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The Relationship between Website Navigation and SEO

Refining site navigation and structure is so important when it comes to search engine optimization. The idea that you could just put up your web site and never change it has become prehistoric. Today web sites need to revised at least every two years. Not for an aesthetically please purpose but for speed, video, and most importantly search engine rankings. So what does an optimized web site navigation look like? Here’s an example of navigation in its most basic form.

Your home page filters into header tabs, then header tabs filer into subcategories, which are, related to the header tabs. Each of the lower levels supports the higher levels from a linking perspective. The lines are indicative of potential cross-linking relationships, the implementation of which would be assessed on a site-by-site basis.



 Search Engine Optimization and Navigation

 So what are the benefits of an optimized site? By creating straightforward and simplified navigation that access internal pages of a website are beneficial in the following ways:

  • Users are able to navigate the site easier
  • Search engines web site crawlers can easily crawl the site due to simplified navigation
  • Bringing exposure to subcategories within the site
  • Increases web site rankings

The above navigational structure is vital when it comes to users who have no idea the depth and size of your web site. Compared to a brick and mortar store, more than often, the consumer knows how large the store is before they walk in the door. Having a simple and straightforward navigational outline, an user and a search engine like Google will breeze through each component or department after department of your web site without a second thought. The goal here is to the make the user experience effortless. Making it so natural for the user simply allows the user to loose track of time and enjoy the entertainment.

As search engine optimization and usability experts, we often find that a website’s navigation can be simplified. By doing this, and creating a hierarchy of content supporting specific sections, we are improving navigation. But we are also creating a relationship which supports the sites linking, an absolutely critical component of SEO.

Ultimately, refinement of your navigation benefits the amount of pages Google and other search engines can locate on your site, allows you to increase your rankings, enhances your sites usability and improves your bottom-line. When you are creating your navigation, or refining an old one, make sure to take your time. In addition, consider the main keywords you are targeting to determine traffic and hub value. The bottom line is think about the end-user and how their experience on your site makes the most sense to find information. In addition, consider what common themes run through your site. This will allow you to accurately determine the correct paths and which links you would like to promote at the top of your navigation hierarchy.

Links pointing internally from the home page and globally on your website play a large role in your SEO success. Make sure your site makes sense from a usability and keyword traffic perspective and you will be a step ahead of many websites online.



Responsive Websites Rank High on Google SERP

Just when you think your web site is up to date, Google changes its algorithm yet again. This last month’s change has Google’s pack of 7 down to a pack of 3 business web sites on the organic search page listing. In addition, addresses and phone numbers have been removed altogether. As you can see, only three web sites are listed for “medical weight loss Las Vegas” and are supposed to be listed based on proximity and relevance of the search. However, these businesses that are listed are not close to my location nor are they weight loss centers. So what does this mean to business owners?

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Well it actually means more than you might think. It means that for you to be even somewhat competitive, you need to update your web site to increase your chances of being in the top three along with staying on the first page of Google’s organic searches. So how do you increase your chances to be in the top three on the local pack of Google? Here are five recommendations:

