July’s Newsletter From the Orion Group

Hello everyone. When I reach out to you through these monthly mailers I always try and give you the latest news regarding the Internet, Google, web sites and industry alerts. This month I’d like to focus on three main topics.

  1. Firefox blocks Flash, and Facebook calls for its death
  2. Old Web Sites! Is yours one?
  3. Google’s Mobilegeddon, the continuing saga unfolds!
    This was reported in the Wall Street Journal:
    This was reported in CIO TODAY:
    This was reported on VentureBeat:

NEWS ALERT! Firefox blocks Flash, and Facebook calls for its death

flash

The use of Adobe Flash has been facing doom and gloom on the Internet for over a decade. There are still new websites going up with flash elements in them and some entirely new web sites built in Flash. Apple was one of the first to give Flash a death notice when they banned it from there devices. Their iPads and cell phones will not play flash movies and have not for at least a decade. There are alternatives to using Flash with the advent of HTML5 standards but some companies have disregarded these bad practices.

If you have any type of Flash playing on your web site you should highly consider getting rid of it and doing something else. It’s use might also be a sign of the age of your web site. If this is the case you need to really consider remodeling your web site. It’s time!

Is your website getting old? Have you been putting off remodeling your web site?

These are serious questions and if your answers are yes, you really need to consider what’s going on in the real world! Old web sites generally are of and old school HTML 3 or HTML 4 standard. If this is you, you are simply sinking into a deeper hole every day. Old architectured web sites are not SEO friendly (search engine optimised). They are full of deprecated HTML tags and practices that should not be used any longer.

You know the purpose of screens on your windows and doors right? They keep mosquitos and other bugs from entering your house. The same is true if you have an old web site that has utilized old school practices that were okay at the time your website was built. This is no longer the case. You see, Google and other search engines simply bounce off your web site as if they ran into a screen door. You want search engines to come into your web site and index everything that is viable and well structured content. Now, there is a lot of geek speak to explain all of this, but the fact remains an old websites simply are not search engine friendly any longer.

This should be a wake up call for all businesses to research this issue. Any reputable Web Design & Development Agency should be able to provide an analysis on your web site. It is worth the time and expense to find out the truth.

Google’s Mobilegeddon, the continuing saga unfolds!

Google

As has been reported for months now, Google released it’s latest algorithm on April 21st, of this year. While doom and gloom was reported with websites that were not mobile friendly would be suppressed in search results done on smartphones. This is still the case.

This was reported in the Wall Street Journal:
Google’s ‘Mobilegeddon’ Was a Big Deal, After All
“Mobilegeddon fears have come true,” said Tamara Gaffney, an Adobe analyst, said. The changes to Google’s search algorithm prompted many website operators to alter their sites, to assure that the sites remained visible in Google search results.” Read more…

This was reported in CIO TODAY:
Google’s Mobilegeddon Strikes Mobile-Unfriendly WebSites
“Nevertheless, Google seems to have had good reason to prioritize the importance of mobile-friendly sites. The amount of Web traffic from mobile devices is expected to surpass traffic from desktops and laptops for the first time within the next 18 months.” Read more…

This was reported on VentureBeat:
Adobe: Mobilegeddon cut traffic to mobile-unfriendly sites by 10 percent
“The Reports found that Google’s Mobilegeddon impact has been growing weekly since April, when the search giant first decided to give mobile search result preferences to mobile-optimized websites.” Read more…

What is amazing to me is a phenomenon I am witnessing. I am beginning to sense a complacency in the business climate that indicates that  “The world did not end”, “Chicken Little was wrong”, “Someone cried wolf”, and “The Internet did not explode”. So are business turning a blind eye to what really has happened? The facts are incontrovertible. “Mobilegeddon” did occur and it has caused those sites that are mobile friendly with the best seats in the house. This means at the top of the results for searches done on smartphones. Those are the websites that are reaping the rewards. This is simply the truth.

If your website is not mobile friendly or you don’t know if it is you can check here and find out.  Plug your web site in there. If it is determined your website is not mobile friendly, you will simply disappear in smartphone search results.

Just think, complacency at it’s worst. We heard the warnings and did nothing about it.
All the best will happen to those sites that are mobile friendly and responded to “Mobilegeddon”
The worst will happen to those that did not heed the warnings

If you’d like to here more about any of these topics please feel free to call me at my office. 262-820-9520

Visit our web site at Orion Group to learn more about us and the services we provide to businesses across our fruited plain.

William Knoernschild
President of the Orion Group

When is a Duplicate IYP Listing Not a Duplicate?

In the world of online business listings there exists different definitions of what is a ‘duplicate listing’. Internet marketing professionals may view listings in a different light than an internet yellow pages (IYP) venue or a data aggregator might. That is understandable, since we each have different reasons for working with the data contained in said listings.

Some people understand the importance of not having incorrect/duplicate business listings in existence, however it appears that some venues or business owners seem to think it is OK for a business to be listed more than once in a particular business directory. Continue reading

How Can Online Business Listings Help My Website Rankings (vs Backlinks)

The interesting thing about citations in general is that they can help raise the trust of a company in the search engines, even without a link pointing to your website. Google sees mentions (aka ‘citations’) of your business name, address, and/or phone number (NAP) online as reinforcing the existence of the business. The webpages containing these mentions help to expand search engines’ knowledge of your business; thus adding trust.

