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Web Development, Internet Marketing & All Things Tech

SEO Tools That Will Help You and Your Website Ranking

Posted on April 25th, 2017

seo tools

 

When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, we can use all the help we can get.  Particularly if you are doing most of the legwork yourself and don’t have a lot of money to invest to hire a professional SEO expert.

 

There’s a ton of SEO tools out there – some more complicated than others to use.  However, there are tons of free and effective tools available that doesn’t require a university degree to figure out how they work.

 

Here are just a few of the suggestions that will help you monitor, and tweek your website to be as “SEO friendly” as possible.

 

 

1. Broken Link Detector – This helpful tool by Ninja Internet Marketers will scan through your website and highlight errors such as broken internal or external links.  Broken links are not good for your rankings, so be sure you don’t have any on your website

 

2. Trunk.ly  – is a simple application from BinaryPlex.  It works in conjunction with your Twitter account and will display a timeline of the links you (or your friends) have tweeted.  This helps to measure the impact a particular twitter account has on clicks/rankings

 

3. Google’s PageSpeed Insights –  It’s a well know fact that page speed directly affects your search engine rankings in Google.  Simply by entering a URL, this tool will test the loading time and performance of your website for both desktop and mobile, and identify opportunities to improve

 

4. Browseo – This tool will display your website to you the way search spiders see it.  This can be helpful to see the hierarchy you’ve given to particular elements on your website so you can make changes accordingly if needed.

 

5. SimilarWeb – Interested to see how you measure up to your competitors?  This clever tool compares traffic between two websites.

 

6. Keywordtool.io – This keyword tool will provide you new keyword alternatives and suggestions based on a single keyword that you provide.

 

7. Google Keyword Planner – By entering in keywords, this tool will return helpful stats to guide your keyword strategy including monthly search volume, competition, and even suggests terms you may not have considered.

 

8. QuickSprout Website Analyzer – This will give you a complete analysis on just about everything including SEO optimization, social media, internal/external links, speed, tags, keywords, and competitor comparisons.

 

 

You can find dozens of more SEO tools at https://moz.com/blog/100-free-seo-tools

How Voice Search Software Will Change Our Lives

Posted on April 24th, 2017

voice search software

 

Although voice search technology has been around for over a decade, its popularity has dramatically risen.

 

This can be attributed to virtual assistant products like Alexa, Siri and Cortana that use machine learning algorithms, which allows them to get better at what they do as time passes. We have grown to use them for real day-to-day tasks. What was once a basic search tool can now set your alarm clock, take notes, and learn from past responses and behaviour. And this is just the beginning. Over the next few years, we will see virtual assistants that can buy concert tickets, book reservations at your favourite restaurant, recommend a good movie according to your likes, and maybe even find an empty parking spot at the mall.

Verbal communication predates any written language out there. So it’s not surprising that voice search is becoming more popular, and feels more natural than typed search. According to MindMeld, in 2015, voice search jumped from zero to 50 billion searches a month. With more than half of all voice queries coming from smartphones, the mobile boom has a lot to do with this rise in popularity. With tiny screens and even tinier buttons, it’s sometimes difficult to navigate or even type – particularly if you have large thumbs.

 

Voice search presents a solution to getting the same information in an easier fashion.

 

This opens up a new gate in respect to marketing. For example, just as we would bid/pay Google AdWords to be that top listing for “paint supplies” in text search results, with voice search, we might eventually be competing for that number one spot, in order to become the virtual assistants’ preferred service. Voice search technology will undoubtedly continue to grow and be a bigger part of our lives, alerting us and resolving queries and issues before they even happen. It will be like having your very own “Jarvis” (Iron Man’s assistant) at your service 24/7. Just think of how much it can do for people with health issues or physical disabilities. For example, by monitoring your vital stats remotely, a virtual assistant could tell you that your blood sugar level is getting low, or that you’re beginning to have a stroke and automatically call an ambulance. The possibilities are endless.

