Monthly Archives: March 2013

10 Tweaks to Make Your Website Rank Higher

Getting your website to rank higher is not always about getting yourself into Google or getting more links. Sometimes, it’s merely a matter of tweaking your own website so that it looks like something that people want to visit.

Alternatively, it may be a matter of adding in extra features which attract additional visitors. Either way, here are 10 tweaks you can try right now which should improve your site and make it rank higher:

Dump the Flash

I’ve said this numerous times but some people just refuse to listen to reason. Flash is not meant to be used for building whole websites. At most, it should be used for building a small element of a website. There are two issues here, both of which you need to worry about because they will affect the number of visitors your site gets.

First and foremost, there is the problem with Google – if your entire site is based on Flash, Google can’t read it. If Google can’t read the thing then you won’t get indexed. Want to get a higher ranking? Dump the flash. Here is an example of a site I found which basically shows up entirely in flash at first. Google’s spiders will have a tough time figuring out what it is:

Oh and by the way, note to the owners of the restaurant – the music playing in the background is NOT cute. It’s god-awful annoying and is probably driving customers away from your site. The rest of the site design isn’t horrible but the music and the fact that it’s flash based are big no nos.

Second and equally importantly, people often use flash in truly awful ways. Now in truth, I don’t think this site is actually flash based:

I think it may actually be based on animated GIFs. The reason I believe this is because the site loads automatically for me. However, I have a flash blocker on my browser so I don’t have to look at annoying ads that some people display.

Either way though, this website with its strobe lighting and the scrolling images is giving me a huge headache. Folks will be turned off by it and will not bother to tell their friends to visit (unless they want to give their friends a headache – fair warning, some people may experience nausea from the scrolling images). So even though it seems to use animated GIFs, the same basic concept applies – more is not better.

Add Translation

Another great way to bring in a trove of untapped visitors is with automatic translation. Whatever it is you sell, even if it’s just something in English, there are billions of people out there whose native language is not English and who will find and visit your site if you translate into their language. The cool thing is – even if your products are in English, you can often improve your sales figures just by offering automatic translation.

I found a cool WordPress plugin which will actually offer your visitors an automatic translation into their language. No, it won’t translate perfectly but it’s generally good enough to improve your sales and your traffic numbers. I have seen this happen with other sites and unless you run a site which is completely local (i.e. a dentist probably doesn’t need this) it pays to offer your customers this option. The plugin displays a series of flags and lets people choose based on their flag which country’s language to show the content in:

A total of 56 languages are offered. Some are pretty popular such as Arabic and Mandarin. Others I thought were a bit off the wall as a choice. I mean how many web surfers are there who ONLY speak Yiddish (spoken primarily by ultra-orthodox Jews who, if they don’t speak any other language probably also shun the Internet completely and no, I don’t have a clue what the screenshot of it below says but I assume it’s reasonably accurate). Still, it’s impressive what these guys offer:

Add Mobile

People increasingly consume the web from smartphones and tablets. Now while it’s true that something like a full sized iPad could pretty easily display everything the web has to offer in its regular format. However, even in those cases, the screen is a little small to read many full size websites. The better choice is to offer a mobile option.

Now, if you have a custom coded site or you have a site based on something other than WordPress, you’ll need to speak with your site developer to find out how to add mobile to your site. However, if you do happen to be using WordPress, there is good news. You can either use one of the thousands of themes which are mobile aware or you can just go ahead and use a plugin.

One good choice for this is WPTouch. It’s a simple to use plugin which offers you basic mobile functionality. There are additional features in the paid pro version but the basic version does do the job reasonably well:

Add Pay with a Like

There are free and paid versions of this kind of WordPress plugin. If you run a non WP site, consider having something similar coded into your site. In essence, pay with a like works by locking up your content and then making it available only when people like, tweet or otherwise share your content. There are a few issues with this though.