Search engines can more confidently gather and interpret information about your business when there are more listings in existence that contain data about the business, and these listings contain proper data. For example IYP listings may contain your business’ hours of operation, description, category keywords, etc. Continue reading

Which IYP Directories are Most Important for Listing my Business?

In the online business listing industry there is no exact standard for determining which internet yellow page (IYP) directories are the most important for citation building purposes. I’ve seen many ‘top 100′ IYP venue lists and even a ‘top 1000′ list out there somewhere. So how can we know where we should list a business online? Continue reading

Was Google’s “Mobilegeddon” all smoke and mirrors?

Google

It’s been two months now since Google released it’s latest “Algorithm” that has changed mobile searches on smartphones. The vast majority of websites today are not mobile friendly and do not meet Google’s standards. If you’d like to test your web site for to see if it is mobile friendly please plug it in here and check for yourself.

Google’s Mobile Friendly Test Site!

There are several great articles which describe Google’s “Mobilegeddon” of which I have provided links for in this letter:

Google’s New Search Algorithm Stokes Fears Of ‘Mobilegeddon’

Google has made a giant change that could crush millions of small businesses

Mobilegeddon: how Google’s new search algorithm affects business

“The change is only taking place on Google searches made on smartphones. The results will favor websites deemed “mobile friendly,” giving them higher rankings than sites that are only optimized for desktops and laptops.”

This is an excellent article:

Post-Mobilegeddon Update: Is The Impact As Catastrophic As Predicted?

It is my desire to make as many people aware of this so they can take advantage of this situation. Just think! Shear statistics state that 85% of web sites today are not mobile friendly. I believe it safe to assume the same about your competitors.

If your web site is not “Responsive” / “Mobile Friendly” give us a call today so we can explain what you’d have to do in order to comply with Google and beat your competitors to the rewards!

Landing Page Spam in Google Analytics

A client of ours recently contacted us asking if their website had been hacked. She is familiar with Google Analytics referral spam, however seeing spam or adult/porn landing pages seemingly found on their website, concerned her.

In the ‘Behavior’ > ‘Site Content’ section under the ‘Landing Page’ report we found the following ‘landing pages’ listed. (Google defines a landing page in this report as “pages through which visitors entered your site.”):

  • domination.ml
  • redtube-talk.ga
  • guardlink.org

 

Google Analytics Landing Page Spam

Google Analytics Landing Page Spam

The good news is that their site was not hacked, but rather the target of a website analytics spamming attack. This can be double-confirmed, as you can see some of the same websites listed in the referral sources report (as seen in the ‘Acquisition’ > ‘All Traffic’ section in the ‘Referrals’ report (those darn ‘social buttons’ and ‘semalt’ entries.)

Google Analytics Referral Spam

Google Analytics Referral Spam

How Can I Filter Out  Landing Page Spam Data in my Google Analytics Reports?

I am looking to find a method to filter out this spam data in GA. It seems that the same filter for Spam Referrals (via Campaign Source) can’t be re-purposed for Spam Landing Pages.

I’ll report back when I find something out. In the meantime, you can filter out data ‘after the fact’ using advanced custom segments.

 

 

 

Image Optimization in SEO

Behind your page title, image captions get read more than full page content.

Behind your page title, image captions get read more than full page content.

There is an SEO value to pretty much everything that you do on your website. You may not realize it, but adding images, and doing the accompanying SEO legwork, can help generate loads of traffic from Google Images and other image-based search engines. It’s not enough to just drop a picture on a page… would you create a page and not title it??… that same regard should be held when talking about images.

Image optimization is simple. It’s a simple practice that’s also simple to accomplish and the results can be through the roof. It’s so beneficial that we here at the Orion Group, ensure that every image uploaded to any website that we manage for SEO or internet marketing, is optimized.

For the noob, there are four areas of concentration that need to be addressed when concerning yourself with image optimization: file name, file size, alt text, and descriptions/captions.

1) File Name

Very basic. Very easy. Very essential, even if you do nothing else. Just PLEASE name your images… and that means each and every one of them.

Image Naming Best Practices:

  • lower case
  • dashes/hyphens (NO underscores)
  • name every image uniquely
  • be descriptive, with on-page SEO in mind (when appropriate)
  • be as concise as possible

Remember, keyword stuffing is a frowned upon activity in the eyes of the search engines, so use keyword-rich names, but don’t just stuff your file names with keywords themselves. This practice should already be in place with your on-page SEO strategies, just carry it over to your file names and also your ALT tags.

Today’s digital cameras and smartphones automatically generate generic file names when you snap a picture. These are completely random but will look something like this: IMAGE007.jpg. If you just upload that image to be used on your website, THAT is the name that will carry over and be seen by Google… and who in their right mind searches for products by “IMAGE007”?? See where I’m going here?

