Gratitude for Data and You

2017 End of Year Gratitude for Data and Clients

Gratitude for Data and YouThe end of the year for small business owners is an important reflection period. We reflect on our direction for the coming year. We reflect on our achievements in service to our customers and we reflect on the aspects of our business that resulted in new business.

2017 marked a seminal year in the aggregation, dissemination and use of facts in local marketing in Hawaii. 2017 marked a shift in awareness for business owners and it seems Google, our largest data provider for client efforts, agrees.

Google is sharing a year-end review that I feel would be helpful for our clients. It’s always important to keep these facts in the context of our local markets. Our values and our customers are unique.

“Local” rules our decisions and sales. Tourism plays an incredibly important role for many of you and the way we reach our customers online has changed.  Whether you’re connecting to travelers before they arrive or using new techniques to stay connected with your customers, we’ve been there to help you grow. 2017 on Hawaii Island marked the end of the desktop/laptop-centric approach to marketing and web development.

Local customers now insist on a mobile-first experience online. In fact, your numbers on average have shifted from about 30% online visits to over 50% today. The facts demonstrate a specific need to serve and attract customers on mobile devices, specifically a phone. As a client of Brent.FM we have prepared your website, your hosting environment and social networking efforts. We are serving many of you with Google Ads that trigger for local mobile phone users. When your customers are near you or search for you online they see your brand first. We need to continue to step up these efforts. We have ideas, knowledge and specific methods to help you maintain an advantage in your industry. We’ll be communicating these needs with you in the coming weeks and months in hopes that we can continue to grow your online business and mobile offerings. The numbers are still growing and will be here soon for Hawaii Island.

Did you know that nearly two-thirds of smartphone users are more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps customize information to their location? Or that 47% of millennials say they’ve watched YouTube videos to improve their health or feel better after feeling down?

Please have a look at Google’s year-end data wrap-up.

A collection of our favorite industry, consumer, and video insights from 2017 that will continue to shape the marketing industry in 2018. Hawaii will continue to benefit from additional bandwidth and access to online businesses that stay relevant and increase online service. We want to be part of your growth and strive to be your most rewarding business partnership.

Please let me know how I can increase my quality and service to your business or organization.

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Strategies for Earning Consumer Attention

Local Attention Marketing

“Today, people can access a near-infinite amount of content anywhere, and anytime, across almost every screen. While reaching people is easy, keeping their attention is harder than ever and requires a different approach to video marketing—for both creative and media plans.” –Matt Anderson, Contributor, Video Marketing at Google


“Digital can no longer be a one-size-fits-all, repurposed afterthought. Nowhere do consumers expect relevancy more than in digital. The brands that are winning are thinking about all the iterations of creative they need to deliver personal and relevant messages.” – Helen Lin, President of Digital Investment, Publicis Media

How Can This Help Your Local Hawaii Businesses?
Keep your message local and authentic. Use an editorial calendar to plan your messaging for key local holidays that larger brands miss.


“To grab users’ attention, you really have to tailor your creative to each platform. You can’t be focused on one piece of creative for one platform, and not think about how to make it most effective across the ecosystem. One way we do that is by giving our creatives access to real-time data to optimize performance in flight—not after.” – Gail Horwood, SVP Integrated Marketing, Kellogg Company

How Can This Help Your Local Hawaii Businesses?
Place your authentic ad, get enough results to be confident you have reached your audience. Determine why they took action and re-tailor your message and graphic to focus more on that audience. Focus on what works.


“When it comes to capturing and holding attention, there isn’t one ad format to rule them all. On YouTube, for example, it’s not just that a bumper ad allows for different storytelling than a skippable unit or a forced 15-second ad, but that one story can be told across ad units through sequencing and targeting. This approach allows each ad format to work to its abilities without having to cram the whole world into one place.” – Kim Snow, Creative Director, Google

How Can This Help Your Local Hawaii Businesses?
For smaller budgets, a minor variation in your ad from platform to platform can make a difference. Use a similar, yet different image to expound on the story you’re telling. You can’t determine the order they will see your ad but you can build up the mundane into uniqueness for pennies.


“To capture attention, we avoid creating all the content for a campaign at once. As marketers, we spend a lot of time in conference rooms. We’d rather understand the feedback from the audience bit by bit. In that way, we take consumer response and create content off of it that’s personal and relevant.” – Heather Warnke, Director of Marketing, John Frieda

How Can This Help Your Local Hawaii Businesses?
Stay focused on delivering an authentic message. Create that which others will want to share by continually improving your message for your target audience. Visualize your best customers, the ones who will reshare your message. Give them something empowering to their business that they can share with their customers.