What To Do If Your Website Has Been Blacklisted

Posted on April 21st, 2017

blacklisted

 

Most website owners only start to think about security after their site gets hacked or infected.

 

Getting blacklisted due to a security threat can be disastrous for your website and your business. Aside from the humiliation and loss of trust from your visitors, your web traffic will also plummet and your search engine rankings will be on hiatus. Quite often, website owners are unaware that their site has even been hacked – and by the time they find out, it’s too late.

The “malicious content” that was placed on your site will flag search engines that will blacklist your website because they see you as a threat to your visitors. Google alone blacklists over 10,000 websites every day. Bing, McAfee, and Norton also have their own blacklist protocols. If Google detects malware on your site and you get blacklisted as a result, visitors to your site will see a warning saying:

Warning: Visiting this site may harm your computer! The website at www.example.com contains elements from the site www.forinstance.com, which appears to host malware – software that can hurt your computer or otherwise operate without your consent. Just visiting a site that contains malware can infect your computer.

 

The first thing you want to do is verify that your site has indeed been blacklisted. You can do a lookup on any of these websites:

https://www.whatismyip.com/blacklist-check/
https://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx
http://www.dnsbl.info/

 

You will then want to scan your site for malware using your anti-virus software, or other malware detecting program. Once you’ve identified the malware, remove it. If you are using WordPress or a similar content management system, update it to the latest version immediately. It’s also advisable to remove all plugins and themes and reinstall them. Next, change all your admin passwords. You can also request that Google review your site – but only after you have resolved the security issues.

Once they’re resolved, it’s time to redeem yourself! Log in to the Google Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools), add your site to the Google Search Console and then follow all the instructions to verify your site. After you’ve done all this, click on “request review” in the security section to get it re-verified by Google. This process is not immediate and may take up to a week before you are clear and no longer blacklisted.

What Can You Do to Prevent Your Website From Being Scraped?

Posted on April 20th, 2017

web scraping

 

Content scrapers steal your content for their own websites or blogs without your permission.

 

This is usually performed by using automated software. This software can not only take the information from an RSS feed, but it can also post the same information on someone else’s blog like it’s a new post. Real estate listing portals are one of the most vulnerable websites when it comes to web scraping. Property data listings and real estate pictures are very valuable and relatively easy to steal using web scraping bots. If you have some experience with blogging, you’ve probably already fallen victim to web scraping bots. It almost feels like you have been intruded on – as though someone broke into your home and started taking things without asking.

 

So, what can you do to stop this from happening? What preventative measures can you take?

 

- As a simple first step, ask them to take it down and stop stealing your content. If they reply and agree, bonus. If they don’t agree or simply wont even reply to your emails, some further action will be necessary.

- Secondly, if you find that your website content has been taken or re-posted without your permission, you can file a DMCA-complaint with Google and they will investigate your inquiry.

- A third option is to use a duplicate content detection service. These services, such as Copyscape, will flag any duplicate content found.

- Lastly, you should monitor your logs frequently. New user-friendly tools have been introduced in the past few years to detect and block unwanted visitors or IP addresses from entering your site. WordPress offers a tool called Akismet that does just that. If you have a WordPress site, it’s also recommended to install a trusted security plugin and set up automatic backups of your database.

How Search Engine Crawlers Work

Posted on April 19th, 2017

crawlers and spiders

 

Search engine crawlers (or spiders) are small, automated software programs, also referred to as robots.

 

These programs will frequently roam around the World Wide Web, searching for new, updated, or changed web pages, which helps search engines index or “catalog” every website correctly to produce optimal search results for search engine users. Some websites are “crawled” daily, while others are not.

When a search engine spider arrives at your web page, it first looks for a robots.txt file. This is a transparent HTML code file used to tell the crawlers which areas of your site are off limits and shouldn’t be cataloged. Some examples would be pages that contain HTML code that are a waste of time (such as Flash pages). A robots.txt file will re-direct crawlers away from these types of pages. Search engine crawlers also collect outbound links from the page, and these routes will eventually be followed to other pages. Spiders follow the links from one page to another, but the frequency of visits will vary from one search engine to another, as they all have their own databases, and they’re all different.

