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CitrusKiwi's Web Design, Internet & Marketing blog

Get hints and tips about web design, SEO, and things internet. We also discuss online security issues, showcase new client websites and offer hints on marketing and networking.

6 easy tips to supercharge your website

New Years' resolutions are a great thing... IF you carry them out. As Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (probably) wrote, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions"! No plan is bad, but a pla...
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8 simple website tips for 2019

Happy New Year (almost)! I know it's a cliche sort of thing, New Years resolutions. I also know that most of us end up breaking all our well-meaning promises to ourselves. This year, along with t...
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What to look for in your SEO company

SEO is one of those industries which has, somewhat fairly, developed a bad reputation as a bunch of "snake-oil" salemen (and women!). How so? If you have a business email you'd have, at least in your life, gotten an email (usually from some foreign company) promising #1 on page 1 of Google - guaranteed! The problem is, no one can guarantee such results (at least shortterm) as no one but Google knows their algorithm that does the ranking. SEO usually takes time and the client needs to view this as an investment and know that they are trying to help their business for the longterm. The bad news/The lies "Guaranteed" results are only achievable one way - scamming the system. The problem with this is that Google is smart. They'll catch you. Guess what happens to your ranking then? That's if they don't totally ban your site from their index. Get to...
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Small business should benefit from Pigeon

In the ever-changing world of search engine rankings, Google recently released a major upgrade to their algorithm - the first major release in quite a while. Nicknamed "Pigeon" it promises to be good for local based businesses, which make up a huge percentage of the nation's businesses and covers almost every "Mom and Pop" one. Local business directories - you've all used them before, they're Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc - have received a boost and the long-running fracas between Yelp and Google seems to have been fixed, with Yelp results now showing up properly in searches. So what's in it for me? If you're a local business, that is, you don't try and grab your customers right throughout the nation, you could see a significant improvement in search rankings - depending on the search phrase of course. If someone searches for "Pizza, Phoenix", or "sporting goods, surprise az", then, assuming your site...
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Back links v Content - who wins?

In early web days, back links didn't exist so this was an easy question to answer,, well, it never got asked! The last 4-5 years have seen back links take on enormous weight, which lead to link farms, and link buying. Depending on who you are, this was either good or bad. Today, Google takes a very dim view of either of these practices, and regularly penalizes sites caught doing it - even if they did it a few years ago. So it's not uncommon to receive "link removal" requests from webmasters or SEO people in an attempt to get into Google's good graces again. So, does this mean that all back links are bad? No, but you need to be careful where they're coming from and how. If your site had 5 backlinks yesterday, but today has 500, Google is going to smell a rat. It's about a natural progression....
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Max Cutts on backlinks

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Is link building dead?

SEO has gone through so many changes over the years. When I first started building websites in the mid 90s the term didn't really exist. There were so few site (relatively speaking) that you had be be doing something awfully wrong not to rank OK. Then came metatag stuffing, keyword stuffing, link farms, link building, and it's slowly working it's way round to quality content; which, IMHO, is where it should be. Why should the fact that 10,000 sites, profiles, or whatever link to a certain page make it relevant, good content or even true? We all know that there's an enormous amount of rubbish and misinformation out there on the web. And also a lot of users who don't know right from wrong! In a video published by Google Webmaster Tools (click the image to watch Max Cutts talking about backlinks), Google Webspam team member, Max Cutts, talks candidly about...
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5 questions to ask yourself about keywords

I guess I'm getting ahead of myself by assuming you know what keywords, or phrases, actually are. In a nutshell, they're the words or phrases people are using in their searches to find you, or businesses like you. So, for me, that's phrases like "website design", "web site design", "web development". Often, there's a tendency to want to rank for EVERY keyphrase you can think of or keyphrases that are too vague. Examples of vague keyphrases/words are (again, using myself as an example) design, internet, marketing. Design could be architectural, graphic, boat, aeroplane, automobile! So here's 5 questions to ask yourself about your keywords & phrases BEFORE you talk to your website designer. How would you describe what you do? In your opinion, what makes your product or service special? What makes you different from your competitors? In other words, what's your USP (Unique Selling Point)? What services or products do...
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5 on page SEO disasters

How to fix 4 common on page SEO disasters On page SEO - that's the stuff you do to your actual website, as opposed to off page SEO which is the back linking process, etc - is a pretty simple thing to get right.  Yet, I see it done wrong so often and that hurts you and you business.  Here are 5 ways to boost your on page SEO - and they're all easy. The "Title Tag" This is what appears in the browser tab of the website, or pops up when you mouse over the tab.  This is the most important tag in your on page SEO arsenal.  Getting this one wrong can be painful, yet, as I said, I see it wrong so often.  This tag should be 60-70 characters long - characters after that will be ignored.  I aim for 65 generally.  You should also get your most important...
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Is this the end of search engines?

