Most Realtors while having decent sites will never rank or have much of a presence on search engines like Google or Bing. I think we can agree like buying a property having the right setup on your site is like a walk score as in location, location, location. A majority of Realtors look to cost effective solutions to have their MLS listings for potential buyers on their site to showcase potential properties. In recent years, a number of solution providers across industry have provided comprehensive Realtor websites that gave aestheticly pleasing sites with MLS listings and generic content already defaulted in. Their solutions however have left Realtors in a very bad situation and the numbers are huge.
Unfortunately, most Realtor sites have generic content that is duplicate and will never rank. The problem becomes very evident quite quickly when we look at Click Sold clients SEO problem. All their new sites come prefitted with generic duplicate content across sites which immediately puts you at a disadvantage. While your visitors may benefit from the value of the content in the eyes of Google it’s nothing new and will likely be buried. Spam is after all repeating the same content endlessly. We can see examples of this here with this ClickSold site review.
Working with a REMAX Realtor today on their SEO the problem became very evident. The site sold to them by ClickSold while affordable and a lot of great features most Realtors left the client with a real problem. When first installed for ClickSold clients their sites come with generic duplicate content on every other Realtor’s site. It becomes more evident below when we look at the number of customers that are using the same generic content on their sites.
There are over 21,300 Realtors trying to all rank on Google for their search properties using ClickSold. I’m willing to make a strong bet a majority have kept the typical content on their sites that come with ClickSold on first activation and as a result are being buried in search results. As you may or may not know 33% of search clicks go through to page results in the first position of Google. This means that if you’re not showing up first or in the top few search results you’re not going to see much value from your site.
Basically, if you’re using duplicate content across your site that everyone else is using not only are you likely not to show up in search results but your marketing value of your site is pretty much a waste. I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t like the idea of throwing away $500 a year for nothing. Realtor SEO is competitive enough without starting out by burning your business.
Your Realtor WordPress Site Isn’t Secure
There’s another real problem not addressed here that most Realtor site providers don’t address and that’s their updates. My client’s site they purchased from ClickSold was unmanaged which means they’re completely vulnerable to hacks from WordPress which are quite frequent. ClickSold like most other providers uses WordPress and their plugins on it. As you may or may not know WordPress accounts for 26.4% of web content management systems as of a year ago and likely a lot higher today with increasing popularity.
As of today a staggering 54.3% of all wordpress sites are insecure and are prone to WordPress security exploits which are readily available. People literally run programs that run Google search queries just to find sites running wordpress with older versions. Solution providers like Click Sold, web hosting companies and web designers need to disclose or provide to customers what they will need after the site is built. Simply selling a site that is aesthetically pleasing with gaping security holes weeks later needs to end.
I provide to all my customers with fast web hosting used by Fortune 500 companies, an SSL certificate and security updates all for $300 Canadian a year. When first working with a web marketing provider you should ask them if their service of providing you with a site includes the above. I think we can agree everyone can afford $25 a month CAD or as of today $18.56 USD. Most decent digital marketing providers will provide the same for more or less the same after your site is completed. I don’t recommend using Godaddy for anything other than domains because their hosting just isn’t up to par in comparison to others. Google Page Speed is a factor of ranking and it determines if your site loads slow. Besides the obvious loss to business from site and email outages you’re likely also losing out on search engine presence. The only two I recommend are Liquidweb.com and WPEngine for hosts. However, neither updates your site fully.
The fact is, that Google’s now showing sites as not secure because of how bad it is with companies not updating their sites. As you can see by the above it’s extremely rare you find someone both secure and using original content. There’s a cost to everything and cheaping out on your marketing will definitely cost you big time. If you’re reading this however you’re in luck and are now armed with some valuable information that will help you immensely.
Realtor SEO Strategies
- Write Original Content: Duplicate content on Google is the grave yard of marketing buried deep below. Consult with an SEO provider and check it over with the free site CopyScape.com which will check your content for you to see if it’s original. Doing the same thing every day and expecting different results is insanity! A good SEO will give you ideas of what content you should write and help you connect with people looking for product service offerings. Many agencies claim to offer this but unfortunately offer at best the bare minimum. If you’re not talking about your service offering then your competition likely is for you. You can control the conversation with appropriate reputation management.
- Be clear about your needs to a provider. It doesn’t have to be expensive especially with a consultation. My peers and I as SEO providers have helped companies overtake billion dollar operations on a shoe string budget. A job worth doing, is a job worth doing right. In this case the Realtor wanted to migrate their site properly and have presence on Google after.
- Invest In Quality Security: A good solution provider will fix your vulnerabilities, do preventative security on your wordpress site and insure your site is up to date with updates throughout the year. This means plugin, theme updates, and backups with regularity. Security and service doesn’t end after your site is built just like marketing conversation doesn’t end.
- Get an SSL certificate. If your site isn’t with an SSL certificate then guess what your sites in the eyes of Google aren’t secure and will show like the above image. A majority of sites aren’t secure and if you’re taking any kind of information without one I predict most sites will be buried in search results below everyone else for what is essentially a free add-on with a digital marketing service. If your provider doesn’t offer them then they typically run anywhere from $8-$69. I would avoid an extended validation or EV-SSL certificate as they’re extremely tough to setup and quite unecessary unless you’re pretty much a bank storing financial information on your site. If you’re a Realtor that’s pretty much never the case. There are literally millions of sites with this problem and you taking the steps to get this done will put you ahead of the crowd.
The above issues were resolved today for an Elite REMAX Realtor and definitely I thought it very necessary to write about why most Realtors aren’t found on Google. We need to change the way we look at marketing and security. The negligence in service digital marketing industry wide is just gross. This client thought they were saving with ClickSold.com but unfortunately the solution was incomplete until we gave the above SEO and site security solutions. They’re now on a path to sales leads, and client engagement they wouldn’t of otherwise had.
