What is SEO and Why Do You Need It?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing a website so that it performs well in organic search. Ranking highly for search terms which are known as keywords increases the visibility of a website and leads to a higher number of visitors to the actual website.

Put more simply, SEO will allow you to connect with those searching for your product or service and help turn them into customers.

As a business owner you need to have a plan in place to promote your business and obtain new clients. SEO should be a part of that plan and here are just a few of the reasons why:

  • Leads generated from SEO close at an average of 15% which is 12% higher than the conversion rate for outbound leads.
  • In a recent survey by Hubspot only 9% of businesses using inbound marketing with SEO failed to see an ROI. If it works for 91% or businesses, it is very likely to work for you too.
  • Blogging is a leading source of leads and traffic for businesses when they are properly optimized for search. SEO will make sure you blog posts get found and drive traffic.

SEO is unarguably one of the best ways to connect with targeted consumers and share your offer. Implementing an effective SEO strategy is not straightforward or easy though, especially with all of the recent updates to Google’s SEO ranking algorithm. For those of you willing to take a risk and tackle SEO on your own, here are some tips to get you started.

Figuring Out How Your Customers Search
Before you can optimize your website, you have to know what you are optimizing it for. The terms people use to search for what you offer are known as keywords. There are numerous methods for finding keywords but The Google Keyword Planner is free and easy to use, especially for a beginner. You can find terms by entering the URL of a competitor site into the landing page box. Here is what that will look like:

Implementing Keywords into Your Website
Once you have identified keywords that people are using to find products or services similar to yours you need to implement them into your website. If you have done this in the past you may have been told to include the exact keyword a certain number of times on each page.The page will look like this:

This used to be the best method but Google has improved their ability to understand the theme of a page. For this reason, you should include your primary keyword and other related terms to establish a clear page topic.

Reviewing and Improving On Page SEO Factors
Content is a very important part of your website but it is far from the only on page factor that will affect how well your website performs. When you design a site or have one designed for you, it is imperative that you make the site easy to navigate for users. You should have a clear hierarchy to your site and if you have multiple topics, it is important to maintain a proper silo structure.

Spreading the Word about Your Content
You may have heard or been told “just write great content”. Great content is certainly a crucial element to building a website that converts but it is far from the only thing you need to do. Once you have built a great website and filled it with great resources, you need to tell people about it!

With SEO, you want to tell people about your content that are likely to share or link to it. Building a list of people who have linked out to content similar to yours and asking them to link to your content is known as outreach link building. This is one of the easiest and more effective methods in use today. There are numerous methods you can use to build links some are better for local SEO while other link building methods are geared towards higher organic rankings. Check out my Complete Guide to Link Building to find the best methods currently in use.

Measuring Results
The best part of SEO and inbound marketing as a whole is the ability to track and refine the entire process. Numerous tools are available that allow you to keep tabs on your website, traffic sources, and user engagement. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are both free programs offered by Google that will allow you to keep track of your visitors and website. If you are not currently tracking your website, you should implement those two programs right away.

Moving Forward
If you still think you want to tackle the SEO for your website, remember to take the time to find out how people are searching. Use that information to write exceptional content and do not be afraid to let the world know about what you have to offer. In addition to SEO, you should also look into the other methods of inbound marketing such as social media or content marketing and how they may benefit your business.

Good luck and if you have any questions along the way please feel free to contact Stellar SEO and we would be more than happy to answer them!

If you have a comment please leave it below.

The Tekno concert was a complete fail: Events companies need to stop scamming Kenyan revellers

Anyone that knows me knows I am a huge Tekno fan. The man is a talented singer, songwriter, dancer and producer. He has been able to do something a lot of artistes are unable to by producing hit after hit. His music is made up of catchy melodies and memorable lyrics. ‘Pana’ was basically my 2016 song, so when I heard he would be coming to Kenya I started to count down to what I imagined would be one of the best concerts this year.

