What is SEO and why is it important for your business?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the method used to increase a website’s position on search engine results pages (SERPs) on sites such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing. Developing an SEO strategy for your business can help draw consumer traffic to your website as well as grow your sales and revenue. To get you started on your SEO strategy development, here is a little background to understand how search engines, such as Google, use metrics to rank organic search website placements.

The goal of a search engine is to provide unbiased results that deliver information you are looking for as quickly and as accurately as possible. In order to do this, search engines are capable of identifying all relevant information online and ranking them in order of quality and relevance. There are hundreds of factors that are involved when search engines rank websites in an organic search. Amazingly enough, they can analyze billions of pieces of data in as fast as 0.5 seconds! The actions you take to optimize your site will have a direct effect on your SEO ranking. Components such as H1 tags, the words used in your website meta description, content and keyword density, permalinks, and backlinks are some of many things that you can leverage to boost your ranking.

Here is a quick overview of these components and how they relate to the most frequently used search engine, Google:

  • H1 Tags: These are the larger headers you use to title your content. For example, the H1 for this article would be the title, ‘What is SEO and why is it important for your business?’. This article page may surface on the google search results when someone searches for keywords that are present in the H1 tag like ‘SEO’ and ‘business’. Make sure your H1 tags are relevant to the keywords you want to be showing up for.
  • Keyword Density: This is the amount of times that the keyword your audience is searching for appear on your website. Make sure to mention your keywords, not only in your H1 tags, but also in the body of your content. While you want to include your your keywords often, don’t oversaturate your content. Remember, Google will also consider the use of synonymous keywords.
  • Meta Description: This is the description you provide search engines in your <meta> html tags. The meta description you use for your website should also include the keywords you want your target audience to search for.

meta description

  • Permalinks:  This refers to permanent URL links that are specific to your website. It is advantageous to include your keywords in these permalinks in order to be considered for higher ranking on Google. For example, if you have a gardening website and want your consumers to find the keywords “lawn products,” it would be optimal for you to have a page with a permalink such as: http://www.gardening.com/lawn-products.
  • Backlinks: This is when other websites link back to yours by providing their viewership with your website URL. For example, if Forbes mentions your business on their website and includes a link for their readers that leads back to your website, this would be considered a backlink. The more of these you have, the better your opportunities are to be higher ranked in your keywords. However, the source of your backlinks also play a factor in ranking. Google values quality and the bigger the source your backlink come from (ie. Forbes, NY Times, .gov addresses etc.) the better chances you have for being ranked higher in your SERPs. Be advised that buying backlinks from websites is considered ‘black hat SEO’ and is not recommended.

Here is a quick video from Google Search Evangelist, Matt Cutts who speaks briefly about how all of these factors affect your website’s ranking on a keyword search:

SERPs on desktop vs mobile: Is your website mobile friendly?

Search engines are constantly evolving and changing their algorithm in order to keep up with the constantly developing new technology. With the rise of the mobile device, more and more individuals are searching on the go. Google has noticed the increased mobile traffic of its users and has rolled out a new addition to their search ranking metrics. If your website is not mobile friendly (responsive, optimized to be viewed on various mobile screen sizes), Google will rank your website lower on the search rankings. However, this will only affect your mobile search rankings. Search rankings from a non-mobile device such as a desktop computer or laptop will not be affected. This is something to keep in mind if you know your specific target market is more likely to search for your keywords on a mobile device (i.e. your product is a mobile app).

What about paid rankings?

If your business has expendable revenue, achieving that #1 spot on a search engine can be money well spent. The image below identifies the advertisement sections where you can bid for certain keywords and be placed above the organic searches. Remember that google also prioritizes these paid ranking advertisements as seriously as their organic searches. The more relevant your website is to the search keywords, the better positioning you will get and possibly cheaper pay per click pricing. Be advised that certain keywords can be more expensive than others. Make sure to budget appropriately.

Organic_vs_Paid_

Your SEO strategy should be a long term process

Getting placed on the first page of a Google search doesn’t happen overnight. Your SEO strategy needs to be a continuous process. As technology develops, search engines also adapt to these changes by altering their algorithms that define how you website gets ranked. Stay on top of your SEO strategy and make sure that it is up to date.

Your SEO strategy will go a long way for you and your business with the proper maintenance. Not only will you have your current customer base, but you can passively accrue traffic to your website by being present in the top 5 searches for your keywords. Customers will be able to find you and your business easily when looking up relevant information that pertains to your business. A good rule of thumb to keep on top of your SEO strategy is to research the tactics used by your competitors.  Google your own keywords and see who places in the top 5 searches then analyze their websites to see how and why they are  being placed in the top rankings. By working on the components mentioned in this article, you should have a good head start on boosting your rankings.

