21 Keys To Maximizing Your Site’s Visibility In 2016


21 keys to improve search rankings in 2016Twenty years ago, the fact that you had a website was enough. People would come for the novelty.

Ten years ago, it became tougher to attract visitors. But it was still easy if you knew how to build a mass of incoming links.

Today, competition for visibility and visitor loyalty is fierce. Your site not only needs constant exposure to your target market, but must also engage those who visit.

Why? Because the moment you drop the ball, your 10 biggest competitors will be waiting to court your audience. And you can bet they’ll pull out the stops to keep them engaged.

There are 21 things you should be doing with your site as 2016 rounds the corner. Together, they’ll help to ensure the right people see your site at the right time. Read on for the 21 keys to keeping your site visible to your target audience.

Key #1: Create A Sitemap

You should have a page on your site that contains links to other pages. That helps the search engine spiders do their job. Will the spiders be able to crawl your site without a sitemap? Probably. But why not make their job easier?


Key #2: Differentiate Your Title Tags

You’re trying to rank on Google for various keywords. Make sure each page on your site has a different keyword in the title tags.


Key #3: Reclaim Bad Links

Links are the currency of SEO. The problem is, there are a lot bad (i.e. broken) links out there. Go through your site and find internal links that are broken. Then, use Google Webmaster Tools to find external links that are broken. Contact the folks running those sites and ask them to correct the links.


Key #4: Focus On High-Value Keywords

High-value keywords are those that are relevant to your business and easy to rank for. Focus first on those that indicate commercial intent.


Key #5: Find And Purge Orphan Pages

Orphans have no links pointing to them. They get little to no traffic. And the few folks who stumble upon the pages usually leave unsatisfied.

Find such pages and get rid of them. On the slim chance your orphans are important to your messaging, add links to them on your sitemap.


Key #6: 301 Redirect Changed URLs

URLs change. Maybe you’re transitioning from dynamic to static URL. Perhaps you’re shortening them to make them easier to remember. Whatever the case, create 301 redirects on the old URLs to automatically send folks to the new ones.


Key #7: Customize Your Default 404 Page

If someone tries to find a nonexistent page on your site, they’ll be presented with a generic 404 page. Most such pages provide zero direction. But you can create a custom 404 that provides links to other areas of your site.

Don’t leave visitors hanging in limbo. Give them options.


Key #8: Install An Analytics Package

Analytics tell you where your traffic is coming from, which browsers your visitors are using and the most popular pages on your site. You’ll also see views, unique visits, bounce rates, goals, conversion rates and more.

Don’t miss out on this valuable data. Install analytics and start tracking your key metrics.


Key #9: Make Your Images Search Engine-Friendly

Just like you optimize your pages, you should also optimize your images. Make the filenames keyword-rich. Use relevant, keyword-rich alt tags. Keep the file sizes small so they’ll load quickly. Link to each image from an XML image sitemap.


Key #10: Blog

Blogging isn’t a fad. It’s a key business tool you can use to connect with your customers and prospects. Your site should have a blog regardless of your industry.


Key #11: Appeal To The Eyes

Written content is fine. But it’s not enough. People are drawn to visuals. Pull readers in by using attractive images on each blog post.


Key #12: Clarify Your Message

Are you trying to reinforce your brand story? Or are you trying to communicate why prospects should hire your firm?

Whatever the case, you have 3 seconds before you lose the visitor’s attention. If he or she leaves without understanding what you’re trying to say, it’ll take a Herculean effort to bring them back.

Be concise and get to the point.


Key #13: Have A Way To Get In Touch

You need a way to reach out to the folks who visit your site. Don’t expect them to return on their own. Most won’t. Instead, offer an incentive in exchange for the visitor’s name and email address.


Key #14: Provide Direction On Every Page

At the end of each blog post, tell the reader to sign up for your mailing list. On each product page, instruct the visitor to make a purchase. On your informational pages, direct the individual to download a white paper or case study.

Place a call to action on every page of your site.


Key #15: Add Social Media Buttons

Social sharing buttons encourage visitors to tell others about your content. Some social media tools allow visitors to add content to your site (you’re still the gatekeeper and can control what gets posted). Other tools allow folks to sign in using their Facebook or Google Plus accounts.

Social media integration will broaden your reach and increase your visibility.


Key #16: Map Out A Defined Visitor Journey

A visitor journey is the path a person will take once he or she arrives at your site. You define that path. Your goal is to move the visitor closer and closer to becoming a customer.


