Welcome back, time for another SEO Tip.
Is your Web site like a Hollywood back-lot? All snazzy looking up front, but nothing on the inside? More importantly, does Google think that’s what it is? I’ve hinted at this a couple times before, but it is very important that you don’t ignore the interior of your sites.
It’s nice to have a pretty front page that displays some good content, and maybe shows your blog posts when you add them. But what happens to those posts when they roll off the front? Are they doing you any good? Does anyone link to them? Can anyone find them?
Do you have other “static” pages on your site that contain information that might be useful to your potential customers? Does anyone link to those? Can these be found?
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself…
WHY do you need to optimize the inside?
Your web site functions much like your “real” office. The front page is the lobby, from there prospective customers follow a set path to get to the place they need to be, to get the information they desire. Want commercial property? Go see Bill in room 7. Want to rent out a room in your house? Go talk to Sally in room 3. Want to buy a new construction home? Tom in room 4 is who you need to see. What if your web visitors could go straight to the place on the site they need to be – without going through the “lobby” first? That would probably make them much happier.
How do you optimize the inside pages?
When you started the process of creating, or optimizing your Web site you (hopefully) did a considerable amount of keyword research. Many of those keywords probably apply just fine to your site’s home page. Others, however, really belong to your interior pages. If your agency handles multiple forms of real estate – or even multiple geographic areas – it is IMPOSSIBLE to fully optimize your home page for all of the required keywords. Sure, you have can short blurbs of text and links, but that won’t do much for you. The best way for you to make use of those additional keywords is to create a place for people (and search bots) to go and read them. Create individual pages for each area. Describe the area using as many details (and keywords) as possible. Of course, you should avoid sounding spammy.
After you have the great content, do your best to start getting links to those pages – remember that Google LOVES links.
What can you expect from optimized interior pages?
I found a couple sites in the Atlanta area that have optimized interior pages with some success.
Above are two results for the Google search “atlanta real estate info”. I realize that may or may not be a phrase these sites, or anyone is optimized for – it just popped into my head (searchers are funny that way). Notice anything different about these listings? Google found enough good content on, and/or links to some of the internal pages that it created supplemental links – directly to those pages.
The first site is laid out nicely, does a god job of providing information. It has just under 1,000 incoming links, but only about 40 of those are to interior pages. Clearly, Google likes the content.
The second site…well, honestly it’s a mess. I can’t believe that any reasonable human would choose to hire them based on that page. They do use a few spammy SEO techniques, but not enough to get them in trouble – just enough to look bad. However, they have enough content and links that Google thinks they are an authority. They have around 1,700 incoming links, 400 of those are to interior pages. Our friend backlinkwatch.com reveals that many of those links use keywords as the anchor text.
If I were in Atlanta, I’d be hoping that this company didn’t hire a real designer, or discover WordPress. In either case, this little site could rule the rankings easily.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday next week – I will be too full and tired to move, never mind write. There will not be an SEO Tip for November 28.
What freelancers need to know about new tax form 1099-NEC
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) There’s a new tax form for freelancers, but don’t hyperventilate. It’s not as bad as it sounds.
Dear freelancers and workers of the gig economy: You can stop banging your head on your desk. Or your table at a café. Or any hard surface near your couch.
The words “new tax form” are terrible, horrible, no good words for anyone, let alone independent workers. In this case, the “new” form is really a resurrected old one that replaces the 1009-MISC you’ve been getting from clients who’ve paid you more than $600.
And that’s the most important thing you need to know. Make sure your clients have sent you the right form – 1099-NEC – by Feb. 1, 2021. NEC stands for nonemployee compensation.
Of course, there could be all sorts of exceptions and blah-di-blah that might apply to you. Look to Forbes.com for the gritty accounting details, including why this came about.
TL;DR: The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (PATH Act) aims to fight tax fraud by closing the time between when independent contractors can file their returns (Jan. 31) and some employers’ deadlines for submitting their own tax forms to the government (sometimes as late as the end of March). That meant fraudsters could file tax returns and claim a refund before the IRS had time to match up the numbers.
Speaking of matching up numbers: Make sure the number in Box 1 on the 1099-NEC is the same number you have in your records. Paying taxes on money you didn’t earn is what experts call “not good.”
So… you are keeping those records as you collect payment, right? Just a tip: If you’ve been keeping track of invoices, payments, and business expenses on a spreadsheet, you might want to check out the free accounting software Wave.
The IRS is going to release more info about filing requirements later in the year, but it’s always a good idea (for freelancers especially) to get a head start on collecting and adding up the receipts.
You may even minimize your banging-head-on-the-table headaches in 2021.
