3 Tools to Help Withstand the Next Google Algorithm Update

Mobile-Friendly + Website = Awesome!

Google's Mobile-Friendly Test

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

Mobile-friendly and responsive website design best practices have been in effect for several years now, many brands have upgraded their websites to conform to this user demanded function. But for those of you who are unsure, use these 3 tools to test out whether your website and mobile devices will play nice. I suggest testing in all 3 tools to get a truer result.

  1. Mobile-Friendly Test by Google

All you do is enter your URL and click analyze. It will send back information about your images, text, links and more. It will also give you a view of what your site looks like on a mobile device if rendering correctly in the mobile test.

  1. The W3C mobileOK Checker

The W3C, also known as the World Wide Web Consortum, has its own mobile friendly test. The test results of this tool include a number of key mobile elements, the most helpful being the severity rating. This rates each problem item of the page in order of importance. A little more in-depth of a tool and best understood by those familiar with technical website components.

  1. Hubspot Marketing Grader

This tool is Amazing! A super simple mobile-friendly website checker that checks nearly every aspect of your mobile readiness. This tool checks your SEO, social media, blog content and optimization for mobile all laid out in an easy to read online report.

Check your Website for Mobile-Friendliness

Hubspot Marketing Grader

This Google Algorithm Update started rolling out in November 2014 when Google realized how frustrating an experience it was for users when encountering a non mobile-friendly landing page. If you haven’t been hit by the update yet just know it is coming. Make sure your site stands up to the recent ranking signal update by staying in front of your mobile audience and supplying them with a friendly mobile experience.

Starting April 21, 2015 Google will include mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, which will affect all mobile searches world-wide, in all languages and have a huge effect on search results. You can read more about this ranking update on Google’s Webmaster Blog.

If after using these tools, you find your site just isn’t cutting it, call the Blizzard Internet Marketing Sales Team at 888.840.5893. We’ll assess your current site and let you know the options to make your site a mobile-friendly masterpiece!

Facebook Insights – The 5 Page Metrics that Matter Most

With all the different social media networks available these days, brands need to pay attention to which networks are going to be most beneficial to them. Almost always, Facebook ends up at least in the top 3 networks to be on, not to mention if you take a look at your web analytics, you’ll probably see Facebook as one of your top social referrers. A Facebook Page is the backbone of any brand’s social media presence. It is looked at by many as the main social representation of your brand and every section and action should be carefully thought out. Status updates made are sent to the News Feed of Facebook users who have already liked your page, along with several other users picked up through approved algorithmic metrics. By posting valuable, sharable content a brand page has the potential to boost their presence on this social network and in search engines exponentially. But with all this research, referring and sharing going on, which Facebook Insight metrics matter most and how should you use them?

The Top 5 Facebook Metrics that Matter Most

1. Page Engagement

You hear a lot about engagement but what does it really mean? Engagement is a major factor in the Facebook algorithm and encompasses all fan posts, comments, and likes of a brands content. Engagement also reflects the most important items crucial to your content going viral and building brand awareness. With a brand’s ability to capture a readers’ attention, connect with them on an emotional level (it takes emotion to take action), and share the right content at the right time, the

Post Likes – A ‘Like’ implies that a Facebook user finds value in the content you shared and invokes an emotional connection, resonating with them longer.

Post Comments – Any reply to a post; could be an image, a link, a note, etc. Paying attention to the tone of comments and reviewing which posts are most comment heavy, help in defining a brand’s overall Facebook strategy.

Post Shares – Amplifies a brand’s content by exposing the information to Facebook users outside of the brand’s current Facebook fan base. Information can be shared on a user’s timeline, a friends timeline, in a group or private message. Brands see sharing of content as the highest form of post engagement.

2. Page Engagement Rate

Engagement rate measures the number of unique users who engaged with your content as a percentage of the total number of users who had direct access to the information. This metric also includes the effectiveness at engaging your audience and reach of your content.

Engaged User - Anyone who has engaged with your page. Paying attention to the users that are participating in your page performance can help you determine whether you’re growing an active audience.

3. Pages to Watch

Keeping an eye on what the competition is doing. Knowing what content is already generating engagement will help you find and share content that already has influence.

