BookingTimes Blog

 

Choosing the Right Platform can significantly adjust your Google Rank.

If that’s enough for you, (wow! that was easy) have a lovely day and welcome to the family. If you’d rather not just take our word for it, we understand.  Here’s some data, and a lot of sources to back up our answer.

It’s no secret that Google’s seemingly prudish standards for delivering search results have cost businesses (large and small) copious amounts of money. Anything from being forced to update that ancient flashplayer site, adding attributes to images, figuring out keywords and then placing them strategically in code that you simply don’t understand - all the way to paying firms thousands of dollars a month to “Optimize” your site.

The frustrating part for most business owners is not knowing what to believe - it seems to constantly change. SEO agencies deliver static results month after month and manage your frustration by simply saying “it takes time.” While this is true, according to Google results can take anywhere from 4-9 months to reflect any change in rank, not all SEO agencies are contributing value. However, that means for 4-9 months, you are not likely to know if you are throwing your money away or not. With that being said, going against guidelines and cheating the system will reflect a negative impact in as little as 2 weeks.

Before making any substantial changes to your website, there are a few things you should know about Google, according to Google.

Google is logical. Google is a business.

Their primary function is to deliver the best possible search results to their users, so their users keep dumping data into Google. Search queries not only create economic opportunities for you, they also provide valuable information to Google to track, analyze, store, and sell: usage trends, buying trends, location activity, predictive analytics, and most of your dark secrets you don’t want anyone else to know. So for all intents and purposes, while you gamble your company’s operations and success on unnecessary Google fear, keep that key piece of information in the back of your mind. Google is not out to get you. 

SEO Impact of Substantial Website Changes

Changing your website can have a lot of different meanings. “Changing the content” versus “changing the platform (i.e. Wordpress to BookingTimes)”, have different implications and results. Following Google’s Best Practices Guidelines for webmasters can help you improve your rank and will give you a good idea about how to go about making changes. The good news is according to Google, they would prefer that you keep it simple!

Basic Google Principles 


 

  •  Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.   
  • Don't deceive your users.   
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.  
  • A good rule of thumb is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"   
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

 

See the source

In short: if you’re going to change your site (or build a new one), keep it clean, relevant, user friendly, and let Google know you made the change.  

 That sounds simple enough, but there are a few considerations that play a heavy role in SEO performance improvement following a transition- primarily - your URL structure.

Maintain the integrity of your established and utilized URL structure if you are making a transition.

In Google’s Guide > Introduction to Indexing it states the following: “ Without your pages’ URLs, our systems cannot crawl, index, and ultimately present your information in Search.”

This principle should be a serious consideration while evaluating new resources for functionality (including platforms.)  

 If you already have an established URL structure, you know that independent pages stand as an opportunity to display in the Search Engine Results Pages for specific subject matter. More often than not, this relates to specific products, services, or locations. All, or many of which, have their own keyword phrases used for search. 

 “Sports massage near me” (yourdomain.com/services/sports-massage)

 “Pregnancy massage near me” (yourdomain.com/services/pregnancy-massage) 

You can see the wisdom in creating opportunities through URLs - and it’s also good news for all of the money that was paid out to create them. However, if you’ve been doing this for long (more than 5 years) it’s likely that your site is very heavy and has many URLs that are not accessible, not relevant, and are not being crawled by Google or any other crawler due to limited bandwidth. If that’s the case, do not hesitate to dump the extra clutter and reestablish what is important to your company and in turn display that to Google. (You can find out what URLs are receiving any activity by looking at your behavior analytics in Google Analytics.) It is highly unlikely that you will have more than 6 primary landing pages (or core pages) on your site.

