Tuesday, January 28, 2020

What's old is new again - 2020 in SEO

It's been a long time since I've posted to this blog, but the fundamentals of SEO haven't changed. Sure there are some details here and there, but the same old lesson has never gone away: provide good content and a good user experience!

The primary reason for this used to solely be as link bait, but these days Google itself knows what a good piece of content looks like.

Structure of Good SEO Content

Machines reading content can attempt to analyze the words and structure of a page to understand if it is thorough, readable, and providing useful information. Here are some of the technical elements that a machine reader may evaluate while trying to study the quality of a given web page:


  • Use of headers (h2, h3, etc..)
  • Lists (ordered or unordered)
  • Length of content
  • Inclusion of pictures, video, and/or other media
  • Correct grammar and spelling
  • Varied sentence structure


Checking the boxes won't necessarily make boring content in to something that generates user enthusiasm, however, and links are still very important for a successful SEO campaign!

If you research your market and your keywords and provide a great user experience, you won't have to worry all that much about the SEO.

The Jacksonville SEO Market is Small.. and Strange

It's been a long time since I've posted to this blog, but 2020 has brought big changes and new priorities back in to focus.

While I've remained involved in SEO and web publishing more generally, I never ended up following through with building a local SEO firm in Jacksonville. I have, however, kept an eye on it - and I've worked on some local business websites either as a personal owner or as a favor to a friend.

SEO Companies and Marketing Firms that Offer SEO in Jacksonville

Dagmar Marketing and Thrive Internet Marketing are probably the two largest SEO firms in Jacksonville that actually have top organic results for Jacksonville SEO & related keywords. Since that's what they're selling, they're probably the ones you can trust the most.

Beyond that, there appears to be a significant number of small-time operations run out of someone's home. Now, there's nothing wrong with that - because that's all it takes to get results! In fact, some of those sole proprietorships seem to be outranking the big firms.

The State of Organic Search Results

Digging a little deeper in to the smaller sites that rank well tells an interesting story. The current top spots are held by sites using decidedly grey to black hat SEO tactics. While I'd normally argue for pure white hat techniques, it's also hard to argue against what works.

The niche doesn't look like a free for all, either, after all.

Several large firms have been kicked down 100 or 200 spots for what I would presume are search penalties. It's possible they tried to copy what appeared to be working, but flew just a little too close to the sun.

What do you think? Have you had any particularly positive or negative experiences with a company you hired to do SEO work in Jacksonville, FL? Let us know in the comments: Your advice could save someone a headache and help their business, too!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Dreamhost Coupon

What's the deal with the Dreamhost coupon lists?

Dreamhost coupon codes provide a multiple benefit to everyone involved in the purchase of shared server space. Its a great way for customer, salesperson (affiliate), and the company to get together and find a deal that can make everyone happy and provide the best services at the cheapest price.

Customer:

The customer can choose the Dreamhost coupon that best fits the hosting plan they're interested in buying. Coupon codes like Saves50 give the maximum cash discount of $50 off any hosting plan. For a standard plan, this is the best deal. But what if the customer's website needs a unique IP address for e-commerce and other online financial transactions? A coupon code like BIZCODE provides this in addition to a $20 cash discount - creating a total savings of over $60 for customers who would purchase the unique IP anyway.

Salesperson (Affiliate):

The salesperson gets a refferal fee of $97 for every customer they bring to the company. The Dreamhost coupon then lets the affiliate share some of this with the customer - up to a maximum of $50 (it can go a little over with some of the optional addons). Of course, this brings the affiliate's share of the commission down, but it makes the service competitively priced and it lets the affiliates customize their sales strategies.

Dreamhost:

Dreamhost has the benefit of finding new customers without personally getting involved too deep with advertising. Salespeople work independently, and they're only paid when they bring in a paying customer. This creates the maximum efficiency for marketing, and the Dreamhost coupon allows them indirectly to charge less, and spend more of their revenue on upgrading servers and services.

What's the downside?

I have no idea! As both a customer and as an affiliate, I am happy with the Dreamhost coupon program. It saved me $50 when I signed up, and now I've paid for the rest of the year's worth of hosting with other webmaster's I've referred. I can only assume Dreamhost benefits as well, because they've expanded the Dreamhost coupon list to include special limited-time offer discounts. I don't have any of these special Dreamhost coupons at the moment, but the next time I do I'll let you know!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Choosing a Hosting Provider

If you or your business is thinking about starting a website but don't know where to begin, the first step is choosing a hosting plan. These are the basic types to consider:

Free Hosting: Not a viable business plan, typically. Free hosts will put burdensome limits on how you can use your websites, they will probably force you onto a pre-existing domain, and you can virtually count on down-time, slow loading speeds, and general technical problems or limitations. This website is hosted with free hosting on Blogspot - definitely not a bad deal for a quick blog, but it lacks some of the functionality and customization that prevents me from turning this into a full-blown website.