  1. Your website address is now more important than your phone number. In the new local pack, the address and phone number are removed from the main search result. Instead, the search results show your store hours, reviews and offers a link to the website and directions. Of course, you can still see the spot on the map where your business is, so address is still important. But it’s interesting to note that they make your website URL prominent and not focus on your other contact info. Make sure that your search listings have a Website URL, and it can’t hurt to make sure your hours are filled in too. Also, it’s extremely important for you to make sure Google has your address listed so you come up to the nearest prospect who is looking for your services.
  2. Google is taking away its emphasis on Google+. Google also removed the links to Google My Business pages. This makes Google+ less relevant, which might be a relief to a lot of people who felt forced into creating a Google+ account. In the meantime, it’s still best to keep up with your Google+ pages while we wait and see what The Big G chooses to do next with their social media service.
  3. It’s going to be even harder for a local business to rank here. While we always want to be as high as possible in search results, now it’s even harder. As you can see on the example above, there is A LOT of local competition in our area for the medical weight loss industry. I would be willing to bet that it’s similar in most other industries. This means that the majority of businesses won’t be listed on the local pack of Google. My prediction is that customers will rely less on this first page as a result. They might get into the habit of expanding the local pack to see all 20 top results, or looking in a different area for local results. People like options! If this happens, businesses will not place such an emphasis on ranking locally. Of course, it could be the exact opposite – competition for that 3 pack could greatly increase. In that situation, only the best, most relevant sites will prevail.
  4. It’s more important than ever to make sure your website is optimized. As you can see, Google is not going to slow down any time soon in aiming to give people the most relevant search result possible. This means that it is extremely important to make sure your website is helpful, mobile-responsive, complete, and relevant.Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 5.09.04 PM
  5. Adding video on your website increases your rankings on Google’s organic searches. As you can see Unicorn’s YouTube channel is helping it come up in rankings on Google’s search engines. It’s not one or the other for testimonials, we recommend both as some prospects may want to read about other patients’ experiences while others may want to hear it. Giving options to your patients is key to success.  As you can see in the screenshot below Unicorn Medical Weight Loss & MediSpa tops the list on the organic search and it’s YouTube video is #4 on the first page of Google’s organic search engine.

Does your website need an SEO facelift? If you think you need to update your site and boost your organic traffic, click on the image below to learn about our website packages.





Think Before You Click

Major news events bring out the worst in people whose judgment often exceeds their common sense. Social media sites light up like the Fourth of July as millions of users share their unfiltered emotivity on whatever late breaking topic du jour is rattling the universe. Never mind the old adage, “a penny for your thoughts”, most postings in the heat of the moment aren’t worth half that. In fact often times they are a liability.

Events of the last two weeks have given the social media users enough fodder for a year. The police beatings and protests, professional athlete peccadilloes, political turmoil, and Kim Kardashian’s obsession with our obsession with her butt have fueled opinions and comments that certainly don’t go unnoticed. What you don’t want to see, is an unauthorized post from your company’s social media page, or a stupid social media comment from someone in your employ.

warkprofileprofessionalIf you own a business, you certainly don’t have to be located in Ferguson to see everything you have worked hard for, destroyed. A stupid Twitter or Facebook post can bring your business to a grinding halt. Use these event super storms as teachable moments for yourself and your employees as to the proper use of social media as it pertains to your business.

Don’t let employees wonder about the appropriate use of social media. Make sure that you have firm policies in place that are applicable to everyone, including managers and officers. Last month the well- respected President of the prestigious Professional Golf Association was fired by the Board of Directors after he made rude personal comments about some of the golfers on the Tour. If your policy is going to work then employees need to be confident that the rules will apply to everyone.

It’s also important to make it clear as to the proper procedure for posting content on your company’s social media sites, as well as an employee’s responsibility for content with their own personal social media.

Ensure that all content on your business’ social media pages is vetted before it is posted. Where problems usually occur is in response to a posted criticism on a review site, and the posting of proprietary information. Both of these problems can be devastating, but they are easily preventable.

The other aspect of your policy, as it pertains to an employee’s personal social media, is a bit tricky because you have to trust the discretion of the employee. Perhaps the simple rule of “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma to see” would be a good baseline.

Where most employees get in trouble, pictures. You might start with a “No Selfies at the Office” rule, and certainly make people turn off their smart phones at the office Christmas Party.

If your business would be adversely affected by the personal publishing of certain behavior or comments, then let your employees know that. For example, tweeting photos of some hard weekend partying if you are a kindergarten teacher may not be looked upon kindly. Or an expletive laced opinion on an elected official could be frowned upon if your business relies on government contracts.

Common sense is unfortunately, too uncommon. It’s imperative to get everything in writing in the employee handbook and understood and appreciated by your entire team. Sometimes that simple act of due diligence will be the one thing that a person will remember before they are about click SEND.

