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2020 SEO: Brush up on the Game of Monopoly

When it comes to implementing search engine optimization for 2020, I tell clients that it’s like the game of Monopoly.

First, Google itself is a monopoly among search engines, with an 88% market share for all searches conducted in the United States, and a 92% market share for searches worldwide as of January 2020(1). For the industrial clients with which we work, that’s fairly significant, along with the knowledge that 89% of technical professionals – their customers -- say they use search engines as a source of information for work, with 77% saying they use the Internet to find equipment, components, services and suppliers.(2)

So, there’s no escaping the impact that Google has on your business, whether your website is optimized or not.

Companies that have gone all in with SEO are likely the ones benefiting from Google’s domination; those that have not (unless they’re branded giants in their own right) are likely suffering and wondering why the Internet doesn’t work for them.

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Pilot Fish celebrates 25th anniversary of Internet marketing excellence

We were there at
the forefront and
continue to offer
our clients SEO
expertise derived
from many years of
practical experience.

My, how time flies when you’re having fun! Pilot Fish is celebrating 25 years in the Internet marketing industry, through our affiliated business Polysort.com, which was founded in 1995 as the first online portal for the plastics and rubber industry.

And, my, how things have changed over the last 25 years!  When we started Polysort.com, it was the Wild, Wild West back then, and we cut our teeth teaching plastics and rubber companies how to setup email accounts and build their first websites. 

Very few companies had websites in 1995, so helping plastics and rubber companies build their online presence became our primary business,which is just a part of our mission today.

With the launch of Google in 1998 and its subsequent growth, search engine optimization become a must-have for every industrial company's marketing toolkit. That's where Pilot Fish stepped in.  

As inquiries increased from non-polymer businesses and the need for SEO grew, Pilot Fish became our website development and SEO arm, providing Internet marketing services not only to plastics and rubber companies, but also to other industrial businesses in a variety of markets, including medical, packaging, woodworking, construction products, chemical, machinery and more.    

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Google Algorithm Change Shakes Things Up

Keep focused on great content.
- Google

Google routinely adjust its algorithm a couple times a week to no fanfare, but an update that rolled out in early November caught the attention of SEOs and website owners.

Some websites saw their traffic drop 30-50%. Some of our own clients were slightly affected, and we’ve already initiated activities to get them back on track.

In response to questions from SEOs, Google confirmed that an update had occurred but gave no indication of what website owners could do to combat the change, beyond its usual advice to provide “great content”:

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Does Your Industrial Website Factor in Millennial Buyers?


Millennials value user-generated content and, in particular, customer reviews more so than company claims of performance.

We hear a lot of news coverage about the impact that the millennial generation (those born from 1981-1996) will have on our society. But what about your business? Younger millennials have grown up with computers and the internet as an integral part of their lives. So, not surprisingly, they’re accustomed to researching and shopping online and have much different expectations of websites than folks in older generations.

Engineers, purchasing managers, company owners in the millennial generation are viewing your site in significant numbers. And their impact on your business is increasing with each passing year. Is your website set up to meet the needs of these tech-savvy visitors?
 

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Newest Periodic Table of SEO Factors Outlines What It Takes to Get Good Search Engine Rankings

The basics are simple – good content, careful coding, no sneaky tricks.

Search Engine Land has released the 2019 version of its Periodic Table of SEO Factors, a handy chart of the activities that can positively – and negatively – affect your website’s search engine rankings.

With 200+ ranking factors in Google’s algorithm, Search Engine Land distills all the known information about Google’s methodology into 35 elements, which cover multiple ranking factors.


Positive Attention

Twenty-nine of those elements represent positive ranking factors, those activities you can undertake to help improve your website’s position on the search engines. Seven of the elements dealt directly with content.

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The Need for Site Speed

Faster pages are known to have higher traffic and better search rankings.

Since Google is tightening its SEO standards on website download time and page speed (factoring your site’s download time into search rankings), it’s time to take action, if you haven’t already. There are countless operations that can be performed to improve page speed, but, knowing where to begin can be overwhelming.


My site seems to load fine, so why is this necessary?

