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Posts Tagged ‘SEO’

5 Reasons Why MH Retailers and Communities Should Be Using WordPress

June 4th, 2011 No comments

WordPress LogoWhether you call your business a Manufactured Home Community, a Land Lease Community or a Mobile Home Park, or call your sales lot a Manufactured Housing Retail Store or Mobile Home Dealership, or anything else for that matter, there are five (5) very good reasons you should be using WordPress as the keystone of your online marketing strategy.

1. Simple installation and setup

No one needs an online marketing solution that is difficult (expensive) to install, update and maintain. If you do it yourself, it is that much more of your time that gets eaten up – and, of course time is money. If you use a professional to do it, that hourly billing on a difficult platform will eat you up.

In my opinion, WordPress is the simplest solution for the needs of clients like manufactured housing communities and retailers. It is much more cost-effective than comparable solutions for use as a Content Management System (CMS) and is just plain easier to administer.

2. Ease of Use

Most CMSs don’t require you to learn HTML or PHP code to use them. That is their beauty. Anyone who can create a letter in MS Word, OpenOffice or any other word processor can create or update a web page using a CMS.

What makes WordPress stand above the rest is the simple, clean interface used to create or update a page or post. The community responsible for the maintenance of the WordPress application has spent hundreds of thousand of hours developing the platform.

Because of the community development model, there is no direct profit motive to blind the development team to flaws that need correction. Likewise, there is a tremendous pool of talent constantly working to improve the product.

3. Out-of-the-Box Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

It is the very nature of WordPress’s roots that cause it to be a superior SEO tool right “out-of-the-box.” With all it’s inherent benefits, plugin developers have added their own contributions to WordPress’s SEO abilities creating the world’s premier CMS when it comes to building your Search Engine Ranking.

4. Flexibility (there’s a plugin for that)

Just there are WordPress plugins to help with SEO, there are WordPress plugins that extend the platform to do a myriad of things unimagined by the original developers at WordPress’s conception.

You’ve see the Apple ads – “There’s an app for that” – with WordPress it’s “there’s a plugin for that.”

There are so many plugins for WordPress that you’d be hard-pressed to find something it can’t do.

Most plugins are simple enough for most users to install and configure and are certainly within the skill set of any WordPress developer.

5. Saves you money while it makes you money

The best things about WordPress is that it is Open Source, which means you can you use it freely without any cost or licensing fees. The same holds for many themes (templates) and plugins.

If you require a special plugin or theme, they can usually be acquired at a reasonable cost. And the sheer ubiquitousness for WordPress ensures that if your web developer quits the business, gets hit by a bus or moves back to South Africa, you will find it fairly easy to find someone to take up the job.

So let’s go over the benefits of WordPress one more time:

  • Simple
  • Easy
  • Powerful
  • Flexible
  • Open Source

I’ve been in the web development and marketing business for fifteen years and that checklist is something I waited to have in one product for a long time.

To paraphrase former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, “WordPress and you… perfect together.”

How Do You Really Rank for Manufactured Housing Keywords?

May 11th, 2011 No comments

SE Rank Checker logoThe other day I overheard a person talking with their paid “web expert” about their ranking in the search engines (SEs). It wasn’t specific to Manufactured Housing, but I’ve noticed similar comments in this industry as well. The “web expert” was explaining how well he had done his job by noting that the client ranked #1 on Google when they typed his company name into a Google search.

Well, glory be!!! Ranking #1 for one’s own name? That must have required a ton of work and some long, hard hours at the keyboard for the “expert…” NOT!

I’ve seen the same kind of claims made for searches conducted using the website’s URL. WOW! A #1 ranking for your own domain name! If you don;t rank #1 for your company name and domain name, there are some serious issues that need immediate attention. Here’s the kind of results you should get using a domain-based search.

Domain Search results for 'yourkentuckyhome.com'

This result is for a website I run with news about local businesses.

I have had potential clients come to me who didn’t rank at all for their own company name. That’s a problem. Usually this occurs when a business doesn’t have a website and hasn’t been indexed online by a directory or other service. Fortunately, it is becoming a rare occurrence.