Key #17: Create A Responsive Design

Your site’s design elements should resize based on the devices used by visitors. Your site should be attractive and easy to navigate regardless of whether someone is viewing it on their laptop, Android phone or iPad.


Key #18: Schedule Automatic Backups

Don’t assume your server is bulletproof. If there’s a hiccup, you may lose portions of your site. Make sure you have backups in place to reload in the event a hiccup occurs. The best approach is to schedule backups to execute automatically on your server. Schedule them weekly at a minimum. If possible, have them occur daily.


Key #19: Make Sure Your Site Loads Quickly

Slow-loading pages irritate visitors. They also vex Google, prompting it to penalize your rankings. Optimize your page load speed to avoid both problems.


Key #20: Keep Plugins And Extensions Up-To-Date

Developers routinely update their plugins, extensions and themes to resolve bugs, add features, improve performance and tighten security. Make sure you have the latest versions installed on your site. Don’t risk a crash.


Key #21: Pay Attention To Admin Details

Do you know when your domain expires? Are you certain your credit card information is up-to-date at your registrar and host? Double-check these details. Then, add reminders to your online calendar to check them again when the deadlines approach.


If you want your site to be visible in 2016, there are a lot of details you’ll need to address. Contact our design experts to find out how we can help. Design & Promote can handle the marketing, search engine optimization, social media integration and brand messaging to ensure your site is found by your target audience.

Chicago SEO For Images: Six Tips For Online Marketing Success

As a leading SEO company in Chicago, we know that online marketing techniques continuously evolve. Here at Design & Promote, we focus on staying ahead of the Chicago SEO curve to consistently give our clients customized strategies and solutions that yield the results they deserve.

Case in point: other SEO agencies in Chicago may only offer online marketing tactics for content alone. Not at Design & Promote. We know firsthand that creating an effective Chicago SEO campaign means including both content and image strategies. Optimizing both copy and graphics can elevate results and give our clients a much needed browser boost with relevant searches.

Let Our SEO Company In Chicago Optimize Your Graphics

chicago seoOur SEO company in Chicago will optimize your page graphics, because at Design & Promote, we use the very latest innovations and tactics. During our partnership, we will work with you to conceptualize page layouts and pinpoint the right images to complement and strengthen your content campaigns.

One of the first things we will discuss is the placement of your graphics within your content. Many of our clients are surprised when learning just how “smart” the search engine algorithms can be. Most don’t realize that browsers can take in both the content and graphics as a whole and try to determine their relevance to each other. We use this to our advantage by only using images that reinforce the message and main topic found throughout the page.

Utilizing proper alt tags can also make a major difference in your Chicago SEO campaigns. We’ve all clicked on sites where the attached images won’t render; at Design & Promote can turn a rendering failure into potential opportunity. By using strategic alt tags (aka text displayed in the absence of a designated image), we can still convey your marketing message and compel users to click on.

Every online image has a dpi (dots per inch) total. As a general rule of thumb, our creative team strives to use graphics with a 72dpi for optimal quality and seamless download. It is possible to use higher dpi images; however, we stay below 300dpi to keep your pages loading seamlessly for an optimal user experience.

Three More Ways To Maximize SEO ROI For Your Image

How you save your images can also have an impact on your browser victories. We never use generic file names such as “Image” or “Product.” Instead, we utilize keyword rich file titles so the search engines can recognize exactly what your page images are.

We don’t stop with file name alone; at Design & Promote we also consider file format as well to give your images an added SEO boost. We only use browser supported formats such as JPEG and PNG so your pages get the attention they deserve during relevant online searches.

Finally, rather than distributing your images throughout several directories, our team will create a consolidated image sitemap file for optimal return on your SEO investment.

Are you ready to get started on your customized Chicago SEO solution? Contact the team at Design & Promote today!

Ignoring-This-Change-Could--Tank-Your-Search-Rankings-in-2016Web apps… mobile apps… responsive design.

A few years ago, most of us could ignore the above. None of them had a direct impact on our ability to rank pages in Google and pull targeted traffic to our sites.

Things have changed.

You can no longer afford to ignore how your website appears on mobile devices. Nor can you disregard the experience your visitors have while using their mobiles to navigate your site.

Why not? Because if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re going to see your rankings slip in 2016. Google, Bing and Yahoo have made it clear they expect your site to look good regardless of whether folks are looking at it on their laptops, tablets or phones.

Let’s talk about how responsive design will affect your search rankings in 2016. But first, a few definitions to make sure we’re on the same page…

Web apps – applications that run in your browser. You’re probably using them on a regular basis, even if you don’t realize it. For example, if you have a Gmail account, you’re using a web app.