  • To maintain visitors.
    Statistics show that, if your site does not load quickly, visitors will leave in just a matter of seconds. Fast page load times are a major factor when it comes to user experience, usability, and the overall functionality of your website.
  • To perpetuate sales.
    On e-commerce sites, visitors who become frustrated with slow page load times are not likely to return, which oftentimes leads them to competitor sites. Fast load times lead to more customer interaction and better sales.
  • To improve rankings.
    Faster pages are known to have higher traffic and better search rankings. Significant improvements in site speed will lead to better performance.  
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The Once & Future Problem with Spam Contact Forms

We’re left to realize that some things never change.  

Once upon a time, sales seemed simple. You called, visited or mailed your prospects and clients directly. As technology progressed, you might have faxed them. If someone wanted to find you, they could visit your booth at a trade show or look up your phone number and address in a physical directory.

Then the Internet came along, and things got interesting. Now a lot more people could find you much more easily – and you could collect leads more easily, too, because your website had a nifty neato contact form for site visitors to submit.

Then hackers ruined everything by finding ways to automatically fill in and submit the contact forms on websites. Some of these submissions were cold calls, some were mere nuisances and some were actual hazards containing malicious code.

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Are you Giving Your Top Salesperson the Tools She Needs?

Investing in SEO is akin to giving your best salesperson everything they need to be a top performer.

Are you Giving Your Top Salesperson the Tools She Needs?

If you own your business or manage the sales organization, you’re likely in tune with the specific things your sales team needs to be effective for your company:

  • Access to leads or contact list, a phone, email, maybe a car, and a good CRM to track results;
  • Appropriate supporting sales literature and training on how your products and services benefit your customers;
  • A marketing strategy and organizational support for the quoting and sales process;
  • Incentivizing compensation;
  • An environment that encourages productive independence, with accountability to the company to meet organizational goals;
  • Personal benefits, like sick pay, vacation time and a 401K, that help your employees feel valued and empowered to be the best at what they do.

But, what if, in providing all these things to your sales organization, you were ignoring the vital needs of someone who could be your top producer?

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Why Have My Search Rankings Dropped?

Given Google’s newer emphasis on user intent, it becomes very difficult for a single site to dominate the top rankings across a broad set of keywords.

On March 12, Google announced what it called a “broad core algorithm update,” the sixth major change to the search engine’s algorithm in the last year. Unfortunately for everyone, that’s about as specific Google got in describing the impact of “Update Florida 2,” as it has been named.

As with prior changes, Google’s advice in managing this new update is to continue with standard, accepted SEO practices.  But, for sites that have noticed their traffic on the downhill lately or in the last couple of years, a better explanation is in order.

How SEO Started

In the early days of Google, earning Page 1 rankings on the search engine was as easy as incorporating the right keywords into your meta tags and content. Companies that jumped on the SEO bandwagon early got tremendous advantage, dominating rankings within their business segments.

Over time, Google modified the algorithm to make capturing the prized top rankings more difficult, adding backlinks and myriad other ranking signals.

Today, we know that the Google algorithm incorporates more than 200 ranking factors, about half of which are related to on-page SEO and the other half to backlinking and content marketing.

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4 Simple Content Marketing Tips to Boost Your SEO

Produce fresh, useful content that appeals to customers and prospects.

With 2019 well under way, now is a great time to review your SEO practices and plan to take some new steps in the right direction when it comes to content marketing.

New, fresh content continues to remain a top priority when it comes to ranking well on the search engines. Google, in fact, rewards pages that display expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

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447 Hits

Review Your Website to Ensure SEO Success in the New Year

A poorly maintained site usually won’t rank well on Google.

2018 is nearly over, and we all have our own lists of things we’d like to complete before the end of the year.

One task that should definitely be on your list is a quick review of your website.

Let’s be clear: mistakes on your website matter. An old phone number or malfunctioning contact form could keep you from acquiring a new customer, while inaccurate information and broken links can lead new prospects to decide you’re not a vendor they feel comfortable with.

Broken links and inaccuracies matter to Google as well – a poorly maintained site usually won’t rank as well in Google’s search results.

So what’s a concerned site owner to do? Here’s a simple checklist of 10 items to review on your website to make sure your site is in good shape:

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6 Linking Tactics – and a Bonus Tip – for Better B2B SEO

Content marketing & link-building can provide a powerful one-two punch for your B2B SEO.

One easily forgotten element in the battle to improve search rankings is simple linking.

