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Hello My Name Is

Google has been so successful because it remains dedicated to those that it serves.  Do not be fooled for a moment, believing that Google serves the webpages, businesses, or web designers.  Google is for those performing the searches, but, at times, the services meant to appeal to that audience is also beneficial to those of us trying to make the most of SEO.  Google Authorship is definitely a good example of that.

Create a Google+ Profile If you don’t have one, now is the time.  Likely you already have an account, since Google automatically creates one when you sign up for any other Google service, but it isn’t going to do you much good if you haven’t filled it with your relevant photos and information.  A headshot on your Google+ profile is a must, as this is the picture that Authorship will display in the search results, alongside your content.

Set up a Domain Email Though it isn’t required, this is the easiest method of connection your Google+ account to your domain and setting off the chain of Authorship connections in search results.  All you have to do is submit the email from your domain account to Google and the process is underway.

Social SEO It is clear that Google is starting to put more weight on the social aspect of the web when calculating search results.  Authorship is among the first examples of this.  By connecting the author to his or her content, Google is putting a face to the words and adding to the social feel of the web. Furthermore, the need for a Google+ profile in order to make the service work means that Google is drawing more players into their social community.

Eye Appeal Even if you are not the most attractive bloke, your picture will make your content stand out against the competition because the human eye is immediately drawn to imagery over text.  That will mean a higher click through rate, which could, ultimately, translate into a higher ROI.

Boost Your Brand They say that branding is all about face time.  The more often your picture or your logo is seen, the more readily recognizable it will become, which makes Authorship a piece of Branding Heaven.  With the image of your choice appearing beside your content in Google search reviews, potential customers will be exposed to your brand on a regular basis.

It’s simple and carries many notable advantages, so why wouldn’t you give Google Authorship a try?  For those investing precious time and expertise into improving SEO, it’s simply foolish to overlook this gift from Google.

 

Teamwork 1

Social media users are either tiring of the mass chaos of general posting or are simply searching for something better catered to their interests… either way, there is a shift in social networking trends toward niches.  What is a niche social network?  Think about websites like Allrecipes.com.  This site is obviously catering to a specific interest, but it also has a significant social aspect about it.

Of course, Allrecipes is not the only site out there that is catering to such a specific subpopulation.  There are many of this niche sites rising in esteem on the World Wide Web.  For instance, there is Kaboodle for “deal finders”, Ravely for knitters and crocheters, Imeem for music lovers, and Flixster for movie aficionados.

So, what’s so great about niche social networking?  Such a crazy question you ask.  Think about it; these sites have already found your niche market and have presented those individuals on a silver platter, so all you have to do is reach out and say ‘here I am’ and you will have a huge new customer base.  Well, it might not be that simple, but the truth of the matter is, this trend has certainly won over marketers.  There are billions of users of sites like Facebook and Twitter. You aren’t just competing ask direct competitors for exposure.  It’s the equivalent of trying to be heard in a room of two hundred screaming people, without a microphone.  Niche networks remove a lot of the chaos and bring together groups centered around a common interest.  There is no need to worry that people don’t want what you have to offer when speaking to an audience already pledging their love of the subject.

Many of these networks are significantly less developed than Twitter and Facebook, so the names may not be popping up in the headlines regularly, but they certainly aren’t impossible to find.  A quick google search of “social network for ______” (you fill in the blank) will undoubtedly return some sites of interest.  For many industries that are multiple networks already formed.  For others, the growth is barely off the ground floor.  Either way, there are benefits to be enjoyed for those willing to make the most of it.

Niche social networking has been listed one of the top trends of 2014, so if you haven’t started searching for the one best suited to your company yet, you are wasting precious time.

Typewriter

With all the changes SEO has seen in recent years (or recent months…or weeks!), it’s as if it’s a whole new world. But that’s not entirely true. One old adage is truer than ever: content is king. We’ve appended “relevant,” “interesting,” and “authoritative” to that, but the sentiment is nonetheless relevant today. Because content is the center of any SEO strategy, Google Authorship is an essential tool that can help you build credibility and visibility.

Authorship: You Know You Should Do It

Maybe you haven’t yet…but you need to! Authorship allows a writer to claim his or her work, which enables search engines to find more of his or her content. This feature results in higher click-through rates, cross traffic, and better search rankings. How can you make this most of this Google feature?

Make yourself at home on Google+

Who uses Google+, you might ask? About 390 million people every month. There is no doubt it’s a force, but maybe in a different way than you might think. Google +1s are more highly correlated to search rankings than any other ranking factor. Google+ content has weight, so spend some time working on your Circles and interacting. In addition to posting relevant content, read and comment on other works.

But don’t forget about other social networks

Participate in social media platforms, including the usual suspects, like Facebook and Twitter, and Quora, which, while a bit less trodden, is an excellent networking/idea generation/content development tool.