If you have questions about your social media strategy, call me directly 702-374-1944. Having compelling content and a strategy are the keys to a successful social media campaign.







It’s Time to Talk

Talk is cheap, but a good talk is priceless. We are social beings. We crave communication but we tend to eschew it at all wrong times…like when it’s most needed.

It’s tough enough to be a poor communicator in private life, but in the long term it’s a recipe for failure to be one in the business world. A typical small business with employees is a multi-layered organism. The only way this organism can thrive is if there is meaningful communication between all of the layers and between the employees that inhabit these layers.

photodune-567166-time-to-talk-sOne of the more puzzling things I find as a business consultant is why good communication is even absent when it’s in a person’s best interest. A colleague spoke to me last week about a project where the managers where having quality control problems with a vendor. The managers knew that the standard operating procedure for this problem was to immediately notify the vendor as well as the COO of their company, but nobody did. They just suffered in silence for a week before saying anything. If they had just spoke up and brought it to the attention of all parties they would have avoided what was daily frustration and a loss of productivity.

warkprofileprofessionalMany of my clients over the years have been in the medical profession. Communication problems can be particularly acute because of the interaction between highly trained medical professionals, a rigid regulatory environment, and the sensitivity of dealing with patients. If people aren’t effectively communicating between themselves and their patients, there is more at stake than the success of the practice. Fixing this problem is a process, because you are dealing with behavioral characteristics. Don’t be afraid to create a structure help this along. Here are a few ideas in how to start the process.

Put it on the Calendar-Schedule a regular time every week for managers and employees to speak with each other, and an opportunity for an interdepartmental meeting with the boss. At least everyone will be together once a week for the expressed purpose of expressing themselves.

Don’t be Vague-When making a specific request, make the “who, when, and where” very clear.

Face-to-Face-Improving interpersonal communication skills requires fewer emails and more personal communication. If you have something important to tell an employee, good or bad, do it in person, and do it in an un-distracting environment.

Customer Care-Lack of communication is the number one complaint of clients. Things get busy and hectic and clients can become a second thought. Use a customer management system that will remind your employees when to reach out to speak and listen. If needed, create a script for your employees to get them used to saying the right things at the right time.

Don’t Reward the Gossip-make it clear that the cheapest talk is gossip. Managers have the ability to assist in shaping the work environment by creating disincentives for troublemakers and employees who cannot conduct their speech in an encouraging and productive way. Don’t let these employees poison the business.

These are places to start. Ultimately much of the needed change is attitudinal, and is going to have to come from within the employee. Creating a framework for this change will get your workforce in the habit of communicating better and that’s a great way to start the process.





It Looks Like Optics

So it “appears” that the word optics has attained ubiquitous status. I hear it all the time now, not only from the chattering class in the press and the cable news shows, but I actually heard it uttered at the gym the other day. Optics in its current non-scientific pedestrian use simply means “how something appears, or is perceived”. You hear it used most often today in political discussions, but interestingly enough it seems to have evolved over the years in the world of business. And as business people, optics have a powerful influence on our success.

It’s easy to dismiss the criticism that something in particular “doesn’t look good”, or that it has “bad optics”. After all, as business types we are preoccupied with the realities of our enterprise, not the perceptions. While other’s perceptions are subjective, we for the most part control our optics.

Good optics for your business start well before others may ever step foot into your establishment. If you are philanthropic and active in your community your are creating a good perception. It is something that you can control. If you show up on a YouTube video cussing a blue streak at the referee at your kids  soccer game then the public will not only draw a conclusion about you but they judge your business and even your employees. Once again, it is a situation that you control.

warkprofileprofessionalOptics have their greatest impact on customer service. What are the impressions that a customer feels when they walk up to your place of business? When they enter the lobby will there be a doughnut in the mouth of the front desk person? Good systems and procedures will ensure that starting even in the lobby you can control the optics of your business.

