Why Relevant External Links Matter: Back to SEO Basics

As a knowledgeable and methodical webmaster and we may be, we know that  know that optimizing our website is a constant effort and that the Web is always evolving.  Our Naperville Web Design and SEO Team is constantly being retaught and our methods reformulated to appeal to the demands of the search engines. You may have spent several hours adding and updating meta and titles tags, keyword-rich content, H1 header tags on top of pages, multiple header tags within content, title text,  quality web content, alt tags for photos, and even building inbound links. One thing you’ve certainly learned through all of this is that in order to rise and remain at the top of SERPs — everything is never enough. linking still matters

Outbound Linking

Certainly one commonly overlooked, and sometimes feared, tactic is hosting external links to relevant websites within your own site’s content.  Some SEO's view this as the ultimate sin.  You likely know that having authoritative sites that include a link back to your website can help generate traffic, leads, as well as increasing your rankings on SERPs. But you might find your self puzzled considering, "if we’re going back to basics, how exactly would linking out to other websites help?" And with the onslaught of websites that have fallen off the grid post-Google updates (Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird) for suspicion of trying to “game the system” – why on Earth would you want to risk having your website get penalized? Some SEO's here in Chicago have openly claimed that outbound links are a near and dear friend of the internet devil. The answer is very simple: user experience surpasses all other aspects of the algorithms. Search engines want you to provide relevant resources on your website that enhance your visitor’s experiences while surfing the web. Your dynamic content and lists of helpful resources will all add a great deal of value to your website in the eyes of your visitors…and the Googlebots.

Spammy vs. Natural Links

So, how can you distinguish between “natural” and “spam” external links and why should you care? Well, what's useful and relevant to your website’s categories and topics. For example, if your website is geared towards sports, it would make sense to link out to other authoritative and relevant sport sites and pages that can enhance your visitor’s experience; whereas including a link to a dentist’s office would seem out of place (unless somehow the connection is legitimate). Of course, you also want to protect your visitors from sites that involve online gambling, payday loans, pharmaceuticals, or adult-oriented content.  Avoid any links from sites associated with known spam content. Additionally, if you ensure that the keywords associated with the site linking into yours are similar to your own, there will be a greater chance of additional weight being placed on them. External links can also come in several shapes and sizes. Surely one of the more well-known tactics is to develop useful content that contains natural links out to other related sources and websites. Accepting authoritative guest posts is also a way to keep your site updated with unique content.  The addition of an authoritative author is that you receive fan traffic from those who are avid readers of the guest author.

They're Still Votes From The Internet

Obviously, you want quality links coming in, and in doing so, you want votes of approval from the internet as a whole. While yes, Google has clamped down on the weight and power of any specific link, the simple reality is that they aren't currently able to get a good feel for a website's overall impact without using link data.  Keep them clean, and Google will reward your SEO effort.
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Google Authorship Is Dead & What That Means For Your SEO Strategy

The Authorship markup was first unveiled by Google in June 2011 and SEO Techs everywhere rejoiced. Its roots can be traced back to the company's Agent Rank patent of 2007. Bill Slawski, an expert on Google's patents, says that the Agent Rank patent is a type of system wherein multiple pieces of content are connected with a digital signature that represents one or more "agents" (authors).

Three years after Google Authorship was launched, the company decided to discontinue the project and SEO's everywhere cried a little. The announcement came from John Mueller of Google Webmaster Tools which he posted in Google+. According to Mueller, Google will stop displaying authorship in Google Search. Likewise, it will no longer track data from content with the rel=author markup in SERP rankings.

Google noticed that displaying the authorship information wasn't as useful as the company had thought it would be. At some point, it can even distract from the results. For these reasons, Google decided to axe the Authorship project.

Don't discount Author Rank as a result of this change and the reduced spinets.

According to Search Engine Land:

Author Rank Is Real — And Continues!

Schmidt was just speculating in his book, not describing anything that was actually happening at Google. From Google itself, there was talk several times last year of making use of Author Rank as a way to identify subject experts and somehow boost them in the search results:

  • Google Authority Boost: Google’s Algorithm To Determine Which Site Is A Subject Authority, May 2013
  • Google’s Matt Cutts: Someday, Perhaps Ranking Benefits From Using Rel=”Author”, June 2013
  • Google Still Working On Promoting Subject-Specific Authorities In Search Results, December 2013

That was still all talk. The first real action came in March of this year. After Amit Singhal, the head of Google Search, said that Author Rank still wasn't being used, the head of Google’s web spam team gave a caveat of where Author Rank was used: for the “In-depth articles” section, when it sometimes appears, of Google’s search results.

