Technical SEO

How Important is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO is one of the areas of Search Engine Optimization that can seem like smoke and mirrors to a client who is unfamiliar with these strategies. The first step in our proposal process is to audit and explore technical errors found on a website. These items are indicators to Google and other crawlers that your website is clean and efficient. Many items such as dead pages, broken links, and improper header structure can have negative impacts on rankings if not addressed properly. Here is a deeper breakdown of some of the technical aspects that can have a drastic impact on search engine rankings.

Redirecting Old or Dead Pages

Old and dead pages on your site are often unmonitored areas for technical errors to fall through the cracks. Maybe in the past, you offered a service you have since removed. If you don’t have the proper redirect in place users and robots will hit the wrong page, forcing Google to not index the proper page or leave the page out altogether. On the same hand, if you have links being sent to a page you have since removed, you will not gain the value from that link unless you create a redirect to make sure the value is passed properly. Cleaning up items like this can seem trivial, especially since there isn’t much direct impact on your users. Removing that triviality, we have seen excellent results for clients in redirecting pages to proper live pages within their domains.

Technical SEO

External and Internal Linking

Links are similar to the roads you utilize to move around your city. They connect each domain with the internal pages within the site as well as external domains separate from the client’s site. Each link can be loosely described as a vote for a certain domain. The more links from other websites pointing to your site, the better you will look in the eyes of Google from a basic perspective. In a more granular perspective, it is important for those links to go to the right place. As with the example above for old or dead pages, the same follows for links. There is not much control we have on the way other sites link to our client’s sites, but one thing we can control is where those links (and the value they possess) end up. Our tools are able to explore the incoming links and make sure they are being directed to the proper pages. This becomes a heavily impactful tactic once your domain has run through a few redesigns or structure changes. Left unchecked, you can leave a lot of SEO value on the table if these errors are not cleaned up.

HTML Structure

Semantic HTML structure is a technical aspect of web design that often goes unattended. Novice developers implement changes to header structure related to the look and feel rather than the hierarchy HTML structure should follow. The top header on your page should be an H1 tag (and be the only H1 found on the page). This is like the introductory copy found at the beginning of a paper. It should clearly describe what can be found on the page, establish the importance, and do so in a clean and elegant manner. After implementing your H1 tags, the rest of the headers should cascade down in order of importance. Here is an idea of optimal header structure for a landscaping company in Denver:

  • H1 – Denver Landscaping
  • H2 – Landscaping Services
  • H3 – Weekly Mowing Packages
  • H3 – Retaining Walls
  • H3 – Water Features
  • H2 – Other Services

As you can see, the most important aspect is the “Denver Landscaping” header, and then the overall services, with a further breakdown of individual services beneath. Then the last header is similar in value to the Landscaping Services header. Look at HTML markup like making sure your address at your home is displayed in all the typical places so your postman knows where to look to confirm your address. A postman should not have to look in a different place for each house he attempts to deliver a package. Having the address on your mailbox, the front of your house, and potentially your driveway, are all indicators to make sure your mail is delivered to the right place. This is the same way Google works. We want to make sure the right page comes up in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) when a certain keyword is searched. Optimizing the HTML structure ensures this is set up properly.

As you can see, technical aspects can have a massive impact on SEO results. Each of these items may individually seem like small beans compared to overall copy and site design, but piled together, these items can help SEO efforts considerably.


How to Use Local SEO to Build Engagement?

As a local business, it’s important to step up your game if you want to get online visibility. Competition is getting more fierce and your website isn’t the only piece of the puzzle anymore. You need to focus on optimizing for local search and use local engagement tactics to help you get better online visibility. Hiring us is a great way to start, but working alongside us can help you get results faster.

Local SEO and Google AI

Before getting started, let’s take a second to discuss the relatively new connection between local search optimization and Google Assistant, or Google AI. Google has announced augmented reality (AR) will be added to Google Maps. Once you open the Google Maps app, you will be able to transfer to a first-person view of Maps with Street View to become more familiar with new locations. The new walking mode update will also allow for an augmented fox to help guide you through the unknown.

