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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: Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:15:04 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2016

7 Strategic Decisions You'll Need to Make for Your Link Building Campaign

Mon, 26 Sep 2016 11:15:04 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Link building is one of the most effective ways to improve your rankings in search engines, passing authority to your domain and making your site seem more trustworthy to Google. But link building isn't nearly as simple as it used to be, and if you want any hope of earning top rankings in search engines, you'll need a solid strategy directing your efforts.Why Link Building MattersThe first step is to create an interesting and profitable blog--if you haven't done that, be sure to check out Neil Patel's guide on the subject. But simply having a profitable blog isn't enough to generate revenue; you'll need to drive traffic to that blog and raise awareness that it exists. It's almost impossible to build authority online without association with other authorities--and that goes for search rankings as well as earning followers and a generally bigger reputation. Link building is indispensable for establishing those associations.Strategic Decisions to MakeBefore you go posting links indiscriminately, take some time to sit down and go over the strategic direction you want for your campaign. These are some of the most important areas to address:1. Guest posting, link attraction, or both?If you want to avoid any possible penalties for link building, you'll need to ensure your links are "natural." The main ways to do this are to use guest posts to embed your links in highly valuable, relevant content, or work on promoting great content on your own blog in the hopes that other people eventually link to it on their own. There are advantages and disadvantages to each; guest posts take more time and scale more slowly, but they're also more predictable and easier to control. Viral content is wholly unpredictable, but could net an explosion of links for your site.2. How to approach your niche.Your site should belong to a specific niche, and the first round of link building you pursue should be based on establishing your authority in that niche. There are many ways to do this, so you need to have a solid idea behind your approach. For example, will you try to get yourself featured on an industry site, like an association for businesses like yours, or will you partner up with influencers--or even competitors--in your space to create impressive collaborative content? You can choose multiple routes, but you need to know what each one has in store for you.3. Page targeting.When you build a link to a page on your site, you'll be passing authority both to your overall domain and to the individual page you've chosen (donned "page authority" by Moz). This allows you to selectively target pages of your site with specific links, building up the rankings for the most important or impressive pages of your site in addition to improving your domain. Think carefully about which pages you'll want to specifically promote, and how those might change over time--you also don't want to spam links to only one page, so diversify your strategy here.4. Pacing and frequency.You'll need to figure out how fast you want to build your link profile, but remember--building links too quickly can appear unnatural. Instead, it's better to think about how often you'll want to guest post to various outlets. This is less about how fast you can see results from your link building campaign and more about how much time and money you're willing to invest in your campaign to see it grow.5. How to scale.Next, you'll need to think about how your campaign is going to scale. A single link on a high-authority source is worth more than several months' worth on low-authority sites, so how are you going to work your way to higher and higher authority sources? Will you do so gradually? Through internal connections? Are there specific sources you have your eye on?6. When to analyze.It's important to analyze the effectiveness of your efforts, both from a high-level perspective (such as referral traffic and organic search ranking metrics) and from a closer inspection (such as examining your backlink profile using Open Site Explorer or a similar tool). But how often are yo[...]

6 Ways to Make Your Content More Authoritative for SEO

Wed, 31 Aug 2016 13:04:42 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Content marketing is one of the most important strategies in establishing a solid online presence for SEO, but it's not as simple as "writing lots of content." There are dozens of factors you'll need to carefully consider if you want to be effective, including the content's topic, appropriateness for your brand and audience, practicality, length, and entertainment value. But there's one factor many marketers end up neglecting: the authoritativeness of a piece.How Authoritativeness Factors Into Search RankingsWhat is authoritativeness, exactly? Though no strict definition is available, authoritativeness is a general measure for how you're able to produce content. The more a source can be counted on as a reliable provider of information, the more authoritative it is. So how does this measure affect search rankings?E-A-T Criteria. Google doesn't go into much detail about how authoritativeness is quantitatively measured, but we do know it has a major impact on how valuable Google deems a page or a domain to be. According to its publicly available Search Raters Guidelines, three of the most important factors for content to demonstrate are expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T), which are all interrelated. Making your content authoritative should give you a boost in page and domain authority.Linkability. Authoritativeness will also make your piece appear more valuable to outside parties. This alone will turn it into more of a linkable asset, giving you more backlinks pointing back to your domain, all of which will pass authority and increase your propensity to rank.Reputation Factors. Don't forget the peripheral and long-term reputation factors that authoritativeness will bring. As you start developing more authoritative content, you'll become more respected as an authority, which means you'll gain more followers, more publishing opportunities, and other indirect ways to increase your rankings overall.How to Make Your Content More AuthoritativeNow that you know why your content needs to be more authoritative, how can you go about actually doing it?1. Write from the professional's perspective.First, try writing from the perspective of a real professional, demonstrating your authority by referencing a professional title or other credential to validate that authority. For example, rather than writing a simple guide to home security, you could step up the authority like Milwaukee Lockstar by making it a "locksmith's guide" to home security. Or you could write blogs like Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, framing your posts as the advice from a professional plumber.2. Use personal brands.You could also make your content more authoritative by using personal brands inside and outside your organization to author posts. Over time, your authors may develop niche areas of expertise, generating followings of their own and lending more power to the content they write. Just make sure you're supporting your personal brands with appropriate strategic initiatives on social media.3. Include more images and videos.Another way to make your content more authoritative is to include more images and video in the body of your work. On a surface level, these multimedia additions will make your content more engaging to users, but they also show that you're going out of your way to illustrate complex subjects.4. Cite real examples and facts.It's easy to speculate about ideas, but it's hard to prove them. That's why it's important, and authoritative, to cite examples as specifically as possible. Instead of using general hypothetical examples, try to cite real examples backed by true anecdotes or statistics that you've measured. The more specific information you're able to offer, the more authoritative your piece will become.5. Link to outside sources.Authority is perhaps easiest to earn when you're getting it from someone who already has some. Associating yourself with a known authority will make your authority increase in direct proportion, so be sure to link to outside authoritative sources t[...]

