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    improving search engine rank
    SERPs 101: How to Improve Your Search Engine Ranking

    Did you know that a whopping 90% of the population never scrolls past the first page of Google? When was the last time you’ve taken a moment to check where your website shows up when you type in your business name or important keywords related to your company? If you just so happen to be like countless other businesses out there, then chances are your website might not pop up within the first 10 spots. Heck, it might not even pop up on the first page at all.  The good news is – you have the power to change this. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can effectively monitor and improve your search engine ranking, then this article is just for you.

    What are SERPs?

    “SERPs” is simply an acronym which is widely used to abbreviate the term  search engine results pages. SERPs are the pages which pop up when you type an inquiry into a search engine such as Google.  There are countless pages which are often returned upon the input of an inquiry — far too many to go through. This is because Google alone indexes trillions of website pages. So, what Google does, is it prioritizes these results for you based on their likelihood of providing you an accurate and robust answer and then displays them to you in hierarchical order.

    Why search engine rankings are crucial to success

    Google’s search engine algorithm essentially attributes a SERP score to every page on your website. Your SERP score, or search engine ranking, is directly related to the effectiveness of your search engine optimization (SEO) tactics, your marketing campaigns, as well as the length of time that your website/brand has had to establish trust with Google’s algorithm. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that it’s extremely difficult to outrank major brands and companies for the simple fact that they have significantly deeper pockets than you. But, this doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. You still have a chance at ranking high for keywords, especially niche keywords and getting on the first page of Google. All it takes is some hard work and commitment.

    Are you aware of Google Algorithm Latest Updates? - Home

    Source

    How to improve your SERP ranking

    Fortunately, there are numerous steps you can take to help improve your SERP rankings.  However, in order to be effective, you’ll need to stay dedicated and focused. By crafting effective marketing and SEO campaigns and staying patient, you can work to begin to improving your SERP ranking one day at a time.

    1. Marketing

    Crafting effective and compelling marketing campaigns is a crucial step when it comes to improving your SERP score. The more mentions, hashtags, articles your brand has, the stronger it becomes in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. To be honest with you — it’s pretty much a popularity contest. And to be blunt — the major corporations are always going to win. This is because they have countless resources they can pool into their marketing strategies, whereas the average business is often limited by their budget. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t create viral content, work on increasing your popularity on social media or work hard to get influencers to tout your brand/services! 

    Fortunately for you, there are numerous tools available which can aid in your efforts to craft more effective digital marketing campaigns. Much of it begins with performing diligent research and finding the right keywords, topics and trends to touch upon. Most recently, influencer marketing has become an extremely popular way to get your brand out there and repped by popular figures within the social media space. So, take the time to tap into some influencer marketing agencies to see how they can help you increase brand awareness and establish an authority presence in the digital space!

    2. SEO

    SEO is another critical component to improving your search engine ranking. Is your website optimized to the fullest? Are you leveraging niche and long-tail keywords as a way to combat against the monopoly that many large corporations have over SEO? We’re not just talking on-page SEO — technical SEO is just as important.

    Lucky for you, there are also numerous tools available on the market to aid you in these efforts as well. Whether you use a plug-in such as YoastSEO or tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner, Backlinko or Ahrefs, you can rest assured that you’re in good hands. If you find that you just don’t happen to be the savviest when it comes to this, don’t be afraid to reach out to an expert and ask for help. Companies such as ours specialize in aiding businesses such as yours in increasing their search engine rankings effectively and efficiently.

    3. Being Patient

    The truth of the matter is that increasing your search engine rankings doesn’t happen overnight. So, naturally you’re going to want to be wary of any services which promote instant or unreasonably fast results. You simply can’t rush the algorithm. You can help it along by doing your best to implement strong and effective tactics, but overnight success is few and far between. Be patient. It takes a while to establish your brand/website as trustworthy in the eyes of Google’s algorithm. But the good news is that the longer you stay dedicated, the more you’ll continue to build up your trust.

    Example Search Rankings Report

    Source

    Monitoring your search engine ranking

    When it comes to establishing your presence on search engine results pages, you’ll need to do more than just implement tactics in order to improve your ranking. This is because rankings are far from static and constantly changing as information continues to be indexed by Google’s algorithm every second of every day. This is why consistently monitoring your ranking is so essential. When you monitor your rank, you gain access to valuable information which can help to fuel your strategies and tactics for improvement.

    For instance, let’s say that you decide to implement a keyword strategy. You pretty much will be left mostly in the dark with regards to how effective it is or isn’t without monitoring. However, when you do implement a process for monitoring, you are able to see how effective your strategies are and how your website is performing in response to their implementation. Fortunately, there are numerous tools on the market such as SEMRush, MozPro and Ahrefs which can help provide you with in-depth analytics and tools which can be leveraged in order to help you monitor and track your rank.

    Monitoring your competitor’s SERPs

    Monitoring your search engine rankings is crucial in determining your status and driving your strategies. However, it’s not just your own website that you should be concerned about. Who are your biggest competitors? We’re not talking big name companies and corporations. We mean the companies within your niche which are performing slightly better than you. If you don’t know the answer to this, then you’ll have to dig in your heals and do a little research first. Once you know the names of a handful of companies as such, you’ll need to start monitoring their status, performance and progress as well. When you begin monitoring your competitors’ rankings, you gain access to valuable information which can help fuel your strategies for improvement.

    For instance, let’s say you find that your competitors are ranking high for a certain number of keywords. This is great information to know, because it helps inform you on which keywords you should use in your strategy. Or perhaps, you’ve noticed that their ranking is fluctuating a bit or has taken a nosedive after the implementation of a strategy. This can help you be aware of things not to do so that your website doesn’t have the same fate. On the other hand, if they’re performing well, then gaining access to analytics on their performance can help you effectively mirror some of the positive tactics they’ve implemented. Remember: consistently monitoring your competition is every bit just as important as monitoring your own performance because it can help provide further insight into the steps you need to take in order to stay one step ahead.

    Conclusion

    Your SERP score is arguably one of the single most important things to focus on if you’re looking to improve your online presence and grow your business. If you’re looking to increase your search engine ranking, then you’ll need to focus on a combination of effective marketing, SEO and monitoring/tracking strategies in order to do so.  Fortunately, there are numerous tools available on the market in order to help you achieve your goals. Use this article as a guide to keep yourself on track and to get off in the right direction when it comes to improving your website’s SERP score. And remember – nothing is going to happen overnight. Beware of any products or services which promote unrealistic results. This takes a tortoise versus a hare mentality. Improving your search engine rankings takes time, dedication and consistent effort. However, the benefits are extremely worthwhile.

     

    Which tools do you use to monitor and/or improve your SERP score? Let us know your experience with them in the comment section below! We’d love to hear from you!

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    Sources:

    Lesson #28: How important is it to be on the first page of SERPs?

    https://searchengineland.com/googles-search-indexes-hits-130-trillion-pages-documents-263378

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/thesba/2014/10/30/seo-basics-for-small-business-owners/#19e1ba124812

    How to Monitor Search Engine Rankings

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    tag management systems, google tag manager
    Tag Management Systems: Why You Need a Platform like Google Tag Manager in 2020

    Tag management is still a relatively new field. As a result, many business owners and marketers are finding themselves a bit confused as to why a solid tag management system is so crucial to their marketing efforts. However, leveraging a tag management system such as Google Tag Manager (GTM) can do everything from help you in reducing your marketing costs, to increasing the speed of your website and implementing more efficient digital campaigns. If you’re interested in learning more about marketing tags and the benefits of tag management systems like GTM, then this article is just for you.

    What are marketing tags?

    Let’s start with the basics. After all, there’s no use in delving into the benefits of tag management systems such as Google Tag Manager if the entire concept of tag management in general still remains relatively ambiguous to you.

    So, first thing is first — what are marketing tags?

