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So far Stuart has created 22 blog entries.

Know Your SEO Numbers

know your SEO numbers

Over the years that I’ve been doing SEO for small business it has become obvious that many small business owners equate a first page ranking for important search terms as a gateway to wealth. In their thinking, if you’re at the top of the first page then you can’t help but make money.

Now that might be true if you’re selling a product that can be shipped anywhere in the country … or the world … because then the number of people who might buy your product is huge.

But what if the product that you’re selling is limited by the area that you can service or the size of the population that you can service.

What are your real SEO numbers

To help make my point let me tell you about a mechanic that we built a website for. He was a little unhappy when he realised that he wasn’t getting a huge number of visitors to his website even though the basic SEO that we had done on his website meant that he ranked well in Google.

So we sat down and talked about it with him and I outlined to him basically what you will read below.

In most cases people who want to have their motor vehicle repaired or serviced are not going to travel large distances to get to a mechanic. They are going to be looking for some close by … in their own town or suburb and, after some discussion, our client understood that the number of people who were looking for his service was limited to the number of people in our town.

And because our town is not really compact but tends to sprawl along the coastline there will be some people who might only take their vehicle to a mechanic at their end of town.

So right there are some limitations on the number of people who are going to visit this client’s website.

Then there are the people who prefer to take their car to the dealer who sold them the car. Rightly or wrongly these people think that warranty work, servicing and repairs are best done by the dealer who sells their brand of vehicle.

Those people are not going to come looking for our client’s website because they “know” where they should take their vehicle.

There are also the people who have used another mechanic in the past and were happy with the service. Those people are going to go back to that mechanic and are unlikely to visit our client’s website.

Others may have seen a mechanic advertising on TV or they have asked a friend or acquaintance for a recommendation and those people are unlikely to visit our client’s website either.

And finally there are the people who just don’t need a mechanic right now. Their car is running fine and who wants to go looking for a mechanic when there is nothing wrong with their car.

So, when you take all those people out of an equation that starts with a population of say 80,000 people you don’t have all that many people left who are looking for car repairs on any given day.

Should you forget having a website

But does that mean you don’t really need a website if you’re running a service-based industry that is limited by geographic restrictions?

Absolutely not … you still need a website because, while the numbers might be low on a daily basis, they can quickly add up to quite a few when taken over a longer period of time.

Knowing your SEO numbers can save you money

So thinking about the numbers is very important when it comes to SEO. Don’t be fooled by the thought that a website takes your business to the world. Of course it does but the world isn’t looking for your business.

When you’re thinking about going beyond basic SEO you need to consider the cost involved and balance that with the genuine returns you might get on your investment

By |June 18th, 2021|Search Engines|Comments Off on Know Your SEO Numbers

Google and EAT for Small Business

Google and EAT for Small Business

seo for small business

Just when you start to think that you’ve got a handle on what makes Google happy … you know, keywords, links and all that stuff that the scammers who want to sell you search engine optimisation tout … Google goes and throws an acronym into the mix just to disrupt things.

EAT … or more correctly, E.A.T. … is an acronym for Expertise, Authority and Trust and that’s something that Google wants to see on the websites that it shows to the people who trust Google to show them the sites that are right for them.

Is EAT for small business?

Now I should say here that there are some experts who will tell you that EAT is not important for every website … they suggest that the only sites where EAT comes into play as any sort of factor is in what is often referred to as YMYL websites.

Yes, another acronym and this one stands for Your Money Your Life and these are sites that offer things like health advice and investment advice.

So you’re off the hook? Even if you’re website isn’t a YMYL website then don’t run away just yet because I think that there’s a bit more to this story.

Yes, I am sure that Google does apply EAT to YMYL websites but I’ve also seen enough “evidence” to make me think that EAT can also be applied to ordinary small business websites and, even if Google isn’t thinking about EAT for your website, then your customers or clients probably are … subconsciously.

So what exactly is Google looking for on your business’ website when it comes to EAT?

