improve search ranking with great content

One of the best ways to improve search rank­ing is to cre­ate great con­tent.  Great con­tent that other web­sites will want to link to.  It is espe­cially good if the search engines con­sider these web­sites to be author­i­ties on a topic you are tar­get­ing.

Recently the Blender web­site expe­ri­enced just such a lift.  Pop­u­lar lifestyle blog Life Hacker linked to a tool hosted in the Blender web­site that cal­cu­lated costs for a cloud stor­age ser­vice.  Of course vis­i­tor traf­fic went through the roof increas­ing by sev­eral orders of mag­ni­tude when their post went live.  More inter­est­ingly, search traf­fic both in the form of impres­sions (searchers see­ing the Blender web­page in their search results) and vis­its nearly dou­bled.  The con­tent of my web­site hadn’t changed, but Blender looks a lit­tle bet­ter now. (more…)

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more SEO Schema.org support from Google

Google support for schema.org logos and seo

Today on Google’s Web­mas­ter Cen­tral blog they announced more search engine sup­port for busi­ness / orga­ni­za­tion logos.  Specif­i­cally they men­tioned dis­play­ing suit­able logos in search results.  Hav­ing your logo included in a search engine results page (SERP) is a huge com­pet­i­tive advan­tage — or dis­ad­van­tage if you don’t fol­low their sug­ges­tion!

You can read more about Rich Snip­pets and Schema.org as they relate to orga­ni­za­tion addresses in my pre­vi­ous blog post local SEO: first steps to bet­ter Van­cou­ver results.

Read the rest at Google

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SEO: image optimization with Shrink-O-Matic

Image opti­miza­tion is an SEO fac­tor. Google has stated in their Web­mas­ter Guide­lines that web­sites should be opti­mized to load quickly:

Mon­i­tor your site’s per­for­mance and opti­mize load times. Google’s goal is to give users with the most rel­e­vant results and a great user expe­ri­ence. Fast sites increase user sat­is­fac­tion and improve the over­all qual­ity of the web (espe­cially for those users with slow Inter­net con­nec­tions), and we hope that as web­mas­ters improve their sites, the over­all speed of the web will improve.

Shrink-O-Matic is a free (dona­tion) tool that can help with image opti­miza­tion. This is a very handy tool for resiz­ing images in bulk.  As part of this process it strips out unnec­es­sary infor­ma­tion result­ing in ‘lighter’ file sizes. The images aren’t as light as pos­si­ble, but gen­er­ally much improved.  The ease of use of this tool makes it ideal for bulk image opti­miz­ing.  Add resiz­ing, renam­ing, and water­mark­ing to the mix and you have a win­ner.

Shrink-O-Matic as an Adobe Air appli­ca­tion so it should work on all plat­forms, as long as you have Air installed. If you find it use­ful I encour­age you to make a dona­tion to sup­port author Quentin Thiaucourt’s work.

Get Shrink-O-Matic

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SEO tips: trouble with Google algorithm updates

Google Panda and Penguin algorithms

Google reg­u­larly updates how they arrive at the search results pro­vided to users.  The process is part of the ever chang­ing search land­scape; SEOs tweak for best Google posi­tion­ing and Google tweaks for best search results.  You can view a list of Google’s algo­rithm updates at SEO­Moz, a SEO tools provider.  Two recent Google algo­rithm updates have had a par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant effect: code named Panda and Pen­guin.

For Google’s search results to be rel­e­vant it has to cor­rectly iden­tify the best answers to user searches.  Google works hard in this regard, some­times with trans­parency and some­times not. To it’s credit Google has pub­lished Google Web­mas­ter Guide­lines for design­ers and SEOs out­lin­ing best prac­tices.  To quote Google (empha­sis mine):

Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rank­ings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel com­fort­able explain­ing what you’ve done to a web­site that com­petes with you, or to a Google employee. Another use­ful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”

Avoid the fol­low­ing tech­niques: Auto­mat­i­cally gen­er­ated con­tent, Par­tic­i­pat­ing in link schemes, Cloak­ing, Sneaky redi­rects, Hid­den text or links, Door­way pages, Scraped con­tent, Par­tic­i­pat­ing in affil­i­ate pro­grams with­out adding suf­fi­cient value, Load­ing pages with irrel­e­vant key­words

All of the tech­niques Google men­tions have at one time or another been com­mon prac­tice to either pro­mote web­sites or cre­ate web­site con­tent. (more…)

local SEO: first steps to better Vancouver results

local seo search results vancouver

Local SEO (Search Engine Opti­miza­tion) refers to search opti­miza­tion with a regional focus, for instance tar­get­ing a city such as Van­cou­ver.  An exam­ple of local search engine opti­miza­tion would be my web­site, Blender Design, tar­get­ing searches orig­i­nat­ing in the Van­cou­ver met­ro­pol­i­tan area. For a local busi­ness this means focus­ing SEO efforts to com­pete for the searches that mat­ter most — poten­tial local clients.

