What Your Webmaster Should be Telling You!

By Carl Weiss
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If you have a website, then you know your webmaster has the power of life or death over it.  You probably also know that he or she speaks in tongues, where terms like “Link Equity,” “SERPS,” and “Meta Tags,” have a meaning all their own.  In today’s blog, I will part the curtain and allow you to see what the wizard of the web is doing as they pull and tug on the strings of your website.  I will also show you what you need to know to make sure your web presence is a strong one and not just a billboard in the desert. 



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First, let's Look at the Three Types of Webmasters?

The term “Webmaster” is somewhat nebulous, since the creation, optimization and control of your website can actually take anywhere from 1 to 3 individuals. 

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#1. Web Designer – There are two flavors of web designer.  The first and best is an online marketer who understands that the look of your website needs to take a backseat to the functionality of your website.  A marketing-centric web designer starts by determining what it is you wish your site to accomplish (generate leads, generate calls, or sell directly from the site).  Then he or she will build the vehicle that is designed to generate the desired result. The will put function over form, optimization over flash and beauty to make sure the search engines can find you. 

The second type of designer is more or less a glorified graphic artist who is mostly interested in the look of the site.  This type of designer will show you graphically intense designs that are beautiful, that most often don’t generate results. They will put aesthetic before function, flash and fancy before optimization. They often leave meta tag optimization out altogether.  (If you see a lot of rotating images and morphing graphics, this indicates the use of either Java (which the search engines hate) or Flash (which the search engines hate even more than Java).

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#2. Search Engine Optimizer – It helps if your web designer understands the ins and outs of SEO.  If not, then you will be forced to hire an optimizer to help you sell your site to the search engines.  This will entail having a conversation with a person that will spout all kinds of arcane jargon in order to describe what it is they need to do to make your website search engine friendly.  (This is another reason to hire a designer that is ready, willing and able to take care of this during the design phase.)

Unless you want to bring your techno babble/English dictionary with you when you meet with your SEO pro, I suggest you find a firm that can explain in plain English what it is they are going to do for you and how often they intend on doing it.  For the most part you should only need to optimize your on-page assets once.  Anyone who tries to sell your ongoing SEO services other than link building is wasting your money.

#3. Website Hosting and Updating – There are a number of “Webmasters” that only provide hosting and updating of your website.  If this is the case you need to be cognizant of the fact that should you need to make a change to your website, you will first need to go through your web designer who will then need to motivate your webmaster to grant him or her access to make the desired change.  You may also be required to pay both of these individuals to make said change.  Obviously the best solution is to hire an individual or firm who can do all this at once instead of by committee.
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Webmasters are a throwback to a time when it required a skilled IT professional to manage the server that contained your website.  This is no longer the case since nearly all servers are now cloud based.  This makes it doubly annoying when you submit a change order to a webmaster and he or she sits on a job for days that literally takes a couple of minutes to accomplish. 

Many websites are built today using WordPress as the back end platform. This makes it possible for the average business person to change and update content on their web pages without any programming knowledge. WordPress began its life as a blogging platform and now is the dominate web platform for non html/css programmers. Google has its own blogging platform called blogger and it too can allow anyone to create professional looking web pages without the cost of hosting or programmers.

Your Second Step?

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Once your website is up and running, you next need to register it with search engines and directories.  You can either do this manually or you can hire a firm to do this for you.  Again, there are professionals who will offer to perform this time consuming service.  The devil, however, is in the details.  That the task needs to be accomplished is obvious.  If you don’t register with search engines and directories your website will never get found.  The trick is to get your site or sites registered with as many search engines and directories as possible without breaking the bank.  (Working the Web to Win offers a search engine push package that will register a site to 100 directories for $300.)

Once your site(s) registered on scads of search engines and directories the traffic will start rolling in, right?  WRONG. Even a perfectly optimized site registered on 100 high quality search engines and directories will not prove sufficient to generate significant traffic all by itself.  Why?  That’s because the game of generating search engine position has gotten a lot more complicated in the past few years.

