Posts by Angela Davis
Here at Boston Logic we set up a LOT of new websites for our real estate clients. We also perform a lot of website-upgrades, switching existing website URLs over to our Sequoia platform and implementing 301 Redirects in order to help ensure a smooth SEO transition to your new real estate website.
In helping our clients switch to a new website, we often have to coach our new users through the process of adding a new user to their Google Webmaster Tools account, especially now that Google Webmaster Tools has recently upgraded it’s appearance. So, I decided to write this step-by-step guide with screenshots to help our clients (and all of our readers) with the process.
How to Add a User to Your Existing Google Webmaster Tools Account
1. Log into your Google Webmaster Tools account at:
2. See the “Home” screen on the left sidebar of your Dashboard.
3. Click on the drop-down arrow next to the ‘Manage Site’ button of the website you wish to add a new User to. (You may only have 1 site listed on your dashboard, or several like the example above.)
4. This will bring you to the ‘Verification Details’ screen for that particular website. This screen shows the Verification Attempts history for the account, as well as listing the Verified Owners. Scroll to the bottom of this screen and click the ‘Add an Owner’ button in the lower left corner.
6. The User you just added will now appear in the Verification History section.
If you want to remove a User, just return to this Verification Details screen, and click the ‘Unverify’ link next to that User’s email address on the list of Verified Owners.
I hope this was a helpful and useful guide to those who are new to navigating Google Webmaster Tools! Be sure to subscribe to this blog, along with our Sequoia System blog, for more hints, guides, and advice on how to better leverage your website platform.
Chances are that when you first joined, only a few people in your “circle” were on LinkedIn- but it’s popularity has steadily increased creeping towards the popularity of Facebook. It’s become a pretty user-friendly interface with options to import your contacts and integrate your social media profiles as much (or as little) as you want. So if you haven’t done so already, take a morning off the Social Network to sync your circle with LinkedIn.
Two things to keep in mind before taking the plunge…
BE SELECTIVE with your professional network. Take the time to go through all your contacts before inviting them to connect. Don’t import people from your various accounts that may be detrimental to your image; like business ventures that didn’t go well, or that ex of yours you don’t talk to anymore, or that person from high school that posts inappropriate anecdotes to his Twitter Feed (which he has syndicated with LinkedIn). Your connections reflect upon who you are. While LinkedIn is becoming more ‘socialized’- leave the merely social to Facebook and be selective of your ‘professional network’.
BE CREATIVE with your network, too. Think outside the box! Your LinkedIn Network should be a lot more than just the people you worked with at the last few jobs. Fill out your Reading List (by Amazon), join interesting Groups, write a unique Summary (with some of your resume keywords of course), and add impactful Experiences outside of your career track.
Here’s some suggestions to start widening your circle:
1. Teachers. Find and connect with teachers you had good relationships with in school. Or, if you’re still in school- get it while it’s hot! It’s a great place to start with asking for Recommendations if you haven’t yet entered the workforce full time.
2. Fellow Students. If you had group projects, or were in a cooperative setting, having a classmate or two vouch that you’re a team player who can meet or beat expectations is something prospective employers will notice.
3. Successful Friends and Relatives (i.e. your “mentors”)- there’s a ‘friends’ option to request a connection on LinkedIn for a reason. It doesn’t matter what industry they’re in or what kind of job of they have- it’s always good to be connected to people with lots of connections! The six degrees of LinkedIn separation never cease to impress me. Oh, and the, “I saw on LinkedIn that you know so-and-so” makes for great office chit-chat or an ice-breaker on an interview!
4. Clients. Request a recommendation for your work on their accounts now, while it’s fresh in their mind and you’re fresh in theirs! Your company might even use it as a testimonial & it certainly reflects well on them too. It will also be a nice accumulation of recommendations over time naturally, instead of a mad-rush if you’re unemployed later.
5. Your ‘Freebies’. This is especially important for consultants, and often overlooked! Make sure to connect with the people you give your advice, support and/or guidance to (i.e. your “mentees”). Maybe it’s a local diner you love, or a charity group you volunteer for- whomever benefits from your knowledge (or simple ambition to be a good person) can repay the favor ten-fold with a recommendation on LinkedIn!
