SEO stands for search engine optimization. Reich Web Consulting provides organic search engine optimization and local search optimization services.

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Yoast Basic SEO Online Course Review

Brian Reich successfully completed the Yoast Basic SEO course!
Today I completed the Yoast Basic SEO course from Yoast Academy. Yoast is synonymous with WordPress SEO. In fact, they’ve developed the WordPress SEO plugin that’s used on every website I develop (and any WordPress site where the author cares about SEO).

Being a fan of their free and premium WordPress plugins, I was curious when they started offering training and signed up almost immediately.

The Cost

Yoast Basic SEO cost me $200.  Since my purchase they’ve run several specials, so subscribe to their mailing list and watch for discounts. Given the amount of content you get in this course I think $200 is a fair price to ask. It doesn’t contain any information you can’t find somewhere else, but the Yoast team has done a great job of covering all of the basics of search engine optimization in one simple, easy to follow package.

The Material

The Yoast Basic SEO course covers the basics of search engine optimization.

The course starts with a primer on keyword research. After all: how can you optimize your site until you know what keywords and key phrases you want to optimize for?

Next the Yoast team introduces you to technical SEO. The course discusses the basics of making sure that your website is crawlable, findable, and usable by search engines and, more importantly, the humans that use them.

Next the course covers SEO copywriting (popularly called Content SEO). This section explores how to write for the web in a way that’s visually and intellectually interesting while feeding search engines what they need to understand and rank your content. The Content SEO portion of the training relies heavily on the fact that Google’s goal is to give the best ranking to content that best answer’s a user’s query.

Finally Yoast Basic SEO covers UX and Conversion Optimization. This section helps you understand how users interact with the web and how you can use common design patterns to nudge visitors toward the actions you hope they’ll take. Conversion Optimization involves formulating hypotheses about how users will respond to changes in your content, and then testing those ideas to maximize your conversion rates.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed the Yoast Basic SEO course. I’d recommend it to folks who would like to know more about SEO and how to effectively handle the SEO necessities of their own blogs and websites.

Individuals that already have a strong foundation in SEO will find it lacking, and maybe even a little shallow. After all: Yoast’s SEO recommendations are often based on what Google tells us they’re doing, and not necessarily the reality of what can get a site ranked for a particular keyword. Yoast’s courses are built around the idea that Google rewards the content that answers a user’s query most effectively and accurately. But we’re all aware that there are professional SEO’s still effectively gaming that system.

Yoast Basic SEO provides exactly what it advertises: basic SEO knowledge. Yoast Basic SEO is the beginning of the journey and not the destination. If you need to quickly get from SEO novice to a working knowledge of the terms and ideas behind search engine optimization then this course will serve you well.

This image shows a WHOIS report of my domain, along with registration and expiration dates that may or may not affect search engine ranking.

Does Domain Expiration Affect Search Engine Ranking?

Some SEO’s have claimed for years that the length of time for which a domain is registered can impact a site’s search engine ranking. The theory is that domains registered for longer periods of time give Google a signal that they’re in it for the long-haul and are rewarded. Sites that re-register their domain ownership annually give Google a signal that they may be temporary and potentially spammy.

Domain registrars have latched on to this theory in order to make easy sales by claiming that multi-year registrations will provide an SEO rank boost.

But does the claim that domain expiration affects search engine ranking hold any weight?

The Truth: Domain Expiration (Probably) Doesn’t Effect SEO

The Domain Expiration SEO Myth was born from concern over a patent held by Google related to ranking websites based on historical data. Multiple representatives from Google have stated on several occasions that domain expiration it not a major ranking factor. Matt Cutts (formerly of Google) states,

The answer is to not worry about it that much… not very much at all in fact.

Google’s own John Mueller says,

A bunch of TLDs do not publish expiration dates — how could we compare domains with expiration dates to domains without that information? It seems that would be pretty hard, and likely not worth the trouble. Even when we do have that data, what would it tell us when comparing sites that are otherwise equivalent? A year (the minimum duration, as far as I know) is pretty long in internet-time :-)

Cutts’ and Mueller’s answers leaves the door open to domain expiration being a factor, albeit a small one. A former member of Yahoo’s search team claims that domain expiration does matter.