Prior to 2005, all you needed to do to generate high ranking on the search engines was create an optimized website and register your site with the search engines.  The search engines would then send their spiders to analyze your site and determine its rank. That’s literally all there was to it. 

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Today on-page optimization (SEO) only accounts for 25% of ranking criteria, the other 75% is comprised of off-site assets, such as blogs, social networks, videos, images, podcasts and authoritative backlinks (like directory listing and B2B link exchanges).  More crucially, not only do you need to create, publish and distribute this online content, you have to do so consistently.  Simply having a Facebook or Twitter feed on your site isn’t enough.  You also need to grow and engage your followers by publishing social post that your followers are interested in.  The same is true of your blogs, videos and podcasts. 

Add to this the fact that the search engine spiders can not only read, but understand your website, blogs and social posts as well. You can see why generating ranking today is a huge undertaking.  I refer to the Internet as the elephant in the room.  Everybody knows it’s there, but nobody is prepared to talk about it, much less feed it regularly.  As search engine spiders continue to evolve, you need to understand that your success online comes down to a popularity contest.  The spiders award their favors to websites that create and engage the biggest audience.  Therefore, you need to either assign the task of feeding the elephant to several staffers, or you need to outsource the task to a company that will put a team at your disposal to get the task done.  (No single human being is capable of handling all these tasks.  It takes a team.)

Three More Factors to Consider

The other three factors you need to take into consideration if you hope to prevail are geotargeting, mobile marketing and reputation management.

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The Internet is no longer a world wide expanse of mixed global websites.  It is now not only possible, but desirable to geotarget your online assets to attract the best audience.  This is done embedding geographic information in all your online assets.  Before you go about creating or retooling a website, you first need to define who and where your best customers are located.  There is a big difference between creating a website for say a chiropractor that  normally has a client base reach of 10 miles from their office location, to a company that needs to market to a state,  regional or national scope.  Today geotargeting can be employed to narrow your scope to as little as an individual neighborhood.

The first thing you should do is register your business with Google Local and create a Google Map.  Since
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Google controls more than two thirds of all traffic in this country, the more Google friendly you become, the better your chances of success.  Even better is the fact that once created, you can embed your Google map right on your homepage.  This is another important thing to do if you hope to convert traffic into customers.  Nobody wants to search your site to find out where you are located.  Since people spend less than 2 minutes on your website, it is vital you give them everything they need to make a buying decision as quickly as possible.  Gone are the days when a web surfer would spend 10 minutes clicking around your site to check you out.  Today the next click you hear will be them going back to where they found you to check out somebody else.

This is also why it is vital that you put your best foot forward in a hurry.  This requires video. Why video? Studies show that people are four times as likely to click on a video than a text listing (paid or organic). There are also less videos listed on any search page.  If your current website is composed of a bunch of stock images, what does this tell prospects about your company?  Nothing.  If you want to entice prospects to take the next step they need to know what you are all about.  Since you only have 2 minutes or less to accomplish this task, a short intro video that shows who you are, what makes you special and why a prospect should take the next step is vital to your success.  It is also vital that the video be located prominently on your homepage, not buried below the fold. It is also a good idea to publish the video on YouTube.com. This makes it easy to embed on your site and also give you Google juice (because YouTube is owned by Google).
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Even better is a second video that shows satisfied customers singing your praises.  Like it or not, the biggest obstacle to converting clicks into cash is credibility.  Video testimonials are the ultimate credibility builder.  That and lots of reviews on Google will not only help you seal the deal, but it is a great way to create Google Juice.  When we shoot video testimonials for us or our clients, we routinely take the person being interviewed over to Google Maps to post a review as soon as the video is complete.  Once you get 10 positive reviews four red stars will also appear next to your listing which helps you separate yourself from the herd once you make it to page 1 on Google.

