From Google to you
I recently attended a search industry conference at which Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s anti-webspam team, was a keynote speaker. Matt’s team is charged with finding sites that are attempting to cheat the system, documenting how they do it and then dropping them from the search index. As a result, Matt and his team have learned what works best to get sites listed correctly – and it is surprisingly simple. Matt shared a few SEO tips for beginners with us.
These tips are intended for web site owners just getting started in the optimization process. However, it’s often the simplest things that are overlooked. Many of the sites that I and other SEOs are tasked with “fixing” do not follow some of these and as a result rank poorly for searches they should, or at least could, rank well for.
Ten SEO Tips
- Use good URL & Site structure.
It’s been discussed over and over again. Yes, Google can index dynamic page URLs (like those here on AgentGenius.com). However, if you are able to use search friendly URLS – often referred to as PERMALINKS – then you really should. Permalinks allow you to include keywords in your URL, creating one more crumb in the trail you want the search engines and readers to follow.
- Use good and unique page titles.
Page titles should be a brief (only about 65-70 characters) description of what a page contains, or is about. This is another opportunity to let the search engines (and more importantly, your readers) know what they might find on a page. Too often this is ignored, or worse misused. Many sites leave page titles blank, insert just the company name, or use non-descriptive text like “about us” or “our products”. A page title should be able to stand alone, a reader should have an idea what the page is about without reading one word of it’s content.
- Use keywords naturally withing your content (don’t try to stuff them in there).
Google does recognize common root variations of the same word. For example, it knows that engage, engagement, engaging, and engaged are all variations the same word. Don’t waste your time and irritate your readers by using all these words over and over in your pages. However, Google does not know that cat, kitten, kitty, feline or putty-tat could all be used to mean the same thing. When applicable, use common synonyms in your pages as well. Different people use different words to communicate, try to use the most common variations in your writing.
- Page title and site URL do not have to match.
If you are not using a blog or a content management system (CMS), this is probably not something you ever even considering doing – creating matching titles and URLs is too much work for a manual process. However, if you use a CMS like WordPress it is often done for you automatically. Why not alter the URL slightly and insert a keyword synonym? It’s just one more of the crumbs to follow. (I’ll admit I have not done this – it’s one of those simple things I never even thought about, but feel silly for not doing).
- Check your site logs often to see what you already rank well for.
You might already be ranking well for something and not even know it. Possibly searchers are finding you with keywords you never even considered. By reviwing your search logs, you’ll know how you are being found and be able to optimize your site accordingly.
- Create a blog and post often.
New, fresh content and a growing site is a good indication of relevance. Relevance is what will get you ranked in Google.
- Fill in your description tags.
It’s surprising, how many site owners think the description tag is just a place to stuff keywords. More accurately, it’s displayed by Google (and others) in the search results along with the page title to give searchers an idea what they should expect to find on your web site. A well written description tag should contain your keyword(s) or synonyms and also be truly descriptive of the page and it’s content. If your potential reader thinks this is what they want to see, they will click. If they see a long and obvious list of keywords, chances are they will pass you over.
- Create an XML site map.
Site maps are one of those things SEOs can’t seem to agree on. Many feel that a well structured site will be crawled just fine with out one. Others, myself included, feel that any help they provide is worth the minimal (if any) work required to maintain them. If you run your site in WordPress, or most any CMS, there are plugins available that take all the work out this. I read recently about a test done that showed Google not only came to a site sooner, but it also crawled sites more quickly – a lot more quickly, on sites with site maps. Of course I’d love to link you to it, but can’t locate it at the moment – if you have it, please post in the comments.
- If you are local, be sure to register in the Google local business center.
Put simply, if you run a local business, and are not listed here, you are throwing money away. When people search for products and services in their area, the business identified as local will often rank at the very top of page one, regardless of all other SEO factors.
- Use your chosen keywords in URL and titles.
OK – This is a repeat of 1 & 2, but it’s important so don’t forget to do it.
Simple, right? OK, time to fess up…..how many of these are you not doing on your web site?
How to build apps without knowing how to code (it’s actually common!)
(TECHNOLOGY) No-code app-building tools are becoming more available to the everyday user, which could lead to more inventive and original apps.
“Learn to code” is a common, frustrating refrain often hurled at job-seekers, entrepreneurs, creative professionals, and others. Depending on who’s saying it, the intent could range from well-meaning to willfully hurtful.
