Basic SEO Tips to Improve Your Google Search Result Ranking

Discover How To Improve Your Google Search Result Rankings With Basic SEO Tips

At Bailey Creative, we work to get our clients’ websites ranking well on Google using smart SEO (Search Engine Optimization) practices. As the world’s largest search engine, Google is the site people go to when finding places to eat. It’s the site they go on to find product names. And oftentimes, it’s the site people use when finding a business or service to meet their needs.

Google has (for the most part) replaced traditional marketing. You no longer need to have an ad listed in the yellow pages or in your local newspaper to have people respond. Nor do you have to be a door-to-door marketer to get the word out about your company or business.

All you need to do is get yourself (meaning your brand/business/service) and your website visible on search engines. And, you need to aim to get yourself as high atop the results as possible.

How Does Google Determine Search Result Rankings?

The first and maybe the most important part of this article, is to understand how Google determines search results. If you don’t know this, you can’t really figure out how to make your brand/business/service reach the top of the results.

Google uses an algorithm that determines what websites are the most useful to searchers. Unfortunately, there are over 200 “ingredients” that go into the algorithm to determine this. Each of these concern your overall SEO. For times sake, we’re not going to go over each of them.

Instead, Bailey Creative has come up with 5 basic SEO tips that feed into the algorithm. These tips will improve your SEO and ultimately bring up your Google Search Ranking

1) Get Your Website Indexed

The most basic step to getting your website ranking in search engines like Google, is to allow for Google to index your website. Indexing your website is a good SEO practice that is simple to set up. All you need to do is to click on the option that allows for Google’s robots to read through your website and pick through the content. From here, they can analyze your website and its content, and discover how useful it is for searchers. Sites like WordPress have an easy way to configure the robots. But if you are dealing with are unsure about the steps, it’s always best to contact a web developer.

2) Use Strong Keywords and Create Original Content

This one may seem obvious, but if you want a website to rank for a certain keyword search, you need to use the keywords and phrases that will help it rank.

For example, if you’re a bicycle sales company, but don’t use the word “bicycle sales” anywhere on your website, you’re not going to rank in Google. Someone else who does bicycle sales and actually uses the keywords, will take a higher spot in the rankings.

You also need to think about additional searches that are related to your targeted keyword. So if you’re targeting “bicycle sales” as your keyword, you may also consider “bicycle repairs” or “bicycle brands” as other possible search terms that users may be looking for. Keep in mind, when you’re using these keywords, not to overstuff them on your website. Overstuffing keywords left, right and centre means that the Google algorithm will notice the “spam” in your content and can flag your website for bad SEO practices.

3) If You’re a Local Brand Business or Service, Target Your Area

If you’re a local business offering a service, then it makes sense to target your local area with your keywords and your content. For example, if you are a dentist in “x” city, then you need to put in a phrase that matches your city and your service (e.g. “Made-up-ville Dentist”). Because your clients are most likely to come from your area, you need to market yourself heavily to clients in that area.

You should also consider ways to get your business discovered locally, like being featured in an online listing service, like Yelp. When people use sites like Yelp or the Online Yellow Pages, having your name appear for said service, will help boost your rankings in Google.

At Bailey Creative, we work largely on local SEO in Guelph, and SEO in Kitchener-Waterloo and Cambridge, using local citations and targeting keywords that make sense for the business and the client.

4) Pay Attention to the Details of On Page SEO

When going through your webpages, you’ll want to make sure that the smaller details of text and imagery are contributing to your SEO and rankings. This means making sure your title tags, meta descriptions and header tags are descriptive of your business and your keywords, and not irrelevant page fillers.

If you add in images to website (which, you really should as a good practice of web design) make sure you are giving them alternative texts and naming the files with keywords that are relevant to the photo and to your business. And don’t forget to put any relevant contact information and location information on your website pages.

If all of this seems a bit daunting to you, getting a web designer or a web developer to go through your website is a good idea.

5) Use Google’s Tools: Google My Business

Fortunately, Google can make your business or service visible to Googlers thanks to the Google My Business function.

Think of Google My Business a listing of your brand/business/service in a large business directory—one that is run by Google. In Google My Business you have the opportunity to tell people about yourself, provide contact and location details, show off some high quality photos, offer a Call to Action, and give people the opportunity to provide reviews.

Using Google My Business usually gets your business seen on the right side of the search results page depending on the search request.

