Archive for the ‘Search Engine Optimization’ Category

Are you Google Mobile Friendly?

by Ryan Grassie - Mar. 27, 2015 at 4:04pm


Google’s new mobile friendly ranking algorithm will be launching on April 21st. But how do you know if your website qualifies to benefit from the rollout?

We do know that this algorithm will be much larger in impact compared to the Panda and Penguin algorithms, webmasters and website owners are kind of anxious about this release.

Last week, Google answered a bunch of questions in a Google+ hangout on this hot topic of this new mobile friendly ranking algorithm change. The three things we learned from this hangout were:

  • The algorithm will start rolling out the last week of April and will take a few days to a week to be active around the globe.
  • You are either mobile friendly or not, there are no degrees of mobile-friendliness in this release.
  • The fastest way to see if your web pages are mobile-friendly is to see if you have the mobile-friendly label in the live mobile search results now. If not, check the mobile-friendly testing tool, which should match the live Google search results, whereas the mobile usability reports in Google Webmaster Tools can be delayed based on crawl time. – Check out the tool here:

If you are not mobile friendly in the eyes of Google, some tweaks to your website can quickly change that. Contact us to help you out.

Top Blogging SEO Tips

by Ryan Grassie - Oct. 17, 2014 at 2:45pm

black seo

Focus on Long-Tail Keywords – Not Generic Ones.

When writing content for your blog or corporate site, it is very important not to jam a ton of keywords into a single blog post. Instead, focus on 1-2 keywords for each ariticle. It’s best to limit your amount of keywords to this number because 1) search engines like google and bing will actually penalize your post if it looks like you are jamming tons of keywords, and 2) it will keep you focused on a goal for your article or post. Of course more than one keyword may appear in your post; but the overall goal of the post should be focused enough to allow you to spend more time optimizing for just one or two targeted keywords.

Long-tail keywords may also be more efficient to use since your website visitors searching long-tail terms will often be more qualified then users searching for a generic term.

Where are the most SEO juicy parts of your posts to include these terms so you rank high in google? There are 4 important places where you should try to include your keywords:

a) Page Title

The title of your blog post should for sure include your keywords, but try to keep your long-tail keyword under 80 characters. The title of your article will be a search engine’s and reader’s first step in determining how relevant and important your content is, so including a keyword here is imperative.

b) Body

Mention your keywords at a normal pace throughout your post — don’t jam it in as many times as you possible can. Search engines like google will penalize any post they believe is using keyword mentions too many times for a particular keyword, so this requires close attention in your writing process.

c) URL

Search engines also look at your URL to figure out what your post is about. Your URL should reflect your title and content, so make sure the keywords you use are relevant to the article. If you have to trim your article URL down, make sure you keep your keywords in it.

d) Meta Description

Later in this blog article, we will get deeper into explaining meta descriptions. Your meta description is there to give search engines and your website users information about your blog post’s content. So be sure to use your long-tail term clearly here so Google and your website audience are well aware of the post’s content, but also keep in mind that how engaging the content matters for your conversion rates.

Include Meta Optimizations.

Meta optimization is not limited just to meta descriptions. Your page meta description is the additional text that appears on the search results that lets the user know what the link is all about.

The meta description is important because it gives your readers information they need to decide whether or not your content is what they are looking for.

Your meta description should include the long-tail keyword you are trying to rank on google for, because if you are doing blogging right, it’s representative of the contents of your article.

Optimize your Images.

Your blog posts should not only contain text for SEO targeting – you should also have images that help explain your page content. Search engines don’t just look for images they look for images with alt text embedded in them.

You can figure out an image’s alt text by placing your cursor over an image and a small box will appear that describes your image

Don’t use too many Headings.

Headings can help organize your blog content but you can overuse them and then they can actually be harmful to your rankings. If you have too many similar headings you will be penalized by search engines for having duplicate content.

Use URL structures that help your visitors.

The URL structure of your website should make it very simple for your visitors to understand the structure of your site and what content they are trying to find. Search engines love URL structures that make it simple for them and your website users to understand the content of that page.