Google divulged that dropping Google Authorship shouldn't have an impact on how the In-depth articles section works so strong writers' SEO platforms should be intact. Google also explained that the dropping of Google Authorship won’t impact its other efforts to reward authors who perpetually make quality and engaging content. Well, if you read the above portion, you're likely scratching your heads. How is there to be author rank without authorship, when Google has also said that it’s ignoring authorship markup? The answer is that Google has other ways to the author of a quality story, if it wants. In particular, Google is likely to look for visible "bylines" and citations that often appear on news stories and blog posts. These existed before Google Authorship, and they aren't going away. One thing to keep in mind, you will want to ensure that all of your titled work is consolidated under the account name you will want tracked.
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Low-Cost, HIgh-Impact Ways Businesses Can Boost Local Sales

If you're a small business owner, you've likely felt some pains because of the tighter lending regulations from banks.  Your advertising budgets are already small or non-existent, making advertising even harder now.  Fortunately, digital advertising has some low-cost options, allowing small businesses to be able to expand their limited budgets.

Many small businesses have Facebook and Twitter pages, and maybe a few listings in local directories, but that is the extent of their advertising. This is not for lack of interest, however.  In a recent study released by market research firm BIA/Kelsey, 40 percent of small and midsized businesses plans to increase digital spending in the next year.

So how can businesses get the best return on investment from digital, internet and social media advertising methods?

Low Cost Internet Marketing Ideas

It is understandable that companies do not want to put up the cash for traditional outbound marketing techniques, but there are actually a lot of inexpensive (and free) ways to market a business online that are underutilized. If you want to maximize your online presence, look beyond the typical social networks and directories and make use of these options as well:

Register your company with Google’s Places for Business. It's estimated that 97 percent of consumers decide what local businesses to frequent based on an online search? This free service from Google, Places for Business, literally puts you “on the map” so people can find the products or services you offer on a local level. If you do not have an office that is open to the public, you can choose a service area option during signup and hide your physical address. If you have multiple locations, you will want to sign up separately for each spot. Additionally, you will want to be added to several citation sites, to reinforce the Google Places listing. Ensure that the location, phone, and name of your business are the same on each of these sites. Bet results come from consistency.

Join your local Chamber of Commerce. For a small annual fee, you can take advantage of the many networking opportunities your local Chamber of Commerce provides. This is an excellent way to learn about the ways area laws will affect your business operations and also to rub elbows with potential clients. Usually new members get the chance to promote their business on the Chamber’s website or in its newsletter which could lead to a boost in business.

Seek out barter swaps with other local companies. This can take many different forms depending on the resources that you have available to trade. Consider comparable online banner ads or just simply leaving business cards at each other’s physical locations. You may also want to look into exchanging guest blog posts with other area businesses. By linking to each other, you will build up search engine credibility for people searching businesses in your area. There are really no limits here and business swap ideas are free. Try to find companies that make sense with which to trade – for example, a home inspector may find value in a swap relationship with a local Realtor or property management office.

Make a business video. People love to watch videos online, so why not ride that wave? Make a brief video explaining your services or products and post it several places, including your official website and YouTube.  Show your expertise in your field with a video that explains what you do and why you are the best at it.  People like to put a face with a business name, especially when it comes to local companies, so give them a reason to pick you over the other options.

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Make Sure your Chicago Area Small Business is found on Google| Small Business SEO