If you are using a subdomain for scheduling functionality (schedulingsoftware.yourdomain.com or yourdomain.schedulingsoftware.com) you should be aware that your SEO is impacted. Attributed ALEXA ranking (how much time people spend on the site), traffic volumes, and rank are separate from the primary domain. Google sees these as two different assets. Depending on whether or not your data is on your subdomain or the software providers’ sub domain, it would be in your best interest to redirect any traffic from the no longer valid URLs to your homepage, or appropriate landing pages. Until Google finalizes a new index of your site, the old links will still display and send people to dead pages. Removing the URLs from Google’s index (in webmaster tools)or using code to hide them (bad practice) won’t immediately stop the flow of traffic that may be attempting to load the data. As a courtesy to your customers, as well as to your standing with the Google police, a 301 redirect for a period of time is a great idea.

SEO Data on Business Who Have Transitioned to BookingTimes

We are frequently asked about the impact of transitioning from a platform that has been in use for a long period of time to our platform. After all, no more Wordpress login, no more endless content updates, image compression, plugin updates, SEO limitations due to short code, and endless spam emails…...it feels like setting down all of the balls you have been juggling - but when your job is to juggle, that’s a scary change.  Here is the data -

Company A (Large business)

Live and indexed through BookingTimes in June of 2019 in a highly competitive geo-market.

Performance 3 months prior vs 3 months following transition.

3 month window during transition vs 1 year later performance comparison. 

The current coverage on this client is 6,814 valid pages (indexed by Google and functioning without error). Despite the fractional change in average position, it is important to note that the number of keywords being evaluated increased by 320% over the course of a year - the vast majority of the new search keywords the client is now found for pertain to specific services and locations. This is the direct result of software structure. 

Technical SEO Considerations Included with BookingTimes

Function - As discussed, Google has recommended publicly that site owners take the time to build a website that offers value to their clients and relevance to the internet. BookingTimes is not a website company, it is a business software - intended to simplify the lives of the end user and our clients simultaneously. The primary objective of your website is to act as a sales conversion tool and information provider (as a means to convert sales and reduce administrative strain.) Due to the full integration of the online scheduling element of the platform into the website, alongside the marketing  and the business suite of tools - (all sitting on your domain) you are dramatically reducing any prohibitive factors that may impact revenue.

Form - Our sites are built in a uniquely uniform (but customizable manner) for a reason. You will notice our menu bars are similar from one site to another, and there are features that are consistent throughout all of our customers. This is a provided structure that lends itself to user interface and user experience. We attempt to provide the requested information as quickly as possible in as few clicks as possible. Our mobile sites compress the menu into a "hamburger" but continually display the Locations, Phone Number, and Book Now icons for easy access and navigation. All of this was strategically done to assist our customers in acquiring new customers. Google loves us for it.

Code - The BookingTimes platform is delivered in Valid HTML code that is clean and properly marked up. There is no short or fragmented code (which many DIY website builders and drag and drop plugins currently use). This makes the site easier for crawlers to read, increasing the probability of increased crawl bandwidth (how much of your site the crawler will see), and most importantly, improves the user experience. Visit any client site and use the keyboard command CTRL + U to view the source code - even if you don’t read code, go ahead and compare BookingTimes code to any WIX site. It doesn’t take an IT degree to see the logic.

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“Broken HTML or unsupported content on your pages: If Googlebot can’t parse the content of the page, perhaps because it uses an unsupported media type or the page is only images, it won’t be able to crawl them.”

by Google Webmaster Guidelines, 2020

Sitemap and Robots.txt - Once your site is live, a sitemap as well as Robots.txt is auto generated on your behalf. 

Server Speed - Google doesn’t care who hosts your website, they care how long it takes to render the site. BookingTimes runs on Amazon Web Servers - the same ones that stream your Amazon Prime movies on date night. They are fast, global, secure, and reliable. 

Image Size - When any image is uploaded to a BookingTimes website it is loaded onto the content display network and resized on your behalf (dramatically reducing load time). Images are also made to render on smaller screens.

