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Preview: Search Engine Guide : Small Business Search Marketing

Search Engine Guide : Small Business Search Marketing



Search engine marketing news and information you can use to grow your business.



Last Build Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2017 05:20:30 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2017
 



Are There Any Search Optimization Strategies That Are Illegal?

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 05:20:30 -0600

by Jayson DeMers In SEO, if you use a strategy that violates Google's terms of service, or if you make a move that harms the average user's experience, you could see a decline in your rankings or even face a strict "penalty" that harms your chances of ranking in the future. Fortunately, despite Google's tendency to keep the nature of its algorithm a secret from users, the company is fairly explicit about what practices are good and which ones could earn a penalty--spelled out in its Webmaster Guidelines. Obviously, there's a sliding scale at work here; making a minor slip might cause you to fall a couple of spots in the rankings, while an egregious offense could blacklist your site, at least temporarily, barring it from search engine results entirely. It's possible to recover even from these extreme cases, but the process is usually slow and arduous. But what about the worst of the worst? Are there any SEO strategies that are actually illegal? The Gray Area SEO is a strategy meant to take advantage of the offerings of private companies (i.e., Google). Accordingly, there aren't any laws that explicitly outline what optimization strategies are allowed or disallowed. However, there are some tactics that could qualify as SEO that violate other laws regarding how businesses are supposed to operate. SEO tactics will always exist in a kind of gray area since intentions, actions, and effects can all vary significantly. However, these SEO tactics, under the right circumstances, could be interpreted as illegal: Sitting on a trademarked domain. In SEO, you can draw significant power from the domain you choose to use; it's a factor in your relevance to various queries and could attract more traffic. However, if you poach a domain name that's trademarked by another company, and refuse to sell it for a reasonable price, you could be considered to be cybersquatting. Cybersquatting is a complex issue in the legal world, but it can be considered a crime if you do it for the sole purpose of exploiting someone else's trademark for a quick profit. While choosing a strong domain name can be effective for your SEO strategy, it's best to stick to uncopyrighted terms you know belong to you. Negative SEO. Negative SEO is so named because it exists as the opposite of traditional SEO; ordinarily, you take efforts to boost your own domain's rankings within search engines. In negative SEO, you'll intentionally harm your competitors' rankings so you increase by comparison. For example, you might build spammy links to your competitor's domain to cause them to incur a ranking penalty. This can be considered a form of deliberate sabotage and could be considered to be illegal. To further discourage you from trying this, it's also been shown to be not a particularly effective strategy. Pagejacking. Pagejacking is an advanced form of plagiarism on the web. Offenders see a page of a website that's ranking highly in search results and attempt to duplicate it (including its HTML code). Of course, this isn't tolerated by Google's search algorithm and is considered a form of copyright infringement as well. In general, any effort you make to deliberately damage, defame, or sabotage another business could be interpreted as an illegal action. Do You Need to Worry? After reading the headline and learning that some SEO strategies could be illegal, you might be concerned about your own practices and strategies, but don't worry--even most black hat tactics (which I strongly discourage you from using) aren't illegal, and at their worst, will only earn you a penalty. However, if you're concerned that you've done something wrong, or have committed a misdemeanor by interfering with another business, it's best to contact a lawyer proactively and see if it's necessary to prepare a criminal defense. In the meantime, you can clear your conscience and reduce your risk of being accused of a crime to zero by sticking to only best practices that fit squarely into "white hat" territory. In g[...]



How to Use SEO to Market a Property

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:27:11 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Whether you're attempting to sell the home you reside in, or you're trying to attract new tenants for your rental property, one of the keys to your success is going to be marketing your property. If you're working with a real estate agent, they'll do at least some of the work for you, but you'll still want to make some extra effort if you want to sell or fill your property fast--and for the best possible price.Traditional marketing methods include direct advertising, which can be effective, but costly. Instead of relying exclusively on these marketing methods, consider adding in search engine optimization (SEO). After all, the more diversified and targeted your overall property marketing strategy is, the better results you'll see.The Benefits of SEO for Property MarketingThese are some of the most important benefits of SEO for property marketing:Low cost. Unless you're a property management magnate with multiple properties, you probably won't have a large budget for marketing and advertising. Ads will take a good chunk of your budget to start, so SEO can fill in easily as a low-cost supplement; even a few hours of work a week (or a few hundred dollars) can be enough to see results.Low (and changing) competition. One of your biggest hindrances in SEO is the amount of competition you face. Fortunately, there isn't much competition for SEO when it comes to specific properties. Yes, there are many other homeowners and landlords pushing their properties, but few of them are using SEO specifically--and if they are, their highest-competing properties will likely drop from the market once they're sold or rented.Inbound interest. Drawing traffic in naturally, rather than explicitly advertising your property, means you'll generate a higher flow of inbound interest. If you're collecting prospective tenants to screen, that can be a huge advantage.Search capitalization. More than 90 percent of home buyers use the internet to search for properties at some point during the buying process. This makes search engine results pages (SERPs) one of the most heavily trafficked areas for home buyers, and SEO capitalizes on that volume. No matter what type of buyer or renter you're looking for, they're almost certainly using search.Key ConsiderationsHowever, before you get started, there are some important considerations to note:Use SEO as a supplement. SEO is valuable, but it may not work perfectly for all property types. It's best used as a supplementary marketing strategy, to be used in combination with traditional marketing and advertising methods.Nab as many pages as possible. The more pages and sites that contain your property, the higher the chance that it will appear for relevant local searches. Make sure your property is listed on its own landing page, as well as popular listing sites like Zillow and Trulia. Optimize each page with a slightly different set of keywords and phrases, to maximize your potential reach. Consider getting your own domain. If you own a rental property you know will need tenants again in the future, consider buying your own domain. That way, you can build your domain authority steadily over time, and your SEO strategy will grow more effective each time you use it to find a new renter. Use rich media content. Anyone who's sold a home knows the importance of including lots of high-definition images; all these images should display what your house looks like, and be marked up with titles and alt text that makes them likely to appear for relevant searches. You should also include ample written content, describing your house, to maximize its search visibility. Know your audience. Finally, make sure your SEO tactics are focused on one specific target audience. If you try to optimize for everyone (a general audience), you won't have the same relevance, and you'll rank for fewer keywords.Is SEO a perfect strategy for every homeowner or landlord? No. Is it a foolproof way to sell or fill your property? No. But as a supplementary, low-cost strategy, it's all but guarantee[...]



