Underdog Landscape Supply is the top supplier of mulch, stone, gravel, sand, and firewood in the Philadelphia region. We provided their very first website back in 2009 and now this is their third generation website. The new site is built on the WordPress platform and is mobile responsive so it works well and looks just as good on PCs, PADs, and phones.
In 2014 Underdog Landscape Supply engaged us to provide our search engine optimization services. Their website had not been previously optimized for search results and was essentially lost on Google, they were receiving little search engine referral traffic. Today their website has over 500 #1 rankings for phrases relevant to the products they sell and deliver. It also has achieved over 750 page 1 rankings and continues to expand its reach. We’ve worked with this client from zero to over 6,000 visitors per month!
Whether you’re an early adopter of the internet and have had your website for a long time or only been involved for a few years, you most likely have noticed the tightening grasp of Google’s algorithm around search results for almost every search.
In the beginning search was all organic. Everything that Google returned for a search was what is commonly referred to as the FREE results. Of course in the beginning Google didn’t make any money. In October of 2003 Google launched what became their very successful AdWords platform. Now Searchers had to jump over the hurdle of the ads to arrive at the FREE organic results.
2005 Google merges their Google Maps program with their local business program. They begin to show local listings in a different format that contains more information than just a link to the actual businesses websites. Name, address, phone, number, reviews and a map. All neatly displayed. No need to visit the website and have to hunt for any of this information which may be all many searchers need. Some websites lost traffic, if not sales.
In 2012 Google launched their Carousel feature returning images representing local businesses for some searches in a horizontal bar at the top of their results. This feature provides a visual interactive user experience users. Potentially beneficial to the searcher, perhaps not so much for the businesses.
What all of these new features have in common is content. Content directly on Google search results pages (SERPs). Content that keeps searchers on Google for a longer period of time. The longer a Searcher is on Google, the more likely they are to click on one of Google’s ads and voila, Google generates income.
You may have noticed when using voice search from cellular devices that Google will often reply with an audio response. Very convenient, not to mention much safer if you can just say “OK Google” “Make my search” and Google will respond with out you ever having to take your eyes off of what you’re doing to look at your screen. Not so convenient for the organic search results.
This week on Moz.om, Dr. J Myers published the article “Zero-Result SERPs: Welcome to the Future We Should’ve Known Was Coming”. The article details what is likely the next step in Google advancing their search platform. if or rather when the day comes that this new feature is implemented across all searches it will be a dark day for organic search results and many small businesses.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t maximize the effort in trying to get the best rankings and generating the most traffic to your website. It does however bring to mind the saying “the best consumer is an informed consumer”. Want to learn more about how One Sky Media can help you generate more traffic to your website? Please contact us.
Has your business been disrupted by your competitors or perhaps Google?
Disruption is the word of the day. Apple essentially turned the music industry upside down and shook it to make sure it didn’t leave anything of great value behind. Amazon and other online companies have disrupted most retail bricks and mortar ventures. Uber disrupted taxi services. Craigslist your newspaper want ads and the list goes on and on.
If your business has yet to feel a shake-up by an industry disruptor or Google algorithm update consider yourself fortunate. If your SMB has a productive website, your traffic has a value and your competition and Google want their pieces of your pie. Google has grown from a company with no source of revenue in the late 90s to grossing over 100 billion dollars in 2017. They’ve done this by selling advertising. Their AdWords platform is hugely profitable. Anyone who has followed Google closely since their inception 20 years ago has seen Google closing the circle and according to this recent article on MOZ – Google’s Walled Garden: Are We Being Pushed Out of Our Own Digital Backyards? slowly shutting down the flow of outbound visitor traffic. In addition to the fight to outdo your competitors for top spots in Googles organic search results, today your main competitor may well be Google itself. Continuing in their efforts to effortlessly answer their searchers’ questions, many of their improvements in recent years have been crafted to keep searchers on Google properties where they have a greater potential of clicking on a Google revenue-generating ad. You may have already felt these changes in the way of reduced website traffic. Fewer visitors to your online presence that may have impacted website generated sales.
