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Magnifying Glass Map

 

It can be easy to get so focused on SEO strategies and techniques that we miss the obvious, and essential, factors that can help our websites rank well. Sitemaps help search engines crawl and index your site and discover content that might otherwise go unnoticed. What do you need to know about these critical SEO tools?

Google bots typically crawl your site more often if you update your sitemap. Google’s JohnMu says, “If we find new content there every time we crawl, we may choose to crawl more frequently.” This doesn’t necessarily mean your site will rank better as a result, but if you’re adding new content and keeping your sitemap up-to-date, it does tend to reflect well on you as far as the search engine is concerned.

But let’s back up: what exactly is a sitemap? It is an XML file that contains a list of URLs for a site. Additionally, it lists metadata for each URL, such as how often it changes and when it was last update. Here is an example for a single URL, from Sitemap.org:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">

   <url>

      <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc>

      <lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>
 
      <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
 
      <priority>0.8</priority>

   </url>

</urlset>

 

Elements that you must include:

  • Opening with <urlset> and closing with </urlset>.
  • A <url> entry for each URL as a parent tag.
  • A <loc> entry for each <url> parent tag.
  • The namespace (protocol standard) within the <urlset> tag

Other tags, such as <priority>, <lastmod>, and <changefreq> are optional and serve to give the search engine more information. For more information, mark http://www.sitemaps.org/ as a favorite and brush up on protocols. You can also use any of a number of generators to create your XML sitemap.

If you don’t a sitemap, or an updated version, get on it now!

Camera

The human eye is drawn to imagery.  This is one of the first things taught in Marketing 101.  This is becoming even more abundantly clear as the world of social media continues to boom.  It was reported that tweets using imagery were clicked up to 150% more often than those containing text alone.  For this reason, the leaders in the online business world have quickly taken to infographics, which are defined as “images used to represent important information or data.”

Get Friendly with PhotoShop If you have access to this software, you should definitely be using it.  PhotoShop provides the user complete control over what an image becomes.  Whether you want to add text over the top of a photo, you want to make yourself thinner in your profile picture, or you want to create amazingly attractive graphs and charts, PhotoShop tools make it possible.  Plus, there are a multitude of free guides and tutorials available online that will teach you everything you need to know to maximize the worth of this program.

Make the Most of Freebies There are a lot of sites available online, which offer a multitude of image editing services.  This includes PicMonkey for image manipulation, Social Media Image Maker for resizing photos, and PhotoVisi for collage creation.  These tools are completely free and can make infographics a much simpler undertaking.  There are a lot of them available on the web, but also consider mobile apps for infographic creation on the go.  

Appeal to Stats Lovers Statistics are loved online.  People from all walks of life and from a multitude of different industries are more than willing to share a bit of information, in the form of a statistic, with their friends, followers, and circles.  However, text gets lost in the mass confusion of social media feeds.  Get the most of your amazing statistic by putting it in picture form.

Compare and Contrast What images are making the biggest splash on social media networks?  Those that are evocative or highly contrasting.  That is to say that something that makes a person smile or tear up is likely to be shared.  Additionally, images that have a strong color contrast will grab the eye before those that are dull or faded. People want to be pulled away from the mundane and the right images can make that happen. Make the most of these facts and use them to your advantage when creating infographics.

 

Floodlight

For those unfamiliar with the term ‘Semantic Markup’, it can be a confusing concept, but with a basic understanding of HTML, it can also become a highly beneficial component of your SEO strategy.

Semantic Markup: The use of specific HTML language to reinforce the meaning of the information found on a website.

Great semantic markup will help improve your click-through-rate (CTR) by as much as 15%.  Of course, CTR also weighs into overall SEO, which means that enticing users to click will ultimately lead to better search engine standings.

Snippets: the small amount of text that appears beneath every search engine result

There are a few different types of HTML markup formats for snippet creation, however, it is generally best to follow the recommendations of the search engine that you are trying to appease.  Given that, it is wise to use the Microdata format.  With these small bits of html code, you will help the search engine systems better understand the information on the page, by clearly defining names, titles, dates, and affiliations.

Authorship: Google’s effort to connect author with content in search results

One of the greatest ways that Semantic Markup can help you improve CTR, and adorn snippets, is with the use of Google Authorship.  By including blog URLs in the Google+ profile ‘Contributor to’ section and pasting the query string <a href=”[profile_url]?rel=author”>Google</a> as a link on your website, you can ensure that your face shows up next to the content that you create in search results.  Pictures draw attention, give written material a perceived credibility, and arouse curiosity that can make a person click on the link.

