Six Google Myths Debunked

bigstock-friends-confide-secrets-45069928The blog ‘State of Search’ has been hosting a series of search engine optimization (SEO) workshops with four ex-Googlers. They dispelled many common myths about getting your site ranked in Google. Here are six takeaways that you need to consider when building your own massage website.

1. Google loves SEO

Google actually loves when website owners SEO their sites appropriately. This means having relevant titles and descriptions; having each page focus on one topic; getting backlinks from relevant sites; etc. This helps Google better understand your site so that it knows how it should rank your pages for various searches. Google wants to deliver relevant results to users and anything you can do to help them do that is rewarded.

2. Quality content is more important than fresh content

Personally I get tired of hearing web marketing people saying you have to create heaps of new content regularly (through a blog, for example) in order to rank. It’s simply not true. Google will rank relevant content over new content. So for your massage website, don’t worry about writing about every condition under the sun and how massage can help. Instead give visitors who are shopping around for a massage therapist in their area all the relevant information they need to make a decision.

3. Internal link anchor text is important

Internal link anchor text is hyperlinked text leading to another page on your site. For example, if I link to another post on my blog I would refer to it like this: “Many people think that email is dead….”  instead of linking like this: Click here for my last blog post.” In the first case, internal linking with optimized anchor text makes it easier for Google to understand your website navigation and the content of the pages I’m linking to. So always use meaningful anchor text on your web pages when it make sense to do so.

4. Overusing ads on your site can hurt your rankings

Although it is okay to display ads on your website, overloading a website with ads can influence your website’s visibility in Google’s search results. Not to mention you will not likely generate any significant revenue with ads given the small levels of targeted traffic you get to your massage website. My advice: Leave ads off your page entirely. You’ve worked hard to get them to visit your page, why would send them off somewhere else?

5. Being a Google AdWords customer does not help your organic rankings

Some people believe that if you carry Google ads on your site (Adsense), you’ll get ranked better. According to the ex-Googlers, Google AdWords and organic search are completely separated from each other. Having Google AdWords on your site has absolutely no impact on the ranking of your website.

6. Linking to other websites is important

Some marketers discourage you from linking to other websites. The ex-Googlers recommend to link out to sources you trust. Linking to pages that are relevant to the content of your website is normal. Just be sure you have those links open in a new window so that when the visitor closes up that page, your site is still there and they can continue on where they left off.

Be sure to sign up for the BodyworkBiz massage marketing tips newsletter to have great business building ideas sent straight to your inbox.

Is Email Dead (Again)?

bigstock-Corpse-5448632I’ve received a number of emails from subscribers in response to headlines like:

  • Google Slaps Businesses
  • Gmail Deals Death Blow to Marketers
  • Email Is Dead
  • Google Deals a MAJOR Blow to MOST Business Emails

They are all overly dramatic headlines in response to the new Gmail interface and they are freaking people out.

Some massage therapists have been sending out regular communication to their contacts. (If you’ve been following this newsletter, you’ll already know that everyone should be doing this.) And they’re afraid that their efforts are going down the toilet.

If you’re not aware of the issue, here’s the scoop in a nutshell:

Gmail has changed their email interface and sorts your mail for you into tabs. I’ve been using the new Gmail interface since shortly after it was released in Beta. I actually like it and and can assure you that it’s not going to impact businesses in any significant way.

Firstly, not everyone uses Gmail. Only about 1 in 5 subscribers to this BodyworkBiz newsletter, for example, are Gmail users.

Secondly, it gives Gmail users a better way to manage their email reading, so when they click on the Promotions tab, for example, they are in a buying state and not simply ignoring your email as they look for messages from friends and family.

Here’s what one company has sent to all their Gmail subscribers (see below) and if this new interface is a concern for you, you may want to model this and send a similar email specifically to your Gmail subscribers…

Not sure if you’ve heard the news, but Gmail is making changes to how your inbox looks that may prevent you from seeing emails from us. Even if you haven’t seen this feature yet, sooner or later all Gmail users will automatically have it. 

Gmail will be automatically filtering any email communication from us so you won’t see it.(And we thought Google knew everything…Don’t they know you asked us for valuable tips and strategies to grow your business?!)

Until now, everything was categorized how you wanted it, but now, Gmail has decided to put on a new feature that filters your email how they see fit. So we want to make sure you know exactly what to do to take charge of your inbox.

