New Spam Blocker Installed

We have just installed a new layer of spam protection for our hosting customers.  Welcome to MagicSpam.
MagicSpam is not a filter but integrates with the mail server and works on the edge or the SMTP layer to reject spam before it enters the server. It is also configured to help stop Trojans and bots with Mail Server Profiling.
Furthermore, it performs best practices and DNSBL (Email Black Hole) checks against all incoming mail.
While all spam cannot be stopped, this extra layer of protection will help eliminate much of the spam that currently makes it to your inbox.
A poll of customers reports dramatic drops in spam as soon as MagicSpam was installed.

Top 10 ways to Instantly Identify a Fraudulent SEO Firm

For those that are new to SEO and the Online Marketing world, here are some tips to help you spot a phony SEO/Online Marketing firm.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of them out there and it’s just a matter of time until they contact you making compelling but fraudulent claims.

One method of finding you is through the use of Google AdWords.  However, there are spammers that send out an email to every address they can scrape.  Furthermore, they are very clever regarding this process as they address you by name and use your URL in the boilerplate copy.

Using  the common sense approach here will not only help you with SEO spam but spam of all kinds that flood your inbox.

If you see any of the following warning signs, Delete, Ignore, Hang-Up, or report as spam because it is all fraudulent! All of this effort is designed to do one thing and one thing only, take your money and produce no results.

Without further a due, here are the top 10 ways to spot a fraudulent SEO firm.

10)  They “Guarantee” 1st place or 1st page placement on Google.

9) They have been kind enough to “take the time” to review your site and think it’s fantastic.  However they cannot find you on the front page of Google and are “very concerned” about you.  They can turn this around with organic front page listings.

8) They will quickly build links from all over the web that point back to your site.

7) They offer ridiculously  low fees or just a one- time fee to get you on the front page of the search engines.

6) Want to redesign your site for “SEO purposes” without a valid reason.  Note:  There are still valid reasons to redesign a site that is search engine un-friendly.  However, these scammers never look at your site to determine if it needs a redesign.

5) Offers to provide massive traffic to your social media sites.

4) No Website listed or phone number is listed in their contact info.

3) They state you were contacted because you don’t place for your top keyword phrases even though they don’t know what your top phrases are.  Even if you currently have excellent positions in search, the pitch will be the same.

2) They use a free or third party email address to contact you. (@yahoo, gmail, etc.)

1) Finally,  the number 1 way to  spot a phony SEO firm.  They Initiate contact!  That’s right.  Any firm that is worth hiring will not use unsolicited email (SPAM) and/or phone calls.

A final point to consider, I have had people call me and actually state that they were from Google and could guarantee my company 1st place position,  not realizing they called an actual SEO agency.  When pressed with real questions about SEO, they crumbled and hung up.
I have also had customers that “went to SEO seminars presented by Google Representatives”  This will never happen.  A Google rep will never try to sell you an SEO package!
Legitimate firms have all the work they can handle which is driven to them by referrals, online articles, community involvement and of course legitimate SEO efforts.
The following are just a few of the real spam solicitations that flood our inbox. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.
I have bold comments next to identifiers that should instantly raise a red flag.

———————————————–Actual Spam Examples———————————————–
Anatomy of a Spam Email: Subject – Phony SEO SCAM
From: Sam.Marketer10231@gmail.com  (Throw Away Address)
Owner of YourDomain.com,
I would like to request your consideration for Search Engine Marketing opportunity with your Business.
Would you like to rank YourDomain.com on top page of Google Organic Search, for ANY keyword of your choice?  (Wants give us front page Rankings for ANY keyword – Impossible Claim)
1. Redesign YourDomain.com with Richer Content and W3C Validated.  (Our site already has Rich Content and Validated – Site Not Reviewed)

  1. Optimize YourDomain.com  for top page ranking in Google, Yahoo & Bing by a link-building campaign at relevant Portals. (Again with the top Rankings.  Also, link building at the wrong portals can cause a penalty)
  2. Promote YourDomain.com massively in Online Social Medias and B2B portals for direct inquiries from your Customers. (Social Media is built slowly through your actual customers . Social media is not a big drivers of traffic that converts)
  3. Bring YourSite.com  to the top 5 Organic searches in Google, Yahoo & Bing, for any of your desired keywords. (Again with the top Rankings – This cannot be Guaranteed)
    Your Customers find you when YourDomain.com is on the top of Google. Having a beautiful Website as well as being on the top left of Google (#1- #5 Organic positions) is the best thing you can do for your company’s Website traffic and Online Reputation.
    Due to the recent changes in Google’s SEO policies, there are a lot of improvements for top page ranking of a Website. I can provide you a detailed analysis in the form of a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Report for YourDomain.com to let you know those areas of improvement.
    Sounds interesting? Feel free to ask questions or you can provide your phone number for me to call you.