I go to a lot of concerts and events. Some of it is because of the nature of my job and the other is because I genuinely enjoy them. I prefer events and concerts to going to a club most days and have been happy with the high number of concerts this year. What I am saying is I know what the average concert looks like and I have basic expectations that I imagine should be met by an event organizer. The Tekno concert did not deliver in anything. The organizers Roya Ent (whoever these guys are) and Hype ENT (seriously you should know better by now) were pathetic.

Insecurity and disorganization at the entrance

I took a boda-boda to Ngong Racecourse at 11.30pm because there was epic traffic on Ngong road, only to be greeted by a disaster of an event. The disorganization was apparent as soon as I got to the entrance. I couldn’t make heads or tails of what line I was supposed to be on as all I could see were crowds of people standing around. Finally, after asking a couple of people, I got onto what looked like a semblance of a line and then the nightmare began. So apparently, there were two lines to get in: Advanced tickets and one for those buying at the gate. That’s where all the order stopped. There were multiple lines with people pushing their way to the front because it was simply not moving.

It took me about an hour to get in and in this time, I was almost trampled, got an eye injury from being pushed in and had my feet stepped on multiple times by people in the queue. I was in all honesty, scared. My friends were in a different line to get in and I was worried if something bad happened to me I wouldn’t have anyone to help me. Please note that even VIP ticket holders had to go through this madness to get in. As in you pay Ksh 8,000 or Ksh 10,000 to be pushed at the entrance of a concert? These guys are truly jokers. A friend had a VIP ticket and she left because she couldn’t deal with the chaos at the entrance. I absolutely complained to the ticketing team when I finally got to the front of the line because in all honesty, I did not pay Ksh 3,000 to be herded in like a cow.

The disorganization would have been laughable if it didn’t lead to a security threat. These guys had the people buying tickets at the gate squeezing past the advanced tickets line to get in. Multiple people were robbed in this mess. I was basically holding my wallet and phone tightly to my chest to avoid being robbed. I must question the intelligence of the person/people who set that up as it is nursery level logic to make the lines actually face the entrance.

Dangerously careless and corrupt security personnel

The security personnel were incredibly incompetent. I did not get the name of the security company but they have no business being in that business if that’s how they do the job. It started at the gate with a guard asking people who did not produce an ID getting in to give him a bribe so he could let them through. At the ticketing entrance, the guards were actually the ones pushing people and making getting in a worse experience than it already was. Worst of all though, was the allegations that there were people who later in the night were giving guards Ksh 500 so that they could get into the concert that the rest of us paid Ksh 3000/4000 for.

Also, there simply wasn’t enough security. There are multiple people whose phones were snatched at the entrance. The security set-up should have been such that if you weren’t coming for the concert, you could not get in to Ngong Racecourse at all. There were so many petty thieves hanging about at the entrance taking advantage. It was so bad that even when we were leaving the concert, one of the security guards warned us to watch our phones as people were being mugged.

Mediocre setup and performances

I am tired of the awful drinks station setups at concerts. There were very limited options and they had only two people at three stations serving all those people. It was complete chaos and it took about 45 minutes for me and my friends to get drinks.

The setup at the main dome was just so so. They also did not have screens at the back or on the sides, just at the front. I won’t comment on the MC or the DJ because that’s not who I came to see. The opening acts were a yawn fest and because of the disorganization, the first act was getting on stage past midnight. The only performances that were a little exciting were Fena and Kansol, but they don’t have that many songs so it was a short set. Everyone else was on stage singing music from over 10 years ago and it was the same acts from all these other concerts so nothing to spend time writing about here. To be honest, it felt like a jam session. Though to be fair, the average age of those there looked to be 21 so maybe I’m just too grown for that mess.

Tekno’s 28-minute joke of a performance

After what seemed like forever, the man of the hour got on stage. It was 3am and my friends and I were finally ready to have a good time. He started off well with one of my favourite jams, ‘Be’ followed by another favourite, ‘Samantha’. I was impressed because he had a live band and I was finally enjoying myself thinking this would perhaps make up for the unpleasant happenings of the night. Suddenly, the band stopped playing and this happened a couple of times. He started using playback but this does not fix the situation as in the middle of ‘Pana’, the DJ (Crème) messed things up and Tekno stopped the song. The crowd started to boo because of all the interruptions.