5 Strategies for Better Team Coordination in SEO

Wed, 24 Aug 2016 12:05:49 -0600

by Jayson DeMers When most entrepreneurs and marketers think about refining their SEO strategies, they focus on the conventional best practices that constitute a successful optimization approach, such as their on-site optimization, ongoing content marketing strategy, and link building campaign.However, there are also more collaborative, qualitative, and personal factors to weigh when it comes to execution of your campaign. For example, how can you make sure every member of your team stays coordinated with the rest in their mutual efforts to optimize your site? Why Coordination Is Essential in SEODepending on the size of your organization, SEO could theoretically be executed by a single person. In a small business, building a foundation with on-site optimization, content, and an introductory link-building campaign could be handled by a single person doing full-time work.But it's more common to see several people working together in close coordination to achieve exceptional results on behalf of a firm. That coordination could make or break your campaign in the following ways:Deadlines and execution. First, the obvious: SEO is an interconnected series of tactics, and if you're going to execute them in conjunction with other people to achieve a final goal, you need everyone to work on the same interim deadlines and benchmark goals.Cross-disciplinary coordination. Even if you don't have both generalists and specialists in the SEO field working together, your SEO will still be influenced by people in multiple departments. For example, your designers will need to know how to design websites with SEO in mind.Camaraderie and workload balancing. It also pays to keep your SEO team working close with one another so everyone maintains high morale. This will be beneficial when one specialist inevitably gets saddled with more work than another: You can bring the departments together to rebalance the individual workloads. How to Stay Better Coordinated Now let's take a look at how you can help your team become better coordinated in practical terms.1. Use more efficient forms of communication.Modern technology offers a ton of advantages, and you need leverage as many of them as you can for your team. As pointed out by Dialpad, millennial workers tend to be closer to the cutting edge of new communications technology, but that doesn't mean the rest of your team has an excuse to stick with older technologies. Whether you're using an in-house team or some members are working remotely, give yourself flexibility by keeping your team using multiple forms of communication, from phones to cloud-hosted management and collaboration platforms, and chatting apps.2. Set both individual and team goals.Focused teams are able to work more productively because they know what they're aiming for. It's crucial to establish both individual and team-based goals. For example, you might encourage your entire team to work toward a certain rate of growth in organic visitors, with individual goals for your team members, such as getting featured on a number of new publishers or developing a certain kind of content. This will help keep things moving toward a destination while compensating for any individual weaknesses you encounter. 3. Identify and document consistent brand standards.Some areas of SEO get pretty technical, but much of the ongoing work--such as content development and guest posting--will rely on the strength and consistency of your brand to succeed. Because of this, it's a good idea to document your brand standards formally and make those available to everyone on your team. 4. Have overflow policies.An oversized workload can depress anyone; when one individual has too much to do and another not enough, your team can't possibly function efficiently. To avoid this potential hitch, it's a good idea to have overflow and workload balancing policies in place. For example, you could encourage your team to openly admit when they have too much on their plate and have a line of delegation in place to c[...]

Do you have enough pages in the search index?

Thu, 28 Jul 2016 09:07:47 -0600

by Mike Moran More pages in the search index means more chances to be found. So maybe you never really have enough pages--since every extra page is a lottery ticket in the search sweepstakes. You've gotta be in it to win it. But this does not really offer us any answers. There are obviously some amount of pages that seem OK and other amounts that are probably Bad, like, zero would be bad. How do you determine how many pages you have in the search index, and if your number is enough?First off, you need to understand that there is no single search index-each search engine has its own search index. Google has its own, Bing has its own, and so do many other search engines. So, you need to know which search engines are worth worrying about-in the U.S., it's Google and Bing.So how do you find out how many pages are in Google's index and how many are in Bing's?Both Google and Bing have a tool called the "site:" command. You can just enter into each one the word "site:" along with your domain name (Such as "").  For some sites, this handy command works just fine and you can see how many pages are stored in each index. If your results look right, great. But sometimes the results just look nuts. For example, "" yields 2.8 million pages on Bing but a crazy 12.2 million pages on Google.To avoid such inaccuracies, use each search engine's Webmaster Tools sites. Both Google and Bing will tell your Webmaster exactly how many pages are in the index and will even let you know which pages they are having trouble grabbing. It's possible that the IBM Webmaster is aware that there actually is a big discrepancy between Google and Bing, which might be just fine or might be something they are working on.I've spoken to a few experts and they have varying theories. One told me that Bing stops crawling when more than 1% of the pages get errors-the Bing Webmaster site will clue you in on this. Another speculated that Bing is only returning counts of pages that get search visits, not every page in their index. No one I spoke with knew for sure why this is happening, but it shows you the importance of checking your numbers.Likewise, big swings in indexed pages (1,000 pages indexed in Google today vs. 5,000 yesterday) mean that you should look into it. And, in general, an inclusion ratio (pages indexed divided by actual pages) below 70% is something that should give you pause, although with these Bing errors who knows what a good inclusion ration is for Bing right now.Regardless. knowing how many pages are indexed is the first step to seeing if you have a problem.Originally posted on Biznology Be sure and visit our small business news site. [...]

