Category Archives: Online Search

WordPress Plugins We Love: All in One SEO PAck

all-in-one-seoOne of the reasons we love WordPress so much is the vast number of plugins it has available to extend the built-in functionality. But since there are over 40,000 plugins available in the repository, we thought it would be fun to help you sort through the pile by recommending a few of our favorites. These will be plugins we use all the time, have thoroughly tested and highly suggest using if you are looking for what they offer.

As we mentioned in a recent post, WordPress is an awesome Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tool right out of the box, but with a little help, it can do so much more! One of the best ways to make that happen is to install a top-of-class SEO plugin to extend the built-in functionality. While there are many plugins that claim to power-up your SEO, a few stand above the rest by providing a wide array of tools, are easy to use, and don’t impact the performance of your site. Of these, we have found All in One SEO Pack to be the best of the breed.

All in One SEO was created by Michael Torbert and Steve Mortiboy in 2007 and is one of the more venerable plugins out there. According to their site, it is the most downloaded plugin for WordPress (with almost 30-million downloads), and for good reason! So what makes this plugin so great? Stick around, and we’ll drop some truth on you. Continue reading

Tapping Into Google’s Featured Snippet Box

In 2014, Google introduced featured snippet boxes, an exciting new way to give users the quick answers they’re seeking. According to Google, “When a user asks a question in Google Search, we might show a summary of the answer in a special featured snippet box at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). This featured snippet box (also called an answer box) includes a summary of the answer, extracted from a webpage, plus a link to the page, the page title and URL.” A featured snippet might look something like this one that came up when I asked, “What is a featured snippet?”

Screenshot 2016-05-01 10.15.17

You can see how the answer to the question is provided in a clear, direct, simple way. This is a great experience for users, and evidently Google likes it, too. Continue reading

New SEO is a Horse of a Different Color

seo-758264_1280We’ve written a number of posts to help demystify some misconceptions and confusion about online search, search engine optimization (SEO), and Google’s never-ending algorithm changes. It’s no easy feat to keep up with Google changing its algorithms 500-600 times a year. With all those changes, SEO today “ain’t” what it used to be!

SEO is growing, changing, and evolving into something different than even a few years (or just a few months) ago. To understand what’s happening, we have to look at the progression of search and adapt to the new ways to optimize search…while not losing sight of creating valuable content. Easier said than done, I think!
Continue reading

You Better Be Responsive, Or Google Will Get You

search-engine-76519_1280As is it’s habit, Google is getting ready to make another major alteration to their search algorithm, and there has been a lot of chatter about what it is going to mean for us web denizens, so I thought I’d clarify it for you.

Here’s the deal ­— on April 21, Google will be adding a ‘mobile friendly’ component to their algorithm.  This new feature basically looks at your site, and tries to determine if it’s mobile friendly or not.  If not, then it will drop your site down in the rankings returned to Mobile devices below other sites that are mobile friendly.  Basically, if you search on a mobile device, google will rank mobile friendly sites better than non-mobile friendly devices.

The question is, will this impact you? Probably quite a bit. In January 2014, 30% of web traffic was on a mobile device.  As of 2015, it’s looking like more than 50% of web traffic is from a mobile device, and there are projections that this will increase exponentially over the next year or so.

So…this is important…but only if you care about search engine rankings.

For those of you who have Solamar-designed sites, if we built it in the past few years, you should be ok. Here’s where things can go awry — if you have older pre-Solamar pages that are straight-up HTML existing outside of WordPress, it’s about 99% likely that these old pages are not mobile friendly.  When Google finds these old pages, it will consider your entire site to be non-mobile friendly and drop your ranking accordingly.

We’ve been hearing about this, but were hit face first with it this week.  Solamar makes use of Google’s Webmaster Tools to help with SEO stuff.  This tool had notified us that 100% of our site was NOT mobile friendly but we knew this wasn’t true.  The issue came from a few old HTML pages that were outside of the main Solamar site, leftover from previous iterations of the site that are no longer used.  The problem was quickly fixed by simply deleting the pages.  We could have ported them into WordPress as well, but they were so old that we just archived them.