6. Co-workers. It doesn’t need to be an obvious swap- but pay attention to who you enjoy working with and why, and start giving recommendations. Link Karma will surely come your way.
7. Subcontractors, Vendors, Partnerships. If your company hired another company to do work, and you coordinated frequently with someone on their team, send them a ‘connect’ request! Provide or request a referral from them, depending what the relationship was. You never know when your NEW boss will ask you if you know someone that does ______; and it would be nice to say ‘Yes, I’ll email them now’.
8. People You Don’t Know…Yet. Under your profile Settings, set your privacy controls to be open. It’s beneficial to let anyone and everyone browse and find you- you never know who might be looking. Also, be sure to carefully indicate who can contact you for what (i.e. reconnecting, business opportunities, consulting, job offers, etc.)- there is an unspoken rule of the acceptance of these intentions.
** Helpful Tip **
A lot of people aren’t sure what to write in their recommendation, even though they enjoyed working with you and are happy to give you one. Maybe writing is just not their thing, so help them out. Instead of just sending the auto request, give them tips on what to write by saying things like:
“I was hoping you could write a recommendation for me based on the work I did for you on xyz project, particularly about ________ and how we handled ____________.”
OR, if your relationship is more casual, feel free to provide them with a list of bullet points to touch on (i.e. punctuality, organization, creativity, plays well with others, etc.)
Take a little time to get creative and connect. Continuously building your online reputation will establish you as a leader in your space, and as someone who is passionate about who you are and what you do. Chances are you will strengthen your current relationships and job prospects for the future, too.
Is there a group of people to connect with that I’m forgetting? Add them to the comments below!
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately regarding the topic of bad reviews on websites like Yelp or Get Satisfaction, or any of the other review websites online. People are asking me if those bad reviews have an impact on the SEO of those bad businesses and if they are actually HELPING the bad business by providing an inbound link from a fairly reliable source (the review website).
The recent buzz on the topic was started, in part, by a lengthy feature in the New York Times which highlighted how an online “designer” glasses reseller, DecorMyEyes.com, enjoyed high organic search engine ranking in Google for designer brand names and keyphrases like “designer sunglasses” – not despite bad reviews and complaints, but BECAUSE of them. The owner was claiming that all the “link juice” from the mentions of the brands in the poor reviews on reputable websites are actually helping him rank for the terms organically and helping him get new customers every day.
BUT IS IT TRUE?!?
Google addressed the issue on the Official Google Blog earlier this month, tweaking their algorithm to penalize merchants that provide an extremely poor user experience, and explaining the issues they face when considering such upgrades. As Google pointed out in their blog, many review websites actually use a bit of code known as a “rel=nofollow” which tells search engines that the link is not to be considered an endorsement and is to essentially be ignored. Most of the “link juice” to the vendor in question actually came from articles by reliable news outlets writing about the owner’s arrest and antics!
Even if this “Negative Marketing” was somehow helping the company rank higher in organic search results, a little research would have shown potential buyers that the business has a lot of negative reviews, complaints, and lawsuits against it. Search engines are trying to provide users with the most relevant content to their search query. It’s ultimately up to online consumers to use their search engines to research merchants.
I want to assure you that the old saying that “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” just isn’t true online.
The unethical marketing techniques exercised by Decor My Eyes to take advantage of loopholes in search engine algorithms are just an expansion of “Black Hat” SEO tactics. There may be short-term tricks for temporary manipulation of search engines, but algorithms are constantly evolving and changing. Eventually, bogus tactics are discovered (remember keyword stuffing, anyone?) and improvements are made to the algorithms to make search results even more reliable.
THE TRUTH ABOUT NEGATIVE ADVERTISING
As a consequence of all this “Negative Advertising”, search providers and review forums such as Google, Get Satisfaction, Yahoo, and others have already taken direct action against Decor My Eyes. I did a quick search on the brand names he mentioned ranking for in the interview for the New York Times article, and at the time of writing this post, he is no longer showing up in top results for any of them.
Look what happens when you start to search for the company name, Decor My Eyes, in major search engines now!