5 Technical Factors to Check When Your Search Rankings Take a Dive

Mon, 11 Jul 2016 19:48:45 -0600

by Jayson DeMers In an ideal world, your SEO strategy would be on a constant, steadily forward-moving trajectory. As you invest more time and effort into your online presence, your rankings would gradually increase--with no interruptions. However, this is almost never the case. Eventually, no matter how careful or experienced you are, you'll run into a ranking drop that leaves you frustrated and confused.The problem is, SEO and online visibility are such complicated topics that they're impossible to reduce to single variables. Everything, from the type of hosting you use to the type of social media marketing you pursue, can affect your organic search rankings.Where do you start when troubleshooting a ranking dive?Technical vs. Non-Technical IssuesGenerally, there are two categories of factors that can cause a dive:Quantitative, technical factors. Sometimes, there's a simple, technical factor affecting how your site is ranking. On many levels, Google's algorithm is simple and mathematical in its approach. For example, if your site isn't structured in a way that Google can see and readily interpret, it won't be able to index your site, and your rankings will drop. These tend to be obvious once spotted, but they require a degree of technical expertise to solve.Qualitative, non-technical factors. Other times, you'll be dealing with more subjective, non-technical factors. Google has a number of qualitative evaluating segments to its algorithm, such as Panda, which evaluates the quality of your content, and Penguin, which evaluates the quality of your inbound links. Sometimes, a drop in content quality--which is hard to objectively identify--can be responsible for your ranking drop.Technical Factors to Check When Your Rankings DropYour first course of action, after seeing a major drop in your rankings, should be to check for technical factors that might be affecting your positions. These are plain to see and often simple to fix--and once repaired, there's a good chance your positions will be restored quickly (if not instantly).Here are things to check:1. Your hosting.The first place you should look is your hosting. A lot of things can happen with your hosting provider--your site may be temporarily unavailable, or your site may not be served properly. You might even be experiencing page loading problems because of your hosting provider. Run an audit on your hosting situation and consider switching if you're not receiving consistent service.2. Your robots.txt file.The robots.txt file is a meta data file that instructs Google how to view and index your site. You can use it to prevent certain pages from being indexed, which is highly useful for canonizing duplicate content pages. However, many people end up making mistakes in the robots.txt file, masking the entire site (or entire sections) from being indexed. 3. Improperly set up 301 redirects.301 redirects are an important and powerful tool in online visibility, but they're often misused. If you set up a 301 redirect improperly, it could result in a number of different errors, such as duplicate indexing or the complete loss of certain pages of your site. Be sure you're actually using 301 redirects, and not 302 (temporary) redirects or any other means of forwarding traffic.4. A content loading issue.Sometimes, technical hiccups are simple and easy to identify. If some of your content isn't loading properly, it could cause your rankings to tank. For example, if none of the images or videos on your site are loading on mobile devices, you could suffer a massive blow to your mobile rankings and traffic.5. Functional errors.You may also find functional errors throughout your site, which can influence how your site is ranked. These can range from very small, such as broken internal links, to very large, such as entire sections of your site that aren't loading or running properly. Some of these functional errors can bleed into qualitative factors, such as pages not loading [...]