The 7 Biggest Time Losses in SEO (and How to Fix Them)

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 12:01:45 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Search engine optimization is popular for its cost and time effectiveness; because all the assets you create and changes you make are semi-permanent, and because your domain and page-level authority will grow consistently over time, there's no upper bound to the results you can see.The flip side, of course, is the time factor; many newcomers are reluctant to approach SEO, and even experienced search optimizers lament having to spend hours of time on things like keyword research and ranking analysis on a regular basis.Fortunately, there are some ways to mitigate this time loss, and improve the total ROI of your SEO campaign.Major Sources of Time LossThese are the areas most responsible for wasting time in an SEO campaign:1. Initial momentum.First, if you're building domain authority for the first time, you can expect a massive holdup at the outset of your campaign. Before you can start ranking for keywords that get any kind of significant traffic, you need a decent authority score and relevance for a handful of target keywords. According to SEO Mechanic, that could take anywhere from 4 to 8 months, depending on what you're targeting, how much effort you're putting in, and who you're competing against. Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about this hurdle.2. Feedback delays.You'll also lose time to feedback delays. SEO is an ongoing experiment; you'll make efforts, wait to see results, and then adjust those efforts based on the results you see. Unfortunately, it takes time for Google's index to catch up with your changes, which can push your response time back up to 60 days. These days, predictive analytics software like Market Brew can simulate results in the span of a few hours, so you can cut that time drastically if you skip ahead.3. Content creation.Content is your most powerful ongoing tool for SEO, but it's going to drain your time quickly. According to Buffer, a high-quality blog post (of roughly 1,500 to 2,000 words) takes somewhere between 2.5 and 3.5 hours to write, depending on what resources you rely on, how in-depth you go, and how fast you can write. Ultimately, you want your posts to be high-quality no matter how much effort it takes, but if you haven't optimized this process, you can end up spending far more hours than necessary.4. Link redundancy.Inbound links are the best way to build your domain authority, but if you get stuck building links on the same domains, or pointing to the same internal page of your site, you'll end up wasting your efforts. Each successive link on a domain returns a significantly lower amount of authority, so it's far better to spend your efforts pursuing new domains.5. Link loss.You can also see time loss if a link you've built--which probably took at least a few hours of effort--is suddenly removed. Some links will be removed due to new policies at your target domain, and there isn't much you can do about these. Instead, focus on producing the best content you can for your external publishers--that's something you can control.6. Tactic noise.Your SEO strategy will include dozens of different tactics and approaches at once, so if you see results--or no results--it may be difficult to search out which of your tactics or changes was most responsible for the increase or decrease. You can reduce the time it takes to make this evaluation by trying new tactics and changes out one at a time--provided you have a "control" established at the beginning.7. Penalties and plateaus.Finally, if you suffer a penalty from Google or reach a plateau where your results just aren't increasing, you'll spend a disproportionate amount of time digging yourself out of that hole. Fortunately, Google is pretty open about how it penalizes sites, and publicly publishes its webmaster guidelines so you can tell if any of your on-site content is in violation of those rules. Accordingly, penalties are easy to avoid. Plateaus, on the other hand, are annoying, and all you can do to avoid them is keep experimenting and upping your [...]