Add the rel=”author” tag to your website

This connects your website to Google+, which allows your photo to appear in the search engine results pages. This tends to increase CTR and establishes credibility.

Network and connect

Reach out to others in your industry, especially experts or highly-regarded authorities. Comment on their work, and participate in communities which relate to your specific niche. If you can, do some guest blogging. Now, this has been controversial of late, but that’s because it’s been abused. A relevant, interesting guest post that adds value for the reader can only help the site on which it is posted and the author who has written it.

Keep writing!

Google is always hungry; keep developing high-quality content and publishing it with authorship markup.

Seo ConceptWhile local SEO has always been important for many businesses, the incredible rise in the use of mobile devices has made it a critical part of attracting new customers and helping existing ones find the information they need. In our last post, we talked about a few tips to get your local SEO efforts started. Now we’ll dive into social media and how it can help you shine a spotlight on your business.

Get Social

Creating and managing an active social media presence allows you to reach your audiences where they are and where they turn for information. That might, depending on your target customers, be Facebook; it might be Pinterest, Twitter, or LinkedIn. In any event, do some customer research to determine where you need to concentrate your efforts. Other steps you can take:

  • Add social sharing buttons to your site. Target the ones your customers are most likely to use. Make it easy for them to share your content with others who might find it relevant and useful. It’s all about convenience: a simple button-click encourages people to take action.
  • Optimise your Facebook profile for local users. While not every audience uses Facebook (teens, for instance, are starting to veer away from the social network), it does have a tremendously wide and deep user base. It makes sense for most businesses to spend some time here. When you create a page for your business, select the “Local Business or Place” category. If you have already created a page, go back to the Admin Panel. Select Manage > Edit Page > Basic Information. In the Category box, select “Local Business or Place,” and then choose the correct subcategory to specify which type of business you operate.
  • Try Twitter. Include your location and local-optimised keyword phrase in your information. Find local users (Twitter Grader and TwitterCounter can help) and start following local discussions with Twitter Advanced Search. Become an active part of your community; people don’t want to hear sales pitches. They want to engage and have their questions answered. Doing so positions you as an authority. Participating in a conversation positions you as a real person, not a faceless entity.
  • Get Googling. Google+ may not have the mass of Facebook or even Twitter, but it does have the weight of the world’s largest search engine behind it. Google weighs this content heavily, and being active can help you appear more prominently. Make sure your profile is visible to the public and use the Google+ search to find local users that may be interested in your business. Create a dedicated circle so you can develop and disseminate targeted communications. As with Facebook and Twitter, the key is being active in the community. Answer questions – but feel free to ask them. You can be an authority without being a know-it-all! And it makes you more approachable and likeable. Why not? Those are good qualities in a business!
  • Track your efforts with Google Analytics’ Audience Demographics data. You can see bounce rates, time spent on site, and pages per visit. Are you local visitors spending more time on the site? If not, how can you optimise your content or social presence to encourage more engagement?

Social media is an invaluable set of tools that you can use to boost your local SEO efforts and see greater results.

 

 

Film Clapper 4Move over, blogs. Well, they’ve moved over a while ago as internet users’ tastes and preferences changed. Vlogs, though, remain a relevant and effective method to reach a wide audience. How wide? Consider a few YouTube states: there are more than 1 billion unique users to the site each month, and over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month. Over 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute. With the glut of content, how can you be sure you stand out?

Some tips for spreading the word about your vlog:

Hashtags: They’re not just for Twitter anymore. The ubiquitous # is a useful tool for helping audiences share and discuss your videos. Reach out to those who do not currently follow you on social media and provide them with this easy route to your vlog.

Social Media: Speaking of social media, branch out from the usual suspects – Facebook and Twitter – and try Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other platforms. Use them to announce new videos, highlight favorites from the past, and seed upcoming content. Remember, with social media, you don’t have to be everywhere: you have to be where your audience is. Do some consumer research to find out their social preferences, and get active in those communities.

Fan Finder: Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a free, easy way to reach new fans? Wish granted. YouTube’s Fan Finder allows you to create a short video ad for your channel. They show this to potential fans (based on user preferences), and, hopefully, your channel is flooded with interested and eager viewers. Create a 30-60 second video – a 30-60 second eye-catching, enticing video!

Commenting: Be a good internet citizen! Find videos, vlogs, blogs, and websites that relate to your niche and become an active participant. Say that you are a personal trainer who wants to drum up some more business. You may visit a health and wellness lifestyle blog, a YouTube video channel dedicated to nutrition and cooking, and a site that promotes exercise. Read, watch, and comment. You can mention you own channel or site – but don’t be spammy. Even if you aren’t blocked by moderators, you’ll alienate other sites and their audiences.