“Our research shows that consumers are getting impatient and are shifting their attention from one source to another at a faster pace than ever before. For brands, it means the bar continues to raise. Research shows being useful and relevant is the only way to get consumers to tune-in. Brands should also prioritize platforms that have content people are actually looking for versus just finding in a feed, as lean in platforms grab higher attention.” – Kate Sirkin, EVP, Analytics and Insights, Publicis Media

How Can This Help Your Local Hawaii Businesses?
Be the source. Help your customers share their enthusiasm for your offerings. Do the extra work it takes to be the source and provide relevant, useful information in your campaigns.


Determine your game plan

Fighting blind in the battle for attention is not a life sentence. It’s a choice.

There’s no magic formula for earning a potential customer’s attention, but there are certain principles brands can lean on, including those I just outlined and many more. At a higher level, there’s one simple question I encourage you to ask to determine a game plan for navigating today’s increasingly complex attention economy: Are you spending on the right platforms, and are you leveraging the tools of each in a way that will help you capture and keep consumer attention?

Answer that honestly, and you’ll be on your way to a fairer fight. -View more from ThinkwithGoogle

Attention and Focus – Two Keys to Customer Engagement

Focus and Attention for Small Business Owners

I recently read that focus is the new IQ. Nowhere else is this more visible or true than web design hosting. At least it’s of epic importance in my business. Today I’m sharing with you the “why” behind focus and attention in your online business growth.

In your business, focus on your customer can mean the following;

  • Permission-based marketing that’s personalized. Delivering the information your customers need to make informed decisions keeps them coming back to your emails for more.
  • Customer-focused web design. Keeping the content that’s most important to your visitors above the fold is key. Attention spans are what they are and being mindful of the limited time your visitors can spend on your site is important. So be sure the information your visitors need is viewable when your page loads.
  • Mobile design. Nothing else is more helpful right now. We’ve seen mobile visits go from around 30% to around 50% in the past year for local clients. Mainland clients have been steady at 50% for the last year.
  • Business Intelligence. You need to make informed decisions about your business using facts, not email suggestions from desperate 14 yr olds in Asia.

Attention Means Being Attentive to Your Business and Clients Needs

Many local clients are still warming up to logging into multiple dashboards. For the last several years you have had access to your website traffic, most visited pages, seo analysis, security and performance data. This is viewable above the fold on the first page when you log into your WordPress dashboard. Permission-based marketing campaigns in Mailchimp and Constant Contact still require logging into those services. There are only a few other areas in your business where you can obtain this level of information about your website visitors, prospects, leads, and clients. So I’m encouraging you again to keep those login credentials handy and a shortcut to your dashboard in the middle of your screen. Your attention to these metrics is critical in determining whether you should be spending more or less on IT.

Use the information to create budgets, gauge how well your website and web hosting is performing and make informed decisions about attracting and engaging new business. Doing so will give you the ability to be more attentive to the needs of your visitors and clients instead of just focusing on your immediate business needs. You’ll do well. I’m counting on you!

Once Attention is Working Stay Focused – Focus Focus Focus!

Your ability to focus is critical. All of the information is right here in your browser. That’s great but following the information among a myriad of distractions is difficult. For example, some clients prefer automation for their posts so they are shared on social media when published. There are a lot of reasons for doing so, especially for clients who publish more than once per week. However, automation can also save time by allowing you to keep your focus on your business, your website. By not having to visit Twitter or Facebook to publish, you’re also avoiding distractions. For small business owners, our tools built into your site can be a real time saver.

Dig in Deeper with this Article About Customer Focus and Attention to Attract and Engage Clients

“Attention Attention, attention, attention—this is the variable we’re most interested in to drive real brand lift. It’s important to ask: Are you capturing your audience’s attention? How are you measuring this? Your metric should be determined by your objective—learn more about identifying and optimising to your KPIs here.” –ThinkWithGoogle

 

Here’s a class that will help improve your focus and attention:
https://www.udemy.com/focus-mastery/

Two-minute refresher on the basics:

This Forbes article could be helpful:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2016/02/23/7-superstar-secrets-to-focusing-in-an-age-of-distraction/#1991b36a6b10

