Mobile Friendly and the Busy CEO: C-Suite SEO Tip #2

The Culture Goes Mobile: Is Your Business Ready for That?

How does a half hour on the phone with Apple customer service tie into the way Google treats your website? In this video I explore an anecdote to illustrate why ignoring the mobile trend in website marketing is tempting but dangerous (a transcript appears below the embedded video).

If you would like an assessment of your website’s mobile friendliness, contact us today.

Video Transcript

Yesterday I had a really frustrating experience with Apple customer service. When I was done with that frustrating experience, I realized that I needed to reach out to top level managers and CEOs and business owners and give them fair warning that they could end up having a very unpleasant surprise in the very near future with Google. If those things don’t seem to line up, stick around. I’ll put the pieces together in just a few seconds.

Hi. I’m Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing. First, I’m going to tell you a little bit about this frustrating experience that I had with Apple customer service. Like many of you out there, I have a teenage daughter, and a teenage daughter who spends a lot of time on her iPhone. She’s a really responsible girl, so I let her use my Apple sign-in ID. The other day, she downloaded an app that came with a subscription. She had no intention of buying it, but she just wanted to see what it was like. There was a trial period. She deleted the app, and I said, “Well, I need to do due diligence. Let’s log in to Apple and see if there’s going to be any consequences to this. Is there anything that we need to cancel?”

Of course, what do I do? Troglodyte that I am, I go to my desktop computer, I go to the Apple website. You see it right here. Of course, you got a way to sign in. I’m signed in right now. Once I sign in, I navigate on over to my account. Within my account, I check the status of any orders. No orders showing there. I can’t find anything about subscriptions, so I figure, “Hey, I’m good. Right?” What do you think happens? Of course, two days later, boom, I got a $50 charge on my credit card.

I get on with Apple chat customer service. Long story short, after 30 minutes, I finally was able to get the subscription canceled. In the meantime, while I’m chatting with this lady who’s trying to help me, she’s directing me to articles like this one, “View, change, or cancel your subscriptions”. I’m sending her screen captures of the place where I’m at. By the way, she wasn’t even looking at my screen captures, so bad for customer service in that respect. Finally figured out that the only way to cancel the subscription was on the iPhone. There was a workaround if I would have had iTunes installed, but I didn’t. There’s just simply no way though the web browser interface to get this simple job done of canceling a subscription.

Alright. Why am I going into all of this? Because it illustrates a point. The point it illustrates is how strongly the culture, users, and major companies are moving towards a mobile-centric world. I don’t like it anymore than you do, at least I hope you don’t like it, if you’re like me, but that’s the way it is nowadays. You know who’s paying attention to this? Google. That’s why Google is writing like on their official Webmaster Central Blog recently, they did an article on how they are moving to a mobile-first index and how eventually they may even move to a mobile-only index. Not going to try and explain what mobile-first index or even what index is, I’m just going to tell you the impact.

The impact on your business website is if your website does not run smoothly, look good, load quickly on a mobile device, it’s going to start hurting you in Google search results, and most likely Bing as well, although most people only really care about Google nowadays. Basically, the ante has been upped. You need to make sure that your business website, if you need visibility in search, and who doesn’t, has to be ready on mobile. You might be saying to yourself, “Well, we got web developers and we hired this company that does our website and everything.” Maybe you haven’t even checked it out.

That factors back into why I’m talking to top level business executives. If you’re, for example, a CEO, you’ve got a really busy schedule. It’s entirely understandable if you’ve never actually pulled out a phone and taken a look at your company’s website on the phone. I’m going to tell you that you need to engage with this and not just delegate it away. Here’s a couple of examples of why.

I’m going to go to a website, or I’m going to show you here a large company website. This company is $87 million in annual revenue estimated. Look at their page over here on the right. You can see their page on a mobile device. This tool here that I’m showing you is Google’s own mobile friendly test. Notice what Google concludes, “This page is not mobile friendly.” This factors back into what I was telling you about Google. If the page is not mobile friendly, it’s not going to be well situated for a mobile-first world, the world that Google is preparing for.