What you really want to know is how well you rank for a keyword that your current or potential customers will type into Google, Bing, Yahoo, About, etc.

For instance, my business specializes in web marketing and is based in Danville, KY. When I typed “web marketing Danville KY” into Google on one day, the following was the result on the Search Engines Results Page (SERP):

Keyword search for 'web marketing danville ky'

As you can see, OrangeCat.com captured the first four results for the keyword AND there is a more results link that gives several more. In addition, my website at KentuckyWebExperts.com ranked number five for an article that’s only been up for a week and after a domain name change to the site two weeks ago.

That’s the kind of result I like to see.

I posted a version of this article to my blog at BobStovall.com on Tuesday and now that article has taken the 5th position in a search of those keywords – in less than two days!

And it’s the kind of result you can get for your keywords if you use WordPress, add the proper plugins and post content that the SEs can easily index and categorize.

Word of caution: If you keep typing the same keyword into a search and then click on the same page over and over, you will notice it rising in the rankings. But only for you.

To get a true picture of how you rank for certain keywords, you need to use a tool like the SE Rank Checker and know how to interpret the results.

As you can see here, when we used the SE Rank Checker, the results for Google were almost identical to our web search except that my second site picked up another listing, giving me 6 of 10 page one results.

Search Engine Rank Checker result for 'web marketing danville ky' at OrangeCat.com

Looking up your own rankings by doing a web search will give you a good idea of how you rank, but to achieve the best results, use a SE Rank Checker search as your base results and compare the results of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work in the future to determine how you are improving and how fast.

Need to do updates on your own manufactured home website?

February 27th, 2011 No comments

You’ve just had your website reviewed and you just need to tweak a few posts or pages to improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). So, what do you do next?

Well, you could just call or email your web developer and ask him or her to make the changes for you. Then next week, when you notice something else that needs updating, you can do it again.

But there’s another way.

Using professional-grade CMS Builder software, your current website can be retrofitted so you can easily update your own site. If you can login to a website and if you’re familiar with working in a word precessor, such as Microsoft Word, updating your site is within your grasp.

Even if you never touch the website yourself, your web developer will make your changes in less time and with less chance of making unwanted changes to your template. That’s a important consideration these days when the person maintaining your site is often not the person who designed it.

If you sell or rent homes, lots or land, CMS Builder has optional List Manager (LM) module that is a huge improvement on their old, standalone listing system.

No matter who designed your site, if it not a modern Content Management System (CMS) now, it can be in just a few days.

CMS Builder logoThe beauty of separating your content from your website template (what it looks like) is that if you decide to change the look of your site in the future, it is a simple precess to change the template than to rebuild the entire site, content and all.

And having the ability to make updates to your site on a regular basis will extend the useful life of the site.

We can retrofit your site using CMS Builder for far less than the price of rebuilding it. Give us a call at (847) 730-3692 and find out more.

Black hat, white hat, manufactured housing

February 20th, 2011 No comments

Article by David Segal in the New York TimesIf you didn’t see it this past Monday, David Segal of the New York Times wrote an article entitled The Dirty Little Secrets of Search. It was a story about how companies use what are known as “Black Hat” Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques* to try and trick Google into giving them a higher search ranking.

“Black Hat” techniques are often very successful at attaining high rankings, but the rankings are often short-lived.

In the article, Mr. Segal notes the case of J.C. Penney and their unusual placement at the very top of the rankings for hundreds of keywords through this past Christmas season.

Penney’s was using a technique where contextual links** were placed from dozens of websites around the world to specific pages on the J.C. Penney website. Many of these were paid links places on sites that had little or nothing to do with the subject matter of the link.

A spokesperson for Penney’s insists that the company had no knowledge of the links and did not contract them. I wonder who had the time and money to donate to making J.C. Penney #1 in so many search results.

At first blush, these techniques simply look like a smart marketing maneuver, and they are certainly not illegal. But Google (and all the other Search Engines) considers them an attempt to “game” the system and takes action against those using them.

