Tag - Google

How Important is an SEO-Friendly Domain Name?

How Important is an SEO-Friendly Domain Name?

Often times I'm asked by clients to help them choose a domain name. Google does give some weight to the keywords in domain names, although not as much as they used to. Nevertheless, having keywords in your domain name is still important because it can give you a small bump, possibly improving your search engine ranking. Let's say you have a roofing company that primarily serves the Chicagoland area and your business name is XYZ Roofing. Some good SEO-Friendly domain name options would be xyzroofingchicago.com or chicagolandxyzroofing.com. Whenever possible you want to combine your service (roofing), service area (Chicago or Chicagoland) and company name.

I have an existing domain name - Should I change it?

No. Another more important ranking factor is the age of your domain. A domain that has been in existence for 20 years with a company website on it gets a lot of credit from Google. If you already have a domain name with a website on it just keep it. I have moved existing websites to a new domain with 301 permanent redirects from all the old URL's to the new URL's. 100% of the time the ranking takes a hit. It will eventually rebound, but most companies can't afford to lose traffic.

Where can I see what domain names are available for purchase?

There are many domain registrars but my favorite is Namecheap. They charge $8.88/year to register a domain, which is one of the lowest prices you will find. Their website is easy to use and they've been around for a long time. Right on their homepage, there's a box to search available domain names.

Is a long URL going to be tough for customers to type in?

While SEO-Friendly domain names are great for SEO, a super long domain name can be annoying for customers. Try to limit your domain name to 20 characters or less. Another thing to consider is that most people will just do a Google search (ie XYZ Roofing) when they're looking for your company, so don't worry too much about the URL. One of my customers on Long Island, NY came to me with a URL he already had, which is longislandwindowwashingpowerwashing.com. While it's a really long and inconvenient URL to type in, his search rankings are really good because of it. Balance is key.

There's a lot more to SEO

While your domain name is a ranking factor, it's not a huge factor. Having a good title, description, headings and content is also crucial. Backlinks to your website and company information listings are also very important. If you're looking for a domain name, have an existing domain or just need some SEO improvement, please contact me today. I'd love the opportunity to help your business improve its web presence.

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Brian Houdek Web Design Has Moved

Brian Houdek Web Design Has Moved

As a freelance website designer, graphic designer, and marketing professional I have the ability to work out of my home. I lived in Naperville for about 7 years but as my family grew I needed more space. I currently have 3 daughters (Bianca - 6, Natalie - 4, Evelyn - Almost 2) AND another baby on the way. We ended up buying a home in Batavia and we absolutely love everything about the town. My new address is:

1629 Derby Dr
Batavia, IL 60510

I have a lot of clients in the Naperville area, so, fortunately, I didn't move too far. I look forward to working with more clients throughout the Tri-Cities (Geneva, Batavia, Saint Charles) and beyond. I have clients throughout the United States from New York to California, so for those clients, nothing has changed.

One fun thing about moving your business is updating your business listings online. As I've posted previously, your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) consistency on the internet is crucial. I have to make sure my address gets changed EVERYWHERE. Below are the important places I had to update my listings:

In addition to these, there are MANY other databases and websites with my company information. To update those I like to use a tool called Citation Builder by BrightLocal. BrightLocal is a service that goes out and corrects inaccurate information or adds your business information if it's missing, to many of the largest online databases. I plan on writing an article about them in the future, but in the meantime definitely check them out. If you need a reliable, trustworthy web or print guy, contact me today.

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How to Create a Custom Report in Google Analytics and Schedule Emailed Reports

How to Create a Custom Report in Google Analytics and Schedule Emailed Reports

Google Analytics is the best way to see who is visiting your website, where they came from, what they did on your website and more details on their overall interactions with your website. I install Google Analytics on every website I build, but very few of my clients actually monitor the statistics it provides. While Google Analytics can seem overwhelming due to the wealth of information it provides, I'm going to show you how to create a custom report that will simplify these statistics. Even better, Google Analytics allows the ability to schedule this report to be emailed on a scheduled basis (once, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly).

To create a custom dashboard on Google Analytics first pull up your websites Google Analytics page and click on 'Customizations' beneath 'Home', then select 'Dashboard'. When you click the Create button you will be given the option to create a blank dashboard or use their starter dashboard, which has some of the most common widgets all ready to go. You can add up to 12 widgets. How you choose to set up your dashboard is entirely up to you. Widgets pull information stored in Google Analytics and display that information as a number, graph, map, table, pie chart or bar graph. Some common examples are Users (Total Visits), % New Sessions (New Visitors), Users By Source (If a user clicked a link to visit your website rather than typing in the URL, where did they click that link), Sessions by City (Where do your visitors live), Sessions by Keyword (What term did they search for to find your website) and the list goes on and on.