Best Regards,
Sam  (Sam Who?)
SEO Consultant
———————-  (No WebSite)
———————-  (No Phone Number)
———————————————-Spam Email Example 2———————————————–
From: mktjunkie435@gmail.com   (Throw away Email Address)
Hi,
Would you like to be listed at the top of every major search engine such as Google, Yahoo! & Bing for multiple search phrases (keywords) relevant to your products / services?
Our Steps and the Activities to Rank You 1st Page on Google!  (1st page lie and cannot create a coherent sentence)
1. Keywords Research
2. Competition Analysis
3. Optimized Content Creation
4. Keywords Optimization
5. Back Link Creation/Link Building
6. Submission to Search Engines and Directories
7. Submission to Article Directories (Old SEO technique – no longer used in modern SEO)
We are a team of 80+ professionals which includes 50 full time SEO experts.  (Obvious Lie)
We are proud to inform you that our team handled 250+ SEO projects. We will be glad to assist you with offering our services. ( Probably true. Ripped of 250 people at least)
Contact us for the best quote for your website & we’ll place your website on 1st page Google ranking for targeted keywords. (1st page lie again)
Thanks
—————-
Kind Regards
Naveen Singh
Online SEO Consultant
———————–    (No Phone)
———————–    ( No Website)

——————————————————-End Spam Email————————————————–

Why Are Google Search Results Different?

Why are Google search results different from computer to computer?  This is a fairly common questions that that comes up concerning Google search for specific keyword phrase rankings.
A few years back, if I looked at a search engine result page (SERP) on my computer and you looked at yours, the results would be the same. Now, it almost guaranteed that we will not have the same results.

There are many factors that are currently involved that make it difficult to demonstrate specific keyword ranking positions. Google Calls this “personalized results”.
The following are the main factors that affect how search results are displayed from computer to computer. The results can be incredibly dynamic.

Every computer has a unique Local IP and Mac address. Google determines your approximate location, examines your machine cache, online history and tries to deliver appropriate results based on:

• Web history – Local Browser history, Browser cookies and online browsing history search results.
• Whether you are logged into of logged out of anything Google. However, Google will still deliver personalized results.
• Recent searches – Uses browser cache, Local Browser history and online browsing history
• Universal search – This is a way Google Blends results from other parts of Google such as YouTube, Images, news, etc. into search
• Geographic location – Search will vary by location
• Social search – Essentially blending of social results in the SERP.
• Google Data centers – Google has many data centers. Results may vary from Data center to Data center.
The result of personalized search are not always beneficial to the user.
Quoted from Wikipedia and credited below.

“Several concerns have been brought up regarding the feature. It decreases the likelihood of finding new information, since it biases search results towards what the user has already found. It also introduces some privacy problems, since a user may not be aware that their search results are personalized for them, and it affects the search results of other people who use the same computer (unless they are logged in as a different user). The feature also has profound effects on the search engine optimization (SEO) industry, since search results are not ranked the same way for every user – thus making it more difficult to identify the effects of SEO efforts.[11] Personalization makes search experience inconsistent for different users requiring the SEO industry to be aware of both personalized and non-personalized search results to get an increase in ranking.[10]
Personalized search suffers from creating an abundance of background noise to search results. This can be seen as the carry-over effect where one search is performed followed by a subsequent search. The second search is influenced by the first search if a timeout period is not set at a high enough threshold. ”
References:
10, 11: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Personalized_Search

Top 10 Most Commonly Asked SEO Questions

The following is a list of the top question we typically receive from our customers, potential customers and interested parties.
#1
Q. How long will it take to get my site listed in Google’s natural or “Organic” listings?