    Marketing tags, often referred to as pixels  are short little snippets of JavaScript code which can be embedded into your website in order to perform a variety of tasks (i.e. live chat, advertising, analytics).  Perhaps the most notable example of a tag would be the Facebook Pixel which you have to embed into your website in order for Facebook to be able to track certain activities. When it comes to marketing, tags are generally used in order to collect information about website visitors and their behaviors. This valuable information can then be leveraged in order to inform numerous strategic decisions regarding everything from your website;s design to your sales pipeline, product offerings and more.


    Types of marketing tags

    There are basically two main categories of tags: functional tags and technical tags. Functional tags. as their names suggest perform a function of some sort whereas technical tags have, you guessed it, a more technical nature.

    1. Functional Tags

    Functional tags can further more be divided into two primary types:

    • Conversion Tags
      Conversion tags essentially are created for the purpose of tracking the performance of ad campaigns.  These can be set up within a platform so in order to identify certain behaviors or events which occur on your website. Once a specified behavior/event is “triggered” by a user, the tag begins doing its job.
    • Remarketing Tags
      Remarketing tags have the ability to change the content of ads and who they are targeted to. This is achieved based on the analysis of your user behaviors. Remarketing tags can further be divided into two sub-groups:

      • Simple Tags
        Simple tags are ones you create for an action which you are interested in using for the purpose of remarketing.

      • Smart Tags
        Smart tags are general tags which are generated by the tag management system in order to be placed on all of the pages of your website.

    2. Technical Tags

    Much like functional tags, technical tags can also be further divided into two sub-groups:

    • Image Tags
      Image tags are snippets of code which are inserted into your website for the purpose of sharing data with your ad server. These tags are dynamic and can change in structure and in terms of what they are tracking.
    • Script Tags
      Script tags are small, often static pictures which are loaded on your website in order to share data with your ad server

     

    Image result for tag management system

    Source

    What is a tag management system (TMS)?

    Tag management systems (TMSs) essentially make the process of creating, managing and implementing tags more straightforward and less “technical”.  Anyone can use a tag management system, however, not just anyone can create, implement and manage tags on their own manually without a relevant educational background or experience. 

    Tag management systems began to grow in popularity in the late 2000s due in part as a natural response to the rapid growth of marketing technology. With a tag management system, management and deployment of marketing tags is much more streamlined and don’t necessarily require the assistance and support of an IT professional. This of course means they can also help companies and marketing departments  save both time and money.

    In fact, according to recent research from Tealium, 73% of businesses surveyed stated that they believed using a tag management system helped them to reduce costs. With a tag management system such as Google Tag Manager, you don’t need to rely on a manual tagging or the ongoing assistance of an IT professional because TMSs are purposely created in order to streamline the processes and make tagging more user-friendly and efficient. 

    Speaking of efficiency, did you know that the same company also found that a whopping 69% of TMS users are able to implement their new tags in less than a day? Just 23% of companies who manually tag with IT assistance are able to achieve this.

    And the efficiency doesn’t just stop there — tag management systems also help increase the efficiency and speed of your website performance. The same company found that 64% of TMS users said their website was noticeably faster with more than 50% of them saying their tag management system made their website “significantly” faster.

     

    tag management system benefits
    Source

    The benefits of using a tag management system

    There are numerous benefits to using a tag management system. We already briefly touched upon the fact that a TMS can help companies reduce costs and improve website speed and performance, but that’s not all. Tag management systems also help create a common language between the marketer and the developer with regards to the data being collected and what it is used for. This in turn helps to establish greater understanding and trust between these two parties.

    Tag management systems also help increase agility and improve technical implementation process. With a tag management system, you can say goodbye to all those pesky pieces of code and hello to a streamlined container snippet which houses and manages all of your tags. They also help  marketers gain access to fresh, real-time data because deployment takes just moments as opposed to days or weeks. 

    Tag management systems also help provide you with peace of mind. Gone are the days when one has to become obsessive about the code being used. Is it correct? Is it error free? Is it optimized? With a tag management system, you can rest assured that the code is written well. In addition, with platforms such as Google Tag Manager, you also gain access to easy-to-use error checking tools.

     

    Image result for benefits tag management system

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    Why you need a tag management system

    While tag management systems are extremely beneficial, the truth of the matter is not everyone needs them. Are you actively using numerous digital marketing solutions or complex, enterprise-level analytics solutions? Do you currently have a mobile application or are you thinking about deploying one in the near future? What about your website? Does it need updated? Are you thinking about redesigning it? If you answered no to these questions, then chances are a tag management system might just not be necessary for you at the moment. However, if you answered yes to one or more, then you’ll be glad to know that you can benefit from a solid TMS.

     

    Image result for tag management system
    Source

    Google Tag Manager

    Google Tag Manager (GTM) is quite arguably one of, if not the single most popular tag management  system available to the public. GTM is a great choice for those looking to get into tag management because it offers simple, reliable and user-friendly tag management solutions tailored towards non-technical audiences for absolutely free. The interface is very user-friendly and the platform also gives you access to folders, instant search and autocomplete, preview modes, a site tag overview and the ability to publish in just seconds. It furthermore gives you the ability to create numerous triggers as well as control how your tags fire. We’re talking auto-event triggers, click triggers, form submission triggers, custom event triggers, as well as page view and history triggers.

    It also offers a host of features and technologies such as automated tag management, mobile app support, accelerated mobile pages (AMP) support, as well as the ability to sequence, pause and blacklist tags. Users can furthermore take advantage of multi-account support, multi-user support and user-level permissions as well as common and custom tag templates and convenient integrations with other Google solutions (i.e. Google Ads, Campaign Manager)  and third-party tag support.

    All in all, Google Tag Manager is a wonderfully user-friendly tag management system which provides users with access to a robust set of features and tools in order to streamline and optimize tag management and deployment.

     

    Conclusion

    Tag management is a relatively new concept, but is quickly becoming an essential foundation underpinning effective marketing campaigns. Tag management systems such as Google Tag Manager can help companies in numerous ways by increasing their agility, giving them peace of mind and streamlining both the management and deployment of valuable marketing tags. If you’re new to the concept of tag management, then we suggest that you take some time to experiment with a free tag management system such as Google Tag Manager so that you can see first-hand how it can benefit you and your company. We’re certain you won’t be disappointed.

    Have you used Google Tag Management? What was your experience like? Let us know in the comment below! We’d love to hear from you!

     

    _______________________________________________________________________

    Sources:
    https://digitaldistillery.com/google-tag-manager-guide-2020/

    What are Marketing Tags and How They Affect Digital Marketing

    What is Tag Management?

    6 Compelling New Stats About Tag Management


    https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/tag-manager/

     

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    voice search optimization
    Everything You Need to Know About Voice Search in 2020

    Over the past few years there has been a marked rise in the growth of voice recognition software and it’s easy to understand why. Many of us lead demanding, busy, on-the-go lifestyles and as a result, convenience has quickly become of paramount importance to the average consumer. According to a recent PWC report an astounding 71% of individuals surveyed said they would rather use their voice assistant in order to conduct a query as opposed to physically having to type it into their device. Voice search isn’t something of the future – it’s here – loud and clear. ComScore infamously predicted that 50% of all searches will be voice by 2020. We may not be there just yet, but that doesn’t mean we’re not close. If you’re interested in learning more about voice search and the various simple steps you can take in order to prepare your website for 2020, then this article is just for you.

    Timeline of mainstream voice assistants

    Source

    A brief history of voice search

    Voice recognition software has been around since the 1960’s so it isn’t exactly new, but mass mainstream adoption and commercialization voice assistants is. Google first rolled out Google Voice Search in 2010. The system required users to call into a telephone number at which point they were prompted to speak their search query and wait for results to populate on their mobile device. Needless to say, it didn’t catch on all too quickly.