7 Optimization Strategies to Use on Every Product Page

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 19:36:13 -0600

by Jayson DeMers If you have an online store or a website with purchasing opportunities for your visitors, you probably have a host of different product pages at your disposal. These product pages are some of your greatest opportunities to turn site visitors into paying customers, and they're perfect fodder for search engine optimization--if you know what you're doing.Why Product Pages Are So ImportantSo what is it about product pages that make them so crucial for a search optimization and conversion optimization strategy?Online real estate. Unless you have only one specialty item, it's likely that you have multiple product pages to work with. Each new product page is another piece of online real estate for Google to index, which represents more ranking opportunities. Note that more pages isn't necessarily better for SEO--you still need to pay attention to quality--but more pages do give you more flexibility and more possibilities.Customer intent. Product pages are also unique for offering a specific item, which your target search users will be looking for.Persuasive opportunities. Finally, once a user lands on one of your product pages, you'll have the perfect opportunity to persuade them to convert; you've presented them with a product they're looking for, so all you have to do is close the deal with the right persuasive language and images.Optimization StrategiesSo how can you make sure these online marketing powerhouses serve you to the best of their potential? These are the tactics you should be using on every product page:Pick the right title and meta description. Your titles and meta descriptions are two of the most important features of any page of your site--and are usually the first things you optimize when setting up a new page. However, for product pages, these features require a bit of extra consideration. Not only are these pieces of meta data important to help Google understand what your page is about, they're also the first things your prospective customers are going to read when searching for your product. Accordingly, they have to be highly accurate and convincing at the same time.Include significant descriptive text. Next, you'll need significant descriptive text on the page to describe what the product is, what it does, how it can be used, and who's most likely to buy it. This should be a minimum of 300 words, and probably closer to 600 or more. This text is important because it's going to naturally address many questions your searchers might have about this product, helping you optimize for long-tail keywords; once they're on the page, it can be used as a persuasive tool to get them closer to a purchase.Include multiple images (and optimize them). You should also include multiple images of the product you're selling, from multiple angles to use in multiple ways. This is going to add to the perceived value and persuasiveness of your page overall, and will also help you ensure visibility in Google Image search--just make sure you've got all your images in the right format, with accurate titles, descriptions, and alt text.List related products in a sub-section. Next, include some related products on each product page. This will help keep users interested in your site, but will also optimize your product for related product searchers. For example, if you're selling a mobile hotspot, you could list other mobile hotspots and accessories that your customers might consider.Include alternative descriptions of the product. Think up different descriptions for your product, and include them in the body of your product page. These could include descriptions for different target audiences, descriptions for alternative uses, or colloquial descriptions that someone who is unfamiliar with the product might use to describe it. This will widen your potential audience.Include customer reviews and ratings. Ratings and reviews are essential if you're trying to convince users to buy--and good ratings and reviews might even boost your sea[...]



Can Your SEO Campaign Be Effective in Other Countries?

Wed, 19 Jul 2017 23:51:36 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Most search optimizers end up getting tunnel vision--understandably. Google still gets the vast majority of all search queries, so most optimizers focus exclusively on Google rankings, and if most of your customers are in the United States, you're also likely focusing on domestic results.But have you ever thought about spending effort optimizing your website for another country?Advantages of International SEOThe idea is simple: get your business listed in search engines beyond the ones in your home country. For example, you might optimize your site to show up in searches in Singapore, in addition to the United States. Why would you want to do this?Broaden your demographics. If your product or service has a broad appeal, optimizing for search engines in other countries could instantly make it visible and available to thousands, or even millions of new people.Leverage inexpensive opportunities. Prices in other countries--especially developing countries--are much lower than in the United States. Google AdWords ads in the United States have increased in price steadily over time; they're still not expensive, by most definitions, but prices for marketing efforts in other countries could be substantially lower.Focus on a new target audience. You may also want to target another country as a way to target an entirely new demographic. Rather than simply casting a wider net, as you would if you were only interested in expanding your existing audience, you'll be creating entirely new products, services, and/or marketing materials for a new market segment.Strategies to Make Your Site Internationally FriendlyAs you might imagine, you won't have to radically overhaul your SEO strategy to rank high in other countries' search engines. As usual, your main points of development will include things like technical optimization, ongoing content creation, and backlink building. Beyond that, you can optimize for other countries using the following strategies:Revise your URL structures. First, you'll need to update the URL structures of your website. If you're going to have a United States version and various international versions (as you should), there are a few options available to you. You could host each version of your site on a different domain, or use a different domain extension (like .us) to distinguish between your versions. You could also use different subdomains (like us.examplesite.com) or offer different national versions as subdirectories, which come at the end of the URL. Going even further, you could use a generic top-level domain (gTLD) with extra language parameters to specify which language is displayed.Update your language tags. If the country you're optimizing for has a language other than English, make sure to update the language tags of your site to reflect that new language. This will allow search engines to detect what language you're using in what sections of your site, and index your site accordingly.Understand your new population. Remember, much of search engine optimization depends on how you write for the people reading your content, rather than the machines scanning it. When you adopt an international component to your SEO strategy, you'll need to perform some new market and background research to target your content appropriately. The better you know your readers, the more likely you'll be to succeed, so don't just blindly translate work you've already done.Create regular content in the new language or culture. Again, just blindly translating the work you're doing for United States residents isn't going to cut it. If you want to see any measurable long-term results, you'll need to produce an ongoing stream of content that reflects the language and/or culture of your intended readers.Overall, updating your site to be featured across multiple countries doesn't take a lot of effort. You'll need to maintain a new branch of your site, and potentially produce new or translated conten[...]



