Chris Raines: Hello there. Welcome to episode, I have to check my list here, 49-
Michael Utley: 49.
Chris Raines: ... of the Dodgeball Marketing Podcast and video podcast, if you're watching us on YouTube. I'm Chris.
Michael Utley: Hey, I'm Michael.
Chris Raines: This guy's Michael, and today we're going to talk about more. . . The title of this episode is More SEO Tools You Can Use. So I guess we've done another episode somewhere back there of SEO tools. These are both SEO tools and SEO processes you can use to enhance your SEO. A lot of these are softwares and tools you can use, but some of them are processes. Michael, I'm going to interview you. . . I'm going to. . . I can't talk. Let me back up a little bit. I'm going to interview you for this one since you're the local SEO guru here. Let's get started. First is local visibility listing tools. This is mostly for local businesses that serve local areas. But Michael, talk about local visibility tools and what people should use.
Michael Utley: Yeah, a couple that we like Synup, S-Y-N-U-P. Another one is Advice Local. These are platforms that you can use to manage your directory listings. If you're working with Dodgeball Marketing or DodgeballSEO, and you're in one of our programs, we do this for you so you don't need to do this in addition. But if you're trying to do DIY online marketing, this is a good thing to know about. Your local visibility, it's really how you appear across the ... The way I like to say it is, they're the "maps and apps", so maps and applications that use local information.
Chris Raines: So like let's put a name on some of those.
Michael Utley: Yeah, so a map—
Chris Raines: A map would be one of those. . .
Michael Utley: Maps would be an app. It's a very popular app on smartphones, and it uses reviews—
Chris Raines: Maps would be Yahoo Maps or MapQuest or Google Maps, yeah.
Michael Utley: Yeah, Bing Maps, Google maps, all those, and so, yeah, those are, those are different things, and they're pulling data from basically some big data warehouses. So if you use one of these tools as an interface to get your data verified and into that syndicated platform, then that gets pulled into a lot of other websites and maps and apps, and so using one of those is good. You can go and run your URL through most of these types of sites and get a score that says, "Hey, here's how you're doing," and we can help you. But using one of those is a really good way to make sure that your information is being managed. It's complete, correct information. It's being pushed out to all the places.
Michael Utley: We're giving away the secret sauce with this, but this is part of what we do as part of our SEO programs, our SEO packages. But it's a good thing for people to know and understand, and it has the benefit. . . It has a couple of benefits. One is it creates verified information so real people are actually seeing it. If they're on Google Maps and they're trying to get to you, they can see the correct phone number. But also, it signals to search engines that you're alive and open for business because they see all these inbound links to the website. So, yeah.
Chris Raines: Yeah, and the other thing to me, it seems like this would be if you moved.
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Chris Raines: You could do all this manually. You could update all of the maps and apps yourself mainly, create an account, but if your business moved locations, you would have to update 30 different things. But it sounds like, with this, you would just update it on the app and it would populate it. Is that right?
Michael Utley: Yeah, that's right. That's correct, and a lot of map and app management comes into play when you have multiple locations. We do a lot of marketing for. . . in the healthcare industry for companies that have 5, 10, 20, 25 locations. So we use a central platform in a way to manage that data so that we're maintaining updated COVID hours, updated summer hours, updated holidays, a change in a URL, a change in a description. We might have services listed in the description. We may want to retire that service or add a new service. So manually updating thousands of maps and apps listings is not the best way to do it, so we do it through these platforms.
Chris Raines: Yep. Number two, consider using an SEO plugin.
Michael Utley: Yeah. This is what I would think of, and the one that is the most popular in WordPress. It's Yoast. Yoast is a popular plugin and we're real big fans of-
Chris Raines: Y-O-A-S-T.
Michael Utley: Yeah, Y-O-A-S-T. Another CRM that we use or excuse me, another CMS that we use, content management system, is Craft, and so there are SEO plugins for craft. They all have different features and benefits. I would treat these as the training wheels of how to think about SEO. A lot of what Yoast is doing is making sure that your target keyword is in your title. Then it's really helping you think about keyword density, and a lot of real SEO folks or Google folks right now would say, if you're talking about keyword density, you're not doing it right. That's true, except for the fact that it still works. So we can listen to that and smile and nod at them. But in reality, more pages, more keywords works better than less pages, less keywords.