    In October of 2011 Apple introduced Siri as the first digital virtual assistant with their iPhone 4s and Google rapidly followed suit by introducing Google Now in May 2012. Microsoft and Amazon quickly threw their hats in the ring with Cortana and Alexa in 2014 and Google released Google Assistant in 2016. Now we’ve got Samsung’s Bixby and IBM’s Watson as well. Today, voice recognition software is encoded in everything from mobile phones to laptops to watches and personal home devices. Practically everyone wants a virtual assistant. Which leads us to our next section.

     

    Have you used voice search to find information for a local business in the last 12 months? | BrightLocal Voice Search for Local Business Study

    Source

    The growing demand for voice search optimization

    Today, voice recognition software is encoded in everything from mobile phones to laptops to watches and personal home devices. Practically everyone uses voice search and as a result, the industry is a-booming. According to eMarketer, voice commerce sales peaked to an astounding $2.1 billion last year alone. Juniper Research further estimates that there will be a whopping 8 billion digital voice assistants on the market in use by 2023.

    When it comes to voice search, Amazon leads in the voice-enabled speaker device market but Google still dominates the search engine market with a share of 92.71%. So, needless to say, when they start to make updates in order to further accommodate voice search, everyone takes notice. Their 2013 Hummingbird update changed search in profound ways by emphasizing natural language processing and taking into consideration things such as context and user intent. As a result, the focus became less on keywords and more on conversation and meaning.

    This algorithm update coupled with the widespread popularity of smart devices using voice recognition software means that companies now more than ever need to be prepared to optimize their websites and content accordingly.

    voice query length.png

    Source

    5 Ways You Can Start Optimizing for Voice Search Today

    According to recent data from Location World, approximately 2 in 5 adults use voice search at least once daily — and it they use it for more than just finding out information. According to recent data from Amazon, the use of Alexa for shopping more than tripled in 2018 from the previous year (NOTE: at VisioneerIT, we offer voice search technology which can help you sell your products using Alexa voice).  It’s important to note that there’s a significant difference between typed and spoken queries and as a result, voice search optimized websites will have a much greater advantage in 2020. If you’re looking to nab position zero, then we have 5 steps which you can use to get you started off on the right foot.

     

    1. Use natural language

    Let’s say you’re looking for some great grub in your area for the evening. If you head to your go-to search engine, your query ‘might look something like “best restaurants near me”. However, if you’re like the many individuals who use a voice assistant on your mobile device, your query is most likely to sound more along the lines of “what are the best restaurants near me?”. Our point here is that voice search queries tend to be longer than your average typed query. Not only that, they also tend to be conducted in a conversational tone. This is the exact opposite of what is expected when it comes to typed queries. Instead of ruthelessly optimizing for keywords, focus instead on what you need to do in order to optimize for semantic search. Use conversational keywords and phrases that are common when speaking and phrase these long-tail keywords in the same manner in which they are usually spoken. It’s not only ideal for voice search, long-tail keywords are furthermore a great strategy to use for traditional SEO.

    2. Question phrases

    When someone is conducting a typed query on a search engine, the goal is generally to get the main idea across as succinctly as possible. You’re not exactly trying to write a novel. If you’re looking for a black 1981 Pontiac Firebird you might type something like “1981 black Pontiac firebird for sale”. It’s not exactly a beaming example of English grammar. However, when using voice search, users tend to frame queries in the form of questions such as “Where can I find a 1981 black Pontiac firebird for sale?”. Keep this in mind when it comes to optimizing for voice search. It’s important to consider user intent as well as to think of ways to include potential questions your audience may have in your content, headers or subtitles. Not exactly sure where to start? There are numerous resources online which can help you identify the various questions your target audience may have surrounding your topic. Answer the Public is an immensely popular tool as such.

    3. Aim for featured snippet quality

    You may not exactly know what a featured snippet is by just hearing the name but you’ve definitely seen one. These little guys are the pieces of content that have been awarded the ever so coveted spot of position zero. They are above-the-fold snippets of useful information pulled from only the most worth of articles and featured in the spot before the rest of your search engine results. According to SearchEngineWatch, you can pretty much be certain that if the search results which get pulled up for your query include a featured snippet, your voice assistant is going to pull its answer from it. So, if you’re looking to rank highly in voice search results, you’re going to want to focus on making sure that you are delivering high quality content that Google would display in a featured snippet.

    4. Structured data/schema markup

    Structured data is a system where names are paired with a value in order to help search engines when it comes to indexing and categorizing website content. A while back Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex got together and came up with Schema.org (aka Schema) as a way to help people provide the information that their search engines need in order to provide the best search results possible. Schema is “a semantic vocabulary of tags” (aka microdata) that you can manually add to your HTML code in order to make it easier for search engines to read, interpret and represent your webpage. It often results in rich snippets of information being displayed (i.e. star ratings) underneath the title of your webpage. This tactic has been proven to not only increase click-through rate but to also drive traffic and provide a competitive advantage to websites which use them. While you will need to know a thing or two about code, you don’t necessarily have to be an expert in order to implement it. You can easily generate your own code for your webpages by using Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper.

    5. Improve your local SEO

    Voice search tends to be more mobile and locally focused. In fact, one 2018 study conducted by BrightLocal found that a whopping 58% of individuals use their voice search in order to find local businesses. It also found that consumers are most likely to use voice searches in order to find additional information about businesses that they are already familiar with. This really comes as no surprise as people tend to use their voice search when they’re already on-the-go or planning on going somewhere. In fact, the phrase “near me” is extremely popular when it comes to voice searches. Most of these search bots use business listings in order to find the requested information. The quickest and most simple way to do this is to head on over to Google My Business and register your company. Fill out as much information as possible and make sure to keep it accurate and up to date.

    Conclusion

    Gartner predicted that by the year 2020, approximately 30% of all searches will be screenless. We still have 11 months to find out if that prediction pans out, but the truth of the matter is that you can’t afford to not be prepared. Optimizing your website for voice search is no longer an option – it’s a necessity. Use this article as a useful guide to help you get caught up on all things voice search related and to help strengthen your website so that you have an added edge over the competition in 2020.

    Are you interested in leveraging voice search to help increase sales? At VisioneerIT, we offer voice search technology which can help you sell your products using Alexa voice. If you’re interested in learning more about how you can increase customer loyalty and improve your sales, contact us today at www.visioneerit.com.

     

    _______________________________________________________________________

    Sources:

    https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/04/10/voice-search-statistics-2018

    https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/just-say-it-future-search-voice-personal-digital-assistants/1392459

    https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Alexa-Say-What-Voice-Enabled-Speaker-Usage-Grow-Nearly-130-This-Year/1015812?mc_cid=da020f88d1&mc_eid=31cb543a39

    https://www.branded3.com/blog/locationworld-2016/

    https://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2018/11/08/how-prepare-your-content-voice-search

    https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2019/01/11/voice-search-optimization-guide-2019/

    https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/03/14/google-voice-search

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    9 simple ways to improve website security
    9 Simple Ways to Improve Website Security

    A recent study conducted by University of Maryland’s Clark School found that hacker attacks on computers with internet access happen on average once every 39 seconds and affect one in three Americans each year. You may feel that your business may not be at risk for a cyber-attack, but the truth of the matter is that a whopping 64% of companies have experienced attacks as such and 95% of breaches are due to human error.

    Here at VisioneerIT, we offer website security with all of our website hosting plans to help provide you with peace of mind that your company, its clients and website are secure. However, it’s still important to remain diligent when it comes to protecting yourself against threats. If you’re interested in learning about the various steps you can take to secure your company and its customers, then this article will provide you with 9 simple ways you can work towards enhancing the security of your website as soon as today.