6 Ways Nonprofits Should Be Using SEO

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 12:05:24 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Nonprofit organizations need to raise awareness of their brands just like ordinary corporations, but they face unique challenges in the marketing world. For example, nonprofits rely on donations to keep their organizations alive, and that often creates a catch-22: relying on donations limits the budget, which means you'll have less available to fund your marketing strategies, but without marketing strategies in place, you'll have a harder time getting those donations.It may also be difficult to recruit volunteers, or put together a cohesive brand "voice" that summarizes the mission of the organization while characterizing it for the purposes of raising brand awareness.How Nonprofits Can Take Advantage of SEOFortunately, SEO is a good fit for nonprofits as a cost-efficient, scalable way to reach almost any target audience. If you're working for a nonprofit and you're trying to build a search presence, use these tips and strategies to get an edge:1. Recruit volunteers to write content for your site.Arguably, the most important ingredient in any SEO campaign is a wealth of high-quality, diversified content. But you're so busy and short-staffed, it's nearly impossible to find time to write all the posts you want. Instead of trying to do everything yourself, rely on volunteer authors to populate your blog on your behalf. Recruiting guest authors is easier than most people think--even for for-profit industries--so it shouldn't be hard to find a handful of people passionate about your cause who also want to establish themselves as online authorities.2. Reach out to companies for linking opportunities.Companies usually like the idea of associating themselves with nonprofits. It's a way to give back to the community and engage in corporate social responsibility, and it also makes them look good to their customers. Reach out to businesses in your area, and ask if they'd be interested in partnering with you; you could ask for donations of money, supplies, or even just visibility opportunities. In any case, the partnership, no matter how small, will serve as an excuse for your sites to link to each other. You should be able to generate significant authority by attracting these links.3. Boost blog posts through social syndication.Your blog posts aren't going to generate attention all on their own; you need some kind of catalyzing action to attract more eyes to your work. The best way for nonprofits to do this is through social syndication, and potentially boosted social media posts. Connect with as many people as you can, and distribute your work regularly to make sure it gets in front of as many people as possible.4. Rely on original research.As a nonprofit, there's likely one cause at the center of your organization; for example, you might be trying to provide resources to local families, or raise awareness and research funds for a specific disease. In any case, one of the best ways to convince new donors is by illustrating the problem you're trying to solve with numbers. Incidentally, that's also one of the best ways to create original content. Do as much original research as you can on the problem you're trying to solve, and weave your findings into your best blog posts, whitepapers, and eBooks.5. Take images and videos of your nonprofit in action.You can also motivate more people to follow and engage with your brand by including more images and video of your organization in action, both in your regular content and throughout your social media presence. This helps people understand what it is you do, and humanizes your brand. It also encourages the individuals in those pictures to take action by sharing it further with their social circles.6. Take advantage of social influencers.Finally, take advantage of the potential of social media influencers, who are already connected to tens of thousands of followers (or more). The idea here is to work with influencers on collaborativ[...]



We're Optimizing in a Post-Penguin Era: Here's What That Means

Tue, 09 May 2017 11:36:42 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Link building has always been an important part of search engine optimization; links indicate authority, which in turn dictates how sites can rank in SERPs for relevant keyword terms. The Penguin update, which was originally released in 2012, overhauled how optimizers viewed link quality, and subsequent iterations of Penguin helped to shape the "Penguin era," demanding intelligent, relevant link building instead of link spam and forcing optimizers to reevaluate their previous strategies.Now, we may be entering an entirely new era of link building, thanks to a major change in how the Penguin update works. This is the post-Penguin era, and your link building strategies should change with that distinction.The Last Penguin UpdateIn September of 2016, Google released what became known as Penguin 4.0, an end cap to the regular, iterative Penguin updates. According to MultimediaX, the biggest takeaway here is Penguin's incorporation into the "core" Google algorithm, and the resulting process of Penguin-related data to update in real-time.What does that mean? Previously, Penguin existed as a separate algorithm that worked in conjunction with Google's core. Data refreshes occasionally updated information in Google's index about specific sites, but those refreshes weren't exactly consistent.You might find out that your rankings dropped due to a link you built two months ago, or fail to see your rankings recover for months after you initially made changes to your link profile. Now, those refreshes happen constantly and automatically, so any actions you take will have a nearly instant impact on your performance.In addition, Penguin 4.0 introduced a change to how penalties work. Previously, if a formal penalty was applied, it would apply to a full domain. It still might apply to an entire domain, but in some cases, it may only apply to a specific page. However, it's still bad to get a penalty, no matter what.How to Build Post-Penguin LinksSo are links still important? Absolutely. It's almost impossible for any site to rank without first building authority--and you need inbound links for that. Let's take a look at how to build links, now that Penguin is officially part of Google's core algorithm:Focus on "natural" links. Even though Penguin is now part of Google's core algorithm, the standards it set for link quality still remain. If you want to avoid getting penalized, you'll need to build "natural" links, which means the links pointing to your site shouldn't look like they're intended solely to pass authority to your domain. In practice, there's an easy rule of thumb for determining how natural the link appears: ask yourself if a user encountering this link would find the link valuable. If they do, it's probably okay. For example, if you're writing an article about the importance of getting new tires for your vehicle, a link to a site with tire reviews would be helpful to readers while a link to a bowling alley would not.Use strong content as an anchor. Instead of focusing on building links, focus on writing fantastic offsite content. Your content should take priority, and your links should be secondary. Establish guest posting profiles on multiple offsite sources, and do your best to contribute material that those publishers want to see. You'll make the publishers happy and the readers happy, and whatever links you can fit into your content will look natural and add even more value to your already-valuable content. Plus, if the content's good, it will bring your brand some reputation value even without a link. Check your rankings weekly (at least). The biggest change that Penguin 4.0 offered was the constant state of refresh in monitoring backlinks. That means your rankings could change within a day or two of a new link being considered as part of your backlink profile. Accordingly, you'll want to keep a close eye on your rankings, checking in on at[...]



