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Retro Tv

Long-form content, whether text or video, holds a valuable place in any content management strategy. Many site visitors want to dig into topics of interest to them. But that doesn’t’ mean they don’t want to graze or have a light snack too. Bite-sized content is also a great addition to your website and/or social media platform. Micro videos are growing in popularity. What do you need to know about these pint-sized films?

What’s a Micro Video?

You’ve probably seen them in memes and posts all around the internet – those short videos that either capture just a few seconds of life or that loop them continually. Vine, from Twitter, allows users to create 6 second videos, and Instagram lets them create “epics” of up to 15 seconds.

They are incredibly sharable via smartphone, and they can help brands reach on-the-go audiences with snappy, smart, targeted marketing messages. According to some sources, branded Vine videos are 4 times more likely to be shared than traditional (longer) videos.

Make Them Work for Your Business/Website

There is a real opportunity here because micro videos are relatively new, especially for brand use. If you can develop a few winners, you’ll be ahead of the game – and an innovator in the space. Some tips to get you started:

  • Keep it simple. Straightforward and to-the-point. You don’t want to create a micro video when a standard video would be better. For instance, if you have a complicated topic, devote some time to it. Micro is great for short, memorable images – not complicated issues.
  • Do how-to. A quick how-to guide on some simple action can be a fun way to use this medium. In a terrific series of 6-second videos, Bicardi UK shows viewers how to mix quick and easy drinks, such as the Cuba Libre.
  • Give a behind-the-scenes glimpse. Give a little taste of your process, your facilities, or your inner workings.
  • Be creative, and fun. Oreo nails it with quick videos of innovative ways to enjoy their famous cookies. What do you have to offer your audience – and how can you encapsulate it in a 5-15 second snippet?

Micro video may not be the answer for every brand. But if you have a message that is best suited for a quick, snappy medium, consider bite-sized content.

Panda 4

Introducing another Google update! Panda 4.0 is being met with great buzz and, of course, the big question: what does this mean for my website? Good question, and equally good news. If you have great, high-quality content, it is a positive change that can help your content filter up through the ether and onto the top of the results pages. So, what exactly is Panda 4.0, and what can we expect next?

Google has been going tough on low-quality sites, and it appears as though its newest update is designed to ensure that scraped, copied, or spam content isn’t rewarded with good standing in the SERPs. It does, however, reward sites that publish high-quality content with regularity, or even better, with frequency.

It’s no surprise that sites need to have fresh news, articles, videos, and other gems for visitors (and for search engines, given the emphasis on content marketing of late. The latest iteration of Panda underscores the need for a serious strategy that involves posting new material at least every week.

A note on content syndication: with the right technical SEO approach, offering a bit of syndicated content on your website is fine. It is even a great strategy if you are sharing valuable, relevant content with your visitors. What’s not so great is if you rely on  it heavily – or worse, totally – for your content needs. Such sites saw some distressing falls after Panda 4.0 unrolled. If yours is one of them, fresh original content, and keep it comin’, is essential.

There’s also some talk that Panda is looking after your total user experience, not just content. Are you mobile ready? Is navigation easy and intuitive? Do you have coherent metadata? If not, it’s time to update your site’s structure and get ready. It’s not wasted time: if Panda 4.0 is rewarding great UX, you can be sure subsequent updates, changes, and search habits also demand this aspect of your website function flawlessly.

What’s next from Google? You can bet future updates will continue to hone in on their message that quality counts. Get ready with an excellent content strategy.

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!

Enter

Are you a professional? An expert in your field? An authority in your niche? Then, if you’re not on LinkedIn, stop reading, and go sign up! You must be there. With 238 million users – serious users who don’t deal in fluff and memes but in professional discussions and networking – you have the opportunity to reach out, influence, expand your career, and enhance your business/website. So how do you leverage it?