A. This depends on many factors. Be aware that getting “listed” and getting good positioning in the search engine results pages (SERP) are two entirely different things. Getting listed is fairly easy but the most important issue is getting good organic positioning so we will discuss this here.
In short, it could take anywhere from several months to up to several years to achieve favorable positioning in Google.
Some determining factors on achieving good position are:

  1. Web Site Optimization – Is you site optimized correctly for your relevant keyword phrases?
  2. Inbound Links – Do you have many relevant, high Site/Page Authority links that point to your site? This is as important as the optimization itself!
  3. Search Engine Friendly Site – Does your site have any barriers that would block search engine bots and prevent indexing?
  4. How long has your site been online? The newer the site, the longer it will take to achieve good positioning due to all the factors listed here.
  5. New sites generally have a zero or very low Page Authority. Established sites that rank at the top generally have a higher page authority. Page Authority is gained by building inbound links from authoritative and credible sites.
    You can check your site page authority and backlinks at Moz.
  6. How much competition do you have? New sites in highly competitive categories have an uphill battle. There are no quick solutions so settle in for the long haul. With perseverance, proper execution, and lots of hard work, good results can be achieved.
  7. Use “White Hat” or Ethical SEO techniques.
  8. Have you submitted press releases for Web/News syndication, Setup a YouTube channel with your video, setup social media accounts? All of these are important aspects of modern SEO.
  9. Are you keeping your content fresh by adding new content, articles, blogs on a regular basis? Search Engines love fresh, original content.
  10. Have you built an XML Sitemap and submitted to Google correctly?These are only some of the factors that will effect how fast your site will get good positioning in Google.
    Beware: There are many unscrupulous SEO companies out there that will tell you they can get you front page positioning in two weeks. That should raise a big red flag with you. See our blog post on how to spot a Fake SEO firm.

#2
Q. Should I participate in the PPC (pay per click) or Sponsor links at Google, Bing/Yahoo or focus strictly on organic optimization?A. Organic optimization alone is not a true “Marketing Plan”. A true online marketing plan includes sponsor link setup and management.
There may be a time when you can take your Sponsor links offline but if your positioning drops in the organic listings due to algorithmic changes, you still have a backup plan that can be quickly enabled to drive traffic to your site.
Many of our customers that have top listing in Google still keep their sponsor links enabled.

#3
Q. How much will it cost to participate in the Sponsor link programs (pay per click)?

A. Cost to participate in Sponsor link AKA Pay Per Click plans such as Google Ad Words and Bing Ads, which deliver sponsor results to many search engines and Websites, is based on several factors.
We must determine the number of phrases you wish to promote, the cost per click of the particular keywords you wish to promote, the position you wish to maintain, the competition for the phrase and the frequency of the clicks. Therefore, it’s virtually impossible to determine the exact budget amount you will need initially. However, we can we can work within just about any budget you set.
Note: AWSP does not charge any Agency Fees for managing your PPC/Sponsor link accounts! Many SEO agencies charge a 15-20% agency fee for all your PPC activity. If your budget is $10,000 a month, the SEO agency could charge you 2000.00 just in fees on top of the other marketing fees.
AWSP charges a flat monthly fee for managing your account.

#4
Q. Google is the only search engine my customers use. Why should I submit to the other search engines?

A. While Google is overwhelmingly the #1 search engine right now, you cannot discount the traffic you will receive from Yahoo, Bing and Ask. These are still very viable search engines that are used by millions of loyal followers. Current Stats break down something like this:
(Rough Estimates as of 2016)
Google: 71.35%
Bing: 12.37%
Yahoo: 7.2%
Ask: 0.21%
AOL: 0.14
Consider this, Yahoo is one of the Webs top portal and Bing is owned by the top OS software developer (Microsoft) and searching with IE using the Address bar defaults to the Bing Search engine.
Therefore, If you are not in these search engines you are losing market share.
We have always been surprised to see the traffic from Yahoo and Bing when comparing analytics on multiple sites. Another way to look at it is “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.

#5
Q. Do I really need to submit to any directories?

A. It depends. If you have a new site with few or no inbound links, limited directory inclusion is important to get some links built to start your inbound linkage profile. Targeted Directory inclusion builds inbound links that increase your credibility with Google. We limit inclusion to only a few of the oldest and trusted authoritative directories.
On the other hand, if your site is older and already has a good linkage profile, directory inclusion is typically not needed or recommended.

#6
Q. Will you optimize our site without including us in the directories or doing any link building?