Testimonials

The ability to showcase reviews in a location as public as Google search results is pretty powerful.  With the right Sementic Markup, you can alert Google to the fact that you have testimonials on a website and these can be included with the snippets seen by Google searchers.

Breadcrumbs: Additional links seen by Search Engine users beneath the primary search result link.  Breadcrumbs are used to make sense of a domain hierarchy.

Google search bots are not perfect and can often fail to detect the breadcrumb code written into a website.  Markups can be useful in ensuring that the breadcrumbs are detected and included in the snippet.

Semantic Markup can be a major benefit to your website, improving the way that the public views its worth when it first appears to them as a search result.  With the added bits of information, there can be enough to entice a greater number of people to click on through to your precious content.

 

 

 

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?

Blank Notepad 5

A recent Hubspots/SmartInsights survey found that one of the top challenges faced by European marketers is producing enough quality content. Why? How hard can it be to write a couple of articles, maybe a whitepaper, craft some infographics, and do up some tweets? Easy peasy, as they say on Pinterest. It is! But producing all of this content all of the time – there’s the rub. Here are some tips to help out.

  • Take stock of your current content. What do you have? Look at your analytics as well: which pieces are most popular? Why? What types of information do you cover, and in what format? Which pieces have high bounce rates or low engagement with your visitors? Again, look at the topics and the formats to determine why your audience gives these the cold shoulder.
  • Brain storm relevant ideas. Fortunately, you have a host of tools at your disposal to help. Use Google’s Keyword Planner, for instance, allows you to search for keyword ideas. Look through LinkedIn groups for professional discussions, Quora for trending stories and hot questions, and Ubbersuggest for keywords. Even sites like Pinterest can help you gather, and organize, great ideas.
  • Organize everything. All these ideas, snippets, and stories can create chaos. Organize it all with a program or app. EverNote is a good example, but far from the only available – and free – option! You can jot down thoughts, store all sorts of content, and use the search function to find it all again. With cloud access, you can do this anywhere, anytime so you never lose an idea for great content.
  •  Schedule your content. Create a content calendar so you have a schedule. You can build a bank of articles, infographics, images, and other content to release at specified dates so you always have a steady stream of relevant goodies for your audiences. It also allows you the flex to respond to news stories and current events. You can use Excel or find a free template online.

Taking a methodical approach to content development ensures that you have relevant articles, whitepapers, editorials, infographics, and video when you need it. You don’t need to depend on the muse; you need to depend on your schedule! And you need to make scouring the world for new, fresh ideas a daily activity.

Woman Using ComputerContent is king. In 2014, it’s time to amend this famous and oft-repeated mandate. How about “shareable content is king”? What good is content if it is static, if it stays in its kingdom on a lonely website? We have the potential to put our content in front of the eyes of a much broader audience. Infographics are an ideal tool: they are visually appealing, immediately engaging, short and concise, and easy to share not only on social platforms but on other websites. Make sharing easy by embedding a codes into your infographics. Here’s the why and how.

The Why:

Embed codes:

  • Make it easy to share your infographic.
  • Provide links back to your website.
  • Are, thanks to magic and modern technology, simple to generate.

The How:

When you have an infographic, it will typically be too large to fit within your webpage, so you have to resize it. The smaller version is a preview, if you will, for viewers. Create a full res version and provide a link for viewers to click on so they can view the image in all its glory. That way, they don’t have to pull out the magnifying glass to read it. A helpful tip: make sure the link opens in a new window so their experience on your site is not interrupted.

There are two ways to generate the embed codes. One is to simply use a code generator. If you run a WordPress site, for instance, you can install an embed code generator and, within a few clicks, you have your code. One such plugin is the aptly named “Embed Code Generator.”  There are other tools, as well, for non-WordPress sites that you can find online. Another option is to take a little time and write the code yourself.

Include:

  • Source URL (http://seoisawesome.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/content-infographic)
  • Image URL: (http://seoisawesome.uk/how-to-create-shareable-content-with-infographics-infographics/)
  • Title: (5 Tips for Sharing Infographics)
  • Image Alt: (embed codes infographics)
  • Courtesy of Site Name: (SEOisAwesome)
  • Courtesy of Site URL: (http://seoisawesome.com)

Here’s a sample code:

<div sytle=”clear: both”><a href=http://seoisawesome.uk/how-to-create-shareable-content-with-infographics-infographics/><img align=”center” src=http://seoisawesome.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/content-infographic-small.jpg title=5 Tips for Sharing Infographics” alt=”embed codes infographics” border “0” /></a></div><br/><div>Courtesy of <a href=www.seoisawesome.uk>SEOisAwesome.uk</a></div>

There are other elements you can include (such as image width and height), but this is the basic idea.

