Monday, September 19, 2016

The Ridiculously Amazing Case Study about What Basic SEO Can Do

This post is by Cathie Dunklee-Donnell, Advanced SEO Analyst and owner of Ducktoes Computer Services Inc. Ms. Dunklee-Donnell is certified In Advanced SEO by Bruce Clay and Yoast SEO. Also trained at Pubcon Master Training several years in a row.

I'm doing a case study to show how basic SEO can help a website's ranking in search. Since it can be difficult to tell what particular elements of optimization are causing changes in ranking, I picked a domain that had no prior optimization and did not rank at all for any query except for its own name. Then I did some onsite optimization, internal links, and a few high ranking links. I used only white hat techniques, meaning techniques that follow Google Webmaster Tools guidelines. Now I'll see if and how the ranking changes and how quickly.

Site to be Optimized: The Salon G Website is the site I'm optimizing. It was designed without a title and little text to create an artsy minimalistic style, a choice made by the web designer and the owner of the site. The owner also didn't want SEO at that time. As a result, the site never ranked for its keywords.

As part of the onsite optimization, I added a title and some text to the home page which is why you can see one below.  Before then, the site had no title and very little text.

The front page has a title and text now.

The site is one of many inner city hair salons Calgary: The site and domain are four years old.

Day One

  1. Keyword research: I did keyword research with Google Adword's Keyword Planner and found that "hair salons Calgary" is the best money keyword with 1300 searches a month and low competition.
  3. Yoast and metas: After installing, Yoast SEO plugin, I added the money keyword to the title, meta-description, and body text. But the money keyword Hair Salons Calgary seemed awkward and user-unfriendly within the title, so I reversed the order of the words to Calgary Hair Salon. Awkward or not, I added "hair salon Calgary" to the body text anyway.
  5. Added body text: Speaking of body text, the site had almost none on the home page, not even a title, so that is one reason the site isn't ranking after four years. I wrote a bit of text but not the 300 words that is recommended for ranking.  I also added some synonyms and closely related terms such as hair cutter, hair stylist, and the singular version of another money keyword "Calgary hair salon."
  6. Added title: I also added a title using one of the site's keywords.  The lack of a title has serious SEO repercussions which can easily be avoided by adding one. Some SEO experts say the title is the single most important element in a site's SEO. Websites should always have a unique title for every page.  
  8. Internal links: Since internal links are important for onsite SEO, I created some on all the other pages with the exact match anchor text: "hair salons Calgary" linking to the front page.
  10. End of day: I checked the rankings of these keywords: Hair salons Calgary, Hair salon Calgary, Calgary hair salons, Calgary hair salon, Calgary hair stylist. The site is not ranking at all within the top 100 results for any of these keywords.

Day Two

At the beginning of Day Two, is not yet ranking for any keyword, including its best money keyword, "hair salons Calgary."
  1. Google Search Console: I added the site to Google Search Console and configured it as per below. A more detailed process is outlined in this post about how to set up Google Search Console.  Here is an infographic of the same information.

    • Created a gmail.
    • Added properties to Google Search Console.
    • Verified through Yoast SEO plugin.
    • Set preferred domain.
    • Picked international preference.
    • Added sitemap.
    • Created .htacess
    • Created robots.txt file.

  2. NAP and site description. I wrote out the NAP, keywords, and site description for use in citations and link building.

  3. Built links. I gave the site some high ranking links with these Majestic trust flows:

    Link one: 68
    Link two: 46
    Link three: 83
    Link four: 71
    Link five: 42
    Link six: 47
    Link seven: 84
As far as previous backlinks already possesses, Majestic found 3 and gives the site a trust flow of zero. Ahrefs found 30 links and gives the site a domain ranking of 13 and a url ranking of  4. Google Search Console, so newly set up, didn't find any backlinks.

Amazingly, at the end of day two, the site is already ranking for one keyword. It is the 84th listing for "Calgary hair stylist." But still not ranking for the best money keyword, hair salons Calgary.

Position on Google search:
Calgary hair stylist: 84

Day Three

I stopped doing SEO on this day, but the site is now ranking for several keywords, including the best money "hair salons Calgary." It's in rank 63, on the 7th page of Google, in only three days!