Here’s What You’ll See:

gmail-tabs

In the tabs above your inbox, Gmail will put your emails into 5 categories:

  • Primary
  • Social
  • Promotions
  • Updates
  • Forums

The problem is, Gmail will automatically put the messages we send you into “Promotions” and you won’t see them because they won’t appear in your inbox.

How To Take Back Your Inbox:

Gmail does make it easy to change this to take back control of your inbox. When your inbox changes, here’s what you can do to make sure we stay connected.

  1. Find one of our emails in “Promotions” and drag it into “Primary”
  2. A pop-up will appear to ask if you want to do this for all future messages. Click “Yes”.

That’s it – now you’re all set – Gmail knows we’re friends! And now, you won’t miss any of our messages to you :-)

[Eric's note: If you are a Gmail user and are reading this email in your Promotions folder, you can follow the instructions above to see how it works, but I don't mind being in your Promotions folder either.]

Oh, and by the way – here’s a final tip if you’d like to totally get rid of this new feature:

  1. Go to “Settings” [the icon on the top right corner of your screen above your inbox] and select “Settings.”
  2. Click on the “Inbox” tab and “Unselect” all categories but “Primary” and then click “Save Changes.”

And that is it – your work is done.

Email as a marketing tool is pronounced dead on a regular basis, but in fact it is still very much alive and well. Don’t let the current headlines about Gmail freak you out. Carry on and communicate with your contacts regularly. It’s still one of the most cost effective things you can do to build your practice.

Google Launches New Evernote-Type Service

Google has quietly launched a service that is similar to Evernote called Google Keep (https://drive.google.com/keep/). The service is essentially a capturing service for collecting research and personal notes including text, images, and lists. And of course, being Google, there is a search function.

The service is pretty pared down right now, but I’m sure we’ll see it developed further as it rolls out publicly.

Google Doesn’t Rank Websites

This is Part 4 in a series of posts on getting your massage blog ranked in Google. You can read the other posts starting here.

It may come as a surprise that Google doesn’t rank your website, but it’s true…

Google and the other search engines don’t rank your website as a whole, but rather rank individual pages within your website, or in this case your blog.

So it may not always be the home page of your blog that shows up in search results. In fact, it will likely be a specific blog post that shows up in the results.

What does that mean to you? It means that you can increase your chances of catching Google’s eyes dramatically by creating a variety of pages on your site each with a different focus. It’s also important to have backlinks, not just to your home page, but to other site pages as well. Let me give you an example to make this more concrete…

If have one page that lists all modalities I use in my practice (including reflexology), It would be difficult for Google to consider that page important if someone went online and searched for “Dallas reflexology” because all modalities have equal billing.

However… if I create a page about “Dallas reflexology” and have other posts on my site that look at various facets of reflexology and reference my “Dallas reflexology” page with a link,  then suddenly my page has a very clear focus for people searching for “Dallas reflexology”. Google sees that as being relevant information for searchers and will likely rank that page highly in the search results when someone types that term into the search box.

Now that you have an basic understanding how Google is going to rank your blog pages, start your list of terms that people are likely to type when looking for your services and every once and a while use one of those terms as the theme for a blog post.

Subscribe to the BodyworkBiz blog to get more posts like this sent directly to your inbox and save yourself the time of logging into this blog daily.

Basic Blog SEO – Part 3

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO) to get your blog pages ranked, Google looks at two things to determine how high it will rank your blog pages in the search results:

  1. The content of your page (called on-page factors)
  2. What others are saying about your website (off-page factors)

In my last post we looked at the on-page factors, that is, the words on the page. (If you haven’t read it yet, it might be a good idea to look it over before reading this post.) Today we’ll look at the off-page stuff…

Off page stuff

Now let’s look at the stuff that’s not on your site and that Google factors into their ranking. These factors could account for 60% to 70% of your ranking.

The guys that developed the Google search algorithm had a simple idea that they took from the field of research. When you look at a scientific research paper you’ll find that the writers will cite information from other researchers. The more a researcher is cited in these papers, the more important she is considered to be. The most frequently cited researchers are considered experts or authorities in the field. That’s the same principle that Google uses to determine the real value of a site.

If lots of other sites are making references to your site by publishing links to your website, then Google makes the assumption that your site must be important and one that should be ranked more highly in the search engines.

