SEO News

different is greatA new study by Ascend has discovered that half of companies struggling with search engine optimisation have not taken steps to fully integrate SEO and social media. SEO cannot be a siloed approach; it has to encompass CRO, content marketing, branding, social, mobile…SEO is a pixel in the overall picture. The bottom line is that businesses that integrate SEO with social media are more successful than those that do not.

Quickly, here are some major findings from the survey:

  • 38% of those who identified themselves as “successful” with SEO were heavily integrating their tactics with social media techniques.
  • 50% who identified themselves as “unsuccessful” with SEO were not integrating social media at all.
  • 60% of companies said they had “limited integration.”
  • 24% responded that they did not integrate at all.
  • 16% said they had “extensive integration” of social and SEO.
  • Nearly half said that creating original content was the most effective SEO tactic.

So, this of course begs the question: how do we integrate SEO and social media? This is important because some experts believe that in the very near future, SMI – search marketing integration – will be a must for first page rankings.

  • Get social – within reason. Sometimes Twitter does not make sense for your business. Sometimes it’s not wise to have a Facebook page. What you need to determine is if these platforms will help you advance your objectives and reach your specific audience. If you are not already there, LinkedIn is an almost universal must for business, as is Google+. YouTube is another one that is tremendously flexible for professionals. In addition to valuable backlinks, Google counts +1s, likes, and retweets in its ranking algorithms. Social indicators are like beacons to Google, so you have to be somewhere.
  • Link from these platforms to your website.
  • Make it easy for people to share your content with social sharing buttons.
  • When you do establish a social platform, be choosy as to who you follow. It’s not a contest: the business with the most friends, fans, or followers doesn’t win. As Google refines its algorithms, the quality of those you follow will be more important. Target influencers.
  • Quality content can be leveraged via social platforms. With LinkedIn, for instance, you can be active in groups and establish a position as a thought leader in your niche. You can use your other media profiles, such as Google+ or Twitter to refer readers to your LinkedIn group content or to your website. You can create an entire encyclopedia of you that is interlinked and connected. Fans and friends can easily navigate to new information, and new prospects can more easily find you.
  • To that end, use Google authorship! It is a crime that more businesses and individuals are not leveraging this tool. It is too easy to neglect – and it’s free! You can instantly gain credibility and visibility.
  • Don’t forget to track your efforts. Using Google Analytics, determine which keywords are the big traffic-getters and those that are the biggest converters. Create content that targets those keywords organically. Remember, SEO rules apply! Don’t over-optimise or write for Google. Write for your audience, but include a few targeted keywords to help them find you.
  • Likewise, use different analytics, such as Facebook Insights, to determine which types of posts are most popular and which drive visitors to your website. Capitalise on that knowledge with posts that engage visitors.

The good news is that there are several things you can do right now (like sign up for LinkedIn and get your Google authorship tags set up!) that can help you integrate SEO and social media. Doing so will help you compete in the increasingly social world.

Feedback form: excellentConversion rate optimisation is focused on the factor that really matters in website design, development, and SEO: the user. These other techniques brought the searcher to you. Now you’ve got to keep them. Analytics and split and multivariate testing can help you glean invaluable data, but the best insight comes from users themselves. Using their feedback can help you improve conversion rates.

There are several effective platforms for managing user feedback, which can get unwieldy if you don’t have a comprehensive system in place. Here are a few tools to consider:

  • GetSatisfaction. The premium customer engagement platform allows you to reach customers on your website and via social and mobile features. Customers can have “guided conversations,” offer feedback, ask questions, share ideas, report problems, and much more. It is a tremendously rich platform. If you, for instance, sell bikes, customers can ask questions right on your website, such as, “Which is the best commuter bike?” They can then see answers from other real customers. There are a host of other features, making this a great choice to engage customers and empower influencers.
  • Crazy Egg. This is a different type of feedback tool which focuses on heatmaps. The tool tracks the elements on your pages so you can see “what’s hot and what’s not.” You can also take advantage of a scrollmap tool, which shows how far down the page people are traveling; an overlay tool, which shows the number of clicks for each element of a page; and a confetti tool, from which you can glean data on clicks you get segmented by referral  source, search term, and other factors. As of now, they are offer a free 30 day trial.
  • OpinionLab. This is another fully-loaded platform extends beyond your website. You can get feedback for mobile, emails, apps, ads, physical locations, and products as well. They offer opt-in (most popular) and more targeted approaches, and help businesses engage customers quickly and nip problems in the bud. In a time when customer complaints can go viral, this tool helps you stay in control and respond expeditiously.