Now that you’ve completely lost focus, call me! I want to help you reduce your IT costs and get the money flowing into the tasks that bring you more business. For additional support, tools and know-how in support of your goals call us. We don’t care what you call us, just call us! Ask for Brent: 808-896-7656

It’s All About the Micro-Moments

It's All About the Micro Moments
Source: Google Data, U.S., Jan. – June 2015 vs. Jan. – June 2017. Top 500 “best” search terms

Since Google introduced the concept two years ago, micro-moments have become as much a part of consumers’ lives as the daily commute and trips to the grocery store. In fact, people can’t remember what it was like to not be able to learn, do, or buy things when the need struck by reaching for the device in their pocket. It’s an entrenched behavior—micro-moments are only multiplying and consumers actually expect more, better, faster. Ask us about the details!

We can simplify what this means for your business. If you’re the Do It Yourself Marketing type, jump in here.

Attribution Models and the Entourage Effect in Marketing

Entourage Effect in Marketing

How many of your prospects looked at your direct-mail postcard ? How many of your prospects enjoyed receiving your postcard in their mailbox?

By mailbox, I mean that place where your paper checks arrive. The same place where family and friends still send postcards. According to a Gallup Poll, it’s also the place where, “95% of adults between 18 and 29 feel positively about receiving personal mail.1

Direct mail is effective at demonstrating the authenticity of your brand in print media. While the same can’t really be said about phone book listings, the sign in front of your building speaks volumes. When a Google Street viewer sees your building and your sign out front, the authenticity of your Facebook presence becomes more trustworthy.

YouTube “bumper ads2” promoting your brand demonstrates your commitment to spending money to attract mind share in competitive industries.  AdWords advertising creates a similar impression in the minds of local customers. Local customers may see your store sign. Others may search online first.  Still others may consider your brand over another based on your marketing brand or presence in their preferred social network eg; Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus etc. Review websites and local directories create value even if controlling the costs are difficult. Google Local is an excellent way to attract low-cost targeted traffic in support of your organic search results. “Organic” or so-called, “free” search results remain the main drivers of traffic to your website but the writing, editing and management never ends.

All of these methods cost money and contribute to your lead generation. When used in combination with each other an “entourage effect” may be achieved. This is the additional sales you experience when a prospect sees your brand in multiple locations and mediums. From direct mail to search engine results, something else happens when they are all used.

Business owners experience this in unexpected ways. Let’s use a greatly simplified example. Let’s say you’re spending money on Facebook ads, Google AdWords and a monthly email to subscribers costing you $500 per month. You decide to lower the budget by dropping the lowest performing campaign. You might expect for example, a 1/3 drop in traffic yet something else happens.

Instead of losing 30% of your traffic, you lose 50% of your traffic. A week later that predicted outcome no longer correlates with past performance. “Why? Why? Why?,” you ask!

One simple answer is the loss of a special type of visitor. This special visitor, a Millennial, Gen-X or Gen-Yer, who will not make a decision unless they see your brand in multiple locations and mediums first. It’s less authentic if they don’t see your brand in an online search and a Facebook ad for example. Making sure you have an effective data attribution model can solve this problem and better prepare you to make accurate decisions regarding your marketing budget.


Sidebar: What are the primary generations today?

Currently, five generations make up our society. Each of those five generations has an active role in the marketplace. Depending on the specific workplace, the workforce includes four to five generations. Here are the birth years for each generation3:

  • Gen Z, iGen, or Centennials: Born 1996 and later
  • Millennials or Gen Y: Born 1977 to 1995
  • Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964
  • Traditionalists or Silent Generation: Born 1945 and before

The Good News
Losing traffic to the entourage effect can be regained. It can also be measured through a more comprehensive attribution model. However, the software for creating these models and the skills needed to setup the software can be expensive. Local small business owners (SMBs) may not be able to afford software like, Analytics 360. That’s where we can help with a smarter setup aided by Google’s Artificial Ad Intelligence.

By doing a little more work before and during the campaign, your reports can show not just where your visitors are coming from but also the various channels and paths they used to get to your final goal completions. This includes offline promotions like direct mail.

Google puts it this way, “In a mobile and multi-screen world, outdated measurement practices lead marketers astray. Despite the emergence of new marketing measurement best-practices — namely advanced attribution — some organizations still prefer to live with the “good enough” measurements of the status quo.4

In another white paper created by Forrester Research, Google says, “Attribution’s sophisticated, algorithmic measurement model provides a holistic view of the customer journey. Despite well-recognized benefits, many organizations are lagging behind in adopting this data-driven measurement best practice.5


Because your cross-channel marketing strategy spans a wide range of online and offline channels. We use our own attribution modeling to measure the Entourage Effect. We help your business stay authentic and measure your return on investment by considering your traffic across all mediums.