Google looks for and keeps a record of how many links there are to your site (called back links). It also considers the source of those links, (i.e. do they come from other reputable sites?) and looks at the words that are used to link to your site (called the anchor text) to get additional clues as to what kind of content those links point to.

The Real You…

After all this analysis Google has essentially two snapshots of your site, one that shows what your site looks like from your perspective (on-page factors) and one that shows what your site looks like to the outside world (off-page factors).

Just as in real life, the way we see ourselves and the way others see us don’t always match. So Google combines these different viewpoints to get a more accurate idea as to what your site is about and the value of your pages. Then the Google engineers add some other secret special ingredients and come up with a ranking for each of your pages.

This is the third of four posts on optimizing your massage blog for Google. Subscribe to the BodyworkBiz blog to get new posts sent to your inbox automatically.

Top Five Search Terms for the BodyworkBiz Blog

So far in our discussion of basic search engine optimization for your massage blog we’ve looked at “on-page” factors and in particular keywords.

It’s important to measure the things you do to grow your business. I have Google Analytics set up to give me reports on the performance of my blog. One of the more fascinating reports is the search terms people use to find your blog.

Here are the top five search terms for the BodyworkBiz blog over the past year…

  1. massage logos
  2. michael jordan
  3. man eats airplane
  4. turd
  5. eric brown massage therapist

The fact that “turd” is more highly sought after than me is only somewhat disturbing. It comes from a quote, “If it’s not working, you can’t polish a turd.” and is accompanied by a great picture of turd polish.

Likewise the Michael Jordan post is a simply a quote.

Massage therapists are obviously interested in creating logos for their business and I’ve done a couple posts on the topic. This one got the most traffic.

I don’t know what inspires people to look for the term “man eats airplane”, but it is an interesting story and ties back into getting things done in your massage practice.

What’s the takeaway?

Blog posts often get found for searches using “long tail keywords”. These are odd phrases and combinations of words that are somewhat unique. These are not always keywords that have commercial intent. For example, if someone types in “online massage business course” it’s clear that they are looking to purchase an online business course. That’s commercial intent. The person who types in “man eats airplane” has informational intent. They are looking for information about a man who eats airplanes, not for business courses.

So if you want to use your blog as a search engine optimization tool and have your posts show up for searches with commercial intent, it’s important to write posts that contain those commercial phrases. For example is someone is looking for a massage therapist in Broomfield, they are going to type in phrases like “massage Broomfield” “Broomfield massage therapist” or “massage therapy Broomfield”. So find a way to incorporate those phrases in your blog titles, file names and content.

Also be sure to include your name and your business occasionally throughout your blog posts or publish press releases to your blog that contains information about your business in the event that someone knows to search for your name or your business name.

I’ll discuss SEO for your blog posts in a future article. So if you are not subscribed to this blog, take a minute to sign up so new posts get sent to your inbox.

Getting Ranked in Google – Part 2

Be sure to read Part 1 before reading today’s post.

Part of getting a top ranking page in Google is providing content related to what searchers are looking for. This on-page stuff is responsible for 20% to 30% of your ranking. So it’s extremely important that the content is relevant to a searcher’s query.

I’ve talked about “search intent” in an earlier post. Providing valuable information and viewpoints is an excellent way to showcase your expertise. Ideally, however, you want to connect with people who are wanting to purchase massage, so at least some of your pages should have commercial intent. That is, you want people who are looking to spend their money on massage to find you.

So if you are a massage therapist in Dallas, what are searchers in Dallas going to be typing into the search box when they want a massage?

You don’t need to be a genius to figure out that they will likely type “massage Dallas”or if they are an informed consumer, “massage therapy Dallas” into the Google search box.

So at least some of your blog pages should have “Dallas massage” or “Dallas massage therapy” as a topic or theme.

What else might they type into the search box that has commercial intent?

How about “massage therapist Dallas” (title search) or “reflexology Dallas” (modality or service type search) or “massage downtown Dallas” or “hotel massage Dallas” (location-specific searches)?

So compile a list of some of the most likely search terms and create a blog post using those words as the theme of your post. Try to use them in the post title, headline, and once or twice in the body of the post.

For example, you may want to have a separate page with some information on each modality you offer (Dallas reflexology, Dallas facials). Again, Google will see each of these pages as being very much related to the searcher’s request when they type in those particular terms into the search box and will rank that specific page high in the search results when someone has a specific need they are looking to fill.