You may have recently decided to dedicate a lot of effort and resources to get your website discovered. However, if the website has poor quality and lacks vital information, then it can have an adverse effect on your small business. In order to ensure your small business is found in Google(or Bing and Yahoo for that matter), you will need to be search engine friendly.  It’s also important that you provide content that’s persuasive and valuable for your potential client. Here are a few SEO tips to help enhance your visibility on Google: Being Found In Google Use Catchy Titles & Descriptions: Make sure each page has a ‘catchy’ title. It should include at least one relevant keyword. Your Meta tag descriptions should also include a keyword. It should also summarize what your web page is about. You’ll want to include a call-to-action. The key is to persuade people to click onto your website for further information. Use Relevant Keywords & Keyword Phrases: Always use the right keywords. You’ll want to use the keywords that your target audience is actually using to find your product or service. A web design company in Naperville or Chicago that offers SEO services can conduct an extensive keyword search and find the most popular keywords in your niche. Stuffing keywords in that don't have any relevant position to the page topic, or flood the page with useless info is a great way to be punished by the Google gods. Be Social Make sure you can be found on the social media sites that your audience is hanging out. It’s not necessary to sign up for every site. Simply sign up where the majority of your audience is hanging out at. For example, if you find out your target audience is hanging out at Foursquare, Facebook and Google+, you’ll want to make yourself available on those networks. Don’t forget to add the link of your website to your social media accounts, not only for the search engines, but so people can find you. Social Media traffic is one of the most dedicated driving forces of the internet today; ignoring it would be ignoring your businesses future. It’s important to understand that Google is constantly evolving. The key is to provide your visitors with a website that is not only well designed but a website that is relevant to the product or service you’re offering. Remember, Google is meant to function in a way that simulates the average person searching.  If you make your site more data-friendly to average users, it will also be friendly to Google. Contact us to find out more information about our Small Business SEO, web design, and development services. Naper  Design is a full-service web design and SEO company in Naperville offering mobile app development, website design & web development, mobile development and SEO services. 
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5 SEO Tips for Launching a New Website and New Brand

You may feel that you have the perfect search strategy, but there are still more tactics to consider. Here are some basic SEO tips for launching a new website and new brand: Rebuilding a Website
  •      As you transition from your old website to a new SEO targeted Website, you can maintain the link equity in which you have invested in already. This is vital for getting your new website to rank quickly. The most effective way to achieve this would be to leave your URLs untouched. However, this is not always possible y if you make an attempt to improve your URL structure or moving to a new domain. Often, updating to a strong Database Built Web Design will result in some changes to link mapping.
  •     Images are ideal to make your new website engaging and attractive. Unfortunately, search engines have not reached a point yet where they can decode content that is image-based. The use of alt tags can enable search engines to comprehend the meaning of images; this can also be valuable for those who are visually impaired. Alt tags should be vivid and entail the same keywords for which your page aims to rank.
  •      External links can enable link authority to your website, while internal links can distribute that particular authority across your website pages. In page cross-linking, there are opportunities for appropriate referrals to additional pages with relevant data; they are typically unheeded during a redesign. Page copy can be an ideal place to link to deeper website pages with anchor text to point to long-tail keywords.
  •    Local results have taken a greater standing in the SERPs. Naturally, it depends on your brand; so, local can be your strategy instead of a small portion of your overall plan.  Keep in mind, locally focused works only if your business model is only focused locally. There are several locally relevant recommendations to consider in combination with your fresh new website launch, but most importantly, your maps should always be the focus of local SEO. Our Naperville Web Design and SEO Team targets citation listings (map directories) and locally relevant review sites to ensure for a cohesive and universal set of data descriptions.
  •      A new Google search feature in authorship is expected to increase in relevance over time. Author-Ranking is the future of authorship where pages are ranked based on the authority of the writer, as opposed to the authority of the page/website. An investment in authorship can help you not only in the short term, but the long term as well. We suggest that your content creators work on and off of your sites to develop a stronger authorship ranking.
To find out more information about how SEO can help improve your web visibility, contact our Chicago and Naperville SEO Team.
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Tips to Streamline Online Marketing Budgets