First, your content has to be compelling enough to grab people’s attention and make them want to “pay with a like.” Generally, this means offering part of the content for free and then offering the remainder behind a “pay” wall. The second issue is that some people don’t have such accounts or are not interested in sharing your content with the world. You may lose some visitors that way but overall, you’ll probably gain more than you lose if you use this sparingly.

Here’s a free WordPress plugin which does this and seems to pretty good. One thing to keep in mind though again is that this should be only content which is truly premium. Just not every page on your site:

Make Your Images the Right Size

This is simple – people don’t like to wait for sites to load. When you upload an image from your camera to your site directly, it will be supersized and will cause your site to load slowly. Slow loading sites mean fewer visitors. Plus, the Google spider won’t stick around to watch a slow loading site load up either. You can solve the problem by using a simple program to drop the size of your images to something reasonable.

Most image software can do this. I personally use the Snagit Editor. I own a copy of Photoshop too but don’t see a reason to load up something that complicated just to reduce the size of an image. If you have nothing available, you can either download GIMP or just go here and use the free service:

It’s pretty simple to use the service. Click ‘Browse’ to find the image you want to resize you’re your computer. Then, choose the maximum number of pixels (this is width – I like 600 if it’s to be a full width image or 350 for images you need to wrap text around).

You can also use some special effects but I’d leave that alone. If you really want such things added, use GIMP. Finally, choose image quality. Remember that the better the image quality, the bigger the file size and the longer it takes to load your web page.

Double Check Your Image Meta Info

This really applies for all of your content though images are the ones people most often forget about. Add a title and a brief description along with alternative words to your image. This will help you to ensure that Google can find the images and index them for you. This will in turn increase the number of hits your site gets. If you use WordPress, it’s easy to do this because the option to add meta data is built in.

Grab E-mails

If you still don’t have an e-mail list then you truly are missing out on one of the best ways to build traffic to your mailing list. I’ve discussed this time and again – the money really is in the list. Get yourself a mailing list and start sending out e-mails to folks who drop by your site. It is money that you are leaving on the table when you don’t bother to build yourself an e-mail list.

And there are no excuses here either. Need a squeeze page done? Hire someone to do it if you need to but get it done. Need something to give away? Either hire someone to write something for you or go ahead and use something PLR. I wrote extensively on good choices of e-mail list services here.

Check for Broken Internal Links

This is another no brainer. Want more people to stay on your site longer? Make sure that your links are not broken in order to keep them coming back for more. This one is just about as basic at it gets. You do not want to make people see a 404 page when they click a link on your site. However, this is especially true when they click a link on your site which is intended to allow them to stay on the site.

I looked for something which only checks for broken internal links but couldn’t find anything. This seems like a nice tool for checking all broken links though and it’s free:

You can pretty much leave all the extra features blank here and just let it run. It should find you a nice list of broken links:

Make Your Site Look Clean

I will never understand people who think they should make their sites look cluttered where people don’t know where to look when they arrive at the site. Let people coming see a nice clean and structured site and they will keep coming back and tell their friends. And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t let your site end up looking like this:A truly awful site

Not only is this site slow to load because of the pictures problem I mentioned above but it’s also so cluttered that my eyes don’t know where to look. It actually hurts my eyes to stare at this monstrosity and so I wonder why the owners keep the thing up looking like this. However, even when it’s not so extreme, your site should have simple lines where people can easily see what to look at without making them jump through hoops.

Add Caching

Finally, if your website host offers it or if you want to spend the money to do it, add something like cloudflare caching. This is a service which stores local copies of your website on computers all over the world. It will allow your site to load faster which in turns means that folks visiting your site are that much more likely to stick around, thus improving your traffic numbers.

Of course all these things will only take you so far. Once you have tweaked your site, be sure to come back here and look into buying some SEO services so that we can push your rankings to the next level.

5 Ways to See What Google Really Thinks of Your Website

Google -- about to lose market share?By now, you probably know how to check what your page rank is. You may even know enough to find out what SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer thinks of you with its slightly more accurate and up to date rankings. However, these don’t tell the whole story. In many cases, you will find that it is actually rather difficult to figure out what Google thinks of your website because the measurements we often use are rather bad at it.