4. Like Source

The location of a brand like. Where are users finding your page? Knowing where a like is coming from can help you with tactics on effective and sustainable growth. Like Sources are broken down by location and include actions taken through ads and sponsored stories, page suggestions, on page, on posts, and from others through extended Facebook Reach.

Like Sources can help with understanding the effectiveness of having external connects(social plugins), what percentage of new Likes is money driven(paid vs. organic), and how many users came from a mobile device.

Facebook Reach – Represents the total number of users who have been exposed to your brand during a given period. This metric gives an accurate measure of your engaged or most influential audience members. I say audience because not all page fans will see your posts and many of those who do see your posts are not fans of your Facebook Page at all.

5. When your Fans are Online

Posting content when your fans are most active will help to generate the engagement a brand needs to be successful. Don’t plan on getting a slew of organic page and post engagement at 3AM when your page fans are most active at 8PM.

Facebook Insights is a great resource for benchmarking your brand’s Facebook performance over time and includes several other great metrics beyond those listed above. Gaining an understanding of the metrics that matter most will aid in an overall successful Facebook marketing strategy and a presence that stands out from the competition.

Which Facebook Insights metrics matter most to you in your industry?

Mobile-Friendly Searches – Google’s Recent Ranking Signal Update


Mobile Friendly

Google reports from its research data that approximately 30% of all searches are originating from mobile devices. As we all know, in the continuous development of their search engine, Google’s main focus is to provide better user experiences on its platform, rewarding those websites that aid in their mission by adhering to Google’s Best Practices, and of course, penalizing those sites who do not. In its pursuit of search engine perfection, Google releases updates to it algorithms seemingly daily, and not just one – but often hundreds of Google algorithm changes.

Google recently delivered news of yet another update: Mobile Friendliness as a Ranking Signal. The release is planned for April 21st of this year. The change to the algorithm, Google states on its blog, “…will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results.”

  • What does this mean for websites indexed in Google?

Everyone will feel the significant affect in some manner. As Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji states,  the impactGoogle Panda & Penguin
will be larger than both the Penguin and the Panda algorithm changes. If your site is already mobile friendly, you should begin seeing a positive change in your rankings after the release. Sites that have not upgraded to accommodate a mobile friendly experience will be the ones that feel the negative effects of this change, possibly losing a percentage of share traffic. Having highly relevant results in a faster than a speeding bullet fashion has become a competitive necessity in search rankings, but now your site’s ranking can be penalized for not also having many of those same qualities on a mobile-friendly site.

At this point, Google has not indicated if this will also affect mobile paid rankings. This recent update currently relates to organic rankings in mobile searches.

Test your website’s mobile-friendliness by using any or all of these mobile-friendly testing tools.

  • What does this mean for Blizzard’s clients?

Global web traffic originating from mobile devices grows by the day, and staying relevant for optimal search performance is necessary. Google dictates how the game evolves, as it is the industry leader in all of search engine land, and now the new rule states that websites must be mobile-friendly…or else. Therefore, overall traffic will slow in the mobile and tablet columns if sites do not have a mobile-friendly presence. In today’s business world, any loss in exposure will quickly become a compounding problem.

After having done research on our clients’ overall traffic data, we have confirmed that the approximate average of mobile traffic is just below the average delivered from Google’s data when combining traffic from both mobile and tablets.

  • What can Blizzard do to help?

helpOur professional team of designers, developers and marketers can ensure our clients’ sites comply with Google’s newest algorithm change. Making a website mobile-friendly does require some time, effort, and resources from the owner, but do not allow those small details to get in the way of making an educated, long-term decision for the business. We recommend our clients keep in mind the advancement of online business and the impact it has had on the bottom line. As an internet marketing company, Blizzard Internet Marketing wants nothing more than to help each of our clients’ businesses succeed, keeping each of their best interests in mind. Blizzard Internet Marketing can deliver a mobile-friendly site that is worthy of sharing with the world.