Team Member Profile: David Bryant


 

Hometown: Royal Oak, Michigan
Position: T3 Systems Architect I
Been with InMotion Hosting since: September 2013

 
 

 

How did you get started in the web hosting field?
I had taken an internship with InMotion’s corporate IT department while I was in school. Applying my Linux background to the job earned me a part time position as a Systems Administrator, and the rest is history.

What is your current role at InMotion Hosting? What do you like most about it?
I am a member of the Tier 3 Systems Architecture department.

Coolest gadget you own, want to own or have read about?
I would love to get my hands on a high end router for my home network, ideally one that I can build myself.

What would you like to tell us about yourself?
I got my start with writing code on an Arduino microcontroller, teaching myself C while following tutorials. This instilled a deep passion for technology, and ultimately led to my love of Linux and hacking. Had I not tinkered with the technology in my home, I would not be where I am today.

Describe your personality in one word?
Mean.

The 8 Minute Promotion

The 8 Minute Promotion

8 minutes is the amount of time it takes for the sunlight from the sun to reach the Earth. On the flip side, 8 minutes is also an important number to us, as that is the amount of time it takes to sign up your domain, and hosting to get your website online.

Soon (and by soon we mean June 21st) the official day of Summer will be upon us. Pagans used to call this day “Midsummer,” and even Shakespeare took the celestial event as a name for one of his plays with “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” It’s a special time of the year, and we want to celebrate it with you!

We want to know what YOU are doing on your website, your blog, or your online store to promote Summer.summer-special-icon

If you are an InMotion Hosting customer email us with your website, and a short description of how you’re using digital marketing to get more traffic, or get more sales. Pictures or screen shots are a plus!




The winner of the most creative promotion, creative/graphic, or engaging social post will be featured on InMotion Hosting’s July newsletter. It’s a great way to promote your business, and it’s our way of saying thank you to you!

 

How to Get the Most out of Social Media Week 2015

Social Media Week is launching this June 8th to the 12th, and the shores of Santa Monica will be buzzing with hype as the whole week calls on the tech hub of Southern California to present its best and brightest in the field.

InMotion Hosting is only happy when you are. When your website grows, the happier you become and the harder we work to keep you growing and managing that growth. Just over the past 5 years, we’ve been proponents of social media. You should already know the importance of social media and how useful these platforms can be for you! Check out these resources to get familiar if you need a refresher:

We created ‘QuickTagger

How to use Twitter to Drive Traffic to your Website

Social Media Plugins for your Website

Using Social Media to Bring Traffic to your Site

Adding Social Media Buttons to your Website

And now it’s time to get back into the rink and find out the tech, trends and fresh ideas of social media. InMotion Hosting will be at Social Media Week 2015 because that’s where new innovations will be talked about – and where the trends of the industry by the industry leaders will be dictated.

We will be gathering data and intelligence and we’re not looking to keep it for ourselves.

If you want to get the most out of the week, follow us  sign up here and we’ll send you a comprehensive list of our notes from the event as well as any offers we hear of, and new tech that’s coming to market

Send me Social Media Week notes:

About Social Media Week
Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture around the world.
Human connectivity is being reimagined and SMW seeks to understand how humanity and technology will come together to change the ways we live, work and create.

WordCamp Miami: Connections Old & New

wcmia-header

So I just got back from WordCamp Miami, held the past weekend at Florida International University. It was one of the best, most well organized WordCamps I’ve ever attended. Kudos, to a new friend David Bisset for organizing such a good event.

We arrived in town on Thursday. Unfortunately, layovers pushed my flight back enough that I missed the South Florida Meetup social event. I was more than disappointed that I couldn’t make it. If it was anything like the actual WordCamp, I’m sure it was amazing.

Friday night at the speaker/sponsor dinner which was held at BJ’s Brewhouse, we caught up with some old friends like Nikhil. At 15, he’s really a bright up and coming star in the WordPress community. You should watch for big things from this kid.

We also met up with Syed from WPBeginner. While he’s been a friend of InMotion for some time, I’ve never met him until now. He’s a super nice guy. We also caught up with Rami from WebDev Studios. I got introduced to him at WordCamp Lancaster. I was surprised he remembered my name to be honest. It was impressive and speaks to the type of guy he is. I caught up with a dear friend, Michele Butcher. If you haven’t heard, she’s one of our WordPress Evangelists for events like WordCamps.