Expertise

When it comes to expertise how much have you to say on your website about your experience. For example, if you run a light engineering business specialising in custom-build vehicle bodies what does your website say about your past experience?

Does your website talk about previous projects, do you display images of the vehicle bodies you have previously built and do you talk about how those bodies met the design criteria?

Authority

Are you, or your business, recognised as an authority in the industry that you’re working in?

Are you or your website mentioned on industry sites or in industry journals?

Are you displaying genuine signs of membership in industry bodies and are you affiliated with other groups within your industry?

Trust

This one is a little different to the others because there are some aspects of Trust that most people may not even notice … and in some instances can’t even see … but Google can.

For example, does your website have an SSL certificate associated with the domain name?

Does your website have security headers to protect visitors?

This is one of those things that visitors to your site won’t even see but before too much longer it will be right up there with the need to have an SSL certificate.

Conclusion

Is EAT a ranking factor for your website?

Google says that it isn’t a direct ranking factor. Do I believe Google? Not entirely because Google has been known to tell untruths and there are times when it’s right hand doesn’t know what it’s left hand is doing.

And some of those EAT factors are going to impress you potential customers and clients so …

It won’t hurt to make sure that you have the E.A.T. bases on your website covered.

By |June 1st, 2021|Search Engines|Comments Off on Google and EAT for Small Business

SEO and Small Business Keywords

SEO and Small Business Keywords

seo for small business

In this post we are going to be looking at SEO and small business keywords … and keyword phrases … so first, let’s look at a couple of definitions so we’re all on the same page.

Keywords are the words that people may type into Google when they are looking for you, the service you provide or the product you sell. In the early days of the Internet most searches were for single keywords but over the years people’s search habits have changed and now keyword phrases hae become important because most people search in two ways.

  1. They search for a keyword but add modifiers … e.g. ‘buses near me’ or ‘the best coffee in Hervey Bay’
  2. They search for a keyword phrase that helps narrow down the results they will get back … e.g. ‘black widgets or ‘budget home builders’ or ‘Australian native nurseries’.

Your customers can tell you

So how do you know what keywords people use when they search for your business?

Obviously they’re going to search for the products you sell or the services you provide so there are the keywords or keyword phrases that you should focus on … but if you’re still not sure then think about what people ask when they first contact your business by phone.

“Do you sell (insert the name of a product here)?”

“Do you provide (insert the name of a service here)?”

“Are you the local (whatever it is that the caller is looking for)?”

Those are the keywords and phrases that you should be targeting because those are the keywords and keyword phrases that you potential customers or clients are searching for.

Don’t pluck keywords out of the air

Don’t pluck keywords and phrases out of the air because you think that that’s what people might be searching for … that can quickly turn into a major waste of money. Just last week a client of ours who thinks that he knows all about keywords asked me to target a particular phrase by adding a new page to his website that focused on that phrase.

He had no evidence that people were searching for his services using that phrase but he was sure that it had to be popular and he was prepared to pay me to add a new page, write the appropriate text and do the SEO for the new page.

I’m always a little sceptical of his ideas so I did a little research of my own and discovered that no one was searching for that term at all. Sure there were some websites that were ranking for that term but there was absolutely no point in spending money to rank for a term that no one was looking for.

I pointed out that there were several other things that he could spend his money on that might provide a better return on his investment but he remains unconvinced and I don’t want to waste his money so we’re still discussing it.

Finding the right keywords

There are lots of very expensive tools out there that can help professionals, like me, find the right keywords for clients. But for you and your small business keywords there are a couple of simple tools that will give you the information you need … and they cost nothing.

If your website is hosted on an Apache server … and if you don’t know what that is then talk to your web designer or the company that hosts your website … there is a little programme running on the server called AWStats.

When you find your way into that you will be able to see the keywords and phrases that are bringing people to your website.

There is also an app out there that you can access online called Uberuggest and you will find it at https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/. You don’t have to sign up for an account but it will give your more information if you do.

A basic account is free and the basic account is all that most small businesses need.