Get Linked In

Some helpful tips to get you started:

  • Complete your company profile.  This is your chance to tell visitors and searchers about yoru company – products, services, opportunities, etc. To add a Company Page, you need to own a personal profile with your real name. Add a description, video, and other content that describes your business, your offerings, and your people. LinkedIn offers some useful instructions to help you set up your page.
  • Be a groupie. Joining groups helps you connect with like-minded people in your industry or related industries. It’s also a method by which you can establish your authority. Participate in a community by offering valuable information, advice, or questions –and go one step further: start your own group. Own a group, and lead people. Encourage them, and at the same time, use this platform to grow.
  • Publish. LinkedIn offers its Influencer program to help users publish content and build their brands. It is essentially a blogging program. Once only open by invitation, now anyone can be an Influencer. Try it for increased traffic, more visibility on your profile, and even a higher conversion rate. And remember to publish fresh content regularly and frequently. Your readers and Google will love it.
  • Ask for recommendations. It can be difficult, but if you have a successful customer experience or a positive relationship with a colleague, request that they recommend you for a specific skill. Loyal customers are a great source of recommendations, so do ask. When do you not ask? When it might turnoff new or potential customers.

LinkedIn is a must for professionals and for brands today. Get in the game!

Film ProjectorWhen it comes to social media, the ‘usual suspects’ jump to mind: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and even Pinterest. One that may deserve a more prominent place in your social strategy is Slideshare. Acquired by LinkedIn in 2012, it’s the largest community for sharing professional presentations in the world. What can a Slideshare presence do for you?

Slideshare: Professional Presentations

Why Slideshare? Here are a few compelling reasons you may need to get familiar with PowerPoint soon:

  • The site receives 500% more traffic from business owners than Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 500%!
  • Mobile views increased 223% over last year.
  • The site sees over 60 million visitors a month.
  • Anecdotal evidence suggests a high ROI and increased generation of qualified leads as a result of a strong Slideshare presence.

What Do Audiences Like?

Slideshare’s content consumers tend to have a voracious appetite for:

  • Business. The most popular topics are: business, research, trends, market, social media, and statistics. These folks are here to work!
  • Short, visual content. Fewer slides in favor of more images. Keep text to a minimum – and make sure it’s relevant.
  • Inforgraphics. These get “liked” 5 times more often than presentation and a whopping 21 times more than documents.

Over 400,000 presentations are uploaded to Slideshare each month. The top slideshows are posted on the homepage, as are featured users, recommended presentations, and more. If your presentation can land on the first page, it’s all the better. A bulk of your traffic will come directly from Google, though, so if you can attract the attention of your target audience, you can boost your ROI and see significant results. Some tips to that end:

  • Optimise. SEO rules apply just as readily to your slideshow as they do to your website. Choose strategic keywords that reflect what your audience is looking for.
  • Images. Choose compelling images that are relevant to your subject. Forget the adorable puppies – unless you’re speaking of puppies! Feel free to include animations, photos, graphics, and other images.
  • Inforgraphics. They sell like hotcakes. There are various sites online to help you generate these interactive graphics.
  • Titles. “Top Tips for Using Slideshare,” “How to…”, “5 Mistakes You’re Making…” Just as you would with a blog or article with a compelling, enticing title, make sure you draw your visitors in with compelling title.
  • Tags and description. Slideshare allows a description and up to 20 tags. Take advantage. Craft these with your carefully-selected keywords and information relevant to visitors and to search engines. Google, by the way, will rank Slideshare material over blogs.
  • Links. Google pays attention, so add high-quality links in your presentation. As with anything you do, “relevance” is the keyword.

If you’re not sharing on Slideshare, maybe it’s time! What message do you have to convey to your audience –and is this a viable medium? Likely, the answer is yes.

Together 1When someone mentions “duplicate content,” thoughts of content scraping and blatant plagiarism immediately spring to mind. While this certainly can – and does – happen, there are other instances when duplicate content appears on websites accidentally, innocuously, and even completely ethically. What are these situations, and how can you avoid penalisation from search engines?

First, taking content, including images, videos, and other non-text content, from other sites and appropriating it for use on your own without attribution is unethical. Reputable site owners and webmasters understand this and make every effort to produce original content. Now that we have that out of the way, how does duplicate content pop up on good websites?