If you want to learn more about how Google My Business works, specifically with the reviews, check out our post that gives you the rundown of how SEO is affected by Google Reviews.

How Do I Get Started With Boosting My SEO and Overall Search Rankings?

When you want to boost your SEO and your Search Rankings, take a look at your current website and see what can be improved from first glance. Once you’ve highlighted the surface changes, then you can dive into the statistics and analytics of SEO and Search Rankings.

But, chances are, if you have a brand/business/service that you are working on, you don’t really have the time to do all this yourself. That’s where companies like Bailey Creative come in. Our team works to improve clients SEO in Guelph, Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo, and across Canada. Whether we are building local citations or creating new content, we work on getting your name atop the Google searches.

Keep in mind, boosting your SEO and driving up your search engine ranking is not a task that you only do once. It’s something that needs to be worked on continuously to keep your brand/business/service relevant. That’s why we take the time to do the research and work to get your name buzzing in search engines. For more information on our SEO practices, keyword discovery sessions and content work, please contact us today!

How Social Media Grows Your Business—For Free!

In our previous post, we talked you through the steps you need to take to deal with negative reviews on Google. The major takeaway tips from last week is that you should:

  1. Always take the time to reply to negative reviews and monitor the reviews coming in—you never know who else is looking at these before they contact you
  2. Reach out to reviewers to see how the situation can be improved
  3. Have more positive than negative reviews that saturate your Google Reviews

But what we haven’t covered is how reviews, comments, visibility and interactions via social media can affect your business in a positive way, building your connections and growing your image—all for free!

What Can Social Media Do For My Business?

Social media has grown immensely and changes the way that businesses reach their potential clients while cultivating a brand image. Social media reaches the masses in ways that traditional marketing tactics does not always achieve, making businesses more visible on a larger platform than ever before.

Social media is free to use for anyone with access to the Internet. If you total up the estimated amount of users worldwide for 2017, there are 2.51 billion potential viewers via social media. Facebook is still the largest of these social networks, with an estimated 1.968 million users. These numbers aren’t going to drop anytime soon either! Looking ahead to 2020, there will be an estimated 2.95 billion social media users worldwide.

As you can imagine, the amount of people you can reach with social media alone is staggering, especially if you use more than one network to get your business out there. Social media has the potential to get your business in front of viewers in any part of the world based on common interests and word of mouth from people who “influence” others based on their reach. That’s where the term “Influencer” pops up.

ANYONE can be a Social Influencer and Help Grow Your Business

The idea of an “Influencer” or “Social Influencer” is still relatively new. Since the late 2000’s and early 2010’s, brands and businesses have identified people who have a certain reach or connection to a mass audience, and actively get in contact with them.

Brands and businesses will approach the person and make them an Influencer. Influencers then promote a product or service on behalf of that brand or business through their networks, which gives the brand/business a humanistic voice to connect to an audience and pushes fellow social media users to take a Call to Action.

This isn’t to say that every business or brand needs to a set of handpicked “Influencers”. ANYONE can be a social influencer—without the official title, extra followers, or large-scale audience.

Consider that everyone on social media has their own personal network of friends, family and acquaintances. This means that the user has influence over their friends, family and acquaintances. Whatever they post, whatever they “Like”, whatever they watch, and essentially whatever their interactions are on a social network, can be seen by others on that same network. They can single-handedly create a bit of buzz.

Whether or not the user knows it, they are subconsciously influencing someone else’s thoughts or decisions. And don’t forget, every user has this same potential to post, “Like”, watch, or interact with content and make it popular or give it a good reputation. This gives your business a very present, very visible platform…

All, for free.

How Do I Take Social Media and Use It To Advance My Business?

All this information can be daunting. It’s almost the equivalent of being thrown into a Lion’s den with the weapons and defence tools you need, but not knowing how to use them. It’s time to learn how you can unleash the power of social media on your business. Let’s take a look at three basic steps it takes to use social media to advance your business without needing to spend a cent:

1) You need to be present to show your social connection!

 

All businesses and brands should be present on Social Media Networks to reach users—including clients, target audiences and potential audiences. Part of being present is choosing the most effective Social Media Networks to be on. This can involve a bit of research on your part to see what similar businesses are doing for their social media. Or you can look at statistics and reports that show which networks are the most effective for your business.

For example, if you’re in the Real Estate business, a large portion of your clients are in the active Facebook user target, and likely not on Tumblr. When choosing networks to be involved in, try to think where your target audience will be found, and then branch out from there.

