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A recognized expert in industrial SEO and Internet marketing, Angela has spoken at numerous industry trade shows and conferences.She joined Pilot Fish in 1995 from Crain Communications Inc., where she was a founding assistant managing editor of Plastics News and the founding managing editor of Waste News.

Content Marketing for Engineers: The Converging Needs of Buyers and Sellers

Marketing surveys of industrial buyers and sellers show that content marketing is the key to bringing them together online.

There’s good news for industrial companies using their websites to generate leads. Two recent marketing research reports of buyers and two surveying sellers show a convergence in what industrial sellers want to happen with their websites and what industrial buyers look for when using the web for business-related buying. The common thread: Content.

What Sellers Want

In an Engineering.com survey of more than 100 engineering marketers, 44.4% of the companies surveyed said the biggest marketing challenge of 2016 is “needing more leads.”  Other challenges cited included:

When asked what their top marketing priorities are for 2016, 61% of the industrial companies said “lead generation” and 55% said “branding/awareness.”

Similarly, the Ascend2 2016 State of Digital Marketing report found that for 58% of the company’s surveyed, the most important digital goal this year is “increased lead generation,” followed by 48% who said “increase conversion rate,” and 44% who said “improve brand awareness.”

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Why Cheap Website Hosting Costs More than You Think

Companies that choose the cheapest hosting providers can expect to pay for those savings in the form of lost potential business.

As a company that provides full-service web site design, development and search engine optimization services, it’s not uncommon for industrial businesses that have asked for a quote to want proceed with the core services we offer but scoff at website hosting.

After all, a buck is a buck, and if a company can save $20 or $30 a month by hosting it with a cheap national provider, why wouldn’t they do that?

From our 20 years of experience of saving clients from themselves, here’s a few reasons why:

1. Site Security and Maintenance – Hosting your site with an inexpensive hosting provider really only works if you have your own experienced, internal technical staff to keep up with the regular requirements of site software updates, security patches and other maintenance issues.

Sites built with common open-source Content Management Systems like WordPress and Joomla, regularly need to be checked for updates that fix bugs and protect sites from newly discovered vulnerabilities. A cheap hosting provider won't track notices issued by trade publications or software companies warning of possible issues that could impact your website (like this: http://www.thesempost.com/wordpress-plugin-admin-backdoor/) or provide technical assistance to keep your site up-to-date with the latest versions of your website or blog software.

Additionally, site performance issues caused by incompatibilities between the site’s CMS and server software can become a big headache to troubleshoot and fix since you won’t have access to or knowledge of the exact setup of the server your site is on. This can lead to many hours of a valuable technician’s time, which eats up any expected cost savings.

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1980 Hits

20 Years and 20 Insights in Internet Marketing

To mark the 20th anniversary of my career in the Internet marketing industry, I thought I’d share 20 insights about website design and search engine optimization for industrial businesses:

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2198 Hits

SEO Copywriting Tips Post Penguin, Hummingbird and Panda

If you’re not certain why an industrial SEO firm would write about Penguins, Pandas and Hummingbirds, then you don’t need to read any further.  Just pick up the phone and call us at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104 or fill out our contact form, because you need our help – STAT!

Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird refer to major changes to the way Google ranks websites, which could have impacted your site’s search engine performance if you haven’t been keeping up with this.  You can read more about these here, but the upshot is that Google prefers sites that have good, strong content.

It might not seem logical, but a website that's well-written for human consumption with a little SEO help usually also is well-received by search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

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4449 Hits

The Difference Between Meta Keywords Tag and Keywords

We still talk to prospects who believe that search engine optimization is as simple as just “updating the meta keywords.” The truth is, the meta keywords tag has not been in use by Google for quite some time.

So, why the continued confusion about keywords if Google doesn’t recognize the meta keywords tag?

Google doesn’t use the meta keywords tag, but it does use keywords to help identify a web site’s relevance to a user’s search. The search engine looks for keywords in the page content, the URL, the title tag, and descriptions tag as it ranks your web site against those of competitors. How often and where you use keywords and the quality of the keywords is critical.  The best quality keywords are those that are most commonly used by Internet users searching for your products or services.

