XML Sitemap & Indexing

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One of the most basic and easiest things you can do to improve SEO is to ensure that web spiders can easily find and crawl your website.  If used correctly, a sitemap serves as a tool to organize and clearly define the pages within your website.  A sitemap can easily be created using Google Search Console, your content management system, (CMS), or a variety of other sitemap generator tools.

What is a sitemap?

A website sitemap is a file; a list of pages intended to be found by web spiders, search engine bots, and/or users.  A good sitemap will provide a clear understanding of your website structure; organizing pages by hierarchy or content type.  It provides important meta-data for each page. There are multiple sitemap types. For the Google search engine, you’re going to be using XML files. Sitemaps can also be pointed at through robots.txt codes and could potentially use other formats, depending upon the search engine you are looking at. When submitting XML sitemaps to search engines, follow the instructions provided by each one. Also consider creating more than one sitemap for your site using variations specifically for images, videos, news, mobile, etc.

Will a Sitemap Get Pages Indexed?

There is no guarantee. A sitemap significantly improves your chances of being indexed by major search engines. If you submit sitemaps, you’re making it easy to be found. All businesses want to be found! However, search engines still need to determine if the quality of your pages are worthy enough to connect to specific search queries.  Ultimately, submitting a sitemap is important for SEO, but it’s not going to make a search engine like Google prefer your site over another just because you have a sitemap pointer.

Submitting Sitemaps to Search Engines

Once you’re happy with the sitemaps you have created, they must be submitted manually to search engines.  (You’ll need to update & maintenance sitemaps manually as well.)  For any search engine, you must be verify the website first, and have appropriate user permissions to submit a sitemap. Be sure your sitemap is in the correct file format and actually exists on your web server before attempting to verify it.

Below I share one version of how to submit sitemaps to:  Google, Bing , Yahoo! And Ask.com.

How to Add Sitemap to Google

  1. Go to webmaster tools, or what is now referred to as “Google Search Console
  2. Find & select “sitemaps” in dashboard options
  3. Select “add/test sitemap”
  4. Paste your sitemap code in appropriate file format
  5. Test , Submit, & ensure it has been saved

How to Add Sitemap to Bing

  1. Go to Bing Webmaster Tools
  2. Locate the sitemap widget from user dashboard
  3. Select “add a sitemap”
  4. Paste your sitemap code in appropriate format
  5. Test , Submit, & ensure it has been saved

How  to Add Sitemap to Yahoo!

Yahoo! Site explorer is no longer valid.  Use Bing Webmaster Tools as shown above to ensure your sitemap is uploaded to Yahoo!.

How to Add Sitemap to Ask.com

Unfortunately Ask.com no longer allows the submittal of sitemaps. The best way to reference your sitemap location for Ask.com is to use robots.txt to reference it.

How to Find XML Sitemaps on Your Website

To see the XML sitemaps currently associated with your website, simply type in your website URL with the XML index extension, such as: https://www.allaboutmybusiness.com/sitemap_index.xml

For validation of your XML sitemap submittals, refer to the dashboards on Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools or other free sitemap validator tools which are widely available online.  Be sure to check and update your sitemaps regularly, especially as new content as added to your website.

NOTE: If you can’t find a page that you think should be on your sitemap, ensure that page isn’t blocked by robots.txt

Help with Website Sitemaps

If you need additional assistance to create, upload, maintenance, or verify the success of your sitemap submittal, contact The Leaning Tree Digital directly for more information.

Sneak Peek at Your Website Source Code

Reading Webpage Source Code

Search engines read your website source code all the time, and so should any business who cares about their search engine optimization. Are you a local business or online business who outsources a professional for SEO?  Even if you hire a digital strategist or SEO consultant, it’s incredibly useful to learn more about website source codes. The codes are designed to help your site, but they can also slow down page load speed and cause confusion if not managed correctly. We’re just looking at the basics here, so go ahead….take a peek!

view webpage source codes, how to view source codes, where to view source codes, website source codesEasy Ways to See Webpage Coding

#1 Right click your mouse and select “view page source”
#2 Go to “settings” in right corner and find “tools / developer tools”
#3 Use the keyboard command for view source code. “Google” the keyboard command if you’re not sure what it is for your browser.

Example: PC using Chrome is CTRL + U
The command CTRL + F (for Find) is another good one to quickly scan your source code for important SEO elements.

What Can Be Found in WebPage Source Codes?

Within the coding you’ll get a glimpse of what is attached to your site for crawlers to see. Even if you’re not a developer, or “into” reading HTML, CSS or JavaScript codes, you’ll notice that it’s really not that difficult to figure out. For example, one of the most important things to look for in the source code is the title tag. It will likely be near the top in the <head> section. It will be designated by the opening tag: <title> and ending with the closing tag: </title>.