Don’t take this to mean that organic search is dead, far from it. Just a wakeup call to the reality that surrounds us as we traverse the modern digital landscape. As the fight for visitors attention heightens we all need to maximize our efforts to stand head and shoulders above our competitors and grab the largest piece of the online market possible. If there ever was a free ride in the internet marketing world, it left the station years ago!
Protecting WordPress Websites from Hacking
Website hacking reports on the nightly news in 2018 have become so common; they barely draw a yawn from many viewers. Website owners need to pay attention! It’s not just the mega companies and government websites that are targets of hacking.
Early adopters of the internet, many of which may have never updated their websites face a new more malicious world when they finally replace their outdated HTML websites with modern WordPress websites. WordPress’s worldwide use supporting the largest percentage of CMS-driven websites places any website built using the WordPress platform clearly in the sites of hackers.
New WordPress users may be surprised by the number and frequency of updates released annually, both for improvements and to shutdown newly found security exploits. Each new version of the WordPress core files is quickly followed by a flurry of updates from the thousands of actively managed plugins in order to maintain their compatibility. What website doesn’t use a contact form 7, Yoast SEO and WordFence security plugins as a bare minimum? Updating often seems never-ending!
As a webmaster educating new clients about the perils of the internet is not a task I take any pleasure in, least of all informing clients about the daily risks their very own websites are subject to. Advising clients to take the best available precautions is a responsibility we take very seriously.
In the earlier days of internet-connected-PCs, they often became riddled with viruses. Through the years we’ve learned to keep our PC software current with the latest releases geared more at closing security holes that allowed attacks than adding functionality and improving our user experience. We learned to install and constantly maintain Anti-Virus software to the latest annually released version. Connected to the internet these Anti-Virus programs automatically download the latest lists of viruses to help protect us from Malware infections which cause machine downtime and lost productivity.
Websites themselves are the targets of malicious activity today. Hackers exploit websites for many reasons. To send junk email and inject your website with pages containing links to low-quality websites. Infect your website so that anyone visiting your site is subject to having their PC infected. Hackers even hijack websites to commandeer the power of web servers to use in Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency mining activities.
What’s The Worst That Can Happen If I Don’t Keep My WordPress Website Up-To-Date?
The consequence of not updating your websites software is that the site may be hacked and compromised. In a worst-case scenario, to the point where you could have to rebuild your website. To date, we have not completely lost a website to hackers. We have had to manually clean up and repair several each year, over the past five years.
Once a site has been compromised it cannot only stop it from functioning… it can infect your website visitors PCs, harming your company’s reputation and expose sensitive data to the public. A hacked website can also place other websites hosted in the same shared hosting environment at risk, for this reason, serious providers will require you maintain your software monthly to the latest released versions.
The WordFence Security Plugin is installed in every WordPress website we build. Security plugins help keep hackers at bay but do not completely eliminate the risks. If your WordPress core software is outdated, WordFence may not stop attempts to exploit the holes in your websites armor. If your logins are Phished, it’s game on for the exploitation to begin.
For several years we have offered a full-service WordPress Management Program. While this service is ideal for busy clients with a budget to cover the monthly service fee, some don’t derive enough value from their website to justify more than minimal ongoing expenses. In these cases, an auto update plugin can be used to keep the website up-to-date.
Are There Any Risks To Updating WordPress on My Website?
There are some inherent risks with updates, they may not be compatible with one another. Conflicts can break your website and even shut it down. With our WordPress Management Program we check to make sure that post update, your website is still functioning and take corrective action when problems occur. We also maintain a full year worth of backups in case your site is hacked and either malicious software lies dormant and/or goes unnoticed for an extended period.
In the event the site would be broken as a result of an update, we can try to restore it from a local backup which is a standard part of our hosting accounts (a few daily, weekly and one monthly backup are stored). For those that opt for our WordPress Management Program, we also maintain 12 monthly backups off-site to have a deeper fallback ability to restore their sites in the event they are compromised.