He performed ‘Duro’, ‘Diana’, ‘Wash’, ‘Yawa’, ‘Go’ and ‘Rara’ but it was all hurried. Tekno was visibly frustrated and it was sad to watch as his stage presence was great and so were his moves but it simply wasn’t enough to give a good show. I would have preferred he didn’t use the band if he hadn’t had enough rehearsal time with them. The sound was awful and there were times the band was louder than him. After a confused 28 minutes of a performance, he left the stage.

I have never seen such a sad crowd at a concert before. Everyone looked like they’d just come from a funeral and the place immediately started to empty out. This is the most ridiculous thing though; Prezzo got on stage after Tekno. First, I did not know that guy still makes music. Second, these organizers have opened a new level in the worst concert ever universe.

Conclusion

I want my money back. How do I get my money back? We seriously cannot put up with this kind of mediocrity when it comes to concerts anymore. We need to demand quality from event organizers. I would gladly pay for VIP for concerts but from experience it’s usually a complete rip-off. We are already being overcharged for tickets especially if you compare with what our neighbours are paying for similar concerts, and it’s unacceptable that we cannot even get the basics right. A successful events company is not in being able to bring a big artiste and market a concert, but in the actual execution of the event. That being said, there are very few of those in Kenya. Sponsors of events also need to push organizers to deliver quality, otherwise they should stop attaching their brands to mediocrity.

After that disappointment of a concert, I went to Kiza for the afterparty. My friends and I had more fun dancing and singing along to Tekno songs at a club, than at the actual concert we had just come from. That should tell you everything you need to know.

By Mwende Ngao

Why WordPress Websites are Better than Traditional Websites in 2017

Why WordPress in 2017? Because WordPress is much different than when this post was originally posted in 2009. Back then, WordPress had a bit of a bad rap by being thought of only as “blog” software. That was soooo limiting to the true power of WordPress back then and such negative verbiage has pretty much left the conversation when WordPress comes up, thank goodness.

Here we are in spring of 2017. Still today, after all these years, we use WordPress for the entire Here Next Year website…including the blog part.

Yes, the website you’re on right now is using WordPress. You’re in the blog section where this particular post has commanded a #1, #2, or #3 search position on Google since about 20-minutes after we published it 7 years ago for the phrase “Why WordPress.” So much for the theory that blog posts get pushed down after time.

Go to any of the main pages of this site showcased in the top navigation and, yep, still WordPress.

WordPress websites offer much more than the few five or ten benefits you usually hear about. A blogging software-based website was termed as the new evolution of how websites are constructed. Now, WordPress is the content management system all websites and blogs are compared to.

Before we get into the meat of the actual reasons why we feel WordPress is so great, let’s clear up another myth while we’re at it: A blog is a website…a website is a blog. There is NO difference.

Blogs just have a few more cylinders under the hood, if I was to use a metaphor. In fact, I wrote a blog post that suggested your WordPress website is the very heart of ALL of your Internet marketing efforts.

I don’t know why the power of WordPress is still being so under-rated after all these years, because I believe this beloved software was responsible for business owners no longer being held hostage to their designers and virtual assistants. Owners could easily learn the basic operations of adding and changing content on their websites. And, that changed the industry!