Mobile apps – applications developed for phones and tablets. Do you listen to Pandora on your HTC One? Do you use your iPad to check in on Facebook? If so, you’re using mobile apps.

Responsive design – a method of building a website that automatically resizes according to platform. It ensures your site is as easy to navigate on an iPhone as it is on a 27-inch monitor.

Responsive Design And Search Rankings: What You Need To Know

“Mobilegeddon” officially happened on April 22, 2015.

The day before, Google announced it would start giving a ranking boost to sites that were mobile-friendly. If you were one of the forward-thinking business owners who had already made the necessary changes, you were in a good position. On the other hand, if you were caught unawares, you had to scramble in order to maintain your rankings.

Let’s say this is the first time you’re hearing that mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor. If that’s the case, you have a lot of work to do. Making your site mobile-friendly isn’t just a simple matter of installing a plugin. You need to rebuild from the ground up.

Before you set aside a lot of time and money for a design overhaul, it’s worth finding out whether your site already looks good on mobile devices.

A Simple Way To Test Whether Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly

There’s an easy way to test your site. Click this link (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/) and type your domain name into the form field on that page.

Google will analyze your site in real time – it only takes a minute – and tell you whether it complies with its mobile standards. If your site isn’t compliant, Google will display “Not mobile-friendly” in bold, red letters.

Underneath, it will list the reason(s). For example, you might see the following:

Content wider than screen

You’ll also be presented with a number of recommendations for making your site mobile-friendly. The recommendations are based on whether your site is built on WordPress, another CMS (content management system) or if you or someone else hand-coded it.

How To Make Sure Your Site Ranks High In 2016

Obviously, there are a lot of factors that influence how your site ranks in the search engines. Google and its counterparts take into account page load speed, keyword usage, backlinks from unique IPs and domains, and how you use anchor text in those links.

And that’s barely scraping the surface.

One of the factors that will be important next year is mobile-friendliness. It’s already important. But Google, Yahoo and Bing are expected to crank up the juice as more and more people use their phones and tablets to engage online.

Is your website ready for 2016? Does it boast a responsive design that resizes according to platform? If not, contact our team for help. Design & Promote has earned a reputation for building gorgeous mobile-friendly sites that deliver results.

seo blogging techniques If blogging is one of the ways you promote your business, make sure you’re SEO blogging. Writing a blog for SEO isn’t like writing an ordinary blog, it needs to appeal to both search engines and your readers. You may have heard that blogging is necessary, but unless you know how to write for search engine optimization,  your blog is invisible to Google.

You may have content, but because you’re not writing for SEO, you will struggle to catch the attention of your readers (because they won’t find it through a Google search). Here at Design & Promote, a Chicago SEO company, we advocate using SEO blogging techniques to clients. And in this post, we want to share how you can improve your own SEO blogging strategy.

The Basics Of SEO Blogging

Your goal is to get a first page Google ranking, and the closer you are to the top of the page, the better. A good example of a company who improved their SEO ranking is Victory Rehab, a chiropractic group in Naperville, IL. If you search for “Naperville chiropractor,” you’ll find them listed second in Google and third among organic search results. If you look at the search results, you will notice that their description includes: “Naperville,” “chiropractic,” and “chiropractor” in bold –  two of the words you entered into the search box. And notice that their ‎blog uses the same “formula” in their meta description. See the graphic below for an example of a meta description.


seo meta description example

Keywords are essential to ranking. Some SEO experts today suggest that you should research “high traffic” keywords to determine what words or phrases generate the most traffic from the search engines to your site. Not so fast! Businesses that want local traffic should include a geographic term, such as a town or state.

SEO Blogging Mistakes

In the past, some website developers and bloggers loaded their copy with keywords; this made their copy sound artificial and awkward.  Google algorithms are now focused on a site’s readability and downgraded site listings that sounded “spammy” from too many keywords. More SEO blogging mistakes to avoid:

  • Blogging just to blog.
  • Guessing at keywords (which can actually hurt you in the end). Check out our guide on How to Pick the Right Keywords to Attract More Customers.
  • “Keyword stuffing” blog posts.
  • Writing when you feel like it and going months without blog posts.
  • Image names like this: “blue-window-1384.jpg”.
  • Thinking that you’ve run out of topics (there is always a topic, listen to the questions your customers are asking).

Using keywords is to optimize your copy. How to do this:

•    Place keywords in your title, post name in the permalink, first sentence, and a couple times throughout the copy.
•    Use one or more keywords in the subheadings and in the meta description.
•    Name images in your post with keywords, which will also help your ranking.