Let me give you another example here so you can see this is not an isolated incident. Here’s a $106 million business. On mobile, their website doesn’t even render correctly. I doubt if the CEO or if the top level senior management people in this company even know that this is the case. You also might be thinking, “Hey, our clientele is always going to be looking at our website on a desktop computer, so it doesn’t really matter”, but it does because Google says, “Page is not mobile friendly.” Google is basically saying, “Page is very possibly not going to do well for search in the future.”

screenshot of a large company website that is not mobile friendly

Here’s my final example to show you really quickly, and that is … Let me see if I can find it here. Here is probably the most egregious example that I have. A $410 million company, half a billion dollars almost in annual revenue, and their website does not render correctly on a mobile device.

The purpose of this video is not to give you a how-to of how to check out your website. I have done a video that shows you how you, without any technical skills, can check out your own company’s website in order to see, “Hey, are we measuring up? Is our website mobile friendly?” I’ll put a link to that video in the description for this video, but no, the purpose of this is to give you my “dad” lecture, like I did with my oldest son when I said, “Hey, listen. If you drop out of high school, you’re going to regret it.” He did drop out of high school, and yeah, he does regret it. The point is if you don’t check this out, if you don’t engage with this issue, you’re likely to regret it when you find that you’re losing ground in Google search results.

If you need any help on this, at Horizon Web Marketing, we do consulting and we also do seo training, either for you or for your staff, around all sorts of digital marketing issues, including issues like this. What impact does this type of thing have on your placement in search results? That’s part of what we do for SEO, or search engine optimization. Definitely if you like videos in plain business English, subscribe down below. Also in the comments, let me know what you’d like to learn more about so that you can be more effective in managing your company’s digital marketing presence, or making sure that other people and companies do a good job of that. Until next time, my name is Ross Barefoot with Horizon Web Marketing and Horizon Web Marketing Academy. Thank you very much for your time.

seal like rubber stamp with word audit

Video – How to Use Our SEO Audit Essentials Checklist (7 minutes)

Graphic indicating the free download for the SEO audit checklistHave You Downloaded Our Free SEO Audit Checklist Yet?

(If you haven’t, you can find it here.)

If you have, maybe you’d like a bit of a guided tour. In this brief video I’ll give you an overview and a few insights as to how you might want to use this resource in your own web development and digital marketing.

 

When you watch the video, feel free to post questions in the comments for either this blog post or the video itself. We want to make sure you can get the most out the SEO Audit checklist.

Why should you care about SEO? SEO is Search Engine Optimization to rank higher in search results. Here is a great reference to learn about the value of first page Google results.

SEO Analyser is a Free SEO Checker, How Does it Stack Up?

Neil Patel’s Free SEO Check Up Tool is Easy to Use

(TL;DR – If you’d rather watch the video review of this tool, click here)

Neil Patel is one of the most recognizable names in Digital Marketing. He has his very successful online fingers in a number of different projects. If you do a search for “SEO Checkers,” one of his lead generating website typically comes up in the top 3 (which is a testament to his SEO chops).  This tool is called the “SEO Analyzer.” On the home page of the tool website, it boldly claims: “If you’re struggling to get more visitors to your site, the answer might just lie in this FREE report!” Let’s find out if that’s true.

Picture of SEO Check up tool SEO Analyzer home page

Orange is the new black…or something like that. The current home page for SEO Analyzer greets you with an action oriented field of orange and numerous pop-ups.

Let’s see what insight for struggling web marketers the SEO Analyzer might offer!

First of all, one of the nice things about this tool is that it does not demand your email address to allow you to use it. On the down side of that, you do have to put up with serial pop-up messages, and to dismiss them you have to click on links that say something like “No, I don’t want more traffic.”  C’mon guys, really?

For this analysis, I chose a website called ArtisansOfColorado.com, belonging to friends of mine who will admit the site has been somewhat neglected over the years.

Home page screen capture of artisansofcolorado.com, a website for colorado art and artists

In any case, I think it’s a great site to let a tool like the SEO Analyzer prove its worth, since ArtisansOfColorado.com has never been Search Engine Optimized. It’s the perfect guinea pig.

Page Level SEO Analysis – a Basic 19-Point Check

Screen capture of SEO Score for our test website

ArtisansOfColorado is just a tad above being thrown out of school, with a grade of C-

The first order of priority for SEO Analyzer is a variety of factors that contribute to the success of your site from an SEO perspective. In this case the analysis tells me that the site passed 14 checks and failed or under-performed on 5 other checks. Although this is of course a very short list of checks (Google, for example, uses about 200 ranking signals to evaluate a website and how it will perform in search results), nevertheless, Neil has had his team focus on a manageable list. And the list does include some of the most critical and most often missed factors for SEO novices.