We called it a night after I grabbed my swag for speaking. As usual, WordCamp Miami didn’t disappoint with a computer tote, a watch (yes! a watch), some snacks, and the coolest deck of playing cards. The playing cards all had WordPress functions on them with an example. Someone spent some time planning those out!

Saturday Morning arrived early. I have to admit South Florida is beautiful in the morning (at least before it becomes sweltering hot and sauna-like). We headed over to the campus and got set up. Mike, Jason, and I spent the day talking to some really great people at our booth. We had some of the coolest swag too. Where else can you get a USB hub and post-it holder? Of course, from us!

Lunch was chicken and ribs with all the sides. It was pretty tasty. The most impressive feat was they fed all the attendees (somewhere around 800) without too many hiccups. I know from years of catering, feeding 800 people is no small task.

Off to the afterparty at Dave and Busters. We didn’t stay long, and after some great conversation and a few games of pool we called it a night. After all, my team mates were flying out in the morning and I had to still wrap up some preparations for my talk “Growing your Non-Profit with WordPress”. If you want the slides for my talk they’re here.

WordCamp Miami “Growing your Non-Profit with WordPress”

Part of my talk is about Give, a donation plugin. I use it and actually really like it. It’s easy to use and the developers who built it, Matt and Devin are easily accessible. I got to meet both of them on Saturday. I’m glad too. I was able to use them as an example when I speak. Where else could you have access to the developers of a plugin so easily?

After my talk wrapped up, I was quite surprised by the amount of questions I received. I’m hoping I was able to help some of the non-profit community with my 30 minute talk. It’s awesome to know I am a part of the WordPress community which is one of the most close knit groups I’ve ever encountered within techonology.

Oh did I mention, I have my own trading card too! How freaking cool is that?! It’s uber nerd status as quoting my friend Scott.

WCMIA Trading Card

I have to say, thanks to the WordCamp Miami organizers for putting on another amazing event. Thanks to all the new people I met and the old ones I got to catch up with. This won’t be an event I soon forget!

Effective networking strategies to build your small business’s customer base

The key to developing a profitable company is a growing customer base interested in purchasing your goods or services. In order to build this demand, it is critical to create a process for scouting and developing new clientele. Building your customer base will take time and effort but the important part is to focus on finding out who your target audience is, where to find them, and how to captivate them.

Defining your target audience should be top-of-mind when expanding your customer base. You want to qualify potential customers and not waste your time or money pursuing unqualified leads and contacts. Analyze your company and product and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who would be interested in buying my products?
  • How and where will I sell my products/service?
  • How did my competitors get started?
  • Who has already bought my products?

After you have defined your customer and their purchase cycle, start networking! Below are a few ways to actively seek your target audience and find qualified purchasers.

1) Events: A big part of growing your customer base is networking. People use the term “networking” all the time, but essentially networking is any way in which you cultivate productive relationships for your business. Attending events and conventions that are relevant to your industry is a perfect place to immerse yourself in the right crowd of potential customers. Take time to socialize with other business owners, exchange business cards, and gather information. Ask pointed questions to help understand your customer and make sure to LISTEN to what they have to say. Often times their pain points differ drastically from what you initially perceived.

To stand out and really be ahead of the game, give a talk or presentation about your business. Public speaking builds credibility with your audience and prospective clients. It puts a face on your company: a person that your customers can talk to, relate to, and ask questions.

Social Media

Relevant: How Much to Spend Online Marketing

2) Use Social Media: Almost everyone in this day and age uses one of the following social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Pinterest. Use this to your advantage. Create a brand profile and use social media to stay connected to your customers. Entice them to add and follow your company by providing special deals and updates. Make your brand known and gain visibility. Keep in mind when your customers follow, like, and share your content, they share it with the rest of their network. Incorporate an interactive aspect to your posts by including a poll or shareable picture. Remember, keep it simple and keep it interesting. You don’t want to spam your customers with useless content.

3) Create Email Campaigns: Use email service providers like Constant Contact or MailChimp to send and create emails for your customers. Take advantage of memorable dates, such as holidays, to plan for campaigns that are attractive to your customers and easy to remember. Find out what kind of emails resonate with your particular recipients by interpreting the email analytics. Develop an email marketing strategy to retain your customers and keep them coming back!

Below is a snapshot from MailChimp to show you how easy it can be to decipher how well your email campaigns are doing. See how many people open your email and click your provided links.

