For the average small business website, which type of search results are the most important? Maybe a better way to phrase that is: Where are your customers? If you run a restaurant in Ocala, are you going to get more customers from Summerfield, or from Hahira, GA?

Local businesses have local customers. It stands to reason that a local business website needs to have its strongest presence in local searches. So how do you give your business website greater search appeal for local users?

Mobile search is bringing about rapid change in local online marketing. The exact number varies depending on the source, but it’s a safe bet that at least 800 million location-relevant searches are conducted from mobile devices each month — and the number of mobile searches is growing every month as more people begin to use mobile digital devices. […]

In last week’s blog post, I wrote about structured data markup. That brings up the question of why you might want to consider adding some elements of this markup vocabulary to your website’s code.

I’ve read a few articles in prominent, non-technical publications that promote the use of structured data markup — using the Microdata format sponsored primarily by Google, Bing and Yahoo — as a method of improving SEO. Unfortunately, that’s not quite accurate. In fact, the major search engines have made it abundantly clear that using an extended markup like Microdata (or any of the other vocabularies) has no impact on a page’s search ranking. […]

If you’re very observant, or if you just spend a lot of time poking at Google or Bing, over the last year or so perhaps you’ve noticed that the search engines are returning results that are a lot more informative than they used to be. “Old” style search are familiar and straightforward; they’ve got a page title, a URL and some text (usually from the content). […]

Back in April, Google released a new major update to its search algorithms under the project name “Penguin”. The update didn’t cause the same amount of chaos and panic that followed the 2011 Panda update, but it still took a big bite out of the search ratings for a number of (previously) highly-ranked websites.

The Panda update (in February 2011) hammered very profitable websites known as “content farms” because it devalued or negatively rated duplicate content and content that the algorithm judged “low quality”. Now that the dust has settled from the Penguin roll out, it appears this update focused heavily on the quality of a site’s incoming links and on the “spamminess” of its content. […]

Back when the Internet was a lot younger — say around 1998 or so — great domain names were still pretty easy for a website owner to come up with. Unless your business had a really common name, you could probably buy a domain that matched, or at least matched closely enough that people would remember it. Domains were a little bit harder to register and cost more (inflation-adjusted, anyway), but you could always find something decently memorable that didn’t have too many consonants in the middle of it.

That’s not so much the case anymore. Looks like all of the easy stuff is taken, which is why so many websites have domain names that read like something from the bookmark list of famous comicbook villain Mister Mxyzptlk. (Don’t get any smart ideas. “Mxyzptlk.com” is taken.) […]

Nearly everyone who owns a website wants to see it perform better in the search engines. Good search results are especially critical for business websites that are expected to generate leads or produce e-commerce sales.

Unfortunately, a lot of business owners give up on search engine optimization — or settle for sub-standard results — because they think good optimization is too expensive. While an investment in top-notch SEO work is seldom wasted, two very effective SEO tactics fall into the Do It Yourself category and are often overlooked by many webmasters and site owners. […]

In a post last week, I mentioned that sometimes something good accidentally happens as a result of the dark machinations of the technology industry’s various would-be Evil Overlords. In the interest of fairness, this week I’m going to point out that more often than not, when the Evil Overlords get involved in the affairs of mere mortals, something wicked this way comes.

The networking mega-corporation Cisco is usually so far behind the scenes that it’s never considered a contender for the Evil Overlord label. If you work in a large company, maybe you’ve heard somebody from tech support ranting about the frustration of taking a Cisco certification exam (although obviously they’ve never experienced the arcane adventure that is Novell Netware). Otherwise, you seldom hear the name spoken in public. Until a few weeks ago, anyway. […]

In the technology business, sometimes it’s difficult to figure out which group of Evil Overlords has the best secret conspiracy strategy for world domination. At times it almost seems that the Evil Microsoft Overlords, the Evil Apple Overlords and the Evil Google Overlords have agreed to take turns wearing the Most Evil Conspiracy Ever championship belt. (Probably to keep the Evil Facebook Overlords-in-Training out of the game.)

Every now and then, though, something useful happens when one of the conspiracies goes awry. Apple has produced some interesting TV commercials, for example, and Microsoft offers its Visio software, which can be a lot of fun if you get your hands on one of those “crime scene diagram” templates. Another one of those happy accidents is Google’s Chrome Web Store. […]