6 Tips for Managing Local SEO With Multiple Locations

Tue, 05 Jul 2016 13:19:45 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Local SEO holds tremendous potential for almost any business with a physical location (and even some without). Because local SEO functions on an algorithm separate from Google's national search, you'll face less competition, higher relevance among your local audience, and even higher visibility, thanks to Google's local 3-pack listings. Unfortunately, most conventional local SEO tactics cater to businesses that have only one physical location - what happens if you have multiple locations?The Trouble With Multiple LocationsHaving multiple locations means you'll have multiple streams of revenue, and it's a valuable way to increase brand recognition and your potential pool of customers. However, much of the power of local SEO is derived from associating your business with a single location. If you try to split your efforts inefficiently, you could end up only weakly optimizing for your target cities, but if you only focus on one city, you'll miss out on the visibility potential of your other locations. What are you supposed to do?Strategies for SuccessTry using these strategies to succeed with multiple locations in local SEO:1. Create a separate landing page for each city your business operates in.Your first job is to create a separate landing page for each of your locations. It's possible to create a new domain for each of your sub-locations, but this is inadvisable, as you'll lose out on the cumulative authority you'll gain from all of your sources. For example, you could create a page for a specific city location, complete with location information and any specific unique features that this location offers--for example, US Storage Centers has a designated page for San Antonio, with hours, directions, and unit availability.2. Create city-specific content for each city you operate in.Next, you'll want to fill those pages with content specific to that location. Don't leave your landing pages as empty shells! Instead, write rich, descriptive content about the unique features each of your locations offers that particular area. If you get hard-pressed, write about some of the features of the city, such as surrounding landmarks or things to do.3. Split your social media pages.If you only have two or three locations, you can probably get away with having one "master" social media presence, but if you have more locations than that, you'll want to split your social media profiles into individual locations. Create a designated contact for each location to manage their respective pages, and keep one "master" brand page to help people find the social media page most relevant to them. This will help you connect more specifically with your target demographics, especially if your locations are around the country.4. Segment your link building strategies.As long as all your locations are under the same domain, you'll gain collective domain authority with any links you build. However, remember that inbound links pass page authority as well as domain authority, and any links you have pointing to city-specific pages will help those individual pages rank higher. This is valuable if you want to promote one location more than another.5. Manage your third party profiles and local reviews separately.Each of your locations should have a separate entry in each third-party review site you leverage (such as Yelp). This will ensure that Google lists your businesses separately for each respective location, and will enable you to monitor and manage local reviews more efficiently. Again, you'll want to designate a responsible contact for each of your locations to take charge of this duty.6. Produce ongoing blog content for each city.Finally, you'll want to produce ongoing content for each of your locations that's specific to that city. For example, if you have locations in San Antonio and Kansas City, you could write a post about the "top attractions in San Antonio" one week, and "top attractions i[...]

The 6 Ways Small Businesses Can Stay Competitive in SEO

Fri, 24 Jun 2016 11:27:21 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Search engine optimization (SEO) is more popular than ever as a marketing strategy these days, and one of the biggest reasons for its mass appeal is its scale and sheer potential. There are billions of searches per day, performed by people all over the world, so optimizing your site to rank higher for these searches has practically unlimited potential. But can small businesses hope to capitalize on this potential when there are so many big businesses competing with them? Popularity and TimeThere are two problems with this "infinite potential" model. First, SEO has become incredibly popular--most businesses now have an online presence, and the vast majority of them are actively competing for more visibility online. Second, SEO has been around since the dawn of the Internet, and major corporations who have been pouring millions of dollars into their online strategies are pretty much untouchable in terms of rankings.These two issues make it seem practically impossible to many small business owners--with limited resources and little existing domain authority--to break onto the scene. But it is possible for small and local businesses to gain an edge with these six strategies:1. Zero in on a specific niche.Your first job is to cut down the competition. Not all search terms get the same amount of search volume, and not all terms carry the same amount of competition. If you're worried about squaring off against major national competitors, refine your target market to a more specific niche. This will cut down the amount of competition you face, and increase your relevance for that specific niche--you'll be working with lower search volume, but you'll rank faster and become more relevant for your audience. For example, you could focus on one specific demographic, or target a specific point in the buying cycle.2. Target overlooked long-tail keywords.There are two main "types" of keywords, with a bit of gray area in between. "Head" keywords are short, like "bike tire," and feature high volume and high competition. "Long-tail" keywords are long, often using conversational sentence structures like "how do I change a flat bike tire," and feature lower search volume but correspondingly lower competition. You can rank for these search terms easily because of how specific they are. Refine your keyword targeting strategy to focus on more long-tail keyword terms.3. Prioritize local optimization.Local search results rely on a different algorithm than Google's national search framework. You may notice when you perform a local search that the top three relevant brands for your search appear in a box (with links to a website, directions, and a prompt to call on mobile devices) above typical organic search results. It's possible to optimize your site to appear for these local searches; not only will you get a "free pass" by getting featured above the typical national search results, but you'll face far less competition in the process. As an added bonus, you'll get more locally relevant traffic for your site.4. Use the power of personal brands.Personal brands have a number of advantages over corporate brands. They're instantly more trustworthy, they have a higher likelihood of being featured in offsite publishers, and if used independently from your local business, they'll provide an additional potential route of traffic and visibility for your corporate brand. Start developing your key leadership and personnel through content and social media, and tie those personal brands back to your core corporate brand.5. Work with local publishers.Major corporations will have more power and resources to force an increase in their content's visibility (through things like paid advertising), but as a small business owner, you'll have more relevance in local publications, like local newspapers, blogs, and forums. Work with those publishers to build more of a reputation for your[...]

