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Old Typewriter Wanderer Continental 2

It has been said a million times by thousands of SEO experts – content is the king online.  If you are not creating great, meaningful content, then your website is very unlikely to see the desired traffic.

Put the Audience First Unless you have already earned fame and acclaim, then it is unlikely that an audience is arriving at your website just to see you bask in your glory.  They are arriving at your page because there was a promise of worthwhile content.  It takes a person only seconds to determine if that is truly the case, so if you aren’t providing something worth seeing, then your bounce rate is going to be ridiculously high.

Stay Relevant If you haven’t hear the term ‘evergreen’, as it is related to your website content, then this is the time to learn more.  This is a very important concept in the virtual world. As the trees that this content is named for, evergreen content is lush, full, and eye appealing.  It maintains its relevance throughout the year and for years to come, rather than being a simple flash in the pan.  Be sure that your content can be called evergreen.

Say Something Meaningful Are you suffering from writer’s block?  Stop what you are doing and turn to the internet – not to copy content already written, but to read the comments made beneath those pieces.  Often, people will ask follow up questions to blog posts, articles, and other material written about your area of interest and those queries will never be answered.  Aha!  The perfect inspiration for your next piece of evergreen content.

Divide and Conquer Spread your wealth of knowledge and keep track of where it is posted and how it does, statistically speaking.  Be relatively narrow with the topics that you write on – become an expert instead of a jack-of-all trades – but be broad with your placement, so your brand will become more recognizable in more circles.

Is That a Headline or a Teaser? It should be a little bit of both. A title is meant to pull the audience into the text.  If it isn’t doing so, then it isn’t worth anything.  A great headline suggests the topic of the writing without giving away too much.  It should be suggestive, enticing and used to promote that which follows it.

Find Your Audience Once the content has been created, titled, and posted… it’s time for it to be read, which means that you need to reach out to your target audience.  But, where do you find them?  If you know your niche, then you will have a good idea what interests them and that can often lead you in the direction you need to go to get your content seen.  Be sure that you are aiming at those arenas and not spreading your efforts thin, in areas where your niche wouldn’t be.

The right efforts today can mean meaningful, organic-growth-worthy content that will continue bringing your audiences for many tomorrows to come.

 

 

Help Me :)

Your Quick Help Guide for Semantic Markup

If you haven’t embraced the concept of Semantic Markup yet, then you are likely missing out on a lot of internet traffic.  Why?  In order to answer the question, a quick Google search of “Bananas Foster” led to the following top two results:

Which of the two are you more likely to click on?  Why?

It’s a pretty safe bet that you would click on the second link because of the image and the clear five star rating.  This is a very good picture of what semantic markup can do for you, when it is used correctly.  To make the most of it on your website, consider the following tips.

Get Help If you are not familiar with HTML code or you find the whole idea of semantic update overwhelming, then consider using a free service, like Structured Data Markup Helper to get you started.  The major benefit of sites like these is, of course, the help creating the HTML strings that you need to achieve the look of the Google search result discussed above.  The downside is that there are some limits to the types of markup that this service assists with.  Nevertheless, it can be a great place to start.

Express Your Authorship If nothing else, help your branding efforts by tying your work and your name to your photo.  This can be done with authorship markup.  Your photo or logo will appear beside your content in search results if you include the right markup on your website.  In order to do this, you will need:

  • A Google+ Profile
  • An email account hosted by your domain (this can be averted with another method of markup.  Directions can be found on Google’s Authorship page)
  • A ‘by line’ on all articles and blog posts that you author on the domain.

When these things have been accomplished, you can simply submit your email address to Google here and test the results of your markup here.

Make Your Local Business Known There are a number of markups that can be used to improve local business search result snippets.  The best bet for those trying to implement such markups, is to visit Schema.org, which lays out the appropriate Semantic Markup tags.  It is also wise for businesses operating in multiple towns or cities to make use of breadcrumb coding.  Think of this as a picture of the site structure, so users can quickly make sense of the hierarchy and get to the most relevant destination – the appropriate branch’s local site.  Markups here can help Google make sense of the map as well and will result in direct links to the subpages searchers may find more valuable.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

Optical Microscope 1A/B testing is an invaluable tool for website owners. If you don’t test it, you can improve. Do your visitors respond to this type of graphic or that? Does the red CTA generate for click-throughs than the green? Does integrating social prove increase CTRs? If you have it on your site, you can – and should – test it! Google’s Content Experiments is a tool that allows you to do just that.

What is Content Experiments?

This Google tool allows you to test up to 10 versions of a landing page to determine which specific changes yield the biggest improvements in conversion rates. It’s not straight A/B, then, which compares two versions, and it’s not multivariate, in which you test various combinations of different onpage elements. Instead, you can test up to 10 versions with separate URLs.

Improving Conversion Rates

The following tips will help you use Content Experiments to boost your conversion rates:

  • Focus on a goal. Do you want to increase opt-ins for newsletter subscriptions by 10%? Do you want to increase sales by 15% Whatever your goal, clearly define it. Make sure it is reasonable and achievable, or testing will only frustrate you.
  • Even though you can test up to 10 versions of your landing pages, target one feature at a time. Why? Because you won’t know which specific element is the one either attracting visitors or increasing bounce rates. You could, for instance, test your CTA. The versions remain much the same except for the CTAs. Test the call to action copy, the color, the style of the button. When you have your data, move on to the next critical element.
  • Analyze your traffic and decide on a timeframe. In general, the lower your daily traffic, the longer you should run your tests. Say you have a few hundred hits per day: take a week or so to collect data. Send the majority of your traffic to the test site to accelerate the process.
  • Optimise Ads. Google now allows AdSense users to use Content Experiments to optimise ads. You can experiment with placement and size to determine where you’re getting the most bang for your advertising buck.