 

As a website owner, you should regularly check and see which pages of your site have been visited by the search engine crawlers.

 

Every website owner should know which pages the search engine robots have visited. You can find this stuff out by looking at your server log reports or checking the results from your log statistics program.  If you don’t have one, you should upgrade your web hosting service. VectorInter.Net provides these tools for free, with every website hosting contract. Luckily, most search engine spiders are easily identifiable by their “user agent” names. Google’s robot is named “Googlebot”. There are many other crawlers that also have funny names, such as Inktomi’s robot, “Slurp”.

Learn the Basics of How Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing Works

Posted on April 18th, 2017

ppc

 

Are you having a difficult time with your SEO strategy and struggling to boost your search engine ranking?

 

Assuming you have a budget of some sort to work with, PPC may be a viable option for your business. PPC (which stands for pay-per-click), is a model of Internet marketing for which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. PPC allows advertisers to bid for ad placement in a search engine’s sponsored listings when someone searches a keyword that is related to their business or service.

For example, is you own a massage therapy clinic in Toronto, you can do a PPC campaign for the keyword “Registered Massage Therapy in Toronto”. This way, every time someone searches that keyword phrase in a search engine, your ad will appear as a sponsored listing. When that ad is clicked, it sends the visitor to your website and you’ll have to pay a small fee to the search engine.

 

But keep in mind that these fees can quickly add up.

 

If the cost is $3 per click and 300 people click on your sponsored ad for that month, your fees will total $900. However, on the other side of the coin, if 50 of those people who clicked your ad end up paying for a massage that costs $100, you just made $5000 in sales – a $4100 profit. So your ROI can be quite good.

But, building a successful PPC campaign, from researching and selecting the right keywords to organizing those keywords into a campaign, is very time consuming. So if you find yourself short on time, hiring a professional search engine marketer is recommended, as they are already well versed on how the whole process works, and how to select the most relevant keywords without going broke.

Google’s AdWords is perhaps the most popular PPC advertising system in the world. For more details on Google’s PPC service, go to https://adwords.google.com/intl/en_ca/home/how-it-works/

Email Marketing Tips For Small Businesses

Posted on April 12th, 2017

email marketing-tips

 

Despite what some might say, email marketing is still alive and well.

 

With the explosion of social media sites today, some feel that email is a dying marketing tool. However, email still remains one of the most lucrative marketing channels for businesses. It’s a free source of advertising and it’s targeting an audience that has already shown interest in your brand by subscribing to your email list or newsletter. Customers are more inclined to buy from you because a level of trust has already been established. Emails and newsletters can help boost sales, given that they’re done properly. But keep in mind that you can actually lose customers if it’s not done with care.

 

Here are some helpful tips to remember before sending out that email to your subscribers:

 

1. Personalization – Avoid generic greetings such as “Hello”, or “Dear valued customer”. Emails that address readers by their first name are much more effective and help build the relationship on a more personal level. Most email marketing tools have a function that will automatically include the individuals’ name whom you’re emailing, so you don’t have to type all the names in manually every time.

 

2. Know Your Message, and Write it Well – Before you start writing that email, ask yourself why you’re emailing your customers and make sure to include a call to action (what you want them to do). Be sure it’s well written and is engaging for your customers to read. Assume that you only have a couple of seconds to grab their attention and make the first few sentences enticing so customers will continue reading. Use headings and small paragraphs for ease of reading.

