Why You Should Care about Backlinks

Getting Started: Search Engine Optimization and Backlinks

If you have a business, we assume you have a website and want it to be found on Google.  Having your business listed on the top of search engine results is critical.  There are many factors that search engines take in consideration when serving up web pages upon keyword searches.

Google does not publish their algorithm to discourage people from “gaming” the SERP (search engine ranking position) results.  However, one of the known factors is the number of quality backlinks (also known as incoming links or inbound links) going to a website.  In fact, most website professionals would agree it is very difficult to get a website to rank well without backlinks.  So, that’s why you should care about backlinks: cultivating links from other quality websites that point back to your own site is a great opportunity to your site turn up in searches, and increase leads to your business.

Please note the word quality. Sometime ago it was true it was a good strategy to get as many links as possible to your site. This led to, however, things such as link farms and paid links. Because of this Google changed their algorithm and only rewards links from high authority sites; that is, those that have high visit rates and are reputable.  You can check a website’s authority on Moz.

What are backlinks?

A link is a connection between any two web pages. A backlink, or inbound link or incoming link, is one that links TO your website, so called because it points back to your website.

Why should you care about backlinks to your website?
From a search engine optimization perspective, links demonstrate a website’s popularity because it indicates someone has deemed your site worthy of sharing from theirs. The more links found by search engines going to a website, especially from authoritative sites, the higher the backlinked site is valued from a search engine ranking perspective.

Google and other search engine’s goal is to serve up websites that have quality content for the searched term.  So the assumption is, if many other sites reference yours, then your site much have quality information that readers care about.

How can you start acquiring backlinks to your website?

Business Citations

Although technically not considered backlinking by some SEO gurus, this is the easiest and most obvious way to get started, and are a key component of the ranking algorithms in Google and Bing.

Citations are any mention of a local business out on the web, typically in an online directory listing. Commonly included are the company name, phone number, address, and may or may not include a website link. For those citations that DO offer the opportunity to include a link to your website, you can claim your listing, or add your business listing, and update it to be sure it includes a backlink and pertinent keywords.

Examples of business citation listings are YellowPages.com, Manta.com and a chamber of commerce website. Types of business citation sites include industry-specific, geo-targeted, or general business listings.

“Other factors being equal, businesses with a greater number of citations will probably rank higher than businesses with fewer citations,” stated Moz.1

Some important tips about claiming business citations:

  • Be sure you enter your company name, address and phone (NAP) consistently across citations. Search engines will penalize you for inconsistencies.
  • Most citation sites will require you to create an account to login (typically free) and will need you to verify your relationship to the business. Be sure to keep your logins documented in order to update your citation in the future.
  • You can hire firms to claim or add your business listings on your behalf. This can be a huge time saver for you. But just as stated in the bullet above, be sure you’ll have access to edit the listing yourself in the future, should you need to.

Learn more about what to know about business citations here.

Produce Awesome Content

When you produce great content that educate or entertain, and make the reader glad they found it, the probability of someone sharing it increases.  How could they share it? My including a link in their own website or blog: a backlink!

An ideal link will be an inline anchor text link containing keywords, not just your company name, “click here”, or a naked anchor (http://domain.com). An example of an anchor text link to a reptile pet store is “Everything you need to create a perfect home for your new pet iguana.”

How can you help develop these links?

  • Submit article or Be a Guest Writer. Identify heavy-hitter bloggers, news, and emagazines in your niche.  Offer to write content specifically for their site.
  • Where are your Competitors? You can also target sites that are linking to your competitor’s sites. Search for your competitor’s URLs, or use tools to help you do that like MajesticAhrefs, and Moz’s Open Site Explorer.  Consider whether it is feasible to provide content to these site owner’s that they would publish.For example, let’s say you are in the children’s birthday party entertainment business.  You find a popular Mommy Blog that included a mention of a local magician. You could write an article about how your games are a fun, more engaging and active alternative for kids’ parties.
  • Press releases. If you have something newsworthy to share, an online press release can boost your backlink count.
  • Social networking. When you actively participate on social networking sites, you not only brand yourself as an expert, but you also can pick up a number of backlinks.2You can add teasers to your blog posts with backlinks, but keep in mind, if the pages are Private or you must be logged in to view the page, search engines can’t crawl these pages.
  • Product/Service Review. If you provide a quality product or service that you could offer a free sample to a respected evaluator or “best of” writer in your niche, and ask them to do a review.  Of course, this can be a double-edged sword, so be sure you have a GREAT product or service.
  • “Unclaimed” Opportunities. Search your company/brand name in a search engine. If you find any mentions on a website where there is no attribution link, contact author and ask them to add a backlink to your site. And provide the link to the web page that most closely matches what the mention is references.
  • Comment on other’s Blog. Use this one judiciously, as robotic comment spamming is very common and annoying tool used by Black Hatters and phishers. Find a respected blog in your niche, and write and intelligent and value-added comment. Many blogs will require you include your name and website.
  • Provide Testimonials for Others. If you sincerely like another firm’s product or service, leave a testimonial. The owner may include a link to your site so their readers will know you are a real person.