A. Yes. However, it will be up to you to perform your inbound link building.

#7
Q. Why should I pay for an organic optimization plan once I gain good positioning?

A. Good organic placement is a moving target. It is not like a static “Yellow Page Ad” that never changes. Organic positioning is never guaranteed and always subject to change.
Once you stop worrying about your great organic placement, you competitor hasn’t and is still working to overtake you.
We monitor organic placement of our customers and continually make recommendations that will help them maintain good organic positioning for their phrases. We also maintain the inbound links, making sure they are renewed and not dropped. In addition we perform code tweaking, keyword phrase additions, page additions and ongoing consulting on the latest algorithm changes that effect your site. Optimization is not a “submit and forget” proposition. It’s an ongoing process to stay on top.

#8
Q. Can you optimize my page for my top 20 keywords?

A. No. A single page cannot be optimized correctly for that many keyword phrases. The general rule of thumb is one keyword phrase per page and the maximum of two. We generally optimize sub pages for your other relative keyword phrases. If a page does not exist that’s relevant to the phrase, we may create a new page specifically for those phrases.

#9
Q. I know inbound links are important so I hired a linkage company to build additional links for my site. However, I have not noticed any results and my Page Rank has dropped. What Happened?

A. You have probably been penalized by Google. Most of these “Link Builders” will list your site using linkage schemes that will include “Bad Neighborhoods”, Link Farms, Blog Comment spam, Directory spam or just pages that offer no real benefit. Make sure your know up front where and how you will be listed. Also beware of low costs services. These are generally automated processes and will not produce any results and will most likely have a negative impact on your sites placement in the search engines. As a general rule, we do not recommend ANY link building companies.

#10
Q. I receive a lot of email requests for reciprocal linking. Should I participate it this?

A. Generally speaking, no. 95% of all these requests are SPAM. Furthermore, the pages that will actually link to your site are typically buried deep within the linking site and offer no benefit to you.
Another tactic that link spammers use is to remove your link at some point in time leaving them with only inbound links which is the most favorable.
The exception to the rule is exchanging links with an industry relative site that is legitimate. Do they have a phone number? You may actually want to call them and discuss the exchange and negotiate for position.
Link exchanges should also be equal. If their link is one click off of the front page, yours should be too, not buried 5 pages deep in a site directory.  We generally don’t see much of this anymore.

Customer Spotlight – sfsalt.com

The San Francisco Salt Company, (sfsalt.com) has come a long way since they developed their first site with us in 2002. The founder, Lee Williamson, would balance long work days and in turn, tool long soaks in the tub each night. Feeling fresh and invigorated each morning he decided to spread the word of the amazing benefits of bathing in sea salts. Things took off quickly in 2002 and the San Francisco Bath Salt Company was formed focusing mainly on Bath Salts.

With the growing demand for gourmet salts, and continued requests by retail and wholesale customers, it was no surprise a few years later when we expanded with a second production facility dedicated to gourmet chef salts. They are now officially the San Francisco Salt Company.

Fast forward to 2015, San Francisco Salt Company is now a top Worldwide supplier of retail Bath and Gourmet Sea Salts. Furthermore they are one of the leading Wholesale and Bulk Bath Salt providers in the industry.

San Francisco Salt Company

Site Features:

  • Custom Design with integration into SiteBuilder CMS
  • Home Page Slide Show
  • Full featured Shopping cart
  • Hundreds of products
  • Worldwide sales
  • Sitebuilder Secure Platform

SEO Testimonial – A Customer’s Story

The following text is an exert from a letter forwarded to us by one of our clients. His letter was written in response to a potential client’s request for information about AWSP’s Search Engine Marketing Campaigns. Yes, they did become our client as well!

Dear Sir or Madam,
Keith Hickman from AWSP provided your e-mail address as a reference. If you can take a little time to answer these questions it would be extremely helpful.

I am looking forward to reading your reply. Thank you for your time and consideration.

“I would be happy to answer your questions, as I am one of AWSP’s biggest fans.”

1. Are you still a customer of AWSP?

“Absolutely. AWSP has helped me to design, develop, and launch 4 company websites and they currently manage all updates and do the Web hosting as well. The AWSP team also manages all aspects of the search engine marketing for all of of our websites.”

2. When did you launch your SEO-campaign?

“For the first company, we launched our SEM (search engine marketing) campaign in June of 2001. For the second company, we launched our SEM campaign in earnest in mid February 2003. The Third was launched in August 2003. We are currently working on a 5th Web site with AWSP.”