MailChimp

Sometimes finding new customers is as easy as pleasing your current ones.  Have a good solid product; listen to your clients’ complaints and address them. Reward them for being your customer; show them you care by listening and working out their problems. A company that is customer oriented will retain and develop a much larger customer base. Once you know your current customers are satisfied with the quality of product or service you sell, they won’t hesitate to refer you to their friends and family looking for a similar product or service.

Team Member Profile: William Miles


WilliamMiles_blogHometown: Lansing, MI

Position: Data Center Operations Supervisor
Been with InMotion Hosting since: January 2014

How did you get started in the web hosting field?
I have always been interested in servers and networking. Working in the computer industry starting at the age of 16 (I got to bypass that teen-age food industry part) I’ve always been able to find my place.  The field is always changing, and you very seldom do the same thing more than one day in a row.  When I learned that servers and networking was where I had the most fun, I explored how I could use both of these and still have fun with what I do everyday.  Web hosting was it!

What is your current role at InMotion Hosting? What do you like most about it?
Currently I am the Data Center Operations Supervisor.  This has me handle the day-to-day, as well as long term projects for our data centers.  I get to be the first to play with the new gear and also work the occasional long night to implement said new gear.  This is a fast-paced role, and you need to be sure you are always ready for what tomorrow brings.

Coolest gadget you own, want to own or have read about?
Coolest gadget I own is a dual authentication USB3 32GB Flash drive that has full hardware level encryption in it.  It requites both a finger print as well as a password in order to allow access to any of the data stored on it.  It is both very functional as well as very secure.

What would you like to tell us about yourself?
I enjoy what I do here at InMotion Hosting.  I have taken the job that was offered to me, and molded it into my ideal career with the assistance of the excellent leadership that I have been working with.  I plan to be here many years, and hope to achieve so much more than I already have.

Describe your personality in one word?
Undefined.

4 Things We Learned During Small Business Week 2015

4 Things We Learned at the 5th Annual Small Business Week Event sponsored by Constant Contact

InMotion Hosting attended the 5th Annual Small Business Week put on by Constant Contact at Pasadena City College on May 13th, 2015. The event was organized by the Small Business Administration (SBA) with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as a primary sponsor.

The event brought together over 1,000 business owners, social media professionals, marketers and web designers and hosted them in small business workshops and keynote lectures orated by business leaders. InMotion Hosting had the opportunity to attend a variety of these workshops and lectures. A lot of them had some major similarities in the concepts that they shared in order to establish a successful business. Here are some business solutions that will help you promote your business and build a stronger customer following.

 

1) Email is Not dead!

Whoever started the rumor that “email is dead” must have had a marketing campaign go awry, because email is most definitely alive! Email addresses are the greatest asset that you can get at a conference – especially one that is tailored to small businesses or your specific industry. People opt in on their own volition because they’ve liked you (or what you’ve said) enough to offer you a way to keep in touch with them(i.e. they want to hear from you). Email addresses are free and nearly effortless to collect, and once you have enough people opt in to your email list – you’ll have yourself leads to contact in the event of a promotion. Email marketing can only be dead if you’re doing nothing with those email addresses.

Check out: E-mail marketing 101 

2) Be Useful to Your Customers

If you either have a business with a list of products or you’re looking to start your first business, always remember to ask yourself: What does this product solve? Products are popular to consumers because they are useful to consumers. Part of creating a successful business is bringing people onboard and then helping them become successful. Tesla Motors can’t sell a $100,000 car run by a battery if consumers didn’t want to save on gas. The same thing applies to SaaS platforms or web design. Sell useful products, but more than that, offer your customers information on how they can improve their business, their website, their product, and even themselves.

Check out319+ Site Hosting Tools You Can Have 

3) Say Thank You

When you have a consumer become your client, they essentially are the people who are proving that your business model works. Does this not invoke a feeling of gratitude in you? Sure, sure, they should be thankful for your product or service, but remember, they took the chance on your new service, so – be thankful. This has to do with the model of good customer service (and social responsibility too), but more than that it’s just a nice thing to do. Some might say “nice doesn’t sell!” – on the contrary though! “Nice” doesn’t need to sell. Consumer loyalty is your goal with this gesture, and in order to have the loyalty of your customers, if nothing else, say “thanks.” This can be done through text, phone, social media, whatever you want.

We suggest not up-selling in a ‘thank you email’ if you’re really just starting out. A promotional offer that you can afford (like a discount on service) would should be considered if you’re large enough of a business to handle the promotion.

4.)  When Going to Trade Shows: Be There!