Position on Google Search:
Calgary hair stylist: 76
Calgary hair salon: 83
Calgary hair salons: 70
hair salons Calgary: 63
hair salon Calgary: 90

Week One

At the end of the first week, the rankings continue to go up.

Position on Google Search:
Calgary hair stylist: 62
Calgary hair salon: 77
Calgary hair salons: 60
hair salons Calgary: 49
hair salon Calgary: 90

If you look at the money keyword "hair salons Calgary", you'll see it went from not ranking at all when I began optimizing, to ranking on the fifth page within the first week. This shows that while basic SEO does not place a previously non-ranking site on the first page within a week, it can propel a site up 51 positions within the first 100 results in the same amount of time.

Week Two

At the end of Week Two, is ranking on the fourth page of Google results, better than I would have estimated at the beginning of this case study.  With only basic SEO done onsite and a few high-ranking links, it went from Nth (not ranking) to 34 in two weeks.

And this is significant because the site didn't rank at all for four years before I optimized it a bit. The only change to the site was the optimization I did and the seven backlinks I gave it.

Position on Google Search:
Calgary hair stylist: 54
Calgary hair salon: 69
Calgary hair salons: 45
hair salons Calgary: 34
hair salon Calgary: 66

A month after creating links for, it's interesting to note that Majestic has only found two of the eight links I made and ahrefs only three. Google Search Console has only found three as well.

If only a small bit of SEO is so effective, think of what a full SEO campaign could do for this or any site. Of course not every site or campaign will go up as fast as this one has. Nor is this site on the first page of search results which is the only spot on Google which is effective for increased business and revenue.

Yet the power of SEO is clearly demonstrated by this case study.  SEO should not be underestimated or dismissed as a potential way to increase traffic and revenue to a business. If you'd like more information about SEO for your website please see our SEO (Calgary) site.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Why Being Mobile Friendly is so Important

Great Video on Being Mobile Friendly
I found this great and funny video on mobile responsiveness by Eric Enge and Mark Traphagan of Stone Temple.


As Eric and Mark point out in such a fun and informative way, being mobile friendly is an important part of SEO and will effect your ranking, especially on mobile devices. Google wants mobile friendly sites.  And what Google wants, Google gets, or should get, if you want to rank higher, that is. That's important, even essential for SEO, but is not the quintessential, absolutely tiptop, epic, most important, mother of all reasons to be mobile friendly.

The Quintessential, Tiptop, Epic, Most Important, Mother of all Reasons
So what is this mother of all reasons? To be kind to visitors, of course. Didn't your mother teach you that? When you make your site mobile friendly, you are also making it visitor friendly. Visitors come to your site because they need your services or are interested in your content. Many will come on their smart phones or tablets.  They want to do business with you.

Not a Good Welcome Mat
If you make it difficult for these potential business clients to see or use your site, they will become extremely frustrated.  And they are only trying to find your address, for instance, or to read some compelling content (you do have compelling content, don't you?) and are struggling to touch the links or scrolling sideways to read.  Your site's mobile unfriendliness is putting huge obstacles in their way. Not a good welcome mat.. And also a good way to get a higher than average bounce rate.

Your Raison d'Être
Never forget that visitors are who you made your site for, and you should make things easy for them. Visitors are clients and are the whole and sole purpose of making a website in the first place. They are your raison d'être.

Being kind to visitors, and making them happy with a great site and content, is also what Google wants, and is excellent for SEO and ranking, by the way. 

How to do it?
Here`s a short guide on how to make your site mobile responsive by Joshua Van Oosten, web developer at Ducktoes Computer Services.  Also here is another post about how Ducktoes's site is mobile friendly now.

Need More Help?
Ducktoes Web Design of Calgary can make your site mobile friendly if you don't have the time to do it yourself.  We do it all the time.

Friday, August 5, 2016

SEO for Beginners Subreddit!

Hey, we've started an SEO for Beginners subreddit on  Check it out! You can ask for help on SEO for your site or help others.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ghost Referral Spam is Gone?