While it seems silly to have to outlaw powdered doughnuts at the front desk, you are going to have to make it perfectly clear what is acceptable behavior because you can’t take good optics for granted.  Even going so far as setting an office dress code can be essential in training your staff in the importance of optics. I’ve always felt that staff uniforms were as much a defensive measure for people that couldn’t figure out how to dress themselves, as a sharp way to create continuity in branding.

As long as we are stuck with optics as an overused buzzword, let’s take advantage of the heightened sense of how important perception is. After all, it is reality.


Love Hate Relationships

warkprofileprofessionalAs a business owner at some time, (or many times), you will have an “I can’t stand the human race” kind of a day. It’s all about the love/hate relationship we have with colleagues, customers, employees, vendors, ourselves, etc. Regardless of the business you are in, you are in a people business. Even if you are running an e-commerce site out of your mother’s basement, you at some point are going to have to talk to a live human being.

When we talk about a “people business” it’s almost always within the context of customers and sales. But the success of your organization begins with the people on your side of the counter. We all have a tendency to keep our focus on the till and take everything else for granted. There are a lot of moving parts that make that cash register ring. When it doesn’t ring as often as it should, start at the front and work your way back.

Not only do we want more customers, we want to keep the customers we have. Good customer service is a combination of having the right customer service people, and having the right customer service systems and processes. You can have wonderfully friendly employees dealing with customers, but if they aren’t up to speed on all of your products and services, company policies, and office systems then customer service suffers. All of these components need to be drilled into front line employees on a daily basis. Good employees will embrace the rigors of this blocking and tackling, and the bad ones will chafe at it. Get rid of the chafers. Even your best employees will have a love/hate relationship with customers, but they will always remember that the customer is always right.

team_killers_slideIf this is all foreign to your employees, who in the world is in charge of that department and how come they haven’t been trained properly? Is the person that you hired as a manager or supervisor the right person? Did you make the age old mistake of using tenure as the main criteria for turning an employee into a manager? A competent manager should be the ultimate “people person”. They should ensure that the employee in their care is trained and equipped to be the best that they can be. A manager worth their salt will be organized, even in the most harried situations, because they will have the maturity to adapt systems and processes to practically any situation. After all, why should you be spending your time as an owner constantly putting out fires and reacting to everything?

Your manager should be an excellent communicator. They should be able to express their praise, correct, and admonish employees in a constructive manner. They should have the confidence to express themselves in a constructive way with you too. Will a good manager have a love/hate relationship with employees? Sure, if your manager isn’t a robot. A good manager will always be prepared for irregular ops, and irregular employees.

I think you are starting to see a pattern here. Success in your business is often manager-centric. If you hire the right managers, equip them to do their jobs, and get out of their way you should see it manifested in retained customers, great word of mouth, and increased sales. You will also find that your marketing dollars go farther.

Making changes at the managerial level is like getting a root canal; painful but necessary. I suppose that’s why we have a love/hate relationship with our dentists…and just about everyone else.


Seeing is not necessarily believing

Rumors would be a source of great joy in life if they were really nothing more than a Fleetwood Mac mega-album from my youth ( the album was actually spelled “Rumours”, in order to make the Brit half of the band the super-cool half.) Of course rumors aren’t orphans, they are nurtured along by half- truths, and hearsay but unfortunately in this modern world they thrive in the fetid swamps of the Internet.

Don’t get me wrong, the web has transformed our world, much of it in a positive way. It has democratized the creation and distribution of information in amazing ways that make us all creators, consumers, and gatekeepers. It also tends to make us sloppy intellectually and slight in our ability to discern what is real. The advent of social media amplified this phenomenon by allowing us to propagate information instantaneously for all the world to see. Right or wrong it’s out there. Businesses however, are held to a different standard than consumers in their conduct on social media, and the web.

warkprofileprofessionalIn our present hyper-regulatory environment where a business and a business owner’s words and deeds are measured and weighed at every turn, a responsible, closely monitored social media marketing plan is a must. Everything that is posted and distributed needs to clear a heightened bar of veracity. The challenge is that your office, or practice, is filled with employees (including the boss) that have probably been playing under the consumer rules during every minute that they aren’t on premises. Social media is invaluable to the success of a business, but eternal vigilance in the veracity of everything that goes out is imperative.