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20633 Hits

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Like other forms of promotion, search engine optimization, also called SEO marketing or organic SEO, is a way of getting your company to stand out from the crowd. No one knows the exact number, but there are billions of pages on the Web. That's a lot of competition when trying to get eyeballs to your web site.

As much as 95% of Internet users use search engines. So getting your site to perform on one of the top three U.S. search engines -- Google, Yahoo and Bing -- is pretty important.

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6980 Hits

How to Choose the Right SEO Firm for Your Industrial Business

Choosing the right SEO firm is more than a matter of price. It's important to choose an SEO firm that is qualified in all aspects of search engine optimization: keyword research, SEO copywriting, web design and coding and off-page SEO.

At the same time, you'll want to work with an SEO firm that sets reasonable expectations. Search engine optimization is not a quick fix. It can take several months for optimized content to earn top positioning on Google. If you are being told differently or are talking with someone who can guarantee top placement, then question the vendor about their methods; they could be doing something that actually could get your site penalized or banned.

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5316 Hits

SEO for Latin American countries requires a Spanish website

When Total Grinding Solutions Inc., a centerless grinder manufacturer in Warren, Mich., was launched in 2014, company executives knew that their well-built, handsomely priced centerless grinding machines would be ideal for foreign markets, especially Latin American companies.

The company has been committed to doing SEO the right way, so, upon Pilot Fish's recommendation, TGS agreed to have us build them a Spanish-language version of their website (Rectificadora sin Centros de TGS), hiring a professional translator to provide technically accurate translated content for its centerless grinder pages.

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1531 Hits

Why the Keyword Meta Tag is Still Valuable for SEO

The best use of the keywords meta tag is as an organizational tool for each page of the website so one can easily see and keep track of which terms that page is intended to target.

In the early days of search engine optimization, the primary method of getting the search engines to rank your website for the right keywords was to add a keyword meta tag to each page of your site.

However, a number of years ago, Google stopped using the keyword meta tag field as the basis for any part of its algorithm, rendering this method obsolete.

But, that doesn’t mean that keywords are dead, or that the keyword meta tag is worthless.  In fact, Pilot Fish finds the keyword meta tag to be immensely useful in implementing and managing SEO projects.  Here’s why:

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1715 Hits

Open Source vs. Proprietary CMS – What you should know

More and more companies are opting to use a Content Management System (CMS), like Joomla, DotNetNuke or WordPress, when they redesign their site so that they can can add, edit and delete content on the fly.

But, before you jump in with both feet, it’s important to make a decision about whether you will use an open source CMS or a proprietary system.  Here’s where we can help.

It may not work with cooks and kitchens, but having many programmers who understand the underlying source code for your site is a good thing.

Open Source vs. Proprietary CMS – what’s the difference?

  1. Site Ownership – an Open Source CMS is one that has been developed with input from many programmers across the web-o-sphere with ownership of the code provided in the public domain.  A proprietary CMS is one that a specific web design firm has developed on their own with which they will build your site.  The key question to ask your prospective developer is “who will own the source code for your web site” if you choose to move your site to another web host.   An Open Source CMS like DotNetNuke, Joomla or WordPpress can easily be moved to other web hosts – you will own rights to your entire site.  But you might not own the underlying code for a site built in a Proprietary CMS, thus making it difficult or impossible to move should your web developer fall out of favor.
  2. Ease of Maintenance – As you know, Internet technology changes pretty fast (are we on IE 100.12 yet?) and with many different types of browsers in use, making sure your site functions properly in all of them can be a challenge.  Open Source CMS has the advantage of constantly being updated, with many developers contributing so that the technology will work appropriately in any new browsing environment.   With proprietary code, it’s up to your developer whether they update the code so that your site works across all platforms.  
  3. Many Hands – It may not work with cooks and kitchens, but having many programmers who understand the underlying source code for your site is a good thing.   With an Open Source CMS there are many developers who can assist you with site edits and updates should you dispatch your current developer.   That usually isn’t the case with a Proprietary CMS – the company that built it is generally the only one that can manage it without a huge learning curve by a different team.  
  4. Many Apps – One of the nicest advantages of using an Open Source CMS is that you can have your site built using applications already developed by someone else.  For sites that have a lot of different features and functionality, this can yield a big cost savings compared with doing a custom build.  Oftentimes with Open Source CMS, there are multiple modules available for the same function, but with different bells and whistles so that your developer can pick the ones best for your site.  A Proprietary CMS usually won’t have as many module options.
  5. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – Open Source CMS developers have keyed into the importance of sites ranking well on search engines, so each of the platforms offers special SEO modules that get your site started on the right foot.  As for Proprietary CMS platforms, depending on who built it and when, they may not provide the tools you’ll need to optimize your site properly.    

