As a Columbus website design company, we keep on top of SEO techniques by subscribing to blogs written by people much smarter than us. That's how we stay on top of SEO success stories.
The amount of information out there is overwhelming, and most of it really good. We read through multiple blog posts every week and summarize the best of what we've learned right here on our own blogs.
Here's a brief overview of other things we've learned this week...
We went from page 2 to page 1 by posting good content more often.
Every industry is different, so the amount of effort you have to invest to get your website on page 1, is probably different than what we have to do to get our site there. How much do you have to do? Depends.
If the competitors in your industry aren’t doing much in the way of SEO, then you have an easier path to travel than we do. If that’s the case, and your industry isn’t as competitive as ours, congratulations on that. You should make the most out of those “weaknesses” of your competitors and start now to get ahead of them. Make that your New Years' resolution!
In our world, you'd think web designers are supposed to know about SEO. However, not all of them do. How do you find the ones that do? Simple: Just Google "Columbus website design” and see who shows up on page 1. They’re the ones who know what they’re doing. So it’s actually easier than you think to find the top ten Columbus web design firms.
Why there’s more to blogging than you probably think.
We decided to take blogging more seriously by blogging 1,000+ word articles, and blogging at least once a week, twice a week on occasion. It takes a big investment of time, but it worked.
Four things happened between October 15th and December 15th:
- The metrics that measure interaction went up almost 45%, This meaning 45% more people saw our website from November 15th to December 15th (the 2nd screen shot below) than the month before: October 15th - November 15th (the 1st screen shot below).
- Our “bounce rate” went down from 48% to 40%. And as you’ll see further in this post, that is well within the range for a well-maintained website’s bounce rate.
- We moved from page 2 to page 1 in Google searches for our two main keyword phrases, and
- Most importantly, we received more calls from our website.
While this is an early test, we checked our analytics to confirm our experiment. When we weren't blogging regularly, we weren’t showing up on page 1. We were on page 2 (which is as good as being on page 10).
Here is our Google Analytics measuring the 30-day period between October 15th and November 15th, before we started blogging once to twice a week.
This is our Google Analytics for the 30-day period between November 15th and December 15th, AFTER we started blogging once to twice a week. About a 45% increase in key indicators that show we’re getting results.
In just one month!
And what is the BEST indicator? That we’re now on page 1 for one of our main keywords. (See screen shot below.)
It surprised us how quickly it happened!
However, if you want to see where your company stands in Google's search results, you shouldn’t search from your computer. Unless you:
- check by searching your keywords in Chrome’s browser in the “Incognito mode,” or
- check by using this website: "Where Do I Rank on Google?"
Since you’ve no doubt been to your website often, your browser thinks you like that site, so will rank your website artificially high in your specific search results. However, someone who have NEVER been to your website will not see your website ranked as highly as you are. There’s a couple of other significant reasons, so to read see why searching for your own website from your own computer isn’t the best indicator of where you rank, read this blog.
Google's artificial intelligence is getting smarter.
And that's why your website needs to get smarter as well. One of Google's major updates (Panda) attempted to fix a problem plaguing the internet: too many websites were trying to cheat Google's algorithms by focusing on certain keywords, and showing up high, but not delivering good information.
How did they do that? By spending more effort on getting backlinks and writing keyword-focused articles than creating articles that were actually helpful and relevant to their audience. How did Google know those high-ranking search results weren't helpful? Because people clicked the links Google served up, went to the website, and left that website from the same page they came into the website. (Rule #1: Google knows everything.)
Google knew if we couldn’t find what we wanted through thier search engine, people would use another search engine. And evidently, people weren’t finding exactly what they wanted from Google search results, so Google went about fixing the problem. That's why they developed the Panda update.
If ranking for keywords isn’t the answer, what is?
Glad you asked. Simply put, what is critical, is the experience your visitors have with your website. How does Google know what your visitor’s experiences are? (Remember Rule #1: Google knows everything!) They know by...
