Category: Websites

Website Audits [Powerful SEO Series: Article 1]

This is the first entry in our 8 Steps to Powerful Search Engine Optimization series.

Is your website kinda … bleh? Don’t be embarrassed, it’s a common problem for many companies. If you’re basing it only on looks, you’d be surprised how many beautiful websites have terrible Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

As a business owner, it’s not your job to know how to build a solid website. But you should embrace the value of working with a digital marketing company that knows its stuff and can help you.

Most of the time, marketing companies will start the process with an SEO audit. This will reveal what’s good about your website and what’s broken, which will make it easier to create custom solutions.

We can’t speak on any other company’s behalf, but our digital marketing team uses these four tools when creating an SEO audit:

These programs spit out a lot of data, which we analyze to build a well-defined strategy and road map. Once that part’s done, we gather it into two lovely documents for the client to review.

Each client receives a local SEO audit and a technical SEO audit. Here’s some more info on those…

The Big Cheese — Local SEO Audit

To kick things off, the local SEO audit report presents seven categories and a rating for each one, as demonstrated in this helpful visual example:

Picture of a chart from an SEO audit.

From this point on, the report goes into a deep dive for each category. Remember, all of these categories work together to determine SEO.

Links & Website Authority

This section compares the client to their competitors in these areas:

  • Google Index Count: Total number of pages a website has indexed on Google.
  • Link Count: Number of links a client has pointing to their website from other websites.
  • Linking Domains: Number of domains those links are coming from.
  • Majestic C-Flow: Citation accuracy.
  • Domain Authority: A measuring tool created by MOZ that predicts the probability of a website ranking. 
  • Website Age: The number of years a website has been active. 

Search Engine Rankings

We gather a list of keywords the client wants to rank for and check their status before we make any updates. The report displays the list of keywords, along with the client’s ranking for Google, Google Mobile, Google Maps, Bing, Bing Local, and more.

Picture of a keyword chart from an SEO audit report.

Local Business Listings

Listings are super important for local businesses. The more your Name, Address and Phone (NAP) information is listed across the web consistently, the better your web presence will be. While citation accuracy is no longer a ranking factor, it’s still important.

Listings can include:

  • BBB.com (Better Business Bureau)
  • DexKnows
  • Facebook
  • Apple Maps
  • Bing
  • MapQuest
  • Google
  • Yellow Book
  • Citysearch
  • Yelp
  • Local.com
  • And more

Our audit shows our clients how many listings are available, how many are claimed, and how many errors those listings have and more.

Picture of a local listings chart from an SEO audit report.

Ratings & Reviews

Amazon, Yelp, and other websites have made ratings and reviews a mandatory part of the shopping experience. When customers are researching products and services, quality ratings and good reviews help steer their business.

We review the following websites and calculate how many reviews and ratings our clients have for each channel:

  • Google
  • Bing
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • Foursquare
  • Yellow Pages

With small businesses, it’s very common to have very few ratings and reviews. That’s okay! There are white-hat ways to get them, like customer outreach campaigns and more.

Google My Business (GMB)

Your GMB needs to be set up correctly to help you rank for local searches. For example, “near me” is a common search now. Donuts near me. Mechanics near me. We could keep going, but you get the point.

The more relevant information you add to your GMB listing, the more likely you’ll be to show up in those “near me” searches. That’s why we include it as part of any website optimization.

GMB optimization can include:

  • Profile set up and verification
  • Choosing the appropriate top category for your business
  • Uploading photos and posts
  • Responding to reviews and ratings
  • Updating and implementing categories, products and services
  • Adding contact information, hours of operation, links to the website, and more

On-Site SEO

To simplify it, this means we analyze everyone on your web pages (including things that aren’t visible to users). When it comes to SEO, there’s isn’t just one thing that pulls all the weight — but all of the little elements add up!

Our on-site SEO audits examine the following aspects of web pages:

  • Technical (Page load speeds, robots.txt, XML sitemaps, errors, links, and SSL)
  • Content (Meta titles and descriptions, image alt tags, header tags, schema markup, keywords, and more)
  • Mobile-friendliness (Responsiveness, load speeds, rendering, and more)

Social Media Channels

How popular are you? That’s what this portion of the audit finds out! Well, at least in the social media realm. We take a look at our clients’ social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and review things like:

  • How well they’re set up (Accurate contact information, company overviews, images, etc.)
  • Followers count
  • Engagement on posts
  • What kind of website traffic they get from social channels
  • And more

Feelin’ Nerdy? You’re Gonna Love a Technical SEO Audit

Some business owners like to keep things at a general overview, but some really like getting into the nitty-gritty when it comes to data.