Here are 35 reasons why WordPress websites are better than traditional websites

  1. Save Money – No longer do you need to send the most basic text changes to your designer or even have your designer add new pages or blog posts for you. Make the edits yourself whenever you want and save the money you would’ve paid your designer for more important things by adding new content on your own. Times are tight and managing your own text, photos and video for your website is a great way to contribute to saving costs.
  2. Greater Accessibility – Make changes or add content from any computer in the world with Internet access and a browser—without the need for additional software or fixing firewall settings.
  3. Speed of Communication – Since you don’t have to wait a few days for your designer to make basic changes, the content on your website can be altered immediately by you, thereby giving your website visitors the most timely and current details possible.
  4. Design Consistency – WordPress uses a themed approach to design and layout. You would either purchase a pre-designed theme or have one custom designed to your unique branding. Then the design theme is added to the WordPress files. No matter how many pages or blog posts you add to your site, the theme setup assures your look and feel will be consistent throughout so that your visitors stay focused on your message rather than being distracted by multiple layouts.
  5. Design Flexibility – If I bring up “consistency” as a benefit, then I should also include design flexibility. Not only can you have a single theme to provide the consistency you may want, but WordPress also provides powerful flexibility so that you could have a whole different theme and/or layout for every single page of your website…if you really wanted to. More commonly requested is to have sections of websites have a similar layout with different color themes, which is much easier to achieve. I’ve worked with some high-end professional speakers, though, who have demanded multiple design layouts within the same site to display their on-stage presentation creativity, for example. Even in those cases, WordPress has proven to be capable of providing diverse design throughout the website.
  6. Mobile Readiness – No need to produce a second Web site just for mobile users. WordPress automatically recognizes if a person is viewing the site through a web browser or mobile device and configures the content to be viewed on either.
  7. Easy Setup for Mobile Responsive – Notice in the “mobile readiness” benefit, I didn’t describe WordPress as an out-of-the-box “mobile responsive” software. You have to use a mobile responsive theme, a plugin that converts your site’s appearance to mobile responsive or customize your CSS file(s) manually for true mobile responsiveness. And, don’t forget that you will need a mobile responsive design to achieve a truly mobile responsive WordPress website. My point is that WordPress gives you options for producing a mobile responsive website and that is one of the greatest reasons WordPress should be considered. The trend in website design these days is to create your website to be viewed on mobile devices first…and desktops and laptops a far distant second. Can you believe we’ve come to that??!
  8. Better Time Management – Add content and then schedule those posts to publish on your site on whatever day and time you want. You could write an entire 12-week e-course, for example, break it up into 12 pieces and have each automatically post to the site at the same day and time each week for 12 weeks.
  9. Ease of Membership Site Rollout – With the addition of a few plugins, a WordPress blog can evolve into a full service membership site with as many levels as you would like.
  10. Social Networking Friendly – Automatically integrate your blog posts with social media like Twitter, facebook, Linkedin instead of having to go to each one, login, and make a post that you’ve just added something new to your website. [2016 Update: We do not advise auto-posting from blog to social. Customizing your posts for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and including your URL link in the post produces much better engagement results.]
  11. Engage with Current Media – Easily add audio and video to posts and pages.
  12. Creative Welcoming – Integrate any design within an hour or two in comparison to other CMS (Content Management System) tools that all look alike because of their stringent design constraints.
  13. Ultimate in SEO Friendliness – The construction of WordPress blog code is consistent and streamlined without excessive HTML code that Google finds very inviting for indexing. Sure, it’s not as streamlined code as manually coding out a website. But, as long as you provide the other essentials of search engine optimization, WordPress will be accepted by Google’s spiders. Plus, with the right setup, you’re able to customize every page or post you make to give you the highest possible probability of getting your pages in high search results positions, which is still not always the case with home-grown CMS systems even in 2016.
  14. Inspiring to Get Involved – Participating by adding posts and pages and managing your own content becomes “fun.” I’ve convinced numerous clients to finally embrace the opportunity that blog posting offers…especially when they add video to their posts! When you see the results from your OWN efforts instead of farming out everything, you become fueled even more to add content, posts and pages on a more frequent basis.
