Where we share our insights about all things web design, development, and marketing.


Hello Google+ Local, Goodbye Google Places


Have you noticed the changes in Google Places? 

We told you before to make sure you get your Google Places listing  (Google Places info), to help your business show up higher in the search listings for local search. We told you to make sure you had control of your Google + Business Page. We hope you took note.

Google has done away with the regular Google Places pages and has fully integrated them with Google+ through Google Local. 

Here is what has changed- (in a nutshell)

1. The appearance of the listing is different. 

2. Google has replaced its star ratings with Zagat reviews rating scale.

3. The integration of Google + circles, reviews, and ratings.

So, why don’t we take a minute and look into a few of these and talk about what they mean for your business.

The appearance of the listing is different.

If you take a look at the screenshots below, you will see the first shows a search done without being signed into Google +. The first thing you will notice is the big red button saying Join Google+.  It still shows the basic info on the local listing: logo, address & contact info, what type of business, about the business, the Zagat score, and the reviews. You even have a link for directions, and a quick link to write a review. So pretty basic info and exactly what you would expect on a local listing. 




Now sign in to your Google account. – (if you don’t have one get one now its simple)



Once you log in the differences you see are the reasons behind the change from the plain old Google Places listing to the new enhanced Google+ Local. These changes are directed at the user so they can “share” more information with their circles. You have your basic Google + navigation along the left hand side- Home, Profile, Explore, Hangouts, Photos, Circles, Local, Games and more.  I can still see the logo, address, type of business, about the business, the Zagat score, the reviews, a link to write a review, and directions. But wait… I have more options. I can now +1 the page, share the page, and upload a public photo. That is right, as the user I have more control on how I can share information and my interaction with your business. 

So why does it matter?

Did you know that I can also search for restaurants in Google + and see a full list of where my circle of friends like to eat and why?  Well, I don’t know about you but I like to go where my friends go.  

Plus, and here is the biggie- Google + local pages will be INDEXED!!! Meaning there is a lot more potential for SEO. 

So in the end, if you have been trying to hold out and not get into the “social” aspect of Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and all other social networking sites out and about, Google is officially forcing your hand. That’s right; even if you don’t have a Google Places or Google + page it will be created automatically for you. If you have been using Google + for your business you will be greatly rewarded, so don’t wait – get started now or call us for more info on how to get started. 


SEO Vocabulary

You may not be a search engine optimization expert, but it doesn’t hurt to learn the lingo so you are more informed about what can be done with your website to help it rank on search engines. Here are a few of the most important terms to learn. And don’t worry, if you don’t understand them, just ask us and we will help. Or if you are interested in boosting your website’s SEO after learning more about it, give us a call – we can help you with that too.

301 Redirect – permanent redirect of one domain to another domain, or one page to another page. This comes in handy if you have multiple domains or if you need to change page names.
Adwords – a Google based program that helps you to target specific keywords or phrases in paid per click advertising.
Algorithm – the formula used by search engines to compile search data based on the users search term.
Alt text – alternate text used to describe images for blind viewers or when images cannot be viewed.
Analytics – Google based program that tracks traffic and search data for your website.
Anchor text – the text that is used within a link tag to describe that link.
Back link – an incoming link to a page from another page or site
Black hat – bad SEO techniques that go against standard guidelines and are frowned upon by search engines
Bounce rate - the percentage of visitors who leave a site without viewing any page other than the landing page.
Heading – the title of the page in the content area of the site. This usually has an H1 tag which is read with more weight by search engines. There can be up to 6 different heading types on a page.
Index – means that your site has been found by search engines and added to their list of websites that can show up in search results.
Keyword or key phrase – the word or phrase that is the focus of your content on that page. It is also the word or phrase that you will most likely rank for in search engines.
Keyword density – the amount of keywords that are in the content compared to the amount of text
Keyword stuffing – overusing keywords or phrases in content in attempt to skew the keyword density of a page.
Meta description – the meta tag that describes the content of each page.
Meta keyword – the meta tag that lists the key words and phrases of each page.
Meta tags – HTML tags that describe the title, keywords, and description of each page to search engines.
Meta title – the meta tag that describes the title of each page. This shows up in the tab of most browsers too.
Nofollow – tells a search engine not to follow a link to a certain page, index that page, or pass page rank to that page.
Organic rank – your website’s natural rank in Google. These results show up in the center area of search results. Paid results will generally show up on the right or above organic results.
Page Rank – a website’s popularity as measured by the search engine rankings
Search Engine  - an online tool for users to search for and find websites by enter a search term.
Search Engine Optimization – optimizing a website for search engines so that users’ search queries will match the content of that site.
Search Engine Marketing – encompasses the overall marketing strategy to search engines.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Site map -  a page that lists all pages of a website with links.
Stop word – a word that is so commonly used, it is ignored by search engines when finding results (such as prepositions and conjunctions).
White hat – good SEO techniques that follow standard search engine guidelines.


How to Write Awesome Website Content

Here are some simple steps you can follow to write awesome website content for your site.

1.    Write for your audience

It is important to determine who your audience and target market is before sitting down to write the content for your website. You need to know whom are you trying to reach and how you think it is best to reach them.

2.    Write useful and interesting content

You don’t want to bore your potential customers or clients with dull content on your website. It is important to make sure your content is pertinent and useful for what your website visitors will be looking for, but it is also important to make it interesting to read. Website content is like any other advertising message – you don’t have very long to catch the readers’ attention. You want them to be able to get what they need from the content while keeping them entertained by what you are saying.  You are selling your business through your words, so choose them wisely. Ask yourself if you would want to read what you wrote and put yourself in the clients shoes.