One very important keyword phrase

There is one keyword phrase that I know is very important for your business without even knowing what you do … that is the name of your business.

People will search for the name of business because someone has told them about you … or they may have seen the name of your business in some advertising that you have done … or on the side of your van or truck.

They have seen your name but they don’t know the URL … the domain name … that will take them to your website so they search for your business name.

Make sure that you are targeting the name of your business on the front page of your website. If you don’t then people who search for your business name may never find you.

Getting the right small business keywords for your website is very important … getting them wrong can cost you a lot of money.

By |May 31st, 2021|Search Engines|Comments Off on SEO and Small Business Keywords

SEO for Small Business

SEO for Small Business
seo for small business

So, you’re a small business and you think you know a bit about Google. You know you have to target keywords, you have to get links to your website, you need all the exposure you can get in Google because you know that will ensure the success of your business.

You know that Google loves you because you have the best-looking website ever and they are going to send a lot of traffic to your website and all those who come are going to buy what you have to sell.

Regardless of whether you sell a product or provide a service you know that the success of your business is going to depend on great rankings in Google.

You’re a target

My friend all you are is a target for all the conmen that the SEO industry has spawned and continues to spawn.

They are out there just waiting to take your money as they sweet talk you into a deal that leaves you broke and with a website marked by Google as one of little value to anyone and definitely not one that Google wants to show to its users.

And right there is the secret to good SEO … it’s all about providing a good user experience for the people that Google sends to your website.

What would I know?

But wait, I know what you’re thinking, this guy doesn’t have a clue … he doesn’t know shit about SEO because everyone knows that it’s all about keywords and getting a gazillion links from every website on the planet.

Everywhere you look “experts” are talking about keywords and links … that’s what it’s all about … it’s not about this BS user experience.

How do I know what you’re thinking? I’ve been doing SEO since 1998 … yes, I was doing SEO while some of you were still in school.

No guarantees

In that time I have seen the Search Engine Optimisation industry become a haven for crooks and shysters who will happily take your money, feed you a lot of rubbish and then convince you to give them even more money to fix the problems that they have caused.

It’s easier to listen to and believe someone who makes big promises than it is to someone tells it like it really is and who offers no guarantees … because there are no positive guarantees to offer in this industry.

The only thing in this industry that we can guarantee in this industry is that Google will slap you down if you do the wrong thing while the crooks and shysters are only too happy to guarantee you total success even though they can’t produce the outcomes you want.

There are no fairy godmothers in this industry

But many small business owners want to believe that anything is possible. They fork out their money till they have none left and then come to people like me with the expectation that we will rescue them because we must have some obligation to do so … oh and of course they’re too broke to pay us much because the crooks have taken all their money.

Sorry, it doesn’t work like that … the fact is that we are under no obligation to help you if you can’t pay for our services. And fixing the mess that others have made is a long and costly business. Sometimes it’s even more cost effective to ditch your old website and your old domain name and start again.

And here is another fact … Google is under no obligation to list your website in its search engine you can spend a lot of money having people like me fix your problems and Google it won’t change a thing.

And yet another fact … Google offers no guarantee that it will ever list your website and it doesn’t have to give you any reasons for why it doesn’t like your website.

So, if you have already fallen into the clutches of the crooks and shysters in this industry and you have burnt all your money then it sucks to be you. We understand that and we would love to help but we like to eat so we will charge you a reasonable fee for the work we do.

If you haven’t handed all your money to the crooks and you want to know what you should be looking at for effective SEO then here are a few tips.

Keywords

Keywords were very important many years ago … now not so much and becoming less important as time goes on. Google is now using AI … Artificial Intelligence … to look at a page on your website and understand what that page, and your whole site, is about.

Sure, a keyword or a keyword phrase that is important for that page … and meshes with the content on that pate … is worth using once or twice but the days are long gone where you would try to have that keyword or phrase appear in every paragraph.

Also gone is the idea that you need to use your target keyword a set number of times on the page based on the number of words on the page.

