May 12, 2015 - 2 comments

How to Get Free SSL/HTTPS on a WordPress Site

By now, most people know that Google considers HTTPS as a ranking factor. With that said, not everyone knows that you can actually get this for free with Cloudflare and in a couple of minutes.

Find out how now:

This will be an ultra quick guide on how to set up an SSL certificate on WordPress, with Cloudflare already operating on your site.

Cute HTTPS Picture from vtualerts.com

WordPress Plugins Needed for SSL:

  1. https://wordpress.org/plugins/cloudflare/
  2. https://wordpress.org/plugins/cloudflare-flexible-ssl/

Here's a quick run-through:

First plugin allows you to change multiple Cloudflare settings directly within your WordPress installation/site.

Second one stops any redirects(back to http) that might occur.

Still with me? Hopefully.

Now go ahead and activate the plugins, go to settings, and fill in the details for the Cloudflare plugin.

Stuck already? Check out the (Get This?) links next to each section. Here is what I put for my settings:

Okay, now that you finished that, go to your WordPress Admin Dashboard and go to General under Settings.

Change your Address for WordPress(URL) and Site Address both to https.

It should now look like this:

Now here is what will happen - your WordPress site will now log you out and ask you to log back in with https.

However if you navigate to your WordPress site again, it doesn't automatically change to https, so that sucks.

Here's how you change that:

Go to cloudflare.com and navigate to Options > Cloudflare Settings. Find "Page Rules", use CTRL + F, don't waste your time.

I want all my pages to go to https, so I would use indexsy.com/* as a rule. The asterisk(*) is a wildcard, which means it is for any URL.

Now toggle 'Always Use Https' and confirm it with 'Add Rule'.

Here's what it should look like:

AND you're done! Your site should now force https beliefs on every single one of your visitors.

If the lock on the left side of the browser is still red, check this tool out:

https://www.whynopadlock.com/

 

Let me know if you guys have any questions!

 

April 22, 2015 - 1 comment.

15 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Consultant

Before you even consider outsourcing your SEO, you should familiarize yourself with modern SEO practices. There are lots of great digital marketing firms out there who can work wonders, delivering and communicating proper KPI's as well as providing your return on investment(ROI).

With that said, there are literally thousands that will not hesitate to do the opposite, thus putting SEO in the grey area of digital marketing.

seo consulting checklist

 

Here's a handy dandy list of questions to keep in mind while looking for an SEO consultant:

  1. Do they review your needs first, or do they jump to an immediate price quote?
  2. Did the SEO consultant do relevant industry research?
  3. Did they build a campaign around your goals and needs?
  4. Do they explore possible on-site SEO changes?
  5. Do they include the fore-mentioned 'on-site' changes in the campaign?
  6. Are they promising you everything?
  7. How short is their time frame?
  8. Do they have long-term business plans?
  9. How secretive are they about their campaigns and the actual work they do?
  10. Do they use 'buzz' words and 'waffle'?
  11. How 'legit' is their business? Are they registered or do they have an office?
  12. Do you like speaking with them?
  13. Did they write up a contract?
  14. Do they say no to unrealistic demands?
  15. Do they have realistic prices?

Here are some explanations to justify these questions, but most aspects are covered. If they missed something, or answered something a bit awkward, I'd say it is time to find another firm.

If they cover all the questions above, and explained it extensively, I can say with confidence, you have found the right company!

1. Do they review your needs first, or do they jump to an immediate price quote?

If any SEO consultants instantly quotes a price, you should be extremely alarmed if not already running. In the rare occasion that the firm recently finished a similar campaign, it might be a bit quicker, but not instantaneous.

A rough price figure is okay, but if they give you an exact price, flags should go up in your head. Market and niche research needs to be done, and this takes time.

2. Did the SEO consultant do relevant industry research?

market research seo

This is to add on to the first question, they should have conducted proper research before proposals of any kind. If no research is done, they won't know how much work is required for your campaign. This means the company you are speaking with are 'one size fits all' company...walk away, before you ruin your site.