If you’d like to make sure that your website doesn’t have any mobile issues that will alter your Google search rankings for the worse, then the Solamar team is here to help you!

Stop Playing Hide and Seek! Get Current in Online Searches.

789477_41749595Expert marketers are always up-to-date on what’s happening in the news and pop culture. They anticipate and quickly adapt to changes as they occur. Especially when it comes to online search (also called SEO).

But with Google changing its algorithms 500-600 times a year, that’s no easy feat. Hubspot says, “With so many updates happening so often, even the most diligent marketers can miss an important release or two.” They suggest that you use this infographic to catch up on “the latest and greatest in SEO.” You’ll find “…the major changes SEO has undergone in the context of mindset, keywords, content, and link building.”

If you really want to know how search works, Google has a nifty website that explains it beautifully.

Yesterday’s SEO doesn’t work today.

SEO is evolving faster than you can say Google+.

Sure, while some of the core principles will stick around forever (like creating high-quality content on usable sites), the more exacting aspects of search are subject to ongoing change. And as a result, many of the proven (translation: old fashioned) tactics people have used in the past (like keyword stuffing and link schemes) have now gone the way of a dial phone, Walkman, hi-fi, and pocket calculator.

But in the end, adjusting your strategy based on search ranking algorithm updates or changes in the way search results are displayed visually can benefit your business in big ways.

8 big search changes and truths:

  1. Local SEO matters more now than ever before. With July and October 2014 updates, Google’s Pigeon algorithm made it easier for local business to optimize for local search. Now, it helps local businesses get found by people who are nearby and more likely to buy from them. Additionally, Google+ Local pages even delivers place recommendations based on past reviews and location, reviews and photos of favorite places, among other benefits. If you want to know more, check out Google’s Guidelines for local businesses.
  2. Google abandoned its Google Authorship program. According to an August post by Google Webmaster Tools’ John Mueller, Google removed its authorship results from search and won’t be tracking the rel=authortag data  (It’ll be treated like any other type of markup on your website, and “won’t cause problems,” according to Mueller.) So it’s one less thing to worry about.
  3. More links are no better than more content. Too often, when businesses hire someone to do link building, they focus on the quantity of links rather than their quality. But linking is not a numbers game anymore (far from it, actually). Instead, you should focus on having great content with relevant and diverse sources that link to relevant pages.
  4. Having a secure (HTTPS encrypted) link is now important to SEO. In August of 2014, Google announced that it had started using HTTPS as a signal in their ranking algorithms, which means if your website still relies on standard HTTP, your rankings could suffer as a result. However, according to Google, it affects fewer than 1% of global queries. So, don’t freak out just yet.
  5. Keyword optimization is no longer the key to SEO. Google doesn’t try to match your typed keywords in its search engine to the keywords of a web page. Now, it’s trying to understand the intent of the keywords to relevant, high-quality content. So you will only be punished for overusing keywords, not for underuse of keywords. Your goal should be to inform the reader, not to inform the search engines.
  6. It doesn’t really matter anymore what header tag you use. For optimization, all that matters is that you present your most important concepts upfront and close to the top of a page. Just make sure your headlines and subheads are clear, so people know what your page is about.
  7. You can’t fool Google. Their search engines know all and see all…everything, in fact. You simply can’t fool them anymore, especially post-Panda, -Penguin, and -Hummingbird, or you will be penalized. Period.
  8. SEO has evolved from just getting found to engaging users with content. That means optimizing for usability first, with über-relevant content on a site that’s intuitive and easy to browse for both search engines and people.

These are only a few of the hundreds of SEO changes happening day-in and day-out. So how do you stay current on what’s-what in search? That’s simple! Just ask us to keep you in the loop and let you know how the changes will affect your business and what you need to do.