MSAA General Membership Meeting: Thursday, October 5th, 8am @ Conor O’Neill’s

MAIN STREET AREA ASSOCIATION MEMBERSHIP MEETING SUMMARY
October 5th, 2017

Those present: Tom Murray and Caroline Kaganov, Conor O’Neill’s; Rita Jourdan, Cherry Republic; Ron Stevens, Small Business Development Center; Becky Ashcraft, Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority; Doug Martelle, Jamie Giordano and Brad Paddock, Ann Arbor Police Department; Mark Passerini, Om of Medicine; Carl Ent and Rhonda Foxworth, Bank of Ann Arbor; Tim Berry, Ann Arbor State Bank; Amy Milanovich, Grievewell; Darlene Sosenko, Joy Studio; Julie White, Mainstreet Ventures; Tom Bianchi, 826Michigan/Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair; Katelyn Schacht, Abracadabra Jewelry & Gem Gallery; Alan Freedman, Four Directions; Hannah McNaughton and Kara Grupe, Metric Marketing

Hannah McNaughton, Metric Marketing – Gratifying Google: Tips to Make Search Engines Fall in Love With Your Website
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): there are some actionable things you can do to improve your website’s ranking in Google’s search results.

How do search engines work?

When you search the web through Google, you are actually searching Google’s index of the web. Google compiles this index through programs called spiders. Spiders start by fetching a small number of websites, then follow the links on those pages, fetching those pages and following more links found there, continuing this process until a significant portion of the web has been indexed. (Billions of pages stored across thousands of machines!) When you type keywords into a Google search, Google will find all the pages in its index that contain those keywords. Google then asks a series of questions (over 200) that will decide which results show up at the top of the list. These questions include: How many times does this page contain your key words? Do the words appear in the title, the URL, etc.? Does the page include synonyms for your search words? What is the quality of the website? What is the page rank? (Google uses a formula to determine page rank, which rates a website’s importance by looking at how many outside links point to it, and how important these links are.) The answers to all these questions will give your website an overall score that is used to determine your website’s ranking in Google’s search results.

There are 3 things that affect your ranking in search results:
1. The search engine and the algorithms used (Google makes 500-600 changes a year and no one knows all the algorithm variables.
2. The competition (how similar websites rank)
3. You! Taking necessary action to optimize your website’s ranking in search results.

Focusing on what you can control: Your website.
• Every business needs to have a website, and it is equally important for the website to be mobile-friendly. Google’s primary focus is a good user experience, so in order to rank highly in their search results, you need to keep the user in mind. MORE PEOPLE SEARCH GOOGLE NOW FROM THEIR MOBILE DEVICES THAN FROM DESKTOP COMPUTERS, SO GOOGLE IS MOVING TOWARD A MOBILE FIRST MENTALITY. Responsive design is key, so that the same code and the same webpages are used for both desktop and mobile versions of your site. To determine if your website is mobile-friendly, Google ‘mobile friendly search’ to find the Mobile-Friendly Test in the Google Search Console. Enter the URL to see your test results. If your website is not mobile-friendly, a redesign is highly recommended.

• Page speed is also important to Google, as this improves the user experience. People expect a quick load time. Google ‘page speed test’ to find Google Developers PageSpeed Insights. Enter your website URL to get a ranking between 0-100 on the mobile and desktop speeds for your website, as well as optimizations you can apply to improve your number.

• Schema Markup is code that can be added to your website to help search engines understand more about your content, so that better search results can be provided to users. Visit schema.org to get the code you need to optimize your search ranking. Schema Markup can lead to rich snippets – additional information Google adds to your search result in addition to site title, URL and meta description, such as a menu, schedule, review, etc.

• Make sure that all information found online regarding your business is consistent, including name, address, phone number, etc. Go to https://goo.gl/YzMJx9 to enter your business information to find all your online business listings and inconsistencies. Yext is an available program you can pay to use to block any outdated business listings from appearing in search results.

• Content Optimization: working with the written material on your website to make it more attractive to search engines. This includes your title, meta description (lines of text that show up after your title in search results), headings, anchor text (phrase used on page links), and image alt attributes (descriptions of you pictures). If you are using wordpress, you can use a plugin called Yoast to highlight any potential errors.

• The size of images (file size, not physical size) on your website can have a big impact on your page load speed. Files can be resized to be smaller in order to optimize loading speeds. Smush is a wordpress plugin that can resize, compress and optimize all the images on your website.

• Wordpress (used in 30% of websites) is very customizable and the best option for search engine optimization. Preset designs can be bulky and include things that are unnecessary for your business. It is advised to invest in a website redesign every 3-4 years, to keep up with changes and stay current and optimized in search results.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

• The annual downtown Treat Parade is Tuesday, October 31st.

• November 7th is the next local election with several millage proposals on the ballot.

• The next membership meeting is November 2nd. Keep an eye out for an email with from Maura with details on the retail showcase and retail walk-around.

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