Interestingly enough, at the time this post was written, if you were too quick and used Yahoo Search, you could land on the company’s website without ever being alerted to any scams or complaints, as shown in the screen shot below. Although, as soon as you start to type the word “eyes” into the search field manually, suggestions about scams and complaints start to appear.
BE A SMART CONSUMER
Bad companies like Decor My Eyes are only able to succeed because of uneducated consumers. Consider this story as an example of why you should take the extra few moments to do some research on a company before giving them your business!
Seek out and read reviews to see what others are saying about the company. Look for reviews by established community members, not people who are anonymous or who have reviewed a low number of business, because reviews by less established members are not as credible. Note whether there are any relevant news articles in your search engine results for the company, such as the final link appearing just above the scroll on the Bing search results about the Decor My Eyes guy getting arrested in the screen capture below!
In this modern age of technology, consuming is easier than ever; we can even do it from the comfort of our home! This is very convenient, but it can also lead to the dangerous habit of engaging with businesses we know nothing about. The best way to avoid being the victim of a scam is to do your research. Search engines are also a great tool for researching company histories, not just what to buy.
WHY BEING GOOD IS ALWAYS GOOD FOR BUSINESS
This story should also serve as a warning to businesses engaging in bad practices in efforts to trick search engines and customers. Search engines will continue to filter out “black hat” SEO techniques and scams like this “Negative Advertising / Link Building” tactic Decor My Eyes was utilizing. Any advantages received from unethical ranking techniques are only temporary. If caught using unethical techniques, search engines can penalize and even ban you.
There are also real-life consequences from the bad press, consumer reviews, and Better Business Bureau complaints this company has been receiving. The website’s hosting and credit card payment service providers are ending their associations with Decor My Eyes for fear of being associated with an unethical business. Search engines have also deliberately targeted his company as a result of the bad press. In the end, the technique had failed, and eventually so will his business.
Businesses would be much better off putting their time and efforts into creating happy customers, writing valuable website content, blogging, and building a positive social media presence, which will only increase in value over time. You’ll probably also get more sleep than the owner of Decor My Eyes, and not be afraid to have your photo in the paper!
- Over 70% of online consumers start their search for products, services, and information by typing in what they need on a search engine. You probably can’t afford not introducing your company and yourself to this process (AND an enormous new audience!)
- Most internet users don’t bother clicking past the first couple search results pages (many don’t even bother reading past the first one!) so it’s clear why a good position on the first page is paramount to your success.
- Unlike paying for a banner advertisement or a sponsored listing on a search page, you can’t buy a good position in the search engines. What you can do is invest in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to target visitors, provide publicity, exposure and revenue.
- While you cannot actually buy the keywords that will optimize your website, it helps to imagine that you are in fact paying for them. This will help you narrow down your list until you have the ones that will most effectively drive traffic to your site and provide the most return on investment.– For example, “BC apartments” might have a TON of global searches that aren’t relevant to a Boston
broker because they could be searches for apartments in British Colombia rather that Boston College.
- When choosing a keyword, you must understand that the more popular the keyword is, the more competitive it will be to achieve a high ranking for it. Typically, very general keywords tend to be more competitive. For instance, “Apartments” is extremely hard to rank for, but “South End Apartments” is much easier to achieve a high ranking for. Take advantage of the free Google Keywords Tool to determine a keyword’s difficulty rating in Local and Global Search Volumes. If you are a local company, place your focus on ranking high in your Local Search Volume and don’t worry about how you rank globally.
- Don’t be afraid to use specific keywords. With the advent of Google Instant, online consumers are naturally becoming more intelligent searchers. The search results morph in real time for each letter typed into the Google search box, so often consumers end up typing in very specific search terms. Search results now will appear and change almost instantly as the keyword phrase in the search box is edited. This will start getting rid of the need to scroll through pages of results; rather consumers will just refine their search and focus on Long Tail Keywords.
- After you determine how competitive a keyword is, you have to figure out how much traffic it will drive to your site. Luckily, there is no need to hire a psychic to predict the success of each keyword.There are two ways to predict the traffic from a keyword:
- Use industry standard keyword research tools such as Overture or WordTracker. These won’t be 100% accurate, but they offer a basic estimation of traffic flow.