Sources:

1Frank Newport and Steve Ander, “Four in 10 Americans Look Forward to Checking Mail,” Gallup, April 2, 2015. Copyright © (2015) Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved. The content is used with permission; however, Gallup retains all rights of republication.

2Success in Six: 4 Best Practices for Building Impactful YouTube Bumper Ads

3Generational Breakdown: Info About All of the Generations

410 Tactics for Attribution Management – Download White paper

5 Attribution Drives Marketing Impact

Marketing to Gen-X on YouTube

Generation X YouTube Habits - Brent Norris

The opportunity to market to Generation X is huge. If done correctly, small business owner can gain targeted traffic from this very large demographic which according to Pixability, Gen Xers account for over 1.5B views every day on YouTube.
Brent.FM Marketing to Generation X

While Baby Boomers have gotten a solid grasp of how to use Google to find answers and solutions, Generation X goes straight to video. They search YouTube when they want to stay in the know according to a Google/Ipsos Connect study2.

Brent.FM Reaching Gen-X via YouTube

“For Gen Xers, it’s important that they’re able to take this how-to content at their own pace. To that end, they report making good use of the pause and replay buttons as they master a new skill according to the study.”

So what does this mean for small business owners and marketers in Hawaii?

First, the facts represent a better, more cost-effective strategy for reaching a large market that remains virtually untapped in Hawaii.

Gen-X YouTube behavior - Brent Norris

“Because 75% of Gen Xers watch YouTube at least monthly on any device.3 And 64% of Gen Xers bought a product or service they saw in a video on YouTube when they were learning how to do something.4 All of that watching presents a significant opportunity to influence.”

Second, if you can craft your message into a short, DIY video you can lead this demographic in a local market. By lead, I mean, you can be the voice and the source for lower costs than traditional, hit or miss advertising.

Here’s some ideas for DIY video:

  1. Home Repair and Improvement DIY in Hawaii
  2. Cooking – think local foods, how to prepare local dishes
  3. Technology use and repair. Think computer PC help and service.
  4. Arts and Crafts. It’s Merrie Monarch time. Create a lei-making video to showcase their skills or cause marketing needs.
  5. Beauty and personal care. Again, local products and how to make them from locally sourced materials.

Sources
1 Pixability Software. All-time data up to Nov. 2016.
2 Google/Ipsos Connect, U.S., YouTube Human Stories: Gen X, n=1,004 among respondents age 35–54 who go online at least monthly, Sept. 2016. Google/Flamingo ethnographic research among 15 respondents age 35–54, Sept. 2016.
3,4 Google/Ipsos Connect, U.S., YouTube Human Stories: Gen X, n=1,004 respondents age 35–54 who go online at least monthly, Sept. 2016.

What is Ad Attention Research?

Ad Attention Research - Image of attentive dog and YouTube Viewer

Ad Attention Research tries to understand the level of attention given to advertisements on various search platforms. New research from Nielsen and Ipsos proves that attention differs across screens. Exposure to advertisements isn’t always enough to ensure ad revenue. While clicks are the central measurement in CPC advertising, the idea behind Ad Attention research suggests that ads need to be noticed, watched, and heard to maximize impact and value to advertisers.

Google have recently provided data highlighting the notion that, “Visual Attention to Advertising on YouTube Mobile is Higher Than on TV.” Four definitions were developed to define levels of ‘attention’ or lack thereof based on consumer behavior as measured by the eye-tracking glasses:

  • ‘Attention‘ is defined as participants looking at the ad, looking at another part of the screen or at the countdown or skip button while the ad is playing.
  • ‘Multitasking’ involves participants looking at other screens/devices, interacting with other people or pets, leaving the room to get a snack, etc.
  • ‘Switching’ involves changing the channel, clicking on another video/link, minimizing the ad, or closing the YouTube app.
  • ‘Skipping’ refers to fast-forwarding or skipping the ad.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) standard definition of viewability and eye-tracking analysis were used to see if users were actually “looking” at the television and YouTube adv content.  Results show “that the majority (55%) of TV advertising time is NOT paid attention to. That advertising time is either spent multitasking (26%), skipping the ads (15%) or switching channels/videos (14%). –IPSOS Independent Market Research 

Other findings by IPSOS suggests that visual attention to ads is a critical consideration for advertisers. Visual attention is very important when deciding where to place ad dollars for several reasons including;

  • Only 45% of TV advertising receives attention versus 62% of YouTube mobile advertising.
  • Paid YouTube mobile advertising is 84% more likely to receive attention than TV advertising.
  • The combination of TrueView paid views and TV results in stronger lift than just TV alone on most brand metrics.