Michael Utley: So Yoast is just a good way to start to get a sense of keyword density and how it works. The trade-off with these tools is they're really doing things that they're better at automating, and they're not good at doing things that they obviously can't automate. A tool is only as good as what the inputs can allow it to do. Yoast is. . . suffers from those limitations. It's not the same as having an SEO agency or a real person thinking about your content. So if you're developing content for SEO, you want to make sure that you've got a plan for your keywords for that page of content and utilize your keywords appropriately in your URL, your page title, if there's a hero area, your hero copy, and in your supporting page content, in your paragraphs and in links to the page.
Michael Utley: But Yoast is not necessarily going to do that in as readable that way as a person would. None of this replaces people, but I would say being conversant with these tools is really helpful in a training wheels way to get familiar with what search engines see when they look at a webpage.
Chris Raines: Yeah, great. Number three is Google Search Console. So using Google Search Console specifically to fix crawl errors. So it might be helpful first to identify what Google Search Console is and then tell people how they might use it.
Michael Utley: Yeah. Google's giving web developers and SEO professionals more and more tools for doing their job well. Google Analytics has been around for years. It's the most popular well-known Google tool, but I would say number two after that for my money is Google Search Console. Google Search Console is like a monitor of the connection between your website and their search index. One of the benefits of Search Console is once you claim your website and you have. . . you're connected, you've got Google Search Console and your website connected, you'll receive alerts. If there's a usability alert, you'll receive an email, and so that's really good. What you want to do is make sure that you've gone through the setup process, and then you just want to start squashing bugs. If you've got any alerts that are in there, it may not be really hurting your business, but you just want to clear them out.
Michael Utley: It's appropriate. With a lot of SEO, we say the work is never done. I saw an SEO professional say it's like house cleaning. It could always be better, but it might be done for today or you do a little bit every day. SEO is that way. But with Search Console, I would say that you want to get this to 100%. If you have Search Console telling you something as a problem, go ahead and treat it with your web developer as a, this has to be fixed, type situation. Now, as they've gotten more robust, they've started to identify things that have more to do with preference, but these are factors that impact SEO. So if you have elements that are too close together, or you have some different things that are just not fitting what they think is good SEO, they're going to tell you about that more now with Search Console than in the past.
Michael Utley: But I would say, just go ahead and treat it like it's Google's world, we just live in it, and get your website into alignment with Search Console. Some of the other things, well, real quick, some of the other things it's going to give you is whether or not you're getting correctly indexed. If you have new pages, new content, and you want to make sure that that's being indexed, you can go and use Search Console to see some of that stuff. So this is different than Google Analytics. It's not redundant with Google Analytics. It's a little bit like what we used to do is use Google Analytics for seeing what was happening after a site was live and it was indexed, but we would just go out and behave as a consumer in the search tool in Google. Just do a search to see if a page was getting indexed.
Michael Utley: So we used to have to go do things like get a string of text and publish a unique string of text to the page and then go try submit the URL to Google through a URL submit page that was wide open and not really managed. Then go see if we could do that search in quotes and get that page to come up. That was how we could verify to know that a page was indexed. Well, now we can go in and have a lot more control over where we are with the index, both for new pages and for entire new websites. So, yeah, Google Search Console is really great.
Chris Raines: Cool, and number four, this is going to sound really similar, I'm guessing, to Google Search Console, but Bing has a tool called Bing Webmaster Tools that can give you the similar errors and site crawls and things like that. So anything different to people. . . Am I correct in that, like Bing-
Michael Utley: Yeah, that's it.
Chris Raines: Okay. So talk about Bing Webmaster.
Michael Utley: We'll treat this with a little less. . . If you're watching this section, there's a clip in Bing Webmaster Tools. I would also watch the clip on using Google Search Console that's part of this episode, or just watch the whole episode and you'll get it all. But yeah, Bing Webmaster Tools is a totally separate install and set up from Google Search Console. The reason it's called Bing Webmaster Tools is basically that it used to be. . . Google's product used to be called Google Webmaster Tools and it became Google Search Console. So Bing Webmaster Tools is a separate tool. Yeah, totally. Load Bing Webmaster Tools and get your websites set up to be connected with it and monitor for errors. If you see a problem, if you have something that comes in, go ahead and treat it like this has to be fixed. I would say that any issue you have with Google or Bing, you want to treat it just like red alert.
