Archive for the ‘SEO’ 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.










Are You Targeting the Right Keywords in Your On-Page SEO?

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

When was the last time you updated or reviewed your on-page search engine optimization efforts? Reviewing your on-page SEO on a regular basis is imperative to staying current with search habits and nomenclature of prospective customers. If you’re targeting the wrong keywords, this can generate unqualified audiences to your site resulting in high traffic and low conversions.

on page search engine optimization

Taking the time to target the right keywords in your on-page SEO not only will help bring targeted audiences to your front-door but will also help with achieving search engine visibility and rankings. It may also contribute to earning traffic from social networks and building trust among visitors.

Selecting Primary Keywords

When determining which keywords to choose for your site, take it page by page. Make sure that each page targets a single searcher intent and use an associated keyword phrase to go alone with it.

Additionally, think about how each page of your site ties into your purchase cycle. For example, if someone is on your case studies page, they are evaluating whether you are the right firm to hire. This would fall into your consideration phase of purchase, so you would want to choose your keywords accordingly. Mapping user intent in this way will help you maximize leads.

Next, it’s important to look at the search volume data for each keyword. Picking long-tail keywords with lower search volume can help you target a very specific audience that is interested in your products and services. Alternatively, picking keywords with ridiculously large search volume and competitive data is going to make it very difficult for your site to rank for that term (unless you have your site has a lot of authority).

In general, it’s best to pick one main keyword per page to optimize around, and then choose a handful of related keywords to support your top pick. Since Google doesn’t really use the meta keyword tag anymore, but as a best practice we recommend including it. Your primary keywords should be placed in the following areas of each page on your site:

  • First word of the title element
  • Meta description
  • Appears in the page URL
  • Headline
  • Content
  • Phrases should be highlighted in bold/italicized/sized as appropriate
  • Image alt attributes
  • Anchor text in links pointing to the page

Including Secondary Keywords

Also, your secondary keywords can be used throughout the page as appropriate in headlines and body copy. As always, you want to make your copy well-written so that it sounds good to a human first, and a search engine second. If your keywords are making your page sound awkward you need to rework it and try again until it’s worthy to be read by a human.

Finally, just remember that on-page SEO is about balancing competing priorities. There really is no such thing as a perfectly optimized website. However, if you focus on creating pages that are uniquely valuable to your audience, targeting the appropriate keywords, and providing a good user experience, you will see an increase in traffic, leads and sales.

We will also note that keywords and keyword placement is just one component of your on-page optimization. There are many other factors at play, such as:

  • Domain http response time
  • Social metrics
  • PageRank
  • Content quantity and relevance
  • Brand mentions in news and media outlets

It’s not just about getting the keyword choices and placement down, but this is a good place to start. Then, focus on the other relevant SEO components and you’ll be positioning yourself as best you can for online success and visibility.










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.










Content Marketing Trends Your Business Should Be Focusing On

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Contently recently released their quarterly issue, For the Love. If there is one thing you should read this week, its this publication. Here are few key points we felt were highly relevant to our customers and their businesses.

Content Marketing Trends

Four Content Marketing Battlefronts

Businesses should be conquering these four content areas in the coming year. (Find this on page 3 – The Publisher’s Note)

1. The Brand Publishing Arms Race – to recruit better talent and tell better stories. Here, here!

2. Truth in Advertising and the question of whether brands are going to proudly own their content, or revert to devious tricks.

3. Audience and the rise (and risks) of platforms that are trying to get more eyeballs in front of branded content.

4. The Numbers game in which brands will need to completely rethink publishing metrics and how to tie them to business results.

Three Content Formats About to Take Off (and be Abused)

Read full article on page 13

1. Video and Animation
Interactive brand stories drive engagement – if done right.

“When you have devices like video and animations to use, a brand’s personality – and the emotion of the story – can be more clearly communicated. The more interactive, personalized, multi-layered, shoppable, and engaging your content, the more time a consumer will spend within the experience, it’s in the [metrics].” – Renee Osgood

2. Branded Documentaries
They aren’t radio with pictures. The story must be the forefront, not the sale. Don’t make online and afterthought to bringing stories and articles to life. If you are filming interviews, find a way to propel the story by including “activities and drama that justifies telling the story through video, as opposed to another medium.” – Ryan Spanger

3. Personalized Experiences
Avoiding the creepy to get to the cool. Find a personalization strategy that gives customers an experience that benefits them, no just your bottom line.

“The [customer information] that marketers need to capture in order to create a tailored and delightful experience for their customers is the very information that their customers are increasingly worried about providing.”- Scott Robinson

Remember: The key is to focus on long-term success, not on the tactical.

Built a strategy that is backed by marketing objectives, this is the best way to ensure your marketing effectiveness and overall success.

“Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.” – Joe Pulizzi

To read the full issue of For the Love, click here.

Need help creating a content marketing strategy for your business that builds trust, helps your customers and helps your business grow?

Contact us today.

Build Brand Reputation and Visibility Through Expert Question and Answer Apps

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

There are a few websites and apps gaining in popularity right now that are focused on community-based, user-generated questions and answers. The top three biggest players in this field right now are Quora, Cinch, and Jelly. Let’s take a look at each one and see how they stack up against each other. We’ll also give you helpful hints on how you can use these tools in your role as a marketing professional or business owner.

quora_logo_620px

Quora

Quora is by far the most developed of the three platforms and has been around the longest, since June 2009. It is a question-and-answer website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. Questions are grouped by topic, and users can work together to edit questions as well as suggest edits to other users’ answers. You can also “vote up” questions that you want to see answers to.

Quora is available as a website, however they have also developed an iPhone and Android app as well. The cherry on top came last year when they rolled out a blogging platform. The last main updates that Quora released in 2013 is the ability to search the full text of questions and answers, and finally, the ability for writers to see how many people have viewed their questions and answers.

There are already many well-known people that are actively engaging in the Quora community, such as Rand Fishkin and Ashton Kutcher. This boosts the credibility of the website as a whole. If you’re new to the question and answer websites, this is a great place to start.

Jelly

Jelly

If you head on over to the Jelly homepage, they have a very well put together video you can watch that features the CEO and co-founder of Jelly, Biz Stone (Yes, that Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter.) He tells you the main idea behind the platform and how it all came about. Essentially he explains that they wanted to build a search engine that is built for today’s technology landscape. Their concept is “everyone is mobile, everyone is connected, so if you have a question, there is somebody out there who knows the answer.”

Jelly is an app that uses photos and people from your social networks to get you answers to your questions. It uses both your network and your extended network to give you access to a whole bunch of people who may be able to answer your question.

It was founded in April 2013 and naturally is not as developed as Quora. However, the image and social network aspects of the platform are what sets Jelly apart from Quora. Quora is much more text-and-topic based whereas Jelly is image-and-relationship based.

3017957-inline-screen-shot-2013-09-20-at-82439-am

Cinch

Like Jelly, Cinch is a relatively new platform and is only available as a smartphone application at this time (available for iPhone only). Made by the folks at Klout, cinch is “people directly helping other people by sharing their wisdom and knowledge and influencing them to make better decisions.” It is also geared towards the home advice industry specifically, so most users are interested in topics like gardening, cooking, furniture, and so on.

It was launched in September 2013, making this the newest app of all three platforms. It is not currently available outside of the US and there is no dedicated website for the platform. The developers are currently working on creating an Android app with the hopes of releasing it in the near future.

The app has received a bit of feedback from initial users saying it’s a great concept but some of the features are not quite perfected yet. For example, as of December 2013, users are not able to edit or delete submitted questions. Additionally, some users complain that the questions they receive to answer are not relevant to them. These are kinks surely to be worked out in the future since this is a young app.

What makes this app different is you can sign up as an “expert” and the app will automatically send you questions it thinks you can answer. The marketing potential of this app will grow as the number of users also grows.

How-To Use These Platforms For Marketing Your Business

These websites and apps are perfect to establish yourself as an expert in your field by providing authoritative answers on key topics. So for example if you sell a product like baby clothes, you can answer user questions on that topic and people will begin to respect you as an industry insider. The more answers you post, the more people will be able to read your opinions and expert advice.

Great for B2B and B2C Businesses

These platforms can be used as excellent tools in both the B2B and B2C industries. In fact, they offer quite a bit of marketing power for B2B industries, which is great news considering B2B marketing can be challenging in the eyes of many marketers and business owners. For example, Rand Fishkin is very engaged on Quora and answers all types of industry questions about SEO. If you’ve been in the online marketing biz for more than a minute, you know how well-respected Rand is on the topic of web optimization. Imagine the thrill if you asked a question and received a direct answers by Mr. Fishkin? Now imagine if you take the time to answer user questions across these platforms. You can become that type of expert in your own field, so that when people ask a question, they are thrilled to see that it’s been directly answered by you.

Track and Monitor

It’s best to try and get a pulse on your specific industry by setting up “listening” tools wherever possible. Quora lets you follow topics so you can stay up to date on whatever interests you. You can fine-tune your email preferences to only receive notifications about questions and answers you feel are important.

Finally, wherever possible, track your questions and answers to see how many people are viewing them, and actively think of new ways to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

Ready to ramp up your marketing in 2014? Check out our services, email us, or give us a call at (818) 806-3868.

Have you used any of these Q&A sites or apps? Share your story by leaving a comment below, on Facebook or LinkedIn.