Backlink Don’ts

  • Don’t add backlinks from sites whose only purpose it to provide links, or other “thin” (no value) content.
  • Don’t pay for links.  This is considered a “black hat” strategy that Google does not condone.
  • Don’t attempt to acquire all backlinks at one time; trickle them over time. If not, search engine may assume you are trying to manipulate the rankings and penalize your site. 2
  • Of course, you cannot control what somewhat else writes, but pay attention to this when you are guest writing and submitting articles:
    • Be sure backlinks are not over-saturated on a single page or post. Google perceive this as an attempt to over-optimize and to game ranking results.
    • Do not over use exact word anchor links, meaning link from the same words repeatedly. Example “best pet store in Torrance”.

Keep in Mind…
Providing great content is important NOT just to encourage backlinks, but at least as important, if not more important, is that no matter how good your SEO is, if you get visitors to your website, but they are disappointed when they land there, all this is for naught.

Not sure what you can do to improve your website? Get a free website evaluation.

  • Is your site mobile-ready?
  • On-page keyword usage
  • Citation claiming and consistency
  • Backlink SERP
  • CTA usage
  • and more…

Request a Free Website Evaluation

References:
1 https://moz.com/learn/local/citations
2 https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/223157

Pedro Pet Pals Looks to a Brighter Future with their Website Redesign

Here’s one of UmeWorks’ recent website redesigns: Pedro Pet Pals.

Pedro Pet Pals is a local Los Angeles South Bay non-profit organization, dedicated to saving as many homeless animals as possible.  They raise funds to provide services and supplies for animals, many in the local animal shelters.

We first sat down with Pedro Pet Pal Board members to understand their goals for the website redesign. The goals of redesigning the Pedro Pet Pals website was to update the look and make it mobile-friendly. UmeWorks worked with the client to identify the most important call-to-actions they wanted the readers to take: donate, volunteer and adopt.  So we design to make that front-and-center.  We also made changes to so website visitors could understand more quickly what Pedro Pet Pals’ does, while ensuring the site’s post contributors would be visible.

Where practical, UmeWorks kept the same page URLs as the previous site, and created 301 permanent redirects and a custom 404 page.  This helped protect the site’s SEO ranking.

You can learn more about how to avoid losing your site’s SEO juice in our free white paper.

10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

Is It Time to Redesign Your Website?

Is it time to redesign your website? You’ve thought about it more than once… perhaps more times than you’d like to admit. But other things just seemed more important to do — or you preferred to do -– like running your business, taking care of your customers, or cleaning your sock drawer.

That’s all good, but having a professional website that helps your business is important, too.  Maybe now is the time to redesign your website.

So your socks have been mated, and you’re ready to tackle redesigning your website. How do you make sure your efforts pay off?  What things should you consider when you redesign your website?

THE WHYS?
First have a clear understanding of why you’re redesigning your website. What do you want to accomplish? Here are some common reasons for a website makeover:

  • update the look – nothing says stagnant more than an outdated looking site
  • increase leads and sales conversions – the traffic is good to your site and you offer a compelling service or product, but maybe your site can do a better job of getting people to take the next step of contacting you
  • improve your search engine ranking positioning (SERP) – it’s hard for web surfers to find your website or your business if your site doesn’t show up until page 7 in keyword search results for your industry
  • need additional functionality – maybe you want to add the ability to capture leads, have visitors book an appointment, have a members only area, offer after-hours chat, or for visitors to more easily share your blog posts
  • make it more user-friendly – have you been told certain information insn’t on your site (even though you know it’s there)?
  • make your site mobile-friendly – in addition to Google SEO ramifications, having a website easy to view on a phone is more important than ever since viewing sites on mobile has surpassed on the desktop;
    Read my own story of redesigning my website to go mobile (after cleaning out my sock drawer, of course).

Having your goals defined will help ensure your website redesign is successful.

DON’T LET THE DOG EAT YOUR HOMEWORK
If you’re like me, you don’t like homework. But it is important to understand what’s going on now so you can make the right choices for your new site.

  • dog-eat-homework.jpgCheck your current website traffic – whether you use Google Analytics, your hosting provider’s statistics, or another tool, review your current site stats:
    • What pages are visited the most?
    • Which are the most frequent entry pages (first page visited when someone enters your site)?
    • Which pages are the most frequent exit pages (last page visited before leaving the site)?
    • What keywords are used to find your site?
    • Which pages have the longest visit times?
    • Where are visitors coming from?
  • What is your current search engine results position for your target keywords?
  • What sites are coming up first on page 1 for those keywords – check them and try to glean what they’re doing right.

SITE HIERARCHY
I like to start with my site page hierarchy – this is a list of all the pages your site should have, and arrange them within a logical structure. Be sure you organize it from your site visitor’s perspective, not yours. The hierarchy will help you determine your site navigation.

Have an idea of what kind of information you would have on each page – don’t worry too much if one page becomes two pages or vice versa — this can easily be adjusted.  The most important thing at this step is to make sure you capture the information and content most important to your website visitors.

If your site will have any special functionality, determine where in your site those should be made available.