I first heard the news on the podcast SEO 101 with hosts Ross Dunn and John Carcutt: Google analytics spam was gone. Wonderful news! Yay, yay, yay, yay. (That's me dancing around the room and high fiving myself.) No longer would we have to filter the spam out of Google Analytics results to get truer data. Google had gotten rid of it. 

But could this really be true? When I googled this news, I couldn't find anything about it anywhere. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch.

I searched again. Then I found Conor Treacy's mention on Local Search forum. He offered this link to an article on SEM.  Conor has also written his own article on the disappearance.  Right on, Conor, SEM, and SEO 101 Ross and John!  Weird, such a big thing and only a few people talking about it and certainly not Google.

If it is gone, then why is no one talking about it?  Maybe no one is paying attention. Because if you did pay attention, you would have seen a drop in traffic in your Google Analytics data and reports starting in February or March. It's not traffic you'd ever miss, because with its loss you should have a lower bounce rate and a longer average session duration, a good, indeed excellent, thing.

Here is the content within the referral tab results of a site before Google started getting rid of the ghost referral spam.

You can see that the referrals shown are all ghost referral spam and that it is giving the site a very high bounce rate and low average session duration.

Now see the results after Google had started getting rid of the ghost spam.

As you can see, the bounce rate has only improved slightly and the average time on site has gotten worse, because there are still ghost referrals. I gave them a grey ghostly pallor in the above image as they deserve. So maybe this is why few people are mentioning the disappearance of ghost spam, Google hasn't been able to get rid of it all.

You can also see some real referrals from Yahoo, Cylex, Facebook, and Newswire beneath the ghost ones and how that traffic has a much better bounce rate and session duration.  That is why no spam in referrals would be so ideal and why I look forward to this happening in the future.  I hope Google will filter the heck out of the spam.  Otherwise our traffic in GA is not accurate. That is, unless we filter it ourselves, a difficult job.

Ghost referral spammers don't really go to your website at all, it's not real traffic, that's why the word ghost.  Somehow these companies are spamming Google Analytics with false traffic so people like us will notice the urls in our analytics data and go to their, the spammers', websites. They get traffic from their fake traffic, so they can sell us something or give us malware or something else not so fun or funny.  So don't go there.  We don't want to encourage them.

If you need help with your SEO or Google Analytics give us a call 403-219-3031.  Or go to our SEO webpage.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Be the Site Google Wants to See

To do a good job of online marketing for yourself and others you have to have some sense of what Google wants.

So what does Google want?

The answer is, of course:

Money. Google is a business like any other.  They want and need to make a profit. Millions of people use Google's search engine because it provides excellent results for almost any query. Along with those excellent results, Google serves ads, generating a huge profit.  In 2015 Google generated almost 67.39 billion dollars in ad revenue.

If Google no longer provided good search results, they'd lose the visitors to their search engine and all the revenue generated from those searchers when they click on the ads. That would be a staggering loss for them.

Which leads to the next question:

 What does Google not want?

Spam. They don't want manipulation of their search results so poor results are returned instead of excellent ones. In other words, Google doesn't want people to trick them with black hat or grey hat SEO  into serving poor sites when others would be better. Ultimately this would wreck their search engine and their business. They're not about to let that happen. That is why they've developed their search algorithm and Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, Pigeon, and all the other updates that are safeguarding the quality of their search engine. They will cut you off at the knees if they see you trying to trick them by manipulating their results. You'll be penalized in no time flat with a manual or algorithmic penalty.

What do you need to do then to make your site optimized for Google search? Make your site a search result Google wants to see and, more importantly, would love to return in response to queries.

How do you do that?  With excellent content that users are actually looking for and by making your site attractive and user friendly.  Also by letting Google know about your site's search worthiness by signaling authority and relevance.  There are hundreds of things you can do.  It's a lot of work but it is worth it.

If you want to learn how to do this SEO work yourself read this blog and many others.  If you don't have time, hire an ethical and quality SEO company that will do this for you.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Google Analytics - The Second Baby Step of SEO

So you have Google Search Console set up and are ready for the next baby step on the road to SEO greatness (and standing among the SEO grown ups.) The next baby step is, drum roll please, setting up Google Analytics.  This will be very exciting, I promise, as only things SEO can be.