So I’ve been working in the tech industry since my first computer business in 2001 from Windows 98 to our current Windows 10. I got into building websites from people asking me where I got my websites from and it’s all history from there. Since then I’ve participated in many a Microsoft Tech Day across the country. Testing Microsoft products and tech has simply been a blast. As a business professional it’s not only my hobby but my profession.
When Windows 8 first came out I paid the $40 something dollars to go from Windows 7 to 8 and really didn’t like it on a desktop environment. It just simply wasn’t a good fit. My peers were paying for some 3rd party start menu and Microsoft lost out on a ton of revenue there. I wasn’t going to just out of principle. Then there was the 8.1 update which gave the start menu navigation but still didn’t make it quite functional the way one might expect. When the opportunity came came to hand off the 8.1 laptop to someone else that needed one I jumped at the chance to get back to work on Windows 7. It just wasn’t the kind of user experience a business professional needs in a work environment even with a touch screen laptop. On my desktop I simply switched back to my other hard drive and reverted to my daily use of 7 from Windows 8. Last night I decided that I would install Windows 10 Professional. Which was met with some interesting situations.
Unfortunately, on July 29th like many I wasn’t prompted to install Windows 10. Siting on a computer hard drive that I hadn’t used in a couple years I had some updates to do which I figured if I did them it would then ask me to install it but this proved to do nothing. I didn’t even get the Windows 10 prompt icon on my toolbar to reserve my copy of Windows 10. So after installing updates all day there I was a little frustrated to say the least because as you know navigating Windows 8 isn’t too much fun on a desktop environment without a touch screen. So I figured that maybe installing 8.1 would make a difference and installed that. That in itself took a small part of eternity even with a pretty decent hard drive much faster than your typical 7,200 RPM drive. Nope, still after doing all my updates over 2GB in size there was still nothing from Microsoft suggesting anything about Windows 10. I checked the App store as there was a suggestion to download 8.1 on it but for 10 there was nothing. What the heck Microsoft!?
Well, I’m not the kind of guy that likes to wait for things to get done so that wasn’t enough for me. I went to the Microsoft site which took me everywhere but where I wanted to go which was to a, “Download Microsoft Windows 10 Pro Now,” button. I mean come on now that’s just ridiculous. All the marketing speak about how amazing it is being the best ever and they can’t even give me a direct link to actually get the product. I don’t know why but this is consistently the case with Microsoft. I think Microsoft could easily do another billion a year just by simplifying their message. Most business professionals aren’t as technical as I am and if I’m having issues with it the typical business professional is going to want to throw their PC out the window. Hope you’re taking notes there Redmond, Washington! We’re an instant gratification society that doesn’t like to go more than 2 clicks deep. Don’t make me work!
Eventually I stumbled on a download tool for Windows 10. At least that’s what I thought it was supposed to be. This turned out to me the place to click on to actually download Windows 10 Professional. If you’re using a modern computer like I am you’ll want to select the 64 bit version. So I clicked on the download link and opened up the tool to install. Then I was prompted with an error during install, “Something has happened,”and then it closed. Not vague at all right? Are we starting to see the picture here Microsoft now? I tried this installer a couple times before deciding to search the error online resulting on a Reddit forum. Apparently you need to change your country region by going into, “Control Panel,” and the “Regional and Language Settings,” for both the keyboard and country. Keep in mind, this is only necessary for the download tool. For whatever reason the download tool is only set to work for the US right now for English US speaking people evidently. I’m not sure if that’s an accident considering they mentioned roll outs in many countries. This switch worked and I could finally actually start to download Windows 10 Professional. Talk about a lot of work for something that should be an 8 second search to click to install!
So if you’re like me and you have a pretty decent connection the download for 3GB or so suggested will take some time. However, compounded from the drive of the Windows 7 Pro to 8 to 8.1 with all the updates is going to take up a ton of hard drive space. Microsoft needs to introduce a cleanup tool ASAP to eliminate all that extra crud from the prior install. The amount of occupied space on an expensive high performance drive is simply too much.
The install seriously takes some time to get done. Microsoft seems to have some issues with counting as there’s a going joke about too as once that’s done you get this screen. Notice something funny about the counting here?
Then once that’s done after what feels like a small eternity playing on your phone waiting you’ll see this.
It’s right about here I feel like they’re just making fun of me now. They’ve now gone through the count down to 100% twice and then they give you this. Hey Microsoft, why not just throw it into one cohesive countdown with a stage indicator of the install. The reason why Apple continues to grab market share is user experience. This is an example of a bad experience on a great product. Yes, that’s right I think Windows 10 is amazing so far. With some simple fixes you could make your customers way happier but I can’t complain with the price $0. If you want to become Apple in the apps arena then you need to create more organized brand controls to get to the point faster and a more cohesive experience with decent continuity.
Finally, once all that downloading and installing is done you’re greeted by the Windows 10 Pro splash login page. “Step away from the light.” I think this signifies Microsoft saying it’s a whole new experience as their best OS (Operating System) ever. So far I’m going to have to agree. With some refinements it could really win us all back and then some.
That is of course after you finish updating your drivers. I couldn’t quite figure this out as to why it did this. After doing the install my screen was stuck in 1024 x 768 screen resolution which is typical of CRT (big chunk monitor) of the 15 – 17″ screens we used to see. I don’t know why some dummy drivers weren’t installed but I’ll give them time to get themselves to where Windows 8 installer was. Yes, the Windows 8 install was better but knowing all the moving parts changes between them I’m sure Microsoft has some sort of excuse right? So it never asked me to restart to install the video drivers which is imperative to actually seeing things properly. If you’re like me with dual high definition monitors seeing the screen for the first time you’re expecting just a little bit more. No prompt to restart and sitting there looking all over for ways to change the resolution none were to be found. If I’m a typical baby boomer there’s no way I am going to know what to do here. However, being a seasoned IT professional with a system I custom built myself I knew where to look. I installed the Nvidia drivers which are specific to my machine. I noted this on Facebook and another peer said they’d also experienced the same thing and a simple restart without installing any drivers fixed it. So Microsoft there installer still needs some work.