In a Moz forum discussion one individual points out that any relationship between high-ranking sites and domain registration lengths is likely correlation, not causation. Sites with longer registration lengths are more likely to be mature sites with more resources allocated to optimization and producing quality content, and therefore have a higher ranking. But the length of registration isn’t a ranking factor itself: it’s just along for the ride.

Myth Status: “Eh… Maybe?”

With Google’s official stance being “don’t worry about it” with a side of ambiguity, and claims from other sources saying domain expiration could play a factor, we can’t mark this myth “busted.”  The best we can say is that domain expiration could play a small factor. With that in mind, maybe it’s time to consider other reasons to register our domains for longer periods. Here are a few of those reasons.

Longer Domain Registrations Often Come with Price Breaks

Registering a domain for multiple years at a time is often cheaper than re-registering the same domain year-after-year. Who doesn’t love saving money?

Longer Domain Registrations Means You’ll Save Time

Registering a domain for multiple years takes exactly as much time as registering for a single year.  You’ll save yourself literally tens of seconds annually by registering for several years at a time. Plus you won’t look foolish if you forget to re-register. Which leads us to the most important reason of all.

Missing Domain Renewal May Affect Your Ranking

Forgetting to renew your domain is embarrassing and costly. Even if you don’t forget to renew, other individuals could beat you to it and snipe your domain out from under you. There have been several high-profile instances of this happening.

Losing your domain even temporarily could have some pretty tragic effects on your site’s SEO. Googlebot and other spiders don’t take kindly to unavailable content, and even the slightest outage could leave you with long-term SEO ramifications.

Consider the implications of your register redirecting your domain to some default splash page and 404’ing every single one of your URL’s that Google has in their index.

Making sure your domain remains yours well into the future can eliminate this rare but potentially costly pain point.

Longer Domain Registrations: Better Safe Than Sorry

My parting wisdom would be this: unless your registering a domain you have no intention of using for more than a year, there’s no good reason not to purchase multiple years of domain registration. You’ll be protected from having your domain sniped. You’ll save some time and potentially some money. And on the off-chance that Google does look at domain registration and expiration dates as a ranking factor, you’ll get that ranking boost and avoid any potential penalty.

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How to Add a Business to CitySearch

I’m in the process of doing some link-building for my business, and I noticed that some of my local competitors are listed in city and business listings that I’m not.  One is called CitySearch.

I debated whether or not it was worth the effort to get listed in this type of local business directory. In the end I decided I should. First off, my competition is there and I’m not.  Second, there is some SEO benefit to being listed in business and location-specific directories, since they often manage to rank higher for key search terms than the businesses in the listings they provide. So if folks search for “computer repair in mifflinburg” and get local business directories first, I probably want to be there.

CitySearch doesn’t have an Add Your Business button. So How, pray tell, do you get into their business listings?

How to Add a Business to CitySearch

According to CitySearch’s FAQ (now hidden away at the bottom of their About Us page),

Citysearch partners with InfoUSA for local business data. They offer an Express Update service that allows merchants to update their listing data as well as add new businesses. Once you’ve added your business please allow 1 – 2 months for the information to be on Citysearch. Find out more at: http://www.expressupdateusa.com. CitySearch FAQ

Once you discover this little nugget of truth, getting listed is actually pretty easy.  Follow the instructions below.

  1. Go to ExpressUpdate and create an account. If you’re like me and totally distrust services like this you’ll be wise to use a junk email account to register. Don’t worry: you can associate a different email address with the actual business listing.
  2. After you’ve registered go back to the home page and search for your business. If it finds it, great! Claim your business and make any changes it requires to keep it current. If not, follow along.
  3. If the search didn’t find your business, you’ll see a link to Add it Now. Click that link and you’ll be provided with a form to add all of you business information. Once that’s completed, you’ll have to verify via phone that you have permission to manage the directory listing for this business.
  4. After phone verification your listing will go into a verification state. Mine took a few hours, but eventually it was ready for me to claim.
  5. Go back to ExpressUpdate, login, and on your dashboard you’ll see a table of business listings you manage. Go ahead and click Claim. It will give you a phone number to call to complete the process.

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