Monday, September 5, 2011

Blog Optimization: Auditing my own Blog for SEO Best Practices

After reading Google’s own search engine optimization (SEO) audit of its own web site, I was inspired to evaluate my own Blog and see if I was always following common SEO best practices. I was surprised that as a SEO web consultant I was often giving clients SEO advice that I myself wasn’t always following!

Below are some SEO issues that I have identified and am planning to fix in the next couple of months so read quickly!

Use Keyword Phrases in the Headline of Blog Post - I have my website optimized for the primary keyword “website consulting” along with many secondary keywords (eg. web consultant, seo consulting, ppc consultant, etc) but am rarely using these keywords in the actual Blog Headline.

Hyperlink Keyword Phrase to Webpage– Whenever a keyword phrase is used, it should be hyperlinked to the relevant webpage on the site. For example, if I mention a keyword related to ”ppc consulting” I should link it to that page on the site (like I just did here now : )

Use the “TITLE” tag in the Hyperlink – You have the ability to add a “title” tag on the hyperlinks. For example, if I use the keyword “ppc consulting” in the Blog and link it in the HTML source code I should add the Title tag as follows: ppc consulting. I can either use the exact keyword being linked or a very similar one.

Category Labels – You should have a Blog Category strategy laid out based on your SEO keyword research and not just create the Category Labels on the fly every time you post a Blog. For example, my categories might be website consulting (which would include general blog posts), seo consulting, ppc consulting, etc which would include those relevant types of Blog posts. Rotunda’s Blog about scheduling software does this well.

Contact Us - If unique, high quality, optimized Blog copy is being produced and search engines start to rank it highly on certain keyword phrases like “website consulting”, the Blog should start receiving direct traffic from Search Engines. Hence, a Contact Form should be added directly to the page (in the left or right side bar) instead of just having a “Contact Us” link at the top of the page. Make it easy for potential customers to contact you!

Social – The Blog has the ability to share the content to sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc which is great but it is not receiving many comments directly on the posts. Search Engines like Google have confirmed they have started to use social media signals like comments to rank webpages.
See any other Blog SEO best practices that aren’t being used on this Blog? Drop our web consultants a comment on the Blog below. Thank you!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

PPC Adwords Optimization with EXACT Phrase Match

As Pay-Per-Click (PPC) web consultants, we often discover clients aren't aware of the significant amount of money they are spending on non-relevant or poorly converting keywords.

Google makes a majority of their income through PPC ads and although they try to provide incentives to advertisers to optimize their PPC campaigns (with good ads, landing pages and keywords being bid on) they adequately fail to provide enough insight into how a small business can lower their monthly budget.

Although, it is important to use the "broad match" types with wide range of keywords at first (in order to "discover" keyword phrases your consumers are using) you will eventually want to evaluate what keywords have a high click-through-rate (CTR) and/or conversation rate.

When using the "broad match" type with a small monthly budget you will most likely hit your daily or monthly spend limits and Google will start suggesting ways to increase your budget but most instances this is the opposite of what you want to do (unless you are using an advanced technique like Google's Conversion Optimizer and are seeing a positive ROI).

After you have a good idea on what are some of your best keyword phrases are (based on conversions, click through, relevancy to the products/services on your landing page) setup a new campaign with extremely focused ad groups set to EXACT match type only. Extremely focused ad groups should met the following criteria:

1. Keyword Phrases - All keyword phrases being bid on should be very similar to each other. For example, the ad group should contain keywords like "men's blue sneakers", "male blue sneakers" "adult male blue sneakers", etc.
2. Ad copy should contain the keyword phrase in the title. Include a keyword variation a second time (in the URL or 3rd line of the ad copy if possible).
3. Landing page – should prominently contain the keyword phrase (eg. in the headline) and variations of the keyword phrase should be used throughout the copy of the page. In addition, put an image of the keyword phrase on the landing page – a men's blue sneaker in our example.

Most importantly setup all your ad groups to EXACT phrase match. This will force Google to only display your ads when consumers search for the exact phrases that you put into your ad group thus lowering your total campaign spend (since Google won’t show your ads on semi-related keyword phrases). In addition, your click-through-rate (CTR) will increase significantly.

A benchmark CTR of between 1-5% percent is considered good in the industry but using the EXACT match bid method described above you will most likely see your CTR’s above 10% and as high as 20%! Best of all, you will be spending less money on the PPC campaign while increasing your CTR’s and most likely your conversion rates at the same time.