Maps are also getting new features aimed at increasing engagement, such as the “For You” tab. Inside this tab, users will find local restaurant recommendations based on what is trending in the immediate vicinity. Google will also be added a “match score” created with machine learning, to identify which places a user prefers based on their local geo-footprint and their past search behavior. This is designed to provide recommendations users will enjoy.

Businesses will also have more options to create user engagement with their Maps profile – where they now have Events, Google Posts, and Offers, there will also be the option to add more video, and include calls to action for booking appointments or ordering online.

Google Lens will also boost efforts because it won’t be hiding inside Google Assistant and Google Photos. With the increased functionality, we’ll now have smart text selection, style match, and real-time results, so customers can get more from their search results before choosing which establishment to interact with.

Start with the Google Knowledge Panel

If you don’t already have a Google My Business account, you need one right now. It’s what allows you to have control over how your business displays in Google’s search results when people are searching for you. However, it’s important to know that Google says simply verifying your business does not guarantee that it will appear in an outage panel. While verifying your business is important, concentrate on offering your customers the best possible service.

Google’s Knowledge Panel will offer a lot of information if you are able to show up on it. When you search for a business, you may see information regarding that searched Topic in a box that appears on the right side of the search results. This is known as the knowledge panel and is instrumental in helping customers to discover and reach your business. Inside the knowledge panel, customers will be able to find things like your website, directions, operating hours and more.

It’s also possible Google will include your business in a broad or knowledge panel that will suggest businesses that are in the neighborhood. You could be featured as part of a few listings with your reviews. Customers can then read more about your business by clicking on it.

Whether or not your business is featured in the relevance, and your business Providence. For instance, if someone is searching for a coffee shop and you are not a coffee shop in the area, you won’t show up in the knowledge panel.

The best way to have any kind of control over the information that is displayed is to make sure your Google my business profile is verified. Google often uses this source for information when putting together its knowledge panels. Make sure the information is not only current but is as complete as possible.

Look at Your Google My Business Timeline

Start monitoring your Google My Business Timeline. Google has now released the Q&A feature that allows people to ask questions about your business. However, business owners don’t get notified. This is why it is an important feature to pay attention to. Many of your prospective customers are already reaching out to you so all you need to do is respond.

Encourage Your Customers to Leave Reviews for Your Business on Their Preferred Platform

While encouraging customers to leave reviews on Google is important, it is not the only platform where people will leave reviews for your business. Instead of pushing one platform over the other, advertise several different options and allow your customers to choose the one they want to use. Focus on providing absolutely stellar customer service and you may find your customers are leaving reviews for your business on multiple platforms.

Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for reviews. Make sure that you are paying attention to the best review sites for your locality or your niche. For instance, if you are in the construction or interior design niche, you may be better served by having your customers review your products and services on Porch, Angie’s List, and Houzz.

Use a Custom Trackable Link to Provide Directions to Your Business

Do you need to provide directions to help customers find your location? Create a custom link and place it on your contact page, footer, and Confirmation emails. When someone clicks the link to your driving directions, it is considered an engagement signal which will help boost your overall ranking and improve your SEO.

Automate Engagement With Your Prospects

Use a service like Zapier to set up your major search terms. Set up a zap so that when anyone mentions the keywords in a certain radius of your location, you can tweet them a coupon or a discount to encourage them to visit your business.

Wrap-Up

The tips provided in this blog post will only be helpful to you if your website is easy for your Target audience to use. It’s important to remember that not everyone has the same computer skills and if you make navigating your website difficult for your users, they will choose someone else. Feel free to reach out with to us today to discuss your options for improving your local SEO in and around the Denver area.


9 Ways to Calculate ROI on Local SEO

9 Ways to Calculate ROI on Local SEO

Local SEO is how Denver area businesses can reach their prospective customers. Like traditional SEO, it takes expertise, finesse, and time. As much as we’d all love to be able to rank number one overnight, it just doesn’t happen. But if you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth from your efforts, take a look at these nine ways to calculate your return on investment.

#1: Monitoring Your Changes in Rank

This is the obvious one. With major changes in rank, you know you’re getting a decent return on your investment. It’s a good idea to take screenshots to show the changes in ranking, so clients can see the difference. It’s easy to report ranking changes, but the visuals help drive the point home. Even if the rank increases slowly over time, progress is being made. Fast changes are great if you can sustain the higher rank over time.