Sci-fi alert: Building cities on quantum networks becoming reality
(OPINION / EDITORIAL) The University of Bristol’s Quantum Engineering Tech Lab has created quantum networks that demonstrate the possibilities for future cities.
The University of Bristol is home to the largest quantum entanglement-based computer network in the world. Its Quantum Engineering Technology Lab, led by Dr. Siddarth Joshi, has been spearheading the development of a method of encryption called Quantum Key Distribution that may soon revolutionize information security.
First, what is quantum computing, exactly? (Giving a concise answer to that question is sort of like nailing jelly to a wall, but here goes…)
Much like a light switch, a conventional computer circuit can only be in one of two states at a time: On (1) or off (0). That’s basically how binary code works – by representing information as a series of discrete on and off signals, or high and low energy states.
Quantum computing makes use of a third kind of state that exists between those two.
Think about it this way: If classical, binary computing models rely on energy states of “yes” and “no” to communicate data, quantum computing introduces a state of “maybe.” This is because at the quantum level, the photons that make up the information in a quantum computer can exist in multiple places (or energy states, if you prefer) at once – a phenomenon known as “entanglement.”
Entangled photons cannot be observed or measured (i.e., tampered with) without changing their state and destroying the information they contain. That means quantum computer networks are virtually hack proof compared to traditional networks.
This is where Dr. Joshi’s team is changing the game. While previous attempts to build a secure quantum computer network have been limited to just two machines, the QET Lab has been able to establish a quantum encrypted network between eight machines over a distance of nearly eleven miles.
As Dr. Joshi puts it, “until now, building a quantum network has entailed huge cost, time, and resource, as well as often compromising on its security which defeats the whole purpose. […] By contrast, the QET Lab’s vision is scalable, relatively cheap and, most important of all, impregnable.”
If it can be successfully scaled up further, quantum encryption has countless potential civic applications, such as providing security for voting machines, WiFi networks, remote banking services, credit card transactions, and more.
In order for an entire population to be able to utilize a quantum network, fiber optic infrastructure must first be made accessible and affordable for everyone to have in their homes. In that sense, quantum cities are still roughly two decades away, posits Dr. Joshi. The technology behind it is very nearly mature, though. A simpler application of quantum encryption is practically right around the corner – think quantum ATMs in as few as five years.
Extend your smart home to the mailbox with the Ring Mailbox Sensor
(TECH NEWS) With the rise of the smart home and mail theft, Amazon’s new Ring product is the perfect addition to protect your letters and packages.
Pop the wireless, battery-powered motion sensor in your mailbox, and it will alert you when someone opens the lid or door. You can get a notification in the Ring app on your smartphone and, because Ring is an Amazon company, through any Alexa-enabled device. (So your Ecobee thermostat can tell you you’ve got mail. Cool.)
The sensor’s biggest benefit: You can immediately collect your mail when you get an alert that it’s been delivered. If you’re home.
There’s no camera with live view or speaker for yelling at the thief to drop your stuff, although you can do that with any microphone-enabled cameras near your mailbox.
But if you’ve ringed your home with Ring products, you can set the sensor to turn on Smart Lights or to make the video doorbell or security cameras start recording. If your mailbox is near your front door, however, that will probably already be happening after those devices detect motion. The sensor could be very useful for mailboxes at the end of a long driveway and out of sight of any cameras.
You can preorder the Mailbox Sensor ($29.99) at Ring.com and Amazon.com starting on Oct. 8. To connect the sensor with the doorbell, smart lights, and Alexa devices, you’ll need the Ring Bridge ($49.99).
You may want to keep an eye on Amazon’s new Sidewalk technology, however. Sidewalk is designed to extend the range of your Wi-Fi network. It siphons off a small part of your bandwidth, and that of your neighbors with Amazon-related devices, to create a crowd-sourced neighborhood network.
Amazon has released a list of devices – mostly Echoes and cameras – that will act as bridges themselves, and it’s not yet clear how the Mailbox Sensor will interact with all of that in the future. By the way, if privacy concerns were the first thing that popped into your head when you read that, check out Amazon’s Sidewalk white paper on privacy.
FYI: If your mail is stolen, You should report to the USPS, using their online form. You could report to the police via 311 but know that it’s unlikely officers will pursue the crime.
The best defense against thieves is still a locked mailbox. It’s not fool-proof, of course, but it can make thieves take longer to get at your mail. But if they take the sensor with your mail, or even your whole mailbox, Ring will replace the Mailbox Sensor for free.
You can find out more about the Mailbox Sensor in Ring’s support FAQ.
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