Five Essential Qualities to Look for in an SEO Agency

Mon, 20 Jun 2016 08:00:00 -0600

by Jayson DeMers It's almost impossible to run an SEO campaign by yourself - at least if you want to grow beyond the initial setup phase. However, at the same time, you may be reluctant to hire an SEO agency. After all, you know that there are a number of agencies that do shoddy work, putting you at higher risk for manual or algorithmic penalties.Furthermore, many agencies are prohibitively expensive. But if you know what to look for, you can find an agency that's affordable, reliable, and capable of giving you an incredible return on your investment.Why an SEO Agency?First, let's take a look at your options. You can't do this alone, so your two main options (other than an agency) are to hire someone full-time or leverage independent contractors to handle the bulk of your work. While each of these options has merits, full-time workers tend to be more expensive than contracting with an agency, though you do get more control over how they spend their time. Quality contractors are hard to find and hard to manage, but are typically the least expensive option.Essential QualitiesIf you're looking for an SEO agency that can give you the best results and the easiest working experience, these qualities are absolute musts:1. Knowledge of the latest trends and updates.SEO is a field that changes constantly, so you need an SEO agency that's able to keep up with the latest trends. If you're still using tactics that were only effective 10 years ago, you aren't going to see much in the way of results, and you might even set yourself back by incurring a penalty. Pay attention to how up-to-date your chosen agency's strategies are, and don't be afraid to ask some critical questions about their procedures and tactics.2. Experience in multiple areas.Most SEO agencies are generalists, able to offer you services in multiple categories, such as on-site content writing, on-site optimization, and link building. However, there are also specialists, such as specialized link builders or on-site optimizers. These aren't necessarily bad; however, SEO is a complex and multifaceted strategy. If your agency only has experience in one area, they may have a hard time connecting that area to all of the other significant SEO realms. If you need a niche specialist, a contractor may be a better option.3. Transparency.When it comes to building trust with an agency, transparency is the most important quality to look for. Pay attention to how revealing your chosen agency is with basic information. Are they open about how they do their work? Are they honest about any risks or setbacks that might be involved? Are they focused on making steady progress toward conservative, long-term gains rather than trying to sell you on a package as fast as possible?4. Communicativeness.SEO requires a significant amount of back and forth communication, so look for an agency with which you're able to communicate smoothly. You need to be able to call them up to talk when you have a question or discover a problem, and they need to listen to you carefully if they're going to produce content and to optimize your site in a way that accurately characterizes (and benefits) your brand. If you can, speak with the account manager with whom you'll be working directly, and see how well they communicate with you. 5. Verifiable history.It's also a good idea to look at an SEO agency's past clients and references. A credible history is solid proof that your agency is one worth doing business with. Red FlagsThere are also some major red flags to watch out for, so if you notice any of these qualities, you may want to keep looking:Promises and guarantees. Nothing in SEO can be guaranteed. It takes research, effort, timing, and a bit of luck to see early results - and even then, further refinement and tweaking are necessary to keep that momentum going. Any promise of specific growth is probably a lie.D[...]

How do you test your website's names?

Mon, 13 Jun 2016 12:48:09 -0600

by Mike Moran A little while back I was riding the Washington Metro when I noticed something new. The station name read "NoMa-Gallaudet." I'd never heard of "NoMa", but all it took was a quick googling to learn it's short for "North of Massachusetts Ave." At first I was a little confused why a Metro map would be changed just because a new neighborhood was making an effort to try and look hip. But the article went on to explain that they are trying to provide each Metro station with its own short name (between 13 and 19 characters, depending on the importance of the station) that is easy to scan when hurrying passengers are racing to their destination. That makes sense to me, and it reminded me of how important the same principle is for website information architecture.Too often I see the top nav of a site use words that just don't make any sense to me as a visitor. Half the technology sites I go to list Products, Solutions, etc., and God bless me if I can figure out what the technology does. These words are short and scannable, but not very informative. This was actually the controversial part of the Metro's decision to use the name "NoMa" because area residents (let alone tourists) don't recognize that name as readily as the old "New York Ave." But they at least had tested the word with riders and they made the decision with their eyes open, rather than just changing the name just because they wanted the new cool name.But most websites have bigger issues. Some of them have long names in the top nav, such as the site that had a choice of "Why [Really Long Product Name]" which not only isn't scannable, but I suspect is answering a question that most visitors aren't asking. I saw another site that liked to mix up short names with long names: Products, Why Company Name, Blog, Get a Demo-it really doesn't work. One word navigation names work best if you can make that happen, because the spaces between the words act as the spaces between the choices. If have to have multiple words, you need plenty of space in between the choices so that the eye can distinguish the breaks between them. But when you use too many multi-word choices, you have to make the font even smaller to provide the required spacing, which defeats the ability to scan all by itself.So, when designing your site's information architecture, don't settle for the words that insiders think are the ones that best describe their choices. Try to choose uniform-length, short names that you have tested for recognition. You don't even need any exciting technologies here. Old-fashioned cart sort tests will do. Just put different ideas of the right names on cards and show them to people who represent your audience. Ask them-what kind of information would you expect to see after you clicked this name? See if they know.The names for the areas on your website are among the most scanned and most clicked words on your entire site, so take the extra time to check how well they are working. Your visitors will be glad you did. Be sure and visit our small business news site. [...]

