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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.

2017 Google Algorithm Changes Cause Consternation

If you’ve remained on the right side of Google in your SEO practices, then you should see improvement year-over-year.  If you don’t, be honest about the effort you’ve put into SEO and get an action plan in place to correct that.

For folks who keep a close eye on their Google Analytics, the past several months have been an exercise in angst and futility.  Google has been actively updating its algorithm and Google Analytics tracking software this year, causing many to believe that their sites are losing traffic and SEO rankings.

Google keeps pretty quiet about the updates it executes, the effects and why.  So, it’s been up to SEO firms like Pilot Fish to try to sort through these changes to provide some clarity to its clients.

As part of our SEO programs, Pilot Fish provides its clients with quarterly SEO reports that help track site traffic and progress in earning and maintaining strong positions for important keywords.  That reporting, plus information gathered by others in our industry, helped to identify a number of changes that were taking place at the search engine giant.

In a nutshell, Google has made major search engine updates almost every month this year:

Google 2017 Search Engine Updates

January 10, 2017

February 1, 2017

February 6, 2017

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Why Buy American Makes Sense for U.S. Websites and SEO

A big disadvantage to working with foreign developers is the inability to easily communicate your objectives for the site so that you’re assured of receiving what you want.

We’ve come across several situations recently where we’ve been asked to host, edit or optimize foreign-built websites and have gained enough experience from these situations to advise our clients, “Just say NO, when it comes to having your website built overseas.”

In some cases, the clients have yielded to corporate pressure to find the cheapest web developer, and ended up working with a U.S.-based firm whose developers reside in India, Malaysia, Poland or Ukraine.

At other times, we’re working with the U.S. affiliate of a foreign conglomerate, oftentimes a German, French, Italian or Japanese company, that insisted that the U.S. division have their website built in the motherland.

Either way, in each case, the resulting headaches were enough that we and our clients agreed that when it comes to website development and SEO, it’s always best to buy American. Here are the most common issues we’ve seen:

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Google video helps business owners get into the SEO game

When seeking a better website ranking on Google, it can seem that you and your SEO company are in a great battle with a giant monster, like David and Goliath. As the much smaller warrior in this scenario, your business is looking for whatever vulnerability or weakness can provide you an edge, so that your website is victorious in its quest for higher search engine rankings.

An SEO firm is the weapon you use, but rather than being a simple slingshot, it operates more like a Swiss army knife, capable of producing multiple tools to help you slay the beast.

So, why then, has Google posted a YouTube video on how to find a reputable SEO company?  Isn’t that like Goliath telling David, “Shoot me in the eye, right here!”

In reality, the quest for better SEO rankings is less like David and Goliath, and more like an athletic contest.

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How to preserve SEO rankings when changing domains

Dumping an old name for something more catchy that has no Internet history is just about the worst thing you can do SEO-wise.

Domain name changes, when you change your website URL from www.abc.com to www.xyz.com, are often required when a company goes through an ownership change, or sometimes to take advantage of a business opportunity.

Other times it can be that a long-desired domain has suddenly become available, or your business has changed its focus and is re-branding as the first step of a new course.

In any case, a decision to change a longstanding domain is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly as it will require significant effort to market the new domain and potentially cause some temporary confusion among customers and prospects until the new name takes hold.  At the same time, there’s another area of concern when it comes to domain changes: search engine optimization.    

If your company is used to seeing its website listed on the first page of Google for terms that are important in driving qualified site traffic to your website, you’ll need to take extra steps to ensure a smooth transition of your website from its old URL to the new one to prevent disruption of your SEO.

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Striking a Blow against Hackers and Cybercrime

By 2020, we'll need 1.5 million more information security professionals.

You can always count on Pilot Fish for some useful B2B SEO tips, insightful commentary on Google updates or user-friendly website design strategies.

But we’re interrupting our regularly scheduled programming today to talk about something a little farther afield yet still important: cybersecurity and the need to recruit more women to fill rolls in that industry.

Pilot Fish is a woman-owned business, but encouraging women to enter cybersecurity isn’t a stance of political correctness. It’s been predicted that by the year 2020 (just three years from now), the world will need 1.5 million more information security professionals, and simple statistics dictate that men won’t be able to fill all of those positions.

