How to run your own website audit and why it’s important

So you have a beautiful website you love, but you’re not getting any traffic. It is time for a website audit.

I was recently a guest on Mike Wood’s Marketing Impact Podcast discussing this very subject. So, if you don’t feel like reading this post, no worries, just listen to our chat here.

What the heck is a site audit?

I know, it sounds like a bunch of technical jargon that as a business owner might not make sense to you. And you are half right. But some of the tools I am going to recommend to you do a great job at breaking the data down into simple easy to understand info. At the end of the day, It’s important to have a clear picture of your web presence. We all turn to the internet when we are looking fro a product or service nowadays, which is why it is so important to step up your game when it comes to online marketing.

My Favorite Website Audit Tools

There are dozens of free or low cost tools you can use to run a site audit. I like WooRank, SEM Rush is also a favorite and & Moz.com.

Woo Rank has a free tool that pairs with Google Chrome and you can crawl each page in your site to see all of the SEO errors by page. Woo Rank does a really great job of using simple terms and giving specific instruction on how to improve your ranking. So if you are ready to tackle DIY SEO, this is a great place to start.

woo rank plug in

SEM Rush allows you to look into the traffic patterns and set up of your competitors sites in a really cool way. It also allows you to filter only organic traffic, only paid ads traffic etc. I would say SEM Rush is a little more advanced, but you can get some great insight there if you have some experience with SEO or reading website statistics.

Last but not least, Moz.com. I love Moz for a few reasons.They are so much more than a site audit tool so again a little more advanced, but a great tool. Although Moz Pro will do a great job at taking a look at your website and giving you an accurate picture of how your website looks to search engines. Moz Local, as I mentioned in a previous post is an amazing tool for local SEO. This one also has a toolbar app that shows you your domain authority ranking. Moz Pro is a little more on the expensive side for businesses at $99 per month but you can set it and forget it. You can schedule monthly or weekly audits to come right to your inbox.

Just because the three site audit tools are my favorite, doesn’t mean there are not better ones out there that might work better for you. Once you have chosen the tool you would like to use, here are some things to look for:

  • Crawl Errors
  • Duplicate Content
  • missing alt tags
  • text to HTML ratio
  • H tags
  • Meta titles & descriptions
  • Keyword ranking
  • I recommend you run your own site audit at least twice a year. The less errors you have in your website the easier it is for Google to crawl.Even if you have an SEO company you work with, check the stats from time to time on your own, it never hurts to see unbiased data and to keep your vendors working hard for you. Last, if you have website audit tools you love, leave them in the comments, I would love to hear about them! Happy Marketing!

    Non-technical ways SMB’s can boost visibility online

    Simple SEO tips for any business owner

    Looking for ways to boost your online visibility without hiring an expensive SEO firm? Don’t get me wrong there is a point where your business will need to hire someone like me to take over the SEO work needed to boost your websites visibility but if that is just not in the cards, here are a few DIY SEO tips.

    Social Media / Directory Listings

    Sometimes setting up social profiles is half the battle which is why all too often I see business owners only connected to one or two social sites. I promise you it is worth it to set up all of them, not only for SEO but for your online brand. Fast forward 5 years from now, you want to set up Pinterest for your Dental office and someone has the URL you want. Do it now, keep the content consistent, meaning same local phone number, same URL endings, same address etc.

    Set up:
    If you are on a tight budget, hire a high school student who can wiz through setting up all of the profiles you need, have them keep track of all of the username and passwords they set up

    Next step: Complete set-up with (the reputable) directories for SEO
    I love Moz Local for this. It’s $89 per year. They pull content from your Google business page and Facebook page and submit it to the “Good” directories (like Angie’s List, BBB, Super Pages Judy’s Book, Yelp Etc.) which is huge for local SEO.

    You have just invested less than $200 for some really powerful links back to your site.

    Public Relations

    I don’t want to offend any of my PR colleagues out there by pretending I am a PR expert. But I have learned enough over the years from some of the best to put a “PR lite program” together for my clients. PR is the new link building in my opinion. 5 years ago link building consisted of SEO’ spamming the internet with fake directories, fake websites and fake links to get your website to the first page of Google. Google said, no thanks and penalized all of those black hat techniques. Some SEO influencers and speakers are even saying we should lose the term link building altogether.

    What it comes down to is relationships. Every local radio station and TV station lists the reporter email addresses on their websites. Twitter is also a great place to connect with reporters. Spend some time researching do’s and dont’s of PR before you start reaching out but if you can make some good connections and eventually be featured, the link back to your site from the online version is powerful! Not to mention the great exposure. We don’t often think of PR as an SEO strategy but it is one of the strongest!