A lot of times, especially these last 10 years, everyone who is seen on a smart phone is assumed to be ‘busy.’ There is no doubt that if you are a business owner, you’re busy with ideas, content, emails, promotion, etc, etc, etc.  BUT. When you go to trade shows, workshops, and conferences, it’s tempting to check your email because you don’t know anyone around there and you want to look “successful” by being “busy.” And hey, maybe you really are busy.

But you’ve taken the day off to attend an event to network and learn – so we suggest you: network and learn. Some of the best business partnerships start at events and conferences, and we’ll guarantee you that shaking a hand and getting a cell phone number from a potential business partner can do more than a blast email to people who have never met you.

Be there – Be aware 

In all – customers and business owners are people. Sounds like an obvious fact but it’s something we sometimes forget when we are blasting off as entrepreneurs or in an enterprising role. Sure there are those who just want something and go to a place to process the transaction – you can offer that too. But when you’re looking to grow your business, you have to communicate, and actively reach out to your customers. If you don’t, then your competition will most definitely have that advantage over you. 

 

DrupalCon 2015: Recap

I had the opportunity to go to DrupalCon 2015 in Los Angeles this past week. It was my second DrupalCon, my first one being in Portland in 2013. I was very excited to make the trip to see how the Drupal community has grown and what changes were made since my last visit.

The trip itself is also interesting as you start to see other people headed to DrupalCon in the various airports along the way. Sometimes you even end up sitting next to another attendee and share stories while you travel.

DrupalCons are typically much larger than the WordCamps we also attend. WordCamps happen many times a year and in many different cities around the US, whereas DrupalCon happens once a year in the US. This time, DrupalCon was held in Los Angeles, California.

DrupalCon always kicks off with a keynote from Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal. Each time I see him speak he gets better and I learn more. The talk was attended by a full house of Drupal Developers, front end users, theme developers, etc. Even in the largest room of the conference center there was standing room only. Dries’ keynote was about the current state of Drupal and where it is headed for the future.

This year’s DrupalCon had over 3500 attendees, which came from all across the US and even other parts of the world. Over the five days there were 130 different educational talks for all ranges of Drupal experience. They also had several coding sessions, various social events, BOF (Birds of a feather) sessions, and of course the exhibition hall where there were around 70 different exhibitors promoting and educating.

The Drupal culture is very friendly with everyone talking to each other about their particular Drupal experience and projects. They simply tingle with excitement about sharing their knowledge. DrupalCon attendees treat each other as equals no matter how much or little experience they have.

 

Drupal 8’s release is much anticipated so that was the focus of most of the talks. It has been in development for a while and is currently in Beta. We all were excited to learn the release date and Dries told us “when it’s done”. This is a great thing as Drupal is not pushing development for a particular date, but rather making sure the quality and functionality is complete. However, I was a little sad we did not have a target date yet.

Unfortunately I was not able to attend the whole event but I did attend several talks ranging from Drupal security to getting your site off the ground. All were informative and it is always great to hear different speakers give their own views on the various topics.

If you have never been to a DrupalCon you should go if you ever have the chance. The atmosphere is charged with everyone trying to learn and socialize about all things Drupal. It is very motivating and a friendly environment. I cannot wait until next year!

Coding a Revolution: Code District and its Mission

With the advent of coding becoming a Presidential Initiative and a growing extension of the S.T.E.M curriculum to get school children versed in the sciences and computer languages, it should be no surprise to anyone that we are amid a digital revolution. But all of these initiatives will fail if we, Generation X, lack the knowledge to understand what our children will very likely be fluent in: coding. It’s a collective effort  that needs ‘doers,’ and a small company called Code District is taking on the challenge, one meetup at a time.

Last week, Code District hosted an event at InMotion Hosting (IMH) headquarters in Culver City, CA. The casual meetup was one in the many that have occurred at our offices. Just like we’re dedicated to getting businesses running with a proper host for their website, Code District is dedicated to instructing students taught by industry professionals to educate the masses in the computer sciences.

Relevant: Girl Develop It – Steering the Future of Woman In Tech

The event that took place last week at IMH was titled, “Under the Sheet of PhantomJS,” with Buddy Sandidge as the event’s presenter.  PhantomJS is a computer programming  script that is used to enable website navigation and the tracking  of user behaviors online for specific web pages. The event was free to attend and had a successful turn out of a dozen learners!

Code District organizes these meet ups in order to access the community at large into garnering skills in programming to become smarter professionals or to completely grow a new skill in computer programming.

Find out about a Code District’s future MeetUp or check out their formal curriculum.