So, instead of going through the usual litany of discussions about your website and checking your page rank, let’s see some other strategies for really digging deep in order to find out all that Google really thinks your website is worth:

Start with the Basics

For those who are more advanced, please feel free to skip this section. I’m going to go over a few of the basics for those who may not know exactly how to check things like page rank and the like. This part will also be useful by the way when trying to figure out if a site offered for sale on a service like Flippa really does have the PR it claims to have.

So, first, let’s look at how to check for page rank. This is actually one of the easiest things to do. You can simply go online and find yourself a page rank checker. There are dozens of them. Here is one that I happen to like.

Using the site couldn’t be simpler – simply put in your domain name and click check PR. You will need to answer a captcha but presumably, you aren’t checking hundreds or thousands of sites at a time so need to worry about that.

The problem here is threefold. First and foremost, Page Rank is not the most reliable of measurements for figuring out how well your site is doing. It is updated only once every few months and it is not too difficult to fake (more on how to check on that in a moment). In addition to these issues, PR does not necessarily indicate how high you are ranking in Google.

I prefer then to check with Open Site Explorer. The advantage here is that you get a Moz Rank which is updated on a regular basis. Plus, it’s a decimal rank meaning that you have a bit more of an accurate picture of how well your site is doing:

As you can see, they tell you a lot more about the site, including giving you decimal point rankings which are up to date. Plus, you also get to see the rankings for individual pages as well as for the domain overall, both of which are useful to know when deciding on where to place links.

Before I go on with more substantive stuff though, a quick word on how to check if PR is being spoofed. This is not too important for most people but it is important if you plan to buy a domain.

The way people spoof PR is by using a 301 redirect. In essence, you take a high PR page (say a popular Wikipedia page) and then set up a 301 redirect on your domain name (so for example, if I set up a fake domain, myfakedomain.com and then redirect to the Wikipedia page on Jesus, which has a PR6 ranking, I would now have a PR6 ranking for my new fake domain).

Now, if you use Open Site Explorer, it will detect the redirect and ask you if you want to see what it actually points to. Otherwise, you can also go to Google directly and type in info:domain.com. This will show you whether or not the domain points to what it claims to point to:

Again, this is useful to know about but let’s get to the important stuff – finding out more about what Google thinks of your site.

Find Your Place in the Listings

As I noted above, PR doesn’t give you the whole story. You want to check for your place in the rankings. Unfortunately, this has gotten a lot more difficult these days because Google personalizes your search experience. This means that if you go to your own website a lot (and you should), Google will assume that is your preference when doing a search for a term related to it.

Now you could use a proxy service such as hidemyass.com to find out where you rank in the listings, however, I found a pretty cool tool which will do the job for you. It’s located here. In essence, all you do is put in your website address and then the main keyword you are targeting. It will search and tell you if you are in the first 64 listings:

If you are not in the first 64 listings then you probably should be doing a lot more work on your SEO efforts. I also suggest you play around with several different keywords. It is important to find out where you rank for a variety of keywords related to your niche.

So for example, the site I punched in (which I happen to own personally) is 7th for my primary keyword, personal finance help. However, a much harder keyword to rank for, personal finance, doesn’t even show up in the first 64. This means that I’m doing pretty well in my primary keyword but if I want to get even more traffic, I should try to build it up with the harder to rank keywords.

It’s also helpful to check the Adwords tool to find other keywords you might be able to rank for. So for example, here’s what I found for personal finance help:

Based on this, I might want to try ranking for personal finance advice or finance help, both of which have more monthly searches and which are likely to bring in some good traffic.

Find Out Which Keywords You Have On Your Site

Okay so this is very cool. You may think that you have a list of keywords that you have tried to rank for. However, you may not know which keywords Google has found and sends traffic to your site for. I found a really cool and very simple way to check on this, again using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

Basically, you enter the web address for your site and then leave everything else blank. Then, click search:

As you can see, I put in my personal finance site and checked which keywords are getting listed for it. So why does this matter? Simple – if Google is already finding certain keywords on your site, ones that you are not even aware of, it’s useful to strengthen the number of links you have using that anchor text. This will help you to improve your rankings when people search for these keywords.