This works well because when people are interested in and passionate about a topic – whether health, fitness, business, or hobby car mechanics – they want more information from a variety of sites.

IRL: Why keep your expertise and quality content online? Promote it in person. If you’re at an industry event, for instance, why not pass out business cards with your website or channel name and URL? If business cards don’t do it for you, try fun decals or stickers. Put your web information on your newsletters, on correspondence, and on other communications that happen “in real life” or on old-fashioned paper.

A vlog can be a great way to issue high-quality, relevant content to your audience. As YouTube stats tell us, billions of people love a good video! The interest is there; the tools and platforms are there. Are you?

Flying Books 1

Content developers face a challenge every time they develop ideas and start to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard or touchscreen. How long? We have a message – but what’s the best format in which to present it to our audience? In a social-media dominated landscape, 140-character messages, snappy, pithy sentences seem to rule. But does longer content have a place? What is the ideal length for copy?

There’s a strong case to be made for longer pieces:

  • Google sure does like them! serpIQ analyzed search engine results for 20,000 keywords, focusing on length. The top-ranked pages were those with more content, or more specifically, more words. The top of the top 10 had more than 2450 words.
  • They generate more inbound links.
  • They receive more social shares.
  • They have higher conversion rates than short-form content.
  • Google now includes PDFs and other long-form content in the search results.
  • LinkedIn just started allowing some members to post long-form content.
  • Sites like Longreads and Longform are devoted to curating the best long-form content, and sites like Buzzfeed are stepping up production of longer pieces.
  • Audiences like them. Sure, we all skim but when we really want to dig into a topic for research and information, we want an authoritative – and yes, longer – piece.

So, does this mean you should write 2000 word articles and eschew 400 word posts? No. It’s best to have a good mix of short and long. Blog guidelines have long informed us that 300-600 words is optimal, and we do need those quick snippets. Longer pieces, though, appeal to a different audience – or, rather, the same audience who has different motivations for reading and researching. Whitepapers, articles, PDFs, and other long-form content help attract these visitors and keep them engaged with the site.

Some tips:

  • Answer questions and serve a purpose with your long-form content. This is a forum in which you can tackle your audience’s concerns in an in-depth way. Provide examples, anecdotes, and thorough explanations.
  • Claim your articles with the Authorship Markup. You should be doing this anyway! Get on it! It helps build your reputation as an authority and expert.
  • If you split your article into multiple pages, make sure you paginate them correctly.
  • Markup your article to ensure Google is able to accurately index it and serve it to searchers.
  • Take your long-form content to YouTube. Viewers still like the quick videos – especially of cats doing adorable things or scary zombie babies terrifying passersby – but 1/3 of YouTube view time is attributed to videos 20 minutes or longer. That’s a significant chunk of time!

There you have it: a short post on the power and importance of long-form content. While social media is short and snappy, Google, curation sites, and audiences are starting to lean towards longer content. Get on board and start producing some lengthy, meaty, substantial pieces. Not everything you publish needs to be epic, but a few integrated into the mix can only help with rankings and audience engagement.

BlogIn the search and content marketing worlds, you have to stay flexible – otherwise you’re apt to get whiplash from all the changes! Nothing is permanent, and as we’ve seen with the decreased emphasis on specific keywords and the shifting status of links, today’s tried and true techniques may be tomorrow’s black hat. Guest blogging is the latest tactic to come under question. So, what’s the answer? Yes, no? Maybe.

 

 

Why Not?

Because Matt Cutts said so! In a recent blog post:

Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. Why? Because over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company.

And our favorite line, “Stick a fork in it, guest blogging is done.” Cutts takes issue with unscrupulous use of guest blogging and shams set up to “automate” guest blogs or buy and sell links.

Done as in “Done”?

Guest blogging as a content strategy is not horrible practice – but with a big caveat. It has to be genuine, good, solid content. Say you are a management consultant and you help clients improve their leadership abilities. You work with a senior manager at a real, reputable company and she wants to write a post on how to improve communication skills. Or, perhaps she has done such a tremendous job improving her own skills in this area that you ask her to share her thoughts or tips with your readers.

Here’s why this guest post is different and why it’s not “done”:

  • No one’s getting paid, no one’s outsourcing guest posts, no one’s buying links. It is, as they say, on the up and up.
  • It’s content that your audience could learn from and use in their lives. The point of good content!
  • You know this person, and you can vouch for the authenticity of the post as well as its veracity.
  • It’s one post. You have (or should have!) lots of other great content on your site.
  •  You don’t spin this article or post it on more than one site.
  • You use other reputable SEO and content management techniques to bring traffic to your site. You don’t depend on guest blogging to generate all your link activity.

This type of guest post can help add value to your site. It’s genuine content, and that’s what Google – and more importantly, your audience – wants to see. If it’s not real, don’t do it. It’s a good SEO rule to live by.