    To hear the audio version of this post tune into my podcast interview with Legal Mornings HERE.

    Why I can’t offer Shopify websites. Yet.

    Why I cant offer Shopify Websites Yet

    I develop and design websites. I love doing it and I cringe a little, okay a lot, when I see issues in these DIY platforms that are not beneficial to the goal of being found easily online. Before I tell you why I can’t offer Shopify websites to my clients let me tell you what I like about Shopify. For those of you who are not familiar with Shopify, it is primarily an e-commerce website platform with over 100 free themes to choose from.

    My experience with Shopify

    I have had the opportunity to work with several entrepreneurs who wanted to increase their online presence but didn’t exactly know what they needed to do in order to get there. Although I typically work in WordPress, I have had many clients using and loving Shopify so I invested the time in learning the platform so that I could provide SEO support for my clients.

    What I like about Shopify

    From an SEO perspective, they have some easy back-end directives that allow users to plug-in title tags and meta descriptions. If you are not familiar with those terms, it is the data you plug-in to each page on your site that makes up the text that Google uses in your organic listings. Shopify also allows users to add Heading tags. Alt tags for images, categories and post tags. I appreciate that the opportunities to increase online visibility are well-marked and easy to access. I also really like the look of Shopify sites. There is not one that I have come across that wasn’t beautiful and easy to navigate. So from a user experience perspective, Shopify has done a great job with template design.

    The not so great qualities of the Shopify platform

    Alright, here it goes,I am going to get some flack for this post, I just know it. I know a lot of Shopify lovers and they are very loyal. If you simply Google Shopify you will see nothing but five-star reviews. So, it is very possible that I am in the minority here. Although I love wordpress, that’s not to say that I am not open to learning and working with other platforms. I have worked on squarespace sites and Wix, and I’m excited to see what Sound Cloud is all about. But the truth is, I really want to like Shopify. If it were not for one giant issue, they would have my endorsement.

    SSL Certificate

    About six months ago, I had a meeting with a client who has a Shopify site. We met at her office and I walked her through a bunch of missed opportunities for organic visibility. We moved some things around in her menu, added some social icons. We ended up deciding that she would work on content on her computer and I would work on the operational tasks on my laptop. So I go to search for her website, and I find this:

    Shopify website errors

    I was so confused. So, I tried typing in her URL directly. That time it took me right to her site. My meeting ended shortly after that and we agreed to follow-up with Shopify to see if there were some sort of issue. Shortly after that, my client got an email from someone looking for her website and they came across the same problem. So I called Shopify and they told me that the problem is that they do not offer SSL certificates for the whole site, only the shopping cart, furthermore that my client didn’t need security on the whole site and it was not a big deal. He also said Shopify offers whole site security to their large clients but not for the majority of the users, but that it was something he thought would be in the pipeline for everyone at some point. The gentleman I spoke with was very nice and provided a clear explanation but I really could not believe what he was saying to me.

    How could an e-commerce brand like Shopify with over 100,000 users not have a complete SSL Certificate program for their customers whose business depends on site security? From a marketing perspective, my Shopify clients are potentially losing business because of this. If someone goes to your site and sees a huge error, saying that this site is not secure, would you proceed and put in your credit card? I wouldn’t.

    Again, maybe I am in the minority, but this bugs me and until it is fixed, I will not be able to endorse Shopify as a small business solution. I hope that the correction is coming down the line sooner than later so I can take it all back. To be continued….

    5 Reasons You Need to Try Facebook Ads in 2016

    Hi All!

    99 percent of the time I am a total extrovert. I have always loved working in busy office environments where I had friends to bounce ideas off of. Since moving into my home office, I find myself making and effort to meet new friends digitally. It’s so fun to meet people who speak your language and love the same things you do! I had the pleasure of meeting Software Entrepreneur, Josh MacDonald recently. Josh MacDonald is a young entrepreneur who had sold thousands of licenses of marketing software to agencies around the world before ever graduating high school. He graciously agreed to talk with me about the benefits of Facebook Ads. The conversation began when Josh was doing research for his blog on alternatives to investing in search engine marketing (SEM).After a few emails, we decided it would be great if we could write guest posts on each others blogs about these topics.

    Josh MacDonaldJosh posed a great question, “What types of things can small businesses do if they are not getting great results from SEM?” We both agreed that Facebook ads were a prime opportunity for most small business to spend less yet still have a very targeted reach. I’m super excited to have connected with Josh and the many other amazing digital marketers that I have been able to connect with since starting Edvalson Marketing. I hope you all find as much value and insight out of this post as I did.