3. Did they build a campaign around your goals and needs?

Okay, so now you know they researched your market, and they have the knowledge to rank a website or page - but do they understand your goals and interests?

The good marketing firms go the extra mile and research your product. They will find out what your service is, this way, they can effectively provide targeted organic traffic that will be better for conversion.

Even better marketing firms go as far as doing some quick calculations to see your ROI. There are many situations where it would not be worth it for you to run the campaign, are they transparent about this?

4. Do they explore possible on-site SEO changes?

Showcase-05

Are they only focused on 'off-page' SEO? Something is wrong here. Most of the time if you require an SEO consultant, there will be room for improving on-site SEO. These are SEO basics, if they miss any, find a new agency.

5. Do they include the fore-mentioned 'on-site' changes in the campaign?

Now that they pointed out the on-site SEO problems, will they fix it for you? The state of your on-site SEO is directly related to the success of the campaign, they should definitely offer to implement the changes for you.

6. Are they promising you everything?

You should be wary of any SEO consultants promising you the world. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Seems trivial, but I have come across enough horror stories to reiterate this.

7. How short is their time frame?

SEO time management

Again, if the time frame is too quick, alarm should sound. They are either automating some shady techniques, or they are just lying to you.

8. Do they have long-term business plans?

This is a good indicator of how they view you as a client; are they looking for a quick, churn and burn gig, or are they looking for a long term business relationship, keeping you at the top of Google for years to come.

Did they tell you what happens after they achieved your goal? SEO is continuous, not a one time deal. If they haven't mentioned this, they either don't want you as a long term client, or they weren't aware about this factor - either way, that's 2 reasons to walk away.

9. How transparent are they about their campaigns and what they actually do?

Digital marketing firms won't map out exactly what they will do, this is because you could be a competitor looking to steal extensively tested methods. With that said, they should be able to lay down what they will be doing, and happily outline the work involved and the high level process.

There should be a lot of back and forth while communicating, be careful when they start snapping at you if you ask questions. That is not only unprofessional but something iffy about their defensiveness.

10. Do they dismiss questions with 'buzz' words?

Watch out for companies who try and dismiss questions with filler 'buzz' words, a lot of companies can talk the talk, but only a small percentage of them can perform.

11. How 'legit' is their business?

If you own a legitimate brick-and-mortar business, you should probably work with another brick-and-mortar business. Do some research before meeting them; they may impress you to begin with, but after paying them they simply fall off the grid.

You can find out a lot about a company based on their receptionist. They should be professional and eager to answer your call; it should go without saying strictly instant messaging and/or emailing isn't enough as communication!

12. Do you like speaking with them?

communication seo

As mentioned previously, SEO is continuous - you will be working with the firm for a long time, you should be comfortable speaking with them for an extended amount of time. You shouldn't be deterred from calling them because it is an annoyance, they should be happy to speak with you as well. They don't have to be a riot, but enjoying each others company is important!

13. Did they write up a contract?

All legitimate companies will operate with a binding contract, this is for their safety and yours. Proceed with care if there is no contract, you have nothing protecting you from being scammed.

14. Do they say no to unrealistic demands?

A proper firm will not take money if what your asking is ridiculous. If you ask for lunch with Kanye West, a golden Prius and an unlimited amount of Gummy Bears, you should be rejected. An SEO consultant that smiles and agrees to every request is a consultant that is trying to get your money without any intention of your goals. Once you're on the border of too good to be true, you already know...

15. Do they have realistic prices?

WhiteHat SEO services should not be under $1000(USD), with very, very few exceptions. If you're getting a gig for under $500, start wondering how they can profit, they are definitely cutting corners.

 

Here is a piece of advice before you leave, not buying SEO is better than buying a bad SEO service! 

Feel free to contact me and good luck out there!

All Images are designed by Freepik.com

 

April 7, 2015 - No Comments!

5 Must-Haves in Your ‘About Us’ Page: Simple Content Marketing

Businesses and bloggers know that the About us page is one of the most popular pages - readers are always curious to see the face behind the screen. Nobody likes reading an ultra formal page written in third person.