A recent court case Downunder in Australia, found Google guilty of being party to libelous content which tied a man to organised crime.  Did Google write the content?  No, but they "published" it according to the jury, and the judge gave them the proverbial wet bus ticket" with a $200,000 fine - what's that, a minute's worth of income?  A second's? Understandably, Google is appealing the case (well, they sure can afford to!), but it's not about the money.  It's all about the precedent.  Google claimed that it merely listed the link to the content, and that the view expressed herein do not necessarily, blah, blah, blah!  The jury and judge saw different. A page of their own making Part of the reason was that it wasn't just the "link listing", but Google also had the plaintiff listed in their images with not-very-subtle allusions to his crime connections.  This, the judge...
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Good link/bad link

One topic of questions I hear a lot is about linking - no real surprise as this has been the mainstay of off page SEO in the past.  However, Google, with its billions of dollars and a stable full of engineers, is getting smarter.  The old focus of getting dozens of backlinks all with the same anchor text is well dead, yet many companies still consider this relevant.  But it's not just about backlinks anymore. Is every backlink good? Short answer is no - not every backlink is good.  Links from known link farms and spam schemes are not good and will generally hurt your rankings long term, even if you do see short term gains.  Worst case is they get your sire delisted and then you're in deep doo-doo. I get asked (by those with a little SEO savvy) about the worth of getting no-follow links.  The truth is, many...
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Survive a Panda attack

Panda, Venice, Caffeine and Vince - what do they all have in common? Answer - Google. They're all Google algorithms from 2009 to the present.So, who really cares? What's in a name? Nothing really, as Shakespeare penned, in Romeo and Juliet, "What's in a name? that which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet;" It's not the name that has the impact, it's the code behind it. Earlier this year, some of the Google updates caused terrible ranking damage for some sites. Personally, we've seen rankings decrease on some sites and increase on others. And yet we do the same sorts of SEO on each site we manage. And we're not the only ones confused. Going onto big SEO discussion sites, such as http://www.seomoz.org/ , you'll find forums full of confused SEO practicioners asking what on earth they should do. SEO is a long term investment...
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Connecting with the past

I spent the last weekend visitng old friends (well, some of them aren't that old!) and family before flying back to the States on Wednesday. It got me to thinking about how important the past really is. I know as kids we all hated visiting the old, crusty relatives, but the past has a great deal to teach us - if we are prepared to bother to learn from it. It's said that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action, but expecting a different outcome. Even if it's not true for every situation, it very much holds true for website design and, especially, SEO. Unfortunately, with SEO, the goalposts keep moving which doesn't help either. That's why ongoing SEO work is so important. Yes, we must look back (at past results or failures) to be able to plan ongoing strategies, but the SEO "designer" also needs to remain acutely...
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What to expect from your SEO

To begin with, as we have had in our contracts since we began, SEO is not a science, but an art (or words to that effect). There are definitely known factors which influence ranking - the <Title> tag, <H1> tag (and through H6), bolding text, keywords in the first sentence and a bunch of others.  That's on-page SEO and it's somewhat quantifiable.  I say somewhat, because, with Google, the goal posts are continually moving.  Content "above the fold" is a hot change this year. Many sites have rightly recognised this as prime advertising real estate and jammed it full of ads.  Google says, "No, our surfer came to learn about <search phrase>, why should they be assaulted with ads?"  So these sites have received a penalty. Off-page SEO is as fluid as on-page. Link farms and link sites were hit hard this year. The traditional reign of back links has been...
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Google algo changes change SEO

In the first 4 months of this year, Google has rolled out a number of algorithm changes which has changed the face of SEO.  Not that this is new to any of us in the industry - just another frustration to deal with and adjust to.  But, like other major updates, it has changed the way of SEO - again. What color is your SEO's hat? Various forms of SEO are referred to by different colored hats.  While I've seen up to 5 or 6 colors described, there are, in my mind, really just 2 - white and black.  I guess you can argue that, if you do a bit of both then you're doing grey hat, however, the possible outcome of you bit of black hat work will result in the same penalties, maybe just a little slower. White hat SEO Ethical, by-the-book (the book is written by Google -...
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1 solid reason why meta data is dead for SEO

One of the most common questions I'm asked is, "Is meta data still useful?"  To which my answer is an ambiguous, "No!"  Let me qualify that a bit... For SEO (search engine optimization) purposes, yes, they truly are dead.  At least from Google's point of view.  And, I would say, the other 2 biggies in search - Yahoo and Bing - would be right behind Google (albeit a long way behind!).  Have a look at the video below from the head of Google's Webspam team, Matt Cutts (you can also look at his blog here ).  He is VERY definite about Google not caring less about how many hours you've spent crafting beautiful meta tags. That said, if you picked it up from the video, the description meta tag is still worth using, if only to entice potential visitors to your site.  It's the one we spend the most time on...
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Blogging for business

Blogging for business We often have new clients asking us about blogging for their business website.  "Do I need to do a blog?"  "Are blogs important for a business website?"  "How often do I need to do it?"  "How much time will it take?"  "What do I write about?"  "Can someone else do it for me?"  "I'll be away for 3 weeks and won't have time to blog - what do I do?" Do I need a blog? The answer is no.  But you don't need to SEO your website either - or have a website at all.  The truth is, blogging on a business website is an integral part of SEO and promotion.  Search engines have complicated algorithms to determine the relevancy of a site to the search phrase entered.  Google's algorithm purportedly looks at over 200 factors.  One of these is fresh content.  Blogging for your business is an...
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