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Archive for April, 2011

It pays to be number one in Google’s organic search results

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

“Second place is the first loser.”

I remember seeing that quote on a T-shirt during the No Fear clothing craze of the mid-1990s. In the case of Google’s organic search  results, it may seem like an overly pessimistic statement at first. Appearing second in the organic rankings is still useful, isn’t it?

Well, as some recent studies have revealed, second place isn’t as hot as we once thought. In fact, finishing first in organic search results may be three times as important.

As a study from Optify shows, it appears on the surface that any of the top three spots are profitable and that just “making the podium” is all that matters, as the top three receive 58.4 per cent of all clicks from Google searchers. But a closer look reveals the truth: 36.4 per cent of the clicks go to number one, 12.5 per cent to number two and 9.5 per cent to number three. So the top spot is worth just under triple what the second spot is worth.

Such a result may not seem Earth-shattering at first. First place is most profitable; surprise, surprise. But the gap between first and second is meaningful. An extra push in your SEO efforts, be it through outsourcing or time spent, could theoretically push you from second to first and triple your traffic.

Getting to number one is easier said than done. Luckily, another component of Optify’s study provides a reason for optimism: the long tail of search. Head terms – usually 2 to 3 words in length – still have the higher click-through rate for the number-one position at 32 per cent compared to 25 per cent for long tail. However, the overall click-through rate (CTR) for all of Page 1 on Google for the long tail is 9 per cent, almost double the number for head terms (4.6 per cent).

So, we can see that finishing first in Google results is massively important for generating traffic. However, since doing so requires so much time and capital, it’s nice to know there’s an alternative route to success in the long tail.

Make sure you finish first – or, if you don’t, that you think outside the box when you select your keywords!

About Writing Web Words Inc
In today’s digital world, the ranking of your business or service in Google’s organic search results is critical to your success. Toronto-based expert web writer Ray Litvak understands the art & science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and places the right words in the right places in your website to increase your rankings.

Many of Ray’s clients consistently rank on Google’s first page of search results and have grown their business as a result. You can do it too – and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Discover how greater exposure on Google can drive more traffic, increase leads and grow profit for your business.

Call Ray at 416-226-8676 for a free assessment of your specific needs today.

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If you build it with images, they will come

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Are you a local business owner struggling to be found online? We’ll, I’ll only feel sorry for you if you aren’t doing everything in your power to control your own destiny.

That’s the beauty of the SEO universe today. Now more than ever, you can directly influence your own search results simply by making your website better – more comprehensive, more thoroughly researched, more up-to-date and more visually appealing. Visitors to your website and search engines such as Google like that.

A study I stumbled upon this week furthers that principle. According to a recent BrightLocal survey about user behavior during local online business searches, 60 per cent of respondents said that images associated with the results made them more likely to contact or at least consider that business.

Images matter. If searchers can’t see your business, they’re less likely to search it. The BrightLocal finding reinforces the emerging truth that a business’ website is just as important as every other promotional aspect. You have your storefront displays, your radio ads, maybe a local TV spot, local newspaper ads – and your website. If you don’t put the same amount of care into your online presentation, you could be losing valuable customers.

Imagine a local business trying to get by with an empty storefront window or with a newspaper ad comprised entirely of text. It would make life awfully difficult for anyone trying to catch a customer’s attention. Failing to respect the same principle on your website could be fatal.

So pay special attention to images on your local business’ website and Google Places Page! Not only should you have images, you should make sure they’re high-quality images. The resolution should be high and the images themselves should be consistent with your brand.

Usability, high quality content and using the right keywords are arguably more important aspects of your site, but it’s now a proven fact that images increase users’ chances to consume all the other goodies your site offers.

Now go out there and turn your site into a visual experience. You’ll be glad you did!

About Ray Litvak:

The ranking of your business, service or product in Google’s local search results is critical to your success. Toronto-based Content Writer and Local SEO Expert Ray Litvak understands the art and science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and using the right words in the right way to increase your rankings. Discover how greater exposure on Google can drive more traffic, increase leads and grow  your business. Many of Ray’s clients consistently rank on Google’s first page of results and have grown their business as a result. You can do it too – and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Call Ray locally at 416-226-8676 for a free assessment of your specific needs today. You’ll be glad you did!

Ray writes website content and offers local seo services for businesses across Ontario and the GTA including Toronto, North York, Mississauga, Markham, Vaughan, York Region and beyond.

Google’s Site-quality algorithms – in with the good content, out with the bad

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

With respect to search engines like Yahoo!, we all know Google governs the search engine universe. When it makes a change to its standards or announces a new algorithm, the entire community of online content producers must listen.

