Joe RobisonFounder and SEO consultant at Green Flag Digital

Owner of Green Flag Digital, an SEO & content marketing agency in Los Angeles, CA.

Let's talk about website SEO migration strategy, ecommerce SEO, content marketing, digital PR, technical SEO and more.

SEO is one of my top passions - can't wait to hear from you!

Recent Answers

SEO can be super tough, or super easy depending on the vertical, industry, and goals.

On the surface, for small businesses, SEO comes down to creating content and getting backlinks.

In reality though, there are tons of nuances that take months or years to test and get right. For example, you can't just create content without a strategy or research and expect to rank. You can't just blindly start cold emailing people and ask them to link to you and expect it to be successful.

One of the more complex areas of SEO is technical SEO. Enterprise organizations focus on technical SEO as a huge percentage of their time, because of their website's already massive footprint. More gains can be had by leveraging existing content to gain more traffic, than by creating new content, at least for the first few iterations. Likewise, the corporation's own PR and media wings are likely generating awareness and links without needing manual outreach.

Technical SEO can still be a huge part of a small business's site, especially when it comes to website relaunches. This is when a domain, design, structure, content, platform, etc has a massive change. There are 100 things to do to get it right, and more often than not, it fails.

Feel free to reach out to me for a call on Clarity, or read more about my background here

Shopify is better out of the box for ecommerce, and it comes built-in with web hosting, security, updates, support, etc.

Unless you are a developer or have one on your team, I'd recommend Shopify.

There are some downsides to Shopify - it's a bit harder to customize, and the WordPress plugin ecosystem is bigger, but assuming you're a small to medium ecommerce company right now, it's probably the way to go.

WordPress is great, and has WooCommerce, but it's just not as focused on ecomm as Shopify. WordPress is better if you need a ton of customizations and want to really do a lot of things that may be limited by Shopify. WordPress has better blogging and content creation options.

Trends are really tough, especially for SEO.

Although Rand puts out his predictions every year which are entertaining, none of these are actually that helpful this year to helping you actually rank -

Here's what I think will be new this year:

1. Google will continue to shift their algorithm to be more specific to the industry.

What this means is what works for a local printing company isn't going to work for Buzzfeed. What works for an ecommerce site is going to be different from a news site.

Search results have exploded in diversity of types of results over the last 5 years, and we're a long way past just 10 blue links.

This isn't new - Google's algorithm has been heading this way for awhile, but I don't think it's appreciated enough, and it will only get more accurate this year.

2. Featured Snippets are still up for grabs, but will get more accurate.

Featured Snippets inform voice search, and are actually really powerful if you earn it. Right now there's some logic to them - make sure you answer succinctly, use tables and bullet points, markup your content, etc - but Google is still experimenting widely on them.

This is an opportunity now to take advantage of, but keep an eye on how these things are changing.

3. Image and video recognition will improve and impact the algorithm more.

On my Moz post, item #6 here discussing how to use text in images - - and it references an interesting study by Cognitive SEO on the subject,

But the result from the test is that image-to-text extraction technology is not being used for ranking search queries.

I think that will change this year. Google's machine learning is just too good to not use it. Right now image search is a joke and very simple. They're going to understand image and videos even more this year.

Humans want rich content, and Google recognizes that.

Already Google can extract answers from YouTube videos and display the exact time sequence where that question is answered. That's kind of creepy. I think they're able to recognize this based on their voice algorithms, not so much video, as that's tougher to crack. But images will be next, and they'll play a bigger part in informing the content of the page and therefore contribute to ranking.

4. Sites will realize the power of their homepage and optimize it for search in some cases.

This is a random trend, but I've noticed a few sites doing this recently.

Naturally, a website gets most of their links to their home page, but most sites just generically target their home page, or make it just a portal to the rest of the site. This makes sense if you're Nike or Apple, but smaller companies need to be more tactical.

This is an opportunity to optimize for your best keyword. I detailed out how some home pages are targeting here - - and when it makes sense.

That's it for these quick predicted SEO trends. Happy to chat more if you're interested!

It is likely that you'll forget a few steps if you haven't done it before and if you don't have a solid website redesign SEO checklist.

If you miss out on a few critical things after you launch the redesign, these will harm the rankings:
-Forgetting to update robots.txt if you disallow search engines
-Forgetting to remove the noindex for pages you DO want in the index
-Not redirecting your important pages if you change URLs
-Letting important pages accidentally 404
-Not looking at all the elements helping important pages rank before making drastic changes

There's probably 50-100 items to check off if you're managing an important redesign for an important site.

If your site doesn't bring in much search traffic and you've got nothing to lose, then the risk is much smaller.

If your site is critical to your business, and you're making tons of changes, then there are some big risks there, so do some research or hire an expert to get it right!

Feel free to ping me or request a call if you have any follow-up questions, as I've done about 20 of these and so I have a huge checklist of my own to manage this process.

SEO is a tough one to hire for.