So after installing the Nvidia Windows 10 drivers it was a quick restart. I came back and the experience was pretty awesome. Clear, crisp, sharp desktop icons. Navigation enhanced for expediting your work day . One complaint being the desktop minimize icon on the toolbar could be slightly wider as most of us professional power users use it pretty frequently. Everything like a good webpage is almost within a few clicks. It performs really well.
The first thing I did was right clicked, “My Computer,” to click properties and then go in and “Change Settings” to change the work group to my local. All the local computers on the Windows Work Group from Windows 7 to Samba on Linux saw it fine. It was a much more friendly user experience then from Windows 8 which took a lot of digging to find anything.
One of the by far coolest features I’ve discovered from my new install is the, “Task Viewer,” icon displayed below which for all us multitaskers makes life a whole lot easier. This is simply awesome! Productivity was actually strongly considered here and it really shows.
This isn’t to be confused with the Windows 10 Task Manager as seen below which encompasses many enhancements to actually see what kind of potentially rogue programs are ruining your computer performance in the background. I seriously love this operating system!
Then there’s the start menu. Yes, the beloved start menu is back and enhanced! It’s still rough and like the app store needs refinement. Those random rectangle frames in the navigation just make it chaotic. The random colours etc just make it feel disorganized and not ready for production yet much like 8 was. I’ve no doubt from the app store it could be a lot better though as the scripting language used to create apps isn’t too bad from what I’ve read. The potential is there but not harnessed yet.
The pairing of my phone was a seamless and effortless process quickly downloading images without issues. The organization of the new menus is intuitive and doesn’t require any learning curve fortunately. As you can see by the drive used for testing though it takes up too much space after updates from Windows 7 to Windows 10 and a cleanup tool is necessary.
Here’s a picture taken with my cell to show the Windows 10 Desktop
The Windows 10 desktop view and start menu which pulls real-time feed information on weather etc from various resources. This all depends on the apps you grab from the app store of which many are free.
Overall, Windows 10 knocks it out of the park for a desktop experience. Everything loads blazingly fast and the productivity enhancements are great. I haven’t found any real bugs user experience aside after the install and as you can probably tell this article was written using the Windows 10 Professional operating system. I can definitely say that I personally back this operating system and would recommend it for production in a couple weeks or a month once some of the bugs are worked out of it security wise etc. As seen here http://thehackernews.com/2015/07/windows-10-wi-fi-sense-explained-actual.html there’s always some exploits to be had. The most dangerous system is the one that’s not configured properly. I’m also a Linux user and can say from personal experience it can also be very wide open if not done right. Below is a screen shot of my Linux install. All operating systems have bugs, security flaws and should be respected with appropriate software updates, antivirus (which is stronger in Windows 10 than previous) and a good router.
No, I don’t work for the NSA.. that’s just an amusing desktop and something for someone to freak out on if they should ever tamper with it. As you’ll see in a prior image the work group is Honeypot which to any hacker would make them think twice before going any further.
There’s some new innovations of digital marketing that everyone should be implementing and some others that just need to go away forever. I’m not a big fan of repetition but even today I still see marketing agencies making these same digital marketing mistakes. This should help marketing, business, and web professionals update to the current world without looking like a jerk in a technical world.
Years ago I told clients they needed a responsive design site because considering sales what business professional these days isn’t equipped with a web ready smart phone to look for your product service offerings? Your website is an extension of yourself and if not easily read that potential buyer or existing customer is going elsewhere. Basic searches are conducted in under 8 seconds. Recently we saw mobilegeddon from Google a search algorithm update that buries non-responsive sites. This basically means that those horrible sites that you go to on your cell phone that take you to the wrong content and aren’t sized appropriately to your screen size are getting buried in favour of better responsive design sites with great content. Studies have shown people are willing to pay more for sites with a better user experience UX. That said, insure your site is mobile friendly and on a good responsive design site that easily gets to content without effort especially from search result pages.
In SEO we have another word for Keyword Density and call it, “Keyword stuffing,” which is against Google’s terms of service. This could force your site to get buried because of it. If your marketing agency is still talking about keyword density they’ve probably been educating themselves through old SEO (Search Engine Optimization) articles. Search artificial intelligence is really strong now and you don’t have to do much for Google to figure out what a page is about anymore. It used to be that a user pretty much had to be as obvious as possible but there’s now over a trillion known sites through Google and they’ve become really good at telling what a site is about. You certainly don’t need to be stuffing it with a ratio of the same word over and over again. It’s more important to build great on-topic content. Seriously, this needs to go away. If you’re an SEO and still talking about keyword density please stop! I heard a Calgary digital marketing agency say this today and my jaw literally dropped.
About a decade ago people were stuffing keywords into meta-keywords tags to tell Google what a page was all about and could rank on search engine result pages (SERPS) as a result. However, this has been gone now from search for almost 10 years now and yet I still hear some business professionals and the odd hobbyist web designer sometimes mentioning this. It’s openly acknowledged by Google and Bing that this is no longer in practice or recognized because it was abused so bad. Some conspiracy theorists are still using them and trying to appease some dinosaur search engine nobody uses anymore if you care about maybe 1 in millions of users. Reality is this tag is dead and you’re wasting your time. You will not rank for anything with it and it’s not worth the investment of energy into. Put your time into great content with naturally the targeted content on page.