There are a variety of other options out there, varying in features and price points. They can be pricy, but it is an investment in your business. If you can eliminate money-wasters and focus on site elements and marketing tactics that actually bring in revenue and increase conversion rates, then you’ll see an ROI.

 

Photo Frame 8January 2013, Google rolled out its new image results format. It’s a great change for searchers; at the top of the page are different categories that you might be interested. If we’re searching for “ducks,” at the top is “flying,” “swimming,” “female,” etc. Under are high-quality pictures. Previously, you’d get a thumbnail and a bit of a description. When you clicked on the image, the site of origin would appear in the background. This no longer happens. Google says this is to speed up the experience and reduce the load on servers. True, but it can also reduce click-through rates. How, and is it still worth optimising your images?

Instead of a one-click process, getting to the original website is a two-click job. This can impact conversion rates, often significantly. Define Media Group did a small scale study of 87 sites along a variety of verticals. Collectively, traffic decreased 63 percent. Optimising images is still important and worth the time to do it. It certainly cannot hurt! It is not the highest on the SEOs to-do list, but it’s not time-consuming either.

Quick steps you can take include:

  • Use descriptive image file names with targeted keywords. Instead of simply “duck,” for instance, you might name a file, “male mallard duck.”
  • Use Alt tags. This will help increase visibility. This will look like the following:

<img src=”male mallard duck.jpeg alt=”male mallard duck”>

  • Use Alt tags for things like products, not decorative images. This may draw an over-optimisation penalty. And while we’re at it, don’t overuse keywords.
  • Minify images. This compresses and formats the images correctly so they load quickly.

These steps won’t take much time to implement for important images. Regardless of whether Google displays them differently in image searches, it’s important to optimise your content with images. Your site should be built for your users, and images help create a great experience.

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Latent semantic indexing. Bust that term out at a party and people will think you’re brilliant! All it means is that search engines associate terms with concepts. So, instead of just indexing a site based on keywords, algorithms can determine the context. This is why when we search for “Tiger Woods,” for instance, we don’t get results on big cats and forests, but on the golfer. Google uses its algorithms to determine the connection between words.

So, what does LSI mean for your SEO efforts? When you optimise your site, Google can determine connections and relevance to searchers. When indexing your site, Google will look for:

  • Site architecture. Have a strong infrastructure in place on which to build content.
  • Organized content. This makes it easier to find, obviously, particularly when you have logical categories. Google can look at your content categories and identify connections. For instance, a site on SEO might have “Panda” or “Penguin” as a content category. Google can determine that this is SEO related and not for animal fans because of the use of other keywords and content of the website.
  • Relevant content around your main topic. Watch out for over-optimisation. Focusing on a single keyword sends an alarm signal to Google, and sites that narrow in on one or only a few keywords rank more poorly.
  • Use words related to keywords. Use synonyms, plurals, and various tenses of your keywords to build relationships.
  • Mix up your anchor text. Don’t use the same keyword phrase for every link. Bad form.

While Google doesn’t like to discuss its secret sauce, latent semantic indexing appears to play a role in ranking. When you can create a clear architecture and content with targeted keywords, you can boost your spot in the SERPs.

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Pay-per-click advertising can help businesses rank for keyword terms that they may not be able to organically; it is often used in conjunction with SEO techniques, and while you’re waiting for those efforts to “kick in” and start producing results, PPC can provide a stream of revenue faster. You can geo-target your audience, and you can boost the efficacy of both paid and organic search marketing. The benefits of PPC are many, and it remains a relevant and effective tool for businesses. One of the keys is making sure your managing costs. Calculating your maximum bid is important and can help give you an edge.

Your PPC bid depends on a variety of factors. Obviously, for more popular, competitive keywords, the bid needs to be higher. Knowing the maximum price you’re willing to pay will help you keep costs in check.