Google provides a host of free tools for webmasters; this is one you definitely want to take advantage of.

Shaking Hands

Engaging content. Relevant content. Interesting content. Entertain. Instruct. Convert. In the hustle and bustle of designing and populating a website with all of this great SEO- and content marketing- gold, it can be easy to forget the building blocks of a great site. A solid About Us page is essential – but how do you craft one that not only gives visitors an accurate sense of who you are but encourages them to delve deeper into your website and trust you to fill their needs with your products or services.

  1. Tell them who you are. Why did you start your business? Why should visitors give credence to what you say? What’s your background? Don’t recreate your CV – but do tell an interesting story about who you are and why you’re here.
  2. Tell them what you can do for them. Scratch the itch. What brought the visitor to your page in the first place? As Simon Sineck says, “start with the why.” Describe the challenge or problem, and then segue into how you are the solution. It’s all about demonstrating value for them.
  3. Add social proof. Testimonials, positive mentions is respected publications or media, quotes, how many downloads, etc. can add to your credibility. You never want to pat yourself too hard on the back, but you can let others do a little for you.
  4. Bullet your credentials and accomplishments. Increased sales by 200% for one client? Have an MBA from Harvard? Great. Add it to a concise list. Skip the superlatives and stick with the facts. While we’re on the subject, keep paragraphs short and streamlined. Break up big chunks of text, and engage the reader visually.
  5. Include a professional photograph. This allows visitors to put a face to the name and business, building credibility. Conversion rates, by the way, are higher for pages with photos of real people. Don’t scrimp! No selfies; use a pro.
  6. Test your About page. Have a friend, coworker, or another trusted associate read your About page and then quiz him: does it explain, clearly and simply, who you are, what you do, where, how, and when? Think like a journalist: what information does your audience absolutely need?
  7. Keyword optimise. People are searching for you, or at least for what you do. Help them out, and reinforce your credibility, with targeted keywords. Remember, browsers conduct long-tail, question-based queries, so remember that when crafting your text. Include optimised headlines and subheadings.

The About page is one of the most visited on your website. With these tips, you can ensure it’s one of the strongest as well.

XDid the days of watching your commas, minding your semi-colons, and knowing it is “accidentally,” not “accidently,” end when you turned in your last term paper or put down the pencil? Does spelling and grammar matter to search engines, and will you be penalised for errors?

Is Spelling and Grammar a Factor in Your Ranking?

Yes, and no. And it depends. Bing’s Duane Forrester is clear with his search engine’s stance. In a blog post from February 2014, the Senior Product Manager writes:

…just as you’re judging others’ writing, so the engines judge yours. If you struggle to get past typos, why would an engine show a page of content with errors higher in the rankings when other pages of error free content exist to serve the searcher. Like it or not, we’re judged by the quality of the results we show. So we are constantly watching the quality of the content we see.

Google, too, wants to serve high-quality content. Typos and mistakes make it difficult to get through content, much less take it seriously. Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, says that grammar and spelling are not among the over 200 direct signals that the search engine considers. But, he added, it can play a part in your PageRank. This is the measure of a site’s reputability, and egregious and consistent mistakes impact that.

We’re not talking about one mistake on 100 pages of great content or breaking “rules” by having sentence fragments, but rather serious misspellings and poorly constructed sentences all over the page. In addition to harming your PageRank, it can increase your bounce rate and decrease your conversion rate. Say a visitor clicks through to your site. He or she finds error after error and quickly bounces out. This is a signal to Google that your site may be of poor quality.

All of this boils down to the importance of having clean content that is as free from mistakes as possible. You’re not going to be 100% perfect. Your 3rd grade teacher may still be able to spot your errors, but for users, your content needs to “pass” the grammar and spelling test before they will engage further or consider viewing you as an authority.

Show you’re readers your a good writer!

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.

 

 

Open SignWhile the internet opens up the world to consumers and those seeking information, it also shrinks it. Searchers, particularly mobile ones, depend on online resources to find restaurants, theatres, sporting events, cultural events, services, addresses, and much more in their own backyards or locales they are visiting. Localising your SEO efforts is essential so your target audience can find you easily.

A few tips for local SEO success:

Start with the basics. NAP. Name, address, phone. Include this information on every page within your site, not just the home and contact pages. Secure a URL that includes your business name, and if possible, your location: for example, cafebluemanchester.com

Keyword-optimised descriptions. In your title tag, include your targeted keywords and location in 70 characters or less. Your meta description allows you to show searchers a snippet of your website content in the SERPs. While Google can choose the snippet it wants, it can also use your suggestion. In 165 characters, craft a description that includes your keywords, phone number, and locations served.

Develop a page for each location. If you have multiple locations, you don’t need to go to the expense of creating websites for each. You could, but you might find it easier to create a page for each location within one main website. This way, searchers are directed to the correct page for their needs, and they can always navigate the rest of the site’s relevant information via your internal links. The longer you can keep someone engaged in your site, the better.

Claim your business on Google Places. This is your chance to give Google and potential customers the information they need. All that is required is a Google account (which you should have anyway because it gives you access to a host of helpful tools and features), and you can choose from Free and Premium options. Take the opportunity to add up to 10 photos of your business (no stock photos!) and link to up to five YouTube videos.

Don’t forget Bing and Yahoo Local and Yelp. Sign up with these sites too. All three have free basic services to help you appear more prominently in front of your audience.

Embed a map. Local searchers are often interested in researching a business’s products or services and then visiting the physical location. Be sure to make it easy for them by embedding a map. Go to Google Maps and enter your address. Google will generate an HTML code that you can embed on your website.

These local SEO steps will help you get started. Next time, we’ll talk about local SEO and your social media presence.

 

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