7 Types of Blog Posts That Earn The Most Inbound Links

Tue, 10 May 2016 10:01:42 -0600

by Jayson DeMers If you want to be successful in SEO, climbing the ranks of search engines and earning more visibility and traffic for your brand, then you need more inbound links from high-authority sources. Yes, it's more complicated than that, but on a basic level, getting more links for your site is the only way to build domain authority. But how can you do this while evading the harsh evaluations of the Penguin algorithm and maximizing the potential of your brand? Link Building vs. Link AttractionThe first key is to note the significant difference between link building and link earning. The former focuses on establishing single instances of links on external sources, such as through guest posts, while the latter focuses on creating compelling content that people naturally want to link to on its own merit. Of the two, link earning is a somewhat safer strategy (while link building is a bit more stable, scalable, and controllable). But at the same time, link earning is also unpredictable--how can you make sure that your content's going to earn the links you need? The Best Blog Posts for the JobTo get you started, there are a handful of types of blog posts that naturally earn more links and attention than others. Here are seven of the most popular articles and posts that people link to:1. Infographics.Infographics have long been heralded as an exceptional form of content, and for good reason. They naturally contain easily-understandable and valuable information, making them appealing from a logical and practical perspective (if you choose the right topics). They're visually accessible, which makes them easy to digest and share, increasing overall visibility. Plus, you have the freedom and flexibility to get as creative as you want in the design, showing off what makes your brand unique. As a perfect example, Podio's Daily Routines of Famous Creative People went viral last year, earning thousands of links for the brand.2. Videographics.Videographics are so much like infographics that they almost don't warrant a separate entry on this list. However, the tremendous rise in video popularity, along with new consumer-centric features like auto-playing videos in Facebook news feeds, makes it important to distinguish this type of content. Essentially infographics in motion, videographics have all the advantages of infographics with an even more modern spin.3. Interviews.Interviews are a fantastic mutual opportunity to earn links, whether you're the interviewer or the interviewee. You can produce interviews in multiple ways (such as video, audio, or written transcript), and both you and the other party (interviewer/interviewee) will have an incentive to share the finished product. This will double your audience instantly--maybe even multiplying it further, depending on the other party's level of influence. Plus, interviews make for highly sharable, linkable assets in general.4. List posts.List posts, like habits that will make you rich or top superhero movies, tend to attract tons of links simply because they're easy to digest. People rarely have time to wade through thousands of words of content, but they can blaze through a list post quickly, often just skimming the subheaders to see if there's any new or particularly interesting information. This makes list posts fast-paced, sharable, and most importantly, appealing to almost any online audience. They're natural link magnets.5. Strong opinion posts.Opinion posts can be really good or really bad--and if they're really good, they'll have the power to earn you tons of links. The power of a good opinion post is presenting ideas that nobody's heard alongside compelling information that reinforces your position. Accordingly, your piece needs to be extremely well-researched, well-argued, and focused on a point. Your post also needs to b[...]

How to Use SEO When You Need to Hire Someone Now

Thu, 28 Apr 2016 12:04:30 -0600

by Jayson DeMers When most people think about online marketing, they think about the straightforward side--the one that makes them money directly. They think about earning more traffic from their target demographics, and earning more conversions from the pool of that traffic. This leads to more sales (or leads), which then translates to bottom-line dollars for the company. But there's another way that online marketing can help your organization--by promoting an open position and attracting more qualified candidates to apply.SEO for Human ResourcesSEO (search engine optimization) is a marketing strategy, plain and simple. By leveraging it, you'll get more visibility for the pages that matter most on your site. The delusion that most optimizers have fallen into, however, is that the pages you promote should be directly tied to your bottom line. It's equally possible (and sometimes better) to promote pages that have a chance of benefiting your brand instead, such as human resources pages or individual open positions.Strategies for SuccessKnowing that, you'll need a handful of specific strategies if you want to use SEO effectively for your hiring campaign:1. Include a general human resources page.This should be a main navigation "housing" for your subsequent open position pages. Here, you'll detail your company's human resources department, optimizing for keywords related to your business as a place to work rather than a place to do business with. For example, a SaaS company may use a phrase like "a leader in software engineering," as opposed to a phrase like "a leader in task management software" to cater to software developers over paying subscribers.2. Create a dedicated page for each position.Creating a dedicated page for each open position you have provides the opportunity to optimize a page for each of those keyword phrases. Title the page with the job title near the front, and include at least one or two synonyms for that job title in the description. In the body content, describe job responsibilities in detail, and be sure to include at least a handful of instances of the job title.3. Target individual locations.Even if your company is a national level organization, and even if you're hiring multiple people at multiple locations, it's a good idea to segment your open positions by location. This will allow you to optimize for geographic keywords in your titles, descriptions, and of course, your body content.4. Use referral links to drive more traffic.The more links you have pointing to your individual position pages, the stronger those page authorities will be (and the more likely you'll be to rank for keyword terms relating to that position). Build links on as many different sources as you can, and don't forget the power that referral traffic can lend to your site. Choose content and publishers that have the highest likelihood of passing qualified candidates your way.  For example, you may want to produce content or make your position available for outside content detailing open positions for job hunters. This is especially effective when localized to one area, such as open jobs in New York City.Key ChallengesDespite the advantages that SEO for an open position can offer, there are some key challenges you'll need to bear in mind:• Competition from job boards.There are tons of online job boards, and they pretty much have a lockdown on general searches like "jobs in Chicago." If you want a chance at ranking for any search queries, you're going to have to find a niche. That means seeking highly specific candidates, or using specific variants of job searches as your target.• Split resources.As you optimize for a human resources campaign, you'll probably be splitting your SEO resources between that and your marketing campaign. For most org[...]