#2: Increased Click-Through Rate (CTR)

Check the Google Search Console to see if you’re getting more clicks on the targeted keywords than you use to. Save the data in a spreadsheet since it doesn’t go beyond 90 days. The CTR is what matters because it’ll let you know if traffic is actually clicking through to your website. If you aren’t seeing improvement there, it’s time to re-write your title tags.

#3: Track Phone Calls from Web Leads

With call tracking software, you can have leads call a different phone number based on where they are coming to your website from. The tracking system will connect with analytics and counted as a conversion, and attributed back to the source.

As helpful as this can be, it’s important to display a consistent phone number for your business across the web because not doing so can negatively affect your ranking. Code your business phone number into your site with schema and monitor local citations to make sure tracking numbers aren’t picked up elsewhere.

#4: Track Link Interactions

Tracking link interactions will help you see if people are clicking to call from mobile search, which links on your site they’re clicking, clicking on your driving directions, and so on. Track click activity with consistent naming using event tracking in Google Analytics.

#5: Using a Thanks Page to Track Where Leads Are Coming From

Route visitors to a thank you page after a contact form is filled out. This way you can tell whether they’re coming from social media, Google AdWords, or another source. Then you’ll be able to see which methods are working for conversions so you can focus more efforts on those.

#6: Seasonal Business? Base it on Year-Over-Year

Comparing analytics data from month to month isn’t necessarily practical for a seasonal business. Pool cleaning businesses are booming year round in warm climates like California and Florida, but those same businesses are only open in the summer in North Carolina. You can’t look at winter data for North Carolina pool businesses and expect it to match the summer months.

#7: Monitor Search Queries

If you’ve completely redone some of the pages on your website, optimizing them for better keywords, or improving the optimization for the existing keywords, take a look at the search queries in Search Console.

Copy the data into a spreadsheet so you have it for historical comparison. After a few weeks, you may see an increase in impressions, even though your business hasn’t made it to the first page of results for your desired keyword phrase. Google can still show you information that proves your local SEO campaigns are working.

#8: Track Impressions in Google My Business Dashboard

You can only go back 90 days here, so you’ll want to log the data in a spreadsheet for safe keeping and long-term analysis. This way you can see the change from quarter to quarter, and from year to year.

#9: Calculating Actual ROI

This is a fairly simple formula you can use to check the ROI of each campaign you’re doing, to see if your numbers are improving with time. Let’s assume:

  • K = volume of keywords searched
  • S = % of searchers who become visitors
  • D = % of visitors who become leads
  • C = % of visitors who convert to customers
  • V = average customer value
  • L = Local SEO revenue

(K) x  (S) x (C) x (V) = L

ROI = (L – Cost) / Cost

So, let’s say 5,000 people search for “Denver dentist” ever month. It’s safe to say only a small percentage of those searches will end up visiting your site – and the percentage will, of course, depend on where you rank. If you rank higher on the first page, you’ll get a larger percentage of those visits.

For the sake of example, we’re going to show you what you could expect if you were number 10 (at the bottom of page one) compared to what you could expect if you ranked #1.

If you’re in position 10, you can expect about 3% of the search traffic. Of that hypothetical 5,000, that’s 150 visitors.

If you’re in position 1, you can expect about 40% of the search traffic for the keyword, which translates to 2,000 visitors. That’s well over 10x more, so it pays to rank higher.

So now, let’s assume that 5% of visitors, in both ranking positions, become leads because the majority of people who visit your website won’t contact you at all.  Now, you’ve got 7.5 technically, but I’ll round up to 8 leads at position 10, and 100 leads at position 1.

Now, not every single lead is going to become a paying customer; so let’s assume only 25% of those leads actually become a paying customer. In position 10, you’ve got two customers; in position one, you’ve got 25.

If your average customer value is $25, you’ve produced $50 in revenue in position 10 and $625 in position 1.

(5000) x (.40) x (.05) x (.25) x (25) = L = $625/month

Let’s say you’re spending $250/month in SEO services, so at the #1 position, you’re left with $375 in profit. That means your final ROI calculation would be $375/$250, or an ROI of $1.50. For every dollar you’re spending on SEO, you’re earning $1.50 in return – in the number one position. These numbers are completely arbitrary, but if we continue with the example, it’s easy to see we’d be losing money at position 10.