Mobile Responsiveness - Our websites are created to perform across all devices. Mobile responsiveness is no longer an option for enhancement, it is mandatory. It’s estimated that more than 70% of your traffic is going to come from a cell phone - hence, preference given in the search results pages to those who display information that can be seen from a cell phone.

Google Integration - Google likes Google. They are greedy, they like participation, and they demand engagement. Our system allows for easy integration into Webmaster Tools, Analytics, Tag Manager, Maps and Adwords.

Automatic Content Updates - Because the schedule is integrated into the domain, you will be given credit for content updates on your schedule that is made publicly available (the same is true for new courses, services, locations, products, etc). Not only when you add a new instructor, but when someone books in, cancels, moves an appointment, etc. Because the information will be different every time Google crawls your site, preference will be provided to those pages - hence raising your credibility - and improving your rank for those pages and associated keywords.

Service/Location Specification URLs - BookingTimes has a highly sophisticated multi-location management system that allows for you to offer services in geo-targeted locations. However, you also have the ability to add details to specific suburbs, areas, neighborhoods, etc. to increase the likelihood of being found in geo-searches.  Searches such as “Driving School near Small Town USA” will pull the nearest Google My Business registered - however, if there is a designated URL on your site that specifies services provided, despite being further away, you are more likely to display in the results. 

Single Location Service Area example on map - indicating pick-up/drop-off (mobile) option for clients. Multiple locations functionality is available. Each location allows for customization of services and territory. 

BookingTimes demo clickable expanded service area offerings for single location > leading to specified location URL (ex. yourdomain.com/port-richmond-driving-lessons) 

Security - Security and SSL Certificates (or Secure Sockets Layer) became a major factor for Google in 2017 when they released statements that they would begin lowering the positioning of those who did not add SSLs to their sites. An SSL is the standard technology for keeping an internet connection secure and protecting any sensitive data that is being sent between two systems. It’s a lock to keep the bad guys out. Every BookingTimes website is fully secured with an SSL as well as 2 factor authentication for every user. (To verify if a site has an SSL or not, simply look at the url bar in your browser, you will either see a little lock box, or https://yourdomain.com the s in the https:// signifies an ssl, the lockbox will confirm that it is valid.)

Do I Need My SEO Guy (Or Girl) Anymore?

That depends on you, your company, your burn rate, your capacity, your margins, and your future plans. Without a formal evaluation of your current strategy and historical results, that’s not a recommendation we are willing to make. While the technical SEO portion of your site is covered (and a solid foundation for your business), on-page SEO as well as off-page SEO should be considered.

On page SEO - Examples

 

  •  Location page content/building  
  •  Blog contribution  
  •  Newsletter content/setup 
  •  Schema markup 
  •  Custom meta information  
  •  Relevant page additions 
  •  Landing page content/building 
  •  Site modifications (because you simply don’t have time to use our super easy drag and drop builder, or just don’t want to) 
  •  etc.

 

Off page SEO - Examples

 

  •  Ad campaigns 
  •  Keyword research 
  •  Market research 
  •  Social media (not as relevant to rank, but great for acquisition)  
  •  Directory submissions 
  •  Establishing Quality Back-links 
  • Blogger Outreach
  •  Reputation management (Reviews are critical) 
  •  etc. 

 

These are all great examples of important functions that provide favorable results over time.  There really is no downside to having a credible and skilled SEO person on your team. The BookingTimes platform provides unlimited marketing opportunities to your marketing staff, and all of it can be automated and built for scalability.

BookingTimes Approach to Search Engine Optimization 

We understand that the decisions business' make today will impact them for years to come, and can have a large impact on their performance and sustainability. We do not take the importance of online visibility lightly. While the Google rule makers are as fickle as they come, we do our best to stay ahead of any changes and ensure our customers have a distinct advantage over their competitors. 

After all, we are built on your success - when your company grows, so does ours. 

Please feel free to download the Google User Guide - It is 168 Pages long, but may not be a bad idea, for your reference. Please email us with any questions you may have after reading it.