  • Site title tags (presence of one, is it duplicated, too short, too long)
  • Meta description tag (presence of tag, too short, too long, duplicated, etc)
  • The Robots.txt faux pas, i.e. blocking of the page
  • The formation of the URLs
  • Presence of elements that might frustrate Google and Bing, such as flash and iframes
  • Presence of heading tags (e.g. H1, H2, etc) and whether any which are found are too short
  • Poor internal linking practices

If you’re just getting started with SEO, this is a good basic analysis that could be useful in finding some of the key gotchas on your site.

Still, it’s just a start, and numerous factors are not really addressed (for example, SEO Analyzer gave a warning about overly short H2 tags, but neglected to point out that this page doesn’t even have an H1 tag, which is a key missed opportunity for on page optimization).

Page Level Speed Score

screen capture of website seo speed analysis

Here’s the speed score for our test site. These numbers won’t mean much without some context. The actual letter grade is, for some reason, buried in the details.

The SEO Analyzer obviously places a lot of emphasis on the speed component of your web page, as illustrated by the fact that the Page Level Speed Score is placed at the very top of the analytical metrics it offers you. This is certainly in line with current thinking, since the speed with which your page loads is an important factor in how well you do, not only in search results, but also in attracting and retaining visitors to your key pages.

If you click on speed recommendations you’ll be taken to a tabbed box offering three choices:

  • Content analysis
  • Full Report
  • Web Performance

As you might tell from the screen captures below, there’s a fair amount of detail here. Unless you’re comfortable with the technical side of web development, it’s best to just shoot these details over to your web developer (if you have one), or find a web developer (if you don’t) to try to make sense of them and implement them.

Speed analysis screen shot

screen capture of speed recommendations

Time to get a geek involved. This is great detail, but beyond the grasp of non-tech people.

Mobile and Desktop Views

SEO Analyzer addresses the issue of mobile usability by showing you how your page lays out on different devices, although it doesn’t really discuss some of the more technical indicators of mobile usability.  Still, for most beginners, the visual representation is probably the easiest and quickest way to grasp whether your web page is presenting your company properly on that growing percentage of users who will visit your site with their phones. The tool also has a helpful line to show you were a typical user would have to scroll to see more of your message.

screen capture of mobile seo views

Click on the various tabs to see your web page in desktop, tablet, and mobile device views. The orange line shows the “fold,” the invisible line below which your content will only be seen by scrolling.

Backlinks and Indexed Pages

screen capture of a backlinks counter on this SEO checker

The backlinks counter on SEO Analyzer needs to offer more clarity about what its reporting.

This is the weakest section of SEO Analyzer.  The backlinks counter on this page, for example, says that it’s reporting on backlinks to “artisansofcolorado.com,” seeming to indicate that it is reporting on links to the domain.  But on the other hand, it says “websites” linking to artisansofcolorado.com, and in SEO parlance this would be referring domains, a much different metric than backlinks.

Additionally, this number doesn’t match up with other respected services.  Majestic.com reports 173 backlinks and 25 referring domains in their “fresh” index.  Moz.com reports 2,666 links.  So it would be interesting, first to clarify where this number is coming from, secondly if it is reporting on links or referring domains, and finally if it is links to any of the pages on the domain. Until these questions are answered, this metric has limited value.

screen capture of number of pages indexed indicator

This number is perplexing, since Google reports almost 7,000 URLs in its index for this domain.

More disappointing is the number of pages indexed figure. This typically refers to the number of pages that Google reports in its “index” for a particular domain. Although SEO Analyzer doesn’t really specify which index its reporting (after all, in theory it could be Bing), if we make the logical assumption that it is referring to pages in Google’s index then this number is simply wrong.

The usual way to query Google about the results in its index for a domain is to do something called a site search, as indicated in the screen capture.  Google reports almost 8,000 results for this domain, a far cry from zero.

 

 

screen capture of google search results

Keyword Usage Analysis

Like many SEO Checkers, the way that SEO Analyzer handles a context analysis of the text of this pages is to present you with a frequency grid (see screen capture, below).

screen capture of keyword usage grid in SEO analyzer

It divides its results into the number of times a particular keyword appears not only in the body text, but also in key SEO elements such as the <title>, meta description, and headings (all variants, presumably).  It also endeavors to do the same grid for 2-word and 3-word phrases.

screen capture of text usage on web page itselfThis is a useful way to immediately see which words dominate your content, however the 2-word and 3-word phrases often miss the mark, combining words in ways that don’t really make sense, such as the phrase pictured at right, which is listed in the keyword grid as “right place artisans.”