Most infographics on the web do not employ an embed code, and this is a missed opportunity. By embedding this code, you are helping others share your content and create rich backlinks to your website. There’s no excuse not to take this easy step- especially with the help of code generators! You’ve put in the work to create a great infographic – why not ensure as many people as possible experience it?

Think you need a mobile app for your business? You’re not alone. Billions of apps are developed every year, with customers downloading them at record levels. If you haven’t yet developed an app for your business, it may be time to think about one. Here are 3 signs you absolutely need an app for your company.

  1. You have app-savvy customers. Designing an app is going to do you little good if your customers aren’t the type of take advantage of all of your hard work. Some customers are savvy enough to download and use apps. Others, though, simply won’t make use of it, and if that’s the case, it’s far better to simply expand the functionality of your company.
  2. You have an idea for an app that makes sense in terms of growing your business. There are lots of apps that do absolutely nothing. You don’t want yours to be one of those. Instead, your app should offer real functionality that does something for your customers. It should spell good things for your business that your site can’t necessarily offer them, especially when they’re on the go.
  3. You have the funds to make an app work. App building can get expensive, particularly when you don’t necessarily want to go with the lowest bid available. Make certain you have the funds to build the app and make revisions if necessary. You don’t want to hand your customers a product that may not work with its initial launch.

Ready to take the next step into the world of mobile app development? Be patient. It takes time to put together the right team to help you realize your vision. Don’t cut corners here. Your customers are certain to notice!

Film Reel Series

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, according to Forrester Research, a single minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. That’s a lot of power packed into a minute of content. Seventy-eight percent of web users will watch a video this week, and 55 percent will watch every day. What is striking about this is that 46 percent will take some sort of action after viewing. We respond to video; our brains assimilate information more quickly and emotionally. Creating and hosting great videos isn’t the incredibly expensive production it once was, but that doesn’t mean you should shoot jerky, home videos on your iPhone and post them! Here are the best of the best tools to help you produce high-quality videos – and much more.

Camtasia.

How-tos and tutorials are tremendously popular, especially if you’re in a technically-oriented field. Camtasia is a tool that allows you to capture what you’re doing on your screen and then edit video to customize it for your audience. You can add audio tracks, HD video, photos, graphics, and much more to enhance your end-product. They’ve also added a new option, allowing you to superimpose yourself into the video for a more personal one-on-one feel. Check out their tutorial or take advantage of a free trial. This is a wonderful tool for teaching and training.

Pixorial.

Even if you’ve never created a video, Pixorial makes it easy with its intuitive layout and navigation. You simply upload footage and you can add transitions, soundtracks, text, and other elements. The Pixorial platform allows you to view, share, and edit videos without modifying the original. No “Whoops!” moments! Edit, upload, share on social networks, and store videos on the cloud. There is tremendous versatility within Pixorial’s family of products.

Wistia.

Wistia is a hosting tool with packages to meet a variety of business needs and budgets. The platform allows you to add social sharing buttons and CTAs, collect viewers’ emails for marketing, control access, manage who sees what, and monitor their interactions. Analytics help you see how people watch your videos: do they start and bounce out? Do they skip certain parts, or go back through them? What have they watched previously? HTML and Flash are both automatically encoded, buffering is minimized, and it works across devices. Wistia’s functionality is inclusive: this is a powerful way to ensure your videos reach your audience and that you have data to make them even more effective.

Others to check out:

  • Weavly (drag-and-drop operation, search/trim/combine tracks, add video and audio).
  • GoAnimate (fun animations, easy user interface, basic hosting, and basic analytics).
  • PowToon (drag-and-drop for cartoons, ideal for instructional videos).

 

Blue Website Buttons 3

In 2011, Google, Yahoo, Bing, and, later, Yandex (the largest search engine in Russia) teamed up to create Schema.org, a common vocabulary that webmasters and SEOs can use to markup their data. Structured data is becoming much more important as we move further into the “entity search” world. Using the schemas, users can essentially describe their content in a way that makes it more visible and relevant to search engines. Following are a few helpful tips for working with Schema.org.