Pilot Fish offers site development and maintenance in several Open Source CMS platforms, including Joomla,WordPress and DotNetNuke.   We also can evaluate your existing proprietary CMS to determine whether we can host and/or update it for you.

Read more about our web design capabilities, or contact John Inama at 877-799-9994 ext. 2104 or fill out our form.

 

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5156 Hits

Don’t Let Spammers Hijack Your Website Traffic

If you’ve noticed a spike in website traffic but not a corresponding increase in the number of leads from your site, then your website could be the victim of spammy referral traffic in Google Analytics.

It’s important to filter out this spammy traffic to be able to view an accurate Google Analytics report, including a legitimate bounce rate for your site.

Unscrupulous companies have found ways to insert themselves into the “Referrals” report and “Hostname” report in Google Analytics to make it look like a site is getting a significant amount of traffic from these sites. 

So, why is your site being targeted? Actually, it’s not. The spammers are using random ranges of Google Analytics codes that they program into their automated spam-generating sites. They don’t even know they’re hitting your specific site or Google Analytics report. And, in most cases, this is phantom traffic – there is no true visitor associated with it at all. 

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1616 Hits

What will Google’s Mobile-Friendly Change Mean for B2B Sites?

Google’s announced a “significant” algorithm change that will prioritize mobile-friendly sites in its mobile search beginning April 21, and 99% of web marketing folks are wringing their hands over the possible fall-out.

But I’m more interested in how much of an impact this will really have in many B2B segments where few, if any, companies have or care about mobile sites.

When the announcement came out, our team went into full gear to try to assess the potential “damage.” What we found was that most of our industrial B2B clients get very little traffic from mobile, most under 15%. So, does that automatically mean that all those clients will lose 15% of their traffic on April 22?

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1878 Hits

How Testimonials Can Help your SEO Rankings

Every business understands the value of posting testimonials from their clients on their websites.  Testimonials provide added credibility to a business, particularly in an age where many transactions are conducted exclusively online, via websites, e-mail or on the phone, without ever meeting someone from the company with which you are doing business.

But, have you ever considered the value of your testimonial on one of your suppliers’ sites? 

Your suppliers, like you, understand the value of including customer testimonials on their websites, and they’re likely willing to pay you for yours.   Paid?  What’s that about? 

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1913 Hits

B2B SEO Strategies That Work and Keep the Boss Happy

Sometimes the success of a project isn’t necessarily measured by the goals set so much as it is by satisfying the boss’ expectations.  The best way to develop a successful B2B SEO strategy is to do a good job of planning ahead of time, get your management team and SEO firm on the same page, and set realistic expections for your organic SEO marketing project.

It’s not uncommon for a company to tell its SEO firm that the goal is “to perform better on the search engines.” Unfortunately, without more clear definition of what better performance means, the project may head off in a direction different from what company management expected.

There are four key areas to define before beginning an SEO marketing program:

