer word-of-mouth advertising is POWERFUL and much more potent than any form of paid advertising. You need more and more visitors to frequent your website, creating a buzz that everyone will want to talk about. Plus, don’t forget the whole “in-the-know” factor! If a customer feels they’ve learned new information FIRST, they will be only too eager to blab it to anyone and everyone and that’s good news for you. It’s your job to make sure they have something good to blab about.
- Is your website running slow? – There is nothing more frustrating for consumers than slow loading websites. Remember, we are living in a “gotta have it right now” era and if your website isn’t loading in two seconds or less, you’re guaranteed to lose traffic. Five seconds is too long for a potential customer to stare at a blank screen. Plus, it makes you look like you’re not in all that big of a hurry to serve them. Patience is not typically one of the qualities you’ll find in today’s consumers. I’ll say it again: your website should be loading in 2 seconds or less.
- Noticing a spike in negative reviews and feedback? If you’re receiving more bad reviews from your customers, you really need to tune in and pay attention to what they’re saying. Are they having issues with your website or did they feel misled by something on the website that wasn’t a reality after they made a purchase from you? Have you received any feedback about your website not performing as a visitor hoped? Furthermore, are you even responding to the negative feedback?
Here’s the deal: good business owners respond to ALL feedback, positive AND negative. Ignoring any type of feedback whatsoever communicates that you really don’t care what your customers think. You’re not in business for them. You’re in it totally for yourself. This is not the way to win friends and influence people. Address negative feedback with POSITIVE responses which are courteous, caring and offer a solution to the consumer’s complaint. Show them that you are willing to work to gain their trust and you might be surprised at how impressed they become with your understanding responses.
- Does your website offer customers a poor user experience? User experience is EVERYTHING when it comes to a great business website. When was the last time you sat down and tested your website across all platforms through the eyes of a customer? Make sure to test your website on a regular basis to ensure it is easy to find the information needed in order to make a purchase decision. Also, make sure you test it across all platforms. Especially mobile devices such as a smartphone or IPad because three out of every four dollars spent on online purchases today is done so through a mobile device. If you find any issues, these are things you need to look at resolving yesterday.
Feeling overwhelmed? The best thing to do is to start with one aspect which needs to be addressed. Make a list of issues in order of importance and knock them out one by one. Better yet, give us a call!
Best Word Press SEO Plugins for Your Website
In today’s world, it is absolutely paramount that business owners have the right tools and implement the best strategies in order to make their business websites attractive to Google. As a business owner, you want your company website to rank high in Google search engine results.
Choose the right SEO plugin.
WordPress SEO plugins are the bomb! They have the ability to:
- Affect page loading speed and overall performance.
- Boost SEO.
- Augment your business website’s security.
- Bring up backlink information, important stats and keyword rankings.
- Improve your business website’s rankings in search engine results.
- Fix broken links.
- Conduct comprehensive SEO audits.
- Help you find authoritative posts and pages.
- Reorganize your company website’s structure.
- Effectively optimize your company website.
- Keep you ahead of the competition.
- Increase brand visibility.
A reliable hosting service for your WordPress site is a great way to earn SEO ranking and beef up your website’s speed, however it’s only the beginning. In fact, 75% of consumers who search using Google admit to never clicking beyond the first page of search engine results. This is why your website optimization (in collaboration with smart keywords, knowledge of search intent, content readability and image files sizing) is a MUST. It’s the only way to earn traffic that is organic (free) and relevant, which will boost your conversion rate. Furthermore, a solid SEO plugin will help speed up your optimization tasks more efficiently (sometimes automatically), freeing you up to strategize with your marketing team in order to stay on top of the latest SEO data and quickly employ strategic, results-based plans in order to boost productivity. The benefits are truly endless.
Obviously, when it comes to optimization, a good SEO plugin makes all the difference, BUT… How on earth do you tell the good from the bad?
Good WordPress SEO Plugins:
- Yoast SEO is user-friendly, especially for beginners, and offers:
- Page Optimization which allows you to easily manage page titles, URLs and meta descriptions. You can easily create an optimized, customized web page title via the user interface along with an SEO-friendly URL and unique meta description. You can then review your SEO report which will allow you to improve blog post optimization. In addition, you can easily switch on the robot tags or turn them off. This function allows you to manage your web page’s “discoverability”.