This is your chance to show off your sass or drop that terrible one-liner.

When was the last time you went back and revised your About us/About me page? See this page as another search engine optimized post, you should be constantly going back and optimizing it. This is your chance to tell your story and sell yourself, a crucial content marketing opportunity. I highly prefer writing in first person, unless it is a corporate site.

Write to keep your users compelled, I'm an awful writer and definitely still learning. I like to dance back and forth from technical and creative writing. Draw them in and blast them with images.

I'm reading the above text and I'm already getting bored, so here's an image to keep you interested:

about me

Something About Audience Targeting via Quicksprout

As corny as it is, see this as an opportunity to connect with your readers emotionally. I rather write about what type of socks I like than writing how amazing pushing Excel sheets are at my last job.

Without further filler here are the 5 crucial aspects you should include in your about us page:

  1. Define Yourself: Who are you, why should they care, and how are you different from everyone else?
  2. Core Message: What question are you trying to answer, what should your readers take away from reading your content?
  3. Core Mission: Why did you start your blog/company?
  4. Obstacles: What conflicts or hurdles have you encountered so far?
  5. Successes: How have you overcome the fore-mentioned obstacles? Which aspects do you see as successful?

How These 'About Us' Pages Rocked my Socks(Click to Skip to Section):

[line]

Yellow Leaf Hammocks

Told a story, and told it well. It went into extensive detail on the birth of the big idea and his journey to Thailand. The writer used great imagery that kept readers enticed wrapped the writing with great relevant stock photos. Like I mentioned earlier, everyone has a story to tell, you just have to learn to tell it well.

Yellow Leaf Hammocks

[line]

überlin

The about us page for überlin is written by humans, for humans. I dislike pages that are way too formal, especially if they are in the creative industry. Formality is great and all, but it does not sound as genuine and fluffy as this one. The photo of the dog is great too, pretty much just gives the feeling of family.

[line]

I Shot Him

This page breaks down all contemporary expectations of about us pages, and it works. I Shot Him rocks their own brand and is consistent with their theme. This is also a reminder that your about page should work with the theme of your entire site.

I shot him

That's it! Share your favorite sites with me and let's discuss it!

March 30, 2015 - 1 comment.

Readability Score and SEO – Is Simpler Better?

Readability Score in SEO

There is a well known SEO fact that is related to your readability score - that by using short sentences you make your work accessible to everybody, and Google prefers this.

You should always write for your audience. Your target audience are the people who will share your work. If you don't write with them in mind you won't earn any links to your content, and you won't get precious shares and likes on social media. Your work just won't rank. This is the foundation of content creation.

Content marketing or creation and SEO are two very basic tenements of two interlinked jobs, the bread and butter. Write for your audience, and keep it simple. On paper, SEO and content marketing are quite similar. For content creation ensuring your work has “basic readability” is considered good SEO practice. So 1 + 1 is 2, what else is new? Actually I see it as a hidden paradox.

flesch reading ease

What if your target audience isn't looking for readability, what if they're looking for something technical and specific? What if your audience is made up of rocket scientists and nuclear physicists? Rocket scientists would hate to have their resources 'dumbed' down. Google aims to be as relevant as possible therefore either Google shouldn't – and probably doesn't - always use readability as a ranking factor.

My case study explores this paradox and explores the 'fact' that “basic readability ranks better" is flawed.

Readability Score - What is it?

Google is notorious for keeping their algorithm a secret. No one really can confirm what works and what doesn't. Readability score is quite commonly seen as a factor, but what is it? Your readability score are generally dependant on the following:

  • Average number of characters per word or sentence
  • Average words per sentence
  • Average syllables per word or sentence
  • Average punctuations used per sentence or paragraph
  • Average number of sentences per paragraph

If you use WordPress and have Yoast's SEO plugin installed, there is a traffic light system rating on your onsite SEO. Yoast's plug-in uses the Flesch–Kincaid test to define the readability of your text and score the SEO of your page.

Flesch–Kincaid is basically the average number of characters in your sentences throughout your whole webpage. If Google uses a readability test it is unlikely it uses one so simple, however they are known to use LSI.
Google is known to penalise websites where the text colour is the same as the background. This means color contrast may actually be a factor in the readability score.