Marketing your business online to prospective customers doesn't have to cost a fortune. Often times, many people waste a lot of money with online marketing that doesn't produce the results they expect - mainly because they do not have a solid marketing strategy in place. In reality, you can experience good results with online marketing on a budget. Here are six effective tips: Tip #1:Your marketing strategy will never be lucrative if you don’t have an audience that is clearly defined. Before you spend a dime on marketing, first identify your prospective market. There is no need to pay top dollar to employ a prestigious market research firm. If you have knowledge of your product, then you should be able to identify the market yourself. Tip #2:You can determine what you’re looking to gain from marketing online, whether it is increased awareness or increased revenue. It is likely you’ll have various goals, but keep track of these multiple goals to measure your achievements. When you reach your initial goals, then you can set new goals for your company to reach success.   Our Naperville Web Design team can help you monitor and keep track of your marketing efforts with our various analytic tools. This will help you with growing your business. Tip #3:Once you are aware of who your target market is and have created goals, you can plan your budget appropriately. The best thing about marketing online is that you can be a success even on a tight budget. You can determine what outlets are the most valuable for your product and have the will to spend some dollars to achieve results. Tip #4:Set yourself apart from your competitors. There is a myriad of companies making an attempt to sell products online. Thus, you need to make your brand id notable. Naturally, this begins with a first-rate website. Our web design company in Naperville, will not only build an aesthetically pleasing website, we will create a website that’s mobile friendly and easy to navigate. Tip #5:Every business owner’s dream is to have his/her website displayed on the first results page of the search engine. This can be achieved with the proper use of relevant keywords, back-linking (white hat) and SEO friendly (and human friendly) Meta Tag titles and descriptions. Tip #6:Social media marketing can also help enhance your brand identity. It’s important that you provide your audience with valuable information that will persuade them to take action. This may include visiting your website or even sharing your content with their friends on various social media outlets. Also, your website, social media sites and marketing materials should complement each other. If you need help building a website or you need to enhance an existing website, our experienced Naperville Web Designers are here to help.  Contact us today or call: 630-803-8998.
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What Are The Best Management Groups For My PPC Campaign?

Last week we met with a client concerning his Pay  Per Click managed account.  While reviewing his keywords for SEO, we looked at the keywords he was paying for.  To our surprise, he was paying top dollar for items that seemed just short of criminal.  While Naper Design has at times taken a stance against PPC campaigns, we do recognize the need for strong advertising management in professional settings.  Often the view has been that we are completely anti-PPC ads.  This would be a very incorrect interpretation of our core beliefs.  The problem we have are managed accounts that sell and bid for keywords that are unneeded or to expensive, selling to competing groups, and dishonest practices.  I should point out that there are PPC management groups out there that are honest and provide quality service, but when looking for an advertising group, it would be wise to check that the following keyword issues are not arising:

1. Paying For What You Don't Have To

Our encounter last week began with a web design client of ours asking us to add some of his PPC keywords into his site.  This is perfectly common and highly encouraged.  The better the keyword score in the content, the lower the keyword will cost... (so use it...).  What surprised us was that the client was being charged for any and all variations of their own business name.   Even worse, they were being charged for their competitions business name.  Keywords are generally for prospective customers that don't know the business that they are looking for, not for your assured clients that already know who you are.  Title tags should be used to make sure that your business name keeps you up top, but paying for a listing directly above your organic listing is absolutely ridiculous and highly dishonest by your marketing management team.  If you find that you are paying for your business name, it would be highly advised to demand an audit of clicks to that keyword and a refund for them.  In the future, I would also suggest ensuring that they are never added to a campaign. -the only exception to this rule is for large companies that have scam sites attempting to take traffic, sadly, these still need title payment-

2. Wanted But Unneeded PPC Keywords

At what point are you happy with your position in the search engines?  There are arguments that say first on everything, and then there are those that say bottom of first page.  The debate on placement will continue to rage with no winners but several losers.  The problem is that it's so case specific that nothing can be considered doctrine.  The only thing certain is that there is a point when the owner should feel comfortable in his organic, and comfortable in his Search Engine Marketing(SEM).  If a keyword cost $50.00/click, but you rank on the middle of Page 2, is it worth it to pay for a listing?  The hard answer is "probably not, but possibly maybe". No one can say with absolute assurance that this keyword will inspire a client.  No one can say with any certainty that a client will not be born from someone clicking the add.  The point is to maximize the performance of your add campaign.  This requires sitting down with a calculator, a rank checking script ( We use Traffic Travis because the cartoon is cute), and weighing which keywords will pay for themselves and provide the best profits for the money spent.  This process should not be painless, and should not be quick.  This should be a process where both parties delve into the need of each keyword to make sure for effectiveness.  If this is something that is blown off or rushed by your advertisement representative, then I would suggest caution.  Nothing is worse than moving to quickly through a situation and purchasing something that wasn't needed.  Proper management of your funds will lead to better returns on your investments.