  15. Search Engine Magnetism – As a result of your inspiration to post content more often, your frequency of contribution will attract Google robots and other search engines like magnets. The robots will search your entire site every day looking for new content and new pages and changes they can index. New pages get indexed in hours or even MINUTES when you commit to adding new content over time. Many of our HereNextYear posts have been published and displayed on Google’s organic search in under 10 seconds! Try that with a traditional website!
  16. Growth potential – No need to update navigation when you add pages; links to new pages will be added automatically based on what “category” or categories you assign your posts and pages to. This all happens in the admin area instead of manually editing javascript menus and complex PHP include files.
  17. Insanely Fast Learning Curve – Learning to edit content, post new pages, add photos and images is as easy (maybe even easier) than using MS Word. Figuring out these simple procedures on your own would only take a novice a few hours. With initial one-on-one training by phone from an expert WordPress trainer, all of these functions can be performed by YOU in under an hour…even if you have no design or programming experience. There are two and three FULL-day classes just to learn the BASICS of Dreamweaver or HTML coding. I know…I used to teach them! WordPress blog software is by far, the easiest tool to learn how to maintain content on your website.
  18. Improved Security – One of the arguments “against” WordPress or other blog software the use of plugins. Plugins are small add-on programs to enhance the capability of the blog software. The supposed threat is that hackers can break in to your website through these plugins. But, the exact opposite is in fact true: If you have the right people involved in the setup of your WordPress installation, your blog site can be hacker-proofed equally to a traditional website. How can that be true? Because there is an actual process to what is called “hardening” a WordPress installation. But, you just don’t hear designers or developers hacker-proofing traditional websites even though FTP and cPanel accounts can be just as easily broken into when simple usernames and passwords are used. See the difference?
  19. Plugins and WordPress Version Updates are Easier Now – If security has improved, we need to feature the benefit of auto-updating. Remember, plugins and WordPress are software. They get updates and upgrades just like all other software. The need to update and upgrade WordPress software and associated plugins has long been considered a negative in WordPress world. Over the past year, website hosting companies have gotten wise to this and now offer what’s called Managed WordPress Hosting. We offer two types of Managed Hosting through Here Next Year that are defined more fully on our hosting details page. Almost all hosting companies offer this now but you really need to know what you’re asking for when you talk to them. Use our descriptions if you’d like.
  20. Inspires Repeat Visitors – The fact that you are inspired to add new content frequently will also encourage and increase your repeat visitor numbers. When people like what you contribute to the Web, they want to know when you add more. That’s where RSS feeds (Real Simple Syndication) come into play along with automated notices by email that new posts have been made. These announcements trigger former visitors to come back to read the rest of the article, or in the case of RSS, visitors can subscribe to receive the entire post through their RSS reader or mobile device. This is not just the “future” of how communication will evolve in a few years, but this is NOW, TODAY. If you are not experienced with how RSS works, having a blog site will introduce you to its importance for sure.
  21. Two-Way Communication with Visitors – Through the use of blog comments, you are no longer restricted to one-way “outbound” communication with visitors like you would be with a traditional website. Sure, you can always have a “contact us” page on your traditional website, but blog comments allow for anonymous two-way discussion between you and your readers. And, every time someone makes a comment to one of your posts, the inclusion of their content full of keyword phrases helps you to build better search positioning. It’s like getting free SEO help from the general public! You probably searched Google for something related to “why WordPress” to arrive at this page. One of the reasons this page ranks so high is because of the many comments displayed.
  22. Increase Your Perceived Industry Authority – Making frequent posts and sharing your opinion on what’s happening in your industry offers so much more potential for establishing rapport with your audience than a traditional Web site could offer. Why such a difference? Because traditional websites just take too darn long to format new content. Even if you open Dreamweaver software and copy an existing page to create a new one, you still have to format all that content, upload it to the right directory, assign page permissions, add the page manually to navigation….UGGG! A WordPress blog will allow you to add new pages in as little as five seconds! Period! And, that page can be set to appear in navigation on every other page on your entire website in the click of a button. You just can’t afford to spend that much time to make that many additions of content pages in such a short amount of time with a traditional website. And, when you’re “reporting” on industry happenings, and giving your opinions, speed is of the essence. That’s the difference.