3. Did the campaign reach all your expectations?

“For the first company, the SEM campaign took our small, home based business and turned it into a company that generates $750,000 over the first full year of SEO. We expect our business to generate >$1 Million of revenue this year. To give you a feel for how great an impact this has had on our company, our lives and our manufacturer, out of 400 distributors that our manufacturer deals with, we are now the manufacturer’s #1distributor. We are not just barely ahead of the #2 distributor either…we are 6 times larger than their #2 distributor (and this happened over a period of one year). Right now, every time the manufacturer ships 3 products, one of them is to one of our customers. This means we account for 1/3 of their entire business worldwide. That number is growing and growing also.

For the second company, we have already exceeded our expectations in the first 10 days of our business. In that timeframe, we have generated about $7500.00 of revenue in 10 days. Even thought we have just started…this is a pace of $250,000 per year. I fully expect this business to do better than business #1 in the first year.”

4. Which eventual issues happened during the project and how AWSP handled these problems?
“Once, for some unknown reason, our positioning with Yahoo dropped from #1 to completely off the radar screen. We suspect that they must have checked to see the presence of our website and for some reason, they couldn’t find our website (likely the server was down for updating or maintenance, etc). I noticed sales slowing down, so I called AWSP. In two hours, he identified the issue, re-submitted all information, and in a couple of days, our sales were back up where we were before.
Overall, I must say that there have been very few if any problems to speak of. When I have a question or a problem, I call and/or email my campaign manager and get the answer or the resolution right away. There are not really any problems or issues that come to mind at all.”

5. How satisfied were you with the price, quality of services provided by AWSP?

“I hope that was implied in the previous questions. They are very reasonably priced for the service, level of attention and results that you would get. Keith Hickman, Marketing Director and AWSP are one of the primary reasons our company has done so well. They have truly partnered with us in our success.

For the record, I feel it is necessary to give you a little background. When I started our first business, it was only an idea and I wanted to get a website going to sell our products. I knew nothing about SEM/SEO/SEP, price per click charges, positioning, page views, etc. So I had to rely heavily and exclusively on Keith. I basically told Keith this early on, ” I know nothing about this SEO/SEP stuff, but I know you do. So here’s the deal: I want you to do the things that need to be done just as though it was your own business and I want you to spend my company money as though it was your own. If you think we need to do something different, then I want you to run it by me, but I’ll guarantee you this…if you think we should, I will always agree with you. I want you to have the autonomy to do what you think is right because I trust you.”

“So Keith ran by a number of recommendations to me that were somewhat scary at first for a very small home based business. Some ideas that were expensive and daunting for a couple struggling to make ends meet. However, I figured, if we were going to do this, we were going to do this right or not at all. I bit the bullet and with an unwavering faith in Keith and his crew, it has paid off beyond what we could have imagined. Our “little” distributorship now competes against all the very large companies and more often than not, we beat them at their own game.”

“After being in this business for a while, I have come to find out that many people, who don’t have a fraction of the knowledge that Keith and other good SEO/SEP people have in this market, do not seem to listen to their suggestions. They spend literally millions on a website, and then act as misers and don’t want to continually spend money for the right Search Engine Marketing company. You know what…God bless them for not listening! It gives small companies like us the opportunity to really sneak up behind them and steal away their business.”

” I have never understood why companies spend all of this money on a website, but when someone goes to search for it, no one can find it! (MANY, MANY competitors have this problem). I’m a novice at this and the advice that Keith gave early on sure made sense to me. Keith helped me to develop a “clean,” and very informative and easy to navigate website. Not the most expensive by a long shot, but one that is found almost every time someone is looking for a product like ours.”

“If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to email or call me at anytime. My number is 713-xxx-xxxx.”

Sincerely,
Mark and Jackie Kidder
Owners
K-Covers
VersaCover
Amazing Truck Accessories
4- Way tonneau Covers
Roll Bak Tonneau Covers

Domain Email Troubleshooting Checklist

Email is one of the most common business tools we use and is often taken for granted. However, if it goes down, you immediately realize how hard it is to function without it.
Luckily, most email issues are easy to fix and actually exist at the mail client on your local computer, not the server.
If you complete the procedures and your email is still not working correctly, it may be time to call support but the more information you can provide, the faster support can help you resolve the issue.

