International SEO – Google Offers a Helping Hand

Out of Beta and into the real world, international real world that is! Google has just announced adding a new section to Google Webmaster Tools, labeled “International Targeting”. If you operate a website that targets visitors from more than one country, and in more than one language then this may be of serious interest to you.

Webmaster Tools Dashboard

Dashboard in WMT showing the International Targeting Option

In an effort to respond to the public out-cry for help identifying issues with hreflang annotations (the markup that enables search engines to serve the correct language or regional variation of a page in order to provide more targeted results for searchers), Google offers webmasters a tool that makes note of two of the most common problems associated with language targeting and hreflang annotations:

Missing Return Links

The first issue Google helps identify is related to missing return links; if an annotation is not confirmed from the page it is pointing to, there will be an error. For example, if page A links to page B, then in-turn page B must link back to page A, otherwise the hreflang may not be properly interpreted by search engines. For each of these errors, Google identifies where and when detection took place as well as where the expected return link should be.

See the Example Provided by Google:

Example from Google Webmaster Tools of Missing Return Links

Identifying missing Return Tags

Incorrect Hreflang Values

The value of the hreflang attribute must either be a language code in ISO 639-1 format such as “es”, or a combination of language and country code such as “es-AR”, where the country code is in ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format. If the language or country codes are not in these formats then Google reports the issue and provides an example URL to assist with fixing the problem.

Unknown Language Code Report from WMT

Example of Unknown Language Codes in WMT Reporting

For more information on getting hreflang right checkout this recent article from David Scottimano detailing examples & insights for those who need and use international SEO for their website.

Blizzard University – July 24 & 25, 2014

Blizzard University - Glenwood Springs, July 2014 - Get signed up today!

Doesn’t a trip to the beautiful mountain town of Glenwood Springs, Colorado this summer sound like a wonderful idea? Why not make it a learning experience as well! Join us July 24 & 25, 2014 for another Blizzard University Workshop. Learn from the internet marketing specialists in this 2-day informative workshop geared toward beginner to intermediate internet marketers and vacation rental managers. Book Today or visit our workshops page for more information.

Blizzard creates new partnership with Local Market Launch

As local search becomes more and more important, we have recently explored options to make sure Blizzard is using the top performing business listing management and syndication services. We are happy to announce a new partnership between Blizzard Internet Marketing and Local Market Launch for submission of enhanced data profiles to more than 250 local directories.  They will create and claim listings in directories such as YP, Manta, City Search, Hotfrog, Foursquare, Kudzu, YellowBot, Express Update, Local.com, FindTheCompany, Angie’s List and TRUSTEDsearch.org as well as push out our client’s data to major portals like InfoGroup, Acxiom, Localeze and Factual on a monthly basis.2014-05-22_0906

Through Blizzard’s partnership we are able to offer a discounted price with an annual renewal fee.  We are excited to move to this new platform giving our clients the best local presence possible resulting in high citation marks and improved Search Engine search results.  Call us today to find out more about how Blizzard can help your Local presence across the Internet. 888-840-5893

Blizzard University Webinar Series #1

In case you couldn’t make the first of our Blizzard Internet Marketing Webinar Series on

Top 5 Online Marketing Tactics for High ROI

We will be doing these once per month and have guest speakers as well – we hope you can join us in the future!

-Eric Fullerton

Welcome To Blizzard Nicole Polen!

 We’ve had to add a few new staff members as we continue to grow and change around here! 

Please meet one of our new additions – Nicole Polen!

Nicole grew up in La Crosse, WI but has called Colorado home for the past 15 years.  She started her college career at Western State College and earned her Bachelor’s in Graphic Design from Colorado State University.  For the last 9 years, she’ s been working as a Graphic Designer and Web Designer.  Her skill and passion brings some much needed relief to our Design Team!

Nicole, when she’s not working, loves to run, snowboard, hike , camp and literally anything outdoors.  Except, she doesn’t really care for climbing.  Apparently she doesn’t like heights too much! Nicole, Matthew (her husband) and Bella (their dog) are getting ready to hang their hats in the Glenwood Springs area to enjoy all that mountain living has to offer.

Please join us in welcoming Nicole!

There’s a Place in Pinterest for everything

Back in November 2013 Pinterest introduced its ‘Place Pins‘ to give Pinterest users the ability to map their favorite destinations. Pinterest developers had noticed that users were pinning, re-pinning and favoriting over 1.5 million places every day. They wanted to help inspire people to go out and do more things, explore when on vacation. Many users began creating boards centered around their next vacation, adding pins of places they wanted to visit in that specific destination locale, basically creating a mobile-friendly itinerary for themselves and their friends and family.

Photo Credit: Travel ChannelWhile Place Pins is great for the average pinner to plan and brainstorm daily vacation activities, they are also a great marketing tactic for the travel and tourism industry. Many vacation rental and resort lodging websites have pages dedicated to local attractions, restaurants, fun family activities, etc. that visitors can use to plan their trip. Why not take these to the next level and expose an audience to your activities pages through social networking. Creating a Pinterest board dedicated to your local restaurants, including a place pin for each and linking the image to your activities landing page, will not only create more website traffic but also help your customer become more familiar with the area and ease the stress of planning activities when traveling.

With Pinterest and all other social networking sites, being mobile friendly and giving access to such activities easily via a mobile device is extremely helpful when the majority of travelers are bringing along their smart phone, tablets and iPads.

So, if you haven’t yet began using Place Pins for your company’s Pinterest Board, I suggest you start. Here are  few suggestions for Pinterest board creation that can include mapping and linking. This list could really go on and on so be creative!

  1. Vacation Homes
  2. Parks/Beaches
  3. Hiking Trails
  4. Attractions
  5. Restaurants
  6. Ski Resorts
  7. Music Venues
  8. Sports Stadiums
  9. Medical Facilities

One thing to keep in mind when adding Place Pins, the ability to map depends on FourSquare’s location API. So if a local business isn’t listed in FourSquare you may not be able to ‘map it’. That doesn’t mean you can’t link your image to your website landing page to bring someone there instead. After all, that is the purpose of most social media marketing. Happy mapping!

New Year’s Resolutions for your Home Page

Sure, January is good for New Year’s resolutions and starting out fresh; but what about the home page of your website?  Doesn’t it deserve some attention?  Chances are you haven’t looked at it for a long time and yes, times have changed.  Rand Fishkin from MOZ has some thoughts about what makes sense for your home page now:

BEFORE – We used to put everything on the home page.  Looked cluttered. Promoted everything on the home page.
NOW in 2014 – Make the sections still easy to navigate and find things but we should be focused on the main thing we are selling….accommodations.  Promote the most important thing.

BEFORE – We used to focus on a lot of different keywords.
NOW in 2014 -Use one or two good keyword phrases and use branding keywords.

BEFORE -We used lots of text.
NOW in 2014 -Not as much text and more visual centric info. Quickly convey what you are about.

BEFORE -We wanted to keep as much as possible above the fold.
NOW in 2014 – Keep some page content above the fold and draw the eye down.

More of Rand’s suggestions for your home page:

A. Logo and navigation – good to keep it the same and consistent across the website.
B. Visually and easily explain what the product or service does. What’s best about why people should choose you?
C. Answer common questions that your visitor would have.
D. Give social proof and credibility signals; logos, testimonials, who recommends you?
F. Call to action – book now, check availability, search condos …
G. Is there a site map?  HTML and XML?
H. Is there a map?  People like the visuals.
I. Is there content at the top that’s engaging leaving the visitor to scroll down?

You can see his Whiteboard Friday video to get his full insights.
Happy New Year!