This is also very helpful because it lets you see whether or not Google is finding your efforts to pick your own keywords. If you see that the keywords you have been trying to rank for are not there, then you know there is a big problem with your SEO efforts.

By the way, one more thing to consider: don’t forget to look to occasionally use misspellings. While these should not be done all the time, once in a while, they can help you rank with customers who make common spelling mistakes in specific keywords. You can see I’m ranking for a handful of those keywords as well.

Check Your Crawl Stats

I’ll assume that you’ve already signed up for the Google Webmaster Tools. If you haven’t done so, go ahead and take care of it now. This will be very useful to you go forward. Now, check out the Health section of the webmaster tools and then look at the crawl rate. This information is helpful because it tells you how much time Google’s bots devote to your site on a daily basis. The higher your numbers, the more important Google considers your website:

You will also notice that there is another section there where you can check crawl errors. This is important because it will let you know if there are issues such as broken links and whatnot. Unfortunately, as near as I can tell, there is no way to find out specifically which links are problematic – at least not from here. You also cannot find out which individual pages are more likely to be crawled.

I did however find a few other tools which can offer you extra information. One of them, which I have not yet tried at all so I cannot comment on it (even if I install it on one of my sites, it would take at least a month to see useful data and I just found it since I was writing this article) is CJ Googlebot Activitiy.

CJ Googlebot Activitity is a PHP script which you can install on your site to check specifically which pages Google is crawling the most. Again, I have not tried it so I cannot say how useful it is or if indeed it is useful at all.

The advantage of having this information is that you know which internal pages you should do more SEO on so that they also get crawled on a regular basis by Google.

Now the other item I mentioned is that you do need to find a way to check on which pages are giving you 404 errors. For this, I found a nice free tool which does the job well. I reviewed this in more detail in a previous blog post where I explained how to use it to find broken links on other people’s sites and try to attract more of the authority links that we all need.

Check If You Have Been Black Listed

Back in the 1950s under Joe McCarthy, the US Government used to keep a list of blacklisted individuals. These were people whom the government believed were not trustworthy. It was worse than having a bad credit rating is today. If you were on the government’s list of blacklisted people, getting a job, housing or pretty much anything else was all but impossible.

These days, there are some such lists such as no fly lists but the most deadly blacklist to be on today, at least for Internet Marketers is Google’s blacklist. Now the catch is, Google won’t tell you if you are blacklisted. They’ll let you know if you have been deindexed if you happen to use Webmaster Tools. Otherwise, it’s simply a matter of going to Google and typing in site:yourdomain.com. If nothing shows up, you have been deindexed.

The problem is, this only tells you whether you have been deindexed. It won’t tell you if you are on a blacklist somewhere which makes your site get buried in the dregs of search results. I did however find a really cool service which checks more than  a dozen other blacklists to see if you are on any of them. The service is called BlackListAlert.Org:

As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward. You enter your domain name and it checks 14 different  blacklists. If you are on one of these, there is a good chance that Google thinks you are a spammer as well and while they may not have deindexed you, they probably will have slapped you. If you do find yourself on one of these lists, you need to visit the individual sites which run them and see how you can get removed from them.

Make Sure All Your Pages Are Indexed

Finally, it is important to make sure that all the pages of your website have been indexed. This is especially true for blogs or ecommerce sites where you have hundreds or thousands of pages on your site. Checking which pages have been indexed is remarkably easy – just go to Google and type in site:yourdomain.com.

Unfortunately, I have not yet found a tool which can compare what you have on your site to these results. The best advice then is to simply do a rough estimate. If you see 30 pages indexed on Google and you know you have a few hundred pages, you’ve got a problem. However, if the numbers match up or even exceed what you expect, you’re fine.

by EricHammer, on       24 comments