    Check out Josh’s top five reason you need to try Facebook ads in 2016!

    Facebook advertising has long been a great choice for businesses looking to reach a highly targeted audience while closely controlling their budgets and ad spend. Facebook has long been one of the best PPC platforms, with only Google Ads offering any real competition and thanks to features like CPA advertising, it has only gone from strength to strength.

    And in 2016, it looks like this trend is set to continue. In fact, there are a number of reasons that Facebook advertising is going to be more important than ever next year, so if you haven’t already given it a try, now may be a good time.

    Here are just five compelling reasons to get started…

    Organic Reach Has been Capped

    Facebook has recently capped the organic reach of Facebook pages at 12%. If you have spent ages building up a huge audience for your Facebook page, then that audience is largely going to go to waste unless you consider paying for promoted posts (and many people are saying the reach seems even lower than 12%). Facebook tell us that this move was to prevent news feeds from being too cluttered. Most marketers suspect it was to drive more business to their ad platform. Either way, it’s now the only way to reach the majority of your followers.

    Facebook Ads Increase Customer Retention Rates Rather Than media Buys

    Compared with other forms of advertising, Facebook ads increase customer retention. That’s because they let you target your audience so precisely, making sure that you’re reaching the right people. At the same time, Facebook ads increase page likes which in turn means you can keep in touch with your audience as it grows.

    AdBlock Doesn’t Work Against Facebook Ads

    These days, more and more people have been using third-party software like AdBlock to remove the adverts from their browsing experience. This means that your AdWords adverts might stop being visible for a large savvy portion of your audience and things just got a lot worse as users can now block ads on their iPhones too. Luckily, ad blockers don’t work against Facebook Ads, so this remains one of the only means through which you can reach anyone with your advertising campaign.

    Informational Advertising is the Future

    The face of advertising is changing and the pace of this evolution is constantly increasing. Just placing ads doesn’t cut it anymore; instead brands need to focus on building relationships with their users and opening a dialogue. Facebook lets you do this and provides you with tons of qualitative and quantitative information to do it with.

    Facebook Recently Updated Their Support Inbox System

    Facebook have just improved their inbox system, making it easier than ever to reach the company for support and help. This also suggests that Facebook are interested in investing even more into their customer service in 2016, which can only be good news for companies that will be working with them next year.

    If you want to connect with Josh you can find him on TWITTER and or course FACEBOOK. Happy connecting everyone!

    How to create a Google my Business Listing

    Hello There! I hope everyone is having a productive week, I know I am. There are so many things that factor into your search presence online so I am taking it back to the basics today with a post about how to setup your Google my Business (formerly called Google Places) profile and why it is important.

    Let’s start with, “Why is it important to have a Google My Business Page?”

    There have been a lot of published articles within the SEO industry about the future of Google Plus. A lot of companies are wondering, is Google + and Google my business still relevant and is it important to be active in that space? My answer is yes! It is important. Anytime you have a chance to link your website to Google you should do it. I’m not just talking about your Google my business page or your Google+ page I’m talking about Google Analytics, Google Webmaster setting up a YouTube account. It’s all relevant.

    Just because one property like Google Plus maybe a fizzing out, it doesn’t mean they all are and you should always take advantage of the tools that Google has to offer you if you want to show up in organic search. Claiming your Google my business listing is one of the easiest ways to show up on the first page of Google for the name of your business.

    One of the important things to know about setting up your listing is having a business address where you can receive the mail. When you reach the last step of setting up your account, Google will send you a postcard with a verification code that you will receive within 2 weeks. Only when you have verified your page will the results show up to the public. Google will not currently accept a P.O. Box as an address. If you are a home based business, beware of listing your home address, because if you’re like me you wouldn’t want a photo of your house showing up on Google Maps for your business listing. I use a virtual office service called Regus.

    Many people confuse Google+ and Google my business

    They do integrate but are separate listings.If you think you’ve set up a business account, make sure that the icon you see is a little blue store front with the letter G on it. This is something that has been re branded a few times so it is easily confused.

    Setting up your listing will take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on how detailed you get with the meat and potatoes which is the business description.

  • First google your business name to see if you may already have a business page.
  • If you do and just have not claimed it, Google will have a place to claim your listing.
  • If you are starting from scratch, go HERE. You’re Google plus page will automatically merge with your business listing.
  • Once you have completed the steps, you will see a prompt to mail a verification postcard.
  • The postcard should arrive within 2 weeks with a six digit code that you will need to enter at the top of your page.
  • Last, if you find that you have multiple listings that need cleaning up or have any trouble setting up your listing you can always call Google at 1-844-442-8695. I have never had to call so I can’t promise anything, but I wanted to save you the time of searching around for a phone number if needed
  • Now that you have setup your listing be sure to share that with your customer base.