3.Dishonest Practices

Most advertising management companies that you can meet face to face are going to be reputable.  There are a few out the who are not honest, but they often don't survive a market based on the value of public image.  Most dishonest practices tend to come from Cold Calling representatives who either refuse to meet in person, or can't because they live somewhere completely out of range.  It is highly suggested to conduct a simple Google search of a reps number as soon as you hear from them.  In this day and age of shared information, people are quick to report harassing calls from marketers, and more importantly, the ones that are selling a Scam.  While it's true that not every company can be met with face to face, it is highly suggested to only teleconference with companies that have proven themselves to be reputable.  If you conduct a search and find nothing but complaints, it's a good possibility that you will want to avoid their practices.  There are companies that have been spammed, and as much as we fight against these practices, the ultimate goal for you as a business owners is to safeguard your business. Keep in mind, not every marketing company is suitable for your business.  Likewise, your business might not be suitable for the marketing agency.  Each agency has its strong-suits and they may differ from your company goals.  Come prepared with questions relevant to your business goals. After all, no matter how reputable, honest and effective the marketing company may be, if they don't know your exact goals for the future, they will be unable to perform to peak performance. For a list of trusted marketing agents, we suggest asking businesses that have been around for some time.  Ask them what companies they have worked with.  Study the trends in conversation.  Like all situations, if you stick with the winners, you'll follow their path.
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August-September Newsletter

Free Marketing Tips Offered Within Our Blog

For the past several months, we have been decisively studying a new wave of marketing methods.  We want to share this knowledge with everyone who wants to learn how to upgrade and manage the organic SEO of your own site.  These methods are usually free and require little more than an hour a day to improve the quantity and  quality of visitors to your sites. We're discovering the importance of a load of critical but unexciting things like:
  • Researching your market
  • Testing different propositions to suit your chosen market
  • Learning how to write compelling copy
  • And trying out a range of content to see what works best
These skills are not part of the average modern web designer’s arsenal, but they very soon will be! Those web site owners and designers who don’t apply the knowledge that direct marketers have built up over the last 125 years will soon find it harder to compete against those who can show real business results, backed up with figures. We’re discovering a range of simple techniques that can have a massive impact on the success rates of your site. Many of these have been known for generations among certain disciplines, and it’s time we bring them into daily use in web design and online marketing.

Free Optimization Webinar

Our business development guy, Christian, recently attended several seminar on web site optimization and wants to share and disseminate the information to all of our associates. We’re following up with our own free webinar to give time to answer our clients and all attendees’ questions. We also commit to analyse a few sample sites submitted in advance of the webinar. This will probably be on Monday September 23rd at around 13.00-15.00 Central time, but I’ll confirm the date & time later. If you would like to attend, watch out for an email from me in the next week or so, and I’ll give you the link. Places are limited to 100, but we may follow up with more over the following weeks, so if you don’t get on, please let me know. Our goal is to share all of our knowledge with the public.  The day of paying insane amounts for someone else to monitor and maintain your SEO campaign are definitely not over, but we want to at least show you how to take control of your marketing should you choose to.
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Avoiding Spam When Building Strong Backlinks Part 2

Last we spoke of the dangers of building backlinks through spammy techniques.  Here are examples of those dastardly techniques and the proper methods of replacing them when dealing with blogs.  Saturday we will discuss the manners of building strong directory references without being spammy. You will need to first download the SEOmoz toolbar for Firefox.  This toolbar has a function that shows “No Follow” tags on page links.  Using this tool will allow you to determine which blogs are worth commenting and interacting with for links and track-backs. Most everyone with a blog has visited or even pursued Tecnorati… (if you haven’t you will after reading this.)  Within Techgnorati, you have access to blogs that are separated by category and relevance.  There are other blog index sites that maintain a strong list of blogs by content, but Tecnorati tends to be the most reliable for the search engines. Once you are on the site, search for a blog that resembles the topic of whatever page you wish to link to.  If you are choosing to link to your main page, choose a blog that is closely associated with the Keywords of your entire site.  If you are using the link of a specific page, search for a page that has that specific topic.  Tecnorati has a ranking system that allows the user to comb through different levels of relevance. Obviously, you want to get links from the most relevant site to the topic being covered. Using this method, you’ll want to start by performing a “Time Honored Blogging Tradition” RTFA!!! Read the article people.  Seriously, if you don’t know what the topic is, it will show in what you’ve written. Once you read the article, then it’s time to interact. Make sure that the comment you leave is more than the following junk: “nice post” “I agree with the points you made” “good thoughts but I take issue with your points” These comments are common and quite annoying pieces of spam.  These statements will likely be caught in any filter and removed from any site that cares about their relevancy.   It would always be suggested to be Part of a conversation.  If you’ve read a post, use enough of the material within it to make a valid statement. Here’s a list of other rules that will avoid negative treatment for blog comments:
  • Only leave comments that are a full, comprehensible sentence.
  • Sign up for updates on future comments.  This can ensure many links and a future relationship between your site and the site you are commenting on.
  • Leave only on link on the site, the one in your name description.  Leaving tons of links in the content of your comments makes it strongly resemble an unwanted communication, leaving many to list your comments as spam.  If your site links or email addresses becomes associated as spam, it’s very likely that your future comments on other blogs will be filtered as well.
  • Leave the auto commenting software to those who don’t mind being banned from the search engines.  It’s just not worth it.
  • Read the articles!!! There will always be a better exchange of ideas when you do and you’ll likely receive more convertible visitors to your website if they believe your communication to be respectful.
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Ensuring Quality Backlinks For Your Website Part 1