    1. Conduct regular and routine software updates

    With the multitude of responsibilities you have as a business owner it can be quite easy to forget something as seemingly trivial as keeping track of when your software needs to be updated. However, this seemingly insignificant task can have a massive impact on your website’s security as well as the security of your business and its patrons. Believe it or not, according to BulletProof’s 2019 report, 22% of the “high and critical-risk” security issues which  were reported were the result of outdated and/or unpatched software. Hackers aggressively target security flaws in website software and as a result, it’s essential to ensure that every software product which you use remains up to date.

    2. Customize your admin path

    According to recent data from IBM, the average cost of a data breach is a whopping $3.9 million. No company can afford this level of distress to their finances or corporate reputation. Fortunately, something as simple as customizing your admin path can help provide you with an added barrier of protection against harmful attacks. This is because that many attacks are implemented using automated techniques which look for standard configurations on sites. Brute force attacks are often implemented on username and password combinations and something as simple as changing your path from “website.com/admin” to “website.com/fksewr” (something randomized) can make it a lot more difficult for these individuals to find your admin page and initiate an attack. If you choose a plan with VisioneerIT, you can rest assured that our hosting plans’ websites are not accessible from the “wp-admin” path.

     

    Image result for stats cybersecurity

    Source

    3. Keep only essential files, plug-ins or apps

    According to a global survey conducted by Accenture, security breaches have increase by a massive 67% in the past five years alone. Something as simple as doing a quick inventory of the various applications you use can make all of the difference. We know, it can be pretty easy to go wild when it comes to the various  plug-ins and apps which you utilize for your website. They’re simple, they make life easy and there’s a multitude of options for practically every concern on the planet. However, these same applications can leave you vulnerable to attacks as they also provide hackers with possible points of entry. Keep inventory of the ones you use. Make sure they’re up to date and delete any non-essential files, applications or plug-ins which you no longer have any use for.

    4. Use strong passwords and update them routinely

    You’ve heard it time and time again. Everyone pretty much understands how important it is to use strong passwords, but the truth of the matter is that many of us still rely on passwords we’ve used forever which often contain personal information such as birthdays, the names of children we’ve had or other information which can easily be retrieved by searching public domains and social media accounts. How often do you update your passwords? According to TechRepublic, 93% of companies do in fact have password rules, but less than 25% of these companies actually require something as simple and effective as mandatory password changes. Hackers use highly sophisticated software which uses brute force to crack through passwords. In order to protect against attacks as such, passwords should be regularly updated and complex. This means at the very least they should be at least 10 characters long and include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, special characters and numbers.

     

    Image result for stats website security

    Source

    5. Backup your data

    According to the National Archives & Records Administration in Washington, DC, an astounding 93% of businesses who lost their data for 10 days or more had to file bankruptcy within one year of the event. Furthermore, 50% of these businesses were found to have filed bankruptcy immediately. If you’re not regularly backing up your files, then you’re essentially playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette. While many web host providers such as us provide their own daily backups, it is still absolutely essential for you to maintain backups of your own files as well on a regular basis in the event your valuable data becomes lost or inaccessible. Lucky for you, there are a multitude of extensions and plug-ins which can help to automate this process so that it doesn’t have to be done  manually.

    6. Manage website users and their access to sensitive files

    According to a global study by Varonis, 41% of businesses allow all of their employees to access more than 1,000 sensitive files. Sensitive files are those which are deemed to contain critical information such as credit card numbers, personal information or health records. Do you know every single individual who has access to sensitive information, even if just the login information to your website? If you don’t, then you should. Actively manage the various users and take steps to assign appropriate permissions to them based on their role in your company.  In the event you find you may need to grant an individual escalate permissions, be sure to remember to reduce those once the task is completed.

    7. SSL Encryptions

    According to recent statistics by the Hosting Tribunal, approximately 21% of the top 100,000 websites still don’t implement HTTPS and approximately 32.6% of websites have inadequate security. We’ve all heard of SSL encryptions but many of us don’t know exactly what they entail. SSL stands for “secure sockets layer”. Perhaps you’ve noticed that some websites begin with “http” and others begin with “https”. Well, that little “s” is actually an indicator that the website you’re visiting uses SSL encryptions. Whenever you visit a site, fill out a form and click “submit”, the information which you’ve entered is subject to being intercepted by an attacker. However, SSL encryption ensures that there is an encrypted link between the website’s server and the web browser. It renders the information entered meaningless to any person potentially attempting to intercept it and thus provides valuable protection for critical information such as passwords, logins, bank accounts and credit card numbers. Security is of paramount importance to us at VisioneerIT — which is why all of our websites come with free SSL certificates.

    Image result for stats cybersecurity

    Source

    8. Implement regular monitoring and testing

    According to a recent SCORE report, a whopping 43% of cyber attacks target small to medium sized businesses. Think your company is too small to be on the radar? Think again. Hackers love to target these business because they often don’t have the level of resources available to implement proper security measures that are available to larger companies. If hiring a security expert simply isn’t a financially feasible option for you, then it is absolutely critical that you take steps to implement ongoing monitoring of your website and its activity. Purchase the appropriate software to do so or install a reputable plug-in or application which implements  consistent monitoring and testing of your files and website activity in order to keep abreast of potential changes and/or abnormalities. Scans to consider are daily malware detection, file change detection (included with our website hosting plans), PAN scanning, security event log monitoring, vulnerability scanning, and penetration testing.

    9. Choose a reputable hosting company

    Believe it or not, according to Acunetix’s Web Application Vulnerability Report for 2019, 46% of websites have what are deemed as “high cyber security vulnerabilities”. Even more interesting is the fact that this same report also found that a whopping 87% of websites have what are considered “medium security vulnerabilities”. With VisioneerIT, we offer website security with all of our website hosting plans which include malware and firewall protection. However, this isn’t the case with all providers. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a cyber security expert in order to take steps to properly ensure the security of your company and its clientele. Something as simple as taking the time to vet your web hosting provider can make all of the difference. Also take into consideration the various forms of technical support they offer as well as its availability and the methods of contact which can be used. You want a provider which provides ongoing support who can be there in the event an issue should arise and respond efficiently. 

    Conclusion

    Cybersecurity attacks are rapidly on the rise. According to Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2018 End-of-Year Data Breach Report, the instance of web attacks jumped 126% from 2017 alone. You don’t have to be a cybersecurity expert in order to take control of your website’s security. These 9 simple steps can be implemented by just about anyone regardless of their technical expertise in the field. Use this article as a guide to get you started on the path towards more enhanced website security for 2020.

    When it comes to website security, how does your website hosting provider stack up? Here at VisioneerIT we offer website security as an added feature to our website hosting package in order to give you the peace of mind that your business and its customers are safe. To learn more visit www.visioneerit.com

     

    _______________________________________________________________________

    Sources:

    https://www.commonplaces.com/blog/8-simple-ways-to-improve-your-website-security/

    https://www.foregenix.com/blog/11-steps-to-improve-your-website-security

    https://www.techradar.com/how-to/how-to-evaluate-and-improve-your-websites-security

    https://www.fundera.com/resources/small-business-cyber-security-statistics

    https://www.securitymagazine.com/articles/87787-hackers-attack-every-39-seconds

    https://www.idtheftcenter.org/2018-end-of-year-data-breach-report/

    https://cybersecurityventures.com/cybercrime-diary-whos-hacked-list-of-q3-2018-data-breaches-and-cyberattacks/

    https://www.cybintsolutions.com/cyber-security-facts-stats/

    https://www.thesslstore.com/blog/80-eye-opening-cyber-security-statistics-for-2019/

    https://www.varonis.com/blog/cybersecurity-statistics/

    https://pages.riskbasedsecurity.com/2018-ye-breach-quickview-report

    https://info.wombatsecurity.com/hubfs/2018%20State%20of%20the%20Phish/Wombat-StateofPhish2018.pdf?submissionGuid=2ecea77c-aa0d-404a-b0f4-030732e60a3a

    https://info.varonis.com/hubfs/2018%20Varonis%20Global%20Data%20Risk%20Report.pdf

    https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/4595665/Acunetix_web_application_vulnerability_report_2019.pdf

    https://www.techrepublic.com/article/93-of-companies-have-password-rules-but-it-may-not-protect-them-from-data-breaches/

    https://www.ibm.com/security/data-breach

    https://hostingtribunal.com/blog/ssl-stats/#gref

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    the ultimate guide to ccpa compliance in 2020
    The Ultimate Guide to CCPA Compliance in 2020