- The Robots.txt file communicates with search engines in regards to which pages are crawlable. The Yoast SEO plugin allows you to change your robots.txt via the user interface which is a time saver. There is no need to install, modify and upload the robots.txt file with each and every change, plus the file is protected from accidental overwrites resulting from system updates.
- Google Search Console allows you to authenticate your company’s website by copying and pasting an HTML code into the Yoast user interface. This is a huge benefit as it allows you to capture powerful SEO data. It is also further code protection against accidental overwrites when it is added through the plugin. Yet another time saver as you won’t need to re-add the code post site-code modification. Frankly, web developers and SEO specialists are experts at carefully handling theme modifications and WordPress updates, but I digress.
- Sitemaps are crucial for SEO as they provide search engines with lists of pages to crawl on your business website. Yoast’s auto generated XML sitemap automatically updates as you post new content to your website. You can improve search engine accessibility to certain website sections via the user interface through the XML sitemap.
- The free Redirection Plugin from WordPress’ plugin repository is fabulous for managing redirects and preventing your users from getting 404 error messages. These are easily managed via the user interface in your WordPress dashboard. The plugin is updated regularly, is secure and is also user-friendly, aiding you in reporting errors on alternate servers (broken links, 404 errors) with info entailing the way in which the error was accessed.
- The WP Internal Link Juicer plugin works specifically to help optimize your company website’s internal link structure, automatically linking phrases and keywords from your posts and comments to relevant blog posts, pages, tags and categories. This plugin avoids fraudulent SEO practices while creating internal links.
- MonsterInsights helps you track your business website’s analytics and performance, is user-friendly and sends Google Analytics data straight to your dashboard. This is great for measuring customer engagement on your website as well as understanding how consumers search for you. You are able to monitor frequently visited pages via the content reporting feature. MonsterInsights is a simpler alternative to the more complicated Google Analytics as it streamlines the gathering and interpretation of data. You’ll never need to login to your Google Analytics account
- Improve your company’s web page speed with the WP Super Cache plugin which allows you to test loading speed across several of your company website pages. You can then leverage Pingdom tools or GTMetrix. Simply turn on the caching features after you install the plugin.
- Really Simple SSL streamlines the process of hard coding the HTACCESS file configuration for the domain-recognized setup of an SSL address in WordPress. If this is Greek to you, it’s because this is a complicated task best left to experts in search engine optimization Jacksonville. In layman’s terms, simply download Really Simple SSL, ensure your website domain’s HTTPS version is the default address and the plugin will do the rest. It will also make sure SSL encryption and encryption protocols are automatically updated in order to protect against cyberattacks.
- Rank Math also aids in website content optimization, offering real-time content insights via your WordPress dashboard. Snippet previews allow for easy optimization of titles and meta descriptions, reducing the amount of SERP display errors on search engines. This plugin is optimized for better speed and now has IndexNow integration resulting in quick alerts to search engines regarding changes to deleted or new content, redirects and much more. No need to wait for weeks on end for Google to crawl your content.
- Easy Table of Contents enhances user experience which boosts your SEO. This plugin presents a table of contents for users who wish to jump to key content. In addition, an HTML table is automatically added to your business website’s posts and pages, generating internal hyperlinks within each page. Auto generated links are an added perk as they are based specifically on page content headings. Your table style can be easily configured within the dashboard settings.
- Weglot offers the most accurate translations to date. Translation is a huge component of SEO as Google considers grammar and copy to be major ranking factors. Unless you employ interpreters in every language, you need this translation plugin which will reflect the way languages are spoken in order to properly articulate your brand’s story and what you offer.
Bad WordPress SEO Plugins:
Unfortunately, there are harmful WordPress SEO plugins. While the good ones help boost your company website’s ranking and visibility, there is a risk with any plugin authorized to access your business website:
- Exploitable vulnerabilities.
- Unsupported or outdated.
- Incompatibility with existing site code or plugins.
- Lack of adequate testing.
- Scam related.
Always ask your search engine optimization Jacksonville based expert to review the plugins in which you are interested prior to installation. Be sure you select a WordPress plugin which automatically backs up your business website while simultaneously guarding it with the correct SSL protection. There are many free WordPress plugins which can accomplish this for you. Add reputable WordPress SEO plugins to your website, properly configure them and enjoy the benefits of improved URL and content accessibility. Your organic traffic is bound to increase and your business website’s SEO rankings are bound to soar very quickly!