Get some help. You do not necessarily need to know how to code to use Schema, but it helps. While it would take years to learn coding, you can get a crash course and at least learn the common terms and constructions to make marking up your text easier. CodeAcademy is one free, interactive resource that you can check out.

Know your <div> from your <span>. These are two very common elements that you’ll need. <div> can group sections of code and format them with CSS. <span>s are used to group inline elements.  Here is an example of each:

 

<div id=”content” style=”background-color:#0000FFheight:225px;width:450px;float:right;”>
Content goes here</div>

<span itemprop=”author”>Jack Smith</span>

Get familiar with Schema.org. Look at the types, properties, and hierarchies. Let’s say you have a men’s clothing shop. Your hierarchy looks like this:

Thing>Organization>LocalBusiness>FoodEstablishment>Bakery.

You would then open a text editor or HTML editor to markup your pages. Here’s how we would tell the search engines our business type and pertinent information:

<div itemscope itemtype=“http://schema.org/Bakery”>
<h1> Bakery </h1>
<p>Intro Text</p>
<p>Address: <span itemprop=”address”>555 Bakery Avenue, London, UK  E4454</span></p>
<p>Phone: <span itemprop=”telephone”> 444-555-3333</span></p>
</div>

Use the schemas to markup other areas of content. If you have a recipe on your bakery website, for instance,

<div itemscope itemtype=”http://www.xys.uk/Recipe”><h1 itemprop=”name”>zucchini bread</h1>

By <span itemprop=”author”<Bill Smith</span>

Published: <time itemprop=”published” datetime=”2013-09-25”>September 25, 2013</time>

<span itemprop=”summary”>A wonderful, moist zucchini bread recipe, perfect for cold fall days.</span>

<span itempropr=”rating”>4.8</span> stars based on

<span itemprop=”count”>210</span> reviews

Marking up your text ensures that search engines have detailed information about your website. It takes some time to complete, but once you have the basics, the rest is easy!

Colorful Tacks

Pinterest has achieved phenomenal growth in the last few years, but many businesses persist in believing it to be just a place for foodies to get new gluten-free recipes, thrifty parents to get ideas for budget-friendly birthday parties, or for crafty folks to get their newest idea. It’s great, they think, for individuals but not for our businesses. But consider this, Pinterest refers more people to websites than Yahoo. Admittedly, Yahoo is no Google, but this is a powerful reminder that there is an opportunity to be had. If you’re not pinning, maybe you should be.

Pinterest is the fourth largest traffic source in the world. It often referrs more people than Google+, Bing, and LinkedIn. Most of its users are women (some put the number as high as 80 percent) and most are between ages 24 and 34. Half have children. If these hit your target demographics, it might be smart to build a Pinterest presence for yours business. Here are some other statistics:

  • Pins with price tags get 36 percent more likes than those without.
  • 69 percent of users have found at least one item they have purchased or wanted to purchase.
  • Average users spend 1 hour and 17 minutes on the site.

That last stat is particularly remarkable. Over one hour – most sites are lucky if users stay for a few minutes. What the duration of the stay tells us is that users are engaged. They are being pulled in by great content, and they don’t have to “bounce” because they are finding information, comparisons, prices, and products that meet their needs.

If you think that Pinterest is of importance and value to your target audience, create an account. Here are some tips to help create a presence:

  • Set up a business account for a more professional, credible appearance. This will help boost consumer confidence in your brand.
  • Use Pinterest Analytics. In keeping with its status as a major traffic source, Pinterest offers Analytics. Track how many people are viewing and pinning from your website. You can also see the most popular “repinned” items to help you optimise your efforts and create better pins.
  • Think about hosting a contest. These are popular and can help highlight your content and your website. Make sure to read Pinterest’s Terms of Service before you start.
  • Be visual. Use images (that you create or that you have secured rights to) and infographics to appeal to Pinterest’s visual nature.
  • Know your audience. Pin only what you think they’ll be interested in. Doing some research is a great way to start. Not only should you get a sense of your “user personas,” you should look at what your competition is doing as well.
  • Take advantage of tools. There are now a variety of helpful tools to build and maintain a positive Pinterest presence. These include: Shopinterest (to set up shop in minutes); Repinly (info on top pins and boards); Pinstamatic (appealing boards); Pinpuff (measure influence); and Piqora (analytics and pin scheduling).
  • Spend an hour or so yourself pinning, repinning, and gathering information on what works, what doesn’t , what your business can do, and how you can reach your audience.

Does Pinterest make sense for your business? Are you already there?

 

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