 

3. Frequency and Timing – Don’t overdo it. It’s recommended that small businesses should be emailing their subscribers only once or twice a month. Emailing too frequently will ultimately lead to higher unsubscribe rates. Social media sites are better tools for frequent communications. Also, keep in mind that there are “prime” times to send these emails. Although it will vary slightly depending on your target audience and the type of industry you are in, typically these are the best times to send marketing emails:

Day of the Week – Monday to Friday (except for mail about recreational content, which is better to send on the weekend)
Time of Day – The optimal send time is 10:30am (except for content about hobbies, which is better to be sent at 8:00am)

 

4. Do Not Spam – It’s very important that you do NOT add people to your email list who did not personally sign up. Remember, emails are great tools for maintaining and strengthening relationships (or sales), but highly ineffective at recruiting new customers. Adding unsuspecting names to your email list will only foster a negative impression and might even get you dropped by your email provider. So don’t do it!  Also, avoid using spammy-sounding phrases in the subject line, and include the business address, as this will also keep your mail from being treated as spam by email filters and servers.

 

5. Make it Mobile-friendly – Your emails should be mobile-friendly. Prior to finalizing your next email campaign, make sure that it is tested against all major mobile devices. Mobile emulators are also available so you can see how the email looks on different devices.

 

6. Use Social Media – Your website is not the only medium you can use to increase your email subscribers. Make full use of your social media accounts, and include your social media profiles in the email, as well. Provide links to your Twitter feed, Facebook page, and/or your blog in all email messages. Also, remember to ask your followers to register and explain the benefits of doing so.

 

7. Keep it Interesting – People get bored easily, so keep your content from becoming static. Don’t focus on the same message over and over. Mix up your content and keep your subscribers engaged by offering special offers and vouchers, as well. On average, 7 in 10 people will make use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email.

 

For more on email tips and etiquette, visit http://www.verticalresponse.com/blog/email-etiquette-dos-and-donts/

Ways to Increase Your Website’s Page Speed

Posted on April 10th, 2017

increase speed

 

Google has started taking site speed into account as one of the factors for deciding search result listings.

 

Bounce rates, particularly on mobile devices, are higher when the site speed is slow. According to digital marketing specialist Max Goldberg, a website that loads faster makes money faster. In addition, it creates a better user experience because nobody wants to wait more than a few seconds for a page to load. That’s the reality of it. So, what do you do if you find that your page loading speed is slow (3 seconds or more)? You don’t have to necessarily redesign your entire site.

 

These are a few ways to increase your page loading speed without an entire website overhaul:

 

Image optimization – There’s no need to have huge image files on your website. They can be sharp, clear and of high quality without them all being 2 MB images. Images tend to load much more slowly, when compared to text. If the images on your website are in the range of 1 MB or more, it can lead to longer website load times, and the more pictures you have, the more this factor plays a part. But, you can compress and optimize all of these images. A good standard is to make sure your images are around 100 KB in size.

Use system fonts – System fonts may not have the dazzle and funkiness of the custom fonts you can find these days, but they will improve your page loading speed. Using standard system fonts like Arial or Times New Roman will speed things up, and they look great on pretty much every device and operating system.

Get rid of the auto-playing videos – If you insist on having videos on your website, disable the auto-play. It’s incredibly annoying to the end user and slows things down significantly. Instead, display links to the videos on your YouTube channel, or at least allow users to manually click play in order to watch.

Minimize Redirects – Redirects trigger an additional HTTP request, which adds a delay to page loading. You should try to avoid redirects totally and they should be included only if it’s technically required and if an alternate solution is not available. When it comes to your web pages, you should never reference URLs that can redirect to others.

Faster Servers – The speed at which the website content is delivered by the server also has a major impact on the load time. This is why hosting companies will vary considerably in price. It’s the “you get what you pay for” scenario – the cheaper ones are a lot slower than the more costly ones. If you have a decent budget, opting for a dedicated virtual private server would be ideal.

Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – Google now makes use of an open source standard for mobile devices referred to as AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). Instead of loading all the content from your site, Google creates its own index of your website. It strips it down to HTML so that mobile devices load sites faster. Google attaches preference to AMP pages when it comes to mobile searches. For websites that were created with WordPress, you can use the AMP plugin for deploying AMP pages.

