Posted by Peter Otte on August 21, 2015
SEO continuously evolves as Google, Bing and other search engines strive to provide consumers with a better experience and more accurate search results. While there have been several new considerations in 2015, there have also been changes to existing factors that you need to know in order to ensure you’re staying in Google’s good graces (as well as playing nice with other search engines).
Mobile: Mobile has been an important component for business SEO for a long time now, but it’s becoming increasingly so. In fact, both Google and Bing now look at how mobile friendly a website is before assigning it a rank. You should also pay attention to app indexing and linking, as this is part of mobile optimization and something that’s gaining increasing focus in the world of SEO.
Keyword Stuffing: Once upon a time, stuffing keywords into your content everywhere you could was considered a good practice. Today, it’s a death knell. In fact, it’s become increasingly important that you avoid this. Use a natural keyword density in your content – 1% or even less. Google (and now Bing) is increasingly focused on the quality of content, and keyword stuffing does nothing but reduce your users’ experience on your site. Don’t get penalized.
Spam: Spam is never good, but it’s gotten even worse. Google’s now penalizing websites whose domains are associated with spam. Don’t be that business. Connect with your audience, by all means, but do it ethically and deliver valuable content. Spammers never prosper, and this tactic has absolutely no place in your marketing tool kit.
There you have it – three existing factors that have gained increasing importance within modern SEO practices. If you’re struggling to achieve good SEO without using blackhat techniques, get professional assistance and watch your online presence grow.
Posted by Peter Otte on July 31, 2015
Google’s become a fan of taking serious action when necessary, and the search engine giant’s latest such move had a massive impact on businesses across the country (and around the world, truth be told). What happened? Tens of thousands of website owners woke up one morning to find that their sites had plummeted in the SERPs. In fact, Google dropped the rank for almost 50% of non-mobile friendly websites.
The update, termed “Mobilegeddon” was expected to be big. In fact, the company told everyone that it would have more impact than Panda or Penguin, two updates that caused serious changes to the SEO world a couple of years back. True to their word, Mobilegeddon was a game changer, despite some claims that it was a non-event.
In short, 46% of non-mobile friendly websites plummeted in the rankings. In comparison, 25.4% of mobile-friendly sites were downgraded. The increase in rankings for mobile-friendly pages was a relatively modest 30.1%. One of several factors impacting the perceived significance was that the rollout was done slowly, with a quality update in between two segments of Mobilegeddon. This made the results less immediate.
Another factor here is that Google’s not quite done. It’s normal for Google to roll things out slowly and test their impact. Once they’re sure that everything is performing the way they want it, the full update rolls out and changes take place immediately. It’s very possible that Google hasn’t yet released the full Mobilegeddon update into the wild.
What’s the takeaway for business owners? If you’re not already mobile friendly, get there now. If you were affected by the initial release, optimizing your site for mobile will help you regain some of your lost traction. If you haven’t been affected yet, it’s only a matter of time.
Posted by Peter Otte on July 16, 2015
A great deal of focus is given to optimizing your website content, and that’s as it should be. However, there are many other elements that go into building a strong online presence for your business, and your URL is definitely one of those. Don’t get us wrong – it goes deeper than just choosing the right domain name. What we’re talking about here is relative versus absolute URLs. Not sure what that means? Don’t worry. It’s actually pretty simple.
Here’s an example of an absolute URL: http://www.XYZWidgetCo.com/Samples/
Here’s an example of a relative URL: http://XYZWidgetCo.com/Samples
They look pretty similar, right? Well, they are and they’re not. Technically, the two URLs above could lead to two different websites, which creates duplicate content on the web and incurs Google’s wrath.
It also means that you’re relying on Google to send your visitors to the right version of the site, and that’s never a good thing. Google’s great at what it does, but it’s not so good at determining which version of the many possible iterations out there is the right one for individual customers.
You can change this, though. By using the right strategy with your URLs, you can force Google to send traffic from all of these different sites to the same place – your canonical site. This eliminates duplicate content, and ensures that your visitors are going where you want – to your store or business page.
There are benefits to using relative URLs, certainly. They’re faster and easier to code, for one thing. It makes things simpler with staging environments as well. However, there are good reasons to use absolute URLs, as well, including the fact that it’s harder for nefarious individuals to scrape your content and steal it.
The most important takeaway here is that you need a unified strategy. Fix the problems on the server side, and those with your internal links. Absolute URLs are the ideal way to do this.