  • Track how many customers you acquire via PPC, what product category they purchase, and how much they spend. So say you have acquired 300 new football shoe customers and they collectively spent £39,440. The average spending is £132.
  • Next, find the average profit per football shoe customer. If, for instance, your profit margin is 10 percent for shoes, you simply multiple £132 (your average spend) x .10(the profit margin). The average profit is £13.2.
  • Now, track how many clicks it took to acquire your 300 new customers. Let’s say it took 6000 clicks. We divide 6000 by 300. This results in 20. So it takes 20 clicks per month to generate one conversion.
  • One customer is worth £13.2 over 12 months. Divide £13.2 by the number of clicks required for a conversion, or 20. This is £0.66.

£0.66 is your maximum bid. When you can secure keywords at a lower rate, you can make a profit. These numbers are completely arbitrary and serve only to walk you through the calculation. Plug in your own figures and see what you can come up with to guide your bidding decisions.

thumbs up!Facebook’s Open Graph promises to “personalise” the web. Soon, you won’t even have to think: Facebook, Google, and your IP provider will just do it for you! Open Graph stores “stories” about our interests, hobbies, relationships, and likes. As Facebook creates a comprehensive accounting of our lives, Open Graph organises it into a usable database for businesses. Facebook recently added Open Graph tags that will help draw attention to publishers and writers.

Facebook recently added two tags to “help people follow their favorite media publishers and journalists.” The tag enables a link back to your Facebook page whenever someone shares content from your website. The first tag is article:publisher:

<meta property=”article:publisher” content=”https://www.facebook.com/publishersite” />

 

When a piece of content is shared, people are prompted to like the publisher’s page. The second is article:author:

<meta property="article:author" content="https://www.facebook.com/yourname />

 

This will link back to the author’s Facebook profile or page. Make sure that if you are implementing the author tag you have allowed people to follow you.

The new tags are beneficial in building a following and interlinking content. You can create more organic follows and engage with your audience without requiring them to leave their homepages. In many ways, it is a similar offering to Google’s authorship tag (though Facebook declined to say whether or not the tag would affect an article’s rank). Take advantage of another quick, easy tool to build online credibility and visibility.

Internet's universe...There are thousands of devices on which people browse the web. Can they access and view your site, regardless of whether they are on a laptop, an iPhone 5 or a Galaxy S4 Mini? That’s the question. As we turn to our devices more and more, we need sites that respond and provide optimal experiences. Responsive web design allows us to do that. A site will respond as effectively to our 4 inch phone screen as it does to our 15 inch desktop screen. Last time, we talked about fluid grids, one of the building blocks of responsive web design. Now we’ll turn out attention to media queries, another essential element of a responsive website.

To quickly recap, a fluid grid enables elements of a website to adjust proportionally to screen sizes. The second element is CSS3 media queries. These allow you to collect data from site visitors and use that to “respond” to CSS styles. It determines which style will be used based on the dimensions of the viewing device (among other criteria, such as resolution).

Let’s put this into action. Say we want to target tablets with a maximum screen resolution of 560 px (such as a tablet). Our media query would look like this:

<link rel=”stylesheet” media=”screen and (min-width:320px) and (max-width:480px)” href=”css/mobile.css” />

Or, if you are writing it directly in a stylesheet:

1 @media screen and (min-width:320px) and (max-width:480px){
2
3 /*Style Declarations For This Width Range */
4
5 }

Because you want your site to be responsive to a wide variety of devices, you will enable various pixel increments, such as 480, 600, 768, 992, and 1382. As with implementing fluid grids, there are tools that can help you develop media queries for responsive web design. These include:

  •  Bootstrap.
  • The Responsive Calculator.
  • Adapt.JS.
  • Rock Hammer.
  • Skeleton.

These tools make it easier to implement responsive web design.Fluid grids and media queries are central to this mission, and tools, like Bootstrap, offer a solution for building both into your website. Responsive web design ensures users can view your site regardless of device; if you’re not responsive, you need to get on it!

3d illustration: Mobile technology. mobile phoneTraditionally, websites have been built for one type of screen: the desktop or laptop screen. Today, though, we visit sites via a number of different devices, from a 15 inch desktop to a 3 or 4 inch smartphone. That’s a whole lot less real estate than developers have previously been able to fill. Rather than designing and building separate websites for each screen size possible, which would be a herculean task, or designing apps for the various app stores, many webmasters are opting for responsive web design. What is it, and how does it work?

Responsive web design ensures that your site responds to the screen environment. The design uses media queries, or modules that allow the site to figure out how to respond optimally to screen size and resolution of a particular device. Content is then formatted to fit. Ethan Marcotte, author of Responsive Web Design, says, “Responsive web design offers us a way forward, finally allowing us to ‘design for the ebb and flow of things.” With thousands of device options, having a site that fluidly responds to user needs is critical.