How does Google know what happens on your website? They know by:
1. Time spent on your website by visitors
This is called “Time on page” in Google Analytics. How much time do people spend on your website? Do you know? (You can find out by checking your Google Analytics.)
Obviously, the more time someone spends on your site, the more relevant the content on your website must be (in Google’s eyes). And it makes sense: we spend more time with something we find valuable.
By offering expert insights on your website, it gives your prospects good information, and positions you as an expert in your industry.
If someone spends 4 minutes on 1 page, that’s good, right? Maybe not.
We wondered what if someone landed on our blog post, and spent 4 minutes reading the post, then closed their browser window? Does Google give us “credit” for a 4-minute visit? (Which is great when the average website visit is 3 minutes!)
Unfortunately, by someone coming in, then leaving our website from the same page, Google DOESN’T give us “credit” for that 4-minute visit.
An article by a company called "mavenec" details how Google’s "timestamps" work. It explains that your visitor has to have some OTHER interaction on your site for Google to know your visitor didn't go to the bathroom for 3 1/2 of those 4 minutes.
Every action on your website carries a timestamp. When someone lands on your page, the timestamp starts at 0:00. If they click another link on your site, the first page’s timestamp stops, and the 2nd page’s timestamp starts. But if they just close the browser window after 1 minute on the 2nd page, the timestamp shows 0:00 on the 2nd page, because you visitor didn’t click a link on the 2nd page.
So a 2-minute visit ends up counting as a 1-minute visit. That's because Google only counts the visit from the first page they were on becuase they clicked a link on the first page (to get to the 2nd page).
Here’s how it affects us: if you land on this blog post, the time stamp starts at 0:00. At some point in the blog, if we can encourage you click a link, say to email us, go to an infographic, or to another page in our website, the time stamp would show that, say, at 90 seconds, you clicked a link. That shows Google’s algorithms that you were on the page for a 1 minute and a half. Plus, that wouldn’t count as a bounce since you went to another page in our website.
If you came into our website, and left our website, from the same page, that counts as a bounce.
2. Bounce Rates: when someone comes in, then leaves on the same page.
Bounce rates measure how quickly someone leaves your website from the same page they came into your website. Bounce rates are a metric search engine use to determine whether people find your site relevant.
What is an average bounce rate? 50%. Sounds like a lot, but:
- No website has a 0% bounce rate, or even a 20% bounce rate
- The average website "bounce rate" is 45% - 50%, and
- If your bounce rate is more than 66%, you should look to make changes
We’ve read a blog by RocketFuel.com who did their own test on bounce rates, so they had good information to make their observations.
Over of 1-year period, they researched Google Analytics from 60 websites. Some might say 60 websites is a small number of sites to study, however RocktFuel selected sites with 1,000,000 monthly visitors, to some with a few thousand monthly visitors.
What they found, was websites' bounce rates were between 26% and 70%, with 45% being the average bounce rate.
Conclusions of their study found that bounce rates of:
- 26% to 40% is excellent,
- 41% to 55% is average, and
- 56% to 70% higher than average
3. Number of pages a visitor sees.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, and below is a screen shot from our analytics showing the most popular pages. Since we don’t run Google AdWords that link people to one of our inside pages, most of our traffic comes in on the homepage.
That's probably because that’s the page we update most often with blog posts.
However, if you post social media links that take visitors right to specific pages on your site that focus on your main products or services, those have to be some of your most informational pages.
To see how you can get the most out of your most visited pages check out DIYThemes' post on How to Find Your Most Valuable Pages and What to Do With Them.
If your website isn’t ranking as high as you would like, it’s time to re-visit what’s working, and what isn’t. And it;s worth getting it right, because when you get phone calls from your website, it makes your sales efforts, just slightly less effortless.
Contact us and let us know if you'd like to talk about how we might be able to help get your website to rank higher.