(5000) x (.03) x (.05) x (.25) x (25) = L = $50/month

In the #10 position, your final ROI calculation would be -200/250, or a loss of 80 cents on every dollar you’re spending on local SEO. You’d need to increase the average customer value to make it worth it. Spending less would make it harder to increase ranking quickly.

ROI comes in many shapes and sizes. Looking at more than one metric can prove that SEO efforts are making a difference.


Questions to Ask When Hiring a Denver SEO Expert

Colorado-SEO-servicesWe take our jobs very seriously here at FirestarterSEO. It’s our goal to provide you serve you as a leading Denver SEO expert. And because of that, we want to equip you with the knowledge to choose the right professional to consult on your SEO needs.

Even if that’s not us.

When you’re evaluate SEO services, you’ll want to ask several questions. There are plenty of frauds out there trying to pass off as an expert.

This list of questions will help you make the right decision and weed out any unqualified consultants. Ready to find a solid Denver SEO expert? Keep these questions close by.

Can I See a List of Current and Past Clients?

A reputable Denver SEO expert should always be open to sharing a brief list of clients and their contact information. If they don’t, run the other way.

These clients will serve as references to check out how effective the prospective consultant is at their job. It will also help you see whether they have held true to their promises and goals in the past. There’s nothing worse than getting into a contract with an ineffective fraud.

How Will You Improve My Search Engine Rankings?

You want someone that has a proven pathway to success. You may not understand all the tactical information they give, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking.

It’s easy to tell by their level of confidence and clarity whether they’ve been able to achieve results with this method in the past. You can also compare their general plan with the pitches of other Denver SEO experts to measure their qualifies.

Do You Care About Content?

Strong content is the foundation of a powerful SEO campaign. Make sure that your expert knows how to generate content that brings results.

Don’t be afraid to ask for writing samples that showcase their abilities, or writing samples of their content development partners.

Are You Experienced at Improving Local Search Results?

Local search is very important if you operate a local small business. You’ll want to have a consultant that is familiar with these tactics and can implement them for your business.

Ask what types of other Denver businesses they have created local SEO campaigns for, and inquire about how successful the campaigns were.

How Do You Measure the Success of SEO Campaigns?

You need to know how things change and fluctuate from month to month.

Always ask the prospective expert whether or not they offer monthly reporting and consultations. A reputable vendor won’t hesitate to share their victories and losses with you every month.

Are you looking for a Denver SEO expert to help you rank on Google? We’d love to help you out. Go ahead and contact us today. We’ll be happy to answer these questions for you, as well as any others you may have.


How Monthly SEO Packages Boost Your Business

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) places your business in the top search results, which builds your traffic. Done right, this can help you acquire customers, increase revenue and reach a new level of success.

How does this happen?

Three words: Monthly SEO Packages.

These retainers boost your business in a powerful way. And the longer you wait to invest, the further you fall behind.

But before you throw money at the situation, business owners like yourself need to understand how monthly SEO packages boost your business. And that’s what we’re here to discuss today.

Access to Expert Advice

Search engines change the algorithms on a regular basis. Most of these go unnoticed, as they just make minute shifts and tweaks.

But other times these updates cause catastrophic effects on local businesses. Penalties sink your rankings, which in turn, destroys traffic numbers and conversions. And for a small business, this could mean the difference between success and failure.

That’s why it’s so important to keep an expert on call.

Having someone manage your SEO sets up a preventative barrier between your business and drastic search engine updates. That alone makes it a worthwhile investment.

Fresh, Relevant Content

Monthly SEO packages frequently include blog posts or articles.

This benefit affects more than just search engine rankings. It strengthens your brand, engages customers and converts leads into buyers. But only when done right.

In terms of SEO rankings, fresh, relevant content shows search engines that you care about the overall success of your site. By updating the content regularly through a blog, it also feeds the search engine new pages that it needs to crawl on a regular basis.

And with content marketing becoming such an integral part of holistic marketing plans, adding more fodder to your content endeavors is always a good thing.

Know Your Position

You need to know where your business stands at all times. It’s imperative that you keep a close eye on things like cash flow, employee morale and client/vendor relations.