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Do you feel like you always miss out on sales at Christmas time because you run a service based business that doesn't have any products to sell for Christmas.  Many people are also winding down for the holidays and spending all their time doing Christmas shopping making it a slow season.

Here's 3 great techniques that you can use to enable your business to shine over the Christmas period when you don't have products.

1. Gift Vouchers

Create prepaid vouchers that people can redeem for your services.  Voila, you have just turned your services into a marketable product.

There's a numerous ways you can do this.  You could whip up some vouchers or buy some from your newsagent.  However, you don't want to come across as just flogging a product to increase your sales...it's Christmas. 

Here's some ideas on how build rapport and loyalty to get more out of your vouchers than just sales:

  • Sell them to your best and most loyal customers who are always telling their friends about your business (or who want to show their friends just how good it is).  By doing a great job for their friends, you most loyal clients become even more loyal and will buy more for other friends next year.
  • Write a personal message on the voucher.  That way, people are more likely to buy because they know that you care about helping them to give a nice present.
  • Sell a book of vouchers for a slightly discounted rate.  If you sell a book of 5, they'll give it to 5 people and you'll hopefully get 5 new clients - all while having people thank you for your offering.

2. Christmas Specials

According to ASIC, Australians spend roughly $1,079 at Christmas with many loading up the credit card.  If your business is slowing down, it means that people may simply be redirecting their money to buying gifts.

If it's slowing down, why not run a Christmas special?  It could be a small service offering and for only a specified date range.

There's 3 great angles that this works on:

  1. Your regular clients who are short on money will happily book in - because they're getting a discount!
  2. People who've wanted to book in but wanted a cheaper price to try out your services will book in.
  3. Most importantly, it gives you something to market.  Something to put in front of people and say "hey, I made this discount, will you consider using my services".  More on this in the next section.

Test it out and see if it works for your business.

3. Marketing

Christmas is the time when people expect to be marketed to.  We WANT to be marketed to.  I love scuba diving and I WANT the scuba diving company to send me their best specials so I can show my wife what a great special it is and that she gets my not-so subtle hints on what would make a great Christmas present.

So if you are going to sell Christmas Vouchers OR to are having a Christmas Special, you've just created yourself a marketable event that you can:

  • Email to people
  • Put up on social media (Facebook, Google+ etc) 
  • Put up on your website. 

Having something that is marketable is MUCH more powerful than putting up a picture of Santa on Facebook and wishing people Merry Christmas.

Marketing gives people a reason to visit your website - because you're now helping them to buy a gift or get a discount.  Even telling them your Christmas operating hours is helping them to pre-plan their time before and after your holidays!

How BookingTimes does Vouchers

Maybe you'd like to see how BookingTimes lets businesses sell vouchers and gift vouchers at Christmas through their website and how people redeem them.

 

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Google released a massive shift to it's search algorith last Tuesday that gives mobile-friendly websites a massive boost in it's mobile search results.

On the surface, you may think "that won't affect me", what you may not realise is that approximately half of all searches are now conducted on mobile phones.  So the impact can be a MASSIVE gain or a massive detriment to gaining clients.  The change was so big, that Google even notified webmasters that it was coming!

When you do upgrade, Google's search results now display the tag "Mobile-friendly" increasing the likelihood that potential browsers will choose to read your mobile-friendly website over your competitors. 

Also, if 50% of traffic of people are searching for your business on their phone, you can also safely assume that 50% of people are reading your website on their phone as well - and if it's hard to read, they'll probably go elsewhere which isn't great news for your business.  You want to catch your customers before they head to someone else's website.

Google has also published a tool so you can work out how mobile-friendly your website is: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly

In summary, it's a perfect time catch the winds of Google change by upgrading your website to be mobile-friendly to quickly increase your market share while your competitors drag their heels.

PS. All BookingTimes websites are mobile-friendly and rank well on Google desktop and Google mobile searches.

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