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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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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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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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SEO News: Google Mobile Algorithm Update coming in May, and More…

Sites that are not responsive (mobile friendly) will likely see a greater decline in mobile search rankings in spite of other SEO efforts.

Last Spring big news hit the SEO world of a mobile search algorithm update from Google tagged Mobilegeddon. We wrote about it here: “How Well Did Your Website Weather Google’s Stormy Spring?”

Well, Spring has sprung again, and we have new storms upon us. The mobile algorithm is expected to gain some strength come May. This means that sites that are not responsive (mobile friendly) will likely see a greater decline in mobile search rankings in spite of other SEO efforts.

So if you’re website hasn’t been updated to be mobile friendly, it may be time to start that project if you’re concerned about SEO performance. According to studies by comScore, desktop search queries peaked in 2013, and have been falling since as mobile use has climbed. A review of your site’s Google Analytics can help determine if your company should consider the move to responsive design to improve its mobile search results.

The landscape is changing too. Google continues to tweak how it displays paid ads and organic search results. Ads have been removed from the right-hand column of Google’s search results pages.  

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Play the Percentages to Improve SEO & Digital Marketing Effectiveness

 

Hiring the right provider is just the first step in the right direction.

Hot off the presses this month is a new study of digital marketing trends across a wide range of sectors.

The results are telling:

  • Nearly half (41%) of the 275 respondents characterized the state of their organization’s digital marketing as below average compared to their competitors
  • 71% said their digital marketing effectiveness was either increasing only marginally or actually decreasing
  • 40% and 35%, respectively, cited the lack of skills/training and the lack of an effective strategy as major obstacles to their digital marketing efforts
  • 45% reported SEO was one of the most difficult digital marketing strategies to execute

Those figures all point to one fact: there are a lot of companies out there in need of digital marketing assistance.

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Metalworking Survey Supports Need for SEO in Industrial Sectors

We last documented in November 2015 about the importance of search engines in the success of digital marketing efforts for industrial companies. A more recent study, titled Metalworking Trends Survey, published by LoSasso, provides additional support for the importance of search engine optimization, social media, and industry-focused portals when trying to reach prospects during their buying cycle.

According to the study, two-thirds of all buyers surveyed conduct product research online to narrow their choices before contacting a salesperson.  Demographics no longer matter: Respondents ages 55 and older answered the same way as younger, tech-savvy participants. 

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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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How well did your website weather Google’s stormy spring?

For those that don’t track Google algorithm changes like we do, it’s been a messy spring all across the country, not just Northeast Ohio. Like the Weather Channel naming the biggest storms, search engine insiders name Google search engine updates. So let’s recap two major storm systems that moved through the area to cause chaos for websites big and small.

Mobilegeddon

The impact of the Quality Update has been far more significant across the Internet than Mobilegeddon because it affects desktop search.

Google officially rolled out this massive cold front on April 21st. This change affected search rankings for sites that are not mobile compatible. The result is that Google’s mobile search engine for cellphones now attempts to display mobile-friendly sites ahead of sites that are not responsive. Google says this change provides a better experience for cellphone users. Just like other algorithm changes, if it’s better for the user, it’s better for Google. 

Fortunately, this change doesn’t affect search rankings on desktops and tablets, so in many B2B and industrial markets, most search traffic hasn’t been impacted too much.  

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