Social media thrives on late breaking news, little known facts, provocative and evocative images, and exclusivity. These are all things that if used correctly, can make your business soar. If you are passing on information, or cheerleading a new product/service make sure that it’s true. Poor old Dr. Oz got dragged through the Congressional meat grinder last month because he was a little lazy in checking out the claims made by products that he was promoting.

Passing on information before it is vetted, isn’t only irresponsible, it can have a damaging effect on your business. Again, it’s imperative that professional discipline be applied on anything that carries your brand. For most of us the internet is too much like a global sewing circle. We casually pass on all kinds of drek without any regard for accuracy, as if we were compelled to share the last thing we read before we hit the check-out counter.

By the way, I heard from a friend that Elvis was seen in the women’s bathroom at Mandalay Bay on Saturday night doing a line on the soap dispenser. I can’t wait to tell my clients. 🙂





YouTube – Face Up To It

warkprofileprofessionalYou don’t need the movie star looks of George Clooney or Angelina Jolie to be an effective and persuasive star on YouTube. You don’t even need to fake it like a Kardashian. Sure, YouTube rewards hysterically funny people, mind blowing feats of stupidity, and tremendously tender heart-warming moments. But don’t let that stop you from claiming some important YouTube real estate that can super charge your business and your professional standing.

We are a week away from the breathtakingly, spine-tingling, goose-bumpingly presentations at the Vegas Cosmetic Surgery & Aesthetic Dermatology conference in Las Vegas at the Bellagio Hotel, so it’s only common courtesy that I share a few ideas on making YouTube an integral part of the  social media mix for a medical or aesthetic practice. The Curse of the Zombie YouTube does not appear to be a wide spread problem unlike the scourge of Zombie Facebooks for the simple reason that so few businesses have developed a YouTube presence. Your YouTube strategy can be fresh, fun, rewarding, and most likely a brand new experience.

It always bears repeating that content is king when it comes to social media. YouTube gives a practice the ability to make content emperor of the universe. Print content such as blogs are essential to the success of your social media plan but the power of video is an even greater instrument for marketing in so many ways. YouTube has evolved into an ideal platform for a business. It allows a business to post valuable video content, link it with other social media platforms, as well as purchase ad space and featured video position on a YouTube page.

Like any other social media marketing strategy there are a number tricks of the trade that you will want to incorporate, but the key to real success with YouTube is the quality of your content. If you are the face behind your business take a good hard look at yourself in mirror and convince yourself that the face in mirror should be the face in front of your business. YouTube viewers, like other social media users, connect on a personal level. They want to see and hear the person in charge. They want to know the inside scoop on everything. Don’t look at YouTube as a platform to run cheesy commercials to sell stuff, unless of course your commercials are hilarious or ingeniously clever. YouTube is your chance to share your knowledge and your life experiences in a creative interesting way.

A series of short clips on your specialty sprinkled with evocative stories of patient testimonials are a perfect way to begin to build a YouTube audience. It will not break your bank to make sure that the production quality, the editing, the content, and you, the star of the show, look great. Please don’t rely on some pimply faced neighbor kid who just became president of his middle school audio visual club to put this together for you. You spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, blood, sweat and tears, to get to where you are in your profession. You don’t want to come off as somebodies extra credit project.

A good YouTube marketing plan can do amazing things for your SEO efforts, your bottom line, and your professional standing. George Clooney and Angelina Jolie will be eating their hearts out.

If your practice’s social media is in its infancy or perhaps in Zombie Facebook Land, then working your own natural content into your website and platforms is a perfect way to breathe new life into your enterprise. For a consultation about your social media strategy, contact me directly at 702-374-1944.



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