Have you tried the tactic above? Did it work for you? Feel free to leave your comments below or contact RWeb Consulting to have one of our PPC web consultants look over your PPC campaign.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Internal Linking your Blog - Website Best Practices

Website blogs can be used to generate traffic to your site by having individual blogs rank directly in the search engine results pages and/or by increasing the rankings of your main website.

Many blogs have great, unique, keyword rich content but search engines are still not ranking the webpages high for those keywords. This blog is meant to provide you some tips on how to internally link your Blog to your other website pages so search engine "spiders" rank your Blog and website higher for the keyword phrases you are targeting.

Let's assume you have done your keyword research and identified high volume keywords with relative low competition which you want to rank on. If you haven’t done this yet then please subscribe to this Blog since we will discuss "keyword research" in our next blog posting. Note: RWeb Consulting does not receive your email address nor is it used for any other purpose than to delivery monthly Blog updates).

First, all Blog titles should contain a keyword phrase. You'll notice on Rotunda Software the Blog titles contain keywords like "ministry scheduling software", "ministry software" and "volunteer software".

Second, internally link the keyword to the appropriate page on your website within the first paragraph. This will confirm to search engines spiders that the page is highly relevant for that keyword phrase.

Third, use "long tail" keyword phrases related to the primary blog post keyword to link to relevant pages on your website. This will continue to send signals to the search engines that both the blog post and webpage that is being linked to is highly relevant to the keyword phrase.

Lastly, use the title tag in the hyperlink of the keyword. It's not necessarily to use the same primary keyword phrase in each hyperlink's title tag but at least use secondary keyword phrases that you might not be able to naturally incorporate into the copy of the blog.

Additionally, don't forget to use the keyword phrase in the title tag of the webpage you are linking to. For example, in the "Why Invest in Ministry Software" Blog the keyword phrase "ministry software" appears in the title of the blog and several times in the blog copy with the "ministry software" title tag.

Wherever relevant (in this example the first 2 links in the Blog), the primary keyword should link to another page on the website that is optimized the keyword phrase "ministry software".

For additional information on website consulting services contact us or if you have any of your own internal linking blog strategies let us know in the comments below.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

Creating a Video Sitemap

In this video blog we'll discuss how to create a video sitemap file so search engines can better understand your video content.  We'll also briefly discuss some other basic video SEO best practices.

A web consultant probably does not have to tell you that search engines are including more videos in their results than ever before. Articles such as this one in Tech Crunch explain the benefit and effectiveness of getting your videos optimized and appearing in Google's search engine result pages (SERPs)

Try searching for anyone famous, your favorite sport or drunken monkeys (see the video for an explanation) and chances are you will see videos returned near the top of the search engine result page (SERP).

There are less videos (10 billion approximately) than webpages on the Internet and many video producers are not providing Google with enough information about what the video contains in order to get them indexed nor are they optimizing the videos for search engines.

In addition, actual searches are tending to favor videos over traditional web copy which is resulting in greater click-through rates for video over web pages. Wouldn't you rather watch a video on drunken monkeys than reading about them?

When creating a video for a blog, your corporate website or social media campaign its important to add information about the video to a videositemap.xml file that Google can spider and index in order to help them understand the video’s content.

The video below explains how in less than an hour you can create a video sitemap and submit it to search engines like Google in order to increase the chances that the video will appear in the top positions of search engines.  The video also briefly discuss how to upload the video using SEO best practices.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Optimize your Landing Page with Heat Maps

In my Overcoming HiPPO Feedback on Website Design blog and video I discussed how you can use the free heat map tool Feng-Gui to discover how people would scan a future webpage.

I am currently working with Ultimate Construction to design a landing page for a Google Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign that we intend to run in San Diego County for keywords related to "kitchen remodeling" and discovered another great use of the heat mapping tool.

When we received back the initial design we felt that the landing page wasn't focused enough. It was very difficult to communicate back to the designer that the landing page wasn't focused enough and didn't assist in helping us determine where are attention was needed. I decided to run the design (which was provided in JPG format by the designer) through and the tool did a great job of visually illustrating that the eye was being pulled all over the place and not neccasily on the most important part of the webpages (like the form submit button). Here's the screen shot.

I sent the heat map to the designer while explaining some of my concerns and offering additional recommendations like moving up the landing page (by removing the logo from the top), de-emphasizing main navigation, replacing one of the 3 pictures with an area where Ultimate Construction could list their unique selling points, etc.