Michael Utley: Bing identifies these things as they happen, and you can get set up to get alerts in the same way that you came with Google. It's a different set of requirements. It's not. . . I would say in my opinion, I think Google has been a little bit more robust in equipping websites. They were sort of internet native, whereas Microsoft came into it later in the game and was later to develop their own browser even after Firefox. So yeah, I think, this is. . . it's going to look and feel different. It may feel a little bit like a non-event. A lot of times, if you're fixing things for Google Search Console, it will also correct it for Bing, but yeah, go ahead and treat it like a, this has to happen sort of install and set up and process.
Chris Raines: Yep, great. Number five, fifth, and final more SEO tools you can use is a CDN or a content delivery network. Michael, what is the CDN and how is it different than say a shared hosting plan with Bluehost, or HostGator, or some of those things? I actually don't think I know the difference between those.
Michael Utley: Yeah. One of the. . . These things have been around for a while. I've been using these, gosh, I'd have to say at least 10 years. I'm just checking in my notes here, but CloudFlare is one of the ones—
Chris Raines: Probably the biggest one.
Michael Utley: So just to note here, many use CloudFlare for what it offers in speed and security, but there are numerous options to determine budget and priorities. What a CDN is doing is it's spreading your content around the planet to servers that are closer to the user, physically closer, and that are just set up to drop that asset out to the internet at lightning speed.
Chris Raines: Yeah, the closer you are the faster it's going to do that.
Michael Utley: Closer you are, the faster you are, yeah. This doesn't change, or offset, or take away any of the other things that you could do to improve your website. If you have an image that's too big, that's on your website and you need to shrink it down and get it right-sized for the display area, that's still true. So this doesn't. . . this isn't a magic bullet that solves bad SEO in other areas. But what it does is it gets your entire library of assets out to where they can be served faster. There are different ways that this can be implemented. There are a lot of different settings and features of these networks, and they don't always have a real big bang for the buck. It depends on your business. But I would say that if you're doing something that is asset-heavy and you're serving a—
Chris Raines: If you're a local news station that's got a bunch of video.
Michael Utley: Yeah, it'd be worth looking at, but-
Chris Raines:. . .posted on your site.
Michael Utley: . . .sometimes it's going to be harder to get the benefit out of it for different situations. Yeah, but I would say the way I would treat a CDN, because at the end of the day, this is a cost-benefit analysis, these things carry costs to use them. So what you're going to have to do, and you can roll out these programs and negotiate to not get into a 12 or 24 month deal with them, but try to run it and see, and test your pagespeed before and after. Also, you can do some analysis with these vendors and ask them, "What are you willing to tell us that our page delivery is going to improve with your platform?" They'll have their standard stuff, but they need to be able to tell you, "Yes, we're going to be able to help you," before you commit the cost.
Michael Utley: But yeah, if you're doing something like ecommerce, you may have not just one product image, but you may have 5 or 10 different images for a particular product. If you do, you really want all that loaded up so that when the user gets around to clicking image two, image three, image four, all that stuff's already been served and loaded. So the faster that can be, the better. This is a really big factor for ecommerce sites. It's a really big factor, I'd say for high-traffic websites, Chris, and then where those hosting companies come in, I would say faster hosting is better too, but it's a separate issue, yeah.
Chris Raines: If you're using a platform like Shopify for ecommerce, Shopify has already got that taken care of for you.
Michael Utley: Yeah, so depending on what you're using, you may already have this box checked, and that's really more of a web developer question. But yeah, you don't have to do it for every situation, but in a lot of situations, this is one of those little tips and tricks that can make the difference.
Chris Raines: Great.
Michael Utley: Yeah.
Chris Raines: All right. Well, that's it for this episode. Please follow us on, Michael, DodgeballSEO on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, all the places where content happens.
Michael Utley: Yes, subscribe and like, and drop your comments below as always.
Chris Raines: All right.
Michael Utley: Thanks, everybody.