Users who see and hear ads experience higher ad recall than those who only see or only hear ads.

Will ad attention research affect your online advertising strategy?

Clients are smart and don’t always assume their dollars are being spent on video advertising for mobile, for example. They’re most satisfied when a website visitor, clicks their ad in a near me search that results in an in-store shopping experience. When that in-store experience results in a sale the ad spend is justified in the minds of clients.

To get a better understanding view this ad attention research infographic.

Video advertisers also read, “5 Charts That Prove Viewability and Audibility Together Are Key to Video Ad Effectiveness” at ThinkWithGoogle

Building a New Website? Follow Google Webmaster Guidelines

Google Webmaster Guidelines for a Better Return / Profit

ROI Strategy – Webmaster Guidelines

When Google first released their Webmaster Guidelines we made a pivitol decision. We didn’t know the impact of such a decision at the time. While other companies were banking on cheating on search results we stay focused on web standards and doing things the right way. We researched and interviewed folks at the W3C and Web Standards projects to correllate Google’s intentions. More than 10 years later our decision has benefitted hundreds of website owners in ways we couldn’t have imagined. None of our clients have been penalized by Google but they have benefitted from each Google Algorithm Updates.

Google’s Guidelines for Website Design 2017 Update
Since the original Google Webmaster Guidelines were released we’ve followed their recommendations. The results have been very consistent with high ranking pages in search results for all our clients. We continue our efforts to build websites based on Web Standards. We use Open Source platforms to reduce the costs of future development. Using WordPress for your content management system assures we’re in compliance with guidelines and using the most popular platform for building websites.

“There are many ways to make a presence on the web and a website is just one of them. Other types of web presence include social media channels and sites that allow customers to review your business. Before you start making a website, make sure you understand what’s provided by the different types of web presence and the costs and benefits associated with each type.” –Google Developers

Brand consistency and trust by Google

Are you providing a consistent look and feel for your visitors across channels. We create comfort in the minds of your visitors. Consistency in colors, fonts, images and brand messaging smooths the sales process experience.  Everything is familiar as your prospects move between your presences on social networks, lead collection forms, emails and online searches. In this way your propects will develop trust with your brand and interact with your lead collection forms.

Need a new domain name? We can help you choose a domain name that is:

  • Descriptive: Think about the name of your company and the content you’ll put on your site. The domain name is one of the first things people notice about a site so it should provide a good idea what your site’s about at a glance.
  • Easy to remember: Keep the domain name short and simple. If it’s long and complicated, it’ll be hard for people to remember.
  • Adaptable: A domain name is likely be tied to your site for a long time so choose one that will work if your site’s content changes over time. If Brandon eventually plans to include other collectibles, brandonscollectibles.com would be a better domain name than brandonsbaseballcards.com.

Note: We use Google Domains. If you have a Godaddy account or if it’s easier for you to purchase through another domain provider, that’s great. We’ll help with the setup and send you a reminder when your domain name is up for renewal. We recommend purchasing your domain name for at least two years, five years is better.

With a domain name purchased and setup we can setup your website hosting. We use a Single Hop data center to serve your pages. The tools we have installed on the server increase our efficiency and reduce your costs. We can help you evaluate your existing hosting provider and provide alternates if helpful to your online business goals.

What to look for in a web host:

  • Uptime: Uptime is the amount of time servers belonging to your hosting provider are up and running. Any hosting provider can go down sometimes but you want to find a provider with very little downtime so visitors can almost always see your website.
  • Bandwidth: Bandwidth shows how much data your site can send to the rest of the internet and determines how much traffic your site can support. Some hosting providers limit the bandwidth available to your website while others allow unlimited access.
  • Security: Familiarize yourself with safeguards the hosting provider sets in place to protect your site from external vulnerabilities. Understand if support will be offered when a security issue arises, such as if your site is hacked or infected by malware.
  • Customer support: If something goes wrong with your site, you’ll want good customer support to resolve any issues quickly.
  • Price: Hosting providers charge a wide range of prices; some are even free. You need to balance how much you’re willing to pay with the services you’ll receive in return.
  • Ease of use: Make sure the user platform is intuitive and easy to use for your needs. If you’re creating a site yourself, is it easy to get started or do you need to have advanced setup knowledge?
  • Additional services and features: Make sure the hosting provider offers the things your website may need, such as email accounts.