    There will be an opportunity for you to collect reviews from your customers on your Google my business page. It is important to monitor and check back in with your page regularly so that you don’t by chance get any negative reviews that you’re not addressing right away. One of my most successful clients has over 400 five-star reviews on their Google Business page. They are a service based company and make sure to tell every customer that there is an opportunity for them to review the experience on many online platforms. In 2012 Tech Crunch reported a staggering 425 million Gmail users. Imagine what that number looks like today. Because there are so many people who use a gmail address it’s very simple and easy to post online reviews.

    Please feel free to leave a comment or feedback about this post. I also host a FREE facebook group where we share helpful tips and tricks to help your business gain visibility online. I would love for you to join HERE.

    Why Having a Business Coach is a Must

    Why having a business coach is a must for a new business owners

    Earlier this month I had a chance to be featured on the growing podcast, The Six Figure Side Gig. Not because my PR skills are amazing or because I’m running a multi-million dollar business but because I happen to be fortunate enough to work with business coach, Dr. Mark Costes. You see, Dr. Costes is not only a successful business owner and business coach he is also the host of Six Figure Side Gig Podcast. This episode is a case study series we are working on that covers the progress of my first year as an entrepreneur.

    Why having a business coach matters

    business coachA lot of people ask me why I have a business coach, more importantly how can I justify the investment in one when I’m only in my first year of business. The truth is, I don’t think I can afford not to have a business coach if I want to be successful. Surviving in the online marketing space is not easy. There are thousands upon thousands of companies who do SEO, SEM and build wordpress websites like I do. While I know what seperates me from other digital marketing companies and can clearly deliver a solid value proposition, I needed some help prioritizing, being effective with my time and being smart with my money. So, for those reasons and many more, it was never a second thought when I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Costes. In all of my years in business and marketing, I have always felt it was important to attach myself to someone further along in their career than me.

    A Mentor was not enough

    I have so many amazing mentors, who I love and appreciate so much, but there is something very different about hiring a business coach. There is hardcore accountability when you are goal setting with someone who you are paying to keep you on track. Do I meet all of my goals all of the time? No. But, I absolutely make my best effort which is something I would not have the focus or self discipline to do on my own. Life gets in the way, or client projects takeover and scheduling time just to focus on my business goes to the wayside. So for me having mentor’s was not enough.

    Choosing the right business coach

    I can’t say I am the authority on this and there are some great articles on what to look for in a business coach, like THIS ONE. But, I can help you narrow it down. First, decide what your budget is. A business coach can range from $500 to $5,000 a month. Being a new business owner, I had to be mindful about budget. Next, ask for referrals, listen to business podcasts and look at online reviews. You should do your homework before hiring someone, rather than hiring the first person that comes along. Last, measure their own business success. If you are looking for a business coach, you want to work with someone who has been successful in building other businesses besides their coaching one. I chose Mark Costes because he has several successful companies that he currently operates so he is able to share pitfalls, successes and best practices from real life experience.

    six figure side gig

    To hear my Six Figure Side Gig Podcast Interview with my Business Coach, CLICK HERE.

    I love this article from Entrepreneur.com, 4 Reason You Should Seek Out a Business Coach.
    To read the full article click HERE.

    A business coach will challenge your thinking, goals and willingness to grow. As somebody who has “been there, done that,” a coach also acts as a role model because of the experience that he or she shares. Additionally, a coach has unique insight that broadens your business awareness.

    Social Media Branding

    social media blog

    Social Media Branding With a Twist…of lime

    I’ve been discussing social media, SEO, auto posting and more over in my Facebook Group, Social Sharing for SEO.

    social media branding What I love most about this discussion is that many marketers are sort of anti auto posting tools like Hootsuite and Buffer. I totally see their perspective but here’s why I see a value in those tools. You don’t have to auto post everything with scheduling tools, in fact I don’t recommend that at all. Scheduling tools can be a huge time saver when you have the right strategy in place.

    Consider this; Google looks at links back to your site as a way of measuring the authority of your website. The more often you put content out there, you increase your chances of stronger organic ranking. The next part to that is engagement. If you have a bunch of link out there and no one clicks on them or interacts, you are putting out a lot of work with minimal return. Unfortunately, brand strategy doesn’t mesh with SEO strategy so we have a fun little formula for achieving both. Bottom line, be strategic about what you share and where, but don’t be shy about posting content from your site on all of the strongest platforms, you never know who might find your blogs or articles useful.