For exmaple: “” makes much more sense then “”


Be Secure, Rank Higher

by Ryan Grassie - Aug. 7, 2014 at 1:58pm


Google today announced that they are going to be ranking secure websites higher then websites that are not secure. Using the https way of securing your website – this is almost always a very simple addition to your website on your website hosting side of things. Another way to get that edge on your competition.

The Future of Online Marketing

by Ryan Grassie - Oct. 11, 2012 at 12:25am


In the world of online marketing, social media and the art of SEO are evolving at an incredible pace.

Consider these interesting statistics: Google sites handle about 88 billion queries a month and twitter is now approaching 20 billion. Wild eh?

Also, Facebook added over 200 million users in less than 12 months and Hitwise is saying that Facebook tops Google in weekly web traffic now.

Social media is blazing hot, but is by no means mutually exclusive of search. Search has expanded beyond Google and marketers must now consider other search channels such as internal Facebook search and mobile search as channels where customers are now looking for products and services.

The cross-roads of search engine and social media innovations are in flux with dynamics of changing consumer preferences for information discovery, consumption and sharing.  In the speed of all this change is an opportunity for marketers to execute an active marketing strategy that converges the disciplines of search, social media, content and online public relations.

I believe the future of marketing brings the best of these disciplines together. To meet consumer needs, whether it’s B2B or B2C, it’s inevitable that PR will know SEO and Social Media Marketers with be versed in media relations.

Because there are so many online information sources, companies sales cycles are getting longer. Customers expect more than being presented with features and benefits followed by a call to action.

For marketers, it’s not better to just give more. “Better” is better. Better content, better visibility in all the places customers might looking or influenced by. It also means a better experience in brand / consumer interactions.

For example, online searchers expect not only to find what they’re looking for on a search engine, but to interact with the results through commenting, rating, joining as well as buying. A purchase is just the start of social engagement with customers and customer marketing with social media continues to be a growth area.

Active online marketing pays attention to those customer needs and creates a dynamic cycle of social and search interaction.

There are so many changes and much to look forward to in 2013 and beyond. Here are three areas in particular (of many) that I think marketers should pay attention to in the coming years:

Content Marketing –  Good content extends beyond the browser and includes mobile, social and any other kind of search.  This trend is only going to continue and get increasingly competitive for those that can’t afford professional writers.

Content Curation – The sheer volume of content out there now is overwhelming with social publishing platforms online and mobile making it incredibly easy to create and share. Original content writing is very expensive and creatively challenging in the long term. Content curation serves as an efficient model for marketers to engage consumers as a source of signal amongst the noise.

Social Commerce – Companies like Minneapolis based Alvenda are empowering ecommerce on Facebook with brands like Brooks Brothers, Delta Airlines and Best Buy. It’s still early days for social commerce but if companies can make it part of the social experience, I think it will serve as true channel for Social Media ROI.

I think the future of marketing is dynamic, challenging and full of promise for companies that can commit themselves to a process of testing, engagement, coordinating cross channel efforts and refinement.

Google Plus One and Your SEO Rankings

by Ryan Grassie - Jun. 27, 2012 at 1:21am


At first, this tool is going to be used for approving search results – a great way for Google to continue tweaking their rankings. But, that’s not all. Check out what the narrator says about the future of the Plus One button:

“…and soon you’ll be able to Plus One more than just search results. You’ll also find Plus One buttons on sites across the web, making it easy to Plus One pages after you have visited them.”

Right now, the +1 button is used just for search. If you search for “Ottawa Website Design” and decide the fourth or fifth page in the search results is better than the first, you can +1 that ranking, basically telling Google “this search result is the best for this keyword”. That’s powerful and Google will gladly integrate those results into their search rankings.

But, that’s only the start. With +1 in search results, webmasters have very little control over who votes for their site. However, Google is going a little further and this is where things get truly interesting. Imagine what happens when someone clicks the +1 button on a page of your website. Google now knows that someone thinks your content is useful. It’s the same as getting a backlink from another site – someone says “this guy knows his stuff”.