The “experts” who wanted to sell you on that idea were quite happy to write text for the page that made no sense … the only thing that mattered to them was that they had used the target keyword the “right” number of times.

Links

Inbound links were important for a time some years ago. Back then Google used inbound links as an indication of how important your website was. The more websites that linked to your website the more important your page must have been.

The crooks in this industry just loved that idea because they could offer you thousands of links from sites all around the globe … but then Google changed things slightly.

Instead of indiscriminate links Google decided that it only wanted to see links from other relevant and trusted websites and all other inbound links would have a negative effect on your rankings.

So before Google changed the game a general store in Nowheresville could rank well because it had links from sites like sites in other countries that were simply set up to provide inbound links. Under the new system Google didn’t want to see those links. It wanted to see links from other businesses in Nowheresville and surround areas.

It wanted to see links from suppliers and customers and it wanted those links to come from sites Google trusted.

So how did the crooks get around that one? They kept on pushing the inbound link thing hard … they just forgot to tell their clients about the need for those links to come from relevant and trusted websites.

Citations

You don’t hear an awful lot about citations being part of search engine optimisation but citations are important.

As far as Google is concerned a citation is a mention of your business somewhere other than online or maybe even online but without a link pointing back to your business.

User experience

Google has pushed the idea of user experience for some years now but it’s a concept that can be hard to explain to website owners and it doesn’t quite fit with the story that the crooks want to tell you as they take your money.

User experience is hard to explain to website owners because it involves things that they may not be able to see. While there are some parts of user experience that are apparent on a web page or on a website as a whole, and are obvious to a site owner, much of it happens in the backend of a website.

It happens back in the code area where most website owners don’t want to go. People who work in this area use words like ‘minification’, ‘caching’, ‘security headers’, ‘render-blocking’, ‘time to first byte’ and other strange terms that may sound like a foreign language to you … and to many so-called “experts” too.

These terms all refer to things that need to be addressed on your website if you want to give your users the best experience and keep Google happy.

User experience is important to Google because it doesn’t want to send its users to a site that doesn’t meet their expectations … that doesn’t provide the information that they want … and that might make them never want to use Google again.

But is Google the place that you really need to be and what will the ROI on the time and money you spend on SEO?

By |May 30th, 2021|Search Engines|Comments Off on SEO for Small Business

No One Cares About You

We all like to think that we are important … that people want to know what we are doing with our business … but the honest-to-god truth is that no one cares about you.

That’s something that I tell Toni’s customers over and over again. No one cares about what they are doing … how good their business is … what wonderful staff they have … how much fun they might have with their dog … how amazing their kids are … or where they went for their holidays.

When it comes to selling your product or service that’s all totally irrelevant fluff that does more to turn people away from your business than what it does to encourage people to do business with you.

All anyone who wants to do business with you cares about is what your product or service can do for THEM.

They don’t care if you’ve had a wonderful workshop where you helped lots of people achieve great things. They don’t care if thousands of people attend your seminars or take your courses.

All they care about is what your product or service can do for THEM.

They don’t care if you post dozens of photos of smiling people talking with you or listening to you. All they care about is what your product or service can do for THEM.

And they don’t want to have to wade through large amounts of text either. If it isn’t short, if it doesn’t have a hook that catches their eye and encourages them to ready further, then they won’t.

Do I seem to be trying to make a point here?

Of course I am but I may as well beat my head on my desk because most people don’t listen to what we say. Instead they waffle on about all sorts of irrelevant stuff and then wonder why no one engages with them on social media or their website.

They talk about everything but what people want to hear and wonder why the only people who ‘like’ their posts are their family and close friends.

They make mighty efforts to cover all types of social media but miss the point entirely.

So what is the point?

The point is that if you want your social media posts … and the pages on your website … to engage with your clients you will stop talking about yourself and what wonderful things you have done and start talking about the wonderful things that will happen for people who buy your service or product.

And you will do it in language that they understand and in ways that will appeal to people who have the limited attention span that most of us have these days.