Facebook is usually a safe place to start, followed by Instagram, Youtube and Twitter. Most of the active users are on these networks and there is a diverse audience. You will likely find your target audience and be able to expand your reach to a potential audience and people that maybe have never heard of your name! By showing your presence on social networks, you are starting the connection, drawing in more people to what you want to sell or serve them.

Think of it like pollen for a bee—the pollen has to be there, present and enticing in order for the bee to sense it and interact with it. Otherwise, there are plenty of other flowers to choose from!

2) Know About Conversations on Social Media

 

On any social media platform, you’ll want to do a search of your business, brand or service to see if people are already talking about you. This will give you rough idea on just how many clients and target audiences are out there. It also gives you a list of people that you may want to connect with in the future—whether it be through an email, social media follow, or including them on your site.

If you know what is being said about your business from comments and indirect reviews, you also have a much better understanding of who your clients are, who they are talking to, and how you can improve your business to meet their needs.

It’s a survey of your business without the formalities. You’ll have a better understanding of what people are expecting from your business or what their experience is with you. In turn, you’ll have the information and results to make better-informed decisions.

3) Make Yourself Known and Get Involved In the Conversation

 

While it is wonderful that people are talking about you on social media, you have to talk about yourself too—after all, if people don’t know you exist, they can’t connect back to you!

Make sure that you are searchable on your chosen social network, have your services and business details listed, and make it a mission to find your audience and get them involved in conversation. Many social media networks have tools you can use to boost your engagement levels with your audience. By boosting engagement, you’ll show your audience that you care about their concerns and you prove to them that you are worthy of their time and commitment. It will also make people more excited and interested in whatever you are selling.

Being known and conversational, garners you the ability to change people’s perception of you.

Say for example, if you are able to address a customer’s problem publically on social media and fix it for them. They will likely have a positive public response on that same social network, which will spread to the people they reach, but also spread to people that your business reaches.

At the very least, social media gives you some control of your public relations and brand image just through commenting, replying and interacting with the audience, which in turn, draws a more people toward your business as opposed to others, which maybe don’t have the same levels of engagement. It makes your business the preferable choice because you are actively in your clients and potential audience’s mind.

What Other Steps Can I Take With My Business and Social Media?

While we’ve given you the basics of how Social Media can connect you to an audience and make you stand out amongst other businesses, there is plenty more that can be done.

Once you have your basic footing in social media, you can think about Social Media Marketing and Brand Development as a next step. Social Media Marketing is a fairly new way of marketing yourself as a business or brand, and it all takes place via social networks. There is a mixture of both free and paid for strategies when it comes to Social Media Marketing. Brand Development comes with Social Media Marketing as you work towards building an overall image and establishing your place in the market.

The power of Social Media Marketing is incredible and many companies have gone on to achieve successes based on their social media marketing alone. If you think Social Media Marketing is your business’ next step, don’t hesitate to get in contact with Bailey Creative. We can work with you to plan a Social Media Marketing strategy, and boost your SEO in order to reach as large of an audience as possible within your budget.

Understanding the Most Common Website Errors and Redirects

Have you ever gone on a website, clicked on a link and got hit with an error? What’s worse is that there’s numbers with the error. What’s a 301 Redirect? What’s a 404 Error? Who created these Errors?

Seeing an Error on your computer screen can be unsettling, especially if you have no idea what the numbers next to the error mean.

What are Error Numbers and Server Responses?

When you go on a website page and the result pulls up an error, the number added to the error tells you a bit about what’s going on in the back-end of that website—meaning the developer’s work. Developers create pages that will open upon a request to a server, and are classified using HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Response) Status Codes. HTTP Status Codes tells the user about 5 basic responses from a server.

The 5 basic responses: Informal Responses, Success Responses, Redirection Responses, Client Error Responses, and Server Error Responses. Each of these responses has a status code, from 100-500 that says something about what’s going on in the back-end.

A Developer aims to create a website that has pages that open upon request to a server.

In simpler terms, this means that if you click on a page, there’s a request sent to the server to open that page so that you can view it. A page that opens up properly without any error message means that the user was able to communicate with the server, and the server was successfully able to open the webpage. This is known as a 200 OK status, and is what you want to initially aim for.

But with website changes—specifically with URL changes and page changes—your pages that were initially 200 OK, may pull up a different number in HTTP Status Code, indicating errors or redirects. The response codes that in the 300-500 series are the ones you need to be concerned about because they affect your user experience (UX), your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the traffic flow to your website.