Posted by Peter Otte on July 8, 2015
Businesses hoping to build a successful online presence should definitely understand SEO best practices, but given that they change from year to year, just keeping up with the times can be difficult. That’s compounded by the fact that you’re not an SEO expert – you have a business to run. Here are three key changes to SEO that will affect your success in 2015.
Vertical search pulls in a wide range of search results for specific terms, including local results, images, news and video results. The days when Google served up a page with nothing but 10 links to top-ranked pages are long gone. Make sure you’re capitalizing on this trend.
HTTPS indicates a secured website, and Google has made no bones about the fact that it gives secured sites higher rankings in search results. If your site isn’t secured, it’s worth considering for the enhanced visibility.
Many consumers search the web using a question. For instance, “What are the symptoms of diabetes?” Google often serves up results that provide answers to those questions, and you can gain immense visibility for your business if you’re able to get your content scraped in this manner. Pay attention to the questions your customers ask, and then answer those questions within your site’s content. Being selected as a direct answer website might not seem like that big a deal, but consider the fact that your site will be at the very top of the page, and that you’ll be receiving direct, targeted traffic.
These are just a few of the ways that SEO has changed so far in 2015. There are more changes coming down the road, so stay tuned and keep your business ranked as high as possible.
Posted by Peter Otte on June 30, 2015
As mobile continues to grow in importance, more and more people have questions about how to best design for the platform. There is, of course, a lot of nuance to the subject; however, there are – in my estimation, at least – four essential principles:
- Economy: Not long ago, the whole web game used to center around who could have the flashiest website with the most bells and whistles. The exact opposite is the case with mobile. You want to prize a minimalist design, which allows for the user to easily navigate your website.
- Speed: Like it or not, we live in the “give it to me now” society, and mobile devices are a big reasons for that. Therefore, it’s exceptionally important that your mobile website run as quickly as possible. Your customers, clients or readers are conditioned to expect things instantaneously. Giving them anything less will damage your reputation.
- Function: Just the same as with speed, the people visiting your website expect things to work exactly as they should. When your mobile website breaks down, those thumbs and fingers are going to tap their way to some other webpage. Don’t give them the opportunity; check your website thoroughly for broken links, faulty redirects, and other common issues.
- Aesthetics: Even though you should cultivate a minimalist design, that doesn’t mean your mobile website needs to be unattractive. Pay just as much attention to design elements like color, font, layout, and everything else as you would with a desktop website. Your visitors have slick phones in their hands; your website should look equally slick.
If you design a mobile website that attempts to achieve the utmost in each of these four principles, you’ll be well on your way to having a mobile website that gets results.
Posted by Peter Otte on June 22, 2015
Keywords are funny things. Obviously, they’re important when it comes to attracting the right kind of traffic to your website through search engines, but so much attention is paid to them that people have come to believe some pretty strange things about them. Let’s take a look at three of the most popular myths.
#1: There’s a Magic Number
You’ll see a lot of advice out there that talks about keyword density, and it’s all about as valuable as a keyword-stuffed piece of content. There’s no such thing as a magic number of keyword uses. Make sure you do the basics (include the keywords in your page title, headings and URL), and then incorporate your keywords naturally in your content.
#2: Keywords Must Exactly Match Each Other
Here’s the truth: the search engines are lot more intelligent than anyone gives them credit for. While generally speaking you will want your keywords to match up together, it’s fine if it’s not exact. Search engines are able to parse synonyms and related terms. Therefore, there’s no reason to twist your sentences into a knot in order to include an exact keyword phrase. Write naturally!
#3: I Can Get By with Just Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are great, because they don’t receive as much competition. Obviously, that’s something of an opportunity. But, if you’re relying solely on long-tail keywords you’re making a big mistake. You need to diversify if you want to get the traffic you’re after. You want to be king of the hill, after all, and not king of the anthill.
So, there you have it! Hopefully by dispelling these myths, you and others can be empowered to get the very most out of their SEO strategies. Think you’ve got another one? Share it!
Posted by Peter Otte on June 15, 2015
Unless you take direct action to control how your website appears when it’s linked to on Facebook, you’ll be at the mercy of whatever Facebook decides to do. However, taking control of how your website appears when it is linked to is a relatively simple process. Therefore, there’s really no reason not to take action if you haven’t already.
In order for Facebook to display things the way you want it to, you will need to include information in your website’s metadata. Specifically, you’ll be using something called Open Graph Protocol, which easily allows Facebook to scrape all of the information it needs about your website. Here are the tags you’ll need.