Matching words in your blog post with search terms is extremely important. If you type the words “massage and sleep disorders” into Google, you’re likely to see this page of the ABCs of Massage Therapy blog in the first page of search results because it was optimized for that term. Type in “massage and insomnia” and it’s unlikely to show up.

In terms of getting ranked at the top of Google, it doesn’t really matter to Google that your site looks beautiful. What matters most is that your site is relevant to what the searcher is looking for.

So it’s our job that we help Google identify what you do and how you can help the searchers who use their search engine. That’s what makes our website super sexy in Google’s eyes and is the basis of Search Engine Optimization for you blog.

This is the second of four posts on optimizing your massage blog for Google. Subscribe to the BodyworkBiz blog to get new posts sent to your inbox automatically.

Getting Your Blog Posts Ranked In Google – Part 1

Google essentially looks at two things when deciding how high it will rank your blog pages in the search results:

  1. The content of your page (called on-page factors)
  2. What others are saying about your website (off-page factors)

On-page stuff

The Google computers have the job of analyzing as many pages on the web as they can possibly find. When they find a page they look at all the words and start indexing these much like an author would create an index for a book.

They look at single words and groups of words and note how frequently they occur and where they occur on your page (ex. in the domain name, headlines, picture captions, etc.) By looking at the text like this they can determine with a certain level of accuracy what your any page is about.

So when it’s all over and done Google has a comprehensive index of each page of your site and they store that index information on their servers for reference when someone does a search.

Side note: Here’s something you may not know: When Google does a search, they don’t search the web. They simply search their index. Google spends a lot of time, money and computing power on creating their index, just like authors take time to compile the index for a book so you can quickly and easily find where the information you’re looking for is located in the text.

The basic plan from Google’s perspective is to pull up pages that match the searcher’s query as closely as possible.

This is the first of four posts on optimizing your massage blog for Google. Subscribe to this blog to get new posts sent to your inbox automatically.

What You Should Know about the New Google Plus Local

One of the easiest ways of getting found at the top of Google over this past year has been a free Google Places listing. What you may not know is that Google recently completely changed the face of Google Places.  As a matter of fact, it is no longer Google Places.  It is now Google Plus Local – a drastic overhaul of the previous Google Places platform.

The good news is that Google Plus Local has the power to completely revolutionize the way you are used to interacting with customers via Google Places.  You might be surprised to find that the more you learn about Google Plus Local, the more excited you are to use it, and this is your perfect starting point for learning more.  Here is a guide to what local businesses should know about the new Google Plus Local:

Social Networking.  Google Plus Local is a major upgrade from the previous yellow-pages concept of Google Places.  In order to claim your Google Plus Local page, you must first create a Google Plus account.  This means you are automatically linked in to the entire Google Plus social network – a vast community of businesses, customers, and potential customers that you can interact with in a variety of ways, from posts to private messages.

The new review format.  One of the primary focuses of Google Plus Local is customer reviews; however, Google Plus Local reviews are more advanced than what you might be used to.  Fortunately for you, they also come with some great advantages.  Customers who leave reviews on your page must be logged in to their Google Plus accounts; this means there are no more anonymous reviews, which in turn means you are less likely to receive malicious or spam reviews.  You can also communicate with reviewers directly.

User ratings.  Additionally, reviewers will have the opportunity to rate your business more thoroughly and accurately, using the new Zagat scale (as opposed to the previous 5-star scale).  The Zagat scale asks that customers rate your business from 0 to 3, in a number of categories related to your business, in order to calculate an overall rating of 0 to 30.  This system is much more telling for potential customers, and much more revealing for businesses looking to improve.

What happens to your Google Places listing?  Google makes the process of switching over to Google Plus fast and simple, by allowing you to transfer your Google Places listing information over to your Google Plus Local account.

I’ll be posting more details of this important change in the coming weeks and will provide you with some specific how to advice for maximizing the benefit from your free Google listing.

Google Places Describes You

Google Places is one of the easiest ways to get your site found at the top of Google rankings. And it just keeps getting more and more interesting. Now Google is rolling out descriptive words for your business within the listing. These are taken from sources all across the web, such as reviews, web pages and other online references, and they can help people quickly identify the characteristics that make a particular place unique.

If you haven’t claimed your free Google listing yet, do it today: http://www.google.com/places/