Create Strong Calls To Action
Lets face position 1 or 5 you want every visitor to count especially if you’re paying for paid ads. If you have gone to all the trouble of writing great content and educating people on your site make sure there’s somewhere they can go with that. No page should have content without some intent or KPI (Key Performance Indicator) that pushes the user towards the goal known in marketing as the call to action. This can be a, “Buy Now,” “Read More,” or “Subscribe,” like button. These call-to-actions CTA’s should be quite dominant and stand out from everything else around it. The colour should not blend in and standing back from the page you should have your eye drawn to it.
Strong UX (User eXperience)
We are an instant gratification society and as such we like to get to the point often fast. While studies have shown the verbiage long-winded converts well giving the client immediate opportunities to get to the end result ie “Buy It Now,” is always preferred to reduce bounce rates (people leaving) and increase conversions which can literally make or break business. Studies have shown consumers are more willing to pay more for a great user experience (UX) then be focused on price alone. Good service doesn’t end in person.
Put Your Best Food Forward
The searcher has an intent and if your content is well focused it should yield strong results. As an extension of your sales team your site should represent you and give the client what they’re looking for. If it’s clean, navigable, quick loading, on-topic, worth sharing and has strong calls to action then you should get great results. That said, people hate scrolling and you want to keep some of your best content up front and on top above the viewable fold. Those endless parallax sites that people scroll over image background over image background look really cool but they make it often hard to read or to get to the point. Digital marketing is an art & science which requires balance between function and form. Your call to action should be almost immediately visible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been so annoyed when I see something implied to be free turns into a paid upsell product. If you’re going to try to sell me something be up front about it and show me immediately where I can go to get what I want. If I have done my research don’t make me work! Your website should be a great user experience so they come back again to do more and share it with their friends.
Page Sized Banners
Remember when we had all those flash sites? Ya, they’re almost all gone now and were buried by sites that focused on the customer’s needs. They were slow, sluggish and offered typically no real user value other than wow factor. Today we see page sized banners rotating across the screen and I’m wondering wow factor aside what their end goal is. Each one of those banners better be market directed design focused on the call to actions and taking me to a page of relevant content or I am gone. More so, are those giant images slowing my page load time causing users to leave and the search rankings to suffer as a result? I’ve been seeing giant page sized images making users have to scroll to get to content, the content is marketing speak instead of getting to the point of what the customer is looking for and overall it’s a miserable experience. If you’re going to use rich media make sure it’s market focused. You should not have content on page that’s not relevant to your product service offering or distracts from your main focus. Market directed media should be the name of the game. That overly jovial guy in a polo, ya he better be looking at your call-to-action button. Viewers eyes look to where the eyes of the person go typically. Using giant page sized images with flash elements is like putting spinners and a $5,000 stereo in a $2000 car. While it looks cool it’s absolutely stupid. The most beautiful site in the world looks great on page two below professionally built sites.
Open Graph and Schema
This code helps Google better understand what your site is about and often provide preview information in search information in search results that makes your site stand out. With a trillion known sites you need to be doing whatever you can to do that. This can help you not only stand out but in some instances rank better. This is however typically more of a display quality which makes a better UX (User eXperience) for visitors. If you’re really good they’ll call you before even visiting your site. It’s the basics that can make you stand out but you won’t get that from a $3 site that’s for sure. No Donald Trump not even you can.
Tables in HTML
One of the fastest ways to distinguish a pro developer from someone that hasn’t kept up their knowledge is to ask them some basic questions. Some designers still use Tables in their code and that hasn’t been predominantly used for like a decade. People should be using HTML5, CSS3 and more current technology with Dividers etc to create tabular divider type pages. If that all just sounded like a foreign language to you don’t worry. Just ask if they use tables in their HTML and if they say yes thank them for their time and find a new designer. Ask them what kind of design they do for sites and you should hear, “Responsive Design,” in there somewhere. If you ask a person if they do responsive design they might say yes but someone that’s on their game should be forward about this. No site should be built in this age without responsive design elements. The above puts you in good standing to getting a decent designer but certainly doesn’t guarantee it.
Content is King
I’m often asked what would make a site stand out on search engines. The commonality in our industry is to say that, “Content is King.” While content is the defining factor in a sales lead conversions it’s certainly not created equal. Appealing to the Google algorithm of posting frequently to nail the recency signal is OK but creating something worth sharing is so much better. It gives users not only a reason to come back but something to talk about giving your site some value. Not all content is created equal. Like not even close. The number one design firm in Canada was posting over 10x the amount of content we were and we still crushed them bad. The reason was we used search engine optimization techniques and worded things in a manner that appealed to what searchers intent was looking for. Being on-top on each page with a strong game plan will definitely help you out a ton. Those cool click-bait headlines get people to click but they’re not the best for being found.
Most people feel that they’re being redundant but I’ve learned that you as an expert have a lot to offer. While what you’re saying is well known in your industry the things you say will likely be profound to the client or searcher. The law of reciprocity shows people are more than likely to buy from those that helped them and even more so maintaining existing relationships by facilitating their needs with educational materials. Every effort should be made to create unique content that’s relevant to your local audience and the more accurate the better. Demonstrate the value in why your product service offering is unique and try to hone in on what people’s needs are. If you’ve been in business for any amount of time just ask yourself what are some of the questions people commonly ask. If you’re part of associations and the like list that above the viewable page fold so people immediately recognize you as credible by association. I would advise businesses to employ an SEO copywriter not to be mixed up with a newspaper journalist an SEO and social media strategist for mentoring your team how to do things properly. What business is successful without great advisors?