The reason Google looks down on any practice that it sees as an attempt to manipulate search engines results is simple. Google’s search engine gets most of its revenue from advertising – AdWords – those paid search results you see in the right column (and sometimes at the top) of a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

For Google to maximize the return on the placement of AdWords ads, they need to return the best quality results for any given search. And manipulation of the results threatens that system.

In the case of J.C. Penney, retaliation came in the form of vastly demoted ratings, sometimes dropping from #1 to places MUCH lower. So now they are left with the time- and money-consuming effort of rebuilding their Google ranking. It won’t be easy.

‘At 7 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, J. C. Penney was still the No. 1 result for “Samsonite carry on luggage.”

‘Two hours later, it was at No. 71.’

Over the years, we’ve seen many attempts to “game” the Google results, but they all end the same. Google catches wind of the scam, changes their algorithm to compensate and the “Black Hat” marketer is left to start over.

If you aren’t a heavy-weight paid advertiser on Google, like J.C. Penney, the penalty could be complete removal from the Google search results.

I have been involved in marketing on the Internet since 1991. In all that time, I’ve used nothing but “White Hat” techniques for myself and my clients. “Black Hat” techniques sometimes offer quick results, but “White Hat” techniques provide results that last.

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* “black hat” optimization, the dark art of raising the profile of a Web site with methods that Google considers tantamount to cheating.

** A contextual link is one where a keyword-rich phrase is linked to a website, such as in the case of J.C. Penney where hundreds of websites around the world linked the term “grommet top curtains” to the page at J.C. Penney on grommet top curtains.

Seven Ways to Vastly Improve Your Website SEO

December 19th, 2010 No comments

Thumbnail of Google Search Results Page (SERP) - Click to enlargeWhen marketing on the Internet, the hunt is always on for ways to better our ranking on the search engines. Improving the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of our content is one of the best ways.

Here are seven basic things you can do to improve the SEO of your website:

1. Domain Name – Having a domain name that contains the keywords that you are trying to rank for can have a significant effect on your placement in search engine rankings. AnytownManufacturedHomes.com will draw a lot better search results for “manufactured home anytown” than say, MurphyHomes.com. Could you improve your search engine rankings by changing your domain name?

2. Clear, keyword-rich URLs – When a Search Engine robot spiders your web page there a number of factors that influence how it indexes your page. The page name should clearly indicate the purpose of the page. A page named “manufactured-homes-in-anytown.html” does a much better job of that than a page names “homes.html” or worse yet “showcase.html” Can you improve your website’s SEO by using a better URL structure?

3. Keyword-rich Page Title – The page title may be the single most important element in your SEO strategy. If the content of the page is “Manufactured Homes in Anytown”, that should be the page title. I have seen many websites where the page titles either don’t match the content or are absent entirely. Do your page titles match the content of each page on your site?

4. Keyword-rich Heading – The heading is usually the first line before the content of a web page (see image below). It should contain the keywords for the page content. For maximum SEO effect, it should be wrapped in <h1> tags.

5. Keywords used in first paragraph of text – Always use the keywords of the page once or preferably twice in the first paragraph. Over use will hurt you as much as overuse. Be sure that the use of the keywords fits naturally into the flow of the text. Gratuitous use is also a no-no.

6. Image filenames and ALT tags – One keyword-use opportunity often missed even by professional developers is in the filenames and “ALT” tags of images on the page. “ALT” tags are what a browser displays when an image fails to load for some reason. Since images are generally used to support text, their filenames and “ALT” tags should easily contain page keywords. Do not try to cram keywords into images such as bullet points, spacers, etc. These images should contain “ALT” tags but the tags should be empty to help support easy access for those using text-to-speech technology.

7. Use keyword-rich text for internal links – When you link inside you website to other pages or articles, never use just “Click Here” as link text. That doesn’t help you at all. If a link is to a “recently installed home in anytown” use that as the link text. It helps SEO for the linked page.

Well, that’s seven tips for improving your web pages SEO. If you use them, you should be able to move up a few notches on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

If you are using WordPress, Joomla! or another CMS system, the software will handle most of these automatically. If not, they need to be coded by hand. Do not underestimate their importance. If you aren’t sure your website is taking advantage of these SEO methods, you should have your website reviewed professionally.

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