6 Common SEO Myths

6 Common SEO Myths

Publishing More Content Gets You Higher Rankings

Many people believe that if you churn out tons of blog posts, videos, podcasts, or other content, your rankings will skyrocket. There are businesses solely dedicated to providing you with fast, cheap content so you can get as much out there as possible.

But SEO is about optimization. It’s about engagement. It’s about quality over quantity. You could have 1,000 post posts published in the next month. But if they are poorly written, contain false information, or simply about a topic no one cares about, no one will read or share them. You could also publish 2 blog posts in the next month and if they are perfectly written, factual and helpful, and people fall in love with them so much they share them with their friends, you have success!

In addition to that, Google recognizes when your site is being inundated with content that isn’t focused. They have been known to actually punish sites that publish content constantly, especially if that content isn’t optimized well.

Takeaway: Focus on researching the best topics and spend time writing and editing only a handful of posts per month to see results.

 

It’s All About the Technical Stuff

It’s a common misconception that you have to be some kind of tech expert to understand SEO. People believe that you have to know Google inside and out, that you have to have a degree in computer sciences to know how to up your rankings. Many companies actually take advantage of this by selling you SEO services under the guise of having SEO experts or gurus that can accomplish things you could only dream of.

Gaining an understanding of things like Google Analytics or reading a few articles about how Google works can’t hurt. But all you really have to understand is that all search engines only exist to turn out the best results for each search. If you can consistently answer the questions people ask in a way that is organized and thoughtful, you’ll be fine.

Takeaway: More knowledge never hurt anyone. But well-organized content is the most powerful SEO tool there is. Go for quality over quantity.

 

Keywords Are The Most Important Thing

When you start learning about SEO, all you hear is talk of keywords. Keyword this and keyword that. Some people begin to get overwhelmed with the idea that they aren’t choosing the right keywords or that the keywords they chose are not good enough.

Keywords are very important. But they should guide you, not own you. In my opinion, your content is the most important thing. And if you are creating content with a purpose and to answer questions your clients and customers have, the right keywords will make themselves known.

Also keep in  mind that one of the easiest ways to determine keywords actually lie in the questions of your clients an customers. Listen to the problems they have. Listen to what they ask you and what they need from you. If you listen to enough people, certain words and phrases will keep cropping up. Those are your best content keywords.

Takeaway: Keep keywords in mind, but don’t stress over them – the simplest solution is usually the best one.

 

You Can Change Your Rankings Fast

So many companies say they will get you to #1 in a week or your money back. Unless your content goes absolutely viral and you’re suddenly getting thousands or millions of views to your content overnight, it will take you weeks to months to get your rankings to build and remain there. The main reason for this is completely beyond your control: Google.

Google crawls the web and updates their search rankings every few weeks. When this article was written, it wasn’t known exactly how often Google updates the rankings. That means that even if you made a ton of SEO improvements to your site, they may not matter for a while.

The other reason is something you can control. SEO is not just one thing that you do. It is the cumulative effort of improving and targeting your website and web content. Google’s algorithms take a ton of things into consideration when moving rankings around, including your content, the quality and frequency of your content, how many visitors you’re getting, how many shares you have, etc. You should be working on improving all those thing and when Google starts to recognize that you are consistently working on your site, they will start to reward you. Spending one day working on your SEO will not turn you much of a profit.

Takeaway: When it comes to SEO, have patience and be consistent. There is no quick fix.

 

You Need to Pay For SEO for It to Work

I saw this as someone who charges money for my SEO services. You do not need to pay someone or pay for a tool in order to improve your SEO. It may help you achieve your goals faster and with less headache for sure, but if is not necessary.

If you want to take the time and effort to educate yourself and find out how to create a content plan, you can improve your SEO for free. If you want to learn how to use free Google tools to monitor keywords and rankings, you can improve your SEO for free.

Takeaway: SEO improvements can come for free, but what you save in money, you will spend in time and effort.

 

 

SEO Means Google Rankings – and only Google Rankings

Keep in mind that even if you’re all over the 1st page of Google for your keywords, this doesn’t ensure you business. SEO means also making sure that your website is easy to use and navigate. It means you have a good user experience journey set up on your site. It means your site is responsive and potential clients and customers can easily get in touch with you. It means you have someone managing all forms of communication so email and messages don’t go unanswered.

While Google is probably the best indicator of SEO improvements, it is not the only search engine you should be looking for. SEO stands for search engine optimization. That means its principles apply to pretty much any and all search engines.

If you post content on those platforms, you can work on SEO for Pinterest and Youtube as well! The main principles still apply. Having a keyword focus, providing rich and useful content, and posting consistently and the right amount can help you increase Pinterest and YouTube rankings as well as Google rankings. Think about it – if you need to find a video tutorial, will you search for it on Google or YouTube? If your videos rank on Google and not on YouTube, you could be losing a lot of business.