The designer was able to take the heat map and feedback and produce a much more focused landing page. The heat map of the updated landing page showed (that after the prominent kitchen remodeling image in the top left section of the landing page) the visitor would focus on the "Get Free Quote" button, Other Kitchen Remodeling work Ultimate Construction has done and then back up to the main banner area with client's key messaging. The eye movements seem to "jump" less (the numbers are sequentially closer to each other) and are focused on the most important parts of the landing page which should result in a great number of form submissions, ("conversions"), for Ultimate Construction.  Here is a screen shot of the revised landing page although we made some additional improvements before launching the final landing page.

Note: The text in the creative comps was only used for illustrative purposes and does not represent the final text used on the landing pages. You can see the final landing page here. In addition, we highly recommend using Google Website Optimizer and reviewing your Google Analytics data to better understand how your landing page can be improved after it is launched.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Predicting Return of Investment (ROI) of an Offline Marketing Program

I recently worked as a web consultant with Ultimate Construction, a San Diego based construction company that was interested in advertising in the two major Yellow Pages (produced by Verizon and AT&T) in the North County San Diego region but wanted to know if it was a good investment.

After talking to Verizon and AT&T's sales representatives and obtaining several figures (e.g. ad costs, expected number of leads, etc) and asking Ultimate Construction what are the companies average conversion rates (on leads and actual work estimates) we were able to clearly identify which company and ad size offered the highest value for his investment and which ones were completely unprofitable.

See the video and spreadsheet below for a quick explanation on how any small business can determine profitability of an offline marketing channel.  By using the spreadsheet template you can just plug in a couple of your companies metrics and some of additional advertiser metrics.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Analytics and Search Engine Checklist for a New Website Launch

Prior to being launched, most websites go through a Quality Assurance (QA) process but rarely does this process address even the most basic Analytic or Search Engine issues that are affected by a website launch. When launching a new (or redesigned) website make sure you have at least addressed the following issues:

Website Analytics (note: urls are for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to work).
  • Verify the website analytic code has been implemented on the new website.
    • If your using Google Analytics its usually more effective to setup a new profile for the new website analytics (while retaining the old profile for the old website seperately).
  • Redirect popular URLs of the old website to the most relevant new webpage.
    • New or existing subdomains on your website. Example:
    • Popular landing/entry pages that are marketed offline or online. Example:
    • Top 25 Entry Pages – Use your analytic reports to find the most popular entry pages on your website and setup redirects to the most relevant new webpage.
    • Business Critical Landing Pages – Meet with product owners to determine any landing pages that they might be using in online/offline communications. Example:
    • Other Domains Being Used. Example:, etc.
  • Analytic Setup – Verify you have configured and setup the following:
    • Goals that are dependent on page urls, etc.
    • Filters that are dependent on page urls, etc.
    • Segments that are dependent on page urls, etc.
  • Downloads, Flash or Outgoing links - Create "virtual page views" for document downloads, mail to links, audio files, social media links. For info on how to set this up in Google Analytics click here.
  • Add appropriate GA code to 3rd party applications.
    • If the 3rd party application is hosted elsewhere (example: the root domain is different) you will need to "pass" the GA cookies b/w domains. For info on how to setup this up for Google Analytics click here.
    • If the 3rd party application is hosted on a server that has the same root domain add your default GA JS code to those applications and consider setting up a unique profile in GA to track usage of only that application. For info on how to set this up in Google Analytics click here.
Search Engines

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Overcoming HiPPO Feedback on Website Design

One of the most important milestones in a website redesign project is during the 1st round Creative Comps presentation which is usually attended by various internal website stakeholders. Unfortunately, it is common for the the HiPPO (Highest Paid Person's Opinion) to have plenty of feedback on the creative comps even though the HiPPO rarely knows much about web design nor is familiar with website's analytic data (or any other strategic analysis that was done to develop the wireframes) which were then used to design the creative comps.