One other minor criticism is combining all the heading <h> elements together.  The SEO importance of an <h1>, for example, is far different than an <h3>, as is its recommended optimization.

But Wait, There’s More…

In this blog post I’ve mainly dealt with the Website Analyzer, but SEO Analyzer also includes two other related tools. The competitor analysis pulls the top-level metrics (Estimated traffic, SEO score, and speed score) for up to 3 other web pages and presents the results. Naturally that’s a very broad measure and doesn’t go very far toward doing a true competition analysis, but it’s something.

There is also a keyword suggestion tool that I find a bit confusing. It is branded as an “Ubersuggest” keyword tool, but doesn’t really operate like Ubersuggest.io (which Neil Patel acquired some months ago). It also states further down that it is providing data from SEMRush, who operate one of the most powerful and comprehensive suite of SEO tools used by professional Internet marketers.

In any case, the keyword tool bundled up on the tools.neilpatel.com site doesn’t appear to be tied into the SEO checker, which is the focus of this series of blog posts, so we don’t really need to say more about it. Since it’s free, feel free to experiment and see what suggestions it gives you.

Summing it Up

Pros: This handy tool from Neil Patel is very easy to use, operates quickly, and doesn’t demand personally identifiable information. It hits some of the major areas of a page where a newcomer might overlook easy opportunities for optimization.

Cons: Some of the metrics are unclear and at least one appears to be inaccurate. We also would like to see more readily available information about how to act on the recommendations given. (That having been said, we would like to point out that Neil’s blog is an excellent resource for learning useful tips and techniques for powering up your Digital Marketing overall.)

Do you use the SEO Analyzer? Do you see important things this post overlooks? Do you have a similar tool you’d like to recommend for future reviews?  Feel free to post a comment below. And subscribe to this post to be automatically notified of other reviews soon to come in our SEO Checkers review series.

By The Way, We Also Have a Video Review for this Tool

Is Your Website Search Engine “Friendly” (Part III)

In Part I of this series (6 Questions to Ask that Will Help You Determine Whether Your Website is Search Engine Friendly) I discussed the need to make your website search engine friendly before you try to do Search Engine Optimization.  I think this is a necessity even when you have no budget for actual professional SEO, simply because search engine friendliness is possible and beneficial for any website budget.  It only requires some awareness when the site is being developed and the cooperation of your website developer.

In Part II of the series I discussed the need for a sitemap and search engine friendly URLs.

In this final installment I will be discussing questions 5 and 6 of our original topic, and both are discussed also by Google in their instructions for making your website “Google Friendly.”

Question 5 – Does your site have a substantial amount of relevant text on the home page?

Search engines are text-greedy.  They have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into discovering, indexing, organizing, and analyzing textual content.  Sure they also put a ton into image and video search, but text still is the locomotive that drives their engine.  So are you giving them text that will help them get a bead on your site?  If not, you’re definitely not showing them a friendly face.

Take a look at your home page.  Remove the images.  Google recommends looking at your browser in Lynx, which is a text-only browser; what a nightmare.  I think the most recent version of Lynx was created when Eisenhower was president.  Easier: Use Google Chrome and browse your website with images disabled (at least for this, Firefox is much more difficult to configure).  Now try to figure out what your website is about.  Can you do it?  Is there enough textual content without the aid of images to help the search engines determine what your home page is relevant to?  If not, you need to figure out a way to beef up your textual content.  Doing so will go a long way toward making it more welcoming to Google.

Here’s an example for you.  Note the images-on/images-off difference for Venus Clothing (who somehow bagged the very desirable name venus.com).  Note the screen capture below with images off.  There’s virtually nothing there!

screen capture of venus.com to show display with images on

 

 

another screen capture of venus.com showing images turned off and virtually no content

 

Question 6 – Does your site hide key information in graphics?

This is related to question 5, but a bit different.  Graphics can get you into trouble in a couple of ways with the search engines.  One is by slowing down your page load time (see question 2 of this series).  But additionally lots of companies make the mistake of putting their name, phone number, even their address into a pretty graphic that someone created using Photoshop and then dropped into their webpage.

Look at the examples above for Venus Fashion.  Even their company name is missing except for a small copyright notice at the bottom of the page.