Of course, we won’t know for a little while how much of an impact the +1 button has on search rankings, but I think it’s pretty safe to assume Google will take it into account.

In fact, the head of the Web Spam division at Google – Matt Cutts-  has said in the past that they want to integrate social interaction into determining content quality. Now that the +1 button has been rolled out, it’s only a matter of time before this very social tool becomes an important part of their algorithm. After all, they track, monitor, and gather all the results from those clicks. You can bet they’ll use the data.

Further supporting this is a quote from the Webmaster Central blog:

“We expect that these personalized annotations will help sites stand out by showing users which search results are personally relevant to them. As a result, +1’s could increase both the quality and quantity of traffic to the sites people care about.
But the +1 button isn’t just for search results. We’re working on a +1 button that you can put on your pages too, making it easy for people to recommend your content on Google search without leaving your site.”

If there’s anything we know for sure, guessing Google’s intentions is tricky. But, with so much evidence pointing toward social integration into search and the +1 button finally rolled out, I can safely say that a smart webmaster and Internet marketer will keep a close eye on these tools. Soon enough, I believe this tool will become a fantastic resource to better connect with readers while improving rankings in Google.

For more details about the +1 button and Google’s plan for it, here is a useful link:

The Importance of Local Search Traffic in Ottawa

by Ryan Grassie - May. 16, 2012 at 4:21pm


Local search engine marketing is a big key to the success of many local businesses.

There are many local SEO techniques that can be used to achieve positive results from local marketing, but one major thing that some business owners often overlook is the concept of local search marketing.

Using the proper search engine marketing techniques will enable you to increase your business with local traffic. For example instead of targeting “Nike Shoes” instead target “Ottawa Nike Shoes” and because the term is local you have a much higher chance of success. We will get into the details of this more below.

Local Search Engine Optimization in Ottawa (or anywhere)

Local search engine optimization can be a little tricky, but by incorporating it into your marketing plan you can see an increase in sales that would not have been possible without this marketing technique.

Local search optimization can be achieved in a number of ways and can be especially important for small businesses.

Many people will perform a local search when looking for a particular product or service. This can be especially important for small business owners as most, if not all, of their business comes from within their local community.

This is why it is important to be sure your website is optimized for your location as well as your business.

Making sure your city or town and the surrounding areas are part of your local search engine optimization tactics is a key in being able to increase your business with local traffic.

If you do business in Ottawa, Ontario then you will want people in Ottawa to be able to find your business quickly and easily when doing a search for the products or services you offer.

By using local search optimization methods, not only will people in Ottawa be able to find your company when doing a search, but you can also get more traffic from people in surrounding areas like Kanata, Stittsville, Orleans, etc by optimizing results for those areas.

Optimizing for Local Ottawa Searches

Optimizing your website for local search results can be especially profitable due to the fact that people searching for something are more than likely interested in buying it.

There is a need or a want for the product or service, and by being able to find your product or service easily it will not only result in an increase in traffic, but an increase in sales as well.

If you would like to increase your business with local traffic by using local search engine optimization, you basically have three choices.

You can learn local search optimization techniques by educating yourself through the wealth of information available on the Internet, taking classes or courses in search engine optimization, or hiring a local search optimization company (ahem 😉 to do the work for you.

Whatever avenue you decide to take, increasing your business with local traffic is something that every business owner can achieve with the proper techniques.

Google Says Content, Not Tricks Is the Key to Optimization

by Ryan Grassie - May. 4, 2012 at 2:57pm


Just what we have been preaching to our clients for years. Google made some big moves in changing the way their algorithm ranks sites. The changes are designed to penalize “over-optimization.” What does over-optimization mean? Well, as a firm that avoid the use of tricks, favoring content to drive traffic – I can tell you that if you’ve been in marketing for more than a week, you’ve gotten a call from a firm that specializes in this – usually from India.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) firms charge big bucks for monthly services that include creating thousands of fake landing pages, creating “ping-backs” by commenting on other posts, and a number of other nefarious, but previously effective tactics.

So what is Google rewarding with the coveted top spots on searches? Content. They will be rewarding organizations that are “making great sites for users, not just algorithms.”

