I am not a blogger at heart… meaning that while I really enjoying writing, even for public consumption, the practice of consistently writing about a passion of mine and promoting it on social media is not generally appealing to me.
However, there are so many reasons why I should– and why YOU should– especially if you are a business owner.
1. Blogging Consistently Increases Traffic to Your Site
It is uncanny. Just use a web traffic tracker to look at the peaks in your traffic and notice how your busiest days are linked to new blog posts. This is great motivation!
2. Blogging Builds Your Business
Obviously the more people we have looking at our websites, the more potential clients are finding us. When we write high-quality posts that results in boosted traffic, we are probably also getting social media engagement and backlinks from other reputable sites, which leads to our next point…
3. Blogging Makes Google Love You More
There is absolutely no doubt about it. Blogging high quality content consistently is the best thing you can do for your SEO once your website is properly optimized and any on- or off-page issues or offenses are reconciled with Google. If you want to improve your Google Search Rank for your target keywords then it is time to put fingers to keyboard and write about something (hopefully your expertise!) regularly.
4. Blogging Forces You to Learn New Things, Refine What You Know, or Compile Information in Digestible Form for Your Potential Customers
Blogging is all about information– boiling it down, compiling it, improving it, sharing it. Some of the blog posts that I’ve written about SEO, Responsive Design, or other web design industry issues are a resource I now have to share with my potential customers when they ask me about particular topics. I can either use the information I previously compiled, edit it, and email it to them OR direct them to the source.
5. Blogging Leads to New Connections
Blogging regularly gives visitors an opportunity to return regularly, and therefore, to get involved in your business. Also, remember not just to visit your own blog’s comment sections but also to share the love on relevant blogs in your field. Not only does this get you some either follow or no-follow links but it also drives traffic to your site when people click on your comments (assuming your gravatar is set up properly and/or you are filling out your url when given the opportunity). Blogging is a great way to network and build connections!
What motivates you to blog when the days, weeks, or months have ticked by silently on your business’s blog? Is it worth it? Let me know what you think in the comments!
I have to say, while others may have been dreading it, I was secretly looking forward to “Mobilegeddon,” the cheerfully nicknamed Google Algorithm update that launched on April 21st. This update was termed as such by web developers and SEO gurus because of the importance assigned to mobile-friendly features and usability. It threatened to wreck the search rank of many local businesses that haven’t prioritized the development of a mobile-friendly site.
For more details on Mobilegeddon, see this Bloomberg Business video:
April 21st also happened to be the day that we closed on our new home, so I wasn’t too attached to the search engines that day : )
Thankfully, I knew that I didn’t need to be worrying on Mobilegeddon, because as a standard my websites are responsive, which means that they adapt seamlessly to different screen sizes.
As a whole, our websites were unaffected or positively impacted by the update (woohoo!). This is a relief for the business owners who could have been affected. Others have recently contacted me to ask about SEO packages. The truth is, it is just the industry standard to have a responsive website now.
If you are interested in learning more or transitioning to a responsive website, contact me today.
Recently, someone sent me an email and asked me to share tips about how to find clients as a freelance web designer or small web design firm. I’m happy to share my experience and some tips on finding more clients. However, I really think it’s better to think about how clients find us.
Here is how clients found me over the last few months:
1. 55% Personal Referrals / Word of Mouth
2. 27% Google
3. 18% Social Media
When I look at these stats and reflect on the individual encounters I’ve had with prospective clients and their process in finding a designer, it leads me to think about a few principles.
1. When people need a website, they look online and ask others for recommendations.
No, your potential clients are not looking in the phone book to find you. We ought to spend time making our own websites excellent and improving our own SEO so that when our clients decide they are ready to hire a designer or developer, you are one of the first options that they see when they hit the search button on Google. In social media, this means having good timing, networking, and being presentable. On Google, this means using Google Adwords strategically and maximizing your SEO.
2. Instead of “finding clients,” make yourself easy to find and desirable.
I personally have never fought for clients on a freelance site. Frankly, I’m not sure the people who post on these sites are my target audience. Instead, I had spent time plugging into the audience that I would like to serve on social media, working on my own professional image, and guest blogging on other sites (which also builds my SEO). This isn’t time wasted. It is time invested into making myself easy to find and desirable to hire.
