Internet Marketing Matters
Thoughts on website design and Internet marketing for Milwaukee, Waukesha and southeastern Wisconsin.
SEO Secret Sauce: Why Google Ranks Your Site Lower

A Pinch And A Dash

seo secret sauceGrandma never measured anything when she baked an apple pie. This is kind of like that. From client to client, the proportion of ingredients always varies. You may not even need all the ingredients, if you are operating in a low-temperature competitive environment. Two or three might do the job. That's important for you to understand, because professional SEO can get really, really expensive.

You will need all the ingredients if you are fighting for supremacy in a hotly competitive space. You can bet that your competitors are using the full-on, unadulterated SEO Secret Sauce. It's why they're at the top of page one in Google in your category, and you're on page two.

Propagate Keywords Effectively

To find you, what terms do they type into Google's search bar? These must be deployed across your website in a series of key elements.

• Page URLs

• Page titles

Page meta descriptions

• Image alt text

• Body text

• Schema markup

• Open Graph markup

Each instance must be unique. Using the same verbiage repeatedly will gain you nothing. You may even be penalized for duplicate content. Keyword propagation is part science, part art. Science helps us choose which words to use. Art comes into play when we embed the words in our content. The search engines don't mind - and even welcome it - when it's done organically, fitting seamlessly, naturally into context. Because Google often publishes keyword snippets verbatim, they need to be endowed with what webmasters call "clickworthiness." There are best-practice technical guidelines for how many characters you can use and how best to deploy keywords in page titles, meta descriptions and content. Think ot it as injecting search terms into your website's DNA.

Perform Great To Rank High

Your website needs to be in great working order if you expect to rank. Pages should load lightning fast, and the user should never encounter any broken links. Moreover, your Google listings shouldn't have any broken or buggered-up links. It is possible to scope out all of them and direct them to the right place. In the event that Google continues to publish broken links to your website, we can rig up a nice custom not-found page which welcomes users to the site and tells them what's going on.

Today it is mandatory that your site also perform well across all devices, from widescreen HD monitors to tiny old iPhones. If you don't do this, you are losing business. You also are losing rank in the search engine indexes. Google led the way in adopting a policy they call "mobile first." Before even looking at how well your site performs on desktop screens, they look at how it performs across the entire spectrum of handheld devices. Mobile-responsive design has become a paramount SEO strategy. And now a new mandatory is emerging. From Google, it's called Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP. Newly constructed blogs and e-commerce sites especially need to conform with these new design standards. Some good commercial plugins are emerging for adaptation of existing sites.

Companies serious about ranking never go with slow, cheap shared hosting. They also keep all their website apps up to date. That is also vital from a security standpoint. Your site is bound to be infected and grind to a halt if you don't maintain it. Technical performance works hand-in-hand with content quality to meet Google's expectations for overall quality. Google assesses overall quality with a secret algorithm. No outsider has yet been able to crack it, but we do know that it assigns heavy weight to performance metrics. Contact us for your performance audit.

Stop Repeating Yourself

Purge your website of duplicate content. Each page should be singular and unique. Chunks of content should not be repeated across pages - even little snippets of repetitive content. If you unpublish the duplicate content, that won't suffice. It needs to be tracked down and fully deleted. Search engine spyders can and do reach deep into your website to index resources which aren't accessible to your users. These junk links often click through to a funhouse-mirror view of your website. Search engines are full of them. Google especially hates duplicate content. Their attitude stems from epic scams of yore. Black hatters figured out how to rocket to number one by publishing duplicate page upon duplicate page, stuffed with keywords.

If your site uses a content management system like Wordpress or Joomla, you have duplicate content, and it can't be helped because it's intrinsic to how these frameworks operate. But we can help Google out and avoid a penalty by making "canonical" declarations. It's a way of telling Google: "Here's the foundational content; please index this and ignore all that other stuff." Only sometimes do we need to go to such lengths. Google mostly tolerates duplicate content unless it smells a scam. The small penalty you pay will not matter unless you are doing pitched battle in a hotly contested space. If the latter case describes you, you'll need the help of Javelin or another company like us. Never leave anything to chance when the stakes are high.

Always Keep It Fresh

If you expect to rank, continually refresh your content. Sites which remain static for months and years will see their rankings gradually slide. Google demands continual improvement of the user experience. On an ongoing basis, commit yourself to being more helpful and more clear. Someone should be assigned to regularly add new content to the site. This is why many company websites feature blogs. Web design firms like us can help you get up and running, and even write the copy.

Commit To Highest-Quality Content

Google expects your website to look great, read well, contain relevant information and be very easy to use. That's why at most companies the marketing department manages the website. Those folks have extensive experience and training in the realm of professional communication. The group will include strategic planners, copy writers and graphic designers who have honed their craft in college and on the job. Some do-it-yourselfers have at least some of those skills. But most are completely clueless; they're never going to rank in Google. If someone pitches you on an SEO package which doesn't cover this critical base, you are buying snake oil. A reputable SEO practitioner will always talk to you about quality issues frankly and forthrightly. At Javelin Communications, we constantly preach to new clients about the need to build in quality from the ground up in the construction of your new site.

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