  1.  To set up Google Analytics, you first need to login to your Google account, the account where your Google Search Console and your Gmail account reside, and go to
  2. Click on "Sign In." See red oval.

  3. Next create an account for your business or personal website, blog, and mobile apps. For instance create an account for your business, and choose either the name of your business or some helpful description that will help you identify it should you create more accounts later. To create the account, click the "Admin" tab.

  4. Fill in the New Account Form.

  5. Create your properties within your account. For instance, create a property for your website, another for your blog, and another for your mobile app if you have one.  Each will have its own tracking code. You can also have a separate account for each property if you want. Google Support has more detailed information about Accounts and Properties in their Google Analytics Support site.
  6. Now you're cooking, good looking. I told you this was exciting.  Next you'll need to put in the tracking code into every web page you want to track. Go to Admin, then Tracking Code.  You'll see a script.  Highlight it to select it, then copy it by hitting Ctrl-C.  Paste it with a Ctrl-V, on every page, right after the opening body tag if this is an html-based site, that is, put it just after this:<body>
  7.  Or if it is a WordPress site, you'll want to paste just the account number in an analytics plug-in, which you download within your Dashboard. I usually use Yoast's version because I use Yoast's SEO plug-in too.

  8. Here's a guide to using the Yoast analytics from those excellent folks at Yoast itself.

  9. Now you'll want to check what you've done and see if it is working. To do this log in to your Google Analytics account and go to the new property you want to check. Then open a tab in your browser and go to the website itself. Keep that tab open. Go back to Analytics.
  10. Select: Real-Time > Overview.  You should see a number 1 meaning you have a visitor on your website.  If there are more visitors you'll have a bigger number. It should look like this:

So you did it and are well on your way to SEO awesomeness!  Applause.  There is a lot more to learn about Google Analytics (you could spend a lifetime) but now your site is added and collecting data.  

If you'd like more help please visit our SEO site and contact us..  We're in Calgary, Alberta but can help anyone, anywhere, remotely as well.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Google Search Console - The Very First Baby Step of SEO

You want to learn SEO, but where to start? The very first baby step on the road to becoming a great SEO analyst standing among the grown ups (or doing your own SEO for your own website) is to get a Google Search Console account previously known as Google Webmaster Tools.  It is a must for anyone wanting to crank the rank of their site and help the right people find you. It is also a must for any webmaster or site owner wanting to enhance their website and use best practices for web design and maintenance.

Google Search Console Training

Video Tutorial
Here's a short video about how Search Console and Google Webmaster Tools can help:

Webmaster Academy

Google also has an excellent course for webmasters called Webmasters Academy.  Within this is course is section 3.1 to help you set up and use the webmaster tools:  Manage your Site with Google Webmaster Tools.

Get a Google Search Console Account

Every website should have a Google Search Console account.  This is the best way to signal Google that your site exists and needs to be indexed. Then you can tie it into your Google Analytics.

How to Get One

To get a Google Search Console account you'll need to have a Gmail account.  If you don't have one go to and sign up.  Once you have a gmail account, go to". Once you're there, click on "ADD A PROPERTY" in the upper right hand corner of the Search Console.  Of course it will say your name and not "Cathie" in your account but the red rectangle with the ADD A PROPERTY will be the same and in the same place.

Verifying your Site with HTML Site

Now comes the daunting part for SEO beginners: Verifying your site.  That means verifying that you’re the owner of the site.  This takes a little know how no matter which of the methods you use:

  • Uploading (with FTP client) an html file to the server.
  • Adding a meta tag to your website’s HTML within the header or if your site is a WordPress site within your WordPress dashboard, using an SEO plugin such as Yoast.
  • Adding a new DNS record to your domain account with your hosting company.
  • Use your Google Tag Manager account.
  • Use your Google Analytics  account.

My Preferred Method with an HTML Site

I think putting a meta tag within the HTML of your site is the easiest way to verify. If you have a web designer or webmaster then ask them to help you.  If not, you'll need to cut and paste the meta tag Google Webmaster Tools gives you into the header of your index page. Then within the verification part of Google Webmaster tools, click the verification button.

Verifying with WordPress

If you have WordPress, install and use Yoast SEO plugin then put the verification code within the meta tag (that Google Webmaster tools gives you) into the line labeled for it.  Only put in the code not the script containing it. Then go back into the Webmaster tools and hit verification.