If you find yourself in need of a mobile friendly presence in the wake of Google’s Mobile Friendly Algorithm Change, do not hesitate to contact a sales representative at Blizzard Internet Marketing, and he/she will be more than happy to accommodate any needs, and answer any questions, you may have. Want to give us a call? (888) 840-5893

David Wins, Goliath Consults Attorney (Update)

While most Americans spent their time online Thursday arguing over dress color, or watching Llamas on the Lam, the FCC pulled the trigger on new net neutrality rules, designed to maintain equality among all content providers on the Internet.

Tom Wheeler FCC Chairman

FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, during the Net Neutrality Vote

As expected, the vote fell along party lines. Immediately, the big internet service providers (ISPs) and many government officials condemned the new rules, threatening both legal and legislative challenges, some before the vote was even taken.

At least for now, by a narrow 3-2 vote, all of our websites will continue to be treated equally by services providers; our content will not be slowed down or sped up according to any sort of tiered delivery. Furthermore, ISPs will now be classified as public utilities, much like phone companies, and will be subject to regulations to ensure that all consumers have equal access to their services.

Although not receiving as much attention as net neutrality, the FCC also ruled to lift bans and restrictions which inhibit local municipalities from building their own broadband networks, previously allowing only private cable companies to provide internet access. This ruling gives consumers a choice of service providers for their internet, something many Americans do not currently have.

This victory is historic for net neutrality activists, content providers and tech influencers, whose sustained and vocal protest was actually heard over arguably one of the most powerful and wealthy lobbying interests in America today. Said Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, in celebrating the FCC’s decision, “It goes a lot further than net neutrality. Title II regulation means oversight of bad behavior.”

Critics of the ruling were quick to point out the FCC has a habit of being over regulatory, which could hurt innovation and ultimately lead to higher prices for consumers. Arizona Senator John McCain tweeted immediately after the ruling, “This is a matter for Congress to carefully consider and correct.”

For now, we all get to keep our websites in the fast lane on the information super-highway. But keep an eye on those highway alert signs, as this is just one battle in what could end up being a very long war for control of the Internet.

Paid Prioritization; or How the Goliaths are Trying to Stick it to the Davids

At the end of this month, Washington will be making huge news, affecting every small business.

Net Neutrality Effects Us All

Net Neutrality

On February 4th, Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC, announced what some found to be a stunning policy reversal on open internet. Wheeler let it be known that the FCC will be basing its soon to be announced net neutrality rules for Internet service providers (ISPs) on Title II of the Communication Act, reclassifying Internet Service Providers (ISPs) as utilities, like power companies and telecommunication providers. These newly proposed regulations would apply to both wired and wireless ISPs.  Small businesses and their websites will be directly impacted if the FCC decides to end net neutrality.

Net neutrality means that all websites on the internet are treated equally. If net neutrality were to end, some websites would be able to be delivered at faster speeds, leaving those of us who cannot pay more for additional speed in the dust. It’s also likely that the cost of paid advertising or even posting on social websites will increase, as the Facebooks and Twitters will pass down the higher fees they are paying to us. In the simplest terms, ending net neutrality will make it more expensive for everyone to be found on the Internet.  This is paid prioritization.

How did we get here?

The issue of net neutrality isn’t new. There have been grumblings on both sides of the issue since 2002 when the FCC classified cable modem service as an “information service,” and not a common carrier. Escaping the common carrier classification has protected ISPs from most FCC regulation, particularly in the area of paid prioritization. The belief was that unencumbered growth and investment would give Internet consumers a better product with more competitive pricing. In 2007, wireless broadband access was classified in the same way.

The common carrier rules in Title II are from 1934. They were originally meant to oversee industries that transported goods to the public, such as rail and freight companies as well as public utilities. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 extended the original Title II provisions to telecommunication aolcompanies. In 1996, the 20 million Americans who visited the Internet mostly used Netscape, via dial up, to spend the bulk of their 30 minutes a month reading their AOL mail.  These folks are now but a tiny fraction of the 245 million Americans who hate the 3 seconds it takes to get on Google and who spend an average of nearly 30 hours a month online, some of them reading their AOL mail (there are still over 2 million people who subscribe to AOL. Wha’?!)