More about WordPress, Web Sites, and Hacking:
To learn more about malicious activity on the internet and the risks for all websites including WordPress websites, you can read the articles you’ll find using the links below.
- Ask Wordfence: Why Is an Insignificant Site Like Mine Being Attacked? ( A March 2018 article directly addressing why your site is a target)
- Hacked: How Business Is Fighting Back Against the Explosion in Cybercrime (A 2017 Fortune article, see in particular the last paragraph “When it comes to hacking, a penny of offense can defeat a dollar’s worth of defense.”)
- 30,000 Web Sites Hacked A Day. How Do You Host Yours? (A short article on Forbes.com from 2013 that explains the situation well)
- HOW WORDPRESS SITES GET HACKED (AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT) ( A more in-depth article from 2016)
New clients interested in sharing in the workload of SEO and saving some monthly expenses often ask to write their own SEO content. Inevitably the question “How do I write content for SEO” is fielded. This recent whiteboard Friday presented by Rand Fishkin, founder of MOZ gives a great history and his take on how to write content for SEO in 2108. Current writing techniques start around the 4 minute mark.
Rand Fishkin is well known in SEO circles and was interviewed back in 2005 for a Newsweek article on the then-new subject and burgeoning industry of search engine optimization.
Today’s article in Site Pro News reports on ( EU Charges Google With Breaching Anti-Trust Law) Google’s ongoing legal woes in Europe. In short the EU accuses Google of hampering “consumer choice” and hence innovation by limiting the exposure to competitive businesses by favoring it’s own advertisers…
This is the same Google we use here in the US and I imagine the same favoritism the EU is concerned about also impacts US consumers. What do you think is Google negatively impacting innovation and competition?
Google, often mysterious about how their search engine works, making changes behind the scenes, without even a whisper. So much out of character, Google for some months has been emailing website owners informing them that their websites are not mobile ready and that they can expect poor mobile search results going forward, unless the situation is fixed. Well now they’ve even published the date. On April 21st 2015 their new algorithm, promoting mobile ready sites, while demoting those that are not, will swing into operation.
If your site is not currently mobile responsive you have less than 2 months to make the changes needed to preserve and potentially grow your share of mobile search referrals from Google. Need help? Contact us using this link or call 717-569-2484 for a free proposal to make your site mobile responsive.
Good article on Forbes.com Tuesday that explains the correlations between Social Media and SEO. Have a read.
In an article published today on Web Pro News you can see a list of the years top losers in terms of Google search referrals. The story starts by reiterating info about the decimation of a whole class of websites, those specialized in posting song lyrics. A look down through the list will grab your attention when you see sites like NBCnews.com down 39% and discovery.com down 59% and ask.com down 30%.
The reason for these huge drops is born on the shoulders of Google Answers which attempts to answer questions posted in search directly at the top of the search results. If Google answers is successful you no longer need to visit the source website.
We’ve known for years the power that Google holds, let’s hope this is not a sign of things to come.
Do you use a smartphone? So do your prospective clients! Today’s mobile phone users aren’t just making phone calls they’re searching the internet. With this in mind it appears that Google is adding “mobile readiness” to the already lengthy list of signals it evaluates to determine how to rank websites.
If your website isn’t already built to work across the myriad of mobile devices it’s not too late. Your website can be converted to a responsive mobile website that auto detects the viewing port size (screen size) of all your visitors and automatically configure itself for an optimal viewing experience. Better visitor experience equates to higher conversion rate of your site.
Not sure how well your site works on mobile devices? Visit this site Responsinator to see how your site works on phones and PADS, you may be surprised. Give us a call if you find your website doesn’t meet the new mobile responsive website design standards and we’ll help you understand the options available to make it mobile ready 717-569-2484.
Learn more at Site Pro News: It Looks Like Google Is Adding Another Ranking Signal
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