Google Analytics can help you optimize your web pages and blogs. Also, take a look at the most popular Google pages in a particular search and study how they’ve used SEO to improve their raking. Try to emulate those techniques in your own pages and blogs.

Basic Blogging Tips For Optimizing Your Blog For Better Google Page Placement

What should you do if your page or blog appears on the first page of a Google search, but it’s at the bottom of the page? This means you have already gotten Google’s attention, but you need to optimize a little more. There are a few ways to place your blog higher on a Google search page:

•    Link the post to other content on your website. Websites seldom offer an encyclopedic knowledge of a topic. If you only briefly explain a topic in a blog, linking readers to a page that has more information boosts your SEO.
•    Share the post to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and more. You can post directly or use a service such as Hootsuite.
•    Build your backlinks so that other posts and websites link back to you. Creating reviews on sites like Yelp!, listings.local.yahoo.com, Hubpages, Google Places, and LinkedIn will help create backlinks to your site.
•    Increase the length of the post.  It’s important to know each site’s requirements and the word count and experiment with writing longer posts that are between 1,000-1500 words.

Remember to have a goal for each blog post. Two simple questions to ask yourself before blogging:
•    What do you want to say?
•    How can you tie it to a business goal and keyword?

If you’re all dried up for content, pay attention to the questions your clients ask and answer them in a blog post. You’ve heard it in school, don’t be afraid to ask a question because chances are someone else has a similar question. You can then later refer clients with similar questions to a blog post! For more insights on the value of SEO blogs and optimizing your blog with keyword research and placement, contact Design & Promote today.

If you know anything about SEO, you know that it is not an easy job. For an expert SEO strategist or even a business owner using basic search engine optimization, it is necessary to continually follow Google updates to know what plays into getting higher rankings in search engine results. The task is essentially to get into Google’s mind and make your website cater to what pleases it. However, this isn’t as simple as it sounds. Not only is Google always changing what it wants, but it keeps adding more and more demands to its long list. Now, experts claim that Google focuses on 200 ranking factors in its algorithm.

Here, our SEO team takes a look at the list of 200 ranking factors that Google uses to analyze and rank your site, as put together by Backlinko and Single Grain. This list goes to show the huge amount of tiny details that can make a huge difference to your search engine ranking, which is part of why SEO is challenge. Check out what results are made of:

google 200 ranking factors

googles 200 ranking factors

200 ranking factors googlegoogle 200 ranking factors listlist google 200 ranking factorshow google ranks websites

Despite this incredible list of factors, many in the SEO industry remain skeptical. Does Google really consider all of these factors when ranking website? Of course, some factors will seem to more heavily on the decision making: anything to do with keywords is important, as is having proper titles and backlinks. Then there are elements that cannot be changed once is built such as domain name and domain age. A lot of other elements, like using a keyword as the first word of a title or guest posting, are up for debate between different SEO experts, who differ in their opinions of how much these things matter. Finally, there are some elements on the list that cannot possibly ranking factors, like employees listed in Linkedin and Facebook shares, since Google cannot know this information. But, these factors may affect overall branding outside of search results.

Ultimately, while the list of Google 200 ranking factors does go to show just how complex SEO is, it should be taken with a grain of salt as well, realizing that some factors are much more important for a website than others. Want to discuss more? Contact us to come in to discuss more about SEO and ranking on Google, and even get a free consultation.


Google search personalization works to provide a tailored experience to the user. However, Google personalization can also be troublesome for businesses who need help tracking search engine results. A few small tricks to google personalization eliminate Google personalization can provide more realistic results.

Everyone knows that Google bases search results on a company’s website ranking. What is less commonly understood is that Google also bases search results on the search engine user himself. Google is actually a personalized experience; nobody sees the exact same thing in their search engine. Google search personalization works with various aspects that it picks up from a device to tailor results to the individual user. The two main components of Google personalization are based on geographic location and personal history and usage. While personalized Google search engine results can be useful in finding what an individual wants, it is problematic for businesses tracking search engine results. This leads to the question, how do I know what I am seeing is accurate? Attention to a few simple aspects of your search engine before performing your search can help you get the most accurate results.


The first factor that usually causes search engine results to be skewed is geography. Search engine results change based on country location. This is the easiest factor of Google personalization to understand. Each country uses different websites, companies, and even looks for different searches. This is for reasons of language, accessibility, cultural tastes, and differences in Google Algorithms. If your site is not considered relevant in a particular country, it will not appear in search engine results. So, if you are trying to take your business to the international level, beware that your results at home do not translate to those abroad.