How to Optimize Your Online Product Catalog for Search

Tue, 11 Apr 2017 11:42:16 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Consumers have increasingly turned to online stores to do their shopping, but with so much competition in play, it's hard for ecommerce business owners to remain competitive. Your online catalog exists to showcase your products to an interested audience, but if that audience never gets their eyes on your offers, it won't matter how good your deals or products are.One solution is to optimize your online product catalog for search engines, which will help you rank higher, achieve more brand visibility, and get more traffic to your pages. So how can you do this without spending a fortune?Strategies for Catalog OptimizationThese strategies will help you build a bigger online audience:1. Use printed and online catalogs together.If you're used to operating exclusively online, using a printed catalog may seem foreign to you, but catalog printing is relatively inexpensive through sites like Printing Center USA. It's a good way to quickly advertise the existence of your online catalog to an audience who may otherwise miss it (demographics who rely on printed advertisements and news), and start directing traffic to your site. This, in turn, creates a synergy between your digital and physical campaigns and jumpstarts your SEO efforts with new traffic, shares, and social media buzz.2. Use specific product names in your page titles.Your page titles and descriptions will be the main sources of information that search crawlers use to judge the relevance of your page. Including the specific name of your product will ensure that your page is considered when consumers search for that name; for example, you'll want to include the brand, the model, the model number, and the variation (if applicable). You'll also want to briefly describe the product in the meta description.3. Include at least two paragraphs of descriptive text for each product.You'll also want to include lots of descriptive text--at least two paragraphs' worth--for each of your product pages. According to Spotify's guide, this not only gives more content for search crawlers to consider and index, it also helps consumers by giving them more information to make a final decision.4. Optimize your images and videos.Including images and videos on your product pages is a good way to secure more customer engagement, and you'll likely earn more backlinks, which are vital if you want to build your authority over time. You can optimize images and video by giving them a descriptive name, including alt text (for images), and including a meta description that describes what's happening (in the video). You may also consider hosting your videos on YouTube and embedding them on your pages, giving you another outlet of optimization; Backlinko has an excellent guide on YouTube optimization if you're interested in more information.5. Include reviews and testimonials.Reviews and testimonials will make your site seem more authoritative, and as an added bonus, they'll help push consumers to make a decision. In fact, 88 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so the more reviews you're able to collect, the better.6. Answer common consumer questions on-site.You should also include a brief Q&A section on each of your product pages. Here, you'll list at least a handful of common consumer questions with common phrasing, alongside detailed answers that address those concerns. Again, the information may help consumers make a decision, but they'll also optimize your pages for long-tail keyword searches, making you more likely to rank when customers submit those queries.7. Employ Schema.org microformatting.Microformatting, sometimes called "structured markup," is a way to format your backend code in a way that allows Google to better understand and categorize it. For example, you can point out what portion of your page is a collection of reviews, and fee[...]



How to Write Better Content for a Mobile Workforce

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 14:33:10 -0600

by Jayson DeMers If you want your content marketing campaign to be successful, you need to make sure it appeals to your target audience, both to achieve higher relevance for strategies like SEO, and to better hold attention from readers. If your target audience is made up of professionals, that means catering to industry considerations, including offering instructions, news, practical advice, and other materials that can improve their performance in a given niche.But professional audiences are evolving, using new technologies, working in different environments, and developing new demands. For example, according to Dialpad, only 19 percent of full-time workers spend 40 hours or more behind a desk per week. Our workforce is becoming increasingly mobile, working remotely and on the go, and our content needs to change to reflect that shift.How to Write Better Content for a Mobile WorkforceThere are three major changes to consider when brainstorming new content:Mobile devices are smaller and offer a different UI. As you've undoubtedly experienced in your own life, mobile devices tend to have smaller screens and more limited forms of interaction than laptops. This reduces the mobile experience and forces you to consider narrower, more precise forms of content engagement.Mobile workers have less time. If a worker is constantly mobile, they're probably traveling from meeting to meeting and trying to fit everything into a tight schedule. That means they have less time and are looking for content to meet their needs quickly. As Content Marketing Institute points out, some of the best performing mobile content is also the fastest and easiest to read.Mobile workers research immediate needs. When you consult your mobile device, it's probably for something you need immediately. Otherwise, it could wait until you were at a formal work station. That means your topics and your tone should be geared toward solving a problem as quickly as possible.Tips for ImprovementSo how can you take action to address these considerations? Optimize for mobile devices. Your site should already be optimized for mobile devices; if you aren't sure, you can always run a check using Google's mobile-friendly tool. Your site should be responsive, meaning it adapts based on the size and shape of the device viewing it, and all your content should load quickly and easily. In addition, all your text should be clearly legible without having to scroll or zoom. This is a basic prerequisite if you want your content to be engaging.Choose helpful topics. Your mobile workforce isn't as interested in reading high-level concepts; they want fast, practical tips. The more useful your content is, the better, so spend some time coming up with topics that are helpful for your audience. How-to guides, step-by-step troubleshooting, and tutorials are all good ideas here.Write more concisely. According to the Purdue OWL, concise writing is a way to choose the most effective, efficient combination of words in your article. Writing more concisely doesn't necessarily mean using fewer words; however, that's often a side effect of the process. Go through your articles and eliminate any language that is redundant or unnecessary to achieve a complete understanding of your intended meaning. This will help your audience read through your content faster, getting to the point of your article rather than dwelling on the fluff.Create more videos and visual content. Visual content is naturally more engaging, thanks to its appeal to our intuitive senses, rather than processed thought. According to Hubspot, the inclusion of a video can increase a page's likelihood to convert by 80 percent or more, and videos are much faster and easier to engage with than a written article on mobile devices. That doesn't mean you need to create vide[...]



How Accurately Can You Predict the Results of an SEO Campaign?

