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The Official Blog For A2 Hosting

Delivering the top tips for achieving the highest-performance for your website and getting the most of your marketing efforts.

  • Barnacle SEO For Small Business Marketing

    If you think of the one keyword you would like your website to rank well on, do you rank on the first page in the search engine rankings for that keyword? I would guess 99% of us would say we don't rank for that keyword. That's because it's probably very competitive and there's only 10 spots on the front page. The majority of the sites linking in the top page are probably quite a bit larger than your site. If you're tired of being outranked by those huge sites with SEO budgets that likely exceed what your site generates in an entire year, you may want to try Barnacle SEO.


    Barnacle SEO isn't anything revolutionary. In fact Will Scott of Search Influence coined the term back in 2011. However the strategy is making waves again, especially as Google recommends that you stop link building.


    The idea behind Barnacle SEO is simple; attach yourself to a larger site then use that site as a vehicle to get noticed in the search results. However the goal isn't necessarily to increase your search engine rankings, but rather to increase your exposure and brand awareness when those high ranking results are clicked.


    The strategy is pretty simple:


    • Identify the highly searched keywords relevant to your business (don't pick niche keywords)
    • Identify the sites ranking for the those sites
    • Identify linking opportunities on those sites
    • Execute your linking strategy


    Now you may think that the only real opportunities are to setup profiles on sites like Yelp and Angie's List. If you have already set these up, great! There are other opportunities though like adding annotations to Wikipedia. The name of the game is to increase your site's exposure, not necessarily link building. If you do get link juice, that's definitely a bonus. Just remember to be creative when identifying your linking opportunities!

  • Google’s New Mobile Ranking Criteria

    This week Google announced new mobile based criteria which will affect your search result ranking for users searching from a mobile device. This makes sense, Google wants to return higher quality mobile pages to users on mobile devices. But it means if pages on your site aren't responsive or the responsive design doesn't meet Google's criteria, you may see those pages drop in the results.

    Fortunately, Google has provided a tool which you can use to check your site. It will let you know what you need to improve on your site in order to avoid being penalized when these new criteria go live April 21st.


    Your site may be considered mobile unfriendly if it meets any of the following criteria:

    • Text is too small to read
    • Links are too close together
    • A mobile viewport is not set
    • Content is wider than your screen

    For users who are using a popular CMS like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and more Google has made guides on how to make your site more mobile friendly. This is part of Google's guide to modern web fundamentals, which is a fairly comprehensive resource which contains Google's ideas on web design best practices.

    Mobile web traffic has of course been on the rise for the last decade, and that will only continue. It's worth taking a few fairly easy steps to improve not only your site's ranking in the mobile search results, but the user experience of your mobile visitors.

  • Get Your Sites Ready For These Google Updates

    Google is constantly tinkering with their algorithm. They update it over 500 times per year on average. Many of their updates are pretty minor. However over the course of the past few weeks, Google has two very important algorithm updates that you'll want to make sure you're prepared for.


    Death Of Doorway Pages


    Google has recently announced that they are cracking down on the ranking of doorway pages. What is a doorway page? Google defines them as


    "Doorways are sites or pages created to rank highly for specific search queries. They are bad for users because they can lead to multiple similar pages in user search results, where each result ends up taking the user to essentially the same destination. They can also lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination."


    The struggle here is to understand how a doorway page differs from a landing pages, and there is a fine line as many characteristics of a doorway page are SEO tactics we've been taught to use over the years. I struggle with the difference myself. Are you curious if you're using a doorway page? If a page meets the following characteristics, it could very well be a doorway page.

    • The page is hard to navigate to from other portions of your site.
    • The content of the page is virtually similar to other pages on your site aside from focusing on a different keyword (i.e. same content, just different city names).
    • The page/site was designed specifically for ranking in search engines.
    • The page is an intermediary page, one designed to direct your visitors to the final destination.


    You'll want to decide what your traffic generation strategy will be moving forward if you're using doorway pages to drive traffic to your site. If history has shown us anything though, Google will send out a warning before they start dropping sites in rankings. While the death of doorway pages appears in this case to be more of a warning shot, it would not be surprising to see Google begin to drop the rankings of the pages that these doorway pages are to.


    Is it worth the risk to keep your doorway pages live?


    Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly!


    The other major Google algorithm update is less ambiguous than their doorway update, but just as important. Starting on April 21st, Google will be increase the mobile-friendliness of a site as a ranking signal. This will have a "significant impact" on search results. The importance of mobile traffic cannot be understated. Mobile traffic accounts for over half of all eCommerce traffic.


    Learn more about Google's mobile ranking criteria.

  • Contributing To WordPress’ Five For The Future Movement

    In 2014 Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic, announced a plan to ensure the growth and stability of WordPress in the future as a free open source platform with 'Five for the Future'.  Essentially any company deriving revenue from WordPress should concentrate 5% of their time and energy generally devoted to WordPress related work to helping improve WordPress Core.  “Improving WordPress Core” is a very generalized statement, it can encompass anything from developing for WordPress, documenting WordPress, training the community or even responding to questions in the WP forum.


    After all, WordPress is one of the most feature-rich Content Management Systems ever made. The user interface for administering WordPress is quite possibly the most intuitive available.  Users of WordPress fit into pretty much any category you can think of from the casual blogger to Fortune 500 companies. Feature rich and extensible, WordPress can be used for nearly any type of website you can think of.  It is the open source nature of WordPress that allows it to transcend the blogging platform that it was initially designed to be anything the user wants. However, as it grows it requires more and more attention of its community to keep it up to date and stable.


    A2 Hosting is committed to ensure the stability of WordPress and will be participating in the Five for the Future movement.  There are many ways that A2 Hosting believes that it can help.  First, we will be sending representatives to WordPress Meetup help sessions in the Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit area.  Meetup help sessions are a great way for anyone having an issue with a WordPress site to get one-on-one help with their issue.  We are also developing a series of talks for WordCamps and WordPress Meetups as well as creating plugins to make optimizing and securing a WordPress site much easier.


    We look forward to participating in Five for the Future and encourage our community to do the same.

  • Is It Time To Stop Link Building?

    We've been warned about the potential dangers of link building schemes for years. Most site owners are well aware of the threat of having their website blacklisted by Google and avoid such schemes. Natural, white hat link building is still OK, isn't it? According to a recent Google+Hangout, it sure sounds like Google is telling us that link building should be avoided.


    Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller was asked, “Is link building, in any way, good?” His answer was quite interesting:


    "In general, I’d try to avoid that. So that you are really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content. Make it easy, maybe, put a little widget on your page, if you like this, this is how you can link to it. Make sure that the URLs on your web site are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier.


    We do use links as part of our algorithm but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps."


    By specifically mentioning the importance of making sure your content is easy to link to, it appears Google is encouraging link baiting. If you're unfamiliar with link baiting, it's simply offering great content that other sites link to not because you submit your content or ask them to link to it, but because they want to link to it. Link baiting is great because not only does it drive more visitors to your site, but others are doing free work for you.


    Link baiting doesn't necessarily have to be articles either. Think of the items you link to on your site and social media profiles. Link baiting content can include:




    *Lists (Top 5 or Top 10 etc.)

    *Help Guides


    *Contest and Giveaways


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