While your browser is still in text-only mode (see above for instructions), see if you can find key navigational information or key company information.  If you can’t, turn images back on and see if it suddenly shows up.  It’s ok to leave key information embedded in images and graphics, but it’s not OK if that’s the only way it appears.  For example, if your company phone number is part of a beautiful image, fine.  Just make sure that you have it somewhere else on the page as text.

Well, I hope this has been helpful to you in making your website friendlier when Google or Bing come knocking…or rather, crawling.  If you want to go deeper into this topic, you can take a look at this guide from Moz, however when I looked at their article I found it, frankly, overwhelming.  As a business person I usually need immediate steps that I can take now, rather than a dense theoretical guide that I’ll get to in that distant and hazy future that never comes.

And for you SEO professionals who might be reading this, if you have run into other Search Engine Unfriendly stuff that business can and should watch out for without a huge investment of money, please leave it in the comments.

As usual, if you found this useful, please do me a favor and give it a Like, a +1, or a Tweet.

Is Your Website Search Engine “Friendly” (Part II)

In Part I of this series I laid out the concept of Search Engine Friendliness and gave you a couple of simple questions whose answers will help you get started with this topic.

Today I’ll explore 2 more questions for you or your developer to dig a little deeper.

Question 3 – Do You Have a Sitemap?

There are two kinds of sitemaps: the kind humans use and the kind that search engines use.  In both cases they are designed to identify all the pages of your website and make sure they all are accessible.  (Think of a directory at a shopping mall and you get the idea.)

The kind I’m talking about in this post, however, is the kind employed by search engines.  This type of sitemap is known as an “XML” sitemap (XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language, but that really is irrelevant to the discussion).  If you wonder whether you have one, the easiest thing to do is to enter your website address and then follow it with /sitemap.xml.  This is the conventional location for a sitemap.  Take a look at the sitemap for this website, for example:

http://www.horizonwebmarketing.com/sitemap.xml

Go ahead and navigate to that link and you’ll be able to see that it’s not very useful to humans.  Search engines, on the other hand, know exactly what to do with it.

What if you don’t have a sitemap in that location?  The most likely reason is that your developer did not set up either a sitemap or a program that automatically generates a sitemap.

You can generate your own sitemap by going to the resource we used last week to test whether spiders can crawl your website, http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/.  Go back to that site and let them guide you through the process (see screen capture below).  One word of caution however: if you use this method you’ll have to remember to re-generate the sitemap anytime you make a significant change to your site.

 

screen shot of xml sitemap generator

 

Or, if you have a Content Management System (such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal) you should be able install a plugin or add-on that will generate a sitemap automatically anytime you make changes to the pages of your site.  This latter option is definitely preferred, since you don’t have to remember to update your sitemap manually.

Question 4 – Are Your URLs Search Engine Friendly?

A URL is the unique identifier to any given page on your website.  Search engines think in terms of URLs.  At the same time, URLs often are created by programmers to make pages display content based on a set of criteria.  For example, a typical Google search result page URL might look like this:

 google.com/search?q=site%3Ahobbfarms.com&oq=site%3Ahobbyfarms.com&aqs=chrome..69i57j69i58.4935j0j4&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=122&ie=UTF-8#es_sm=122&espv=210&q=site:hobbfarms.com&start=110

Even though Google uses URLs like this, their robots, which constantly crawl the web, aren’t crazy about such a convoluted URL, and they would likely shy away from crawling pages with addresses like this.

More commonly, many people who set up WordPress blogs will let WordPress use a default configuration that is a simpler version of the same principle.  The following is a screen capture of a WordPress site displaying two different URLs.  The top one is the default WordPress URL, and the bottom one is a “search engine friendly” URL.

screen capture showing search engine friendly URLs

 

If you have search engine unfriendly URLs you’ll be able to tell just by browsing some of your pages and looking for addresses that carry characters like these:

& # ! % ; ?

If you see a bunch of these types of special characters in your website pages, better have a chat with the developer and see if you can convert those URLs to something that will be more friendly.  In WordPress this is fairly easy.  Just navigate to the Permalinks section and set it up as you can see in this last screen shot:

screen capture showing search engine friendly settings in WordPress Permalinks

 

In our next and final installment dealing with Search Engine friendliness I’ll be discussing two very common mistakes that many businesses make that render their sites far less welcoming to Google and Bing than they could be.