  23. More Brand Awareness – Since the common approach with a blog site is to build out the site into an industry-specific authority resource with hundreds or even thousands of pages of content, the number of opportunities for the general public to see your brand identity is multiplied exponentially over and above the traditional 10 to 30 page Web site.
  24. Immediate Identification of Hot Topics Among Your Audience – If you make 10 posts and get one or two…or even no comments at all, and then all of a sudden you post a topic that brings 20 comments, you learn immediately of an interest. This is a highly valuable opportunity that you normally don’t see with a traditional Web site, unless you pay for a bunch of custom programming to create some forms and surveys. The utility to allow blog comments is included with every Blog installation automatically with no custom programming required.
  25. Better Anchor for Original Articles – When you publish articles to directories and blog networks, you first want to post it to your blog site. Why is a blog site “better” for this than a traditional Web site? Because of the automatic archiving feature within every blog setup.
  26. Automated Syndication – Blog posts can be automatically converted to RSS feeds and syndicated to blog directories and other peoples’ websites.
  27. Backdoor FREE Entry to Yahoo! Search Addition – When you submit your RSS feed manually to Yahoo! you don’t have to pay their $299 listing fee as your site will be indexed for free.
  28. 24-Hour Listing in Bing/MSN – Adding the RSS feed to Bing/MSN is the fastest way to have your site indexed and it is common for even new sites to appear in Bing/MSN within 24 hours using this method.
  29. One-Step Posting – It might sound like I’m repeating myself with “ease of use” or “ease of learning” already listed as a benefit, but this one is different. How many ways are there to add content to a Web site where you truly only click a single button to make the content appear live online? Only one that I’ve found and it’s through blog software. There are no 10, 5 or even 3-step processes to publish content live. It’s one single step.
  30. You Control the Discussions – With traditional Web sites, the “old school” way of communicating with visitors was to add a forum or chat room. The problem with those was the need for maintaining the posts from spammers and removing discussions and predatory accounts that could threaten the integrity of your business. Blog sites changed all of that. You begin the topic of discussion. Your visitors make comments to the discussion you started. But, the comments people make are approved by you before anyone ever sees them on your Web site. It’s the best of all worlds without the worry of defaming your business with unacceptable posts.
  31. Re-Ignite Your Ideas – By having the ability to add content to your Web site in a way that is easy, fast, and requires no technical skill, you will be amazed how ideas for “what to add” will no longer be a problem. In fact, you’ll be more worried about what to write about….first! Create content about industry happenings, product reviews, or educational steps. The limits are truly endless. You’ll never run out of things to add to your blog.
  32. Increased Functionality with Lower Cost – Thousands of pre-written programs called plugins can increase the functionality of your out-of-the-box blog software. Traditional websites require everything to be programmed. Even if you find an available PHP or ASP script to work with a traditional website, there is usually significant integration work and customizing required, whereas WordPress plugins are usually a 3-click install process.
  33. Multi-User Capable – WordPress offers multi-user capability so that larger companies with marketing departments, for example, can offer editing power exclusivity or even read-only mode to others.
  34. Free Upgrades – Unlike traditional Web site software like Dreamweaver, PhotoShop or Flash, upgrades to WordPress blog software is free.
  35. Universal Platform – With the economy the way it is, designers and Internet marketing service providers are closing their doors and disappearing even more quickly than when I got started in this business in 1996. You’ve got to be careful these days. With traditional Web sites, very rarely will a new service provider agree to pick up where the old designer or developer left off. The result is that the new provider will want to charge you for starting from scratch. Conversely, almost anyone with basic PHP and MySQL experience can jump into your WordPress blog site project in a moments notice if something was to happen to the helper(s) that got your blog site setup for you in the first place.
  36. Safety – Add images and media by uploading to server from within your secret admin area instead of through traditional ftp and risking deleting important files or uploading to the wrong directories.
  37. Freshness – Easily change your site layout and appearance by swapping themes. Great for temporary changes for holidays or seasons.
  38. Reduced Loss of Work – Your work is automatically saved as you type even if you haven’t published your blog posts live to the web yet.
  39. Ease of Printing – Designers are notorious for creating Web sites that are too wide to print. With a simple plugin, all your WordPress blog site content can be easily printed in easy-to-read format…without creating duplicate “printable” versions of pages. No need for sacrificing screen view design just so that people can print the pages.

Okay, so I just couldn’t stop at 35! There are just so many reasons why WordPress is a great fit for practically every situation.