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 11:36:45 -0600

by Jayson DeMers If you're thinking about launching an SEO campaign, one of your biggest concerns is going to be whether it will yield a positive ROI ... and how fast you can make it happen. If you're planning a campaign for a client, you'll also want to be able to estimate your effectiveness as a selling point. But is it possible to estimate or predict SEO results with any accuracy? Why SEO Results are So Hard to PredictAs you're well aware, the SEO industry is extremely variable. Not only can Google push activity in an entirely new direction with little more than a simple algorithm update, but trying to figure out what the search engines want often seems like trying to shoot a moving target.There are plenty of signs that suggest how you might proceed, but you aren't likely to stumble upon the perfect solution.Herein lies the problem. As an SEO specialist, you have a fairly advanced grasp of what does and doesn't work, but many factors remain outside of your control.You can make all the right moves, but at some point, you have to let events happen on their own and trust that the process will unfold according to your plan. In addition, you have to assume there won't be any significant changes between the moment you execute and the period when the results start to pour in. "SEO is highly technical and creative at the same time. You can't just follow a formula and expect to get the same results every single time," explains Kyle Sanders of CWR SEO. "As any experienced professional in this industry knows, every campaign deals with a unique set of factors. It would be foolish and irresponsible to make wide, overarching projections when there's so much variance."It's not just the search engines that shift over time, though. You also have to consider the butterfly effect of content popularity.One small, uncontrollable alteration in the marketplace can have an outsized impact on the type of content that will be most effective thereafter. Thus, while you might be able to design a stellar SEO campaign around a promising set of keywords and topics, only a small shift could suddenly transform your best predictions into anyone's guess.Obviously, there will be factors outside of your control, but that doesn't mean you can't make any predictions. Clients have a right to request an estimate and hold you to it. After all, they're paying for a service and expect value. Your mission is to tap into your experience and don't make promises you can't keep.SEO thought leader Stephan Spencer likens SEO to a fitness routine. It's possible to create a plan, but everyone's body responds differently.You can tell someone that he or she will lose weight by burning more calories than the person consumes, but specific steps will still have to be executed and results may vary depending on such details as metabolism, body type, and age.Furthermore, in order for the desirable results to be achieved, you have to stick to the routine and take it slow.Four Tips for Estimating Results as Best You CanRefusing to offer predictions probably isn't an option. When a client asks you to project future results, you should be prepared to provide an informed answer. The essential strategy is to proceed with caution and avoid making promises you can't possibly keep. Here are a few tips that many in the SEO industry have found helpful over the years:1. Focus on Achievable Goals"As with your own personal fitness, often it is best to focus on small, achievable goals that are right in front of you. Doing so allows progress to happen, less inhibited by the constant worry of where you are in comparison to the mountain of work ahead of you," Spencer says."Instead of trying to succeed at SEO with a single herculean effort, you can create something great, measure its performance, and then create another starting point from which to c[...]



Which Is More Important: Technical SEO or Reputation Management?

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 13:09:16 -0600

by Jayson DeMers There are many moving pieces in an SEO campaign, but only a handful of broad categories of tactics to use regularly. For example, most people intuitively group tactics into the categories of on-site optimization and off-site optimization, which are clearly defined by whether a given tactic takes place on your site or somewhere else. But there are different dimensions to consider as well--for example, you can think of a split between technical SEO and reputation management tactics.Which of these are more important to the success of your overall campaign?Reputation ManagementReputation management, as the name suggests, is all about building up your brand's image online. This could involve a number of tactics, including the publication of valuable content on other websites, the promotion of your brand name and image, and the establishment of personal relationships with your customers.For example, MediaOne suggests optimizers create LinkedIn Groups and post regularly to enhance their reputation; not only will you gain more social followers, you'll also earn backlinks and establish ground for publishing content in the future.There are a number of benefits to these tactics:Brand visibility and recognition. Obviously, your reputation will grow with reputation management tactics. More people will see your brand, you'll rank higher for branded searches (and see more of them), and the visitors you attract will be more acquainted with your business. That means higher click-throughs for all your rankings, and more conversions when they get to your site.Backlinks. Reputation building is also a good way to earn more inbound links. If people read your content and value it, they'll be more likely to link to you as a credible source, which will boost your domain authority.Guest posting and future potential. Building your reputation also opens the door to bigger and more authoritative publishers for guest posting opportunities. These give you immediate benefits of brand visibility and inbound links, but also a path to even better opportunities in the future.Technical SEO Technical SEO, on the other hand, is all about making precise adjustments to your site to improve its visibility in search engines. Here, you could update your site's code to be cleaner and easier to crawl, target specific keywords and include them in your page titles and meta descriptions, and even rebuild different areas of your site.For example, QuickSprout notes the importance of user retention, and encourages optimizers to make tweaks to their websites so they load faster and preserve a worthwhile user experience.There are several benefits here:Real search visibility. Google can't rank your site if its search engine bots can't see it. Your biggest priority with technical SEO is making sure that search engines are able to process your site to index and display it accurately.Precise targeting. Technical SEO also gives you the ability to make and reach for precise targets. You'll have the opportunity to research various keywords and keyword phrases, and reorganize your site to rank for them.Troubleshooting. If something goes wrong with your site, technical SEO will give you the tools to analyze the problem and eventually correct it.The Problems With One Over AnotherAfter reading this far, you may intrinsically favor one over the other. However, there's a problem with identifying one set of tactics as "better" or "more important." If you focus exclusively on technical SEO, you won't have the opportunity to develop your brand reputation; you may slowly climb the ranks for a handful of specific keyword terms, but your visitors will be apathetic to your brand, and you won't grow nearly as quickly without reputation management.On the other hand, if you ignore technical SEO and focus o[...]