Lucky for you, I have created a pretty great custom dashboard that you can easily import into your Google Analytics account by simply clicking this link. The widgets I created give a pretty good overview of how many people visited your website over a 1 week period, new vs returning visitors, most popular days of the week, what they searched for, where they came from, how much time they spent on your website, what browser they were using and the type of traffic (paid/organic/direct/referral).

Who wants to login to Google Analytics every day and stare at numbers? I certainly don't, so I setup reports to be emailed out on a weekly basis in PDF format. All you have to do after you create your custom report is click on the email button above the report. You can choose who you want to send the report to (you can add multiple emails by separating them with a comma), write a subject, message and decide how often you want the report to go out (once, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly). After that sit back and let your reports come to you!

I highly recommend if you have a website with Google Analytics you click through all the different options you have. You can do a lot more than creating reports. If you want to learn more about the power of Google Analytics and how to use the information gathered to improve your business, please contact me today. I'd love to help you out.

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Google Hangouts Meet - Video Conference From Anywhere

Google Hangouts Meet – Video Conference From Anywhere

Google Hangouts Meet is one of the best free video conferencing tools out there. If you have a Gmail account you already have access to Google Meet. Like most things Google creates, Google Meet is easy to use, easy to get started and works great. The feature I use most on Google Meet is their screen share feature. I regularly use this feature to review websites with clients and make live changes. During most calls, I don't even use the video feature.

Google Meet allows up to 25 people to join your video conference. They also have a feature to allow people to join by phone and just listen in. Of course, Google Meet is also fully integrated with Google's other products such as Calendar. When you create an event in Google Calendar you have an option to also create a meeting. That way when you share the event with your guests not only will they be able to add it to their Google Calendar, but you've already sent them the link to join the meeting.

If you want to learn more about Google Hangouts Meet or any other Google products, contact me today. I have a lot of experience working with Google's suite of apps and teaching clients how to use them.

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Imagify - Wordpress Image Optimization Made Easy

Imagify – WordPress Image Optimization Made Easy

Optimizing images for the web is crucial. Google gives a lot of weight to website load time and images are the largest files on most websites. The goal with optimizing images is reducing the overall size of the file while maintaining image clarity. There are a lot of tools out there which can accomplish this task, but none easier to use than Imagify. Imagify is a Wordpress plugin that automates the image optimization process. Not only is the interface very easy to use, but it also does an excellent job at reducing file size with minimal loss in quality.

I use Imagify on all of my websites. Imagify can optimize your images as you upload them, or for an existing website, it can quickly optimize your existing images. Imagify is free to try (25MB limit) and has monthly data plans for higher limits. I pay those costs for all of my clients. If you're interested in learning more about Imagify or need someone to optimize your website, contact me today.

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Google Local Service Ads

Google Local Services Ads – A New Google Ad Program

Google Local Services is a new ad platform by Google, not to be confused with Google AdWords. Perhaps you have already seen these ads - they appear in the same place Google AdWords would typically appear (before search results) but the one thing that makes them different is the green check mark by the ad with "GOOGLE GUARANTEED" appearing next to it. There has been a lot of confusion about the difference between Google Local Services and Google Adwords - let me explain.

In order to have a Google Local Services account, there is some vetting that has to be performed by Google. When creating an account you have to send your business license and insurance details, complete a free background check and have a verified customer write a review. This process typically takes over a month to complete. Hopefully Google will speed up this process, but this is what I've experienced recently when setting up accounts for clients.

Google Local Services charges on a per lead basis. In other words, you don't get charged when a customer clicks on your ad - you get charged when the customer calls you. This is a key differentiator between AdWords and Local Services. AdWords charges every time someone clicks on your ad and visits your website. The cost per lead with Local Services is significantly more than the cost per click with AdWords. The cost varies by industry. I've read reports that some industries charge as little as $5 per lead up to $150 per lead. Like Google AdWords, Local Services pricing is based on competition.

With Google AdWords, you target keyword searches within a service area. Google Local Services shows your ads based on the type of service you offer. You still get to select a service area to display the ads, but the options are not as detailed as Google AdWords.

At the time of this article, Google Local Services is not available for all industries and is specific to certain service areas. If your industry qualifies, I think Google Local Services is worth the investment. If you're interested in setting up a Google Local Services or Google AdWords account, I can help. Contact me today to learn more about getting an ad campaign setup for your business.

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How To Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

How To Optimize Your Google My Business Listing

Google My Business is a tool to manage your company's online presence across Google, including search and maps. Over time Google My Business has changed quite a bit and they're always adding additional features to help business owners connect with potential clients. In my opinion, this is the most important listing for any business and it's crucial that the information listed is accurate and comprehensive.