If you’re the latter, you’ll love a technical SEO audit. Here are a few things we examine:

Website URLs — Our crawler identifies how many of the website URLs were:

  • Successful
  • Not Found 
  • Redirected
  • Disallowed
  • Timed-out
  • Forbidden
  • Errors

Picture of a URL chart from an SEO audit report.

Content Types — This section points out how the website content is divided by:

  • CSS
  • HTML
  • Image
  • Javascript
  • PDF
  • SVG

Picture of a website content chart from an SEO audit report.

But this is only a small look into how a technical audit works. There are plenty more areas that get examined, and our developer and team make sure to take a deep dive into each website.

The bottom line? It’s imperative that you have a technically sound site. Just like a house, a website with cracks in the foundation will be at a greater risk of future problems.

The dilemma with technical issues is they’re often invisible unless you’re looking for errors manually or with a technical audit tool. For this reason, it’s important to work with a marketing team you can trust.

We Can Help You

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

Level-Up Your Digital Marketing

A Timeless Marketing Strategy For Any Year

2020 is almost here! Can you feel it? There’s so much awesome new s#!t happening this coming year. Once the new year begins, your website will instantly fall off the face of Google searches without making these five digital marketing adjustments…

Yeah, we got nothin’. We can’t predict the future and neither can anyone else. Trends come and go in digital marketing and nobody knows exactly which strategies will take off or sink. We do our best to keep up to date with emerging tech and new tactics, but there’s never one magic cure for all marketing woes.

Each company is different and requires unique marketing for its industry and audience. One social media method might do wonders for one business and fall flat for another. One brand might see their website visits and retention skyrocket by adding videos to their content, while others might see little-to-no change.

Trying new things and testing out multiple campaigns is a great way to help improve your brand. However, the primary focus of a website should always be to deliver quality content. When you’re creating web pages, make sure:

  • There’s a clear goal.
  • You know your audience.
  • Your tone is transparent and authentic.
  • The content flows without coming off as a jargon-filled sales pitch.

Clear Goal

What do you want your web page to do? If the goal is to get leads, the content should point to a form, click-to-call phone number/button, or another type of conversion action.

If the goal is to be informational, then load it up with useful, relevant content that’s helpful to your customers.

Know Your Audience

What are your customers interested in? Where are they spending their time online? What digital channels do they use the most? Do they favor mobile or desktop when they visit your website?

These are only a few of many questions to consider when creating content. Knowing your audience is a major step to engaging them and making meaningful connections.

Transparency & Authenticity

Like momma used to say, “Be yourself!”

If your brand is humorous, then be funny and entertaining. If you’re traditional and straightforward, then own it and rock it!

No matter what your brand identity is, it’s always best to be true to yourself and honest with your customers. The more open you are, the more people will trust you.

Content Flow

We hammer this point a lot in our blogs because it’s really important. Keyword stuffing is a useless tactic that looks spammy. Seriously, people are savvy enough to realize when they’re reading a sales pitch and it can be very off-putting.

Keyword research, on the other hand, is valuable for writing good content. Think outside the box and find long-tail keywords that could attract people who are more likely to buy your products or services. Once you have a solid list, weave in the keywords strategically so they flow logically within the content.

Marketing In 2020 And Beyond

Never be afraid to look into new marketing techniques if you think they could help you. But it’s a good idea to avoid chasing the dragon.

There is always a new “next big thing” and it’s unnecessary to keep up with all of them. Focus on creating quality, evergreen content first and add shiny new toys as they fit into your budget and resources. 

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

Learn About Our Digital Marketing Services

What The Google BERT Update Means For Your SEO Strategy

Google recently introduced BERT.

Sorry, not you, Bert. We’re talking about a pretty big algorithm update called “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers”. This article does a great job of giving the details on how this update works. Basically, this update impacts SEO by shifting the focus of search results.

Before the BERT update, the search results would be based on the primary keywords. Now, search results are given based on the entire sentence entered in order to give results more accurate to the user’s search goal. Learn more about this here.

Should I Update My SEO To Accommodate The BERT Update? 

That depends. Have you seen a large drop in your analytics in the last couple of weeks? If so, you might need to make updates. Come to think of it, it might be a good idea to refresh your content anyway. The main goal of website content shouldn’t be to fit into Google’s algorithm puzzle. Your SEO objective should be to help your customers and potential customers. Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to writing web content:

Research Is Mandatory

You can’t guess what the best keywords are for your industry. You need to choose your keywords based on actual monthly search volume trends. You also need to research long-tail terms that will help you focus on answering relevant customer questions.