Our Fully Managed WordPress hosting and Marketing plans cover all of these points. We also include publishing fresh, optimized content on a monthly basis. We share this content across your social networks. Email for up to five addresses is included.

Basic principles of Good Web Design

  • We will make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
  • We will not deceive your users in any way.
  • We will not use tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. We’ll make your website stand out from others in your field.

Specific Guidelines for Good Web Design

Avoid the following:

Follow good practices like these:

  • Monitoring your site for hacking and removing hacked content as soon as it appears
  • Preventing and removing user-generated spam on your site

If your site violates one or more of these guidelines, then Google may take manual action against it. Once you have remedied the problem, you can submit your site for reconsideration. This often takes a lot of time and can harm your domain for years. On average 50% of website traffic comes from search engines. It can be devastating to any brand to be penalized by Google.

“There’s no better illustration of this than Google itself, which has taken action against itself five times for violations ranging from buying links to cloaking.” -Search Engine Land, 5 Times Google Penalized Itself For Breaking Its Own SEO Rules

Understand your audience using Google Trends

You can use a powerful tool called Google Trends to explore trends and related keywords your audience might be searching. A search for “baseball” shows variations and related terms that people have searched in addition to “baseball”. You can see when and where these searches come from, along with search volume for different terms. It also shows interesting trends over time associated with search terms. Understanding related terms to your site’s content helps you to create more relevant content for your audience, leading to more people finding your site.

Gather a test audience

Once you have plans for your website written down, show your friends and family to gather feedback. Ask them what they think of your site as a potential visitor. You can also conduct surveys or usability tests. We like to ask your team insightful questions:

  • What is the current sentiment about the website.
  • Do customers like the site? Does the staff like the site?
  • What is missing? What did they expect to find?
  • What areas of the site are most useful?
  • What requests come in from the website contact form? Can these be facilitated online?
  • Do phone calls generate better leads or cause confusion and loss of leads?
  • What can be build on the site to reduce costs and shorten the sales process?

Hearing what others have to say about your site helps us all relate to your audience better.

Creating Valuable Content

The key to creating a great website is to create the best possible experience for your audience with original and high quality content. If people find your site useful and unique, they may come back again or link to your content on their own websites. This can help attract more people to your site over time.

We create fresh content on your website that is:

  • Useful and informative: If you’re launching a site for a restaurant, you can include the location, hours of operation, contact information, menu and a blog to share upcoming events.
  • More valuable and useful than other sites: If you write about how to train a dog, make sure your article provides more value or a different perspective than the numerous articles on the web on dog training.
  • Credible: Show your site’s credibility by using original research, citations, links, reviews and testimonials. An author biography or testimonials from real customers can help boost your site’s trustworthiness and reputation.
  • High quality: Your site’s content should be unique, specific and high quality. It should not be mass-produced or outsourced on a large number of other sites. Keep in mind that your content should be created primarily to give visitors a good user experience, not to rank well in search engines.
  • Engaging: Bring color and life to your site by adding images of your products, your team, or yourself. Make sure visitors are not distracted by spelling, stylistic, and factual errors. An excessive amount of ads can also be distracting for visitors. Engage visitors by interacting with them through regular updates, comment boxes, or social media widgets.

Be careful of things that can make visitors not trust your site or leave:

  • Errors such as broken links or wrong information
  • Grammar or spelling mistakes
  • Excessive amount of ads
  • Spam such as comment or forum spam

“It’s about creating high quality content and providing a good experience for your audience!” -Google

We make it easy for your users to quickly and easily navigate your site to find the content they are looking for. We also make it easy for search engines to crawl your site and understand the content that you consider important.

All sites have a home or “root” page. It’s usually the most visited page on a site and the starting place of navigation for visitors. Some websites redirect users to a separate website for mobile devices. We create responsive designs to accomodate all devices. This ensures your navigation is consistent and your visitor experience with your brand is familiar. We create brand loyalty in our designs that feel comfortable to the end user.