    The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is largely considered a landmark legislative piece set in place in order to afford greater protections to consumers and their privacy rights in the United States. Enacted in 2018, the CCPA officially took effect as of January 1st of this year. If you’re a business owner who is interested in learning more about the CCPA, as well as the responsibilities required of you and the  rights afforded to your consumers, then this article will serve as a great guide to get you in-the-know and compliant for 2020.

    consumer rights

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    Consumer Rights

    Right to request disclosure

    The CCPA affords consumers the right to request that a business disclose both the “categories and specific pieces” of personal information that the business has collected as well as the categories of sources from which the information is collected. It also affords consumers the right to request the business/commercial purpose for collecting or selling personal information as well as the right to request that the business also disclose the categories of third parties with whom which the business shares this personal information.

    Right to delete

    A consumer has the right to request that a business delete personal information which they have collected from the consumer.

    Right to opt-out

    A consumer furthermore has the right to instruct a business which sells personal information about them to stop selling said information. This is referred to as the right to opt-out.

    Right to non-discrimination

    The CCPA additionally affords consumers the right to non-discrimination. This means that a business may in no way discriminate against a consumer due to the fact that they have exercised any of the rights afforded to them by the act. Examples of discrimination include denying goods/services, charging different rates for goods/services, providing a different level or quality of goods/services to the consumer or even simply suggesting that the consumer will receive a different price, level or quality of goods/services.

    Consumer remedies

    The CCPA furthermore provides consumer with a number of remedies in the event their personal information become subject to “unauthorized access, exfiltration, theft or disclosure” as the result of a business’ negligence. In the case of such event, the consumer has the right to:

    1) Damages no less than $100.00 and no greater than $750.00 per consumer per incident OR actual damages (whichever amount is deemed greater)

    2) Injunctive or declaratory relief

    3) any other form of relief deemed appropriate by the court

    These remedies are only available if the consumer provides the business with 30 days’ written notice in which they identify the specific provisions which they feel have been violated before pursuing any action against the company.

    In the event the business has the option to and is able to cure the violation within 30 days’ time and provide the consumer with written notice of such, no legal action against the company may be taken.

    Source

    CCPA Business Responsibilities and Compliance

    Definition of a business

    The definition of a business as defined by the CCPA includes businesses which:

    1) Have an annual gross revenue of more than $25 million

    2) Receive, purchase, sell or share for commercial purposes the information of 50,000 or more consumers, households or devices.

    3) Receive at least 50% of their annual revenue from selling the personal information of consumers

    OR

    4) Control or are controlled by a business as such and share common branding with said business

    Providing notice to consumers

    Collection or sale of personal information

    The CCPA mandates that businesses must provide notice to consumers at or before the time of the collection of personal information that they intend to collect said personal information and how they intend to use it. Furthermore, if a business sells personal information to third parties, they must additionally provide “explicit” notice to consumers that their information may be sold and that the consumer has the right to opt-out of the sale of their personal information. Children under the age of 16 years must provide opt-in consent and a parent or guardian must provide consent for any children under the age of 13 years.

    Financial incentives

    Businesses must also disclose any financial incentives which may be applicable for the collection, sale or deletion of a consumer’s personal information. They must furthermore provide the consumer with the manner in which they calculate the value of their personal information and how the financial incentive is permitted under the CCPA. Financial incentives may take the form of monetary compensation or discounted goods or services in terms of quality or price. However, these financial incentives must be directly related to the value of the personal information which is provided to the business.

    In the event a consumer gives opt-in consent to enter into a financial incentive program with the business, the business must clearly describe the terms of the program and the fact that it may be revoked by the consumer at will. The CCPA furthermore specifies that businesses may not use financial incentive programs which are deemed “unjust, unreasonable, coercive or usurious” in nature.

    Providing reasonable access to consumers for submitting requests

    The CCPA further mandates that businesses must provide “reasonable access’ to consumers for the purpose of submitting any requests to the business with regards to the collection and use of their personal information. A business must make available to consumers at least two or more designated methods for submitting requests which include at minimum, a toll-free number. In the event a business operates solely online and has a “direct relationship” with the consumer, it may instead only be required to provide an email address for submitting such requests.

    Website compliance

    In the event the business has a website, the website must be made available to consumers for the submission of requests regarding their personal information. There are also specific guidelines associated with this task. For instance, the business must provide a “clear and conspicuous link” on their homepage titled “Do Not Sell My Personal information” which directs the consumer to opt-out of the sale of their personal information. A business may also not require a consumer to create an account with them in order to direct the business not to sell their information.

    The business must also ensure that any and all individuals who are held responsible for handling consumer inquiries are informed of all of the requirements associated with doing so and how to direct consumers to exercise their rights according to the act.

    Furthermore, if the business has an online privacy policy, they are required to update the information on it at least every 12 months. The privacy policy must include a description of the consumer’s rights and a list of categories of personal information which the business has collected about the consumers in the previous 12  months. At VisioneerIT, we make compliance simple by offering a convenient website plug-in which automatically updates your customer policies whenever the laws change.

    Responding to consumer requests

    Identity verification

    The CCPA mandates that businesses must verify the identity of consumers making requests to them regarding the collection and use of their personal information. However, a business may not require that a consumer create an account with them in order to make a verifiable consumer request. If a business is unable to verify the request, they are able to deny the request, but are required to comply to “the greatest extent” that they can.

    Requests to delete information

    In the event that a business receives a verifiable request from a consumer to delete their personal information, the business must comply and also notify any potential service providers to delete the consumer’s personal information from their records as well.

    Opt-out requests

    Businesses receiving opt-out requests from consumers must comply by refraining from selling their personal information. Businesses must also respect the consumer’s decision for a period of no less than 12 months before making another request that the consumer authorizes the sale of their personal information. Consumers may authorize other individuals to opt-out on their behalf and businesses must respect the requests made from said authorized individuals. Businesses must also treat any user-enabled privacy settings which signal a consumer’s decision to opt-out as a valid opt-out request.

    Delivery of requested information

    The CCPA also has various guidelines associated with the delivery of and response to requests from consumers. For instance, business disclosures must cover the 12-month period preceding their receipt of the verified consumer request and must be made in writing.

    Disclosure and delivery of the requested information to the consumer must also be made available free of charge via the consumer’s account with the business, by mail, or electronically within 45 days from the date of the consumer’s request. In the event the disclosure of said information is sent electronically, it must be sent in a “readily useable format” which allows the consumer to easily transmit the information to another entity “without hindrance” (i.e. PDF file).

    The CCPA also dictates that businesses are not required to provide personal information to a consumer more than twice in a 12-month period. Furthermore, a business may request an extension for the delivery of the information in the event one is necessary as long as the consumer is notified of the extension within the initial 45-day period.

    Businesses are also entitled to charge an administrative fee for requests deemed “manifestly unfounded or excessive” or refuse to act on such requests altogether as long as the consumer is notified for the reason of refusal. However, businesses which take such action should keep in mind that they will have to bear the burden of having to demonstrate (potentially to the courts) that a consumer request was in fact “manifestly unfounded or excessive”.

    Record-keeping

    The CCPA further mandates that businesses must maintain records of consumer requests and the business’ response to these request for a period of 24 months in order to remain compliant. If a business collects, purchases or sells information on more than 4 million consumers, they are subject to additional record-keeping and training obligations.