This is the first of three post that will be added over the next few days.  There is very little chance that the thoughts will stay completely congruent, but there's just far more than one post within this topic... While linking structure has always been an important piece of the SEO equation, it seems that a more intuitive linking structure is becoming more and more necessary for modern SEO development.  The day of submitting to random directories or commenting on unrelated blogs is long gone.  Spam comments and unrelated directory listings cause damage to website relevance and search engines are constantly looking for ways to counter their effects. That being said, there are highly effective methods of getting related backlinks, they just require more work than the spammers and scammers are likely to give. If you’re wondering, “is Christian about to rail on the Spammers again?” the answer is always, yes!  Spammers not only made the system harder for all of us, they’ve caused themselves to become endangered.  Yes, you can still find tons of affiliate websites offering their “Link Building Software”.  This software is usually some form of Blog Spamming software.  While these sites can be found all over the place, they’re owned by only a small group of spam-jockeys who and are becoming marginalized by people becoming more aware of affiliate scams and MLM’s.` Ok, now that we got that out of the way, blog backlink software is going to do nothing for your site but possibly get it banned from Google.  Not only is the software disastrous for your reputation with the SERPS, they almost always have a very short and mitigated list of sites to choose from.  They claim that their program makes searches through Google, but this is only a half truth, they are most often pre-rigged with a select amount of search criteria.  The resulting searches leave the user with the same tired group of blogs that were used 1,000’s of times before by other Spammers. Most of these sites and pages that have been bombarded by spam are already flagged by Google.  Add your link to this page, and you risk being considered spam as well. That out of the way, the question of how to get the quality links and avoid being all spammy is going to be asked.  Unfortunately, the answer will have to wait until tomorrow. We're out of coffee.
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Excellent Free SEO Monitoring Websites

Like everyone else, we are constantly looking for ways to save money on our bottom line.  We are often testing and grading monitoring and Analytic websites and software to determine which is the most effective and gives the most accurate results If you've played with even half of the major names, you've likely run into and identified one major problem... they all give different numbers.  Many find themselves wondering which ones to trust and what to make of the numbers they've received.  Here is our take on the top 6 site Analytics and why we use them.
  1. Google Analyticor- OK,  To those who always wish to bash the resource, I start by agreeing with you that Google looses a lot of information when scripts are blocked.  That being said, the number of people using script blockers is still not that high, so it's really a moot point.  Google Analyticor is the most widely used website traffic index and is at least one must for web traffic monitoring. -to avoid the debate, that's all we're saying about Google today-
  2. Majestic SEO Tools-  While Majestic has been around and has had a major resource for a few years now, the past year has offered a lot of new and useful tools within the site.  While it requires an account to gain access to some of the better tools, they are well worth the free account and the ten minutes it takes to set it up.  After a month of indexed tracking, Majestic provides a complete  breakdown of all your website backlinks.  This is quite useful in determining and targeting where to make more backlinks and what anchor text to use with them. Granted, there are plenty of costly and buggy forms of software that will perform this function, but most of them accompany an affiliate scam or someone's get rich quick "Pyramid Scam".  While the data for the links may be lagging, it's fairly respectable in determining the  needs of a backlink campaign.
  3. Quantcast -  Same as below...
  4. Compete-    Do they help? Honestly, not so much.  What they do offer is valued information for those considering advertising on your website.  While many would argue, and often I'd agree with them that the information in both sites is a random guess, they are free and offer a strong form of traffic evidence when looking to sell ad-space on your site.  Whether you like them or not, it would be suggested to get listed within their database.  While you may not like or trust their services, most advertising groups are going to want to see their numbers to put ads on your site.
  5. SEOmoz Free Tools-  These are an incredible assortment of custom tools designed for and by SEOmoz.  The SEO tools and link structure tools provided here are much stronger than most of their competition offers.  While we have yet to try their Pro Tools for review, we will soon be putting it to the test.  All I can say it that if the pro tools excel well above the free tools, we will likely remain a customer and refer our clients.  The free tools include several strong tools, but the best one and most unique is the "Trifecta Tool".  This tool gives a full breakdown of a site in Page, Domain, or Blog format.   The information given here is usually free in it's individual formats, but the way that they collate and arrange the data makes for a clean and valuable view of a websites performance.  It's well worth signing up for a free account to try it out.
  6. HUBSpot Grader.com Program - What can't be said for the brilliant strategy of Inbound Marketing that HUBSpot has highlighted with this and many of its other websites.  Websitegrader.com is one of the most widely used website evaluation websites in use today.  With over 2.6 Million sites graded to date and an Alexa ranking around 2,000, they are becoming the most widely use "quick check" for determining any websites effectiveness.  We, like anyone else who has received it, value the 99% grade we were given by websitegrader.com and view and updated score from them on a weekly basis to see what adjustments need to be made.  If you have yet to run your site through their system, give it a try.  The information given will only serve to increase the reach and effectiveness of your website.
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Downtime Can Be A Nightmare