Mobile Friendly

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This brings us to the next of our three important factors for generating traction with Google: Making sure your website is Mobile friendly.  Several months back, Google made being “mobile-friendly” a high ranking factor, especially if the search was being conducted on a mobile device.  This means that if your website is not designed to reconfigure itself to tablets or smartphones, your chances of getting on page 1 of a mobile are nil.  Studies show that mobile searches produce 60 percent higher actionable traffic than searches done on desktop PC's. This means that a mobile search user is more ready to buy and if your not mobile friendly you lose out.  To see if your site makes the grade, simply do a search for it on any smartphone.  If the page doesn’t change shape to accommodate the mobile platform, it is definitely time you did a site makeover. You can also go to Google's test page by clicking here. Make sure your web designer is using a dynamic language such as HTML 5 or is using a platform like Blogger which is mobile friendly.  If not, you will need to redo the redo.

Don't Forget to Protect Your Reputation

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The last ranking factor all business have to content with today is Reputation Management. Today, a single bad review will nullify 9 strong, positive reviews. Or to put it differently, it takes at least 10 strong positive reviews to offset one bad review. Bad reviews actually carry more weight in two ways. Bad reviews are generally more vehement and passionate than positive reviews. Bad news generally travels faster and farther than good news. Most people who feel they have been wronged tell four times as many people about their bad experience, than happy people telling about their good or even great experience. Most review sites give bad reviews more weight because they feel some positive reviews are fake. To make matters worse, there are scam, review and complaint sites that get top billing (because they are directories).  When a person investigates your reputation in search, these review sites show up at the top of the list.. Many of these review sites even allow people to post a review anonymously. This means even your competition can besmirch your reputation without any recourse on your part.

To protect your reputation, you must actively pursue and encourage strong positive reviews of your business. In most cases, bad reviews can not be removed through negotiation or litigation. You have to bury the bad reviews with lots and lots of good reviews. Make sure you have a system in place to head off bad reviews by taking good care of unhappy customers. Also make sure you have an active, positive review solicitation system in place. This will make sure you are generating that most important 10 to 1 positive to negative review ratio we mentioned earlier.

What's the Bottom Line?

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Unless you have the means to hire an in-house online marketing team that has what it takes to create and distribute content to Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Google+ and YouTube on a continual basis, you will lose market share. You need to find a firm you can trust. Putting your marketing needs in their hands will make or break the success of your online web presence.  If not, you will find yourself at a greater disadvantage as your competitors (who are using a team approach) reap the rewards online and eat up more market share.  Because the biggest thing you need to understand online is this, “If you are not coming up on page 1 organically on the three major search engines and your competition is, your business is losing out!" Also you cannot buy an equally effective position with pay per click advertising. Pay per click is not as well trusted and much less effective at producing clicks that convert. Also, as many as 60% of Pay Per Click, clicks are produce by bots and bots don't buy anything!

In this article I have discussed six very important factors that most webmasters don't explain to their clients. Understanding these six elements will greatly improve a companies chances of achieving an organic page one position in search. Ignoring these six factors will virtually insure that your website will not be found.

If you found this article useful please share it with your friends, family and co-workers. If you would like to learn more about this subject, visit the notes page on this blog for the BlogTalkRadio show dated 7/28/15. I recommend checking out "Is SEO Still Important Today or in the Future?", "How to Avoid Being Caught in an SEO Phishing Net", "Are You Prepared for Mobilgeddon?"  or "Your Online Reputation Can Either Make You or Break You".  You can also search for other related articles by typing in “SEO or Internet Marketing” in the search box top of this blog.

If you'd like a free copy of our eBook, "Internet Marketing Tips for the 21st Century," please fill in the form below and we will give you immediate access to it. Your information is always kept private and is never sold.


Carl Weiss is president of Working the Web to Win, an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can listen to Carl live every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio.

4 comments:

  1. The competition is fierce and it seems to be more difficult to get a page ranked at all. Good info!

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  2. Great post! The information on how to use video to get to the top in search results was particularly interesting.

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  3. Carl and Hector at WWW are always good for providing detailed information from the insider's perspective - they don't just gloss over topics.

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  4. Lots of great information! But quick side note: trained and talented graphic designers (who know their stuff) will make a site both functional and beautiful. They don't just focus on aesthetics. Function should dictate form, but that doesn't make the form any less important.

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