It’s not rocket science … it’s just basic common sense … so why are so many business people totally missing the point? Because they either don’t understand … or can’t accept the raw fact … that no one cares about THEM.

By the way, are you missing the point?

By |April 20th, 2019|Uncategorized|Comments Off on No One Cares About You

SSL Certificates are not secure

So are they a waste of money for a small business? Can you survive without an SSL Certificate?

We’re all fixated on SSL Certificates because Google decided that every website needed one but the fact is that SSL Certificates makes nothing as secure as Google would have us believe.

An SSL Certificate does not guarantee that your computer is secure and it does not guarantee that the server that hosts the website you’re looking at is secure.

All that an SSL Certificate is supposed to do is make the connection … the lines … between your computer the server that hosts the website your looking at secure by encrypting the data that flows over that connection.

But guess what? There’s a little problem that the industry calls “Man in the Middle”.

Hackers can … and do … grab the data that is flowing over that connection and the data can be read by those hackers.

It certainly doesn’t happen all the time but it means that the whole concept behind SSL Certificates is a bit like the fable of The King’s New Clothes.

In the fable the King tells all his subjects that he is wearing the finest new clothes and they believe him … all except one little boy who hasn’t been brainwashed. When that little boy sees the King he quickly realises that the King isn’t wearing any clothes at all … he’s completely naked.

And that’s what the reality is behind SSL Certificates.

But wait, there’s more

If every one believes that SSL Certificates will keep them safe then what happens when they come across a site that does not have an SSL Certificate?

Most of them leave so it’s important to have an SSL Certificate just to keep everyone feeling that it’s secure and safe to deal with you.

That green lock that appears up in the address bar is everyone’s security blanket and even the hackers and scammers are displaying that lock on their websites.

As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to call or email us.

By |March 29th, 2019|Websites|Comments Off on SSL Certificates are not secure

Free SSL Certificates

There is no doubt that a free SSL certificate sounds like a wonderful option for any small business who wants to do business or advertise their business online.

But is it really a bargain or are there problems tucked away in the fine print that no one ever reads?

We do not recommend you use a free SSL certificate for several important reasons that Stuart talks about in this video.

Yes you do have to pay for the alternative but the benefits of using a paid SSL certificate over a free one far outweigh the cost.

As always, we’re ready to answer any questions you may have about SSL certificates so please don’t hesitate to call or email us.

By |March 29th, 2019|Websites|Comments Off on Free SSL Certificates

A Question of Colour

Toni recently rebuilt and upgraded an online store she had built for a client some years ago.

Among the things that were to be changed during the rebuild were the two principal colours and the client decided that she would like yellow and purple.

Of course there are many shades of yellow and purple so the client even went so far as to send Toni a swatch of each colour so that Toni could incorporate the exact shades that the client wanted.

When the rebuild was finished Toni went over the site with the client and once the client was happy Toni breathed a sigh of relief and moved on to the next project.

Today, three weeks later, Toni got a phone call from the client … the yellow was not right and nor was the purple and the client had the colours that would be right … except they weren’t.

When Toni changed the colours on the website to the new shades that the client had sent over they still weren’t right. The client now felt that the replacement yellow was too orange and the replacement purple was almost grey.

While the issue of what is the right shade of yellow and purple are still to be resolved now might be a good time to talk about colours and what are some of the things that can influence how we see a colour.

Maybe it’s the monitor
Walk into any department store or Office Works and take a close look at the display of computer monitors.

If they are all switched on and showing the same screen you quickly see that different monitors apparently deal with colours differently. In some cases that may be so but often the problem is caused by the way the monitors have been calibrated.

Look at the controls that come with your monitor and you soon see that you change the way colours appear on the screen. If someone has played with those controls or if the monitor isn’t calibrated at the factory there will be quite a difference in the way colours on the screen are displayed.

And things can get even worse when you look at colours on your tablet or mobile phone.