Ecommerce Product Descriptions

You sell blue-tinted sunglasses. While your service, prices, and winning charm may set you apart from the competition, the bottom line is that your sunglasses are the same sunglasses visitors can purchase on a host of other websites. In this case, retailers tend to use the manufacturer’s description – just like all the other shops selling these glasses. The result: a useful description for visitors – and duplicate content.

The solution is to write your own product descriptions. They don’t have to be long, but they do have to be original. It can help, too, to post a photo that you (or better yet, if it’s in the budget, a professional photographer) have taken of the product. You can even involve visitors, requesting photos, videos, and reviews  (UGC is great!).

But what if you’re selling, say, organic, vegan, gluten-free brownies, and you have to list the ingredients for your patrons. These ingredients will be the same as they are on other sites which sell the product. In this case, list them. It’s essential to your customers. Matt Cutts indicates that this will not get you into the muck with Google. However, you should write your own introduction or text to set your content apart – and entice hungry buyers!

Products in Various Categories

This is a similar situation with a fairly easy fix. Ok, say you have 30 products. Your visitors can search by price, by popularity, by alphabetical order. Now, this creates three pages with the same information/content, albeit in different orders.  To avoid penalisation, simply add a canonical tag to the initial category URL. This lets you stay in the good graces of the search engines, and it preserves your link weight for that page.

To find out more about canonical tags and setting yours up, go straight to the source: Google’s webmaster tools.

Great Content You Want to Share

Sometimes, content on other sites is so great that you have to share with your visitors. You want them to access this relevant information – but you want to keep them on your site. This happens all the time. Good site owners secure permission to use the content and attribute it to the proper source. They’re not trying to pass it off as their own. But it’s still, technically, duplicate content. So, again, pop in a canonical tag like this to let search engines know aren’t trying to game the system or steal content:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.bluesunglasses.com/copied-article.html”/>

These are just a few of the legitimate reasons why duplicate content appears on good sites. When possible, provide original content. When that is just not feasible, make sure to use tags to communicate with Google.

 

 

 

Man With A Megaphone 2In today’s competitive online atmosphere, your site – and you – has to stand out as authorities. Credibility is key: the buzziest site, the most sophisticated features, the smoothest salespeople are for naught unless people trust that you can deliver on your promises and fill a need for them. One way to convey both your expertise and your integrity is through customer or client testimonials. The power of word of mouth is more important than ever.

“I Love this Brand!”

Just how powerful is this “social proof”?

  • 92% of customers give greater credence to online customer reviews than sales or promotional information.
  • 70% of customers look at online reviews, ratings, and testimonials before purchasing.
  • 69% consider online reviews as credible as recommendations from friends and family.

So, how do you incorporate testimonials into your website, blog, or other online platforms?

Ask! If you want customer reviews and testimonials, ask them. Request they write a (quick and easy) review of their experience. Some sites find success in offering a reward, such as a discount on a future purchase or another incentive. Ask that customers are clear and specific. Instead of, “I used XYZ and increased sales,” for instance, “XYZ helped me boost sales by 20%.” It is far powerful and effective.

Remember to ask for permission to publish or post these testimonials.

Never, ever fake it. If you don’t have genuine testimonials, or feel that the ones you have don’t adequately describe your service offerings, do not make them up. Some sites think it’s a “victimless crime,” so to speak, but you are eroding your credibility. We’re all familiar by now with online language; we can spot a fake.

Don’t limit customers to written testimonials. Make it as easy as possible. Some customers may prefer to leave a video review – and, many visitors to your website prefer video content, so it’s a win-win. Another option is a simple photo with a caption.

Make them visible. Don’t bury the testimonials. Place them prominently, so they are one of the first elements visitors see.  At the same time, make sure the specific testimonials coincide with the content. If you’re a business consultant, for instance, you might have different services: business coaching, strategic planning consulting, etc. Put the right testimonials with the right services.

Don’t ignore the negative. Not everyone is going to give you a glowing testimonial. But what do you do when you receive a negative review? Address it immediately before it blows up. Determine if you have done anything wrong or if you could have done more right! Respectfully respond, thank the customer for the feedback, and, if appropriate, offer to remedy the situation. If you, in fact, have done nothing wrong or cannot do anything to satisfy the customer, do not attack. Let it go. One bad apple will not hurt you as long as you deal with it calmly. And then make sure you have a dozen positive reviews to counter.