Most website navigation today starts at a search engine. Visitors click search results and land on pages other than your homepage. We help visitors find other pages on your site by creating a consistent navigation bar.

A good navigation bar calls out important sections of your site, is clear about where it’ll take visitors, and follows a logical structure. Intuitive and organized navigational categories include ‘Home’, ‘News’, and ‘Contact Us.’ We’ll make your site navigation easy to access and use across all devices.

The code structure of your site semantically informs search engines how to crawl and index your pages.  The Semantic Web informs our best practices for organizing your content for users and search engines. We submit and manage your xml sitemap in the Google Search Console and adhere to the sitemap protocol.

All of this is measured by expertly tracking your website visitors with Google Analytics. We monitor the search console and correllate visitor traffic for measureable results. This means we can see where your visitors come from and everything they do while on your website. If we see your prospects taking wrong turns along the path to becoming leads and sales, we make corrections. Corrections may include changes to the structure, content and navigation of your pages. This is one of the reasons websites need to be properly managed after it is built.

If you’re wondering how your site shows up in Google Search, it’s important to understand how Google crawls pages on the internet, indexes those pages and serves them as search results using a variety of algorithms and ranking factors. You can learn more on Google’s interactive website and watch the How Search Works video with Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team. Also watch, Finding your Site on Google with Jen Lee from the Google Search Quality team.

We directly submit your content to Google using your sitemap xml. We setup your site so that new pages are automatically submitted for indexing. Search results will often appear within hours of publishing.

All of this works because we take the time to accurately describe content on web pages semantically. Machines can understand what we write.

Google Content Guidelines

It’s time consuming and worthwhile. We write different titles for different pages on your site to help users and search engines know which page would be the most useful for a particular search query.

Meta descriptions are written for each page or post using a tool built into the editor. This allows us to better sculpt the way your search results look in the search engines.

Google search results for "Managed WordPress Hosting"

It’s important to describe images on your site for both search engines and users. For example, baseball cards on brandonsbaseballcards.com include players’ names and teams. But search engines and screen readers for the visually impaired may not be able to read the information if it’s an image. Someone searching for a particular card may not find this site, even if it’s a very relevant result.

We help search engines and screen readers understand images by including good alt text and adding descriptive text near images. It’s not an easy or fast process but it’s worth the effort. One way we can tweak the results in in you businesses Knowledge Graph Card displayed by Google.

 

Two SEO Methods with Very Different Results

  1. White Hat SEO (Best practice) These techniques aim to improve a site by focusing on the visitors instead of on ranking higher. Examples of good, whitehat techniques include creating organic, high-quality content and adding good descriptive tags covered in the previous module. They adhere to Webmaster Guidelines, which your site should follow to rank well and organically in Google Search.
  2. Black hat SEO (A spam email promising great results is usually a hint.)
    Illicit techniques that manipulate search engines to try to rank a site higher are considered blackhat techniques that violate our Webmaster Guidelines. Do not pay for links pointing to your site to be placed on the internet with the intent of passing PageRank and manipulating Google Search. These links may be called sponsored links or paid advertising, hidden in HTML, or inserted as optimized anchors in articles, comments, and footers. Learn to avoid such practices as they can appear to Google as malware, especially as Google gets smarter about indexing and organizing the web.
  3. What About Grey-hat SEO? Yes, at times we have tried everything possible to get better search results for live and test pages. Today, the pace of change is simply too fast, in our opinion to garner ROI from such efforts. Search results are now real-time. When problems arise, everyone that’s been using questionable techniques all get in line together to submit review requests while traffic to their websites gets cut in half. Changes at Google are happening faster than most so-called, “SEO Professionals” can keep up with. When something goes right, it generates extra revenue. When something goes wrong it’s often very expensive.

Lastly, it’s not only robots and algorithms indexing the web.

Human factoring is a large part of the way algorithms are built and implemented and directly affects search results.  Also check out  Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide and Search Engine Optimization articles for detailed guidance. Ray Kurzweil’s impact at Google is showing up in the Google Brain as the pace of change continues to double about every 18 months.

 


We’re monitoring, “RankBrain” for ways this will impact website owners.


 

Confirmed in patents, “RankBrain is essentially an algorithm learning artificial intelligence machine. It looks at more than searchers’ words. RankBrain works to determine searcher intent. It does this by examining syntax, colloquial language, and patterns of meaning in past searches. It actually discerns what you mean, rather than what you type. ” –Plan Left  Also read Bloomberg’s take on Google AI

More Webmaster Resources from Google

Google Webmasters Google+ and Twitter and YouTube 
Join the webmaster community and stay up-to-date with our announcements, events, tips, and resources.