Malicious Bots – What Are They and How Can You Avoid Them?

Posted on April 7th, 2017

malicious bots

 

A malicious bot is malware designed to steal information, or infect a host, often used by cyber criminals.

 

The threat of these automated programs can come in many forms; DDOS, spam, content duplication, etc. Some are designed to strictly scrape information from your website and use it for their benefit (websites with real estate listings often fall victim to this bot). Others are more malicious and attempt to gain more detailed personal information from you or your visitors. When malicious bots commit fraudulent activities, they can consume between 15%-40% of server capacity and bandwidth. This results in high server cost, more server requirements and higher load on current server infrastructure.

 

These are three of the more common types of malicious bots:

 

File-sharing Bots
These bots take the user’s query term (e.g. a popular movie or artist’s album) and respond to the query stating that they have the file available for download, providing a link. The unexpecting user clicks on the link, downloads and opens it, and unknowingly has infected their computer.

 

Spam bots
These bots flood your inbox with spam and interrupt your chats by sending you unsolicited instant messages. Some aggressive advertisers use these bots to target individuals based on demographic information obtained from the user’s profile. These types of bots are usually easy to spot because they typically just send you a link to click on along with some kind of enticing comment to get you to click.

 

Zombie Bots
This refers to a computer that has been compromised, along with hundreds or thousands of other computers, as part of a botnet. These computers are used to coordinate large-scale attacks where all the zombie computers act in unison, carrying out commands sent by the botnet owner. These bots are more difficult to detect and are more stealthy. Quite often, victims of this type of infection don’t even know that their PCs are infected.

 

So how can you avoid these monsters?

 

For starters, consider using a second opinion scanner in addition to your existing anti-virus software. A lot of anti-virus programs don’t detect botnet-related software. Malwarebytes is a reputable example of this kind of bot detection software.

Secondly, monitor your logs. Staying proactive and attentive to your website will increase the likelihood that you can take action before any major damage is done. New tools have emerged in the past few years to make this task easier and more user-friendly. These tools enable you to isolate any IP showing aggressive or unusual behaviour. Logstash is an open source tool for collecting, parsing, and storing logs for future use and has grown to become one of the major players in this field.

Looking to Partner With a YouTube Influencer? Here are Some Useful Tips

Posted on April 6th, 2017

partner youtube influencer

 

Partnering with a YouTube influencer can be extremely beneficial for your business.

 

But, as with any business decision, making the right choice takes some time and thought. The most important thing that you should keep in mind is to choose one that is relevant to your business and not focus on the hits/traffic alone. Brands working with small- and mid-sized influencers tend to have more success, because they are directly related and have a tight-knit community as the target market. For example, a YouTube influencer might be getting millions of hits per month giving demonstrations and tutorials on the newest video games. But, if you’re a mortgage consultant, partnering up with this YouTuber will not benefit you at all, regardless of how many hits they get.

 

Another thing that’s very important is to go for authenticity.

 

It’s better to have an organic video by a non-professional, so to speak, than an overly-promotional commercial type of video. There’s no need to use the “buy now” approach. It gives the viewer more of a sense of control, and portrays the YouTuber as a real person, as opposed to a salesman trying to get that sale. Once you have selected the best candidate, make sure to provide a custom tracking link for the influencer (preferably placed at the top of their video description), which leads back to your website, blog or product page.

If you have more than one influencer, each tracking link should be different so you can measure results from each one accurately. This will tell you which influencers were most effective, and determine which ones you do not want to work with on your future campaigns. If you don’t know where to start looking for a YouTube influencer, check out https://www.grapevinelogic.com/.

Don’t forget about SEO! Now that Google owns YouTube, Google often gives preference to YouTube content in their search results. So, be sure to include your brand name and any other keywords associated with your product or company in the video description and tags. This will help increase your ranking in the search results.

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