    Compliance violations

    Businesses are deemed to be in violation of the CCPA if they fail to cure any violations within 30 days after they are notified of non-compliance. In the event the case of such event, businesses will be subject to an injunction and liable for civil penalties of a maximum of $2,500.00 for each violation. If found violations were intentional, businesses can be subject to as much as $7,500.00 in penalties for each intentional violation.

    Conclusion

    As of January 2020, the CCPA has officially gone into effect. As a result, businesses of all backgrounds and sizes are now liable for remaining compliant under this groundbreaking piece of legislation. If you’re interested in learning more about the specifics of the CCPA, a copy of the code can be found on the California Legislative Information website. Getting compliant and staying compliant takes due diligence, time and commitment. Use this article as a guideline to stay ahead of the game and set your business up for success in 2020.

    At VisioneerIT we provide automated access to compliance free of charge to all businesses hosting their websites on our platform. Our convenient  plug-in has the ability to automatically update customer policies whenever there are changes in the laws. If you’re interested in learning more, visit our website at www.visioneerit.com.

     

    _______________________________________________________________________Sources:

    https://oag.ca.gov/privacy/ccpa

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=CIV&division=3.&title=1.81.5.&part=4.&chapter=&article=

    https://oag.ca.gov/system/files/attachments/press_releases/CCPA%20Fact%20Sheet%20%2800000002%29.pdf

    https://termageddon.com/ccpa-compliance-affects-marketing/

    https://www.cmdsonline.com/blog/the-looking-glass/website-compliance-ccpa/

     

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    strategies website optimization
    13 Strategies to Boost Website Optimization Today

    Website optimization is important for a wide variety of reasons. For one, you want to make sure that your website is always performing at peak levels to ensure an optimal user experience. No one wants to waste time waiting for web pages and graphics to load. User attention spans are dwindling and you only get a couple of seconds to make a good impression. After that — it’s on to the next one. Furthermore, your website’s performance is also directly linked to SEO and it’s ability to rank on search engine results pages. If you’re interested in learning various tactics  you can use to increase your website’s performance , then this article will provide you with 13 techniques to do just that.

    Image result for website optimization statistics

    Source

    1. Prioritize a mobile-first design

    Google made their first official announcement regarding mobile first indexing in March of 2018 but marketers were on to the notion of mobile-first far before that. While Google insists that mobile-first indexing doesn’t impact rankings, the truth of the matter is that since the majority of people browse via their mobile devices, it does impact how your site performs.

    Make sure your site is adaptive to not just mobile devices but a variety of devices so that users receive the best performance suited for their needs. Also keep in mind that less is often more when it comes to mobile. This applies to meta titles and content which is often easier to read when crafted with mobile users in mind. Furthermore, when using a responsive design, always scale your images and avoid pop-ups which cover content and can prevent users from seeing what your site is all about.

    2. Consider user intent

    Writing great content used to entail finding topics that are relevant to your industry, crafting in-depth, long-form, detailed articles and making sure content is adequately optimized with the right keywords. However, now a days, that’s only a part of the game. As Google’s algorithms grow and become more complex with the help of machine learning and artificial intelligence, things such as contextual relevance begin to come to the forefront of the conversation. It’s no longer just about optimizing for keywords and phrases but taking into consideration user intent. Does your website and fall in line with this when it comes to your keywords? Now more than ever contextual relevance must align when it comes to search queries. If your website isn’t in line with what is currently ranking, then chances are you’ll fall behind on the search engine results pages and your website simply won’t perform as well as you need it to.

    3. Schema markup

    Schema markup is essentially a form of microdata which when added to a webpage, creates a rich snippet which appears in the search engine results pages. This rich snippet is essentially an enhanced description of sorts. The reason why schema is used with regards to website optimization is that it can help provide context to your website and as a result, enhance the search experience. When it comes down to it however, adding schema markup can seem like quite the daunting task, especially for those who aren’t so technically savvy. Fortunately, if you happen to run your website on a platform such as WordPress, there are a number of plugins which can be used that can help you get the job done.

     

    4. Optimize the user experience

    The quality of your user experience is crucial when it comes to ensuring your website performs optimally with its intended audience. Your user experience essentially encompasses how users feel when they interact with not just your website but your products, your services and your company as a whole. There are a number of factors which influence UX.

    For example, is the content provided on your website useful to the user? Does it satisfy their needs? Is your website easy to use and navigate through? Are navigation elements and the design crafted in a way that make it easy for users to find what they are looking for? Are you implementing web accessible design so that your content is accessible to everyone regardless of ability? Furthermore, is your website credible and valuable to the user? All of these questions and more should be considered when it comes to ensuring you have crafted an exceptional user experience.

    5. Address 404 errors

    You know that pesky little “Page isn’t found” message you get from time to time when your browsing through a website? That’s a 404 error. A 404 error happens when content that you are trying to access no longer exists. 404 errors can be quite a malfeasance when it comes to website performance (i.e. speed) and as a result, they must be properly identified and taken care of.

    This is especially the case if these broken links are still generating traffic. Fortunately, handling the problem doesn’t have to be a hassle as there are a number of tools and resources you can use to identify and address 404 erros such as Google Webmaster Tools and Xenu’s Link Sleuth. There are also a number of plug-ins available for those who use platform such as WordPress, but keep in mind that a large amount of plug-ins will negatively impact your site’s performance and as a result, they should ideally be used sparingly.

    Image result for website optimization statistics
    Source

    6. Reduce redirects

    Let’s face it, sometimes redirects are a necessity. But is this the case for all of the ones currently running on your website? When it comes down to it, redirects create HTTP requests and can quickly bog down your website’s performance and thus negatively impact its speed. This is why it is always advised to keep any redirects to an absolute minimum. If you’re interested in identifying any redirects on your page, you can do so by running a scan with useful tools such as Screaming Frog. Assess what they’re being used for and make sure to only leave the ones which are serving a vital purpose.

    7. Reduce HTTP requests

    A browser can only open a certain number of connections to a single host at a time. In general, when it comes down to it, the more HTTP requests that your page has to make, the slower it performs. According to Apiumhub, bottlenecks can be prevented when “the number of individual page elements are reduced using resource consolidation whereby smaller files, such as images, are bundled together into one file”. This just so happens to be one of the single most important web optimization techniques you can use to increase website performance. So, if you’re going to knock them out on a list and you have a limited amount of time to do so, this is the one to get crackin’ on.

    8. Leverage website caching

    Think of your website as a customer service agent having to handle numerous calls simultaneously. When there are a lot of users attempting to access a page all at once, naturally, your performance slows and needs to take more time in order to deliver the webpage to each individual person. When you use website caching, it prevents your web page from having to render over again and again for each individual attempting to access it because it stores the current version of your website on the hosting until it is updated. This means less database requests and an improved performance and speed.

    9. Switch hosting

    If you’re having issues with site performance and speed, it may be time to consider moving your website to a better host. There are three main types of hosts that are used:

    1. Shared hosting
    2. VPS hosting
    3. Dedicated server

    By far, the most common type of hosting that is used is shared hosting. It’s cost-effective and pretty much the quickest way to get your website up and running. However, when it comes to shared hosting, it also just so happens to be the slowest of the options. This is because everything from CPU to disk space and RAM is shared with other sites which also use the hosting platform. VPS (Virtual Private Servers) use multiple servers. You’re still technically sharing the server with other users, but in this case you have your own part of the server where your usage doesn’t influence the other users and vice versa. Dedicated servers are the most expensive hosting option and are where you have your own personal server which is often managed and  maintained by a system administrator.

    10. Image optimization

    Many times you can improve website performance by doing something as simple as reconsidering the image files that you use. Uploading original image files to websites can quickly begin to slow down performance because these images are often too heavy. Instead of doing this, opt for using image compressor tools such as TinyPNG or JPEGMini, which can help improve performance and save bandwidth without compromising on the quality of your images.

