Archive for the ‘Search Engines’ Category

Top 10 Tips for Optimizing Your Website

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Optimization is an ongoing effort. The Internet is in a constant change of state and you should be too. It can be a challenge to keep up on the latest tactics and best practices for SEO and as such we’ve put together these top 10 website optimization tips to take a little weight off.

website optimization tips

1. Monitor Your Current Status

It’s important to know where you stand before you jump into anything else. Check your websites PageRank, Alexa rank, and the number of indexed pages on Bing and Google. Additionally, checking traffic (by total and by source) and goals will give you a baseline understanding of your current status on the web so you can create goals and benchmarks for the future.

2. Keyword Research

Even if you’ve already conducted keyword research in the past, it’s important to update your findings on a consistent basis. Whether you work in an ever-changing industry or one that hasn’t changed in decades, the way people search is and always has been evolving (think trends, nomenclature, industry speak, customer speak, etc.) Search query data will show you how your customers are evolving and searching for your products and services. These data insights will help you continue to target traffic-generating terms related to your customer.

3. Internal Link Strategy

Beyond your website navigation, your site should include contextual links that point to other pages throughout the site within your copy. Also, make sure all the links on your site include optimized title tags. Think about how each page touches the customer in their purchase journey and add next step links accordingly.

4. Create a Sitemap

The sitemap is where people go when they can’t find what they’re looking for. It’s an organized list of all the content on your site. It’s also used by search engines so they know all the pages on your site and can index them.

5. Search Friendly URLs

Make your URLs search friendly using those keywords you discovered in your keyword research phase. This will give you a better chance at ranking higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for those targeted terms.

6. Title & Meta-Description Tags

Review your Title and Meta Description tags on every page of your site to make sure they are also optimized using your keywords. Keep in mind the title tag should not be more than 70-80 characters max and the description tag should not be more than 170 characters max.

7. Image Descriptions

Check your image alt tags and descriptions. Are they optimized with the keywords you want to rank for? If not, go through and add optimized alt tags and description to every image. You might even want to try naming the image itself with your keywords.

8. Social Media

Social media is an integrated part of SEO in today’s search landscape. Make sure your social profiles are accessible from your website. Also, allow visitors to share your web content easily by adding social share buttons to every page. You’d be surprised how many companies mess this up. You find an article you like and want to share it, click the Facebook icon, only to be taken to their company profile. FAIL! Really take the time to ensure the social sharing features are working properly on your site to boost your SEO strategy.

9. Link to Other Sites

Linking to other sites is a great way to start nurturing relations with other publishers. In the future, they will be more inclined to link to you if they know you’ve linked to them. Just don’t be spammy. Be authentic and you will be successful.

10. Download our eBook

Get the 10th website optimization tip in our eBook – 25 Website Must-haves for Driving Traffic, Leads and Sales.










How to Build Inbound Links to Your Ecommerce Website in 2014

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

You may have the most fabulous website in the world, but if no one visits it, what’s the point? This is why everyone spends so much time trying to get found online. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a critical component of any website strategy, and when you’re aiming for the first page of search results like most businesses, it takes dedication and consistency.

how to build inbound links

One of the main elements of SEO is building inbound links. There’s always quite a bit of debate around this topic of inbound link building as far as what works, what doesn’t, what’s outdated, and what’s considered spam. But one thing is for sure…. Gone are the days of “creatively” leaving comments on other websites with links and optimized anchor text back to your site, in the hopes of them being approved.

In 2014, you need to seriously step up your game if you want to earn high quality inbound links from trustworthy sites. Here are some of our top tips for how to build inbound links to your ecommerce website in 2014.

Create high-quality, educational or entertaining content.

Hands down, this is the #1 thing you should be concentrating your efforts on when it comes to building inbound links. If you create stellar content, people are naturally going to want to link to it.

If you’re creating a piece of content that has been covered by many other sources, make sure you put your own unique perspective on it to make it different than what’s already out there.

Also, consider the power of visual content. Infographics, compelling images, and short videos. Pinterest is one of the top sites out there right now that helps drive traffic to other sites. If you can create something pin-worthy to promote your content, do it! For more on this, check out our articles: 3 Ways to Improve Your Visual Marketing and How to Generate Leads with Pinterest.

Submit your website to online directories.

This is an easy way to build inbound links. However, it needs to be done in the right way.
When submitting to online directories, keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t use services that offer automatic submission
  • Check the page rank of each directory you submit your website to
  • Don’t trust any list of “best” directories. Do your own research to discover the best for your business.
  • Track your submissions.
  • Don’t rely solely on directory submissions. They are a small part of the bigger picture.
  • Write guest posts for other blogs.

