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Posts Tagged ‘GTA’

Google beefs up local reviews with purchase of ZAGAT

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Google has bought successful restaurant/entertainment review publisher ZAGAT.

The move is likely to make Google Places an even more trusted authority for local, user-generated reviews. Google Places scours the web for any information it can find about every business with a mailing address. It pre-populates information like pictures, descriptions, addresses, telephone numbers, etc. With Google’s purchase of ZAGAT, all of that content is likely to find its way on to Places (if not upcoming Google+ brand profiles).

ZAGAT was founded in 1979 and published its first guide on New York City dining. On their website a note from founders Nina and Tim ZAGAT states that Google and ZAGAT plan to “optimize the potential of the ZAGAT brand while offering ‘new ways’ for consumers to ‘express their opinions’ and ‘make informed decisions.'”

This underscores the importance of reviews for local business owners. Clearly Google found that there are not enough reviews out there, and purchased ZAGAT to kick-start a push for quality reviews to make their way to the web.

What’s interesting is how ZAGAT and Google will offer consumers new ways of expressing their opinions. The possibilities are endless, but surely mobile will play a big role in populating this content. Imagine taking a picture of your meal, adding a video about how great it was and then rating it based on food, décor, service and overall value.

In the meantime, take this as inspiration to ask your customers for a review on Google Places, even try offering an incentive. A little word of mouth goes a long way.

Spelling is a lossed art

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

The header is for fun but…never have I been more nervous about a post on this blog. It has to be perfect. If I make a single typo, it will undermine everything I’m about to tell you. You’ll laugh me out of the room. You’ll declare me incompetent and an unworthy online copywriter. You’ll even be less likely to enlist my services.

It’s the truth. Spelling is far more important in online copy than many people realize. Some folks may disagree, claiming that worrying about spelling is pretentious and that the actual quality of products and services a business offers is what really matters.

Regardless of whether or not you feel that way, your web visitors don’t. To them, spelling, grammar and punctuation matters. The reason: whether it’s fair or not, errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation connote certain negative characteristics about a company that can seriously damage their reputation and conversion rates, such as:

1. Untrustworthiness. Would you buy a car from a company whose sign was misspelled outside the dealership? Would you click an e-mail rife with bad grammar? Many of us wouldn’t. We see spelling and grammar mistakes as a sign of laziness or worse. Conveying a certain amount of authority and respect toward customers is even more crucial in an online space because you don’t get the opportunity to win them over with a smile or friendly voice.

2. Incompetence. This is the most obvious problem to me. Any enterprise that can’t properly spell the very items and topics in which it’s supposedly an expert will appear like it doesn’t know what it’s talking about. Will you let a dentist put you under and drill holes in your mouth if his or her website advertises high-quality “Route Kanals?” I don’t know about you, but that misspelling would send me running. I’d think, “These guys don’t know what they’re doing! They can’t even spell root canal!”

So how do you avoid making the dreaded spelling mistakes? While no one is perfect, I find these strategies work well for my work as an online copywriter:

1. Use spell check – but not just spell check. There’s nothing wrong with using spell check. It’s great for correcting any words you legitimately don’t know how to spell. However, it’s your funeral if you decide to rely solely on spell check. A computer doesn’t have the semantic understanding to correct improperly used heterographs (i.e. there, their and they’re; you and ewe; bear and bare). Make sure you read your work over once you’ve spell-checked it.

2. Bring fresh eyes to your edits. If a second set of eyes is available to you, have a peer edit your work. It’s sometimes hard to see your own mistakes. If you don’t have the luxury of another editor, walk away for a bit. Eat lunch, go for a walk, get some air, then return to your copy. The break from your screen should help you spot errors you otherwise would’ve missed.

So that’s it, folks. Follow my steps. Here’s hoping I haven’t made a typo. If I have, I deserve any conversions I might lose!

The ranking of your business, service or product in Google’s search results is critical to your success. Toronto-based content and online copywriting 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 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!

 

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.

*References Available

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.

In SEO, Time is Money

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Stop reading about it. Starting doing it!

That’s the best possible mantra to follow in today’s DIY SEO world. As the old saying goes, time is money. So, if you want to use search engine optimization (SEO) to promote your business and make money, you’d better put more time into doing it and less time into reading about it.

That’s the mistake too many businesses owners make today. The often-misguided consensus in today’s online business landscape is that you need to do your homework and read up on the ever-changing nature of SEO. Since search engines like Google change their ranking algorithms so often (i.e. Google Farmer Update), you better keep up on what the latest and greatest SEO strategies are, right?

In theory, it’s not a bad idea, but it can only take you so far. Sure, you don’t want to dive into SEO without any knowledge. But if you spend all your time reading about SEO theory, you won’t spend enough time doing the very thing you’re learning how to do. And, ironically enough, by the time you start working away at your newly learned SEO techniques, the search engines may have changed their criteria yet again. Getting caught up in the SEO theory game can be very much like running in a hamster wheel.

So how do you buck the trend and start making money with your precious time? First, prioritize. Determine which one or two sources of SEO information are most reputable and insightful. Block off a certain amount of time per week – say, a few hours – to study those sources. But don’t let yourself go past that limit.

Secondly, and most importantly, DO IT. If there’s one thing every SEO expert will tell you, it’s that content is king. The better content you have, the more content you have, the more links you drive to your site, the more exposure you’ll get. That means click-throughs and conversions galore.  Spending your time actually walking the walk with SEO instead of learning from others who talk to the talk is the best way to turn your time into money.

So take a big chunk of the hours you devote to reading and start creating content instead. If you’re too swamped, it’s worth the investment to outsource it to an agency that specializes in SEO Copywriting, like Writing Web Words.