It’s important to understand how competitive your target terms are and what the likely outcome will be.
  1. Keywords:  Most businesses feel they understand their products, services and customers well enough to hand their B2B SEO firm a list of target keywords. The problem with this approach is that management may have an unrealistic expectation for how quickly or easily their company can begin performing on some of the most competitive keyword terms and also might overlook other similar terms that could generate as much or more quality traffic. Keyword research will help define the scope of your project  by identifying which terms must be viewed as long-term SEO marketing goals vs. terms for which your company can more easily attain success in the shorter term. Having strategies for a mix of long-term and short-term keyword goals will help satisfy your management that the SEO strategy is on track.
  2. Timeline: Is your boss on the same page as you and your SEO firm with regard to how long the project will take and how soon you might expect results? Long-term to you might mean a year or two, but could mean one month to your boss. There are no guarantees with regard to how long it will take to perform on a given term, but it’s important to understand how competitive your target terms are and what the likely outcome will be. Be sure you’re on the same page with regard to the effort that will be required to improve your site’s website rankings.
  3. Strategy: What plan has your B2B SEO firm put in place to achieve your SEO goals? Will your site require a significant amount of work on the website? If so, is your IT staff aware of the changes that will be needed? Many SEO marketing programs are unnecessarily disrupted by IT personnel who don’t appreciate other people in the company and, especially, outside parties, messing with their systems. It’s important that IT personnel hear from executive management at the outset of the project that this is a marketing activity and that they’ll be needed to support it in order for the company to reach its goals.
  4. Measurement: How will the project’s success be measured and on what timeline?  Is your boss looking for a specific increase in sales or is the measurement of the project’s success based on improved website rankings for specific keywords?  Google Analytics does a fine job of helping businesses track the improvement in their site’s SEO performance by showing the terms by which your site currently is performing and what average page position your website appears for that term on Google. Over time, you can use this to see changes in your site’s position for the keywords you are targeting. Make sure that you, your management team, IT staff and SEO firm are all in agreement with regard to how the SEO marketing program will be evaluated to ensure that the strategies you’ve developed support those goals.

Organic SEO is a highly effective B2B marketing strategy when businesses work together with their SEO firms to identify realistic goals and timelines and appropriate SEO marketing strategies that line up with those goals.

Contact Pilot Fish for assistance with your SEO marketing project or call 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

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3517 Hits

How to Improve Your SEO

“How do I improve my website’s SEO?” Talk about a loaded question! But, it’s one we hear multiple times every day.

Many companies that have recently come to realize that SEO is a necessity fail to understand the complexity of it, largely because the target keeps moving. Unless you’re immersed in SEO research on a day-to-day basis like we are, it’s difficult to comprehend everything that’s required. Some elements of SEO that worked five or 10 years ago don’t work today or, at worst, can cause your site to be penalized. Other factors that are important require a more nuanced approach to be successful.

If it were easy and cheap, everyone would do it, and how would Google know who to rank on their first page?

Unfortunately, at the end of the day, there’s no out-of-the-box solution that will guarantee SEO success for every business. Why is that? For starters, there are too many website variables that Google uses to formulate its algorithm – more than 200 of them. A recent article outlines what the SEO community believes to be the SEO factors Google measures.

Every SEO project we undertake is unique to that customer.  We first review the client’s site to determine what elements are missing or done incorrectly. We look at whether the business has determined which keywords they should use and whether those keywords really are the right ones based on how Google interprets that term and the competitive environment. We analyze their inbound links – where they get links from and the quality of those links – compared to the links that better performing sites have. We review the company’s online marketing initiatives – what other things they are doing besides the website. (See Pilot Fish's full-service SEO strategy.)

We then prepare an SEO recommendation that usually requires work on the client’s website, plus attention to link building and content marketing that will promote their site across the Internet and provide good quality back links.  The execution of each project is unique to the client, based on the industry they’re in, and the condition of their site (how much help they need).

It sounds like a lot of work (it is), and it’s not inexpensive. But, then again, if it were easy and cheap, everyone would do it, and how would Google know who to rank on their first page?

Would you like someone to review your website to see how to improve your SEO? Contact us or call 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

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Common SEO Mistakes

We’ve all heard the phrase “you get what you pay for,” and it’s probably one you’ve used in exasperation when pushed by a client to match the price of a competitor who’s offering an inferior product or service.

But, when it comes to website design and search engine optimization (SEO), sometimes you DON’T get what you pay for.  That is the most common SEO mistake.

The truth is, there are a lot of SEO-ignorant or just flat-out unscrupulous web design and SEO scammers that bank on the fact that you know very little about SEO. So when you ask for a new site that’s optimized for search engines or ask a provider to optimize an existing site, you take for granted that they will, regardless of whether the price they quoted is $5,000 or $500,000.