While country differences do not impact all businesses, precise locality is extremely important and impacts all businesses without them even realizing it. Google search engine results are tailored to the user’s exact city or metropolitan area. This means that your result in one city, in which your business is quite popular, may be totally different from the next city over, because your internet marketing strategy does not cater to that locality.

Based on location, the first key for how to turn off Google personalization is to check your location. Under the ‘search tools’ tab of the Google bar above search results, there is an option to select location. Then, you have a choice of whether to use preset locations, have google use your current location, or search to set a location of your choice. Then, you can see how you rank in different locations and know where you stand apart from only your own location.

Personal History

Even more complex than location is the element of personal history in the process of Google personalization. Google search engine results are based on your personal search history. In the same way that Google knows what ads to give you based on the past websites you have been on, it gives top search results based on what you have already searched. For example, a past client of Design & Promote was a high profile Chicago Lawyer. After reading some negative reviews about his firm, he continued to search and read them. When he looked up his firm, the negative review came up as #3 in the Google search engine results. Panicked, he contacted Design & Promote, who did not find the result until page 3. Ultimately, it was Google search personalization that picked up that the lawyer was interested in this particular result, and bumped it up to one of the top spots for his search results only. Tracking search engine results is thus difficult due to the fact that Google remembers previous interests or searches and adjusts results accordingly.

Luckily, there are tools to help minimize Google personalization as well. First and foremost, you need to disable customization before you can properly start tracking search engine results. To do so, the first step is to log out of your Google account. Google keeps you logged into your Gmail or Google + account, which is why you will notice your name or photo in the top right corner. Then, the second step is to click the tool gear in the right corner of Google and go to the history. Click on “disable customization”. This will eliminate customized Google search engine results. Be sure to check this feature often, as it is not a permanent feature and will turn back on over time, and must be applied to each individual browser.

The other tool is to disable tracking search and website history. Again, this must be done in every browser individually, as it is browser independent. Each web browser has a different name for the feature, but then end result is always to not track internet history. On Google Chrome, the feature is called “gone incognito”; on Firefox, it is called “new private window”. In internet explorer, the feature is called “insafety browsing”.

Concluding Remarks

Understanding how to turn off Google personalization will allow you to see your business in an unbiased search engine. If you do not turn off personalization, you will not get accurate results. Go a step further and hire Design & Promote to keep track of accurate ranking and keyword results for your business; we run the tools necessary to know how your website is doing in the search engines every week for quick and precise results.


Search Engine Optimization

21 keys to improve search rankings in 2016

21 Keys To Maximizing Your Site’s Visibility In 2016

  Twenty years ago, the fact that you had a website was enough. People would come for the novelty. Ten […]

chicago seo

Work With An SEO Company In Chicago For Maximum Image ROI

As a leading SEO company in Chicago, Design & Promote can help boost marketing ROI with your page graphics.


Ignoring This Change Could Tank Your Search Rankings in 2016

Web apps… mobile apps… responsive design. A few years ago, most of us could ignore the above. None of them […]

seo blogging techniques

SEO Blogging: There’s More to Blogging Than Meets the Eye

If blogging is one of the ways you promote your business, make sure you’re SEO blogging. Writing a blog for […]

Google 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List

If you know anything about SEO, you know that it is not an easy job. For an expert SEO strategist […]

google personalization

Tracking Search Engine Results with Google Personalization

Google search personalization works to provide a tailored experience to the user. However, Google personalization can also be troublesome for […]

Search Engine Optimization

seo-company-chicago-ilAt Design & Promote, we are SEO experts. We have the skills, the expertise and the resources to create a customized SEO campaign for your website that will allow you to dominate the search engines, draw more visitors to your website, and convert those visitors into sales.


Web Design & Development

featured-innovativeWe custom design innovative, hard-working websites that you can proudly stand behind as the online face of your business. We hone in on three key elements for maximum impact: visibility, usability, and converting visitors into customers.


Branding & Graphic Design

brand-guidelines-creationWe know that your brand needs cohesion in order to be effective. That’s why we focus on your complete brand identity. Whether we’re designing your logo, brochure or electronic newsletter, we create brand assets that complement and interact with each other.


Custom Photography

custom-photography-chicago-ilWe offer custom photography services to compliment your design & branding campaigns. From meet the staff photos to virtual office tours, we can provide you with beautiful photos to convey your message!


Internet Marketing

social-media-marketing-chicagoDesign & Promote specializes in social media marketing, and online promotional techniques that put your brand everywhere it needs to be.