Absolute first things to check.
1) Are you connected to the internet?
2) Is your domain name resolving?  (can you browse to you website)
If the above are true:
Open your Webmail client that is included with your hosting account. If you can login and check mail, it is a indication that the issue lies with your computer’s email program (mail client). This does two things:
1) Gets you immediate access to your mail
2) Helps trouble shoot the issue at hand
Next, know your email settings including:

  • Full email address
  • Password
  • POP3 and SMTP server settings
  • POP3 and SMTP Port numbers
  • Authentication type

All of these setting are in your mail client setup with exception of your password which will be hashed out.
If you cannot login to Webmail, the problem probably lies with your password.

Troubleshooting Checklist:
1) Are you connected to the internet? If not, reconnect and retest. If you are connected, shut down your mail client software and then SHUT DOWN your computer. Do not restart, Shut Down. Restart after a minute or so. Test Again.
Some Anti-Virus programs act as proxy server and can lock up. This also helps clear Outlook caching issues.

Still having issues?

2) Double check all your settings. A single wrong setting can cause email failure. Most support calls are simply wrong settings in the mail client software (your mail program. Outlook, Windows Live, etc).

3) The remainder are typically caused by Microsoft Outlook itself. Seldom do we receive calls from customers that use other mail clients.

Therefore, test your email in another mail client such as Windows Live Mail, Mail,  Thunderbird (free from Firefox), Etc. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. It only takes a few minutes and is essential in the trouble shooting process.
If your email works in another mail client, the mail server is working and it is a local email client issue (Outlook) or a local computer issue. We cannot troubleshoot Outlook issues other than to tell you not to use it. There is some support on the Microsoft site http://support.microsoft.com

Still not working?

4) If you can login with webmail and check email, the server is working properly and there are four possibilities of why you cannot connect with your mail client.
a) Problem with your mail client software (Outlook)
b) If the problem is only with sending email (SMTP) you need to check the following settings:

  • Double check your SMTP Server Setting in your mail client program.
  • Make sure that you have “my server requires authentication” checked and “use same settings as my incoming mail server”
  • Make sure SSL is NOT checked.
  • Try changing your SMTP port setting to 587

c) Port 25 is being blocked by your ISP. ISP’s have started doing this as an attempt to prevent spam. Therefore, we have a workaround. Under Advanced Settings you will find the option to change your SMTP server port number. Try changing it to 587. If you are a SiteBuilder customer, login to your Admin/Email and get the alternate port numbers in the help section.

d) Your IP address is blacklisted in the DNSBL or DNS Blacklist. This could be caused from a variety of reasons. You will need to check your local IP address and determine if there is an issue. You can get your IP address by going to http://www.whatsmyip.org/
Next, go to http://www.dnsbl.info/ and run a scan on it. Also, check it at http://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx
If your IP is showing up on one of these lists, please contact us and we will try to help you troubleshoot this issue. Please note that this is not an issue with our server but other conditions that exist.
The possibilities are:

  • Your computer is compromised with malware that is sending out spam
  • Your have been assigned a dynamic IP address that was associated with a spammer
  • Your email account may have been compromised and is being used as a relay.
  • You have been sending out Unsolicited Commercial Email (UCE)  This is rarely the case but all it takes is someone to report their newsletter email from your business as spam.

5) Additionally, you may need to check:

  • Routing – do a trace route to from your machine to the SMTP and POP3 server. You will need to open a DOS prompt window or “Command Prompt” typically found in “Accessories”. Once open, type in “tracert smtp.yourdomain.com” Exactly. No quotes and with your correct domain name of course. It will trace the route from your machine to the server and can help troubleshoot routing issue.

If you follow the steps above, you should be back online or at least have the information ready to relay to support personnel for faster resolution.

What is a Search Engine Friendly Web Site?

What is a Search Engine Friendly Website Design?