Measure Your Results
I’m increasingly impressed yet disgusted by firms that still get away without producing sites that have marketing science to measure results. If you don’t know who, why, where how, and what your users want or are doing it is like standing there ignoring a customer in a store. The customer is going to go somewhere else to find what they need. By listening and measuring with analytics we know where to devote our ad spend and grow client businesses. Google Analytics, Web Console and Local Places is FREE! There is simply no excuse for not monitoring your business especially if you’re paying for ads. An increased benefit of the on-page Google Analytics code is can measure for bounce rates from user’s that might have double clicked your ad reducing your ad spend. Right there you’ve immediately reduced your cost of advertising and can see where your visitors are coming from. By using analytics I’ve been able to eliminate, optimize, determine visitor need and forecast for seasonality of business for site owners. These reports are fortunately quite comprehensive and should be viewed regularly. You don’t need to be a big company to listen to your customers.
Speed Up Your Site
There’s increasing evidence that not only do searchers leave slow loading sites but Google itself considers page speed as one of many signals on how to place a site for queries people commonly use to find your product service offering. If your site is like the Titanic turning to load then you had better do something about it. Page Speed Optimization tweaks are readily available and there’s a million articles about it. Don’t make your customer work. A good designer knows how to do this and when you go to their examples you’ll immediately notice the difference with their sites over others. Again, if it doesn’t have a purpose on the page get rid of it! Buyers form their opinion of your site in the first 4 seconds find their search result inside eight and go two pages deep. If they don’t get a good experience in that time then they’re so gone.
Automate Your Site
Most security updates no longer require a technician to sit in front of a computer and update them. In fact, this is a horrible expense and waste of company time. It’s far more intelligent to have automated updates because they do it the instant a security exploit comes out protecting your site from potential vulnerabilities. Here in Calgary and Edmonton Alberta the number of sites that are wide open because a lack of simple choices to automate leaves a majority of businesses wide open. Not only is your website security at risk but your email as well. Want to quickly become the biproduct of a spam list of nearly every provider then don’t do your updates! Automating your plugins allows you to benefit from bug fixes, new features, and a better overall user experience for visitors. You can also easily put your email online now so you don’t need to be sitting at a desktop. Seriously, that bloated program to use to load email is a dinosaur. There’s really no need to have a program to use email. I am reachable anywhere in the world there’s internet including mobile phone real-time and the files are all updated everywhere without requiring me to do things several times.
Cheap Web Hosting
Seriously, stop cheaping out on this. You would never stuff 2300 of your customers in a kiosk and say find your way to the front so why would you cheap out on web hosting? I’m not kidding either. It’s not uncommon for web hosts on shared hosting to put 2300 customers on a server together. That means for any effected site that outage is going to shut down you and everyone else on that server. If someone else is abusing the server then you’re also effected. How much will it cost you if you lose your email for a day or your site down? I’m willing to bet it’s a whole heck of a lot more than $3. The entire user experience depends on a great web host. Slow loading pages and outages are often not apparent to the client but to a good host they sure are. That said, invest in a great web host like Liquid Web which offers, “Heroic Support.” They really live up to their promise and I’ve now been using them happily for a few years now.
Hiring a Generalist to do SEO
As a digital strategist known for building businesses into assets by building lead generating websites and SEO I can do a few things. A professional will always employ others to do things they’re either not good at, fast at or passionate about. It’s increasingly frustrating to hear that some amateur web design hobbyist is calling themselves an SEO charging prime rates for things that will yield little to no results. I get that to this design professional the difference between getting the sale and not is saying that they offer SEO services. Being able to stuff a few keywords on a page doesn’t make a person an SEO professional. These days it’s extremely technical and you can’t just stuff a few pages of loaded content online and link from completely irrelevant content expecting to be found first. It’s simply just not going to happen. There’s over 200 search signals updated over 500 times a year real-time without warning and unless you’re obsessing over the SEO industry you’re probably going to miss it. Most of the top tier influential SEO tactics are highly proprietary and not openly posted as closely guarded secrets. Fundamentals like ad copy being on topic is one thing but that doesn’t make a search engine optimization professional. We’ve got tons of external off-page influencers, links, citations, relevant content and a plethora of other variables to be considered.
That guy billing flat rate SEO for $500 a month is taking you for a ride. I don’t even want to know the kind of spammy sites they’re sending you to sub $1000 really. If you got results from it great but I’m willing to bet for a majority of you the result you are seeing with your site ranking first is a result of, “Personalized Search,” which means the pages you previously or frequently visit will appear first. What others will see with likely be entirely different. Ranking for your brand is one thing but what about the thousands of other visitors who don’t know anything about your company and are actively looking for your product service offering? The lowest a person should ever expect to see from even a beginner SEO is about $1000 and from any professional typically $2500-5000 a month for any proper city is common. If you are a prepackaged SEO set from one of millions expect to sit in the same page as the rest on page two where business goes to die. SEO is a ton of work and requires continuous ongoing attention. It’s like building yourself up at the gym and it doesn’t happen overnight. To gain Google’s recognition as an authority relevant site you need to have all the boxes checked off.
This like many other buzzwords was thrown a lot and gave business owners a lot of false expectations about what it would do for them. Reality check, if you’re not actively producing content or engaging your audience maybe outside of reserving a page don’t bother with it. Social media without engaging and interacting with your potential visitors or existing customers is like ignoring people talking to you. It’s not only rude but incredibly bad business. However, doing social media optimization properly can leverage a businesses’s presence into the stratosphere connecting you with the power’s that be in your industry and naturally your target audience. Social media should be considered part of your regular content strategy as you aren’t going to get tons of traffic without outreach on popular platforms to draw people in. I’ve watched brand new doctors get featured in international magazines as a result of blogging combined with social media. It’s extremely powerful.