Keyword Stuffing Is Pointless

Search engines are smart enough to know when you’re trying to game the system. If you have paragraphs saturated with keywords with the goal of tricking search engines, you’re going to fail. Keyword stuffing hasn’t worked in a long time, so don’t even bother trying it. 

Context & Accuracy Are Everything

People aren’t searching for your products and services, they’re searching for answers. If you’re not offering answers (or if your answers aren’t good), then your website won’t take priority in search results. After you’ve done keyword research, make sure you’re using terms in content that’s relevant to what people search for.

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

Email Us For A Free Consultation

Will Google Chrome Block My HTTP Website? Addressing Google’s Mixed Content Announcement

Marketers love to freak out every time Google makes a change.

“OMG! ALGORITHM UPDATES! ALL WEBSITES ARE DOOMED!”

Yeah, we’re a sensitive bunch and change is scary. So, naturally, some questions arose when Google recently published an announcement called “No More Mixed Messages About HTTPS”.

This article might make you think that only HTTPS websites will be allowed on Google Chrome and HTTP websites will be blocked. This isn’t the case! Here’s what’s really happening.

Blocking Unsecure Content, Not Web Pages

Our developer Paul (or P-Money, as we like to call him) helped us out on this one. Google is blocking content with a URL that isn’t HTTPS. We’ll use Paul’s example for a blog post on the Creative Graphics website:

The URL for the post would be something like:

/blog/test-post

However, within this post, we add an image that has an HTTP in the URL.

In this scenario, the blog post would still work, but Google Chrome wouldn’t show the image we used because we used an image with an HTTP URL instead of HTTPS.

Now if a website isn’t secure and still uses HTTP, then it’ll still show non-secure images.

What About Unsecured URLs In Hyperlinks?

This initiative will NOT affect links. We’ll use the blog post example above. If we link to a page that had a URL of “http://www.cgpl.com”, that link would still work even if our website is an HTTPS domain.

<a href=”http://cgpl.com”>This link that would still work on an HTTPS website.</a>

Alright, So What Content Should We Worry About?

If your website is using a secured certificate (HTTPS), these are the content items you need to update to ensure they’re also using HTTPS and not HTTP:

  • Images
  • Scripts
  • Stylesheets
  • iFrames
  • Videos
  • Anything else you can embed in a page that has a URL. BUT NOT LINKS!!!!

If your website is currently using an HTTP domain instead of HTTPS, you shouldn’t worry about your website being blocked in Google Chrome. However, security takes a high priority with customers these days, so you should consider adopting HTTPS regardless. If you’d like to have a secure website, our web development team would love to help you!

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

Email Us For A Free Consultation

Our Top 5 SEO Tips for Business Owners

What Is SEO?

Google search results aren’t random, and—aside from paid ads—they don’t go to the highest bidder. Search results are ranked based on elements of your website.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of adjusting these parts of your website to make you show up on Google when customers search for a product like yours.

SEO is important because even if you aren’t adjusting your site for it, your competitors likely are. And if your competition is showing up higher in search results, your customers may never find you.

Here are some SEO tips to help you keep up in Google and Bing rankings.

1. Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly

A mobile-friendly site means that it automatically adjusts pictures and text sizes to be readable on smartphones and tablets. In 2015, Google began ranking mobile-friendly sites higher, yet many small businesses today still haven’t redesigned their websites to take advantage of this.

In addition, users are five times more likely to leave a website if it isn’t mobile friendly. This, paired with Google favoring mobile-friendly sites, can result in your businesses losing customers if you aren’t prepared.

2. Avoid Keyword Stuffing

Google works based on looking at words on your website and listing your site for users searching for a specific term or phrase. For example, if you’re a bakery in Shakopee and you want to be listed for users who Google “Shakopee bakery,” you would use that phrase in your headlines and text.

shakopee bakery google search results seo serp

A long time ago, you could repeatedly use a word you were trying to rank for on a webpage to get a higher ranking on Google. (Think: “Our Shakopee bakery is the best bakery in Shakopee if you need a Shakopee bakery.”). Some pages would have the same word repeated hundreds of times just to get the top spot on Google.

Today, Google punishes sites that overuse keywords by giving them a lower ranking. So fair warning: if you’re placing your keywords between every other word, you may want to make friends with the delete key.

3. Use Your Meta Descriptions To Answer Searches

Meta tags are the short descriptions on Google results that explain the webpage that it links to. You can usually adjust this on the backend of your website. Some apps—like the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress—make it very simple.