Enterprise marketers must tightly choose the focus of their website

Mon, 18 Apr 2016 15:11:26 -0600

by Mike Moran Are you responsible for a big company's digital marketing? You might not be the CMO, however, so that whole website isn't your problem. You are only responsible for a small piece -- maybe one product line. Or a single country. Or maybe a product line within a single country. Maybe your responsibility is even narrower than that. But do you actually know which pages on the website are your problem? Often I find people aren't exactly sure. So, why do you need to figure this out anyway? If you are the product manager for US sales of product X, isn't that good enough? I mean, you know where the home page is of your website. If you haven't spent the time to identify every blessed page that pertains to your country and your product, what's the harm? After all, you're busy with a lot of other things. Well, think about a few points:Your budget probably pays for these pages. Most companies use chargeback systems where your IT team, copywriters and other shared resources are paid by the page. Or you have a dedicated team spending time on these pages-some that you might not even know about. Is this where you want your money going?You want to know the traffic to these pages. Do you regularly check how many visitors come to these pages? And from what other sites? Can you tie back your traffic to your inbound marketing campaigns? If you can't identify all the pages that are yours, then you can't do any of this, either-and you won't know which marketing efforts are working and which aren't.You want to know the conversions from these pages. You also want to measure (and improve) the conversions from these pages. Every page needs to be doing some work to move visitors closer to a sale. Most of us don't have e-commerce sites, but we all have something we want our web visitors to do to gain an offline sale. We need to be sure that every page has a job to do (even if it is just to get a click to another page) and that we measure how well it is doing it.It might be easy to identify your site, even when you work in a big company. If you are the worldwide product manager for Crest toothpaste, you site is, even though you work in the bowels of the behemoth Procter & Gamble. But usually big company sites are a bit harder to pin down for you. I remember when I worked for IBM, it was common for me to be speaking with someone whose responsibility was software in Germany, whose site was all of the pages underneath many had even smaller responsibilities with even more arcane URLs that defined their scope. Whatever yours is, you need to treat every page within it as yours, which starts by identifying what your site is. What exactly are you responsible for?If this sounds a bit persnickety, ask yourself this: Do you have any trouble identifying which ad campaigns are yours? Which brochures? Which commercials? Which coupons? I thought so.Don't be sloppy about your digital marketing. It's easy to be vague about your website scope in a big company. Focus your sights on your sites-just like small companies do-so that you have the focus that drives improved results.Originally posted on Biznology Be sure and visit our small business news site. [...]

How to Use Customer Reviews and Ratings for SEO

Tue, 12 Apr 2016 08:42:00 -0600

by Jayson DeMers It's no secret that customer reviews and ratings are a good thing. Social proof is a demonstrably powerful effect, with more than two-thirds of online users being influenced by customer reviews and testimonials in their purchasing decisions. They may see a review and be prompted to take immediate action, thus affecting your on-page conversion rate, or they may be indirectly influenced by the review, influencing them to refer friends and family to your business, or causing them to buy from you at a later date.This alone should be enough for you to seek more (and better) online reviews, but what about search engine visibility? Is it possible for your online reviews to influence your position or visibility on SERPs?Dedicated Review Pages vs. Embedded ReviewsThe two main ways to feature reviews on your site are on a dedicated review page (here's a great example of one) or as embedded bits on individual product or services pages. The approach should depend on your approach to business. For example, an ecommerce provider with lots of individual products may need specific product-based reviews and have very little in terms of overall branded reviews, while a B2B service provider may have the opposite effect; if someone is specifically searching for "[your brand] reviews" or something similar, you'll want your dedicated review page to come up.Keyword OpportunitiesOnline reviews are beneficial because they present more opportunities for you to have keywords and natural language content on your individual pages; this is always a boon for rankings. You won't be in full control over your customer reviews, but if they're writing them for individual products, you can bet that they'll feature some of the most important phrases associated with your products. You can nudge this in the right direction by encouraging specific types of reviews from your users, or offering prompts.Ongoing Content SubmissionsAccepting and publishing online reviews also gives you an opportunity for a free stream of regularly updated content, which Google likes to see. This won't provide much of a boost in rankings, but it will show site visitors that you're dedicated to keeping your site up-to-date, which may boost conversion rates. This effect is more pronounced for a dedicated review page, as individual product pages may take longer to cycle through new reviews.MicroformattingSo far, we've mostly discussed how on-site reviews can improve your rankings. This approach will help your search position become more visible and attractive to potential visitors. Through the use of microformatting, you can communicate to Google where your reviews begin and end, and if there is a rating system associated with your products. With this information, Google can create rich snippets of information to display to users immediately in the search results. If they see that your product is rated an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars, they'll be far more likely to click through to your specific page.Local SEO and Off-site ReviewsOf course, on-site reviews aren't the only type of reviews that can be good for SEO. The topic's been suitably covered under the topic of local SEO, but it's important to acknowledge that the more reviews you have for your business in third-party directory and other offsite sources (and the better those reviews are), the more likely you'll be to earn a place in the local 3-pack.The Bottom Line: Get More ReviewsSince you won't be the one doing the writing of the actual reviews, you won't have as much control over how your reviews are optimized. Even if you could, reviews play only a small part in your rankings and visibility--it's worth obtaining them, especially for local SEO visibility, but this approach won't make o[...]