How to Optimize Images for Web
What is Image Optimization?
Unfortunately, large images equal large files which take up valuable space on your server. Large images also create poor user experiences on your business website for your consumers. Image optimization is the concept of shrinking the size of a file without compromising its quality using script or a plugin. This process speeds up your website’s load time. Images are optimized via one of two methods:
- Via lazy loading on your company website (also known as on-demand loading) in order to display media on said website.
- Images can also be optimized utilizing Photoshop’s “export” options during your company website creation phase.
The Benefits of Image Optimization:
Simply put, consumers have extremely short attention spans, especially when it comes to online shopping. Your website MUST load in two or less seconds and failure to optimize your images could cause serious drag time. It doesn’t matter how impressive your server might be. You can still fail to perform at top speed without proper image optimization. Furthermore, images make up an average of 21% of your web page’s total weight. This means image optimization should take precedence far above fonts and scripts. Image Optimization is crucial as it:
- Eliminates unnecessary data downloads and wait times for your website users.
- Grants your customers the content they seek at a much faster rate.
- Breaks up monotonous paragraphs and texts.
- Adds visual appeal.
- Enhances and eases the type of experience your customers will have when visiting your cyber storefront.
- Improves SEO when combined with a great SEO WordPress plugin.
- Helps your website rank higher in search engine results.
- Helps Google index and crawl your images faster for Google image search.
- Hastens backups.
- Decreases bandwidth usage.
- Frees up server storage space.
The bottom line is that your website’s images are a high dollar asset on the world wide web. That being said, your strengths can also be your weaknesses. While awesome graphics and images offer countless benefits, they can cost you slower loading times and poor site performance. The fact of the matter is that size matters. The higher the resolution, the larger the file, the slower your website! It’s an unfortunate chain of events which could adversely affect your consumers’ user experience with your business, mess with your lead generation and conversion and weaken your bottom line. If your website is running slow, your customers will speed away to your competition for a faster browsing experience. As with most things in life, this is a delicate dance. This is where image optimization comes into play and there is a myriad of things you can do to optimize the sizes of your image files in regards to your business website.
On another note, it’s super important to follow best practices regarding image optimization. The natural result is smaller file sizes and faster loading speeds which will collectively yield a better experience for your business website users. Furthermore, your images are eating away at your valuable server space. Your server is what powers your business website AND, if you utilize a host, it is likely that host will enforce limits on your overall bandwidth, depending upon your plan. You need to consider whether you are using your resources wisely and at what rate you are consuming space. If you exceed your bandwidth limit, you might be financially penalized or risk having your business website shut down. I think it goes without saying that this is bad and you want to take every measure to avoid such drastic consequences. Image optimization allows you to make the most of your storage without exceeding the limitations of your bandwidth restrictions.
Website Image Optimization 101:
Benchmark your site speed:
Run a simple speed test on your site using programs such as Google PageSpeed Insights, GTMetrix, Pingdom Tools or WebPage Test. Any of these options will do the job. All you have to do is type in your URL and a report will be generated reflecting your website performance and speed.
Choose the best image file:
Once you’ve created your website images, you’ll need to select the type of file you’d like to save them as. JPEGs are great for photographs as they offer a higher-quality image in a smaller size file. JPEGs should be exported as “progressive” which allows your users to quickly load a less complex version of the image before they decide they want to load the full resolution version. To export as “progressive” in Photoshop, look under “save for web”. At the end of the day, JPEG is a good choice for photos with complex color, but they don’t work well for images with transparent backgrounds.
PNG is great for icons or flat illustrations which are transparent or lack a great deal of color. If you plan to go this route, you’re going to need the exact image dimensions and save as “PNG-24”. You could even save it as “PNG-8” as long as it does not compromise the quality of your image.
GIFs, popular though they may be, support a mere 256 colors, so you’re going to need to be picky in how you utilize this particular file type.
SVG is a scalable vector format which works well with logos, text, simple images and icons. SVGs are automatically scalable in photo editing tools as well as browsers. Google indexes SVGs in the same manner it indexes JPGs and PNGs which means you don’t need to worry about SEO. In addition, SVGs are usually smaller files than JPGs and PNGs which means you can expect a faster load time.