ISPs have been operating under the “Open Internet” rules since 2010, rules meant to stop ISPs from forcing content providers to pay to play on their networks. Verizon filed a lawsuit to block these rules. In January of 2014, a federal appeals court ruling found in favor of Verizon’s argument against being treated as an old timey telephone network, but this ruling also cleared a huge path for the FCC to write new rules regarding the Internet. President Obama also came out in favor of maintaining an open Internet.

What does this mean to ME? 

Zoom Zoom

Zoom Zoom

If this change happens, it means that you are likely to start paying for things on the internet that you now receive for free, because the cost of doing business on the internet has increased for those businesses. It also means that if you have a website for your business, it could decrease traffic to your website.

Visualize the Internet as a two-lane highway, with a slow lane and a fast lane. The fast lane is a toll lane.

Those with lots of change in their cup holders,content providers like Netflix and Facebook, may pay to have their content streamed faster. Those with a couple of fuzzy pennies and a cough drop in their glove box, sites like Cats that Look Like Hitler and Bees Bees Bees , or YOU with your small business and small business  website are going to have to stay in the slow lane or come up with a LOT more extra change.

Who is deciding this Neutrality Thing?

Federal Communications Commission

This case for and against net neutrality has made for some strange bedfellows. On the pro-neutrality side, you’ll find Twitter and Google, teaming up with the Parents Television Council and the hacker group Anonymous. You’ll also find the 4 million Americans who crashed the FCC’s website during the public comment period, due in no small part to John Oliver (MUST WATCH, especially if you have a thing for dingoes!) On the let’s get rid of net neutrality side, the big ISPs (Verizon, AT&T, Comcast,) join hands with civil rights groups such as the NAACP and  the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council. They can also find at least one FCC Commissioner in their corner, Ajit Pai (former Verizon lawyer) who just came out against regulations on Feb 10th.  In the truest definition of neutral, tech-giant Apple has publically neither come out for or against open internet.

The FCC is voting on February 26th. One thing is certain; the issue of net neutrality isn’t going to go away and those of us without Washington lobbyists need to pay attention now or we will literally be paying a lot more to be found along the high speed information highway.


The Password is PASSWORD

                     Highlights from the last few months in cyber-chaos

cyber security, password

  • April, 2014 – The “Heartbleed Bug” strikes, affecting as many as 500,000 websites.
  • November, 2014 – Sony Pictures Entertainment hacked by person/persons unknown; leads to a complete and total meltdown in Hollywood,  forcing people in the “biz” to actually pick up a phone and talk to their cubicle mate and for the rest of us to stream a bro-stick comedy over Christmas that we all probably would have been better off waiting for on Netflix.
  • December, 2014 – North Korea’s Internet service undergoes a “DDOS attack” (distributed denial of-service) by person/persons unknown.
  • January, 2015 – US Central Command’s Twitter and YouTube accounts hacked by Islamic State sympathizers
  • Retailers such as Target, Neimann Marcus, Michaels, Aaron Brothers, PF Changs, UPS, Home Depot, Chik-Fil-A – ALL HACKED!!

A recent study found that 13.1 million U.S. adults are victims of fraud, with a total somewhere in the $18 billion range of fraudulent activity accounted for annually.  Earlier this month, President Obama proposed legislation that would encourage companies and government agencies to share information about security threats and vulnerabilities with each other.

Remember when you got that email from your bank, your social media website, your email server to change your password in the wake of Heartbleed. Did you actually do it? A Pew research study last year found that only 61% of those who knew about Heartbleed changed their passwords.

Just how lazy are we?

 A survey from 2012 by Research Now for CSID on password habits among American consumers found:

  • 61% of us reuse passwords across multiple websites.
  • 54% of us have 5 or fewer passwords for all of our internet usage.
  • 44% of us change our passwords once a year or less.
  • 89% of us feel secure with our current passwords and security habits.
  • 21% of us have had at least one online account compromised.

Splashdata’s annual list of most commonly used passwords found that “password” had been supplanted by the surely uncrackable“ 123456” as the most popular password of 2013.

 So what kind of passwords should we be using? 