How Voice Search Is Changing (and Why Your SEO Strategy Needs to Adapt)

Fri, 27 Jan 2017 13:23:52 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Voice search has been around for longer than most people realize. It feels like the technology has only been around for a couple of years, but in reality, Google voice search first came out in 2002. We think of it as a recent development because only recently have algorithms begun to solve the biggest problems with voice search, including accurately detecting spoken syllables, generating results in an intuitive way, and of course, encouraging mass user adoption.Now that voice search is popular with a much wider user base and its technological sophistication is accelerating, we're going to see some major evolutions in the next few years. If you want to get ahead of the competition and reap the rewards for your brand, now's the time to start adapting your SEO strategy accordingly.What Changes to ExpectSo how is voice search about to evolve?1. Better semantic recognition and filtering.First up, voice search algorithms are going to get better at detecting what people are saying, and translating user intent into a query that yields them the results they want. For example, if a user mispronounces something, uses slang terms, users local vernacular, or otherwise distorts a query with these tiny quirks, a better voice search algorithm could infer what they're trying to search for and give them recommended results accordingly. This will facilitate even more widespread adoption and help centralize searches around keyword phrases. Google RankBrain already does this, to some extent, for typed searches, so voice search is the next logical jump.2. Emotional inflection detection.According to Dialpad, one reason the human voice is so powerful is because of its ability to carry emotional inflection. This is why it's easier to tell when someone's joking in conversation than it is through text or email. The next generation of voice search software may be able to pick up on a person's emotional inflection to provide them with better results. For example, a sense of urgency may route someone to faster, more immediate service providers, or a sense of apprehension could connect a user with anonymous service or results for newcomers to a given subject.3. More personalized results.In any case, all technologies are becoming more individualized and personalized, and voice-based search results are no exception. Most voice search programs are tied to personal digital assistants, which are already getting better at analyzing individuals' needs. Expect more intuitive adjustments for personal search preferences, search histories, and immediate factors, like a person's location.4. More display and interface options.One problem with voice search is the lack of an easy interface on which to view results. Most people use voice search on mobile devices, which have limited screen space, so one innovation to come could be a broader range of interface options. Since it's unlikely that one solution will work best for everyone, it's more likely that different providers will generate different possibilities, which means a host of potential SERP scenarios to prepare for.5. Integration with other tech.According to Morgan Stanley, half of America's jobs will be replaced by robots and AI programs within the next 20 years. AI and smart home technology are going to take over consumers' lives, and most of these options will need some mechanism to drive their operations. In this way, voice search--and voice commands--will likely become more tightly integrated into our world, which could extend search optimization to even more practical, physical areas.How to PrepareMake sure your strategy is prepared for the future of voice search by adopting these strategies (if you haven't already):Use more conversational language. If people search more with casual con[...]



The 4 Types of Website Traffic to Watch in Google Analytics

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 12:55:17 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Creating and managing a website is a big step for a business, but just having a website isn't enough. Establishing a web presence on the web is equivalent to constructing a building for your business in the real world; you can make it pretty on the outside and pretty on the inside, but that doesn't guarantee any foot traffic, and it certainly doesn't guarantee any patronage.If you're going to maximize the revenue potential of your site, you need to understand who's coming to your site, why they're coming to your site, and what you can do to increase those numbers. Fortunately, Google's free Analytics platform gives you these kinds of insights in great detail. But you still need to know what you're looking at.There are tons of different metrics to track in Analytics, and it can be confusing if you're a first-timer. Instead of trying to learn all the details immediately, narrow your scope to observing patterns in the Acquisition tab--this is going to tell you where your traffic is coming from. Here, you'll find four major sources of traffic, from which you can gather valuable insights about your site:1. Direct Traffic.Direct traffic is measured by visitors who visit your site without any online source directing them to it. For example, if a user types in your URL directly or calls upon it from a stored bookmark, it's considered a direct visit. Direct visits generally come from one of a few types of consumers--they could be people who heard about your brand offline, repeat visitors who wanted to come back, or even your internal staff checking the site for errors (though you can filter this last segment out entirely for more accurate data). You can improve this traffic by increasing repeat visits and stepping up your brand awareness efforts offline, though as you might imagine, the offsite route is a bit less efficient than other methods.2. Organic Traffic.Organic traffic refers to inbound visitors who found your site through search engines. Any traffic from Bing, Google, and other search sites is counted in this data. This is most useful for practitioners of SEO, who use content, links, and other strategies to increase their likelihood of ranking high for various relevant searches--higher organic traffic generally means greater success with the strategy. However, branded searches also count toward this total. If your site is new, this figure will undoubtedly be low, but you can increase this number by optimizing your site, producing regular content, establishing relationships with outside authorities, and getting active on social media. It takes time to develop the domain authority necessary to earn this type of traffic, but it can be a lucrative source in the long term.3. Referral Traffic.Referral traffic accumulates any visits that came from outside sources. If links to your site are available on external sources, users can follow those links to find your site. Link building in SEO (or through guest posting) are valuable for this. You might also earn links from local directories or industry directories, provided you submit your information to them. Getting a link published on a high-profile source with tons of traffic can route significant droves of users to your site, but the more valuable a link is, the harder it is to get. Keep a close eye on your link development strategy to increase referral traffic--you might also consider placing affiliate links, which cost a bit of extra money but can be valuable opportunities for getting new traffic. Some links might even crop up naturally if outside sites choose to cite your information--click into the Referral traffic section to see exactly which sources are generating the most traffic to your site.4. Social Traffic.Last but not least[...]