Once again, size matters. Resize your images BEFORE you export them! This is undoubtedly the simplest way to optimize your images for your website, especially when using DSLR camera images as they can be quite a bit bigger than necessary. Extra pixels absorb more space as they generate larger files. You might be unknowingly slowing your website speed! Recommended file size is 2048 pixels wide and 240 DPI. Also, crop your images in order to decrease the file size BEFORE you upload. If you aren’t using Photoshop or something similar, Windows Paint, Canva and Mac Preview are good options for cropping.
Reduce file sizes and save storage by compressing your images:
Image compression is great for shrinking the file size without compromising image quality. “Lossless” compression ensures the quality remains unphased both pre and post file compression. TinyPNG (smart “lossy” compression which decreases the number of colors used), ImageOptim (free Mac app), JPEGmini (paid option with a free trial) and RIOT (Radical Image Optimization Tool, free Windows app) are just a few image compression tools that work well to accomplish the job.
WordPress plugins automatically optimize images:
Installing an image optimization plugin on your WordPress site is a great way to streamline a lot of these steps. A plugin will automatically resize and compress your images upon upload to WordPress so you don’t have to do it yourself. This means your website’s performance and speed will start off on the right foot. Recommended plugins for WordPress sites are EWWW Image Optimizer Cloud (optimizes upon upload or after upload as needed), Compress JPEG & PNG Images (optimizes JPEGS and PNGS upon upload), Imagify and Kracken.io (optimizes both new and existing images).
Your best bet is to learn how each plugin functions before you select one to install. Be sure your final choice isn’t going to overtax your server!
Try the “Blur Up” method:
This is a fun trick! Even though you might have exhausted all the previous tips, you might still find that you have some large files slowing down your website speed. The “blur up” technique allows you to optimize the load experience in order to make your consumers think your files are loading faster than they actually are. Sneaky, sneaky! Appearance is everything, so if you can appear faster, then this method is for you! Start by loading a lower quality image. In other words, load a smaller version of the image before you go full scale. This allows your users the luxury of actually looking at something rather than a blank screen while they wait for all the details to fully load. Consider consulting your Jacksonville SEO expert who will know exactly how to do this for you!
Lazy loading is where it’s at:
let’s call this the brother of the blur up technique, but not the twin. Lazy loading also gives the impression of faster loading time. Let’s say a consumer lands at the top of your web page, leisurely pursuing your content as they continue to scroll down on the page. Lazy loading is the concept of not loading all images simultaneously. Lazy loading means that images within the browser view will load first while remaining images load as the user scrolls down on each section of the web page. This method is easy to accomplish on WordPress sites utilizing the BJ Lazy load plugin.
Clean your media library:
Media Cleaner is a great program for identifying unused media files. Cleaning out unused media files is a great way to free up space! The Media Cleaner Plugin scans media files for unused files, allowing you the opportunity to delete them. Utilizing a smart trashing system, Media Cleaner moves the deleted files to a trash directory. If you find out after a couple of weeks that a particular media file entry is missing, the smart trashing system allows you to restore the desired file from the trash directory via a simple click.
Once you’ve completed the above steps in your image optimization journey, consider running an additional site speed test to measure the benefits. Utilization of proper image optimization tools in tandem with optimized workflow will yield better loading speed and website performance, increasing leads and conversions, strengthening your bottom line. We perform complementary image optimization for our managed clients for free. Take a look at our website management packages.
Why Every Business Needs a Website
The best entrepreneurs practice frugality as a general principle when launching a new start-up business. However, they also know when and where to spend the money and are experts at assessing cost analysis and value. When considering that which will bring your business ultimate value over time, you simply can’t afford to forego a company website. Having your own business website isn’t a luxury and should not be viewed as a nice perk. Your website is a crucial component of your business and can be tailored to your budget and specific needs.
Your website adds value to your business, lending credibility and authority to your brand. Simple components such as a strong “About” page communicate who you are, why you add value to the lives of your consumers, your mission and purpose and how your business can solve your ideal customers’ common problem. This establishes that your brand is to be trusted, which is crucial because 85% of consumers say they’ll only consider patronizing a brand that they trust. Consumers want to know that your company’s mission, purpose and values align with theirs and the “About” page is the second highest rated element for consumers when checking out your company. In fact, it’s even more important to them than your videos and graphics, live chat feature and personal case studies. Keep your message brief because no one is feeling especially burdened to review a term paper!