Here are some easy ways to increase the number of links to your website:

  1. Content marketing is the key here: Write new, useful content every month – no one will link to an old, outdated website that has nothing new to offer. This content can include:
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Industrial, B2B Companies Must Adjust Mindset to Succeed at SEO

Effective B2B SEO means building your site from the ground up with higher rankings in mind and continuing with an ongoing content marketing and backlink building strategy.

We don’t do social media. We don’t need a blog. We don’t know anything about backlinks. We don’t have any videos or PowerPoint presentations we can use. We don’t have time to talk about new content for our site. We don’t want to change the way we do things.

“We don’t” and “we can’t” are the biggest reasons why industrial and other B2B companies fail in search engine optimization (SEO). With Google using more than 200 factors to rank websites (half related to site structure and content and the other half to content marketing and backlinks), and an ever-evolving algorithm that’s updated multiple times a year, there’s one thing that’s certain, SEO for industrial businesses requires a big commitment and a commitment to change.

It’s not enough to build a site that’s responsive and that utilizes Yoast or other SEO plugins. Effective B2B SEO means building your site from the ground up (programming, navigation and content) with higher rankings in mind and continuing with an ongoing content marketing and backlink building strategy that supports the work you’ve done to optimize your site. 

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4 Important SEO Tasks When Converting to HTTPS

Converting your site to HTTPS will create some work that needs to be done to ensure that Google is giving you credit for all the SEO work you’ve previously done.

If Google saying it would prioritize HTTPS sites in its search results didn’t get you to convert your site to the secured protocol, then perhaps the European Union’s new GDPR privacy law will.

As part of the privacy law, the GDPR requires that transmission of private data be done in a secure manner.  For websites with contact forms, that means converting your site to HTTPS to encrypt those transmissions.  You can read more about the GDPR privacy law requirements here, but the real purpose of this article is to remind you of the other things you’ll need to do once you’ve converted your site to HTTPS.

Converting your site to HTTPS will create some work that needs to be done to ensure that Google is giving you credit for all the SEO work you’ve previously done.  Below are four important tasks to do before you can consider your HTTPS site conversion complete:   

#1:  Verify that your HTTP site is set to permanently redirect to the HTTPS domain.  If you type in your web address starting with just www, it should automatically redirect in your browser to the HTTPS site.  If not, talk to your web programmers about correcting this issue.

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Google Algorithm Changes Stir Things Up

Remain focused on building great content.

Google is up to its old tricks, unleashing several algorithm changes since the beginning of the year.

One of the most important is also one of the ones we’ve known about the longest: Google’s move to a mobile-first index. Although it’s been talking about this change since 2016, Google only began testing mobile-first indexing on a few, select sites in October.

And then on March 26 Google announced that it was officially moving larger batches of websites to mobile-first indexing. Basically, if there’s a mobile version and a desktop version of a website, Google is going to display the mobile version in its search engine results, which is what people will see whether using their mobile devices or desktop computers. Eventually, Google will have one index that favors mobile-friendly websites.

If you have a well-optimized website that works on mobile devices, you should be in the clear. 

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Putting Your B2B SEO to Work on an International Stage

Clients who’ve implemented properly optimized foreign-language websites have received increased leads.

It’s great to have a well-designed website, properly optimized according to B2B SEO best practices. But, if your company targets markets outside of the U.S. and Canada, a well-designed, well-optimized English-language website might not be enough.

You’ll usually find the best success globally when you design your marketing efforts with your international audiences in mind. It might sound daunting, but the good news is that the basics of B2B SEO work well in any language, if you keep in mind the following tips:

Use the right domain name.

If you’ve got deep pockets, you can buy a language-specific domain name for each country you market to and host each website in that specific country. This requires a lot of resources – including hiring and maintaining a web-editing staff in each country – and demands an incredible amount of oversight to make sure that each website remains up-to-date.

An option that’s more time- and cost-efficient while still being highly effective, is to create separate sections within your own website to target each country. Each section should be labeled with the abbreviation for that country, such as yourdomain.com/mx for a website targeting Mexico or yourdomain.com/de for a website designed for prospective customers in Germany.

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B2B SEO Tips for Content Marketing

Any content marketing piece that is posted online should be optimized with a couple of your best search terms.

