Written By: Adam Dince
One of the most important steps of a successful organic search marketing strategy is removing technical obstacles that may be preventing search engine spiders from accessing your content. Lord knows that manually conducting thorough technical SEO audits can take significant amounts of time and not yield desired results if a major issue is missed.
Today, I would like to introduce you to a free tool, yes I said “free,” that will help end your SEO auditing woes. In my opinion, Microsoft’s Free Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Toolkit 1.0 is best in class and it doesn’t cost a dime. See my screenshots below to see how easy it is to use.
Test URL: http://www.barackobama.com
Step 1: Enter a project name and URL. Then it’s off to the races
Step 2: The SEO Toolkit does all of the work
Step 3: Look at that! Done in no time at all
Step 4: The results. Microsoft’s SEO Toolkit segments technical obstacles into relevant buckets/categories
Step 5: Download CSV file and mine the results for action items
While Microsoft’s SEO Toolkit doesn’t provide the bells and whistles that some of its competitors do, a solid SEO should be able to leverage this data with ease. Furthermore, with a little Excel finesse, simple dashboards can be created to visualize the findings.
As a reminder, this tool is only as good as the tacticians that use it. Remember, once this data is collected, it’s important to validate the findings (as you would with any tool), prioritize and provide strategic recommendations to remediate the issues discovered.
If you’ve got case studies that you’ve put together using Microsoft’s SEO Toolkit, I’d love to hear from you.
Thank you for reading and please feel free to share if you found this article helpful.
Written By: Adam Dince
Scale—how often do we think about it? When our clients come to us with a problem, are our solutions scalable? Do we build foundations that allow our clients to grow? Do we set our clients up for success from the very beginning? Do we even truly understand what scale means?
Merriam-Webster defines Scalability as, “capable of being easily expanded or upgraded on demand” – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/scalable
Scale is an important consideration in whatever decisions we make in life. Let’s say you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to learn photography and need to purchase a digital camera. As you’re shopping, you come across two types of cameras—cameras that allow you to upgrade the amount of storage space and cameras that don’t. Which type of camera would you prefer? I’m guessing the camera with the scalable memory. In fact, you might even ask the question, “Why would any brand make a camera that I can’t add more memory to?”
Now put yourself in your client’s shoes. Would they ask similar questions about their Website? Would they ask questions like, “Why can’t I add another layer of navigation to my site?” Or, “Why can’t I implement redirects easily on my server?”
As professional marketers, our job is to find solutions and create products for our clients. And our clients have customers that use the products we build. Ultimately, our clients will only be as successful as the products we build allow them to be. It’s more often the rule than the case, that I speak with new clients who are frustrated with their lack of Website scalability and ask us to help them re-calibrate. When a brand invests a significant amount of money in a Website build, they want it to be as future-proofed as possible. Here are 10 scalability tips to think about when developing Websites:
- Pick a flexible CMS: There are many superb free and paid CMS solutions to consider. For small businesses and organization, I highly recommend WordPress. For larger enterprise clients, I highly recommend looking into MRM Worldwide’s proprietary CMS platform or Adobe’s CQ.
- Scalable Information Architecture: When you’re building out a Website’s architecture, consider future content and assets that may be added on later. Ensure that your I/A design allows for structural scalability.
- Flash: How are you building Flash files? Are they built in such a way that enables someone to easily add or modify Flash content? Is there an easily accessible alternate version of Flash on your Web pages?
- Hosting Environment: Choose a hosting plan and/or server environment that allows you to scale with your needs. For small businesses and organizations, sites like GoDaddy allow you to easily upgrade and/or downgrade your server and hosting plans. For enterprise clients, in my humble opinion, Rackspace has the best solutions for trusted and scalable hosting and server environments.
- Server Architecture: Build a server architecture that allows you to easily scale as necessary. For instance, if your Website starts getting more traffic than your servers can handle, you’ll want to be able add load-balancers and additional servers to the mix.
- Links Architecture: Do not hard-code or use absolute URLs within your Website’s links. Ensure that you’re using a relative URL structure within your HREFs. One of the benefits of using relative URLs in HREFs is that it makes updating links automatic during some site migrations. Furthermore, publishing content from a dev to production server is much easier when relative URLs are used.
- Caching: As your Website continues to grow and as more people use it, there will be increased strain on your servers. Ensure your pages are cached properly to ensure you are achieving optimal server response times.
- Microsites: Please, please, please stop building microsites on multiple top-level domains (TLDs). This just creates an extremely segmented environment for client’s content. Build microsites utilizing your primary TLD. Then leverage vanity URLs in marketing material to redirect visitors to your primary URL. Example: bobsnewproduct.com can be redirect to bobsnewproduct.bobbrand.com.
- HTML: Ensure that the HTML on your CMS page templates is W3C compliant. If your Web page template HTML is not compliant, each page created from the CMS will exasperate the issue. A free and easy tool to use to validate W3C compliance can be found on the Web Developer Add-On for Firefox https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/web-developer/
There are many other important factors to consider when building scalable Web solutions and I highly encourage you to continue researching ways to future proof your Websites.
Thank you for reading and I hope you found this information valuable.
Written By: Adam Dince
One of my favorite hobbies is blogging about different topics across many niche areas of digital marketing and advertising. I’ve found that the two most important qualities of having a successful blog is its content and look and feel. After many many months of redesigns and iterations, I’m thrilled with how my blog site looks.