This is just another prepackaged euphemism for the digital professional. You might call me a growth hacker but it’s just ultimately a buzzword for digital strategist to excite a new audience. People used Web 2.0 and The Cloud to excite people just the same for technologies that have been around for forever. However, it’s business as usual and the strategies are much the same.
A group of noted professionals called digital marketing online coined the term inbound marketing as other negative associations were being linked to words like internet marketing. Reality, digital marketing is a profound amount of outreach on the web much like networking. There’s no magic wand like these alleged gurus would have you believe. We have to build links, content, and do a ton of outreach to generate traffic all while being extremely calculated. That professional you think so highly of is either full of BS or working their butt off behind the scenes. Those folks driving new exotics and the like each week. Ya, ask them how many years they worked and starved to get to where they are. Digital marketing is a ton of work and you really have to earn your place like all networking circles. The better your relationships are and the longer you’re in it the more your knowledge grows as does your bottom line. When someone says inbound marketing I cringe. To me it’s misleading and something you might expect from a call centre.
It’s come to my attention over the last year in Canada we’ve been receiving an increasing amount of fraudulent calls of which continue to be active despite reports to authorities. In the Alberta area with regularity my businesses get calls from Filipinos asking if I am looking to move my office soon. They have claimed to be from the BBB (Better Business Bureau), Chamber of Commerce, and the Government of Alberta. On investigation they are not and widely known to be fake as these organizations do not ask you if you’re moving soon. Needless to say, they’re pretty daring and don’t seem to care when you call them out on the fact that you know they’re fake.
Today I received a call from a Filipino lady calling about my phone number that had long since been switched. She claimed to be calling from Telus and had a Telus phone number.
Some immediate warning signs of the fraudulent scam caller:
- Latency in answering my call which suggests either a weak VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) automated system which Telus isn’t much of a proponent of and will always discourage you on how bad they are. Honestly, it felt like an eternity before she answered.
- Her diction was really bad and Telus tends to verify their employees diction skills with a computer/auditory test.
- She didn’t address me by name and addressed me by my first name only saying, “It says on here,” which would indicate she probably just scraped my personal information from the Industry Canada website.
- She was calling about money for an account long since deactivated which she claimed was still active.
I thanked her for calling and promptly hung up on her as I knew it wasn’t Telus. I called Telus and they confirmed that it was in fact a fraudulent call and that while the number was authentic it was spoofed. This means the number displays as authentic but it was in fact fake. I asked her if I talked to the security/fraud department if they could trace it but was informed that if the call was done outside of the country there was no way for them to tell. I asked her then how do I verify the calls I am receiving are authentically from Telus. The Telus representative said there is no way to verify your calls are actually coming from providers unless you actually call them directly.
If you should for any reason receive a call from the government etc regarding your personal information such as your social insurance number, tax number or anything of payment sensitive nature it is largely advised to ask for their extension to call them directly. Your inbound calls are not secure and you are not safe from fraud unless you verify and call out the number yourself by checking to see it is the right number on their website. I hope this stops a lot of people from getting ripped off from widely rampant fraud in this country. Fortunately, I am very tech savy and didn’t get my identity stolen today.
Do you have a Google Android phone? If so you probably noticed after a recent update Google has been notifying you of your distance and time from a previously visited or searched for businesses with traffic updates. The traffic updates are based on how fast other Android phones are moving which is something we originally saw from Microsoft. Your business location in Google has never been more important. It’s not enough to just have your site on Google anymore. The search verticals which include everything from videos to location and special schema.org code something we’ve pushed for years is starting to impact search in a really big way. I’ve often been reminded of business locations I’ve been to recently with predictive information about roughly how long it will take me to get there. In a sense for local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) this is remarketing and an extra opportunity to touch base with your clients. The above image is Google Location history SEO of Edmonton and Sherwood Park area. It shows my driving history and commutes all around. It’s on by default and is recording all sorts of information about consumers all over the world. It’s a real opportunity for marketers to harness and like most opportunities it’s especially there for those who take advantage first.
Search marketing science data shows year-over-year growth of about 20%+ of the visitors to sites is mobile and when we initially started seeing this years ago we started moving towards all responsive design sites to adjust to the shift in screen resolution size from mobile phones to big screens. Mobile apps are nice but a simple browser visit without having to download a mobile app is what people are expecting. Simple additions of schema.org code and other rel=author code makes your site stand out in search to show your picture etc. Bottom line, if your site is not optimized for local SEO with a responsive website design to accommodate a majority of business professionals and consumers on mobile then you’re missing out on a lot of free business leads. Is your business and reputation management up to par with today’s economy? Is your content targeted for both local, broad and mobile users? The reality is your Google Business location and citations are becoming an inevitable part of online consumer perception. People are doing their research online and if your business looks like a dinosaur and isn’t found eventually people are going to be looking at the other companies that are being proactive about their image. Because if you don’t care then why should they?
Curious about where you’ve been over the past 30 days according to your phone? I simply logged in with one of my Google Gmail ID’s and it showed me the Google Location History. Here’s the link to see for yourself https://maps.google.com/locationhistory/b/0 . If you don’t like Google stalking you then here’s how to turn it off http://lifehacker.com/psa-your-phone-logs-everywhere-you-go-heres-how-to-t-1486085759
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin
In 2014 lets be the change we want to see in the world and salute change by advancing with the information people are looking for by providing people with a better experience. Your reputation management is counting on it and without it someone else will be owning your market brand. After all, if you’re not talking about your business you can guarantee someone else is talking about your service product offering no matter how big or small your business is.