When you write this short description, a good way to get clicks is to answer the question that the user is typing in the search bar. If they search “Is the moon made of cheese?”, you could have a description that says, “The moon is not made of cheese. Here’s why.”

4. Use Alt Tags On Your Images

Alt tags are the descriptions of images on your website, hidden to the viewer but detectable by Google. Search engines like Google will “read” the image descriptions and rank your site based on those descriptions.

If you haven’t yet, fill out those alt tags on the backend of your website. Use keywords when appropriate, but don’t over do it (see keyword stuffing above).

5. Start Using More Long-Tailed Keywords

google home long tailed keywords google seo search results serp

This is one of the newest SEO techniques. As virtual assistants like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa find more kitchen counters to sit on, users will start asking longer, fully structured questions.

This is because longer questions are easier to ask out loud than to type, and these devices are getting more accurate at understanding complete sentences. (A typed search may read “bakeries in Shakopee” while a spoken search would be “What are some of the best bakeries in Shakopee?”)

So when someone asks Google Home, Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortona or Apple’s Siri a lengthy question, like, “If the moon were cheese, how many could it feed?”, you can have a page or post with that exact phrase as a focus keyphrase.

Get Better Search Engine Rankings

Every business should have its website optimized for search engines. If you have time and access to the backend of your site, use these tips to bump up your site in search engine rankings.

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

Email Us For A Free Consultation

6 Keys To Creating A Stellar Website

Web development is a pain. A royal pain. That’s right, website development is the King of Pain in the Land of Marketing. Sorry, I didn’t mean to be such a drama queen…

Website problems can be so frustrating to small businesses, especially when many don’t have developers on staff. For companies that don’t have websites at all, the design and creation is overbearing.

Don’t fret! We have a handy-dandy checklist for you. Here are six steps to building a stellar website for your brand.

1) Graphic design & technical development

First thing’s first, how do you want your website to look? The design should be easy on the eyes and the layout should be easy to navigate.

Graphic design has so many discussion points that it really deserves its own blog … oh wait, looky here! Beyond a graphic designer, you’ll also need to enlist the help of a wiz developer to code the website.

A lot can go wrong with coding and it only takes one tiny mistake to throw a big wrench in the machinery. Hire a person with plenty of experience and a great portfolio to build your website.

2) Platform & website hosting

This step is important. Super important. To give you an overview you deserve, we brought in our Digital Marketing Manager, Susan Staupe:

“Platforms are the technical foundation of your website. Choosing the right platform can determine whether you can make website changes on your own, or if you’re totally dependent on a developer each time.

“Developer costs add up, so finding a user-friendly CMS platform that fosters independence is critical. We choose WordPress because it’s easy to make many changes without the help of a technical person or developer.

“Since Google has come out with mobile-first indexing, site speed and load time are more important than ever because your mobile pages are getting indexed before your desktop.

“When it comes to website hosting, picking the right company can determine your load time, site speed and mobile-friendly experiences.

“We recently worked tirelessly on creating a brand new website and launched with a well known hosting company. The website was so slow it wouldn’t even load the home page.

“Due diligence should be taken to find out how many other sites are on the server you are sharing. We love SiteGround because they limit the number of websites that are hosted per server (increases load times and site speed) and they have great customer service.”

3) Content writing

Web copy needs to be casual enough to welcome anyone to your website, yet deliberate enough to guide them towards conversions or other goals.

In other words, don’t be a high-pressure salesperson, but naturally guide people in the right direction. Here are some tips for creating natural-sounding marketing writing.

4) Search engine optimization (SEO)

You wanna show up on the first page of Google search results? SEO helps you get there. This strategy is necessary, and there’s a lot to love about it.

Keyword research can help you optimize your web pages to rank higher in search engines. There are also technical aspects of SEO like meta information, alt tags, site speed and a whole heck-of-a-lot more.

5) Website performance analytics

Goals can’t be set until you have metrics. Adding simple code for Google Analytics, Search Console and Tag Manager can give you the numbers to help make actionable decisions.

6) Ongoing maintenance & revisions

Websites don’t abide by the “set it and forget it” mindset. You need to make sure you’re updating your plugins every month, performing website backups and consistently tweaking and improving the content and user experience.

About Us

CG Marketing Group is a talented team of creatives and strategists who can make your business awesome. We like to have fun, but we’re very serious about digital marketing.

To sum us up in a single word — Scrappy. We’re always eager to branch out and apply new tactics to create successful campaigns. Our crew works hard to bring value, get results, and keep our clients happy.

Email Us For A Free Consultation

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