Doing it also means trial and error. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new keywords or content. Keep testing. The beauty of today’s online business is that there are tools to track every tweak you make to a website.

Instead of having someone theorize as to what might be wrong with your SEO tactics, try learning about your successes or failures firsthand. It’s a crazy little maneuver I like to call “doing it.”

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.

Google Places can take you to the top

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

I’m always amazed that so many website owners don’t know about the power of Google Places. And that’s a shame because it’s a great way to help drive your site to the top of the local Google rankings. Think about that. When someone in your community searches for your product or service you could be among the top five listings. And here’s the best part: it’s free!

So why wouldn’t business people be flocking to Google Places instead of investing thousands of dollars in advertising, flyers and brochures?  It just doesn’t make sense, except for one thing: they don’t know about it. It’s as simple as that. And that’s why I’ve written an article to tell you about the power of Google Places, how you can use it to your advantage and how you can enhance your listing to make it attractive to both search engines and your customers.

I love Google Local. The internet allowed us to promote our businesses around the world for free and that was good. But now we can promote ourselves to our local communities, where we sell most of our products and services – and that’s even better.

Read my article and get in on Google Places. If you have any questions after reading it, please feel free to contact me.

About Writing Web Words Inc:
Based in Toronto, Ontario, we are full-service Content Writers that helps businesses optimize their websites and other digital assets through original  SEO Copywriting, proven SEO Services and customized Business Blogging that attracts, engages and converts target audiences.

Detecting and Stopping Online Plagiarism

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

CTRL+C, CTRL+V. It’s never been easier to plagiarize the web content of others. While the spirit of the web is built on the sharing of content, when competitors “share” without your permission it can hurt your business – by raising their search engine rankings, and lowering yours. That can mean fewer eyeballs to your site, and in turn, fewer transactions for you.

Unscrupulous content writers and SEO companies may even try to pass off recycled or stolen copy as original, which can result in potential legal trouble or tarnish your reputation.

Fact is, the better and more effective your online content, the greater the likelihood that someone will attempt to steal it and pass it off as their own.

Find out how to prevent and detect online plagiarism the minute it occurs with common sense tricks as well as free online tools and services. Also, learn what steps to take to have content removed or offending sites blocked when you suspect plagiarism has occurred – without having to hire a lawyer. See the full article here.

About Writing Web Words Inc:
Based in Toronto, Ontario, we are full-service Content Writers that helps businesses optimize their online presence through original  SEO Copywriting, proven SEO Services and customized Business Blogging that attracts, engages and converts target audiences.

Content is no longer King

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

It’s been replaced by “Original & Useful Content” rules.  Let me explain…

At Google’s  I/O Conference in May 2010, a panel of Googlers – past and present – conducted an SEO Site Review for a number of websites that were voluntarily submitted.

Of all the issues identified, the most glaring was content; more so, the lack of original, relevant and useful content.

Recycle and Reuse with Caution

A number of the websites that were reviewed relied on copying and pasting content from existing sites; setting up feeds from other sources and web scraping other sites for their content. The result?  Recycled, reused and duplicate content. D’oh!

For those wondering what’s wrong with this, read Google’s Design and Content Guidelines; or, as I like to call them, “Google’s Commandments,” especially #4, thou shalt “Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.”

Replication is not always the highest form of flattery

A while back, I did an online search for my company’s name.  I do this on occasion to see if anything good, bad or ugly has been written about us.  In “geek-speak,” this practice is known as “Online Reputation Management.”

Lo and behold, I found a wanna-be SEO Writer in Kelowna, B.C. (no names used to protect the not-so-innocent) who had plagiarized an earlier post of mine.  The writer in question was obviously new to plagiarism: she left my signature in the post, which is how she got caught.

Originality takes work

Creating original content for your web pages, blogs, articles etc., is hard work.  It’s even harder to create original content that people want to read and perhaps even link to. But therein lays the reward.  Because Google pays attention to sites that post useful, original content on a regular basis.  These sites get crawled more often – a good thing – and tend to attract links to your site, another positive signal that Google notices and rewards.

I urge you to set aside an hour to watch, listen, internalize and practice what these Googlers preach by visiting _ http://code.google.com/events/io/2010/sessions/seo-site-review-from-experts.html

For those strapped for time and originality, like my friend in Kelowna, read the following cheat sheet:
▪    Think about things that make people come back to your site i.e., user generated content, user reviews, useful and original content, etc.
▪    Don’t imbed text in images
▪    Distribute your content across multiple online platforms to increase visibility i.e. Twitter, Blogs etc.
▪    Find relevant keywords and trends through Google’s keyword tool and review your server logs to find the language that searchers use
▪    Put relevant content above the fold instead of making users scroll
▪    Craft unique meta descriptions and title tags and be consistent in your messaging
▪    Don’t spam your site and/or load the footer with redundant text for the purpose of SEO; rather, write for your audience
▪    When using Word Press, always update to the most recent version to avoid getting hacked
▪    Don’t focus strictly on those competitive and generic phrases i.e., divorce lawyer.  Consider the hundreds – or thousands – of alternative and more targeted phrases i.e., divorce lawyer for men in [City + Province] that people use everyday to search for your products and services

Are you ready for MayDay?
In May 2010, Google implemented an algorithmic change named – funnily enough – MayDay in an attempt to present higher quality sites in search engine results pages.  In a nutshell, useful and content-rich sites will flourish.  Are you ready for MayDay?

About Writing Web Words Inc:
Based in Toronto, Ontario, we are full-service Web Content Development Company that helps small and mid-sized businesses optimize their online presence through original  SEO Copywriting, proven SEO Services and customized Business Blogs that attract, engage and convert target audiences.

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