CONTENT

  • Initially, focus your writing efforts so the content is of value and interesting to your audience.
  • Write from the perspective of the benefit to the visitor, not the features you are selling; in language they understand
  • Review existing website content
    • Are keywords used and well-placed? Are they used in headings and present as early as possible on the page?
    • Is there missing content?  Too much of some content?
    • FAQs and SAQs – What questions are you frequently asked day-in, day-out? What question aren’t you asked, but you think your customers and prospects should be asking? Provide the answers to these on your site so people (and search engines) stay on your site and find valuable information.
  • Visuals – web pages with images or videos are viewed more frequently than what those without; and visual information is processed 60,000 times faster than text; use visuals that convey your message quickly and are engaging
  • Once you have well-written webpage, go back and break up your texts with headers and bullets

 

DESIGN

Pay special attention to your Home Page. It is often the first impression a new visitor has of your business. You only have seconds to engage a visitor to learn more.  Be sure your site:

  • is mobile friendly
  • conveys the feelings you’re trying to engender about your business or organization, e.g., professional, humorous, kid-friendly, or serious.
  • prioritizes information – the most important messages should be emphasized visually and fall “above the fold”, that is appear in the monitor screen when the site is first opened. Be sure your Call-to-Action (CTA) and contact information are prominent.

PROTECT YOUR SEO “JUICE”
Especially when your current site is well-ranked, when possible and sensible, keep a similar site hierarchy and filenames when redesigning your website. Retain the meta tags and heading tags on your pages. Use 301 redirects as needed so people don’t get lost if they go to link that no longer exists.

Learn more about how to retain your site’s SEO ranking during a website redesign in the white paper available below.

10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

What is a Browser Cache? (And Why Should I Care?)

Can’t see updates to your website? “Did you clear your browser cache?” Has your website designer asked you that?

Clients will ask me to make changes to their website, and when I let them know the changes have been completed, I often remind them to clear their browser cache to view the change.  Why? Because often they’ll say, “I don’t see the change,” if they don’t.

What is clearing your browser cache? And “How do I clear my cache?” is a question I often hear.

For those unfamiliar with what a browser cache, much less how to clear it, here’s a primer that might be helpful to you.

WHAT IS A BROWSER CACHE?

To help display web pages you’ve visited before quickly, your browser (such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc.) will store a copy of the page in your browser’s cache (pronounced /kæʃ/, like “cash” ). So when you enter that web site address (i.e., URL) again, your browser will serve up the version of the page you last visited.

Therefore, you may not see a recent change that was made on your web page. To be sure you are retrieving the most recent version of this web page after you’ve made updates, you can “clear your browser cache” so your browser goes out and displays the current version.

HOW DO YOU CLEAR YOUR BROWSER CACHE?

The instructions vary from browser to browser, so we’ve listed the steps for some of the commonly used ones. For those not listed, the steps are similar for other browser. Look for the similar menu items.

how to clear your cache in Google Chrome

GOOGLE CHROME version 47.0
1. Click on the settings icon in the top right corner of your browser window
2. Click on the “History” tab
3. Click on the “Clear browsing data” button
4. Select:
– timeframe you want to delete (you can use default of “the past week”
– check the boxes of your preferences (e.g., browsing history, download history, cookies, cached images and files, passwords, auto-fill form data)
5. Click “Clear browsing data”

MICROSOFT EDGE version 20
1. Click on the “More Actions” icon (3 dots horizontally) in the top right corner
2. Click “Settings”
3. About half way down the Settings pane, click “Choose what to clear” below “Clear browsing data”
4. Click boxes of items you want deleted (e.g., browsing history, cookies, cached data and files…)
5. Click “Clear” button

FIREFOX version 42.0
1. In the top menu (File, Edit , View….), click on “History”
2. Click “Clear All History”
3. Set time range to clear
4. Click items to clear (e.g., browsing & download history, cookies, cache, active logins, offsite website data, etc.)
5. Click “Clear Now” button.

SAFARI version 5.1.7
1. In top menu (File, Edit, View…), click on “History”
2. Click “Clear History”
3. Click “Clear” button.

iPhone 5
1. Go to Settings
2. Click on Safari
3. Swipe down to bottom of window and click “Clear History and Website Data”
4. Click “Clear History and Data”

Depending on how long its been since you last cleared the cache, it may take several seconds, or even minutes.

Driving Cars ASC 1940 Presentation at Toyota Museum

Denise Shiozawa of UmeWorks was honored to be invited to the September Automotive Service Councils of California (ASCCA) Chapter 1940 meeting. The invitation was extended via UmeWorks client and Chapter member, Dave Carney of Hillside Auto Repair.

Denise shared a presentation on “Building Car Count with Organic SEO and Content Marketing,” covering topics:

  • Website basics
  • On-page SEO
  • Incoming Links
  • Content Marketing
  • Reviews
  • Data

ASCCA Chapter 1940 meeting at Toyota Car MuseumMany thanks to Victor of Lion’s Automotive for his tech support and Vanna-White-assistance.

 

DOWNLOAD PRESENTATION

 

*Note: Videos and YouTube were not been covered, but are important tools. More on this to come…