Webmaster Central Blog
Get the latest information from Google’s Webmaster Central blog including updates to Google Search, new Search Console features, and more.

Webmaster Help Forum
Post questions about your site’s issues and find tips to create high quality sites from the product forum for webmasters.


Thanks for taking time to learn more about Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. We’d love to work with you and build a great website for your online business. Let’s have a conversation sometime about your website.

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What Is DNS Propagation and Why Does It Take So Long?

DNS Propagation Happens in Minutes or Hours and May Take Longer Depending on Many Factors

In order to resolve a domain name, it must be registered and pointed to at least two name servers which will host the DNS zone file for the specific domain. These servers are authoritative so when someone on the Internet “asks” for the IP address of the specific domain, the request will first go to the root name servers for the requested TLD (top level domain, for example: .com, .net, .org, etc.). They will reply with the authoritative name servers for the requested domain and the request will go to the server hosting the file with the DNS records where the IP will be resolved from.

Each Internet Service Provider (the folks you pay to connect to the internet) maintains its own caching DNS server/s. These servers store the DNS records in their local cache in order to save network traffic from querying the authoritative name servers each time they receive a request for a given domain. So when you request your domain name in your browser, the request goes to the name server of your ISP. It resolves the IP address of your domain from the authoritative name servers and the record is being stored in the local memory of the ISP name server.

The stored record remains in the local name server memory according to the settings applied in your DNS zone file and more specifically the value of the TTL parameter in the SOA record (Start Of Authority). This value is set by default to http://brentnorris.com4400 seconds (4 hours) in the BIND name server. Often, this value is increased to a day or two, again due to the traffic saving purposes.

So when your local name server caches a record from your DNS zone file, it keeps the record in its memory as long as the specified value in the TTL parameter from your zone file. When you make another request for the same record before the TTL time pass, your ISP name server will reply with the stored record rather than querying the authoritative name server again and will do so until the TTL time is reached. After the TTL is reached, it will re-fetch your DNS zone from the authoritative name server for your domain and will start serving the updated records.

That is why you need to wait up to approximately a day when you make changes to your DNS zone.

While you wait for an updated record to propagate, it is a good idea to flush the local DNS resolver of your PC, since the DNS records may be cached there as well. Check the links provided below for detailed instructions on how to clear the DNS cache:

How to clear the local DNS cache in Windows?

You can flush your local DNS cache in Windows by following these easy steps:

http://brentnorris.com. Open Start menu
2. Click Run
3. Type cmd and press enter
4. In the command prompt type ipconfig /flushdns and press enter

How to clear the local DNS cache in Mac OS?
You can flush your local DNS cache in Mac OS by following these easy steps:

http://brentnorris.com. Open your terminal to use the command line.

2. Type the following command and press Enter:

dscacheutil -flushcache

 

You should also try clearing your browser cache. Learn how to clear your browser cache here.

 

How to Clear Your Browser Cache

Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera and Chrome:

Firefox:
Open Firefox and go to Tools > Clear Recent History. Choose the time range and the items you wish to clear and click Clear Now.

Internet Explorer 6:
Open Internet Explorer 6 and go to Tools > Internet Options > General.
Click Delete Files. Check the box next to Delete all offline content In the window that opens and click OK.

Internet Explorer 7 & 8:
Open Internet Explorer 7 and go to Tools > Internet Options > General.  Under Browsing history click Delete. Choose which items you wish to delete and click the Delete button next to each item to delete it.

Internet Explorer 9:
In Internet Explorer 9 go to Tools > Safety > Delete browsing history. Then untick the option for Preserve Favorites website data, tick the options for Temporary Internet Files and Cookies and click Delete.

Safari:
Open Safari and go to Safari > Empty Cache. Click Empty in the window that opens to clear the cache.

Opera:
Open Opera and go to Tools > Delete Private Data. Choose which items you wish to delete and click Delete.

Chrome:
Click the wrench icon at the top right corner of the screen and go to Tools > Clear Browsing Data. Select the items you want to delete, choose the period for which you want to delete them and click Clear Browsing Data.

Additionally, in order to speed-up the process, you can try clearing your local DNS cache.

If you are having cache problems with your website, ask your host for assistance.