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Weekend Favs August 12

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.

  • SERPWatcher – SERPWatcher is a rank tracking tool built with focus on effectivity and ease of use.
  • Yoast – Tweaking websites is what Yoast does, from search engine rankings, to speed to user experience, this community is there to share those experiences!
  • Dconstrct Pitch Decks – A long list of decks to look at if you’re lacking in idea or direction.

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

13 Point Checklist for the Perfect Website Redesign

Website redesign

I rarely encounter a business that simply doesn’t yet have a website. Regardless of the bizarre reports that still contend 50% of all small business owners don’t have a website. (See Inc)

Now, what I do encounter most of the time is a small business that needs a total site makeover or redesign. It’s not that they were just awful in the first place, (well, some were) it’s that every site, just like every business, needs to evolve. That means if your current site design is around two years old it needs some attention.

But, before you rush out and give a designer the keys to your site, take steps to ensure you don’t unknowingly undue all the good you’ve accomplished with your previous site.

Eager designers don’t mean harm when they create a new design, they just need more information, and that’s where you come in. Before you even visit a WordPress theme designer arm yourself with some information that can help them make good decisions about what stays and what goes in your current configuration or take the risk of losing all that hard earned search traffic.

Now, I’m not suggesting you simply hang on to SEO gains over things like better navigation, visitor usability, and conversion, but don’t throw everything out just for something that looks more modern.

Use this checklist as you embark on a site redesign as a way to capture all existing elements and consider content needs, edits and issues before the project starts.

  1. Do you have access to Google Analytics? – I know, weird question, but you might be surprised how many sites have analytics installed the owners have no idea how to access the data.
  2. Do you have access to Google Search Console (formerly webmaster tools) – I frequently find site owners who have never bothered to connect their sites here and use this invaluable resource
  3. Have you evaluated domain suitability and value and checked expiration? – Carefully and I mean carefully consider if your current domain is even right for your business. Certainly this is a good time to check and make sure your desired domain isn’t set to expire anytime soon. (Quick check WhoIS)
  4. Have you cataloged all pages and current issues? – Use Screaming Frog to create a spreadsheet of all of your pages and any currently broken links or crawl errors.
  5. Have you added Google Analytics data for pageviews, bounce rate and time on page to a spreadsheet to help make assessment on content to keep? By adding this kind of data to your spreadsheet you might learn about some pages that are receiving a surprising amount of traffic or links.
  6. Have you ranked your spreadsheet content? A= keep no edit, B=keep edits needed, C= drastic rewrite or dump? This step involves your overall business and marketing strategy so you’ll need to consider how you want to position your business and your editorial calendar moving forward to make some of this decisions.
  7. Have you audited any lead capture/landing pages/forms? If you’re capturing email addresses for a newsletter, ebook or webinar series you’ll want to make sure you take note of these for the redesign. It’s easy to lose track of landing pages because they are often buried away from the main navigation.
  8. Have you audited SEO for ranking pages? Screaming Frog can give you information about pages that already rank for desired terms. If these terms are still relevant, you’ll want to think long and hard about how to keeps these pages intact.
  9. Have you audited permalink structure? A site redesign might be the time to analyze whether you want those ugly numbered URLs for your blog posts or the default date added. Most sites today are moving to keyword-rich URLs for all content (Don’t worry, I’m headed there in a month or two myself.)
  10. Have you analyzed current backlinks? Use a tool like ahrefs to see if any sites are sending significant traffic to pages. You’ll want to use some of this information to make determinations about leaving pages as is or even permanently redirecting the pages to eliminate creating too many broken links. (You might also consider some links that need pruning too.)
  11. Have you designed a 301 permanent redirect strategy if needed? If you’re making any dramatic URL changes, you’ll want to tell the search engines that your blog posts still exist they’re just at a new address. Make sure you work this through and test it thoroughly before you launch. The Yoast SEO Plugin can help with 301s
  12. Have you evaluated current plugins for use? A redesign is a great time to reconsider your current plugin use. Plugins are a big resource drag and a security hole – less is better.
  13. Have you evaluated needed integrations (CRM, ESP, Shopping cart, etc.) Finally, if you currently have some integration with other 3rd party tools or client portals, you’ll want to note the need for these and make sure you can share this information with your designer.

The steps above may seem like a lot of work, but it will save you a ton of work, worry, and headache in the end. In fact, if you start working with a designer and they don’t ask you for this information up front, you should be concerned.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Website Design.

16 Step Checklist for the Perfect Blog Post

perfect blog post checklist

You work hard to create content – sometimes on the fly in the midst of the raging storm that is entrepreneurialism.