The reason being that there's so much noise out there, and so many who say they can do it, ranging from cheap outsourced people on Upwork to big New York City ad agencies who claim it's something they'll through into your contract with them.

What also make it tough is that yes, it's generally true that it takes 4-12 months to really see organic traffic results from SEO. Google itself says this:

So when you hire someone, even if they're doing quality work, it can be 4 months before you know for sure, and you've already spent that money.

If you are on a really tight budget, you have to either learn the basics yourself so that you can filter out the cruft, or rely on a trusted friend who used someone and can prove the improvements through Google Analytics reports.

To learn SEO, you should read sites like and, but you also need to get in the weeds and do it yourself - at least for a few months.

As far as a reasonable price, it all comes down to ROI. It's truly a difficult question to answer. I've thought about this a lot, and I think the best way to do it is to measure the value you'll get by ranking just your most important page for just your most important keywords. Focus on that small, narrow page first before expanding to your whole site. The concept here is that you may find that, hey if we get to the #3 ranking for these 10 keywords for this page, that will bring in 2,000 visits a month, which at a 3% conversion rate is worth $24,000 a month for our business. (Plug in your own numbers)

This epic post and ebook and template from Siege Media perfectly illustrates that --

On average, a USA based SEO agency won't offer services for less than $1,500 a month. I would say the average reputable agency or consultant would charge $2,500 - 15,000/month for their services. But this can go all the way up to $100k+/month if you were a globo corp.

For a startup, you may want to look a solid smaller agencies or consultants or look outside the USA. The problem with finding cheaper labor on Upwork, especially for SEO, is that the results can be negative or very marginal. So does it matter that it's only $800/mo if it produces almost nothing, when a $2,500/mo service produces 50x more?

You won't know how to evaluate unless you learn the basics and run the numbers.

The best thing you as a business owner can do is be very clear up front what your best products or services are, what you need to get to break even, and what your ideal timeline is. If you're not clear on your average order value, customer lifetime value, or profit margins, you can't expect the SEO to figure that you, and if nobody knows these things, then all the efforts are not tied to business metrics, which makes things complex and without a solid strategy.

There has been a good amount of discussion about this, and a lot of studies show the subdirectory is the way to go, so go with that if possible.

The debate is summed up in total by this discussion between the Founder of Moz and Founder of HubSpot:

The golden summary: "Subdirectories are better for SEO. But don't let getting technical details right stop you from investing in blogging or content creation, because a blog on a subdomain is still better than no blog at all."

I'll take a different approach than the other answers: yes, it's likely you'll have issues switching to Shopify if you don't plan absolutely everything.

Now, if your site is making no money or a limited amount of money, the stakes aren't that high. But if you're making a substantial amount of money for your business from your ecommerce platform, then the stakes are absolutely high.

Here are the questions to ask:
-Do you have complicated, custom products that require configuration? If so, then really evaluate if the switch makes sense and can be done within scope.
-Do you have tons of product, over 1,000? If so, then take a good look at whether Shopify is the best.
-Are you using features on your legacy platform that are crucial and not built into Shopify?
-Are there certain traits on your site such as internal links or category page content that is difficult or different to implement on Shopify?
-The list goes on

Don't just flip the switch and hope it works. Shopify can be great for SEO, and better than your current platform. Or it can be way worse, depending on where you're coming from.

I don't care if you go to this link or not, just wanted to let you know I've thought about this a good amount and I'm continuously updating this page on all Shopify SEO topics -

You're right about generic and high volume keywords having a ton of competition, especially if there's commercial intent for that keyword.

First - to find the best keywords I'd recommend using SEMrush or Ahrefs to find high volume keywords that have a lower difficulty score. The difficulty score is different from the AdWords competition score, and pertains to organic results instead of paid.

Like you mentioned, you should definitely target terms that people already are searching for related to your new terms you're introducing, and then introduce them to your new terms.

Like all marketing, repetition plays a big part. A benefit to you being the only one talking about it now is that you can shape the conversation. If you have email lists and social media accounts, you can actually influence the volume of searches for these new terms if your audience is large or passionate enough.

From what you wrote, you already know the strategy, you just need a good keyword tool to discover the hidden gems.

There are different ideas on this. Google read your page mainly through your HTML code, so if you view the source code of the page and the content is visible in text form, then you're in good shape.

There are different opinions on how much Google takes into account expanding accordion and tab-like structures where the content is hidden but also fairly accessible to the user.

Even though this is from 2014, it does state that there is a fair amount of discounting going on -

Yes, for example is a commercial printing company that aggregates the reviews across their site into an aggregate review rating that shows up on every page of their site. A bit of a gray area since in the search results they make it seem like every product has thousands of reviews, when in fact that's the sitewide total.

The way to collect and aggregate reviews dynamically would need to be created by your web developer. Showing these reviews via rich snippets would require you or your SEO to work with the developer to get the proper formatting around these aggregate reviews.

Hope that helps, let me know if you have more questions!

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