Takeaway: Consider life after Google – what happens once you actually get found? And make sure that you aren’t just focused on Google, but making use of any and all search engines that can help you.

 

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How to Set up a Self-Hosted WordPress Site

How to Set up a Self-Hosted WordPress Site

So you’re ready to set up your first website. You’ve decided to go with a self-hosted WordPress site. You’ve purchased your hosting account and you’re ready to start. But how?

You can contact your host and have them do it for you. But that often costs more money and you won’t understand how your site is set up. Many hosts have built-in website builders. But they don’t provide the flexibility and customization you may want in the future as your business grows.

There is a straight forward way to set up a WordPress site that takes an afternoon to complete – and anyone can do it, no matter the experience or skill level. You don’t have to know anything about coding or development in order to follow these steps.

The only things you need to set up a self-hosted WordPress site are:

  • A hosting account with a cPanel. Sometimes you have to purchase the cPanel after signing up for the hosting account – they are usually fairly inexpensive. I highly recommend Siteground – they have great prices and great customer support.
  • The newest WordPress download. It’s completely free and safe to download WordPress files.
  • A domain name. For this tutorial, we’ll assume you purchased it on the same account where your cPanel is. If not, you will need to move it or redirect it. (That’s something I can help you with if you need it.)

Let’s get started!

 

 

Step 1: The Database

Log in to your hosting account and go to your cPanel. It should look something like this:

It may not look exactly like this, but it should look like a bunch of icons organized under various subheadings.

The first thing you will need to do is set up the database for your site. Go to the section titled “Databases” and click on the icon that looks like this:

You will need to choose a database name, a username and a password. Try to be purposeful with those names. For my website, I may choose something like ANC2017 (Allie Nimmons Creative 2017) for the databsse and allie2017 for the user. That way you can recognize it later for what it is.

Add in your database name, click Create Database, then go back once it brings you to do the next screen.  Do the same for your username and password. Then, add the user to the database by choosing both from the dropdown menus it offers you. Click Add.

It will bring you to another page to make selections. Select All Privileges, then click Make Changes, then click Go Back.

Make sure to write down or record your database name, username and password in a safe place. We will need them again in a few minutes.

Step 2: The Files

Go download the newest WordPress files if you haven’t already. These files are what makes WordPress WordPress! It’s completely free and completely safe to download these files.

In your cPanel, under Files, go to File Manager. It should look something like this:

Select Home Directory, then hit Go. This is where your site will live. Upload the WordPress file by clicking Upload, then selecting the file you just downloaded. Once it’s uploaded to your File Manager, select it and click Extract. (It has to be a normal folder, not a zipped folder, but you can only upload zipped folders to the File Manager). Your File Manager should now look something like this:

You can delete the compressed file if you like. (That’s the one on the bottom.)

Open up the WordPress folder. Select all items, click Move. You’ll get a pop up image that looks like this. Make sure that the line on the bottom reads /public_html/ and not /public_html/wordpress:

Step 3: The Installation

Go to your website URL, but with /wp-admin attached to the end of it. For example, for my site it would be pixelglowwebdesign.com/wp-admin. If all the steps have been followed perfectly up to this point, you’ll get a screen that looks like this:

Select whichever language you intend to use. Now, we need to use that database information we just created. Click the Let’s Go! button and add in your database name, username and password from before. Leave the last two fields as they are, then hit Submit.

If you’ve entered them correctly, you will get a screen that looks like this:

After clicking Run the Install, WordPress will ask you yet more questions.

Add a Site Title (it’s best to put your business name here). Create a username (either your business name or your own name works). I recommend keeping the password WordPress suggests, just make sure to save it now! Put in your main email address, leave the last option unchecked, and click Install WordPress.

You’re done!

Just log in with the credentials you just made and you’ve completed the installation! At this point you can add your theme and start publishing content.

Have questions or difficulty following this tutorial? Does WordPress web design and development not sound at all like something you want to deal with? Send me a message. I would be glad to help you troubleshoot. 

4 Ways to Protect Your Small Online Business in an Emergency

4 Ways to Protect Your Small Online Business in an Emergency

Allie Nimmons Creative is based in South Florida. Currently, I am right in the path of hurricane Irma. In light of Florida’s history with violent hurricanes and the recent devastation in Houston, we are preparing for the worst. Apart from potential physical damage, loss of power and Internet are imminent. Given that our business is pretty much entirely online, this means that we may suffer some pretty intense downtime. Here are 4 ways we intend to prepare, which hopefully can serve as tips for anyone looking to protect their small online business in an emergency such as this.

Follow the news and keep up with the facts

Over the past week, I have been making sure to consistently check the news and online news outlets to stay informed as to when the hurricane will hit my area and how bad it will be. Being prepared, not just physically but mentally, can help prevent damage and loss of business.

Because I know roughly how much time I have with full power and Internet access, I can get as much work done as possible and set up as many automated emails or social media messages as I need to. Making sure you’re abreast of what’s going on can prevent you being taken by surprise.