This trend is not new, but it is nice to get a rare peak behind the mysterious Google curtain as their comments make their recent trend into an “official” position. Article on the changes. 

This is fantastic for our clients and, quite frankly, a trend we’ve been seeing for years, albeit unofficial and never made public in the way Google did last week. It is high-quality content and smart, targeted optimization that gets results. Stay away from the tricks.

So what are the best practices? Here are just a few of ForceFive’s:

  • Creating a handful (not hundreds) of extremely relevant and targeted landing pages
  • Ensuring that your site is complete with meta tags, category tags,
  • Creating URLs with search friendly terms embedded
  • Making sure your keywords are peppered throughout the content
  • Including a Google xml sitemap so Google and other engines automatically see new pages
  • Backlinks from relevant sites – leverage your partners and help each other

Most importantly, your website is not a brochure that you print, put aside for a year and then refresh. Blogging on your site creates new, fresh content with keywords that will drive traffic. In this case, I want people looking for effective Google search tactics, websites that drive traffic, and Google search best practices.

Let us know how we can help you effectively drive traffic to your site – no tricks, just solid content. Another benefit of content over tricks? Tricks never strengthened a brand or create thought leadership the way blogs do.

Blogging with SEO in Mind

by Ryan Grassie - Mar. 2, 2012 at 1:29pm


Blogging is a fantastic way to create value to your website customers. But there is another major plus of online blogs – they naturally attract search engine traffic. Blogs already have optimized site architecture – meaning the way they are setup (or should be setup if done properly) makes them highly visibly and indexed by search engines. Most are set up with a clear navigation, where every page is set up to link back to the other main pages. They also have the inherent potential to be well-linked.

Blog Directories and Site Submission

If you haven’t already submitted your blog to some free directories, you are missing out on some great one-way links. But before you start searching for them and submitting, you should know a a few tips on how to optimize your blog. Then your new articles can help your site get the best keyword placement in the major search engines.

Blogs and SEO – Keywords

You have a choice to make. You can target a really general high traffic keyword you have little chance of ranking well for and get barely any traffic. Or you can shoot for a keyword that gets a moderate level of targeted traffic resulting in more leads and sales. They may not get you the most traffic, but they often bring the most profit. Keywords like this can be determined using any number of traffic estimating tools out there. The good ones also show the level of competition for any given keyword.

More Web Site Traffic and More Sales? Not Always

You may be surprised to learn that there isn’t always a correlation between high traffic and high sales. Many of the most profitable sites in the world get moderate traffic because their lucrative keywords result in a much higher ratio of visitors to buyers. Keep this in mind when writing blog articles and target more specific keyword strings when possible. Adding a local spin to your blog titles and content may be that difference. For example instead of targeting “Nike Shoes” if you target “Ottawa Nike Shoe Store” you will get much less traffic, but anyone who does find it and clicks on it surely is a highly targeted user.

Length of Search Query is a Factor

A recent article in Information Week stated that the highest conversion rates from search engine traffic comes from people who do four word queries. The great thing about your blog is that it can get so well-indexed that you have the potential to show up for any number of four word phrases that are relevant to your industry.

Target Your Blog for More Traffic and Sales

Targeting your blog discussion to a two or three word phrase that has a high yield of traffic, and yet has little competition, is not a dream of past Internet days. Another recent study revealed that surprisingly high percentages of search engine queries debuted as late as 2004. As long as there are new developments, new products, services and trends, you’ll never have a shortage of these terms if you learn how to discover them.

Inbound Links and Google Ranking

by Ryan Grassie - Mar. 1, 2012 at 2:31am


Inbound links are a very important part of any successful search engine optimization campaign. Inbound links are the number one factor in Google’s determination of your Page Rank, which has a major influence on your position in their search results. Since Google accounts for roughly 90% of the searches performed on the internet, inbound links are very important if you’re looking to reach the majority of internet users.