9 Tips for Artists Looking for More Search Visibility

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 12:42:35 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Most artists these days maintain a website to sell their services, or at least a blog to show their work. But it's hard to earn new commissions and work opportunities -- whether in the form of a music gig or audience at an art show -- unless you can generate a steady stream of traffic to your site.There are many viable ways to earn such traffic. For example, you can pay for advertising, or build a social media audience first. There's usually a downside, however: Paying for advertising requires upfront capital that most artists don't have, and building a social media audience can be an unpredictable and even counterproductive mission.The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) AdvantageSearch engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best strategies for additional visibility, and that goes for artists, too. It's fairly inexpensive, especially when compared to outright advertising; it doesn't require a base following to start; it requires no formal expertise (at least, again, in the beginning); and it has the potential to grow your traffic exponentially -- both in a local area and on a national basis.Higher search rankings will almost always result in higher inbound traffic. So as long as your site's content and conversion rates are in order, attention to SEO is going to lead to greater interest in your services.Tips for Artists and MusiciansSo how can an artist make the most of this strategy? In addition to following standard best practices for SEO, you'll particularly want to employ the following tactics:1. Declare a niche for yourself.Make sure you have a dedicated, specific niche that you serve, and be as specific as possible. This specificity will ensure you don't have much competition. For example, if you knit blankets, don't just optimize for terms such as "knitted blankets"; get more specific with terms like "custom knitted blankets for newborns" or "knitted blankets with nerdy design."2. Make your services clear on dedicated pages.Dedicated pages with associated keyword terms aren't as essential as they used to be, but they're still valuable for artists and musicians. Most people are going to be searching for your goods based on the type of service you're performing, so keep at least one or two pages that have rich content focused on what you actually do.3. Use a personal brand.Even if you have a regular brand (such as a dedicated store for your products or a band name), you'll want to use a personal brand in conjunction with it. A personal brand will help you increase the visibility of your content, and increase the appeal of your business for prospective customers.4. Keep your branding consistent.No matter what you're doing -- whether it's on your own site, a publisher's site, or social media -- keep your branding consistent. Sooner or later, people will search for you by name, so you'll want to keep all your brand names and identity signatures as consistent and recognizable as possible over the long run.5. Write about your trade.People are always interested in learning arts, crafts, and music, so take the time to write a blog about your trade. Don't necessarily give away the "secret sauce," but you should go out of your way to share your knowledge and expertise. This will make your content highly shareable and visible, which is an easy shortcut to getting more backlinks for your page (and therefore more domain authority to boost your rankings).6. Incorporate multimedia content.You're an artist, so show off the goods! Make sure you're incorporating plenty of examples of multi-media content on your site, including images, video, and sound clips. Optimize these features with appropriate titles and description tags so they can easily be found through sea[...]



The Relationship Between Marketing Automation and SEO

Tue, 13 Dec 2016 10:54:45 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Marketing automation platforms and SEO are often discussed in the same breath, but they have somewhat of a tumultuous relationship. Some say marketing automation platforms can hurt SEO if you aren't careful, while others believe it's complementary. What's the real answer?Understanding the Relationship"Your business is like a bar stool," digital marketing consultant Jon Rognerud says. "Take any one of the four legs out and it will fall over. Strangely, most businesses are like a three legged stool."What does Rognerud mean by this? Well, he admits that most successful businesses have a great product, good salespeople, and a team that understands exactly what their target market needs. However, the fourth and most important leg is missing: lead generation.Lead generation is typically missing because it's scary, intimidating, and there are so many different options to choose from. There's SEO, social media, content marketing, paid advertising, and an entire suite of other specialties.Over the past few years, software known as "marketing automation" has risen to prominence. As the name suggests, its goal is to automate various marketing actions that are seen as repetitive. These include social media, email, and various website actions. The problem is that many companies have invested in marketing automation without understanding how it really fits into the larger digital marketing picture. Specifically, they're viewing it as totally separate and unrelated to SEO. As a result, thousands of businesses resemble unbalanced three legged stools that could topple at any given moment. To understand this imbalance, you have to start by reviewing the conversion funnel. While there are many different versions of the conversion funnel, we'll use the very basic example that follows a three-tiered progression of Awareness > Evaluation > Conversion. In this example, awareness is at the top of the funnel, evaluation is in the middle, and conversion is at the bottom. When a company invests in marketing automation, they're nailing down the middle of the funnel. While this is great, the problem is that many of these companies haven't done anything to address the top of the funnel. The result is something like an inverted hourglass. The middle of the funnel is prepared, but there's nothing going on at the top of the funnel to bring leads in. When does marketing automation fall short? "When there's no top-of-the-funnel foundation put in place to support middle of the funnel marketing automation," HubSpot explains. "Many marketers invest in marketing automation before they have fertile ground for advanced lead nurturing campaigns to blossom. Marketers won't have the ingredients they need for effective marketing automation until they have both a steady flow of organic leads coming through the funnel."This is where SEO enters the picture. While SEO touches multiple points in the funnel, it's largely a top-of-the-funnel tool for reaching customers who are searching for your products and services in the awareness stage. In order to get the most out of both SEO and marketing automation, the two must work in harmony with one another. SEO allows you to make the most out of your marketing automation investment while marketing automation ensures your SEO leads don't go to waste. Five Important Crossover PointsWithout further ado, let's check out some of the specific crossover points where marketing automation and SEO complement each other for maximum benefit. 1. Closed-Loop ROI TrackingAre you familiar with closed-loop return on investment (ROI) tracking? This tracking allows you to see the revenue each keyword produces over a specific period of time. I[...]