    The Cosmo of Social Media Recipe

    Vodka = (Do I have your attention yet?) The Fun!
    Let your audience see the culture of your company, introduce yourself with a fun photo from time to time, feature fun behind the scenes moments. Give your business some personality.

    Gin = Your Classy Sophisticated Side.
    This is where your business related quotes and examples of your work at its best come in.

    Splash of Cranberry = Networking!
    Align your business with brands that have similar audiences yet don’t compete with you and cross promote. Contests, giveaways, event sharing etc.

    Splash of Lime Juice = Charity or Community Involvment
    Choose a local charity that you can engage with, help push out their initiatives, volunteer with them, or simply donate.

    Garnish = Sale, Promo, Offer.
    Here is where you get to self promote, once every 10 posts or so. Share a blog post, or special offer, something that will drive traffic back to your website.

    You can find a complete version of our Social media branding article in the Boss Babe Guide to Social Media.

    Boss Babe Guide to Social Media

    I recently had the pleasure of working with some amazing Ladies lead by the talented Elizabeth of Iterate Social to create an E-Book called, The Boss Babe Guide to Social Media where we discuss the proven best practices in Social Media today. Each contributor comes from a different background and brings a unique perspective on how to grow your business via Social Media.

    We cover in-depth social media topics like:

    • Branding Your Social Media
    • (This is the topic I cover in the E-book!)

    • Growing Your Social Media Following
    • Photo Styling for Social Media
    • And More….

      boss babe guide to social media Here’s what you do, Head over to http://www.iteratesocial.media/bossbabeguide simply enter your email address and our 27 page guide to social media will be sent straight to your inbox! So, what are you waiting for? Download the Boss Babe Guide to Social Media today! We hope you love it. Be sure to connect with me via Social Media to let me know what you think! #BossBabeGuide

    How Pinterest can help your SEO efforts

    pinterest for SEOOne of my favorite articles about How Pinterest can help your SEO efforts was published almost a year ago by Search Engine Land. The article titled, Pinterest SEO: 7 Tips From A Pinterest Engineer really got my wheels turning about how my clients could leverage this social channel for SEO. Pinterest may not seem like a fit for the home services or dental category but the domain authority of Pinterest is undeniable. If we could somehow create interest in our Pinterest boards the value of the client headed over to our site is high plus the link strength gives our site more authority with search engines.

    So here is my take away from the seven tips from a Pinterest Engineer and some other easy action steps for businesses to take to get the Pinterest train rolling.

    Pinterest Strategy for Small Business

    The reality of running a small business is that you could spend all day producing social media content and that would be great if you had nothing else to do right? So I challenge you to set aside 30 minutes, one day per week and get the Pinterest ball rolling. Now, as Martin Beck mentions’ in his article, you may not even have a Pinterest page set up correctly, so you will need to follow his steps to set up a Pinterest profile for your business that is optimized correctly. Take some time to do that and once you have completed his steps, come back here.

    Your Pinterest business Page is set up! Congratulations, now what?

    As I mentioned before, calendar 30 minutes a week to pinning. Below are some goals for effective Pinterest activity in those 30 minutes.

    You want to set up boards that match the core of your business and branch out from there. EX: You are an Endodontist: Core boards could be, Myths about Root Canals, Tooth Saving Tips, Root Canal Safety, Facts about Dental Implants.

    Pin 5-7 blogs and graphics from your website per week

    Follow 20+ businesses in your geographical area a week – If 5 follow you back, you’re in good shape!

    Re-pin 10+ pins from industry leaders.

    Add one new board a month. Be sure to ad geo tags to each board based on where your business is located if you have a brick and mortar.

    Last tip, Don’t get sucked in! Pinterest is fun, and it’s easy to get sucked in to searching, before you know it you’re 20 minutes in to your weekly pinning session and have only accomplished researching your latest crock pot experiment. Set an appointment with yourself to be focused and accountable. If you can accomplish the above list once a week you will have a rich flourishing SEO focused Pinterest Account in no time.

    Don’t believe me?, let’s do the math:

    One Week: 15 pins & 20 follows

    One Month: 60 pins & 80 follows

    One Year: 780 pins & 1,040

    I know what you’re thinking, you want to jump ahead and dedicate 3 hours a day for 6 weeks to growing your Pinterest page. Don’t. You will burn out and never log back in. Not only that, SEO is a constant effort, it would be easy to create an awesome Pinterest account and never have to touch it again but that’s not what the search engines want to see. They want consistent effort to creating interesting content for your audience. I’m challenging you to do it my way! I have created a private Facebook group called Social Sharing for SEO where like minded businesses can collaborate and support each other’s efforts. Click here to JOIN.

    Best,

    Lauren