Once you login to your Google My Business account, navigate to the "Info" tab. Ensure the categories selected for your business are accurate. You can select multiple categories, which I encourage you do. Sometimes Google will word categories differently so be sure to research other companies in your industry to see which categories they're using. A search on Google Maps will show the main category below the business name. For example, if you look at my listing you'll see my main category is "Website Designer".

Next, make sure your business Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) is accurate. See this article I wrote regarding the importance of your NAP. Ensure your business hours, website URL and services are accurate. For the description take your time and make sure it sounds professional.

One of the most commonly overlooked sections of Google My Business is the Photos tab. Add as many photos as possible, especially if you're in the service industry. Potential customers want to see your work and your employees doing the work. Personally, I won't even consider calling a company if there aren't pictures of them doing work.

More recently Google My Business added a section for "Posts". My theory is this was introduced to replace Google+. The problem with these posts is they only show on your profile for one week. If you create blog posts on a weekly basis (which you should be doing for SEO) then just copy those over. Otherwise I recommend posting SOMETHING weekly. Google is putting a lot of weight on this right now.

If you need help claiming your business on Google or need other website work contact me today and I'll be happy to help.

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Why Your Business NAP is so Important

Why Your Business NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is so Important

NAP is short for your business name, address and phone number. When Google scans various databases on the internet for your company it's absolutely crucial that these three items are EXACT and consistent. If I was on Yelp as "Brian Houdek The Web Designer" or "Brian Houdek Web Design LLC" or "Brian Houdek Web Design Inc" Google would look at that as a completely different company than "Brian Houdek Web Design". If your address is "123 Test St" it's crucial you write it exactly the same throughout the internet. "123 Test St." (dot after St.) or "123 Test Street" will be looked at as different and therefore not the same company. Finally, your phone number must remain consistent. Did your number change over the years? Do you have a local number and an 800 number? Make sure you always pick one primary phone number and always enter that phone number as the primary one.

The more LEGITIMATE databases your company information is in the better for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). These directories give your business validity in the eyes of Google. Most of them link back to your website, which is another ranking factor Google uses. As a rule of thumb, I recommend my clients use their Google My Business listing as the "master" listing, ensuring all other listings have the same information.

On the Internet there are four major data aggregators that store your business information. These are Neustar Localeze, InfoUSA, Acxiom and Factual. These data aggregators take your business information and push it out to many smaller databases on the Internet. In addition to these aggregators, there are also many big name directories your business should be in. Examples are Bing Places For Business, Apple Maps, Angie's List, Manta and many, many more.

I have multiple tools to scan these databases and see where your business information is missing or inaccurate. I can easily update this information and charge a flat fee. If you want me to run a free scan for your business contact me today.

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Google Fonts - Great Free and Open Source Fonts

Google Fonts – Great Free and Open Source Fonts

Google Fonts says their goal is to make "the web more beautiful, fast, and open through great typography." They certainly have done that and their selection of fonts continues to grow. Every Google Font is free and open source, meaning that you don't have to worry about licensing issues. At the time of this article there are 915 to choose from.

I have been using Google Fonts on my websites for years. However, even if you're not a web designer you can download the fonts to your computer and use them in any document. To the right of each font you'll see a + symbol. Once you press that Google "adds" it to your downloads (a popup menu that appears in the bottom right after adding the font). If you click on the downloads (it will say # Family Selected) you will notice a download icon on the top right. To download the entire font family with different font weights and italic styles click on "Customize". On this screen you can select the entire font family if you want. Once you have everything selected, download the fonts and install them on your computer.

Do you have a website that needs better use of fonts? Interested in learning more about Google Fonts? Contact Me today and I'd be happy to show you how Google Fonts can improve your website.

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Search Engine Optimization Considerations

Search Engine Optimization Considerations

While the content on your website plays a very large role in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), there are many parts to ranking well with Google and Bing. A business that has had a web presence for 15 years is going to have a big advantage over a new company with no web presence. One big reason is the number of legitimate websites linking to your website. The older your domain is the higher probability third party websites are linking to it. There are four major data aggregators on the Internet (Infogroup, Localeze, Acxiom and Factual) that distribute your business information to many smaller third party websites. In order to get your business indexed with them you have to use third party tools. Over the years I have helped many clients accomplish this task at a very reasonable cost. Another commonly overlooked part of SEO is social media presence. Google has been giving increasing weight to companies with an active social media presence. I recommend my clients post once per week on multiple platforms. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the best to focus on. Posting to all three can be accomplished using third party software that allows you to post to all your social media platforms from one place. Fresh content on your website is another important ranking factor. For most small businesses this is tough. Your services never change, so what do you do? The answer is a blog. I've built many blogs for clients that link to their social media platforms. You post to your Wordpress blog and the post is automatically shared to all of your social media platforms. Over the years SEO has changed. On-page SEO is and will always be the most important ranking factor, but the off-page SEO content is playing an increasing role in Google's rankings. Contact me today for a customized plan for your business.  
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