    11. File compression

    File compression works in the same manner that image compression does and has the same benefits to your website’s performance. Your website runs on numerous code files such as javascript, HTML and CSS files. When your website begins to grow in complexity, so too do these files and the amount of time it takes for them to load. If you’re looking to improve the performance and speed of your website, consider using tools such as HTML Compressor or CSS Compressor to optimize performance via file compression.

    Image result for ssl certificate statistics

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    12. SSL certificates

    Looking to optimize your website so it performs better? Believe it or not, adding an SSL certificate into the mix can help out. This is because Google actually penalizes websites which don’t have them. Many platforms such as WordPress, Squarespace and more provide their users with the option to get an SSL certificate. The downside is that this is most likely done via an upgrade or an extra fee. However, it’s absolutely worthwhile, especially when it is proven to also help instill trust in the eyes of visitors.

    13. Reduce plug-ins

    Let’s face it — plug-ins are pretty much lifesavers and that’s especially the case if you happen to be a WordPress user. These nifty little components allow you to add specific features to your website that are often hosted by third parties. However, the truth of the matter is that plug-ins add bulk and the more you use, the more resources you need in order to run them. This can result in bogging down performance and also cause security issues to arise. As a result, it is always recommended that you do a routine check of all of the plug-ins you’re currently running. Are there any you haven’t used in a while or ones which aren’t critical to your site’s performance? Keep only the ones that are absolutely vital and then delete the rest.

    Conclusion

    Is your website up to par when it comes to how it’s performing in comparison to the competition? Website optimization is key. Continually monitoring and keeping up with regular maintenance checks are crucial in order to ensure your website is performing at its optimal level. Use this article as a nifty little quick-action guide in order to help you with your web optimization efforts. Start 2020 out with a bang by improving your website’s performance today.

     

    What are some web optimization techniques that you have found useful to implement? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you!

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    boost organic search rank seo strategies
    Boost Organic Search Rank with these 11 SEO Strategies

    So, pretty much everyone understands the importance of implementing SEO and how it can help boost organic search rank. When it comes to SEO, there are countless ways that you can work to improve your website.

    When it comes down to it, each and every single little improvement made should be viewed as a milestone of sorts. While each change may not have a momentous impact on your organic search rank, it is important to understand how necessary it is to view it from a holistic level.

    Think of it as getting into shape. You understand the importance of a lifestyle overhaul and how essential each and every step along the way is to achieving your overall goal. So, you start with increasing your water intake every day and then, you add more fruits and vegetables to your diet and then you start to cut out the red meat.

    Each and every step in and of itself isn’t going to yield an extraordinary result instantaneously, but when compounded, they do indeed yield awesome results. This is the same with SEO.

    Choosing the right path

    There are two approaches businesses can take when it comes to making an impression on  the search engines of today. These are referred to as White Hat or Black Hat techniques. White Hat techniques for SEO include legitimate ways to boost your SEO rankings based on SEO best practices. However,  black hat techniques are those which are used to take shortcuts around Google’s standards.

    black hat white hat seo

    Source

    While results from black hat techniques may yield positive benefits in the short term, it’s important to understand that Google’s algorithms are becoming more and more sophisticated every single day.

    There have been plenty of individuals who went to bed with nicely improved organic rankings one day only to wake up in Google’s “sandbox” once the algorithm realized the black hat techniques being used.

    Good luck getting out of there. Trust is everything to Google’s algorithms and breaking that trust results in extremely harsh, long-lasting penalties. You’ll be better off deleting your website completely and just starting over from scratch. 

    To outsource, or to not outsource

    Making the decision to move forward with your SEO strategy in a legitimate manner is pretty much a no-brainer.  However, outsourcing is a completely different ballgame. The truth of the matter is that outsourcing for SEO can easily become quite expensive.  This is because SEO doesn’t just take time in order to yield results, it takes a lot of hard work and technical expertise.

    According to recent data, the average SEO expert charges anywhere between $80 and $130 per hour for their services. Furthermore, most SEO agencies require retainers between $750-$1500 per month. Then there’s the prospect of having to vet the agency or individual and their credibility. This is absolutely crucial in determining whether or not you are going to move forward with a prospect, but it can be practically impossible to do if you, yourself are not well-versed in SEO.

    Needless to say, many small businesses simply just don’t have the luxury to outsource. This pretty much leaves them with two options:

    1. Put SEO on the back burner for the time being until enough capital is raised.

    OR

    2. Take the time to learn SEO best practices so that they can start implementing them themselves.

    The search engine optimization process can be extremely technical in nature, and as a result, it is always recommended that you hire an expert. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take some steps to get your brand started off on the right foot. If you’re a business looking to improve your organic search rank, we’ve included 11 proven strategies you can use to help boost your organic search rank today. These are white hat techniques to help get you ahead of the game, everything from advanced keyword research to smart ways for creating user-generated content.  So take a look.

    11 SEO Strategies Which Can Make Your Website Popular

    While writing amazing content is important to engage your audience, what’s the point until the search engines start sending relevant traffic to your webpages

    Optimizing your website for search engines is the standard means to boost traffic and revenue. Using the right technique is crucial to expose your website to the target audience and even avoid penalization from search engines.

    b2b content marketing tactic usage

    Source

    1.    Targeted Content Marketing Strategy

    Excellent content is fundamentally essential if you’re looking to crack the SEO code and rank your website higher in the search results. As Google is not the sole search engine you must focus on high domain authority and most importantly,  start with a bulletproof content marketing plan.

    If your content is uniquely valuable to the search engines, it will automatically provide free promotion by driving traffic to your site. Google is very much like Amazon in that they place an unbelievably high value on their consumer’s experiences.

    You want to give the search engines as many opportunities to index your site as possible. This builds trust and thus, increases your organic rank. But, once content is posted, don’t just forget about it.

    Old content still provides a plethora of opportunities for updating and indexing. Keeping your content evergreen and always updating your posts with fresh statistics, data or insights is crucial to gaining the most out of it. Every time you do these updates, it works in your favor because the search engines sees this as new content within your post available for indexing.

    • Create unique content and niche pages around Main Keyword(s).
    • Add high quality content such as White Papers, Guides, How-to Posts and engaging Videos.
    • Publish regularly.
    • Use A/B splitting to rate your design and content strategies.
    • Avoid publishing subpar content—check out your competitors to get a baseline.
    • Use Flesch Reading Test to confirm the readability of your content.

    guest blogging seo

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    2.    Influential Content Creation

    When Silvio decided to include guest posting into their content strategy, they were blown away by the results they achieved in just a span of 5 months. For search engines to consider your content valuable and unique, you need authority figures to vouch for your claims. One easy way to do so is by using an influential person in your niche to write on your website.

    Your audience will listen to the guest writer earnestly if he or she already has a strong online presence already. Moreover, guest posts often attract viral attention and free promotion too.

    • Make a list of top blogs relevant to your niche using Google and Social media search engines.
    • Follow popular expert bloggers in your industry.
    • Use guest post writers from high authority websites to create content for you.
    • Write guest posts on other websites and ask for exchange posts.

    backlinks seo

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    3.    Outbound and Inbound Backlinking

    One of the results of guest blogging is that you get links back to your website. Outbound backlinking involves referral links from high authority domains to your website or vice versa. There are two types of backlinks: internal and external. Inbound backlinks are links between content  on your website while outbound backlinks are hyperlinked anchor texts from other websites.

    When your website receives an outbound backlink from a website similar to yours, it acts as a certificate of authenticity for your webpage.