Instead of presenting first round creative comps to a bunch of HiPPO's why not quickly test them against the actual audience they were intended for? By using several free tools on the web you can give your websites audience a voice in the creative process! is a great free tool that allows you to upload and present a design (e.g. your creative comp) to a user for 5 seconds and then asks (in words) what they remember of the website. Is it design elements, the marketing slogan, the call to action? The FiveSecondTest will help you determine how effective the new home page design is in driving traffic that support your website's key performance indicators (think goals) and the websites branding (e.g. are you a paper company and no-one mentioned the keyword "paper" in your test)? is a free artificial heat mapping tool. It has proven to be surprisingly accurate and it's free (compared to the real eye tracking tests which can cost tens of thousands of dollars). By combining the heat mapping data along with the FiveSecondTest you can gain a better understanding of how the websites intended audience will scan your home page and where they are most likely to click on (e.g. if your main call to action isn't even being registered on the heat map you probably have a design problem).

If you have time create the HMTL for the creative comps and use to predict mouse movements and where your visitor will actually click. You can have all the links go to dead pages but it is interesting to see if a majority of the intended audience will your home page links that directly support your websites key performance indicators.

For example, when my website was launched I believed the "Learn More" button would attract the most number of clicks on my website. Neither the 5SecondTest, the AI heat Map ( or the Click data ( confirmed this assumption.

What people remembered most about the website was overwhelming the bee (over 50% of respondents listed this keyword first) which the AI heat map confirmed. In addition, the Clicktale data showed that over 50% of my visitors where clicking on the Read More link for the Blog and the Website Consulting list. See screen shots below.

If I like the idea that my website design is strongly "bee" branded (so hopefully its easier to remember) and I want most of my website visitors to click on the Consulting and Blog links then the design probably works for me! I don't want the website associated with the bee/buzz theme nor clicking on the SEM or Blog links, I should probably move onto the next creative comp and conduct the same type of tests.

Remember, although the design of a website must adhere to a companies branding guidelines the design still needs to focus on driving traffic into the areas of the website that support the websites' key performance indicators. By conducting these fast, free, simple tests prior to a creative comp review with several HiPPOs in the room you can be armed with specific data when a HiPPO makes a comment like "No one will remember we are a paper company with that design" or "No one is going to going to click on that Learn More button".

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back to the Basics: Pay-Per-Click Campaigns

Its amazing how many paid pay-per-click (ppc) ads appear in search engine result pages (serps) that are poorly written or irrelevant to what I was searching on.

Here are some basics principles to keep in mind when launching a pay-per-click campaign:
  • Keywords - Only bid on keywords that are highly specific to your business and are likely to convert into a sale. Limit your ads to only display in certain geographic regions if it makes sense to do so.

  • Ads - Include the keyword in the ad headline and then explain your "unique selling point" (USP). Basically, whatever makes your product or service better than your competitors. If you can, offer a teaser of some kind; a free gift, a discount or a trial sample of your product.

  • Landing Page – Include the keyword you bid on, reinforce the messaging of the ad, include product screen shots and a clear call to action.

See our videobelow to see how we used the basic principles described above to achieve a 10.15% click-through-rate (CTR) and 4.79% conversion rate for a client during a 6 week PPC pilot program (even before we did any keyword analysis or A/B testing on the landing page).

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Setting up Unique Profiles for Sub Domains in Google Analytics

Many websites use sub domains to make it easier for the public to find specific content on their website. A sub domain is logical name that is used before the root domain instead (instead of www) like or

By placing the same Google Analytics Javascript on all your sub domains, you will have one profile in Google Analytics that will aggregate all your website data.

It is still probably a good idea to setup a unique profile for each sub domain, especially if the web content on each sub domains belongs to different business stakeholders.

To setup unique profiles for each sub domain within Google Analytics you will need to create a new profile for each sub domain and then only include the analytic data from that sub domain.

Create a New Profile
  1. Click on the "Add New Profile" link.
  2. Select the "Add a Profile for an existing domain" radio button and enter a Profile Name that can be easily identified to the sub domain before clicking on the Finish button.
Create the Filter
  1. Click on the "Filter Manager Link" and then the "Add Filter Link".
  2. Enter a filter name that can be easily identified to the sub domain, select the radio buttons "Custom Filter" and "Include" and under the Filter Field dropdown menu select "Hostname".
  3. In the Filter Pattern field type in the subdomain you are creating this profile for followed by a backslash that is immediately followed by a period, then type in the root domain followed by another backslash and period and then type in the top level domain suffix of your website (such as .com, .net, org, etc). Hence, your Filter Pattern should look something like this analytics\.rwebconsulting\.com.
  4. Under the Available Website Profile list, select the profile you created in Step 1 and click on the Add button and then the Save Changes button
Here is a video describing how to setup unique profiles for each sub domain in Google Analytics:

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