Maybe it’s the company a colour keeps
Even if your monitor is calibrated perfectly you can still see various shades of colours on the screen that aren’t quite what they really are.

When you have two colours adjacent to each other what you see with our imperfect eyes in one colour maybe influenced the colours adjacent to it.

The colour displayed on the screen may be the correct colour but what you actually see may be lighter or darker than it really is because of the colours around the one you’re looking at. It’s called adjacency and it can be a major problem.

Overcoming the problems
This link will take you to an article on a website that will walk you through the steps you need to take to correctly calibrate your monitor.

Overcoming the problem of adjacent colours influencing how we see those colours and what impact that will have on your website is something that is best discussed with your web designer.

By |July 6th, 2018|Web Design|Comments Off on A Question of Colour

What Makes You Stand Out From the Crowd

Toni and I had an interesting conversation with a local small business person on Saturday night.

This person and their family have recently launched a business in what is a very crowded vertical and competition, at the end of the vertical that they have chosen, is fierce. Their competitors have all been in business for quite some time and have established themselves on the local scene so breaking into that market is proving to be tough.

One of the first questions I asked during out conversation was what was the unique selling point for their new business … what made them stand out from all their competitors.

The person we were talking to looked a little surprised at first … perhaps no one had asked them that question before and they didn’t really know how to answer it and I think that become obvious when they did finally answer the question.

They finally rattled off a bunch of things that potential customers would find in their business but not one of them was unique. In fact, every one of the points they mentioned could have applied equally to all their competitors.

If there was nothing unique about their business then how were they going to stand out in a very crowded marketplace? What was there about their business that would attract potential customers away from the businesses that already filled the marketplace?

Did that small business person really think that all they had to do was open their business and people would flock to them?

I’m not sure that they looked at it quite like that but it was obvious that they hadn’t given much thought to establishing some point of difference between their business and all those similar businesses that had been established for years.

So what is the unique selling point for your business? What service or feature makes you stand out from all your competitors?

What point of difference can you highlight in your marketing that will attract business away from your competitors?

Perhaps in a big city having something that makes you stand out from the crowd isn’t quite so important but if you’re trying to break into an established market in a country town then you need something that makes you stand out. Without it you will fail … quickly.

So again, let me ask you, what makes you and your business stand out from the crowd?

By |June 11th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on What Makes You Stand Out From the Crowd

Website Text – 5 Tips for What Works

Website Text - 5 Tips for what worksI am constantly amazed that the most contentious part of the design process for most of the websites we build for clients is the website text.

People have very firm ideas on what the text on a website should say and, sadly, in many cases they are totally wrong.

Sure, they may have looked at the text that appears on other websites but that doesn’t mean that those websites have got the text right either.

So to help you decide what your website text should say and how it should say it here are 5 tips on what works when it comes to effective website text. They are so simple yet all to often people overlook the fact that simple sells.

1. Keep it simple. Simple words and simple concepts are important if you want your website to deliver the outcomes you’re hoping for.

You don’t have to use big words and flourishes of hyperbole to effectively sell your product or service.

2. Short sentences are very important.

Most people find it harder to read text on a screen than they do when it comes in printed form so make it easier for them by using short sentences.

3. Short paragraphs are vital if you want people to read what you write.

Use 2 to 3 short sentences and no more because even that many sentences will look like a huge blob of text on a mobile device.

4. Use plenty of sub-headings because most people do not read every word on a website.

When they land on a website they want the information they’re looking for as soon as they arrive. They don’t want to waste time reading so they scan the text looking for words that are important to them.

Clear sub-headings will help them find what they are looking for.

5. Plain fonts – Use fonts that people can read.

Cursive fonts may look wonderful but these days many people struggle to read anything that appears in an “old fashioned” font.

The same goes for serif fonts so for a business website Verdana and Arial are still the best options.

Keep those 5 simple tips in mind when you’re thinking about website text and you will find that your words will work for you.

By |May 1st, 2018|Website Text|Comments Off on Website Text – 5 Tips for What Works