The latest algorithmic change is an intriguing one that appears to further encourage the idea of a “just” system rewarding the highest-quality content. Google’s new formula specifically targets the “bad guys” – the low quality websites – and punishes them for producing poor content.

The algorithm factors in which sites provide low-value content, copy from other sites and produce irrelevant content. Google is also starting to factor in which sites are blocked by other users. Consequently, the “good guys” – sites with more original content, lots of research, in-depth reports, and up-to-date information – should rise in the organic search rankings.

Google’s new algorithm has gone global. That’s a good thing, right? In theory, those that riddle their sites with repetitive keywords in an attempt to trick search engines into higher rankings should be negatively impacted.  Those that invest in original and high quality content should be rewarded with higher rankings and more traffic. Sounds like a just and accurate system to me – consistent with the meritocracy principle I mentioned to go along with Google’s +1 feature in last week’s blog.

My only concern in the case of the new algorithm is that it could theoretically only make the strong get stronger. Take a site like CNN, for example. How many other sites have such a huge staff of original content producers? Have the same worldwide reach? Have the same ability to conduct research and produce relevant, original, current content?

On one hand, you could argue that CNN deserves to top organic search rankings if it’s such a trusted source of information. But the sites that suffer might be the ones offering high-quality content but missing a few other important features. Joe Blogger out there may have some great opinions – or a great product – to share with the world, but may lack the resources for “in-depth research” or “on-going content development.”

Google seems to be doing a fine job eliminating the bad guys. But let’s just hope it isn’t squashing the little guys in the process.

About Ray Litvak:

The ranking of your business, service or product in Google’s search results is critical to your success. Toronto-based Content Writer and Local SEO Expert Ray Litvak understands the art and science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and uses the right words in the right way to increase your rankings. Discover how greater exposure on Google can drive more traffic, increase leads and grow  your business. Many of Ray’s clients consistently rank on Google’s first page of results and have grown their business as a result. You can do it too – and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Call Ray locally at 416-226-8676 for a free assessment of your specific needs today. You’ll be glad you did!

Ray writes website content and offers local seo services for businesses across Ontario and the GTA including Toronto, North York, Mississauga, Markham, Vaughan, York Region and beyond.

Google’s +1 era makes website content all the more important

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Google is probably too proud to ever admit it, but its latest foray into Social Media – Google +1 – comes courtesy of Facebook.

“You like Me….You Really like Me!”

“Liking” has become a huge part of Facebook. People post pictures or videos and make comments hoping their peers click “like” to validate their tastes and words of wisdom.  In a more significant social development, users dictate which news stories are most popular, as users pile on and “like” their favorite articles after people post them. That idea comes from Digg. Everyone borrows from everyone.

But I digress. Back to Google. The search engine juggernaut just hatched a great new idea: the “+1” system. It functions very similarly to the “liking” idea – only for websites themselves. If you find a particular site useful or interesting, you can give it a stamp of approval by clicking “+1.”

Consequently, the +1 ratings are reflected in search results. After you key in your search, you won’t have to spend as much time clicking one result after another trying to find which site best suits your needs. You’ll have a huge head start simply by viewing which site has earned the most “+1” recommendations.

The pessimist will say that the new system will close the loop of relevant search results even more, that the already popular sites will get the “+1” ratings by the boatload and steal even more traffic from the little guys.

But I prefer to see the glass as half full. I see the system as more of a meritocracy. It puts more control in the hands of website owners. The better and more relevant your website content is, the more +1s you’ll receive, and the more traffic you’ll likely get. It’s a nice adjunct to search engine optimization efforts.

It also levels the playing field between those that abide by on-page SEO best practices and those that abuse the search engines.   For instance, those trying to manipulate search results by embedding a  ton of keywords in their web pages – or using other SEO No No’s – won’t get the +1 recommendations, as his or her actual site will have little to no relevance for users. The conscientious person who writes original, relevant and useful content will. That sounds like a just system to me.

Think you learned something from this post? Give us a +1, why don’t ya!

About Ray Litvak:

The ranking of your business, service or product in Google’s search results is critical to your success. Toronto-based Content Writer and Local SEO Expert Ray Litvak understands the art and science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and places the right words in the right places in your website to increase your rankings. Discover how greater exposure on Google can drive more traffic, increase leads and grow profit for you business. Many of Ray’s clients consistently rank on Google’s first page of results and have grown their business as a result. You can do it too – and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Call Ray at 416-226-8676 for a free assessment of your specific needs today. You’ll be glad you did!

Ray writes website content and offers local seo services for businesses across Ontario and the GTA including Toronto, North York, Mississauga, Markham, Vaughan, York Region and beyond.

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