We're glad to be back in the land of the tubes.  The past two weeks has made for an incredible experience of getting our site back up and working out the finer points with our host. Before we get into that portion though, we should probably explain why we were down... As we often point out, we are hosted by Byethost.  They and Bluehost are the two hosting companies we've come to trust the most for shared server space. Unfortunately, we discovered that a plugin we were using for the feeds was not well accepted by our neighbors on the server.  We were capturing all of our feeds with the Wordpress plugin wp-o-matic. What we didn't realize is that this plugin causes for some major drain on the server side, and when on shared space, damages your neighbors bandwidth... OOPS!!! We honestly never considered that such a widely-used plugin would be the cause of such issues, but test afterward have shown that it couldn't have been anything else. Because of the excessive bandwidth, resources, and memory that wp-o-matic was stripping from the shared space, we were booted to a Virtual Private Server... Ie...Banished to the Degaba System. It took a week of negotiating, but byethost was willing to settle the discourse once we were well assured that it had to be the plugin that was causing all of he trouble.  One week later, we're back up and on the way again.... Needless to say, our feeds will no longer run through WP-O-Matic. Now for the sob-story While we were only down about a day and back and forth from IP's for one week, Google took a lot of notice.  Our impressions went from an average of 1,000/day to 22 tonight.  Our traffic went from an average of 200/day to 30 tonight. The past week of being back up is representative of absolute downtime in the SERPs. Notice in the screen-shot that the exact date of being down is visible, as well as the subsequent falling out with Google ranking. While this is a pretty steep setback for the short-term, we will return to our previous standing rather quickly.  We've run into similar situations with client sites, but never thought we would need to do damage control of our own. Here are the following steps that must be taken directly after an event like this. 1. Immediate push for Back-links- During the month following a down-time like this one, the need for sites around the web to verify your existence is crucial.  The pages that Google attempts and fails to Crawl can be put on the back burners for a period of time.  Making a strong push for links and acknowledgment can get a faster crawl to those skipped pages than would likely come otherwise. 2. Add more content.  We all know that the best way to get Google's attention is to give it something new to look at. While we feed several different blogs on this site, we also enjoy adding our own content on a regular basis  At this moment its pertinent to add more than we normally would.  The additional content will signal that the site is not dead and is in fact very much alive and active. 3.  In addition to adding the content, we have to make sure that Google is aware of it being added.  To drive home this point, we submit sitemaps... Several sitemaps. From XML to ROR, wee submit every possible format of sitemap available.  Some may think this a bit eccentric, but in dire moments like these, it can be the difference between being demoted  for weeks or for months.  For additional sitemaps in Wordpress, we suggest using the following We also have some made at xml-sitemaps.com in url.txt and rss.ror format. Our running experiment will now be to see how long it will take to return to the traffic and ranking that we had last month.  We will share this experience with you all and welcome any suggestion or thoughts you would like to add.
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