On-Page SEO Items You Can Peek at Within WebPage Source Code:

  • Title Tags: Google produces your title tag with search results. Be sure you can see a single unique & keyword/content relevant title tag for each page on your website.
  • Meta Descriptions: This is your 160 character free advertising- make it work! Think about what you can say, unique to each page, which will make searchers click to see more.
  • H1 Headers: It’s the biggest headline on your page. Can be a call to action. Just one good H1 tag on each page is all you need; be sure page keyword is there.
  • Alt Tags: Robotic search engines can’t “see” images. The only way to maximize images for SEO is to ensure there is an alt tag associated with them. Don’t overdo it; like don’t alt tag design images, but all other images are fair game.

Source Code Prevents Page from Being Seen:

  • NoFollow: This “no-index” tells Google and other search engines not to follow your page. To focus on the pages that matter most, it’s ok to have this attribute associated with the comment section of a blog, an author page, thank you page, or any page with uninteresting content. But if you’re looking for visibility, be certain this this code is not on page.

Source Codes for Tracking:

  • Google Analytics: You need analytics to view website performance after an analytics account has been established. This code should be found on every page of your website. Your GA account always starts with “UA” and is followed by a seven digit number.
  • Google Tag Manager: Tag manager is just a Google product that allows you to manage multiple tracking codes in one place. Analytics, AdWords, and remarketing tags are managed from tag manager. Prevent double tracking: If you are using TM, there shouldn’t be an additional code for GA.
  • Social Media: You may see codes for tracking Facebook, Youtube and other social media accounts. These are fine, just double check to ensure you need them. Tracking codes associated with your site take up Bytes, which means having more than you use could slow down your page load speed.
  • Paid Ads: The trend is that PPC people are using Tag manager but there are other paid-related codes that may be found on your site such as doubleclick.net or call tracking such as mongoosmetrics.

When to Remove a Source Code

Have your digital team, (which would include your SEO digital strategist, website developer & PPC), review the tracking source codes regularly to ensure optimal performance. If you see something that is questionable, ask for clarification. Anything that is not being used should be removed.

 

Location Landing Page for Service-Related Multiple Location Business

local search results, local search for business, SEO for local business, local landing page for business, multi-loc business SEO, local SEO for multiple location businessWhat is a Location Landing Page?

Is it a location page? YES! Is it a landing page? YES!

It’s common to see service-related businesses with multiple locations not performing as well as they could in local search results.  At first glance, many of these businesses, such as law firms, insurance agencies, financial planners and home improvement specialties appear to have decent looking websites. However, what they typically have in common is that they are missing optimized location landing pages.

Having multiple locations doesn’t change local SEO ranking factors

Local SEO ranking factors have many moving parts. One piece of that puzzle is the “location landing page.”  A location landing page is a dedicated page on your website that is highly visible to search engines while providing all of the important information for website visitors to find and contact your business.  Aim to achieve clear connections between office locations and your services. These pages should also easily convert a web lead into a phone call, email, or forms submission to your business. Or, in the very least, provide directions to your business.

Again, if  you have multiple locations, a dedicated location landing page should be created for every one of your business physical locations.  Each page should be SEO optimized according to local ranking factors. Some of the most important ranking factors to keep in mind are:

  • Keep the name, address & phone of each location consistent across the web. Match each one with how they appear on your Google My Business location page.
  • Consider site navigation, architecture & page hierarchy when naming your new city page; ensure the city name is in both the URL and the Header of each page.
  • Title & Meta-Description unique to each location landing page & include city & state of each physical location AS WELL as service keywords you want to rank for.
  • Make your page relevant to your services and interesting to visitors by creating interesting and unique content. Keeping things unique for multiple locations can be a challenge, but
  • Ensure there are several ways to be contacted from these pages & don’t forget a Google Map with a marker and directions.
  • Use local citations such as Google My Business, Yelp, & Bing to start creating inbound links to each location landing page URL.
  • Ensure that each of your new pages are mobile friendly & have a fast load time.
  • Be sure to mention your locations throughout your website & add internal links to your new location landing pages.

Product vs Service Related Local Business Location Landing Page

Generally, businesses who sell products feature photos, descriptions and reviews to do much of the work of selling.  Businesses that sell services have more of a challenge to creative interesting and relevant descriptions, but are also encouraged to leverage and utilize reviews.  As long as your business has physical locations, and your goal is to optimize  local search results in those cities, there isn’t a difference in location landing page strategies or SEO ranking factors for this page.

Determine your customers search keyword intent and go from there.  (This will be some variety of your service keyword + city name.) Don’t get caught up in trying to stuff too much content / information into each of these pages.  Follow the bullets above. When completed, your location landing page should look and feel just a little bit like a PPC landing page.  It should have a strong message with super-tight context that grabs attention and clearly has contact information with easy accessibility to action.