The latest and greatest recommendations from cyber experts, including Blizzard’s own Hosting Manager, Tish Lockard, agree on the following guidelines for creating strong passwords:

  • A strong password should contain AT THE VERY LEAST 8 characters, combining upper and lower case letters, numbers, punctuation marks and symbols; there should be no inclusion of words found in the dictionary or the names of your friends and family.
  • Never use easy to discover dates like birthdays or anniversaries; you’d be surprised what is clearly visible on our personal and business social media pages these days.
  • You should have a unique password for all of your important accounts.
  • You should change your passwords every 90 days and not reuse them for different sites.

There are password generating sites that will create strong passwords for you. Tish says, “Can’t think of a good password? There are tools out there, such strongpasswordgenerator.com that will cook up a good one for you.  You can even decide the length of your password and what type of characters to use.  I use this Every. Single. Day.” Hear that? Every single day! I am listening Tish!  Some others generators  are random.org and freepasswordgenerator.com.

  How the B!33P am I supposed to remember that gobbledygook?

cyber security, heartbleed, passwords

Keep your Hello Kitty in a secure location, NOT near your computer!

How are you supposed to remember these nonsensical passwords? I know I have  been  loath to use passwords like those described above because there is no way I  am ever  going to remember them. Most security experts recommend the use of a password manager such as Dashlane.com, LastPass.com or 1Password.com which have apps that can go with you from your computer, phone and tablet. YES, you will have to have a password  for these heavily  encrypted secure sites, but if you can’t remember ONE goofy  password, well, maybe this  World Wide Web thing just isn’t your bag.

DO NOT store your passwords in a public cloud, in a Google doc, in emails that  can be  hacked, on your phone’s notepad app or maybe not even in that little spiral  Hello Kitty  notebook that you carry around with you everywhere unless you have really bad  handwriting.

According to Tish, “If everyone could make these criteria a priority and truly commit to changing their passwords regularly, there would be a lot less chaos in  the world. Well, ok, chaos caused by hackers, anyway.” If we listen to Tish, at  least we all can do a little something about this cyber chaos. The hacker free-chaos, Tish and I will endeavor to deal with that another time.

Whatever method you decide upon to have truly secure passwords, remain ever vigilant as you cruise along the world-wide-web. There are hackers around every bend and it’s up to you to keep an eye on your online accounts. And don’t forget that old adage, if you don’t have something nice to say in an email about someone, maybe just jot it down in your Hello Kitty notebook.

HTML and XML Sitemaps: Why You Need Both

A well designed map can help lead the way


In the SEO world, the use of sitemaps is always advisable. There are two types of  sitemaps, the XML sitemap and the HTML sitemap. These sitemaps are very different with each serving its own purpose and both providing value to your website.

What is the difference between XML and HTML sitemaps?

XML and HTML sitemaps are created for different purposes, but both can help increase traffic to your website and improve its usability.

 The XML sitemap

XML sitemaps are used by search engine spiders, also known as robots, bots or crawlers. Spiders “crawl”, or follow links throughout the Internet, finding content and adding it to search engine indexes.

An XML sitemap is a file containing all of the URLs on the website that you would like to be indexed in search engines. The XML sitemap also provides spiders with the following information:

  • Metadata for URLs
  • When the URLs were last updated
  • The importance of certain URLs
  • Average frequency of changes to URLs
  • URL relation to the rest of your website

Having an XML sitemap is crucial for the proper display of your site’s pages in search engines.

 The HTML sitemap

In simple terms, the HTML sitemap gives users an overview of your website. This can be helpful if you have pages that might be difficult to find. For example, if a user visits your homepage and is looking for a “contact us” page but can’t find the link for the page easily, the user may click on the “sitemap” page. There, the contact page may be accessed a simple click on a link.

An HTML sitemap helps users navigate your website and get to the pages or information they are seeking quickly.

The benefits of using both sitemaps

Having your XML sitemap functioning properly ensures that search engines are finding your site’s information and correctly listing it in search results. This may also often lead to better search engine positioning and send more visitors to your site.

Having a well thought out HTML sitemap improves your visitors’ experience and helps them find the pages or information they want quickly.

By using both sitemaps in combination, you are helping your SEO while increasing the likelihood of visitor retention and return visits to your site.