- Set up a Google Adwords (pay-per-click) campaign that ties into web analytics. While Pay-Per-Click advertising is not the same as SEO because it is paid for, you can use Adwords to see the exact keywords that were typed in the search engine by a visitor. To start out, make sure to check the setting “broad match” so that you allow a variety of keywords to prompt your advertisement. While you have to pay for this service (you can rank for the first paid advertisement slot within 24 hours) it will help you learn about the keywords that will benefit your website.
- After you pick your keywords, it is important to make sure you aren’t just shoving keywords into your site without good content. Even if your site is easily found by search engine robots, you must have unique, correct, specific, and appealing content in order to entice online consumers to actually stay on your site. Updating your content often is also important; if you regularly update your website, you are giving consumers more reason to return. One of the best ways to ensure new content is to blog. We recommend blogging at least twice a week to keep a constant stream of content flowing. Search engine robots will also visit your site more often as it is updated, leading to a quicker index in the future.
- One of the hardest parts of SEO is acquiring incoming links. The only way you can make sure that other people link your website is to have good content. This is something that is sort of out of your hands, but by networking and blogging, you can often acquire incoming links. It is important to create social media accounts on popular websites and add links to your website on your profiles. Good websites to make accounts on are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It is also helpful to add your website to directories like Yelp, Google Places, Yp.com and industry-specific directories like Angieslist.com. You should also register your website’s blog on blog directories like Blogcatalogue.com.
- Do not try to fool the search engines. While it may seem appealing and easy just to stuff your website full of keywords to up your traffic, it is the easiest way to get your website penalized or even banned from search engines completely. Search engines need their results to reflect accurately on content, not on link farms, alt text spamming, cloaking or keyword stuffing.
Optimizing your blog for search engines is similar to optimizing your website. With a little planning and effort, your blog will give your SEO efforts a big boost! It will take some time to establish yourself as a reliable information source in the blogosphere, and the more relevant blogs you post with valuable content, the sooner this will happen. We try to encourage clients to blog twice each week.
You want each blog post (or web page) to focus on one subject or topic. Your topic should be fairly focused because you want to keep your readers engaged and make sure you leave yourself topics to cover in future blogs, too! This will also help you determine which keywords each blog post should try to incorporate.
Much like writing a research paper in school, you should develop an ‘Introduction’, ‘Body’, and a ‘Conclusion’ or ‘Call to Action’ to get the reader to engage in your site further, and become a Lead.
Read our blog on developing subjects to blog about if you’re stumped on what to write about.
If you want to optimize your blog, you’re most likely also optimizing your website as well, and you are using your blog as a way to increase traffic to your website and get new leads. When developing your website/ blog optimization strategy, you need to determine your list of ‘keywords’ (or phrases) that you will focus your optimization campaign around.
Your keywords will be terms you think potential clients you’d like to reach would type into a search engine while looking for your services. For example, if you are a broker focusing on student apartments in the Fenway neighborhood, you might choose a keyword like ‘Fenway apartments’ or ‘Fenway student apartments’.
There are a variety of free online tools you can use to learn about the popularity of the terms you are considering using and also to get suggestions for new terms. You can also view the presentation from our Logic Classroom about Long Tail Keywords and Keyword Strategy to learn more.
I’VE GOT MY KEYWORD LIST, NOW WHAT?
It’s important to try to keep these terms in mind when writing your blogs, and develop blog topics that incorporate these words to help improve your site’s organic search engine ranking for them. As a result, more visitors interested in what you’re selling (Fenway student apartments) will find your blog, and therefore your services, more easily.
You want to use your keywords in as many places as possible, such as in the URL of the page, in the Title of the Page, in the Header, etc. without being ‘spammy.’ If you want to learn more about keyword placement on your website, please read this blog about optimizing your website with keywords.