Inbound links are defined as links found elsewhere on the internet that direct users to your site only. Inbound links differ from reciprocal links, which occur when someone links to your site and your site links back to them in turn. While these do factor into Google’s Page Rank assessment and other search engine algorithms, they do not carry the same weight that one way, inbound links do. In addition to increasing your Page Rank and appealing to search engines, inbound links also work to increase traffic to your site.

There are different kinds of inbound links. In general, there are text and graphic based links. However, studies have shown that text based inbound links are more effective at both garnering more traffic and improving your Page Rank. In fact, depending on the text itself and its keywords, textual inbound links themselves can even have an effect on your rank and position.

Another important factor is the quality of your inbound links. In terms of page ranking, getting inbound links from just about anywhere can help. However, if the inbound link contains a relevant keyword to your site, Google will give it even more value. And when it comes to increasing traffic, the best inbound links come from sites with content relevant to yours. The better your traffic and the more inbound links you have, the better your search engine marketing strategy, so try to get inbound links from sites, directories and forums that are relevant to the subject matter of your own site.

Just remember – content is king! Google wants to show the most relevant sites related to the search term so having your page setup properly, and proving valuable content will get users to your site and they in turn will link to your site. Blogs can play a huge role in this.

Couple of ways to get inbound links:

  • Post comments to relevant forums with your url
  • Add your site to both paid and free directories in categories that are relevant to what you do
  • Have a blog with valuable fresh content that other can link to

WordPress and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

by Ryan Grassie - Feb. 24, 2012 at 1:42pm


WordPress, straight out of the box, comes jammed with search engine optimization goodies. It has built in features that guide a search engine through the posts, pages, and categories to help the search engine crawl your site and gather the information it needs to include your site within its database.

WordPress comes with several built in search optimization tools, including the ability to use .htaccess to create apparently static URLs called permalinks, blogrolling, and pinging. There are also a number of third party plugins and hacks which can be used for search engine optimization (SEO).

However, once you start customizing WordPress to meet your own needs, you may break some of those useful search engine friendly features. To maintain your WordPress site’s optimal friendliness towards search engine spiders and crawlers, here are a few tips:

Good, Clean Code

Make sure your site’s code validates. Errors in your code may prevent a search engine from moving through the site successfully.

Content Talks

Search engines can’t “see” a site. They can only “read” a site. Pretty does not talk to a search engine. What “talks” to a search engine are the words, the content, the material in your site that explains, shares, informs, educates, and babbles. Make sure you have quality word content for a search engine to examine and compare with all the parts and pieces to give you a good “score”.

Write Your Content with Searchers in Mind

How do you find information on the Internet? If you are writing something that you want to be “found” on the Internet, think about the words and phrases someone would use to find your information. Use them more than once as you write, but not in every sentence. Learn how search engines scan your content, evaluate it, and categorize it so you can help yourself get in good favor with search engines.

Content First

A search engine enters your site and, for the most part, ignores the styles and CSS. It just plows through the site gathering content and information. Most WordPress Themes are designed with the content as close to the top of the unstyled page as possible, keeping sidebars and footers towards the bottom. Few search engines scan more than the first third of the page before moving on. Make sure your Theme puts the content near the top.

Keywords, Links, and Titles Meet Content

Search engines do not evaluate your site on how pretty it is, but they do evaluate the words and put them through a sifter, giving credit to certain words and combinations of words. Words found within your document are compared to words found within your links and titles. The more that match, the better your “score.”

Content in Links and Images

Your site may not have much text, mostly photographs and links, but you have places in which to add textual content. Search engines look for alt and title in link and image tags. While these have a bigger purpose of making your site more accessible, having good descriptions and words in these attributes helps provide more content for search engines to digest.

Link Popularity

It is not how good your site is, it is how good the sites are that link to you. This still holds weight with search engine favoritism. It’s about who links to you. Blogrolls, pingbacks, and trackbacks are all built into WordPress. These help you link to other people, which gives them credit, but it also helps them link to you, connecting the “links.” The number of incoming links your site has that have been recognized by Google can be checked by typing into Google (other search engines have similar functions). Other ways to generate incomming links to your site include:
Add your site’s url to your signature on forum posts on other sites.

More information here.