Select your Preferred Version

Two Versions

Google sees two versions of your site, the www version: and the non-www: You need to decide which you prefer and tell Google by selecting it within Search Console.  You also must redirect one to the other with your .htaccess file, or Google will see two separate sites and your link juice will be divided between them. Your ranking could suffer. (I'll discuss that in a later blog post.)

How to Select Preferred Version

Within your Search Console account, go to the gears in the upper right corner. Go to "Site Settings." You'll see this:

Select your preferred domain.

Pick Your Country

Now you need to pick the country you're targeting for marketing.  Assuming you're still inside your Google Search Console account, go to "Search Traffic" and "International Targeting."  Now select the tab that says "Country."

Pick the country you want to target.

That's all for International Targeting.

 XML Sitemaps

Next you'll need to make a XML sitemap to make it easy for the Googlebot and other search engine bots to find and index all your pages and resources.  If you have an html and css site you'll need to use specialized XML sitemap software to make the sitemap and then upload it to your website with an ftp tool. If you have a WordPress site, the Yoast plugin will make a sitemap for you.

XML Sitemap for HTML Website

To make an XML sitemap for a typical html/css website go to this XML sitemap generator site called XML 

This is the XML Sitemap Generator Website

After the site generates the XML sitemap for you, you'll need to download it to your computer then ftp it up to your website in the root folder.  I use Dreamweaver to do ftp uploads but there are many other ftp applications.  A free one is called Filezilla.

XML Sitemap for WordPress Site

The Yoast SEO will make an XML sitemap for you automatically.  If you have already installed Yoast SEO plugin then go to the word SEO on the Dashboard and then to XML Sitemaps. If not, you'll have to install it first. 

Yoast SEO Plugin makes it easy to make a sitemap.

Tell Google Search Console about your Sitemap

Now you need to let Google Search Console know about your sitemap.  So go into your Search Console account for that website and go to Crawl > Sitemaps.

Find the "Add/Test Sitemap" button in red in top right corner.

Write in the filename in the text box that opens. Hit "Submit".  Now you'll the sitemap listed and the word "pending" until Google confirms it.

Adding Robots.txt File

Creating your robots.txt for Html Site

Open Notepad for Windows or TextEdit for Macs.  See this post on TextEdit.

Type as per below, using your domain name instead of "" and whatever your sitemap file is called. Save it as robots.txt. Later if you need to, you can add more advanced directives to the robots.txt file, but this is good for now.

You can copy and paste the below but make sure to put your own domain in "


Using your ftp application, upload the robots.txt to the root of your web directory.

Creating robots.txt with WordPress

If you have a WordPress site, login and go to your Yoast SEO plugin.  It says "SEO" in the Dashboard on the left.  Then go to the "Tools" section and then to the "File Editor."

This is where you find the file editor tool in Yoast.
Inside the File Editor tool you'll see the robots.txt editor.  Type the text as in the robots.txt file above in the "Create your Robots.txt file for Html Site" section. Click the "Save changes" button.

Testing and Submitting your robots.txt

For both types of websites we're discussing here: html and WordPress, you then need to test and submit the robots.txt within Google Search Console.  Go to Crawl, then robot.txt Tester.  Hit the "Test" button in bottom right corner.  Then you'll see "Allowed" if your robots.txt passed.  Then click "Submit"

Click this first.

You'll then see this if your robots.txt is accepted.

Next click this.

If you're successful you'll be able to see the robots.txt live and in the editor box. The editor box doesn't really edit the robots.txt, it is for testing purposes only. 

Congratulations!!! You now have a Google Search Console account and configured it.  You've completed the first baby step toward SEO greatness. Adding a site to Google Search Console is pretty complicated for newbies, so if you've accomplished this first task and skill you're well on your way to mounting the SEO learning curve.  You done good!

If you need assistance doing setting up your Google Search Console or if you'd like to watch while I do it for you remotely, please go to our Calgary search engine optimization webpage and contact us. Or call 403-219-3031. We'd be glad and excited to help you. We can also do all the above for you, if you sign up for our SEO and Online Marketing packages.