You Need a 301 Redirect When a Page Moves Permanently

If you click on a webpage and it pulls up any 300 HTTP status code, it means that there needs to be further action to complete the request to see the webpage. The most common 300 HTTP Server Status is a 301 Redirect.

 

What Does a 301 Redirect Do?

A 301 Redirect is when a page’s URL is changed permanently, and the old URL redirects users to the new page.

If a redirection is not made, the initial link that the user has clicked doesn’t go to that new page. Now users won’t see that the page is being redirected unless you explicitly say it on the original page with a message like, “This URL has changed, now redirecting you to its new location”. But you will know if there needs to be a 301 Redirect if you take a look at your URLs.

Typically you need to use a 301 Redirect after a URL has changed, but the original URL has not been redirected to the new URL. You’ll want to redirect that original URL because search engines and users have likely indexed the original link. You don’t want to lose out on your original reach just because you’ve changed your URL.

Take, for example, if there was a page called baileycreative.ca/dogs-and-cats but we decided to change it to baileycreative.ca/dogs-puppies-cats-kittens, those clicking on the first URL will be lead to a page that no longer exists. That means we would need to create a 301 redirect from the dogs-and-cats page that goes to the dogs-puppies-cats-kittens page instead, which keeps our original reach and link juice, but goes to our new URL, and the final destination for the user.

Get the how to: If you want to create a 301 Redirect, you need to redirect your old page to the new one so that the server knows to send any clickers of the old URL to the new page and new URL instead. Your web developer can let you know if there are any pages that need 301 redirects, and can change the code to fix them. There are also some simple plugins on WordPress and similar sites that will indicate if you have any pages that need redirection.

More on the 301 Redirect

If you get the 301 Redirect message that says, “Too many redirects” (or something to that effect), it is because your code is telling the server that there are too many directions to go in, and it cannot choose one. This usually happens if you’ve redirected URLs in a looping pattern—making the first URL go to the second, but the second goes to the first, and so on. To fix this, you’ll need to remove the additional redirects so that there is one clear pathway for the first page to redirect to the new page.

The 404 Error: Older Sibling of the 301 Error, and Always Missing in Action!

 

Needing a redirection doesn’t sound too bad, but if you’re seeing a 404 Error, you may need to take more steps to find your page. Seeing 404 means that your web page can’t be found by the server, and you’ll need to dig around to get it back. Luckily, a 404 error is usually easy enough to fix.

If you’ve ever clicked on a webpage and seen “404 Not Found” or “The requested URL was not found on this server” it’s a good indication that something’s not quite right in the back-end or the site development. A 404 Error can be from one of two things—either you have misspelled the URL (which is kind of common and fixable on the user’s end), or the developer of the website forgot that they moved a page or deleted it, without creating a new one or without redirecting the URL (using a 301 Redirect) to the new page. This means that the server cannot find anything to match the URL request.

Dealing with a 404 Error

Get the how to: Fixing a 404 Error can be as simple—if you’re the user, check your spelling first to see if you’ve typed in a non-existing webpage. But sometimes, fixing a 404 Error can go into more detail. If you’re finding a 404 Error that isn’t from a misspelled URL, you should check in with your developer.

Your developer should check that the URL isn’t leading to a page that was deleted and they should find out if they need to do a URL redirect to a new page instead.

In any case, a 404 Error should be taken care of immediately so that your server can start finding the right information for your users. Keep in mind, a 404 Error doesn’t mean that the page is permanently gone. A 404 page can be used again with new content in the future.

If you worry about users getting ever getting a 404 page and being frustrated, try to make your 404 Error page fun to help soften the blow. Use a fun graphic, saying or image that may save you from grief about your missing page.

A 302 Redirect is the Middle Sibling: Pages Not Permantly Here, But Not Quite Gone Either

We like to think of the 302 Redirect as the middle sibling between the 301 Redirect and 404 Error. A 302 Redirect happens when a page you are requesting has been redirected to another page, but the page isn’t permanently moved! Basically, a 302 Redirect does the middleman work, redirecting users to a temporary place.

Typically, developers will use a 302 Redirect if they are testing out a new page that isn’t quite ready to be a permanent fixture of the website. Most times, a user will only see a 302 Redirect if there was no alternative URL given to the server or if there has been too many redirections.