First of all, if you’re creating and posting new content anywhere online about your corporate website, let me extend to you an earnest, well-deserved congratulations on your content marketing efforts.

Whether you’re posting on sites like LinkedIn and YouTube or adding new content like case studies, news releases and blogs to your own website, every bit of content marketing will help your B2B SEO. We’ve found that our clients who regularly add content see the most improvements in their search engine rankings.

But …

You’re leaving a lot on the table if you’re not implementing basic B2B SEO tactics with each new piece of content to perform well on the search engines.

Why go to the trouble of creating content and then not giving it every chance to be found in online searches? It’s like creating a great radio commercial and never mentioning your company’s name – a lot of your hard work and your company’s resources spent without generating any new business.

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809 Hits

B2B SEO Expertise Required to Combat Google Analytics Woes

We've expanded the online tools we use to compile site statistics for our clients, no longer relying solely on the figures Google decides to present.

The SEO high jinx over at Google continue to mount, with our B2B SEO clients consistently reporting irregularities in their Google Analytics reports.

We documented last year how changes in Google’s methodology of tracking and reporting site statistics were leading some site owners to think their sites were losing traffic and SEO rankings – even though Google claimed the actual traffic was consistent and that the only change was in how the figures were reported.

Since then, some B2B website owners continue to report increases in the number of terms that Google ranks their sites for but a decrease in the traffic they receive from Google, which isn’t logical. Traditionally, a site that ranks more frequently on the first page of Google will see an increase in its search traffic.

In other instances, the web addresses for individual pages are recorded inaccurately in Google Analytics, with no indication if the accompanying statistics are for the real web page or if the figures are as wrong as the web addresses are.

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Start 2018 Off Strong with Keyword & Competitor Research Designed to Boost Your Website's B2B SEO

If you’re looking to take full advantage of every business opportunity that 2018 presents, you’ll need a website up to the task.

With 2017 quickly rolling to a close, it’s a good time to look ahead and think about how to start your 2018 B2B SEO program on the right foot.

One of the best things you can do, both from an SEO perspective and a business perspective, is to perform a complete keyword and competitor analysis for your website.

Keyword & Competitor Research is foundational to any SEO project. It provides you the information you need to determine the best universe of keywords for which you should optimize your site and how much work in off-page SEO and content marketing you’ll need to overtake your competitors on Page 1 of Google.

If you haven’t taken a good look at your search terms or your online competitors for a few years, this is a great time to do so. Newer software tools that provide access to more detailed keyword research data and updated analysis of how Google ranks sites, can change your B2B SEO approach in a way that increases site traffic and leads.

For example, for years, the search term “body bags” was my favorite example of why keyword research is so important. It’s a term that came up several years ago when we did some SEO for a police supply company that distributed body bags and very confidently used only that term to describe that specific line of products.

But a thorough keyword research project showed that the search engines thought “body bags” were only a style of women’s purse; it turned out that “cadaver bags” was the term that the search engine recognized as describing the client’s product – and was the term that many of their potential customers used in searching for that product.

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B2B SEO Goes Beyond Search Engines to Generate Sales Leads

Check your website against these questions, and you’ll find ways to improve your site’s usefulness, and, eventually, the number of qualified leads your site generates

 

When you’re working on SEO for your corporate website, it often feels like there’s only one goal: Getting that coveted #1 spot on Google’s search results.

But that’s just one goal (although an essential one) on the way to what’s generally the main motivation for most B2B websites: Increasing the number of qualified leads the site owner receives.

And the most thoroughly planned and carefully crafted B2B SEO won’t mean a darn thing if it lands search engine users on a website that’s poorly designed and executed.

To capitalize on your B2B SEO success, you need a website that captures the attention of your site visitors and gives them what they need. The best way to do this is to create a website that lets visitors quickly find what they want – not a website that looks glitzy or provides the latest gimmicks. At the end of the day, you’ll generate more qualified leads from site visitors who are wowed not by how fancy your website looks but by how easy your website is to use.

Heather Kyle’s recent blog post provided some great ideas about how content legibility can improve visitor experience and increase the likelihood of visitors contacting you for more information.

The following questions focus more broadly on your site visitors’ experience with your entire website and how that affects your ability to generate leads. It’s a handy list to use the next time you’re redesigning your corporate website.

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919 Hits