Testimonials demonstrate your credibility and ability to meet customer demands and needs. Don’t tell visitors how great you are – let your customers do it for you.

Old Phone 2Every business owner with an online presence, marketer, and SEO knows about the “2-3% myth.” That is, the average conversion rate for ecommerce sites is 2-3 percent. As one blogger put it, tracking the source of this data is a bit like tracking Big Foot. In any case, even if this is an accurate rate, you don’t want to shoot for it. A 10-20% conversion rate is a worthy goal –and an achievable one. One method which can yield significant results is implementing a click-to-call feature. What do you need to know?

Appeal to the Mobile Market

Sites that have a click-to-call button see:

  • Improved conversion rates.
  • Increased average orders.
  • Higher sales.

In addition, consider mobile users. Six billion people have access to cellphones and smartphones. Research shows that mobile searchers prefer to call businesses for which they’ve searched. Here’s just one scenario: a visitor queries local theaters, looking for good shows. He opts to call one to get information on show times. Click-to-call facilitates the process, making it convenient and easy.

According to Google, 69% of mobile users would use click-to-call if the feature were available. And, sites that implemented this functionality saw an 8% increase in conversion rates.

Click-to-Call for Your Website

Twitter is currently testing click-to-call in ads for certain brands, and you can enable it in your Adwords campaign. Here are a few quick steps to adding a click-to-call to your mobile site.

  1. Use this code:

<a href=tel: 112233334444”> 11-22-3333-4444</a>

(The numbers are simply your telephone numbers!)

  • Add a call to action to highlight this feature and let users know they can click the link to make a call.

<a href=”tel: 112233334444”>Click HERE to Call: 11-22-3333-4444</a>

When a user clicks this link, he or she will see a prompt: “Call 11-22-3333-4444? Yes/No. They know that they will be connected to your business. It’s as easy as that.

The good, old-fashioned telephone still wields a lot of power in today’s mobile world!

Checkbox

SEO is not dead. That’s the good news! But it’s not the only game in town. Content marketing strategies and CRO, or conversion rate optimisation, has to play a role in an integrated approach. It encompasses creating visibility, attracting people to your site, engaging them there with relevant content, and prompting them to complete a desired call to action. As part of an overall strategy, here are a few ways that you can boost your conversion rate?

Start with your Ads

Make sure your ad copy aligns with your offerings – and that when people click through and land on your site, they get the information they expect. Searchers don’t want to feel as though you’ve “fooled” them or made false claims just to get them there. Further, if your ad features Model XYZ soccer shoes, your landing page needs to also feature – you guessed it – XYZ soccer shoes. Otherwise, you risk people bouncing right out because they haven’t found what they wanted immediately.

Use Negative Keywords

This is where going negative produces positive results, including reducing cost and boosting your return on investment. This is a technique by which you exclude certain search parameters or keywords. So, for example, if you sell custom glasses (as in wine glasses), then you don’t want your ads showing up for people searching for eyeglasses. You can exclude keyword terms related to eyeglasses. This enables you to reach the audience you need – and the ones who are most likely to click through and take action.

Try a Special Offer

If sales fit into your business model, consider a promotion. While we want customers who buy any time, all the time, many shoppers are conditioned to wait for sales. So why not leverage them, if appropriate? You could try free shipping, a discount on a product, or a discount on an overall purchase.

Make Sure Your Contact Information is Clear

This allows interested parties to reach you via email or phone, and it also underscores your credibility. A physical location, phone number, and/or live chat options indicate to visitors that you’re “real.” Considering offering additional proof with social media buttons, testimonials, and trust seals.

Craft Exceptional Headlines

The first, and sometimes, the only part of your page visitors read: make sure that they are well-crafted, clear, concise, and optimised with targeted keywords. The right headlines can help boost your conversion rates and keep people engaged in your site longer.

Take these relatively easy steps today to see an uptick in your conversion rates.

 

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.

 

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