We need to take a step back and think about how our customers search for our products. What names do they use? What words? What terms? Let’s say for a minute that we’re going to name this awesome Coleman cooler (we all have to keep our beverages cold, right?). How would we start? Answer: with the basics and then expand.

How would you name this image file?

How would you name this image file?

  • cooler
  • Coleman cooler
  • 50 qt Coleman cooler
  • 50 qt wheeled Coleman cooler

Turning these thoughts into optimized image names would translate as such –

  • 50-qt-Coleman-cooler.jpg
  • or
  • 50-qt-wheeled-Coleman-cooler.jpg

Remember, the purpose of adding image names is NOT to describe the picture in complete detail… that is what the rest of the page/post content is for. All we want to accomplish is to draw a corollary between the image and the content to establish it’s worth to the rest of the page.

2) File Size

One of Google’s ranking factors in its search algorithm is page speed and load times. With this in mind, DO NOT upload the largest image you can find and then scale it down in your coding. This is really bad practice. What you SHOULD do is make sure your image is high resolution to begin with and simply upload your images in the actual file size necessary for on-page appearance and nothing bigger. When it takes your website longer to load images the entire page speed is noticed and Google takes this as an overall knock on the user experience you are providing to your visitors.

3) Alt Text

Now we’re getting into an area that may not be all too familiar with the general public. ALT tags are recognized and deemed important for W3C compliance. W3C is a worldwide community that has set standards in HTML usage… and from them come these words of wisdom:

“The generic rule for the content of the alt attribute is: use text that fulfills the same function as the image.”
More value of the ALT tags… they are what screen reader software reads aloud in place of the photo. With this being true, they are considered part of Accessibility (and a requirement in Gov websites).

Above all else, we use ALT tags because they get read by the search engine spiders who cannot actually SEE the image itself. It’s because of this that ALT tags inherently add important SEO value.

Alt Text Best Practice: When creating your ALT text, make sure it is relevant to the content on the page, not just pertinent to the image itself.

4) Descriptions/Captions

There’s no connection between adding an image description and direct SEO value. That said, when you decide to deliver the best user experience as possible, it’s the little things that the visitors take away as important. That is where captions fall into play. You wouldn’t believe how many of those little descriptions get read by your visitors. It’s amazing to learn that besides your headline, image captions are often the second most read piece of content on a page. Think about it. An entire page worth of content takes time to consume while consuming a single sentence in a caption literally takes seconds.

Final Thoughts… 

SEO is important. We all know this and doing the “little” extras can make a world of difference in setting your website apart from your competitors. Going through the process of optimizing your images is one of these extras that can enhance the user experience and get your site placed higher in the SERPS.

What does Google’s Mobilegeddon really mean?

Hello!
This is Bill from the Orion Group. I am reaching out to as many people as I can to explain, in layman’s terms, what Google did on April 21st of this year. Some of you may have heard about Google’s “Mobilegeddon”. The title is most accurate because what Google did was literally pull the rug out on the entire internet affecting every website that exists today.

For those of us who do not understand, here is what Google did.

Why is this important?… because Google does not play around and make such announcements just for fun.

Want proof this is happening?

Image3

 

All of this is because neither site was optimized to “mobile friendly” status before the algorithm update by Google.

Does this not make one think that if such a large percentage of web sites are not responsive, and only those that are will be shown in mobile search results, then we better get going and update our web site? We need to take advantage of being part of the small percentage of sites that will show up in mobile search results and capitalize while others are still playing catch up. In essence, the entire internet is starting over and only the smartest of companies that understand all of this will take advantage of such a small pool of competition showing up in mobile search results.

This is a chance that may never come around again. In order to rank higher in mobile search results and NOT be doomed to losing that traffic all together, you have to have a website that is mobile-friendly. When will Google say that they will be doing the same thing in Desktop and Laptop searches? It’s a scary thought but Google is scary.

I believe Google is forcing the entire internet to do it their way. It purifies searches and it will cost advertisers a lot more money as the field of viewership will be so much narrower for a while.

So, while you may have been putting off redoing your web sites for years, there is now an opportunity to strike while the iron is hot. When the wagons went west in the search for gold, it was the first ones there that got richest the quickest. Now this can be said for having a responsive, mobile-friendly website. If your business values mobile traffic, why wouldn’t you want to be able to cash in on being the only ones who come up on the mobile search results with little to no competition around you for the foreseeable future?

How can you tell if your current website meets Google’s definition of mobile-friendly? There’s an online tool for that. Visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/, paste or type in the URL of your website, and click Analyze. Does your site pass? If not, then it’s HIGHLY likely that your site is NOT showing up in mobile search results.

This was a collaborative effort by Emma Edgar,  Adam Kuhn & Kevin Barns

If your website is not mobile-friendly, Orion Group can help.
Call 262-820-9520 for a free consultation.

Mobile-Friendly: Responsive vs Mobile Websites

Mobile friendly website comparisonWith last month’s release of Google’s new ranking algorithm that lowers non-mobile-friendly websites in a mobile search, people have been running to get their site mobile-friendly.  But for those out there who have yet to make the switch, the options for turning a website “mobile-friendly” can be confusing and frustrating, especially for those who aren’t familiar with web design terms.   Continue reading