Taking Care of Errors and Redirects will Improve Your SEO

 

If you are looking after your clients’ websites, or if you are taking care of your own website via a platform like WordPress, you’ll want to keep an eye on the Errors and the Redirects. If there are webpages that are pulling up errors, your bounce rate will likely increase and your SEO may drop because there are pages with no content.

For the best SEO, you’ll want to make sure that all your pages are successfully getting responses from the server and are either 200 OKs or 301 Permanently Redirected URLs. This brings all your visitors, search engine robots and link juice (positive ranking factor from external websites) all to the same page with the same result. This makes everyone a happy user.

A 302 Temporary Redirect will help to get users and the robots in the right place, but your link juice is left hanging, meaning your SEO rankings may drop. And definitely steer clear of the 404 Error. Only visitors will be able to see the 404 Error pages, while robots will not be able to index the page, and any link juice that you had will dry up!

Bailey Creative Will Work With Errors, Redirects and SEO

Always make sure that your links are headed in the direction you intend them to go and make sure your pages are indexed so they are visible on search engines. This keeps your SEO in good shape and keeps visitors and audiences happy.

If you have more questions about dealing with Errors and Redirects, or you want to learn how to improve your SEO score, Bailey Creative is here to help. We’ve fixed websites that with errors and have created the right redirects and pages, improving their SEO rankings and making their websites better for user experience.

Tips on Dealing With Negative Reviews and Low Ratings

Last week, we talked about the Importance of Reviews on Search Engines, especially the reviews left on Google. But what didn’t tackle in our previous post, is the importance of responding to reviews or managing your reviews.

Why Does It Matter What My Reviews Are Like?

Aside from building your SEO, reviews are what get people looking at your business and serve as a Key Performance Indicator.

If you were to type the name of any local business on Google, you’ll likely find that they have been rated by Google users that have either been to the business or have used its service. What you’ll notice is a star-rating system and a cluster of comments on the company.

Now what you don’t have control over, is how people are going to rate your business and what comments they will leave. Of course, you hope that your business or service has left a positive impression, but sometimes there are instances when there’s going to be a nasty comment or a low star-rating.

So what should you do when you have negative Google reviews?

Negative Reviews Have Their Purpose Too

Negative reviews left on Google are first and foremost, a great learning point.

There is a customer or client of yours that is taking the time to reach out, talk about their experience and share their knowledge with the world and likely the community of people you are trying to reach.If the customer or client has left a negative review online, you’ll want to take the time to read through the review and see if there are any places where you can actually improve your service. This is more for internal purposes, and not necessarily to do with your web presence.

After this, it is highly recommended that you respond to the review as quickly (and carefully thought out) as possible.

Keyword: Quickly. If you leave it floating around, you’ll run into a few risks.

If you don’t address a review, it doesn’t mean that it has magically disappeared from Google. It will stay on Google for other potential customers or clients to see. By leaving a negative review to stew, you are demonstrating that you aren’t committed to customers and can’t deliver results in a timely manner.

3 Tips on Handling Negative Reviews

  • Try and make things right with the customer or client by replying. Don’t defend your company or lash out in the process.
  • Get more positive reviews to balance out the negative. At Bailey Creative, we suggest that our clients send out a follow up email that helps get feedback on their business and helps them with getting those Google reviews
  • Most times, the reviewer has the option to edit or change their original post. If you manage to correct the situation or reach out to them they may have the notion to change their original response.

Focus On the Positive

Although any review will boost your SEO, you want to make most of them positive because the online impression counts for a large portion of your potential audience.

Make sure to keep an eye on the reviews to see what your customers and clients are saying. With good management and timely responses to reviews, you will be headed in the direction of more positive than negative. Don’t let one bad review turn away your potential customers and clients.

Keep in mind, your reviews can also extend further than those on Google. If you can grow your social presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media giants, you’ll likely be getting reviews in your comments or replies. Now, these don’t count towards your Google reviews and your Google rankings, but they do have quite in your business presence. So, be sure to keep an eye on those as well!

Need to know more about SEO, Reviews and Social Media?

In next week’s post, we’ll talk about reviews and comments on social media and how you can work with them to make your business stand out.

In the meantime, be sure to contact Bailey Creative if you need any help boosting your local SEO, especially if you need guidance navigating Guelph SEO, Kitchener SEO, Waterloo SEO or Cambridge SEO. We also offer SEO practices for clients throughout Canada.