Reputable B2B SEO companies understand that it’s important to have good quality links from relevant sites.

This is the scenario from which we get most of our clients — hard-working businesses, most in the industrial or B2B space – who put their faith in some web design or “SEO company” and realize months later they’re left with bubkes for all the effort and dollars invested.

It’s not their fault. These industrial and B2B companies asked for the right thing.  They wanted a website that would perform on Google. The problem is, they don’t have the knowledge to determine whether the solution being proposed really is the right way to do SEO or potentially is an outdated version of SEO that no longer works or is no SEO solution at all.

Here are the most common mistakes a web design or supposed “SEO” company will make that cause your site not to perform well on search engines:

  • Offering to optimize just your meta tags. This is a way outdated tactic.  There are now hundreds of elements that go into Google’s algorithm.  Having good, unique page titles and meta descriptions are important, they’re just not the magic bullet that some companies want you to believe.
  • Equating a beautiful site with having a beautifully performing site. You’ve probably wondered how it’s possible that some po-dunk manufacturing business that built their crappy little website in 1999 is showing up on the first page of Google, ahead of your expensively and artfully redesigned site. The fact is, Google treats ugly and beautiful sites the same way, by ranking them based on the quality of their content and how well they match up to the keyword that the Internet user has just typed in.   But having a nice-looking site that also performs well on the search engines is important for another reason. Once site visitors click on your link in Google, you want to be sure they view your site as being an expert in your industry – credible and large enough to handle their business needs. The key is making sure that your web design firm understands that beautiful is important, but performance is more important.
  • Using “state-of-the-art” technology that’s not search engine-compatible. Boy, does it frost  our new customers when they find out the reason their website doesn’t show up well in the search engines is that their former web design firm built it using whiz-bang technology that the search engines don’t support.
  • Ignoring off-page SEO. Having a well-optimized website now is only about half of the equation for good performance on the search engines. If your SEO company hasn’t talked to you about off-page SEO and content marketing to develop high-quality back links to your site, then you need to run far away, very fast, and find a new SEO firm.
  • Failing to do research. SEO is keyword-driven and not all terms are alike. In order to have a website that can be seen by the broadest number of potential customers, your site needs to focus on the terms that searchers use to find companies like yours. If your SEO company hasn’t done keyword research it can show you, then you’re not with a credible company.  
  • Linking in bad neighborhoods.  For the last several years, there’s been a clamor about getting back links to your site for SEO.  Many businesses sprang up from the idea of developing automated link submission platforms or link-buying schemes.  Unfortunately for them and the clients they coaxed into going along with these strategies, thousands of links doesn’t necessarily equate to good SEO.   Reputable B2B SEO companies understand that it’s important to have good quality links from relevant sites.   And, supporting that premise, Google has begun penalizing websites that have an outrageous number of spammy or paid links.  

So, how can an industrial or B2B business needing a great-performing site avoid these common SEO mistakes?  The best way is to look for a credible web design or SEO company by doing the following:

  • Don’t tell them what you need, ask them what you need. If the SEO company can’t tell you what’s wrong with your site, how they will fix it and how the search engines work to rank websites, then they don’t know industrial or B2B SEO.
  • Ask if they do keyword research. You’ll need to pay your SEO company to do the keyword research as part of your SEO plan, but it’s very worth it. It helps guide strategy for button names, page names and topics you’ll need to cover on your website to ensure potential customers can find you and know what you do once they get to your site.
  • Ask for results and references. Any credible SEO company will be able to cite examples of their success and refer you to clients they helped.
  • Don’t base your decision on price. After 20 years of developing and optimizing industrial and B2B websites, we feel pretty comfortable with our quoting process. We’re not the highest priced company out there and we’re not the lowest. We tend to fall somewhere right in the middle. And, among the clients we work with, some spend way more money on their sites with other developers to have them fail, and others spent significantly less and got very little in return before coming to us. Either way, like Goldilocks and the three bears, once they’ve landed here, they find out we’re just right.

For a FREE assessment to determine how to improve your industrial or B2B website’s performance, contact us or call 877-799-9994 ext. 2104.

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5184 Hits