The topic of guest blogging has come under much scrutiny as of late. Mainly because people are abusing it, and the volume of people trying to guest blog solely to get a couple of links back to their site is resulting in an abundance of bad, low-quality guest posts.

That being said, you should strive to find opportunities for guest blogging on sites that are highly related to your industry and customers. Start with reaching out to associates and other people you know that work in your industry to discover appropriate blogs for contributing content. The main goal of guest blogging is to provide another point-of-view or expert advice that is not traditionally covered on that website. Focus on providing value and nurturing human relationships.

Researching link building opportunities with other websites.

This is a slow process that needs to be handled with care if you want to do it correctly and not get dinged by search engines. One of the best things you can do to start forming relationships with other site owners is offer help.

For example, let’s say you know of a blog that covers topics related to your industry. Rather than contacting the owner and immediately diving into your link building strategy with them, send them a link to a 3rd party article and just say, “I saw this article, and I thought your readers would find it of interest.” This will lay the groundwork for future opportunities.

Don’t borrow, beg, barter, bribe or buy links.

Do not, under ANY circumstances, beg, borrow, or buy links. These are the worst things you can do! The search engines will quickly penalize your site for participating in black hat marketing tactics. This could result in your site not getting crawled or indexed by search engines, meaning your site will have a heck of a hard time showing up anywhere in any search results.

These are just a few tips to help you determine the best way to build inbound links to your site. As you get going, feel free to share with us some of ways that have worked for you.










Marketers Need to Know the SEO Effects of 301 Redirects

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

As marketing professionals, it’s necessary to understand the technical side of websites and the internet. Understanding how 301 redirects and SEO work together is essential if you’re in charge of directing web marketing for any company.

301 redirects and seo

So how do redirects work?

Remember the last time you clicked on a broken link and saw the dreaded 404 or “Page not found” error? This usually occurs when a page has been moved to another URL and there is NO 301 redirect in place (or worse, it’s been deleted).

User experience

When a webpage is moved to another location, a permanent 301 redirect is needed in order to direct the old link to a new page. Otherwise, your customers and potential customers will not be able to find the information they were trying to locate. This can tarnish the overall user experience of your site leave a scratch on brand reputation.

How it affects SEO

Permanent 301 redirects are important for SEO because they help retain the SEO status of the old page. For example, let’s say you have a page on your website that has a high SERP (search engine results page) ranking for an important term in your industry segment, such as “Los Angeles Digital Marketing Consultants.” If you move that page and do not set up a 301 redirect, you lose any SEO status the old page once had. Which may in turn mean having to start from scratch to rank for that term once again. And no one has time for that! We’ve often been the ones to clean up severe losses in traffic and revenue due to this very topic.

However, when set up properly, the search engines will be able to determine that the old page has changed location and that the content can be found at the new URL. The search engines will then carry any link weighting from the original page to the new page.

Helpful tips

  1. Be patient when working with 301 redirects. It can take some time for search engines to discover the 301, process the information and credit the new page with the old page’s ranking and other factors. The time it takes all depends how often the spiders crawl your site pages. Make sure your team or your IT team have webmaster tools setup to monitor crawl errors and 404 errors.
  2. Be cautious of other forms of redirection, such as 302s and meta-refreshes (these are temporary and not permanent). These do not work as well as 301 redirects in terms of SEO. The only time you’d actually want to use these, is if you purposefully do not want to pass on the SEO info from the old page to the new page. A 302 redirect may be appropriate for vanity urls or holiday landing pages, temporarily redirecting them during the off-season or campaign pause.
  3. If you’re moving sites completely and not just changing a couple of pages, you should expect 301 redirects to take even longer to be recognized by search engines. You’ll want to monitor webmaster tools accounts closely from launch and the first four weeks, dependent on traffic to your site. You’ll want to check it regularly thought as a best practice.
  4. Also, pay attention to whether or not you have control over your domain both with and without the “www” after the “http://”. It’s best to set one to redirect to the other. Otherwise, you won’t see any statistics on people accessing the site from the alternative version. There are many free tools you can use to check for this on the web such as this one.

Resources

No need to feel overwhelmed with this concept. There are tons of other resources that can help you get a solid understanding of 301 redirects and SEO:

Check out this in-depth video by Google’s Matt Cutts on permanent 301 redirects.

Moz also has a great article on 301 redirects and SEO.

HubSpot offers tips on how to avoid SEO pitfalls with 301 redirects in this post as well.