Creative Ideas for Location Landing Page Content

  • Call This Location/Office Now.
  • Share a photo of the office location in this particular city.
  • When was this location established? Why?
  • What has changed over the years?
  • Has your office or the surrounding had renovations or improvements?
  • Is there parking here or nearby?
  • Does this office have a unique feature?
  • Does this office have a dedicated staff?
  • Is your business connected to this city by community sponsorships or events?
  • Do you have bragging rights connected to the city?
  • Can you provide alternative driving instructions or visual markers that would be helpful?
  • Do you have local reviews for your service? These are the best bragging rights! Add them!

Remember, the rest of your website provides more detailed information about your services.  You’re landing page should not look like another home page.  Be sure to have user-friendly navigation and include at least one link to a top-category page on each location landing page. If you do these things, along with the other elements highlighted, your local service-related business is off to a great start.

What NOT To Do on your Location Landing Page

  • Don’t cut & paste/duplicate content from other pages on your website.
  • Don’t make up landing pages for cities that you aren’t physically located in.
  • Don’t over or under-link this page. (And never purchase links.)
  • Don’t over-do the content to create clutter. This is a simple location landing page.

Hire Leaning Tree Digital Strategist To Create Your Location Landing Pages

Organic VS Local Organic Search Rankings

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The Ranking Opportunity-A Bigger Piece

Getting your big piece of organic search rankings within search engine results pages, (SERP’s), is an on-going challenge for businesses.  However, I like to look at it more as an on-going opportunity rather than a challenge. The best place to begin is with an  understanding of the terms. It’s never too late to get started!

Organic SEO vs Local Organic SEO Search Results

Organic means “non-paid” regardless.  However, I do believe that understanding the difference between organic and local organic is important.  There is some overlap in SEO tasks but the position of SERP’s is likely different, and the priority of strategies to tackle first will be different.

Local Organic SEO is sometimes referred to as simply, “local seo.” Local SEO has a geographical, physical component. You’re building local signals around specific brick or mortar locations or location/s. The main goal of Local SEO on Google is to get into the local listing packs on Google Maps.  Second importance is to take advantage of the local search platforms of other search engines mentioned.  Local SEO may involve some website on-page and off-page elements, but you’ll be dealing more with Google My Business and Local Citations.

Organic SEO doesn’t need a brick or mortar business, although it can be influenced by location.  When you are working on Organic SEO for your business, the focus is your website and ranking as high as you can for specific keywords. There will definitely be both on-page and off-age elements, including link-building vs citation building.

SEO Advice For Any Business

The first thing a business should do is to prioritize tasks based upon importance. If you are a local brick & mortar business, you’ll need to be sure you have a free listing on Google My Business. There are a ton of other technical elements to consider. I advise every business to consider hiring a digital consultant who can help with SEO.  An SEO expert can have a big impact on your business.

In the meanwhile, there are some things you can do right now regarding your website.  Things that would help a business with or without a brick & mortar location.  For example, there’s always an opportunity to be more relevant, and aligned exactly what people are searching for.  Conduct a survey, investigate your competitors, and think outside the box.  Be inventive, and become the voice of expertise in your area.  There’s always room for improvement regarding your online brand. Make sure your website is visible, and your message is understood by search engine spiders by following the startup steps below.

Startup 5.5- Step SEO Website Visibility Check List

.5    First little, (but important), step…ensure that your sitemap is submitted to all of the major search engines.
1.5    Site has to be Solid with URL’s Search Spiders can easily Crawl & understand
2.5    Optimize every page of your Site with Awesome, Relevant & Unique Content.
3.5    Write Unique Title Tags, Headers & Meta Descriptions, at least for Your Top Pages.
4.5    Check Google Search Console for Crawl Errors or Penalties & Correct them.
5.5    Make sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly, and has FAST Load Times.

 

Researching Ideas For Website Content

content development, ideas for generating content, developing website pages, content good for seoDeveloping Supporting Pages for Website: Main Goal

The bread and butter pages of your website can’t possibly do all of the heavy lifting. When you’re ready to add supporting and equally as interesting content to your website, there are many places to go for ideas.  Outside of the obvious, which is increasing sales, the main goal of content development will be to give assistance to the main pages on your site.  You will do this by creating in-depth, interesting material that is aligned with what your target audience is searching for.  Link these supporting pages up to the main page they are related to. Each page will have unique content with equally unique on-page SEO elements.  If successful at doing these things, your newly developed content will benefit search engine optimization naturally.

Develop Website Content for SEO

Large corporations may turn to focus groups to gain knowledge about their customers, but the cost makes this an unrealistic option for many businesses.  In addition, even if you were to afford a large focus group; it pales in comparison to the volume of data that can be found on the internet.