Consumers actually care a great deal regarding with whom they do business. In fact, 63% of consumers prefer to buy goods and services from companies that reflect their personal values. Building an authoritative blog, ripe with fresh, relevant content also helps establish who you are before your consumership. This practice also helps to ensure you stay at the forefront of their minds when they think about the types of products and services you offer. They’ll begin to associate you as being the brand they go to for their specific need as your blog content brings them closer to you as a trusted expert in your field. In addition, a well-fed blog can send your company website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization) through the roof!
Many consumers question the credibility of a company which has no website. They have no way to learn about who you are, your values, what types of products and services you offer, whether or not you offer shipping or online scheduling and if you are a sustainable business or a fly-by-night operation. Without a website, your business doesn’t stand a chance of standing out from the rest of your competition. There will be nothing authentic about your brand and nothing exciting about doing business with you.
You are likely the sole or, at the very least, primary decision maker for your company. Your business is the ship and you are the captain. If applicable, you determine how your storefront presents to the general public, the layout of products, the way your employees treat your consumers, price points and even where to buy the toilet paper. The buck stops with you. You need to exercise that same control in establishing your online presence and virtual storefront. You might have a Facebook page, but it’s going to take more than that to build a successful online presence. Even Mark Zuckerberg would agree that Facebook has its limitations. Furthermore, you don’t OWN your Facebook page. You have no way to customize it nor adjust its layout. Fortunately, a website offers you the benefits and flexibility of OWNING and CONTROLLING the way in which you showcase your brand and establish your business as the ultimate authority against your competition. You have no control as to how to communicate with the 70% of consumers who want to know if your brand is addressing social and environmental issues. Furthermore, 46% of consumers want to read about your company’s social responsibility efforts when they buy a product. Communication is key and your website is the perfect conduit for achieving this valuable goal!
Like moths to a flame, consumers are attracted to highly accessible brands. In fact, 82% of them expect immediate communication with the brands they patronize. While this might seem like a tall order, perhaps even insurmountable, we are living in the digital age. This expectation is realistic and easily achievable. Your website will give you the freedom and availability to communicate with your customers any time, day or night, from anywhere in the world. Think about it. Your business website is already offering info regarding how to contact you, products, services, prices and more. Why not give the people what they truly value? YOU! Every good sales associate understands that 99% of sales involves selling themselves. Ok, that’s a made up stat, but the point is that a good salesperson can sell air conditioning to an Eskimo if they understand how to properly sell themselves. If your business revolves around direct sales, your website offers you the benefit of functioning on an e-commerce level. Whether in Jacksonville or Timbuktu, anyone, anytime, anywhere, day or night, can purchase from you. Your website can process payments, aid in inventory management and shipping, you can easily incorporate special pricing and coupon codes and set up well-timed promotions and campaigns. Is there anything better than making money while you are sleeping? I think not!
In addition, your website acts as the best lead generator ever! Unfortunately, you cannot rely solely on your employees to “make it rain” (lead generation). Unlike your sales team, your business website works around the clock. Again, whether you are resting at home in Jacksonville or traveling abroad in Thailand, your website is still working 24/7, with no regard to time zones, attracting interested customers and showcasing your products and services while educating them about your brand, who you are and what you stand for. In addition, consumers will easily be able to share your business information with friends and family members whom they wish to refer to your brand because all pertinent info is neatly appointed in one spot on your business website. This alone will greatly impact your bottom line because 78% of consumers value convenience more today than they did before the onset of COVID-19. Furthermore, your website needs to rank well in Google search engine results and your solid business website, rife with top quality content, is the best way to rank high on search engines. Consumers really loathe a game of “Hide-and-Seek”, so don’t make it impossible for them to find you! For example, Bertha asked Camille where she purchased her dress. Camille responded with, “Oh! On this website – [ ].com and they even offer 15% off for new customers!”
Imagine the frustration Bertha would have had to endure had Camille directed her to a Facebook page instead! She probably would have a difficult time finding your Facebook page. If she is lucky enough to find it, your Facebook page may not be able to offer Bertha the capability of making a purchase. Plus, she will likely forget about you, electing to visit a competitor’s website which offers her the luxury of an easy, online purchase transaction. Furthermore, that 15% is the perfect bait for 64-year-old Bertha who is living on a fixed income. Here’s the point: Take your website and your search engine ranking seriously or risk ticking off Bertha, losing her to your competition forever. Consider rewarding Bertha for her loyalty with your new customer VIP program and retain a customer for life!