3. If you are doing this and still aren’t finding clients ask yourself if your target audience is big enough or if you need to target different businesses.
I am blessed to live in a town where entrepreneurship and small businesses are booming! There are plenty of clients to fill up my schedule and other web developers in town are turning business away. That may not be the case for you.
When I first launched my web design business I had the benefit of making a business plan with my Dad, who is a great salesman and marketing expert, although in a very different scientific field. He helped me think about my audience and compare myself to my competitors. I decided on a product emphasis (professional, affordable, mobile-ready) that was decidedly different than what others were offering. Also, it lines up with my values and principles as a designer.
If you don’t have the amount of work that you desire, maybe it’s time for you to step back and reevaluate how you are presenting your services to your audience. Is your price too high for the market or your skill set? The fact is, there is a lot of business out there for web designers, WordPress developers, and branding experts. Instead of fighting over it, figure out what you do well, who you want to do it for, and then make yourself as presentable as possible.
Questions, comments, or other frustrations? Let me know in the comments.
How often do you search for your target keywords to see how you stack up against your competitors? If you aren’t happy with the search ranking results, performing an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) audit might be your next step. Though you are interested in launching an SEO campaign, it can be a frustrating and time consuming effort, especially if you don’t know where to start. Properly understanding the role that backlinks play in determining your Google search ranking is one crucial element. It is imperative to properly understand how they are assessed and what you can do to build them and get them indexed.
This post includes:
- the importance of backlinks for SEO,
- a step-by-step guide for running a backlink audit, including 4 free online tools
- a free downloadable spreadsheet for monitoring your SEO campaign
Let’s get started.
What are Backlinks and why are they important?
Backlinks are external links on other domains that link to your website. The Anchor Text is the text that the visitor sees when they click on the link.
It is important to have backlinks because the number, quality, and variety of backlinks that you have pointing to you site helps to determine your Google search ranking. Companies providing Marketing Services like Stone Barn Management ultilize backlinks and other strategies in order to improve a website’s search engine ranking.
There are two main kinds of backlinks– FOLLOW and NO FOLLOW. Follow backlinks are links to your site that have been intentionally placed in the content of a website. There are a number of ways to acquire No-follow links, such as commenting on someone else’s blog or creating a profile on a forum. There is controversy about how much credit (or “juice” as it is typically referred to by SEOs) you get for accumulating no follow links. As a general rule, no follow links don’t hurt and they absolutely bring traffic to your site. Some people think they do help your ranking. You should try to spend your time building follow links and generate no follow links when you are community building– For example, if you are leaving comments on blogs in your industry (which you should), sign in to the commenting system so that your name is linked to your website. You can experiment with how the no follow links affect your ranking using the monitoring method outlined below.
Google takes into account how many domains link to you (300 backlinks from 1 domain isn’t as nearly good as 10 links from 30 domains), how many times each domain links to you, and the page rank of the domain (links from Forbes are better than links from a spammy, fake site).
How do I audit my backlinks to see how many I have?
There are a number of SEO checking tools that can help you audit and monitor your backlinks. Many provide some information for free (sometimes for a limited number of searches) and then offer a monthly rate for the full package. It is best practice to use a variety of backlink checking tools, since many providers use different web crawlers to find your links and may give you different results. For this reason, small businesses would get the best results by optimizing their website for SEO and then monitoring using a few free tools. Thankfully, you can absolutely use a combination of different free tools to make a good assessment of your backlinks. Then if you need additional help, then it may be time to hire an experienced SEO.
Here’s a guide for running an initial audit of your backlinks and rank which will also become a system for regular monitoring.
1. Make a folder on your computer for saving your audits on a regular basis. Name it “(Your Domain Name) SEO Reports”.
2. Use the following free tools. Either download spread sheets of your findings or take screen captures and save the files into your Business SEO Reports folder. Modify all of the file names so that they include the month and year at the beginning of the file name followed by your domain name and the service you are using (For Example: Feb 2015 Your Domain Name Ahrefs Report).
How I use it: Using Backlink Watch! is a first step, since its service is unlimited and free.
Cons: The page itself is a little spammy with the pop-up adds and links tempting you to buy links. Don’t do that… purchasing spammy links could actually hurt your SEO.