We are often asked, what does “search engine friendly design” mean?
It is essentially a website that is designed with no barriers that would block or reduce the effectiveness of the search engine bots (automated programs) from spidering or collecting important information from a Website and writing the information back to it’s database.
Many customer Websites we encounter have substantial barriers that must be eliminated before optimization can occur.
Furthermore, a search engine friendly site must adhere to the guidelines set forth by the search engines.
Google’s Webmaster guidelines can be found at http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769
Some common barriers to avoid are:

  • Frames – This prevents effective crawling/indexing of the site
  • Splash or intro pages – Your home page is the most relevant to the search engines, don’t reduce your chances of being found by adding an intro (barrier) page.  Better idea: Integrate the element into into front page.
  • Lots of images and little written copy – There is nothing for the search engine to index or”grab” onto. Written copy is king for SEO!
  • Database driven sites using long, obfuscated query strings or Session ID’s. Search engines have hard time following these types of links. Some simple query strings are acceptable.
  • JavaScript navigation – While most search engine can follow JavaScript now, we recommend using CSS when applicable.
  • Avoid using Image maps
  • Trashy or incorrect Markup code – Make sure you code is clean!

Some elements that make up a search engine friendly site are:

  • All search engine relevant code is in place. Title tags, meta tags, H1, H2, tags, Alt tags, Bold tags Etc.
  • Effective, logical navigation elements
  • Use of heading and subheading tags
  • Copy that is creatively written for the end user but is also optimized for the keywords selected
  • Use styles instead of images where possible
  • Correct file naming conventions
  • Sitemap and/or Footer nav with regular hyperlinked text

 

Advanced Web Site Publishing designs all of our website to search engine friendly guidelines unless we are specifically required not to do so by the customer.

The most effective marketing campaign is one where we have the opportunity to build the site from the ground up using our search engine friendly process and then implement a search engine optimization campaign. This ensures everything is correct right out of the gate.
That being said, we have been able to bring the majority of site we work on into compliance by revising the architecture of the site.
For more information contact us.

Video and Video Optimization Should be Part of Your SEO Strategy

Video and video optimization are an excellent way to increase the visibility of a brand to customers and potential customers so that they become aware of the products, services, or content that a site has to offer.

WAtching videos online has become one of the most popular web activities and draws.  A 2013 study showed that, the number of video viewers in the U.S alone was 195 million.   This presents a fantastic opportunity for all markets. People are not only searching for video, it now appears organically (naturally) in Google search results for many queries.

In addition to the organic search results, it is now possible for users to search specifically for video content. Of course, Google is not the only one who is doing this. Bing has also implemented video search well.

Currently, YouTube is the most popular way for people to discover video on the web. Estimates suggest that there are between three and four billion searches of YouTube every month. This means more people search YouTube than Bing. Proper video marketing can put you ahead of your competition so the time to act is now.

Another way to take advantage of video marketing is through the use of social media. Twitter and Facebook give you the opportunity to push content to all of your subscribers or “Friends”. They in turn can share content with their friends. Since the video is being recommended by a friend, users are often more willing to pay attention to it.
More on the how this all ties in with Social Media later.

Onsite and Offsite Optimization
In order for users to find the video easily, you will need to implement proper video optimization which includes onsite and offsite techniques. Onsite being the video section of your website and offsite being YouTube, a Social Media sites or wherever else your video resides.

When optimizing both onsite and offsite elements, some important factors include:
1) Keyword rich file name and sub-directories ( if applicable)
2) Video name and title should be keyword phrase targeted
3) Page content that describes what the video is about. Again, keyword phrase rich copy.
4) Keyword phrases and descriptions in meta tags
5) Be sure to include your video in your sitemap and XML sitemap

Google is working on an algorithm that will actually interpret your videos. Until then, Google can’t analyze the content of a video without the proper optimization.

Google Support States: “Googlebot cannot crawl the content of video files, so it’s important that you provide information about videos you include. Consider creating a transcript of the video you want to include, or provide a detailed description of the video inside your HTML. If you have video content, you can host it on Google Video, YouTube, or a number of other video hosting providers. Searchers can view Google Video or YouTube videos directly from the Google search results page.”
https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/72746?hl=en

Establishing a YouTube Channel

The first step is establishing a YouTube channel for your business vs. a personal account.  After all YouTube is another important social media channel so establishing your own business YouTube site is essential. Like any other social media site, you will need to create an account and enter your business description, URL and keyword phrases that will help Google Search, YouTube search, subscribers and customers find you.

Submitting Your Videos

Upload and Optimize your Videos

Custom Web Design Process

This following is an overview of our custom web design process.