3.    Short and sweet

The first paragraph of any article is critical. You will either catch your reader’s attention or you won’t. In general, people comprehend and remember shorter messages that include bullet points and main headings for sections. Keep this in mind when writing your content and break it up in to sections if possible. Make sure you can deliver your information without dragging it out.

4.    Use SEO

Search Engine Optimization is important to remember when writing the content for your website. You don’t have to put hours of research into it to make your site more SEO friendly. Make a list of a few keywords you would like to rank for in search engines and include those in your text. Your keywords should be words that people actually search for so that your site will show up in search results. You also want to include links in your content to other pages on your site using keywords as your link text. This serves two purposes: it is good SEO, and it is more user friendly. We can help you develop your SEO plan further for your site, but it is important to include basic SEO principles when writing your content yourself.

5.    Structure and flow

You want to have a focus for your content and an overall flow to the text between pages. Make sure that your message remains clear throughout your site. What are you trying to accomplish with your website content? Do you want your visitors to act on something? Are you trying to inform them about a certain product, service, or event? You need an overall marketing message that you can carry throughout your site to keep your content organized and well thought out.


Lady Luck in the SEO Game

Google is a king among search engine optimization.  As far as SEO goes, the power that Google holds is great.  That is why the regular changes and updates to the Google Algorithm’s can be frustrating and sometimes a stumbling block in many SEO strategies.  In a recent announcement, Google shared 40 search algorithm changes made in February 2012. 

Among the many changes and updates shared, the underlying motion behind each is targeted towards refreshing data in the Panda system currently used by Google for searches.  The goal with this is to make Panda more accurate and more sensitive to online activity. 

Some of the changes are geared towards increased related-search results, data refresh for related searches in succession, and expanded image indexing.  What do these mean for you?

•    More search results to be listed per search
•    Smarter adjustments to searches with related terms that are searched back-to-back
•    A focus on more images (keep this one in mind for new updates to your own SEO marketing campaigns and strategies!)

In a recent edition of website magazine more details and coverage on these algorithm updates is shared here.

With all of the regular updates and changes that occur month-to-month and year-to-year in the SEO game, we understand how confusing and difficult it may be to stay abreast the most recent round of changes.  Part of our job in better serving you is to make sure we stay up-to-date with these things—because you cannot be expected to!  We have dedicated professionals who study and research SEO and Google algorithm updates so you don’t have to---just contact us today to see how we can help you get a handle on your SEO strategy.



Social Media and Search Engine Optimization

These days, social and search are so closely related, that it is essential for businesses to get involved and set up a social media marketing strategy for their business. Search engines are changing the way they display search results, and social media is the number one reason for that.
Bing, Google, and most other major search engines have started including social data in their search results. So when you search for a certain word or phrase in your favorite search engine, you will likely see social results right next to the traditional website search results. Your search results may be different from your friends based on social signals like your Facebook likes, +1s and tweets.

The affect of social media on search
We all know that social media is taking over the world. But, social networks show us what real people like and want to share with their friends. So search engines are taking advantage of that information in order to give you better results when searching for items or info on the internet. Users are now able to “vote” for their favorite content with clicks, bookmarks, tags, and ratings. These things signal search engines so that your search results are more personalized based on what you and your friends like. Search engines are now taking into consideration the opinions of people to determine which websites are most popular.

Make your social media accounts more specific
With hundreds of different social media networks out there, the first step is to narrow down the options and decide which ones will benefit your company the most. The most popular networks are free, so it is very beneficial for most businesses to take advantage of these. But your business is not like everyone else’s business, so your social networking strategy should be different, too. Research what each social network will do for your business and make your decision based on your industry and target market. Once you get your social network accounts set up and running, figure out a schedule to help you keep track of how you are managing each of them.

Quality content – use your keywords

Just posting on your social media accounts is not enough. With the growth of social networking and its connection to search engine results, the quality of your posts is just as important. Content quality will always reign supreme with search engines, and this is no different for social media.  After all, the search engines are pulling your content for search results. So the better your content and the more keywords used, the higher your social networks will rank in search engines.  Keep your social posts full of interesting and unique information that engages your users and the search engines will be engaged as well.
Remember to keep in mind that each social network is different, and they each deserve different attention. Don’t make the same posts on Facebook and Twitter every time. You have a different audience for each network and you should tailor your posts and activity to that network. Also, you don’t want to duplicate your content too many times on the web. Regardless of where it is located, search engines frown upon duplicate content.

Social Sharing

Another important SEO strategy related to social media is social sharing. If your content is easy to share with others, it will help drive up your search results. The more people that read and view your posts, the more likely it will be to show up higher in search results. Plus, with real-time search results, social media updates and posts are obvious additions to the immediate results people love so much.

By no means does this mean to drop all search engine optimization on your website, but it does mean that there might need to be an adjustment to your strategy. Combining SEO on your website with social media just makes your overall ranking and web presence stronger.

The focus and keywords need to be the same across the board on your SEO to make sure that you are enforcing your efforts and not competing with them. A successful collaboration between your website and social SEO will help you win over those search results we all strive to get.

Graphic Designer Rachel Green of TWG Design Studio
"Rachel is a graphic designer who is passionate about combining function and style into stylish websites that truly do the brand justice. Rachel uses her experience in a variety of areas including design, marketing, advertising, and social media to give clients the complete package."