Believe it or not, good web hosting is probably one of the most important decisions you’ll make when setting up a website regardless of the size of your company. Over the years a great deal of time has been spent troubleshooting client problems and of that a majority of it came down to the web host being down or having issues. Sometimes it would be as simple as a client forgetting to pay their hosting bill or their domain bill and ever since then I have always hosted everything for my clients. I learned very quickly to try out different web hosts and once I found a great company with excellent managed web hosting services I never left. If your website is just basic HTML and you don’t use your host for email then don’t worry about it. However, if you’re of a majority of people these days that have content management systems like Drupal, WordPress, Joomla, or Typepad then you’re highly dependent on MySQL databases.
I recall a friend telling me about an outage that cost him a $10,000 sale because he was unable to answer an email due to his web hosts outage. He never cheaped out of web hosting again because a good host always has redundant backup systems trunked to save your company in the likely event of an outage. Google estimates that one in a thousand servers would go out on them daily. So it’s not a question of if your server have issues but when. A good host is fast, fully managed, and always backed up by redundancies for both connection and server files.
Web hosting is part of the communication life line of pretty much every major recognized company. When people look for your contact information your business card is typically not handy so they Google your contact information online. If your website or your email is down because of your web host you lose that major opportunity to connect with that person. If you sold buildings, or houses that sale could mean the sale of the year. Not only is important that your web hosting is always on but also that your site speed uploads are extremely fast. For every second of load time added onto a site a company on average will lose 7% or more.
In today’s market the site speed is extremely important so much so that Google even made it a part of their algorithm for ranking websites. While anyone can host a website on their home computer the kind of upload speeds a person gets of 768k is not nearly as fast as the 20 Mbit connection upload redundancies that web hosts have. Even if your business has a decent upload speed it’s unlikely that your staff will not at one point or another slow that speed down to a crawl.
People often ask for the reasoning behind the name Making 8 and one of the major reasons behind that is because people make decisions about a website in their first 8 seconds. Believe it or not if you’ve made it past 8 seconds and they’re still on your site after a minute you’re doing well. Most people do not spend a great deal of time on a page if it’s not structured right. You need to insure the page loads fast, doesn’t have too heavy of imagery or flash that slows down load time. You also have to insure your site loads fast for a majority of smart phone users of which 56% as of 2013 access the web on. If your site is extremely content rich then you absolutely need a great host.
Over the years 1&1 and Godaddy stuck out as by far the worst web hosts with horrible support which is fine considering their ultra low web hosting prices.The best web hosts I’ve worked with so far are Hostgator and Hostmonster. I absolutely love how good the service is at Host Monster but their service is only catering to the small business that doesn’t have a very big website. If you’re a mid size business like most companies you’re going to want to go to Hostgator which provides above average service, support, and scalability. Hostgator has saved my butt more times than I can imagine and their up time online is more than a business could ask for. They back up files regularly and if a developer accidently deletes your site or even intentionally they have recovery services available to you.
If your boss is demanding your company hosts the site make sure that you select a good web host and don’t do it internally. Between the cost savings of having your email and website managed it will far out weigh having it done inside your company in today’s market. A good web host is available by phone 24-7 and answers with in a few minutes. A good web host monitoring the servers 24/7 and always know when an outage is. Chances are by the time you phone in they’ll already be rectifying the situation and it will be back up minutes later. The way I tested managed web hosting service is I would call them up at any random time of the day in pre-qualifying them. I’ve found that both
Host Gator and Host Monster answered promptly with in minutes and in some circumstances as long as 10 which really is way better than the 30-45 minutes I’d see with Godaddy or worse yet 1&1. Godaddy is great for domains but when it comes to web hosting it’s an area I definitely avoid with them. So when it comes down to web hosting don’t cheap out on your business. Not even giant companies like Twitter do all their own hosting. In today’s market with all the savings it makes absolutely no sense to host your own website. While your IT guy says he can do it he will cost you far more to do it than a good web host will.
Update: We recently switched to Liquidweb web hosting because HostGator, HostMonster and Blue Host which were all great companies before merged infrastructure which dramatically reduced their quality of service. They have incredible security and it’s no wonder as they host Symantec Internet Security. Clients have been thoroughly impressed with the quality of their hosting services. It’s a bit of a pain to sign up but they’re worth the work.
One of the far most important factors is security with web hosting. A good web host is usually very large and includes security experts. Believe it or not, most sites are tried numerous times per month to be hacked if they have any real search or social influence. A good information security expert will cost upwards of 20k for an audit but big web hosting companies usually have one working with them at all times. The regular server updates and calculated moves big hosts make protect you and your business 365 days a year including the many days when your staff is likely not working. If your site comes under attack they’ll know about it and have the appropriate protections in place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard of people being hacked on cheap shared hosting. It’s just not worth risking your business presence and reputation on bad web hosting.
At Making 8 we like to use managed web hosting services from Liquidweb in the form of either a dedicated server or a VPS (Virtual Private Server) because that means your site is not shared with thousands of others and will greatly reduce your chances of an outage from someone else abusing the servers (which happens a lot on low cost shared hosting). We host all our clients here and include the cost into our integrated digital marketing services for free because we know just how much trouble it saves everyone. If you’re a web developer or an IT professional I highly recommend you doing the same for your clients. You’ll never have to worry about them not paying for a domain or inexpensive host again and it will expedite any troubleshooting issues you may have to overcome from time to time. Nothing is more annoying than finding out that you’ve spend over a half an hour of your company’s time only to find out that the client didn’t pay their $15 domain bill. Save yourself the trouble, and gain yourself the support of a great service by getting managed web hosting.