I’m sure you’ve already noticed that search results are tai­lored to the searcher.  If a search engine, and by search engine I really mean Google, believes local search results would bet­ter answer a query, then local results will be pri­or­i­tized. For instance, if you do a Google search for “best restau­rant” you will likely see a cou­ple of web­sites fol­lowed by a list of local restau­rants.  For many obvi­ous local searches Google takes this a step fur­ther and includes an area map of results. (more…)

programming WordPress plugins

Sample Link image for Related Links Blender WordPress plugin

I was hav­ing trou­ble find­ing the right Word­Press plu­gin for a clients web­site … so I pro­grammed it!  You can see the results of the Related Links Blender plu­gin at the bot­tom of this post.  The plu­gin is a sim­ple but effec­tive way to keep vis­i­tors brows­ing your blog.  Sim­i­lar plu­g­ins existed, but none did exactly what I wanted.  Pro­gram­ming the plu­gin was an inter­est­ing exer­cise — always be learn­ing!

Plugin features:

  • Choose which posts to link
  • Just add the post ID of the tar­get you wish to link
  • Links include thumb, title, and brief intro­duc­tory text — auto­mat­i­cally!
  • Links can be struc­tured and styled to suite your web­site

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keeping websites up-to-date

Website Updated - its like night and day

When long­time Van­cou­ver client Lori Miles of Sweet Pea Pho­tog­ra­phy called Blender to ask for some updates to her web­site, to bring it up-to-date and give her web­site a lit­tle facelift, it was prob­a­bly over­due.  Lori takes amaz­ing pho­tos and gets some high pro­file clients and media expo­sure, which needed to be show­cased. From a poten­tial clients stand­point it is impor­tant to show them what you are up to and where your work is going.  From an SEO stand­point you want your web­site to be viewed as cur­rent and deserv­ing of good results place­ment.

As for  the facelift Lori asked to change the web­site from it’s exist­ing ele­gant black to a crisp white.  Not as sim­ple as it sounds, but what a dif­fer­ence!

Sweet Pea Pho­tog­ra­phy is due from some other needed updates like tran­si­tion­ing away from Flash, but that doesn’t feel as urgent with it’s fresh new look.

visit Van­cou­ver Pho­tog­ra­pher Lori Miles, Sweet Pea Pho­tog­ra­phy

update for The Emerald Coast

Emerald Coast Vancouver - Masonry and Landscaping

It’s impor­tant to keep a web­site up to date, both the con­tent and the con­struc­tion.  After adding some more pho­tos and a few new pages it was time to bring Vancouver’s The Emer­ald Coast up to date with regards to web stan­dards.

Emerald’s web­site was orig­i­nally based on a web­site tem­plate that fea­tured a Flash ban­ner at the time.  Com­mon prac­tice at the time to incor­po­rate some ani­ma­tion and give web­sites a lit­tle punch, Flash now was a use­abil­ity and SEO hin­drance. IPads/IPhones don’t dis­play flash items, and the con­tent is often ignored or poorly inter­preted by search engines.

Emer­ald liked the look so Blender extracted the good and reworked using mod­ern HTML design.  Next some jQuery ani­ma­tions to get back that punch and we’ll leave alone for another few years…

The Emer­ald Coast

Successful SEO campaign (updated)

New client Squeeze Van­cou­ver had a web­site already, but it’s search engine traf­fic was very dis­ap­point­ing.  Blender was hired to opti­mize the web­site to bet­ter com­pete with other local chair mas­sage busi­nesses.  We quickly iden­ti­fied some struc­tural prob­lems with the web­site, worked with the client to cre­ate some new con­tent, and devel­oped an SEO plan.

Mobile Chair Mas­sage Squeeze Van­cou­ver

UPDATE: Blender is happy to report that Squeeze has received it’s first clients from organic search!  After a lit­tle over a month clicks through Google are up 87%. Most impor­tantly we are see­ing our tar­geted search phrases start­ing to appear on the first page in some searches.

another wordpress website

Wordpress based website built by Blender Design

Another assign­ment for Cre­at­ing Excel­lence, small busi­ness mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist.  Cor­ner Equip­ment needed a web­site that vis­i­tors could nav­i­gate quickly, that was easy to main­tain, and that search engines would pick up and list.  Because of the client’s expe­ri­ence with Word­Press there was no ques­tion it would be our plat­form of choice.  Word­press is the most straight­for­ward CMS (Con­tent Man­age­ment Sys­tem) avail­able, and because it is enjoy­ing recent pop­u­lar­ity there is no short­age of exten­sions  and sup­port.

Blender cre­ated a cus­tom theme based on Cre­at­ing Excellence’s design.  Care­ful atten­tion was taken to ensure the web­site gen­er­ated would be friendly to search engines.  An SEO strat­egy was part of the early design process.

One inter­est­ing fea­ture of the Cor­ner Equip­ment web­site is the pro­cess­ing of images attached to items in the inven­tory.  Pic­tures are uploaded by the site owner and auto­mat­i­cally resized for dif­fer­ent pur­poses, lit­tle or no out­side pre­pro­cess­ing required.

Visit Cor­ner Equip­ment