Your website is a valuable tool for beating your competition. It seems that most things in life are a competition. Who has the most money, who drives the best car, who is following the latest fitness trend, who is wearing the most expensive designer labels… The list is endless and exhausting. Unfortunately, you as a business owner will always be in competition with someone. Your business website is the ideal conduit for connecting with your local consumership. For example, search engines base the priority of search engine results on a user’s location. If Bob Johnson is in Jacksonville searching for a bait and tackle shop, the search engine he’s utilizing will produce a list of bait and tackle shops closest to his location. If your company is a bait and tackle shop, you want to show up in the search engine results, preferable at the top of the list. However, in order to work your way in that direction, you need to establish a Google “My Business” page and make sure the address listed reflects exactly what is shown on your business website. The best part about this process is that it’s free!
The bottom line:
The way companies do business has changed drastically. More and more consumers prefer to shop online than in person, especially with the astounding spike in gas prices. Establishing a solid business website should be viewed as a necessity. You can’t afford not to have one. It’s as crucial as water and air and your company cannot succeed and grow apart from it.
Cost often deters business owners from considering the process of establishing a website, however failure to do so is the equivalent of leaving dollars on the table and walking away. Consider consulting a Jacksonville web design company regarding this valuable investment. Your business website can provide one of the most positive ROI’s in your career and multiple options exist which can make your website more cost effective than ever before! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to succeed, grow and capitalize!
5 Tips for a Great “About” Page
You probably never thought about the fact that your website’s “About” page is a golden opportunity to connect with your customers. Like many business owners, you’ve probably placed it in the “Afterthought” category, deeming it irrelevant info when there are so many more exciting things to which you’d rather devote your website space and time. Rest assured. Many, MANY business owners make the same mistake.
Here’s the deal: time spent optimizing your “About” page is time well spent. This very page is where you will build trust with your customers because this is where they will understand how you and your brand can help them. Think of this page as an asset which lends overall value and credibility to your company’s products and services. You don’t have to be a skilled writer to get started!
- Is it really all about you? This is going to feel a bit counterintuitive, but the page is not about YOU! You can of course talk about your business, but you’re not the focus of the “About” page. Your customer should be your primary focus; the hero of every story and piece of your website’s content. Consumers want to know that you are all about them, so you need to make them feel included. If they know you are thinking about them, they will be more inclined to trust you to provide solutions to their problems.
- Are you living in the past? Everyone is proud of their roots, especially “pulled-myself-up-by-the-bootstraps” business owners. BUT… you need to live in the present and your “About” section should display your company’s growth from its inception to the present. Briefly showcase your company’s enterprising spirit, but don’t dig too far into the past.
- How can you benefit your customers? Don’t put your consumers to sleep with boring paragraphs of laborious instructions simply to fill up space. Your customers are far more interested in knowing whether the products and services you have to offer them will actually help them! Talk about the benefits of your products or services. Don’t talk about features as much. Focus on how someone will FEEL after they’ve purchased from your business.
- Where’s your humanity? Don’t be afraid to show your human side. This doesn’t mean you should necessarily include your life story on your” About” page, but share enough and in a way that your customer can relate to you. Feature things like team profiles and images. Show your customers that you’re human and achieve a decisive trust factor. Consumers want to feel as though they are getting their information from human beings and not a machine.
- It’s all about the journey! Customers love to know that the business they’re buying from is going to be around for a long time. It raises trust and reassures them that you’re here for the long run. Talk about what’s to come, share your plans, and show how these plans will benefit your customer.
Did you do your homework? In all honesty, you’re wasting your time if you don’t do your SEO homework. Be sure to naturally implement relevant keywords in your “About” section, giving your website another boost up the search engine results ladder. In addition, ensure that your text is Google friendly!
See? That really wasn’t difficult at all! Don’t forget to link your “About” page to your social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Be sure you tweek accordingly in order to tailor to each specific platform.
In closing, be sure to give your reading customers a few breaks amidst all the text. Consult your web designer and web developer regarding visual appeal that is also functional. You want to ensure your consumers have an excellent user experience on each and every page of your website!