Initial Consultation/Pre Service Agreement:

  1. Discuss customers business goals and objectives for the website.
  2. Receive requirements document from customer.
  3. Review requirement document and contact customer with any questions or concerns.
  4. If, no requirement document is provided, we offer an option to work with the customer on a consulting basis to development one.  The requirements document is absolutely necessary when developing a custom application.
  5. Once site requirements are submitted and approved, we prepare and submit our proposal to the customer.
  6. Customer accepts or rejects the proposal

Service Agreement

  1. If the proposal is accepted, we fax over the service agreement.
  2. Service agreement needs to be signed and faxed back to us.
  3. We require half of the payment for the web site as Initial payment.  The final payment is due upon completion or on a specified date.  We accept checks or major credit cards (except Discover) as payment.  Payment may be made securely through our online form.

Design Specs (look and feel):

  1. We will need your logo in electronic format (no scans).  The preferred format is Photoshop .PSD or high quality .GIF or .JPG
  2. We typically base the color scheme of the site on the logo colors.  However, this is subjective and we can base it on complementary colors or colors of your choosing.
  3. We ask that you send us 4 or 5 sites that you like and tell us why.  You may like the colors on one, the layout on the other, the ease of navigation of another and so on.  This gives us an idea of the style that you like.  Another option is to just have us design it to one of our industry leading, professional specifications.
  4. Once we get a good idea of what you are looking for in the design, we start on the design composition or “comp”.  The “comp” is a single image, non-working representation of the site.
  5. We publish the comp online for you to review.
  6. At this time, the customer either approves the comp for production or asks for revisions.  All revisions to the design must be made at the comp stage.  Otherwise, the customer will incur additional charges.
  7. Once the comp is approved, we start the actual development of the site.

Content integration

  1. Once the comp is approved, the customer should start on the content development for all the pages of the site that is under development.
  2. Content development includes written copy and images that you may want to go on specific pages.  We recommend stock images unless you have a professional photographer.  We have resources that we can recommend for stock images.
  3. When the page copy is completed, the customer should specify where the content is to be integrated.  All copy needs to be sent to us in electronic format such a Microsoft Word .DOC format.  Images can be sent in .JPG format.
  4. When we receive the content, we start on the content integration.

Web Space (Hosting):

1.    We will need to setup your hosting account at this point so your site will have a place to reside.
2.    We can register your domain name for you if you haven’t already done this.
3.    We setup a hosting account on our servers in the Rackspace datacenter.
4.    The hosting plan will be based on your site requirements.  The business account is the most popular and can be upgraded if necessary.
5.    The customer will need to sign up for the hosting account online.
6.    Once sign up is complete, the hosting account will be online within a few hours.

Rackspace Datacenter information:

AWSP is partnered with Rackspace Data Centers.  Rackspace delivers mission critical hosting solutions for AWSP customers. You could dedicate precious time, resources and expertise to doing all the day-to-day tasks necessary to keep your servers, hardware and network up and running optimally. Or you could choose to let the experts at Rackspace and AWPS do it for you.
Rackspace supports AWSP by:

* The Fanatical Support Promise – our commitment to you. And it’s not an empty promise with nothing behind it. It’s actually part of our Master Service Agreement.
* Hosting With No Worries – unlike co-location hosting and other low-end hosting providers, Rackspace immediately reduces the strain on your IT people by taking on the day-to-day burdens of constantly and fully managing a web environment.
* Very Live, 24x7x365 Support – we don’t mean one person manning the desks at 2:00AM. It’s teams of experts working at any time on any day.
* Your Very Own Dedicated Team – you will know your dedicated Rackspace Support Team and, they’ll know you. More importantly, the team is built around your needs, not ours.
* Experts by Any Definition – hundreds of certified experts, consistent industry awards and recognition and strong technology partnerships.
* 100% Network Uptime Guarantee – our Zero-Downtime Network guarantees you get nothing less than 100% Network Uptime. We’re so confident in our guarantee that we didn’t have to fill it with loopholes.
·    1-Hour Hardware Replacement Guarantee – sooner or later hardware will break. When it breaks at Rackspace, it’s usually fixed before you even know something is wrong.

Testing and Live deployment:

Once your site is complete, we do thorough testing before moving it to our live server.
We make every effort to make sure you have adequate time to review all aspects of your site on our development server first.  After you review and approve the site, we then move it to the live server (your domain).  Once on the live server, we test again to be sure everything is perfect!
At this point, we turn the site over to you.