If you have any questions about 301 redirects and SEO that you can’t find the answer to in these resources, we’re always here to help. Give us a call at (818) 806-3868 or shoot us an email anytime.










Moving Forward After Google Hummingbird: 4 Must Read Articles

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Over the past few weeks, the entire digital marketing industry has been discussing Google’s announcement of their most recent update to their user protocol that is essentially going to be a huge game changer for many marketers and SEOs.

google-algorithm-hummingbird

The big news?
Referring organic search keywords will be 100% encrypted (from Google’s search engine) and will no longer be visible in Google Analytics. It is important to note that you will still continue to see referring keyword data from other search engines like Bing. In a previous update in 2010, Google had encrypted referring organic keywords from users who were signed into Google. This information would show as (not provided) in Google Analytics. But now, this information is being kept confidential regardless of whether or not a user is signed into Google.

Key takeaway and bottom line
As Digital Marketing consultants, we believe this does cause a challenge and there are many opinions on what this means for the future of SEO companies. However, in the interim it means spending a little more time to gather data from multiple resources to extrapolate this data for proper use.

Our key takeaway though based on multiple opinions and discussions from the industry and information provided from Google, is that Google appears to no longer be focusing strictly on a single page but looking at the entire domain and the content that it contains as a whole. So, basically, your entire domain will be measured on the quality of content it produces and the basket of keyterms it is relevant for.

Bottom line: Build a relevant, valuable and useful site for your customers, visitors and prospective customers. This is something we have always encouraged our clients to do. Focus on your customer, where they are in the sales cycle, what information paths they will take and what information you can provide them that is valuable. Optimize for your customer and you will also be optimizing for the search engines.

Below are 4 Must Read Articles to help SEOs and marketers get the data they need:

10 Ways to Get Organic Search Data

Structure Your Sites Content with Rich Data For Better Google Access

Useful Content vs Unique Content

Google 101: Search Engines, Algorithms and Updates

 
Photo credit: Dolores Sanches

Changing Site Latency to PageSpeed

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

For a few years now, Google has been more than hinting at the fact that site latency (how fast your site/pages load) is going to have an impact on your visibility. Why? Well, for one, users are tired of waiting. Over a decade ago waiting three minutes for a page to load was acceptable but these days anything more than 3 seconds can cost you valuable visibility and loss of visits. Users don’t want to wait for pages on your site or elements on your site pages to load and neither to search engines.

Rocket Man (I Think It's Going To Be a Long, Long Time)
peasap / Foter / CC BY

New Tool: PageSpeed Insights
A few weeks ago Google launched PageSpeed Insights. We are ecstatic about this new tool since we have been pulling from various tools ourselves for creating site assessments and while we believe this doesn’t necessarily cover everything, it does help in prioritizing and figuring out how to make your site faster – and for that- we give three cheers.

We love that these tools make our job easier and faster so we can do more for our clients.

Find out how to make your site faster here.

After that, call us for a full Technical and Marketing Site Assessment to get your site in tip top shape.

Creative 404 Pages: Page Not Found What To Do?

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

One of the things we look at during our Search Marketing Site Assessments for clients, is the use of 404 pages no matter what industry you are in. We always recommend having a custom 404 page. A 404 page is when a user discovers a “page not found” on your site.

How does this happen and why should you care?
Well, it may seem like a completely elementary thing to put in place however if someone comes to your site from another site (i.e. they linked to your site – maybe a blog post or old web page). If there is not an appropriate redirect process in place the user will be sent to a “page not found” or 404 error. You have control over what gets displayed on this page and if it is a generic 404 (no branding just black and white) it can mean losing a visitor forever or you could help them discover the appropriate page they were looking for, thus keeping them on your site. Think of it providing a bit of customer service to your visitor – if they entered through the wrong door, you would want to show them the appropriate one or guide them to the location they were looking for.

While creativity and humor might get you far with anyone, it also helps to be…well, helpful. If your page is useful in guiding the user to the area or page they were looking for then you are more likely to create a better customer experience.

A few suggestions for your 404 error page:
- At the minimum have your logo and main navigation on the page, better yet use a page template from your site that will help customize it to your look and feel
- Have a link to your home page or better yet a listing of links to popular sections on your site. You may also want to provide a link to the sitemap and promote it as a “full directory of site pages.”

Here are a few examples of 404 pages that we think work while also maintaining the brand personality:

Thanks to fab404.com for some great examples – check out others to for more ideas.
P.S. We’ve got some work to do ourselves. Do as we say not as we do ;).