We use these guys…
A lot of people often ask me how I can call myself a CEO with a small corporation. The answer is quite simple. A CEO is a Chief Experience Officer. A person that always has their door open and likely follows a system similar to G.U.E.S.S.T. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to be trained by some of the top sales people in Canada and it’s taught me a lot. Using the G.U.E.S.S.T system has given me endless opportunities and I hope it does for you too.
every customer and person with equal genuine enthusiasm. Most business to an extent is based on an emotional impulse. Would you buy from someone you didn’t like? You are a brand after all. Just look at how well Steve Jobs was able to communicate and embrace every day people’s needs in his brief but powerful presentations. In networking and engaging your potential audience through various mediums you are with any luck building rapport. In fact, just by going out to introduce myself and asking clients relevant questions I quickly became one of the top 5 sales people for a very large corporation inside a month. Three great books that helped me with this are, “Never Eat Alone,” by Keith Ferrazzi, “Delivering Happiness” by “Tony Hsieh and “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. If you haven’t read these books you really should as I found them transforming. I’ve been told Toast Masters is amazing for business but I’ve not yet gone so I can’t say from personal experience. If you’re answering the phone make sure you say your name last. A study found that most people remember the last word you said. So if you answer the phone ending a sentence with speaking you’ve just become Mr/Mrs Speaking. Are you engaging people through the internet and greeting everyone that comes in?
your clients needs. The who, what, why, where, and how the product service offering will be used. If you know the potential customers needs you’ll never have to sell to them. You’re just giving them what they want. Two ears, one mouth is often said for a reason. If you’re not listening to your customer through various mediums such as the internet you’re missing out on huge opportunities. Are you properly qualifying your sales by asking the right questions?
your guests with brief, comprehensive values that tie into their needs. Plant seeds by answering their needs with questions how your product service offering applies to them with the who, why, when, where and how the offering will be used. For example, “Jennifer, you mentioned you’re looking for more sales cost effectively. Have you ever tried internet marketing which has the strongest ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) and on average results in $6 in store for every dollar spent online? Most people are doing their research about product service offerings online prior to purchase.” You’ll notice in the example I addressed the person by name which means they’re not just another person through the door. If a customer agrees three times that’s usually enough. Always look a customer in the eye if it’s in person, and speak with enthusiasm regardless of where it is. I remember speaking to a sales person from a Fortune 500 company on the phone about the acquisition of some hardware for a client over the phone. It quickly became very apparent that he was cocky and slouching back in his chair which made him someone we didn’t wish to buy from. If you’re on the phone sit up and speak with enthusiasm as people notice. If you’re speaking to someone in person make sure you’re nodding as you speak as people will tend to find themselves doing the same in agreement. Make sure you believe in the product service offering because if you don’t the client will either know it or it will be returned. Over 70% of communication is body language so make sure you’re projecting that confidence. I never sell anything I don’t personally stand behind or like. Know your product knowledge thoroughly but don’t confuse them with too many technical terms. Never give the customer more than a few choices as this will confuse them. Are you educating your customers with things relevant to their needs?
that the clients needs are met by asking questions.
is an old term, but close the sale by giving the customer what they basically asked for when you qualified them with questions pertinent to their needs.
every customer and be thankful for their business as it’s well known that it’s easier to sell to existing customers than it is to new ones.
If you’re an entrepreneur or marketer chances are you keep hearing about this SEO (Search Engine Optimization) buzz word that keeps flying around. You know you need this internet marketing called SEO but you’re not really sure why. The reality is that every business whether they sell products online or not needs SEO. It’s not enough to just post content in a traditional print style anymore as Google’s put out an algorithm that devalues pages that aren’t relevant to searchers on the internet. What this means is that even if you’re fortunate enough to be found in one of the trillion plus known sites crawled by Google chances are if you’re not writing your content for both engaged users and search engines you’re not going to be too successful online. The reason for this is Google uses click data to determine relevance and search query rankings. When a user immediately leaves (bounces) due to irrelevant information the page is devalued in search rankings. This is a large part of why traditional writers don’t perform well on search engines. While there’s over 200 constantly changing ranking signals there’s definitely a right and wrong way to brand your company online and it’s with SEO. Good branding means being first, selling your company well, and a website does this 24 hours a day 365 days a year even while you sleep.
What this all boils down to is that if you don’t control your brand online with SEO someone else will be in the front of the crowd talking about your brand, product, or service offering . If you’re not on the front page in the top search rankings for search queries you might as well be a guy at the back of a concert without a mic expecting to be heard. While many major brands don’t sell products online they do sell their brands and this is often worth millions if not billions of dollars to them in store. If you’re always at the back of people’s mind then you’re the company people are most likely to go to first. It doesn’t matter whether you sell jeans with a popular brand label or you sell buildings the presence you have first makes you the expert. In fact, a study shows that for every dollar spent online six is spent in store. With Canada being the highest number of users online per capita in the world chances are you want your company to have a strong SEO campaign to put your brand in front of the crowd.
If you don’t have SEO just think of the BP and Toyota in the last year. Two entirely different scenarios and two entirely different results. BP’s message was dominated by the media but with Toyota they managed to dominate their PR especially using SEO / Social Media Marketing to respond to an engaged audience looking for answers. Business is changing and chances are if people hear something about a company the first place they look is online. If they find your information first for popular queries the law of reciprocity shows that they’re more likely to work with you in the future. Consider most clothing brands. While most people don’t buy all their clothes online the value from powerful branding and presence selling the sizzle makes them more desirable. Without SEO you’re a pamphlet to the wind and nobody is going to see your message.
If you want to market yourself properly online you need a:
- Marketing Plan to start with a market directed vision based on competitive analysis, content strategies, and focused KPI (Key Performance Indicators)
- Custom Designed Website to reflect your company vision and target market
- Managed SEO to target engaged searchers and search engines
- Managed SEM (Search Engine Marketing) to target specific audiences across specific demographics across the web
- Social Media Marketing to actively respond to target audiences real-time and build rapport
- Managed Marketing Science to define key growth areas, improve on them and build on areas where the site content is weak so your company is always improving .