Responsive design begins with a fluid grid. Rather than having a fixed grid, developers define a maximum layout size and divide the grid into columns. This ensures the layout is clear and, well, responsive. Each element is designed with proportional heights and widths. With fixed design or adaptive design, it was based on pixels, which did not change when the screen changed. With responsive design, elements actually adjust their heights and widths.  This means content is viewable, regardless of the screen.

Creating fluid grids is time- and labor-intensive. A forgivable “cheat” is using an existing framework or generator tool on which you will build your layout. This will cut down on the work and give you a great platform. Another benefit is that, if you are new to this, you can use a generator, learn the basics, and then try your hand at building the next one from the ground up.

Some terrific fluid grid tools include:

Remember, creating the fluid grid is an essential part of creating a responsive website – but it is not the only component. Next time, we’ll talk about media queries to ensure users can view and interact with content on smaller screens.

WritingGoogle rolled out its authorship tag a few years back, but 2013 has really been the year of the rel-author. It can have a substantial effect on your visibility, authority, and credibility. Those who implement Google authorship see higher click-through rates and begin to build a name for themselves, which in the blogging world, is crucial. One study found that when authors added this snippet, they increased clicks by 150 percent. That’s worth taking the nominal time and effort to put it into action.

Here’s the lowdown on setting up your authorship snippet:

  1. Log into your Google+ account. If you don’t have one – why not! Sign up and verify your email address. Make sure you use an email address with the same domain as your blog.
  2. To verify your authorship, you have to have a rel=”author” tag on your content page, which points back to your Google profile. Make sure this is not visible by site visitors.
  3. In the Profile section, select Edit Profile > Contributor to. Here, you will be able to list the sites to which you contribute. Simply label the site or blog and paste the URL in the box.
  4. Select who will see the Author Rank. Public is best, but you can restrict it to those within your circles or extended circles.
  5. Save, and repeat if you have multiple sites to list.
  6. Scroll up to Other Profiles. If you have pages that are about you, such as a YouTube channel or social media profiles. Add and save.
  7. Now you can select Finish Editing and View As to get a preview of how your snippet will appear.
  8. Use Google’s Rich Snippet Testing Tool to see if you’ve done everything correctly.

Using the authorship tag will highlight you in search results and increase your authority. It’s a relatively quick process, and a free one, at that, which delivers a great ROI.

Circuit boardEvery webmaster has to be concerned with two main focuses: creating high-quality, compelling content and then delivering that content quickly and consistently to visitors. One way to achieve this is to use a content delivery network, or CDN. How will this help – and how can you choose the best option for your business/website?

A content delivery system is a network of web servers that are dispersed across multiple areas. Data copies are placed on the servers, which can respond to requests based on which server is closer in proximity. While data should move at the speed of light, it still takes longer for it to travel 3,000 kilometers than 20, so the CDN can help put a turbo-booster on your content. Many CDNs have a dozen or more servers, from Amsterdam to Los Angeles to London to Osaka, so they can be nimble and agile.

This is important because even small delays in load times can harm your conversion rate. When you eliminate the delays loading images, scripts, videos, stylesheets, and other elements, you can cut that time. Here are some tips for choosing your CDN:

  • Look for services that focus on content delivery and front-end optimisation (FEO). Front-end elements account for as much as 90 percent of users’ wait time, so it is important that your CDN be able to reduce this and increase speed. Techniques include minification, compression, versioning, and resource consolidation.
  • Consider setup times. This should be minimal, and the cost should be equally minimal.
  • Speaking of price, it will vary based on geography. But gone are the days when CDNs cost thousands. The first computer was purchased for $6800. Today, we can buy computers for £255. It is the same with CDNs. In fact, some, like Amazon CloudFront, charge based on use.
  • Does the CDN offer intelligent routing and redundant networks?
  • Is the content served from their edge servers or yours? The former can reduce bandwidth demands and speed up delivery.
  • Does the CDN offer reporting tools so you can track performance?
  • Some top CDNs to consider: Amazon CloudFront, MaxCDN, CloudFlare, Akamai, and EdgeCast.

CDNs can help you lighten your content load, improve user experience, and keep your content moving in an efficient and effective way.

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