The same holds true with SEO.

A vital part of good monthly SEO packages lie in the reporting aspect. Rankings lie at the core of SEO and serve as the best progress indicator. It shows you the effectiveness of your SEO professional and provides insight into the overall value of the investment.

Each month, you should receive a rankings report that outlines your rankings. This gives you a clear path of where you’re at and where you’re going.

Ready for Monthly SEO Packages to Boost Your Business?

Smart business owners understand the dangers of falling behind in SEO. It could leave your website penalized and without traffic.

At the end of the day, you need strong SEO.

Monthly packages can ensure that your website doesn’t fall victim to the next search engine update. It’ll also keep you up-to-date on the rapid developments in this industry.

You can’t afford not to make the investment.


Social Media and SEO: Content Distribution

Often I am asked questions like “Does posting on my Facebook page build me links?” Or “Does social media help with SEO?”. These are great questions and the general answer is, yes. However, it is important to understand which social media platforms help the most and how each one assists with search engine optimization. Each social media platform has it’s own benefits and treats content differently. Here are some of the most utilized social media services and a breakdown of their SEO value.

Facebook

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.25.33 AMFacebook is an interesting breed. Does Facebook have a direct impact on SEO? The answer would be, maybe. Part of Facebook is currently blocked from Google’s crawlers, which means a lot of the content on Facebook is not read or indexed by search engines. So it can’t be stored in Google’s virtual filing cabinet. If users have adjusted their privacy setting within their account, Google is completely banned from crawling their personal profiles and information. However, according to Search Engine Journal other Facebook posts seem to be finding their way into the Google index including limited view profiles, Fan Pages and their associated comments and posts, and comments left on third party websites using a Facebook widget or plugin. Also, when an article on your blog is liked or shared on Facebook using a social media add-on, it is highly likely that Google can read this, sending out a social signal. And as it’s been said, higher shares and likes correlate with higher rankings.

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Twitter

Twitter’s links are tagged with a no-follow, meaning they do not pass any link value. The key with Twitter is having the right people follow you. If an influential person is following you and retweets your content, the likelihood of getting links built to the content within is high. Often when an article we write is tweeted and retweeted by highly influential people, other writers will write blog posts in response to ours and cite our original post as a reference. Overall, the relationships built through Twitter are much more powerful than Twitter itself.
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Google+

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 4.39.21 AMSharing content on your Google+ page has the largest direct impact on search engine rankings. There are some obvious reasons for this. First, Google is a little biased (aren’t we all) and they are pushing users to utilize this platform. However, there are other reasons Google+ can be valuable from an SEO perspective. Posting on G+ allows your content to be indexed immediately. This was one of the promises given with the Google Buzz product, which has essentially been gobbled up and incorporated into Google+. And as we all know by know, getting your content indexed is key.

Pinterest

Pinterest has the potential to spread content like wildfire. When we pinned a image incorporated into a guest post for one of our clients, it was repinned over 40 times in 30 minutes. Again, like many other social media platforms, Pinterest’s links are nofollow. So the value of the link comes from its ability to be cited in someone elses blog or website, not in the link from Pinterest.com itself.
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LinkedIn

I love LinkedIn. I believe LinkedIn is a golden nugget for business’. I don’t care if Google does or does not crawl it, every business should utilize it. With that said, it is reported that Google loves to crawl LinkedIn Profiles, which makes it a double whammy! Having a LinkedIn profile for your business is a big win. It adds legitimacy to your website and company, it creates another method of entry for your site, and it gives you a link. In fact, I have seen ranking changes simply because a LinkedIn profile was created and linked to the business’ website. The link itself is again a no-follow. However, this may be a good example of co-occurrence, where a legit authoritative site is citing a company or person so Google gives it weight.
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In the end, social media is best used as a tool to distribute content, not build direct links from. In SEO, two things are certain. One, Google loves great content and two, Google likes links. Turns out these two things go hand in hand! Distributing award winning content provides opportunities for earning links. And the more a webpage is shared, liked, tweeted, pinned etc. the more visibility is has, which means the chances of people reading it and building natural, relevant authoritative links to it increases ten fold. I find it no coincidence that shares and links have the highest correlation to website rankings, and neither should you!