Since it’s unlikely that the flora and fauna of our world will be taught to code by then, women are going to have to fill the gap. To that end, ESET is offering a $5,000 scholarship to a woman who’s pursuing a college-level degree and desires to join the cybersecurity field.

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Like Trade Shows, SEO Only Works if You’re There

The virtual trade show is Google, and SEO works to position your site in the main aisle.

While discussing 2017 marketing budget planning with a prospective client, he asked me to help him come up with a compelling argument to present his management for why search engine optimization (SEO) for Google is so important.

The answer came to me while meeting with a company at a tradeshow recently. 

“What would your boss say if you suggested that your company not exhibit at any tradeshows?” I asked.  The answer seemed pretty obvious.  “We have to be here.  All our competitors are here, our customers expect us to be here, and we generate new leads among prospective customers.”

The follow-up question, for those who manage trade shows for their companies, also seemed fairly obvious: “Does it make a difference where your booth is at the show?  What if it were in that far corner in the back, would that impact the number of leads you get?”

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SEO Basics for Finding the Best Web Design or SEO Company

It’s important to know what you don’t know before you hire a website developer or SEO firm to work on your website

I recently decided to put to use some of the SEO software tools we regularly utilize when working on keyword research for our clients’ sites or when optimizing their websites for SEO.

I typed in what I thought are basic SEO questions that a lot of business owners regularly wonder about when faced with the prospect of trying to improve their website’s rankings on Google:

  • “What is search engine optimization?”  
  • “What does ‘SEO’ mean?”
  • “How does SEO work?”
  • “What’s the definition of SEO?”
  • “How do I choose the best SEO company?”

I was amazed at the number of keyword combinations surrounding “search engine optimization” or “SEO” – tens of thousands of Internet users type in more than 10,000 different queries each month to get info on these types of questions or to learn how to implement SEO.

And, it’s not surprising. SEO, especially when it comes to optimizing a website for Google, has become extremely complicated in the last several years. Google now uses 200 factors to rank websites, and continues to modify its algorithm to weed out spammy sites and generate the best possible results for its search engine users.  Last Fall, Google announced that its search engine algorithm now incorporates what it calls “RankBrain,” the use of artificial intelligence to help sort through the billions of web pages to determine how websites should be prioritized and ranked.  It’s so complicated that even Google engineers admit they don’t really understand it.

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Why Have My Google Search Rankings Dropped?

We’re in a summer of tremendous Google algorithm flux and the result is that many websites have recently dropped in the search rankings.

For a marketing manager, there’s almost nothing worse than checking your company’s Google Analytics only to find that your site traffic and Google search rankings have dropped.

Panic ensues as you scramble for explanations, causes and remedies. 

In today’s marketing climate, businesses have become ever more reliant on strong search engine rankings to drive site traffic, leads and new business as more traditional forms of marketing take a back seat among a fully plugged-in younger generation of buyers.

Who doesn’t love the self-serve nature of the Internet, where (non-spam) leads generated from your website are typically not only highly qualified, but also very serious buyers, as they’ve already done the work of investigating your company and products before filling out that contact form.

So finding that steady flow of new business opportunities shrink to a trickle as your site’s visibility on Google drops can induce sheer terror as you come to the realization that you’re not as much in control of your destiny as you thought you were.

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Is it Better to Have a Blog or a News Section?

A blog can can be used for a wide range of information, including press releases, trade show schedules and feature articles about the company’s products and services.

There’s a question we’re regularly asked by our industrial and B2B website design clients when discussing content marketing opportunities: Should we add a blog or post news to a news releases section?  Which one is better for SEO?

My answer typically is to choose a blog as it’s more versatile than a news section, is easier for non-experienced website users to update and provides as much if not more SEO value.

When we review websites during our sales process, it’s not unusual to find that the news on an industrial website’s news section is dated.  Oftentimes, there are very few press releases posted and it’s common to see the latest one is a couple years old.

Most businesses, especially small to mid-sized manufacturers, don’t have regular events that they or we’d call news and don’t have a person whose main priority is content development and marketing for the website.  So, it can become a challenge to keep a news section fresh with regularly posted items.

By contrast, a blog offers the opportunity to post anything a business wants to, without specifically having to label it as news.  A blog can be used for a variety of announcements, topics and articles, including press releases with actual company news, trade show schedules and feature articles about the company’s products and services.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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