PRACTICAL TIPS FROM THE PROS:
Meta Titles: It’s always good to add your company name to the end of your Meta Titles, such as ‘Extremely Relevant Meta Title Here | My Company Name’ to help increase your brand awareness. You always want the Meta Title to be in ‘Title Case’ (instead of all lower case) so it looks good to a reader because they do see your Meta Titles in search engine results and at the top of the page in the browser tab. Search Engines typically only index the first 65-70 characters or so (including spaces) of your title, so make sure the important keywords are towards the beginning.
Meta Descriptions should also include your keywords. Your descriptions should be a brief summary (approx. 160 characters) of what your blog post or page is about. You should write it using proper punctuation and grammar because the descriptions are seen by visitors using search engines and by search engines to understand what your page is about. Here is an example of a description I might use for this blog post:
“Learn how to optimize your blog using these helpful tips on keyword strategy, meta data, and more to help increase your website traffic and capture more leads.”
Links: When you add a Hyperlink leading to another page from your blog, especially in the beginning or middle of your blog post, I prefer to have the link open a new window or tab in the visitor’s browser instead of replacing the page they are on (your extremely interesting and informative blog). This is easy to do with a Boston Logic Sequoia real estate website.
When you create your hyperlink, be sure to click onto the ‘Target’ tab when you are entering the Link information in the Link popup window. This tab will allow you to choose if you want the link to appear in a new window, and also provides the opportunity to name the link- which is great for SEO. I’ve attached screen shots to help walk you through it. Making the links bold is a good idea, too, because search engines know to considered words in bold to be highly relevant to the content of the page. Just don’t go making everything bold or it will lose its effectiveness (and annoy readers).
It is better for your SEO (and human visitors) if the links are using relevant keywords, not just ‘click here’, and if the link leads to a page that has those words or something similar in the URL and page title. For example, if you were writing a blog about the amenities of the Fenway neighborhood you could mention ‘ living in an apartment in Fenway’ and make ‘apartment in Fenway’ an internal link to your ‘Fenway Apartments’ Town Page.
Categories: Blog categories are not as important to SEO as some of the other elements mentioned, but they are VERY important to your visitor’s experience. If you have relevant blog categories that are well-organized (you can have ‘parent’ and ‘sub’ categories) and make it easy for readers to find what they are looking for, they will be more likely to read several of your blog posts and return for more information in the future.
You want to make sure you make a category for each of your keywords, and that you are putting blog posts into every category they are related to. Visitors will see and use these categories when searching your blog, so don’t just add your posts to categories for the sake of trying to increase ranking on certain keywords because it will actually hurt your SEO if visitors are regularly bouncing from your blog when they find that it’s unrelated to the keywords they typed into their search engine.
Meta Tags, again, are not as important to SEO as the content, Titles, Descriptions, and Links, but they are still worth putting effort into. You want to make sure you’re not wasting your meta tag space with extremely broad, single word keywords such as ‘luxury’ or ‘Boston’, however, because they will not help your SEO. Instead, try to be creative and use more targeted keywords, such as ‘Boston luxury apartment’. You want to make your tags as specific and relevant to the post/ page as possible.
Also, be careful with where you place the commas in your list of meta keywords. For example, if you entered ‘Mandarin, Oriental’ into your keyword list, that’s actually telling the search engines that you are using the two words separately ‘mandarin’ and ‘oriental’. Instead, you should keep the name of a building as one key-phrase by not putting a comma between the words you want to be seen as together, like ‘Mandarin Oriental’.
Calls to Action: One final suggestion is to leave the reader with some sort of internal link and a call to action to keep them engaged. Each blog should strive to do this in some way, even just ‘Contact a trusted advisor for more information’ with a link to the blogger’s email or a link to the Contact Page.
Having a blog is a great way to add fresh and informative content to your website to help potential clients find your website and see that you are a knowledgeable leader in your industry. You need to create a list of relevant keywords (or phrases) to help you focus and organize your blogging strategy and bring you the type of readers you are hoping to find and convert to leads.
If you take the effort and time to optimize your blog, and consistently blog at least twice each week, you will begin to see an increase in your search engine ranking and site traffic as a result.
If you have any questions regarding optimizing your website and blog, or wish to learn more about the services we provide, please feel free to contact the Boston Logic Marketing Department.