Shared Hosting: The lowest cost level of service that is viable for a business. Shared hosting operates by placing several domains and user accounts on the same computer server. Users "share" the resources for a nominal monthly fee - typically $5-$9 per month. If you're a novice to website building, make sure this has an auto-installation script for online software like Wordpress and Blogger. This will allow you to set up a site like this one in just a few clicks, on your own domain, with better reliability and fewer restrictions on how you can monetize the pages.

Dedicated Hosting: Dedicated hosting is one user account matched up to one computer server. The advantage is speed, reliability, and improved customer service from the provider company. The downside: cost! Dedicated servers are extremely expensive compared to the other choices: they can cost hundreds, even thousands a month depending on traffic volume (of course, if you have enough traffic to spend >$1,000 a month in server costs, its probably worth the cost to keep that web site online.

Host Re-selling: The entrepreneurial take on shared hosting. A user buys hosting, and then turns around and sells some of his or her resources to the end-client. This is usually cheaper than shared hosting, but its possible that someone could lease 50% of a dedicated server - so the price fluctuated in a wide range depending on the specific offer at hand. This could be a great deal if you're using a professional web designer. A point of negotiation could be to ask for free hosting through an existing account of the web designer. Dreamhost is one well-known web host that provides an option for re-selling, and they also offer steep discounts in the form of coupons and promotional codes.

It is important to consider these pros and cons before signing a contract, paying the bill, and committing your new websites to a certain server. Changing servers after establishing a site is a time-consuming and somewhat risky process.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Coding Counts

One of the most fundamental and essential aspects of SEO is the use of proper coding.

Page titles should accurately reflect the target search keywords, and the meta description should be about 160 characters and act as an attention grabbing short description of the data in the web page. One of the faults of this free hosted blogger platform is the inability to modify all of the meta data - each page should have unique meta data content.

Images should use alt text - this will help the picture show up on image searches. Title attributes could be helpful for your users, but it is not as essential from a pure SEO standpoint.

Any broken links or buggy code could hurt the rankings for the website. Inactive URLs should be re-directed to relevant pages.

These are the basic things to watch out for in the actual source code of a website you're trying to optimize for SERPs. It is much easier to get it right the first time before the page is published then it is to go back afterward and find problems.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Jacksonville Late-Night Restaurants

I was driving home late tonight and I thought: I would love to know about late-night restaurants in the Jacksonville area. A quick web search for these terms returns some nation-wide directory that lists a few local results on each of their many sub-domains. Based on this typical user's search, I would be forced to conclude that Denny's, Taco Bell, and Sonic are the only local restaurants in Jacksonville that stay open "late" at all.

Now, I feel like we might be missing out on something here. I know there are some breakfast joints that open hours before dawn, and they could be advertising to night-owls like me.

For a city of the size of Jacksonville, I would also expect there to be more all-night, 24-hour eateries. I would kind of hope so anyway!

Forget these paid directories and pay per click links. The best way to market a late-night restaurant online is with SEO. Why sit on a list with a dozen alternative diners? Ideally, you want your own website, with your own copyright - your 24 hr. menu, or your late-night hours, and probably some pictures reminding the readers why they are so ready to jump up from their seat at a crazy hour of the night to go get some food.

Great. Now I'm hungry. And I still can't find a good restaurant!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Jacksonville is Growing - So is the Internet

The pace may have slowed a little bit, but Jacksonville is still growing. The citizens and the city council are barely able to keep up - and sometimes interests come in conflict to slow down that growth to a more moderate pace. Whew, that's good news if you ask me! Construction is starting to slow down, but there's hope with new deals on a port or the proposed airport re-configurations. Yet again, Jacksonville is set to handle the coming economic changes with new strategies and public investment. Of course, if you've set up a business here you probably already knew that!

The good news is that the internet is still growing, too. Every day, people are logging on for the first time and plugging their computers into just-installed connections. The benefits of internet marketing and online advertising presence will only increase, but the downside is that prices will also rise as competition becomes more fierce. As more companies compete over a few keywords, more effort will be required to influence results - and truly awesome content will be required to reach the top as search engines become more refined and begin to study user reactions to certain pages. An SEO needs to keep up with the latest trends just as the business needs to be up to date on its customers' tastes.