I’m always asked to help people develop their blog sites, so I felt compelled to write an article that acts as a resource for those who want to get started creating their own. In this post, I share some of the tools, plug-ins, and tips that will help you create an awesome WordPress blog site.
Domain Name and Hosting:
One of the most important things about your blog is its domain name. From a branding and SEO perspective, it all starts with the right domain strategy. I highly recommend using GoDaddy.com for domain name research and registration.
GoDaddy.com also offers excellent WordPress hosting packages. For about $65 – $70 bucks, you can register a domain name and get WordPress hosting/support for an entire year. Yes, I know there are other providers, but I prefer GoDaddy.
Domain Name & Hosting Tips:
1. Think about your brand and what you want to be relevant for:
– If you’re looking to build out your personal brand, I would register your name (e.g., adamdince.com)
– If you’re looking to gain visibility for a particular niche or skill, keyword research and social listening can help you identify the most relevant terms to use in your domain name (e.g., searchengineland.com)
2. Register your domain name for more than a year. Typically SPAM sites register their domains for shorter periods of time, so the longer your domain name is registered, the more trust your domain will have with search engines.
3. Try to land a .com. While .co and .net are also viable options, it’s easier to remember .com’s.
4. If you’re a bigger brand, don’t give in to the latest ICANN extortion plot to buy your brand’s TLD (e.g., .IBM)
5. Sign-up for at least a one-year hosting plan. This reduces the risk of forgetting to pay your bill and losing everything you’ve built.
Selecting The Right WordPress Theme:
Your WordPress theme should fit your personality; if you don’t like looking at your blog, neither will anyone else. Take your time selecting a theme, and remember—you can typically swap WP themes out fairly easily. Here are a few sites that offer a variety of free WP theme choices:
If you’re not happy with the themes on the above listed domains, I highly recommend Googling “free wordpress themes” and checking out the search results.
Plug-Ins and Tools:
Okay, I’m going to sound like a total geek here, but I LOVE playing around with WordPress plug-ins and tools. Furthermore, I’m a huge fan of powering Websites with social media and SEO functionality. Here are some of the most useful plug-ins and tools that I use on my site/blog (listed in alphabetical order):
- All In One Favicon – This plug-in will help you install a favicon that will appear in your browser, left of the URL
- All In One SEO Pack – This plug-in is essential to helping you optimize your Website for organic search! Definitely install this tool
- Captcha – I used to receive close to 75 comment spam notifications per day. After activating Captcha, it’s droppped to down to zero
- GetSocial – Is the social toolbar that you see on the left of my Webpage. It makes liking, +1’s, etc… much easier to do. While this is a nice plug-in, I recommend looking for a social bookmarking tool that compliments the look and feel of your site
- Google Analytics – This plug-in makes integrating Google Analytics into your WordPress theme a sinch
- Google XML Sitemaps – I love this plug-in. Google XML Sitemaps allows you to easily recreate and republish your XML sitemap right from your WP dashboard interface. Furthermore, this tool notifies the major search engines of updates to your XML sitemap. This is a must have!
- Outbrain – Allows your Website readers to rate your content which gives you an option to enable a widget called “Most Popular Posts”. What I love most about the Outbrain plug-in is that it provides your readers with other blog post recommendations that they might like to read. This should hopefully increase time-on-site and pageviews metrics. Furthermore, Outbrain provides you with a log-in to their Website so you can keep track of user interaction with the Outbrain tool on your site
- Show Twitter Followers – Allows you to show your Website visitors a sample of who is following you on Twitter. This plug-in also provides readers an easy way to click and follow you as well
- Twylah – If you are a Tweetaholic, Twylah will organize your trending tweets in a topical format so that your users can easily find your Twitter content. Twylah is free and you’re crazy if you don’t use it! Checkout my Twylah page (which I threw on a subdomain) http://tweets.adamdince.com
- WP-DB Manager – Allows you to back-up, optimize and work directly with your WordPress database. Optimizing your database on a regular basis is helpful in maximizing your site’s speed
- WP Minify – This plug-in allows you to easily combine and compress JS and CSS files to improve page load time
Other Quick Tips/Advice:
- User Experience: It’s all about the user-experience! Make sure that your readers enjoy using your site and can easily find what they’re looking for
- Make It Sexy: Use engaging imagery and videos to compliment your content. This should increase time on site as well as advocacy
- Socialization: Socialize your content on Twitter, Facebook, and other social communities (e.g., bloggers.com)
- Write Regularly: Try to post at least once a month—once a week is optimal
- Make It Personal: Tell people your story. If people can relate with you on a personal level, they are more likely to subscribe to your RSS feed and share your content. My personal pages are “My Story” and “Sam’s Page“
- RSS Feeds: Make sure that your Website/blog has an easily findable RSS feed
- On-Site Search: Make sure your Website has an on-site search tool in order to help your readers easily find content
I would love to hear about any plug-ins you enjoy using. So please do share within the comment box below or visit my contact page. In the future, I will be adding more blogging tips! Also, feel free to share this with your friends!
Written By: Adam Dince
I found a great plug-in for generating XML sitemaps on WordPress sites. You can download the plug-in here: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-sitemap-generator/.