While it is uncertain how much of an impact the readability score has on your SEO, or even how Google scores your pages readability.

The Study

Now for the fun part. I wanted to explore whether readability was actually a ranking factor and if it is, how Google measured this. With an algorithm as advanced as Google has I found it very hard to believe that they would be dazzled by short sentences and rank people higher for dumbing down their work. What I found didn't surprise me, but does go against what is generally thought of as best practice for SEO.

I performed 1000 searches for a variety of phrases such as “[...]education materials”, “ideas for [...] games” and so on, substituting the […] for children, kids and adults.

I originally planned on continuing the study to look at teens but the result so clearly debunked this traditional practice. I started looking at more general phrases such as “learn nuclear physics” and “how to play tic tac toe”.

Here is what I concluded about the readability score and SEO*:

  • Phrases containing 'kids': 89% of the top results had “basic readability”**
  • Phrases containing 'children': 82% of the top results had basic readability, while 27% were intermediate.***
  • Phrases containing 'adult': 81% of the results had intermediate readability.

* A total of 3850 searches were queried on Google.
** The remaining 11% were exclusively search terms such as “kids gun crimes” which are less likely to be searched by kids and more likely to be searched by adults.
*** There was some overlap between basic and intermediate readability with the first results.
With the remaining search terms such as “learn nuclear physics” and “how to play tic tac toe” I confirms what the readability scores of the top results were. This study shows that Google's algorithm is advanced enough to identify, and predict the target audience of the search query.  Try it yourself, the results are surprising if you have been reading what the so-called guru's claimed to be good SEO practices.

Practical Examples

Lets go back to the example I presented earlier. You can filter your searches by the level of readability assigned to websites by Google. To test the higher readability score(easier to understand), I used the phrase “how to build a nuclear reactor” as an example.

The first results were of “intermediate readability”. This is a good confirmation of what I have been trying to present. If you trust Yoast and other SEO guru's and simplify your writing, you risk alienating your audience. Simplify for the wrong audience and you will earn no links or shares.

While Google's Algorithm is a well kept secret, advanced readability in my study was found to be a bad thing – very few websites have advanced readability and in well over 1000 searches not one first result had an “advanced readability” rating. Google seem to rank very poor grammar and spelling rather than having advanced readability but this is rare.

Having intermediate readability isn't a bad thing. Google seems to be very good at identifying an audience based on their search terms. Surprisingly some websites can have all three levels of readability – how and why I can not exactly understand but I would expect Google uses several methods to rank readability.

I will not rule out the possibility that readability isn't a ranking factor. If Google uses audience engagement as a ranking factor and you write for your audience, then it is obvious you will rank higher than somebody who targeted improperly.

Conclusion - What This Means

It is safe to assume that you are much better off writing for your audience than dumbing down your text so it ranks better. Whether this is because people don't link or share dumbed down content is unconfirmed. I wouldn't be surprised if Google – the largest data mining company on the planet is now smart enough to know how advanced the results they return should be based on the profile of the average user making the search.

Regardless of the cause – be it that people prefer and engage better with pages written to the respective level of readability or Google has a very advanced readability algorithm. The results are the same. Identify your audience and always write for them, don't write for GoogleBot, it will not help you.

Guest post by David Arnold

June 11, 2017 - No Comments!

5 Stupid Easy Ways to Real Estate Marketing

Now that you’ve gotten your real estate license, it’s time to get down to business! You go get your headshot at $75 a pop, get your tech savvy friend to design a website and good to go right? So, why are you getting any leads?

Chances are, when you received your license, so did a dozen of others in your class. Multiply that by a couple classes per semester and bam–hundreds of realtors are churned out every year.

Now don’t quote me on these alternative facts but I think you get the gist of it: the real estate market is highly competitive and it is crucial to be able to stand out.

Sure, you have your website and your Facebook page but how do you take it one step further? Try these tips to optimize your real estate marketing so you can stay on top of the competition.

Read more