 

Set up e-mail responders and reach out to clients

Today is Wednesday. News outlets are saying that the storm will hit Friday or Saturday. I’ll be setting up an email responder for Thursday, informing anyone who emails me that I may not be able to respond due to loss of Internet access because of hurricane Irma. This allows my clients to understand why I may not be able to get back to them and keeps potential clients from completely writing me off when I don’t respond.

Clients with projects currently in motion will get an email directly from me informing them of my situation and rescheduling any deadlines or meetings for the next week. I know that if I email someone and they don’t reply for days on end and I don’t know why, that seriously breaks my trust and belief in them. By notifying my clients beforehand, I can ensure their trust and make them feel like I am making them a top priority.

 

Protect your tools

If you have any physical items with which you run your business, it’s best to move them out of harms way. For example, my home office is in my guest bedroom in my apartment. My modem sits in the windowsill and my desk sits beside the window. I’ve moved everything in my living room, which will get the least amount of damage if any windows are broken. In a situation like a hurricane, it’s important to protect electronics from water damage as much as possible.

If you have insurance on your computer or any other equipment, double check your policy to make sure that you’re covered in this scenario. Make sure you’re up to date on any payments. On the off chance that your equipment is damaged, you want to be able to bounce back from that.

 

Make lists

In addition to preparing food, water and supplies for my family, I know that before the hurricane hits, I have to:

  • Move all my electronics and business gear into a safe place
  • Back up all my files from my computer to a safe cloud environment
  • Make sure that once the storm starts, all electronics are off and unplugged so there is no surge damage
  • Set up my automated messages
  • Get as much client work done as possible so I can stay ahead of deadlines
  • Notify my clients of my situation

During the storm itself, there are things I can do to keep my business running in the meantime:

  • Read any business/design/marketing, etc. books that I’ve been putting off
  • Writing blog posts by hand that I can type up and post later
  • Sketch wireframes for website and logo designs that I have on my plate
  • Practice sketching wireframes and logo designs to keep my skills fresh

Depending on your business, there are probably other things you can do the analog/manual way to keep your business going, at least in your head.

 

Small Business Website Do’s and Don’ts

Small Business Website Do’s and Don’ts

Do show your accomplishments

It’s great to talk about yourself on your site. It’s great to show what you’ve done in the past, awards you’ve won, appearances you’ve make, and clients you’ve worked with. This shows that you’re accomplished. We all want to feel like we’re working with the best possible person in their field!

Don’t show off

It’s possible to focus too much on yourself, especially if you have a service based business. Remember that people come to your site because they believe you have something or can do something that serves them. If they feel like you’re too focused on you and not focused enough on their needs, it may turn them off. It’s best to reserve talking about yourself to an About or Accomplishments page.

 

Do use color

Color allows for us to communicate ideas visually, make things stand out, and draws focus. A single color can influence the entire mood of your site. This is powerful, as it can make your small business website visitors adopt the feelings and tones you want them to have.

Don’t use color arbitrarily

When you use color, think about how those colors can serve you. Not just for establishing tone, but consider color psychology. For example, we all know that green means go and red means stop. If you have buttons on your site directing someone to start a process, green may be a stronger choice for that color than red.

 

Do have a good logo

Having a logo can be essential to establishing a brand identity. Think of all the big companies you know and love, like Nike or McDonalds. When you think of them, usually their logo is the first thing that pops into your mind’s eye. By having a strong logo that you can use to brand your messages and visuals, you are creating brand identity.

Don’t let your logo overpower your site

Your logo is important, but it is not the most important thing on your small business website. Many people allow their logos to take over their navigation menu, making it enormous so that it’s eye catching. But this detracts from the more important things like your links, your writing, your messages, your products, and your services.

 

 

Do keep them wanting more

Being concise with your language on your site can be powerful. The average person will skim a site they come to. Long paragraphs of information on sales pages will almost never be read. Allow people to feel like they would love to get more details from you.

Don’t be confusing

While you want to exclude too many details, you don’t want people to be confused. Make sure to have enough information that your visitors are certain they understand who you are, what you do, and how what you do can benefit them.

 

Do sell

If you have a small business website that needs to be a selling tool, don’t be afraid of that! Marketing sites are a great way to drive sales and if your small business is purely online, it’s your only way! Make strong choices that allow people to easily understand what you’re selling, why they should buy, and how they should buy.

Don’t be salesy

There’s a difference between embracing your marketing potential and being annoying. You want to focus on opening a door for buyers to easily walk through. You don’t want to back them into a corner or pull them through the door if they don’t want to. Use welcoming language that doesn’t have too much urgency. Use visuals that help support your message, but that aren’t annoying or harsh. Think about how you personally would like to be marketed to.

 

 

Are there any other do’s or don’t you suggest for small business websites? Leave them in the comments!