It does, in a way, make sense. Computer programming is the foundational language that modern life is built on. And while many people use technology that they don’t understand every day—from microwaves to cars—there’s something a little different about programming. It’s omnipresent for just about anyone, just about everywhere, whether they use it for work or not. And more people use it for work than ever. It’s the single most sought-after skill in the job market.
But “learn to code” isn’t practical for everyone. Not everyone with an app idea has the time to learn how to build an app from scratch, or the money to hire people to do it for them. That’s where the low-code/no-code movement comes in. It’s all about giving the people the tools they need to execute on an idea without having to learn an entire new skill set. When you bake a cake, you probably don’t grind wheat into flour, and when you build an app, you don’t have to start with Python.
No-code isn’t really a new idea.
The fact that computers have menus and icons is the result of early programmers realizing that non-programmers would have to use a computer sometimes. You could look to tools like RPG Maker that let people build their own video games back in 1992. RPG Maker was like a Lego kit for making a video game. And not only is it still going strong, it proved itself prophetic. It turns out that giving people tools and a sand box is a great way to enable creativity.
This has been the long arc of the Internet, too. There was a time when participating in the World Wide Web in a meaningful way meant learning to program. Places like Geocities gave you real estate to set up a website. But you had to build that site yourself. We’ve moved away from that as the Internet commodified. Sites like Facebook and Twitter remove customization in the name of uniformity.
But creative tools persist. Consider “WYSIWYG,” or “What You See Is What You Get” web editors. These are tools like WordPress that reclaimed some of that Internet customization. They give you assets to build a website, and you plug them in where you want.
It’s a middle ground between building from scratch, and having everything handed to you. It’s the sweet spot of accessible creativity. (If you’ve never heard anyone say “WYSIWYG,” that’s probably because these web development tools are so common that they don’t really need a special name anymore.)
Right now, one of the biggest areas of no-code design is in app development. These app dev tools are similar to building a WordPress site. They give you the raw materials, and you customize and assemble them however you want to. Adalo, a no-code platform for building apps, lets your bring assets and ideas to the table, and gives you a framework to organize those ideas into an app.
They aren’t alone. AppOnboard, a no-code software development suite, purchased Buildbox, a leading no-code game development platform. Their combined resources represent a stunning library of assets, full of potential.
What does this mean for coders? Probably not much. Specialized skills are still in high demand. But for the rest of us, a slow democratization of development is taking place, and it’s exciting to watch it take shape.
Ageism: How to properly combat this discrimination in the workplace
(BUSINESS) Ageism is still being fought by many companies, how can this new issue be resolved before it becomes more of a problem?
Workers over the age of 55 represent the fasting growing sector in labor. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 25% of the labor force will be over age 55 by 2024. A 2018 AARP survey found that over 60% of the respondents reported age discrimination in their workplace. The figure is even higher among older women, minorities, and unemployed seniors. Age discrimination is a problem for many.
Unfortunately, age discrimination lawsuits aren’t uncommon. We have covered cases for Jewel Food Stores, Inc., Novo Nordisk, Inc., AT&T, and iTutorGroup, all alleging age or disability discrimination in some form or fashion. This could be from using vocabulary such as “tenured,” hiring a younger employee instead of promoting a well-season veteran, or pressuring older employees with extra responsibilities in order to get them to resign or retire early.
How can your organization create an age-inclusive workforce?
It is difficult to prove age discrimination but fighting a lawsuit against it could be expensive. Rather than worrying about getting sued for age discrimination, consider your own business and whether your culture creates a workplace that welcomes older workers.
- Check your job descriptions and hiring practices to eliminate graduation dates and birthdates. Focus on worker’s skills, not youthful attributes, such as “fresh graduate” or “digital native.” Feature workers of all ages in your branding and marketing.
- Include age diversity training for your managers and employees, especially those that hire or work in recruiting.
- Support legislative reforms that protect older workers. Use your experience to create content for your website.
Changing the culture of your workplace to include older workers will benefit you in many ways. Older workers bring experience and ideas to the table that younger employees don’t have. Having mixed-age teams encourages creativity. There are many ways to support older workers and to be inclusive in your workplace.
What steps are you taking in your organization to reduce ageism in your workplace?
Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future
(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded their company’s future.
Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:
Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always but is amplified when a crisis occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.
Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.
Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything was disrupted and people are adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.
The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.
And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.
We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when leaders game plan, strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.
That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.
Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.
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