Surveys are very useful, and keyword research is always important.  It is still recommended to use Google Keyword Planner to figure out search volume. However, this article is intended to focus more on two free tools from Google that are really useful as part of your data gathering process.

Google Trends For Market Research

Google trends is a free tool that offers consumer insights in the form of trending topics.  If you’re looking for public opinion and interests, then this is a great tool for you! The trending topics are displayed in graphs; either a snapshot of what is hot and trending right now, or what trends look like over time. You’ll be provided top queries that provide a snapshot of what your desired audience is searching for.

Start by selecting:

  • Industry
  • Sub-category
  • Location
  • Competitor

Google Trends will identify:

  • Top Trends
  • Consumer Demand
  • Compare Product Features
  • Competing Brands

Google Correlate For Brainstorming Ideas

Google Correlate is kind of the opposite of Google Trends and words best for seasonal businesses, or those that have a time cycle of some sort.  It’s also great for marketers who may not be super familiar with the industry they are creating content for.  You enter the target that you have in mind.  Google will in turn provide the queries which are similar to, or related to what you have specified.

Google correlate will help support your Google Keyword Planner research. Take a handful of the keywords you have in mind, and put them through correlate to see what kind of pattern comes up. To date, Google Correlate is the only tool I know of that can do this with search data.  How the results are related to your target; that’s the creative part.  Have an open mind because some strange things may pop up.

Start by Imputing:

  • Your unique business trend
  • A Search Query
  • A Drawing

Google Correlate will identify:

  • Associations between search trends
  • Associations to geographic areas
  • Associations to basically anything you ask
  • Buyer Personas

Google Tools for Developing Content

Both Google Trends and Google Correlate are based on “Share of Total Volume.”  Both tools offer results that can be downloaded, which is another really nice feature for a free tool.  Downloading the results will allow you to easily analyze the data and potentially combine it with other findings to develop a more complete picture of your audience.  It’s this kind of information that will help a business solidify decisions about content topics for static website pages and blogs.  It can also have PR purposes, be used to write on-page SEO, and prove useful for marketing decisions such as PPC ad campaigns.

Many SEO Consultants are already using online tools like those discussed here.  Take some time to play around with these free Google tools for yourself to see their endless possibilities.

 

Top Search Engines For Your Business

Google is Top Search Engine

Google processes billions of searches every day across desktop, mobile, and other devices.  Based upon history, we can predict that Google will continue to make up the majority of search engine traffic in the future. (Google is nearly two-thirds of U.S. Marketplace share as of January 2018.)

Yahoo, Bing & Oath Search Engines

However, just because Google is the main search engine doesn’t mean there isn’t also opportunity on Bing and Yahoo. (Bing is part of Microsoft) (Yahoo + AOL=Oath)  Bing & Yahoo together make up roughly 35% of search.  There are arguments that these search engines are less competitive than Google.  If this is the case, they may allow your business to rank higher, and convert into leads better than Google.  Every business is going to be different.  When it comes to PPC, it may be worth a try to test the search engines to see which performs most efficiently.  When it comes to SEO ranking organically,  you have nothing to lose by ensuring that your business is found on all search engines.

It’s safe to assume that when there’s discussion about search engine optimization, the reference is usually for Google Optimization specifically…without actually having to say it.  Also, when we talk about getting your website visible on top search engines, we’re talking about organic Search Engine Optimization.  (Organic SEO…the “non-paid” kind.)

Search Engine Alternatives

There are a  lot of search engines out there!  Search Engine Market Share.

Most people across the globe use Google the most, with an occasionally visit to Bing and Yahoo.  All three search engines offer a “local” platform for searching.   Personally, I like to check out Buzzsumo and DuckDuckGo every now and then, just to see what kind of results are displayed. Outside of the top three search engines, I have listed others that you may or may not have heard of:

    • Ask.com
    • AOL.com
    • Buzzsumo
    • DuckDuckGo
    • Webcrawler
    • Baidu
    • Blekko
    • Boardreader
    • CrunchBase

Search Engine Optimization for your Business

Search engine optimization, especially on Google, is critical to businesses of all sizes.  (Regardless of whether or not there is a physical location or not.)  A solid SEO strategy can not only increase how your business ranks on top search engines, but it can also impact how efficiently your PPC campaign runs.

The competitive marketplace is always changing.  Goolge algorithm updates keep SEO strategists on their toes. What is important to rank on Google, may not be as important on other search engines such as Bing.  SEO work is time consuming and complex.  It is highly advised to hire a digital SEO consultant or specialized employee to perform the tasks of search engine optimization for your business.

Most business owners like to have at least a general  idea of the subject before reaching out.  For that reason, I recommend following the below resources to gain more knowledge on the subject:

Follow:

      • Google updates
      • Search Engine Land
      • Search Engine Journal
      • MOZ blogs
      • HubSpot