    • Write a guest post about your website on a high traffic website with backlinks and ask for an exchange.
    • Seek out owners of websites akin to yours and initiate contact. Once you establish the friendship, request a backlink.
    • Give interviews to popular shows and critics in your niche.
    • Add a clickable icon that says “Link to This” underneath your posts.

    keyword research seo

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    4.    Keyword Research and Use

    If you want to be featured on Google, you must use keywords that are popular amongst your target audience. SEO tools including Google Analytics will help you collect high traffic keywords with low competition to captivate and attract potential customers.

    Adding the right keywords contextually into your posts will prove your value to search engines and help boost organic search rank. Avoid keyword stuffing or choking as these are black hat SEO practices known to disrupt the readability of a document, ultimately penalizing your page. You often see a keyword density of 2% as the ideal standard.

    However, anyone whose written content for a living will tell you that a 2% keyword density will significantly impact the readability of your content and will come off as sales-y. Generally speaking, you should write naturally.

    If you’re doing your part and writing about the proper topics, your keywords will flow into your content. Then, once your finished, go back through content and optimize it for keywords as much as you can without making it sound robotic and decreasing the readability.

    • Use Google Adwords Keyword Planner to research focus keyword.
    • Add the focus keyword in the Title of your Post, URL, First Paragraph, Header (H1), Sub-Headers (H2), Meta Description, Alt Text for Images, External backlinks, Internal Backlinks and Special texts (Bold and Italics).
    • Insert keywords with reasonable gaps of 1 to 2% density.
    • Add Long Tail Keywords with up to 4 words including the focus keyword. Long-tail keywords generate high-quality traffic in comparison with standard keywords and are a great tactic to make regular use of.
    • Use synonyms of the focus keyword in the article to prevent keyword stuffing.

    seo meta description  

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    5.    Meta Description and HTTPS

    Meta Description is the gist of your post seen under the URL on a search engine. It’s that block of text you see underneath the title of a search result. It’s so unbelievably important not to forget about this. Keep your meta descriptions compelling to captivate the reader and pick you over the competitors and don’t forget to include your main keywords.

    An HTML tag with up to 160 characters, the meta description is indispensable for on-page SEO rich content.

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    Another factor which can help boost organic search rank is the presence of HTTPS in your URL against HTTP. This is a security standard and you should know that Google advocates HTTPS conversions for SEO such that they rank websites with HTTPS higher than those without.

    Why? Because they’re more trustworthy—and building a relationship with the search engines is much like building any relationship in real life. It takes consistent, long-term exposure and trust.

    6.    Regular Professional Analysis

    If you’re looking to boost organic search rank, conducting regular technical assessments of your website are necessary. From improvising the structure of your website for SEO to making it error free, many factors add to the quality of a website. Moreover, Google updates are often drastic and may leave your website barren if you are not updated with its every day SEO news and best practices, which change quite frequently

    • Use Google Webmaster Tools or Analytics to understand how the search engines rank your page.
    • Proofread your content to remove spelling and semantic errors.
    • Hire an expert to keep your on-page SEO up-to-date.
    • Use an SEO tool such as Yoast SEO to help with your organic search rank.

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    7.    Seek Verified Reviews & Other Forms of User-Generated Content

    From attracting clicks to regular traffic, user reviews and other types of user-generated content such as comments and forums hold an important role in the search engine ranking of a website. Authentic user-generated content offers  fresh and uniquely valuable content for search engines to confirm the unique quality of your services.

    According to statistics, 90% e-commerce website visitors check reviews before opening a website. Moreover, every review, comment, post, thread or update is a type of cost-free content generation directly from the target audience.

    • Proactively ask or request users to post reviews on your websites.
    • Publish the top reviews on your landing page to keep the audience engaged.
    • You can also create a forum to boost the online presence of your brand.

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    8.    Canonical URLs

    The content on your webpage must offer unique value to the visitors. But did you know that if your website content is available on more than one links over the internet, you will be penalized  by the search engines ? This is because when the algorithm sees duplicate content on more than one URL, that you’re trying to pull a fast one.

    So, make sure that you’re using canonical URLs so that you can communicate to the search engines that the pages within your site with similar URLs are one in the same. This applies particularly with e-commerce websites, as often you will find products or content applicable through different routes.

    For example, let’s say you are an online clothing retailer. A particular men’s jacket is accessible to a consumer if they go to the homepage, click on the category of “Men’s Clothes” and then click on “Outerwear”. This provides the product with a specific URL link.

    However, many times this is not the only way to get to this product on a page. For example, you could have an entire section of your website dedicated to “Fall Styles”. So if the consumer clicks instead on “Fall Styles”, “Men’s Clothing” and then “Outerwear”, this provides an entirely different URL, despite the fact that it’s taking you to the same product.

    • Avoid boilerplate content (text duplicated in a different context) and print pages of the posts.
    • Restrict similar Keyword Tags.
    • Check if session IDs in URLs are creating multiple URLs for the same page.
    • Instead of sharing the same website via multiple domains, confirm one domain and add 301 Redirects to the other.
    • Use canonical URLs as an SEO best practice.

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    9.    Loading Speed of your Page

    Believe it or not, increasing the speed of your website can help boost organic search rank. High quality images and video are all great to have, but if they negatively impact your page load speeds, you’ll find yourself struggling to rank higher. In addition, long server response times ultimately increase your bounce rate.

    The hard truth of the matter is that the average visitor will simply close out of a website that refuses to open within 3 seconds. This is why it’s so important to maintain quick loading speeds for your page.

    • Run a page speed test to find the elements that delay loading speed your website.
    • Optimize high-resolution images to fit the web.
    • Add Cache Plugins to reduce loading time by pre-loading the page.
    • Use HTTP2 for increased user engagements on your page.

    how social media supports seo

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    10. Social Media Presence

    In this age of viral videos and Instagram magic, an active online presence on social media is essential, especially if you’re looking to boost organic search rank. The best way to leverage your prospects using social pages is by creating content that increases the engagement of potential customers via official social media pages of your brand.

    Multiple social media accounts offer unique ways to promote your Webpages. What’s more, it will also create outbound links to your website, boosting its rank on SERPs. If you’re an e-commerce site, adding links to your social media pages will increase trust and loyalty of your customers and search engines towards the brand.

    • Add Social Media buttons on your page to increase visibility to the visitors.
    • Promote your content on Social Media Pages using posts, images, videos and gated content.
    • Ask your followers to comment and share your posts.

    mobile usage stats

    11. Mobile Optimization

    Google says there is no stop to the incoming mobile revolution. There’s no denying that more searches now than ever are conducted on mobile phones than on any other device. This is old news. But as the years go on, the increase in this percentage steadily continues to skyrocket.

    In fact, many industries, especially B2C businesses are seeing up to 85% of their sessions being conducted on mobile devices. The takeaway? If you’re not optimized, you’re ancient. If you’re truly looking to boost organic search rank, you’re going to have to go mobile.

    mobile optimization seo

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    As the web prepares to optimize for the small screen, search engines are creating algorithms to rate mobile-friendly websites.  To implement mobile optimization for SEO, create Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMPs to serve as a second website exclusively for mobile users.  This will easily help you boost organic search rank and gain a competitive advantage over your competition.

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    Conclusion

    With Google and other search engines updating their algorithms drastically, sticking to a universal SEO practice is ineffective. The truth of the matter is that best practices aren’t static in nature — they’re constantly evolving as Google continues to update and tweak its algorithms. This is another reason why hiring an SEO expert is often such an essential step in boosting organic search rank. The last thing you want to do is spend time, money and resources implementing tactics which are no longer effective. However, if you take the time to stay up-to-date on current methodologies and strategies, then you can effectively implement a few simple tactics in order to hold you over until you are ready to commit to a seasoned pro or agency. Stay informed, stay hungry and get started today on boosting your organic search rank so that you can set yourself up for success.


    Are you interested in learning how you can boost organic search rank? VisioneerIT  offers competitive rates for search engine optimization and can help take your strategy to the next level. To learn more, visit www.visioneerit.com for further details!

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