5 Link Building Tactics to Avoid (and Modern Alternatives)

Wed, 06 Apr 2016 12:45:01 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Few SEO strategies have changed as dramatically or as consistently as link building. Despite some occasional claims to the contrary, link building is still a necessary element if you want to earn any significant rankings in search engines. In fact, Google recently confirmed that inbound links are one of the top two ranking factors in the algorithm. Links have always existed as a kind of third-party validation for the trustworthiness, credibility, or authoritativeness of a page or website as a whole; if there are hundreds of sites with links pointing back to yours, clearly you've made a positive impact, and are worth listening to. Therefore, according to Google, you're worth ranking highly. However, without those links, it's virtually impossible to gain any kind of search visibility.How Link Building Has ChangedOld link building strategies were somewhat straightforward: do whatever it takes to get more links. Link quantity was the main focus, along with anchor text, and there weren't many standards for how you could or couldn't build them. However, thanks to increasing publisher standards and more quality checks in Google's ranking algorithm, the entire idea of "link building" has evolved to mean something more. Links should be earned naturally through the power of your content, and serve a genuine value to your readers. All other links can--and will--be disregarded.Obsolete PracticesUnfortunately, a number of old-world strategies persist in our modern link building era. Due to ignorance and confusion, these techniques, when executed, actually put your domain in danger of being penalized. So instead of continuing with these obsolete, questionable practices, engage in a modern alternative that can increase your authority and keep you safe.1. Black-hat link exchanges. The old tactic here was an implied or formal deal between two sites to set up direct link exchanges; each site in the deal would link to the other, improving the relative authority of both sites. This type of scheme also evolved to higher scales; link circles and link networks would involve dozens or even hundreds of such sites, resulting in complicated link networks. Such tactics no longer fly, and generally get every site involved blacklisted from Google. So instead of seeking a valueless exchange, why not come together for a mutual benefit, with value for your readers? Interviews are the perfect opportunity for this; one authority interviews another, members of both audiences get content value, and each participant in the interview earns a link and visibility out of the deal.2. Including links in forum comments. It used to be common practice to simply post a link wherever you had an opportunity to post anything--and forum comment boxes presented a great opportunity. All you had to do was paste the link to your site and click "submit." Today, posting only a link as a forum comment will get you banned from the forum long before Google even catches up to you. Instead, become an active participant in the community. Once you become known and respected as an authority, you can start including links to your own site--as long as they're appropriate, relevant, and valuable in the context of the conversation. While they probably won't add much SEO value, forum links can drive significant referral traffic, especially when posted by a trusted member of the community.3. Article marketing with sneaky links. Article directories once provided an opportunity to slap together fluff content and include your link somewhere in the body of the material. Today, article directories are shunned by Google's algorithm, rarely appearing in search results anymore. Furthermore, links from article directories are ofte[...]

5 Features of a Perfectly SEO-Optimized Homepage

Tue, 05 Apr 2016 12:05:02 -0600

by Jayson DeMers Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process that happens all over your site, in the aesthetics as well as the back end coding, and across thousands of off-site points of interest. With such complexity, it's easy to lose sight of the most important page of your website--the homepage. When you're focused on maintaining an active blog, creating dedicated internal pages for your target keywords, and building links, you might neglect the optimization fundamentals that lead to a well-optimized homepage. Is It Worth Optimizing the Homepage? There have been some discussions over whether it's "worth it" to optimize a homepage. Let's say you have an internal page where you sell your core product--nightstands. If you optimize this page for keywords related to "nightstands," any similar optimization of your homepage may introduce redundancy, or a kind of SEO cannibalization to your efforts. Along similar lines, any optimization efforts in your internal pages will carry over to your homepage, giving it a kind of "natural" optimization. However, it's still important to keep your homepage in sufficient shape for branded searches, broad searches related to your industry, and to make a valuable impression to the prospective customers visiting you for the first time. Features of an Optimized Homepage These are the most important pillars of homepage optimization:1. Use a concise and accurate title tag. Your homepage title gives you approximately 55 characters to offer a compelling identifier for your business. That isn't a lot of room, so you'll have to reduce your description to what's most important for your brand. See if you can reduce everything you offer your customers to only three or four words, and be sure to include your brand name at the beginning or end to capitalize on branded searches. FreshBooks provides a valuable example here--its title tag is simple, focused, and to-the-point. "Small Business Accounting Software in the Cloud | FreshBooks."2. Provide an accurate, compelling description. Along with your title tag should be an equally compelling meta description--and here, you'll have more wiggle room, with 150-160 characters. Here, you should describe a handful of the key solutions you offer your customers. When users encounter your homepage in search results, this description will appear under your page link, so it's the best chance you have to convince a user to click your result instead of the others on the page. Make sure you keep this concise, accurate, and still intriguing enough to encourage new users to click through.3. Offer an intuitive navigation that shows off your internal pages. Google favors sites with clear, intuitive internal linking and navigation. This is because it's easier for users to find exactly what they want, when they want it. As a general rule, no page of your site should ever be more than three clicks away from another page, so your homepage serves as a central "hub" for connecting all these pages together. Accordingly, you'll need to include an intuitive form of navigation for your users, complete with a breakdown of your most important internal pages. This is important not only for search optimization, but also for your user experience overall. As an example, take Stor-Mor's header navigation, which expands downward to link to all its internal pages. An even more thorough example is the White House homepage, where an exhaustive list of links is provided in the footer.4. Include ample content. Though some companies have taken to offering only a short headline and a conversion form, it's better for SEO to include detailed, descriptive content about your company and its services on your home[...]