Pros: You can see the entire list of backlinks that they see on the internet pointing towards your site. It is free and doesn’t limit the number of times that you can search.
How I use it: Once a month, I grab a report for 3 sites that I am currently monitoring. It appears to use the exact same technology as backlinkwatch.com, so don’t expect a difference in the links that are reported.
Cons: You can only get 3 reports a month with the free account.
Pros: You can download the report as an excel spread sheet.
3. MOZ Open Site Explorer
How I use it: Once a month, I search for the sites that I am monitoring and compare them with their competitors. I keep track of the domain authority score and other stats by taking a screenshot.
Cons: You can only run 3 searches a day (not including the comparison searches, however). The MOZ database only runs a huge update every month or month and a half, so you may see a delay in updating new links. You can check their schedule here. At the time I wrote this post, the next upcoming update is planned for March 11, 2015.
Pros: You can do a side by side comparison of your site against your competitors, which is so helpful, by going to “Compare Link Metrics” and adding your competitors urls. It provides more than just the backlink count– even at the free level– by providing you with a list of helpful stats including your domain authority, page authority, and just discovered links.
How I use it: I use the free account to monitor changes over time and look for problematic drops in backlinks.
Cons: Most of the backlinks are hidden from you unless you subscribe. Tip: if you shuffle the order of the links by clicking on the different columns, you can see more without purchasing the membership.
Pros: Great analysis of new and lost backlink numbers over time. This could help you identify a backlink problem that you need to fix.
1. Download my SEO Campaign Tracker to keep track of your reports, basic observations, actions taken, and results.
It is so important to track what results your SEO efforts are making as you tailor your campaign to your industry. For example, posting 2 guest posts in a certain month may have had a dramatic impact on your ranking because of the quality of the external link pointing to your site. Maybe adding yourself to a few directories, like Reddit and Hotfrog, also made an impact.
Remember to diversify your SEO tactics, avoid spammy solutions, work on great content, and track your results by monitoring backlinks and rank.
Let us know what works for you or if you have any questions in the comments. Have a paid service that you recommend? Let us know!
Google Webmaster Tools is an essential, free SEO tool and monitoring system. Here are step-by-step instructions for the Google Webmaster Tools verification process for websites created in WordPress. This tutorial also covers how to verify both the www and non-www versions of your site and set your preference in the site settings, a quick extra measure which will improve your search performance with Google.
Though this process does involve copying and pasting a line of code in your WordPress site’s backend, this process can easily be completed by someone with no coding experience.
1. Sign in to Google Webmaster Tools.
2. Click on the red “Add a Site” button. Type in the URL of your website (either the www or non-www version, it doesn’t matter right now).
3. Click on the “Alternate Methods” tab for Verification. Select “HTML tag.” Copy and paste the line of code provided. It begins with <meta name=
4. Login to your WordPress Dashboard. In the lefthand column, click on Appearance>Editor. Then, in the righthand column, click on Header (header.php).
5. Paste the line of code into the header.php file directly underneath the line that reads <head>. Be sure to not change or delete any other lines of code! Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Update File.”
6. Go back to your Tab where Google Webmaster Tools is open. Click “Verify” and you will see a Congratulations notice appear.
Part Two: Verifying the other version of your website (www or non-www) and selecting your prefered domain
7. Go back to the main welcome screen for Google Webmaster Tools by clicking on the red header, “Wemaster Tools.” Repeat steps 1-3 for the other version of your site (If you added your www url first, now add the non-www url). For example: First I added megfarrington.com and then I added www.megfarrington.com. You do not need to enter the line of code into your WordPress dashboard again. After selecting the alternate methods of verification tab, selecting html tag, and clicking verify, you have verified ownership of the other version of your website.
8. Now click on the gear icon on the upper right part of the screen and select “Site Settings.” Choose your website’s perferred domain in order to tell Google to display your URLs as www or non-www. If you don’t know which way your website is set up, visit your website and note if the wwws appear in the url or not.
Congrats! Both your www and non-www website versions are added to Google Webmaster Tools and you have specified which is the preferred domain, which will help your ranking with Google.
Next, I will cover how to add a site-map to your Google Webmaster Tools and some of the ways to use these tools for monitoring your site’s performance.
Have any questions or difficulties? Let me know in the comments!