In the rush to get the thing out though you can diminish its impact through oversight and sloppiness. You might even do your brand more harm than good. And then all that hard work has less payoff.

Use this sixteen-point checklist as a guide to help establish a pre-publish blog post/page routine so you can hit publish with incredible confidence.

☐ Keywords – Do you have a plan for optimizing certain keywords and phrases as the focus for this post? (Yoast SEO Plugin helps analyze if you’ve used these phrases in the right amount.)

☐ Grammar and Spelling – Have you proofed your post to catch typos and embarrassing grammar missteps? (Check out Grammarly – it will check you as you go.)

☐ Headline – Have you spent time writing an appealing headline? Use strong adjectives and action packed benefit statements.

☐ Hook – Does your first paragraph draw the reader into the payoff even if you spend the next ten paragraphs setting it up?

☐ H2, H3 – Have you made your post scannable by breaking it into subsections and lists with H2 and H3 formatting to help with readership and let Google know what’s important?

☐ Permalink – Have you changed your permalink to include your keyword rather than simply use the default permalink post title?

☐ Links – Have you looked for ways to link internally to related posts or externally to resources that add value? Have you used keywords in the anchor texts of these links?

☐ Category – Have you chosen an appropriate category that matches up with your core themes? Categories can help organize and produce their own feed to use in other ways.

☐ Tags – Have you tagged the content to include people, things or resources you’ve mentioned?

☐ Featured Image – Have you included a compelling image and chosen it as your featured image? The image in this post was created using Canva.

☐ Image alt attribute – Have you written an alt attribute to describe your image in terms of your keywords?

☐ Title – Have you written a title attribute that uses your keywords? (This is a feature of a good plugin such as WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast.)

☐ Meta Description – Have you written a description that might entice someone to click through if they read it in search engine results? (Again Yoast)

☐ Author – Have you chosen the correct author if you have multiple authors for the blog?

☐ Preview – Have you looked at a live preview just to make sure everything is as it should be?

☐ Publish – Have you hit the publish button?

Okay, now go out there and promote the heck out of your perfect post!

 

19 How Can I Get My Local Business to Rank Higher in Search?

Friday is “Question of the Week” day here at Duct Tape Marketing. Each Friday I’ll tackle a specific question I received via readers or in places where I’m speaking. Submit your question here and if we use it we’ll highlight you and send you a signed copy of Duct Tape Marketing.

For today’s answer I wish I could say there was some magic pixie dust, but the fact is getting your local business to show up high in the search results takes some work.

For the local business the goal must be to move into what is referred to as the Google Local Pack – those 6-8 listing that show up for a local search. This is particularly important on mobile devices that are often pinpointing local only.

The Google Local Pack

There are many factors and of course a great deal has to do with the competitive nature of your particular industry.

However, there are several tried and true steps that you should take in order to give your business the best chance possible

Clean up your NAP

NAP is the directory acronym for Name, Address and Phone. This data clearly tells that a business is local and guess what – if you’ve been around for a while there’s a good chance some data source has this wrong.

Here’s how to assure you have an accurate NAP listing in as many places as possible.

Go the USPS site and get the correct address format for your business

Check with these major data providers to ensure your listing is complete and accurate.

Get listed

Now that your listing is accurate with the data folks, make sure that you listing in some of the more popular online business directories. Claim enhance these profiles.

One of the best tools for doing this is getlisted.org – this free tool will find your listing or lack of in some of the major directories and lead you to the place where you can edit and add.

Brightlocal is another very powerful paid tool for improving your local presence.

Get reviewed

Reviews carry a lot of weight, both with search engines and would be customers. You must get serious about this aspect of local search. Note the image above – the site that ranks #1 in Google has the best review profile.

The three most important place to focus your review work are

  • Google+Local – Google want your business on Google+ so they’ve moved the local pages there. Start building your local page and focus on getting more reviews.
  • Yelp – On top of being the biggest review site Yelp provides Bing Local results.
  • Foursquare – this location based check in site is working hard on becoming a local directory and should not be ignored.

Bing local listings

Localize your pages

One of the most overlooking opportunities is the local nature of the content on your site. Make sure you:

  • Add your NAP in Schema.org format to every page
  • Add local terms such as suburbs, neighborhoods, places and events in your titles and subtitles.
  • Create localized happenings and news pages
  • Create site sections or landing pages dedicated to local phrases.

For WordPress users one of the best things you can invest in is the Local SEO for WordPress plugin from Yoast. This plug in will handle a great deal of the techie stuff for you and let you do some nice things with maps and directions.