- To establish your Facebook page as the website’s administrator:
<meta property=”fb:admins” content=”Facebook ID”/>
- To establish the title that appears when your site is linked to:
<meta property=”og:title” content=”Title (less than 100 characters)”/>
- To establish the image that should appear when linked:
<meta property=”og:image” content=””The image’s URL”/>
- To establish your site’s name – otherwise, Facebook will use the URL as your site’s name):
<meta property=”og:site_name” content=”The name of your site or company”/>
- To establish the description that appears below the title:
<meta property=”og:description” content=”Description (less than 150 characters)”/>
- To link your website to your Facebook App ID:
<meta property=”fb:app_id” content=”Your app ID number”/>
- To link your Facebook page ID:
<meta property=”fb:page_id” content=”Your page ID number”/>
Please note that there is a small difference between some of these tags. Those that are specifically for Facebook begin with an “fb:” in the property tag. Those that are simply Open Graph Protocol tags begin with an “og:”.
So, there you go! The most essential Facebook meta tags you need, all in one place. Feel free to bookmark this post and to use it as a reference!
Posted by Peter Otte on June 8, 2015
Ultimately, the goal of writing content is to grow your readership. It seems simple enough, but it’s not exactly the easiest thing to accomplish. There are, of course, a number of different ways you can go about attracting a larger and wider audience. One of the best ways, however, is by answering questions.
No matter what field you’re in, your audience has questions about some aspect of it. For example, in the field of SEO, many people are now wondering about how best to optimize their websites for mobile search. This is a question that can be answered, although it may be a little broad.
If you’re not sure what your audiences’ questions are, then ask! This is where you can use your social media presence to test the waters. See what your audience is talking about, and what seems to be interesting them.
Once you’ve identified something, you can write a piece of content that answers those essential questions. Likely, there will be other sources out there that attempt to answer the same question. Look at them, and see where they’re strong and where they fall short.
By doing this, you’ve familiarized yourself with the dialogue surrounding your question, and are now poised to offer the very best answer to that question. This is the goal. Content that is going to grow your readership is content that is shareable – and the things that get shared the most are almost always the most informative.
As you well know, having your content shared by your readers is the single most effective way to boost the overall effectiveness of your SEO strategy. So, have a crack at it! Not only will you be providing your readers with a valuable service, you’ll be helping yourself out as well.
Posted by Peter Otte on June 3, 2015
Since it’s usually the last piece of writing you’ll add to a bit of content, sometimes the call to action gets short shrift. Sometimes it even gets skipped altogether! Instead, try to come up with a call to action first. Think about your customers and what they want. The call to action may not be the most important thing you have to sell, but it may push someone on the fence to make a purchase.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of your content, you’ve got to craft calls to action that get results. What are some that you can begin using today? Let’s take a look at two great ones.
- Give It Away, Now: While you may be trying to sell something most of the time, you should remember the power of giving your audience freebies. For example, you can offer a companion piece for download that expands or distills the content. Your call to action, then, would be to encourage your users to download, and when they do, you can request an email address, growing your mailing list.
- Encourage Feedback: Including a call to action that inspires your readers to share their own thoughts and opinions is highly effective. It becomes even more effective if you reciprocate the reader engagement, either by responding in the comments yourself, or by including reader responses as part of another piece of content.
Of course, depending upon what you’re trying to accomplish, you may not want to use these calls to action. However, these are particularly great to use periodically, as they can contribute greatly to growing your readership.
Finally, in order for your call to action to be effective, you need to remember one thing: You’ve got to keep it simple! Often, those who are writing content will either bury their call to action, or they’ll write one that’s needlessly long and confusing. Simply ask yourself what exactly it is that you want your reader to do, and then ask them to do that in clear, concise language.
Posted by Peter Otte on May 26, 2015
Once I was out to dinner with some friends and their son, who was about to graduate from college. He was getting a degree in English literature, and was looking for a job in advertising after graduation. The jobs he was applying for asked him to submit a writing sample that marketed a product along with a resume. He’s a smart kid, and he knows how to write, but he wasn’t hearing anything back. His parents thought he’d have to take a job at the mall!
While we were out to dinner, though, he asked for my advice. In response, I asked him a question: “What made you want to read all of those books you must’ve read?” He looked at me with a puzzled look on his face. I let him stew for a minute.
Finally, he said, “Well, because I like the stories…”
“Exactly,” I said.
It took a minute, but I saw the lights come on in his head. He got it. And, the next summer after he graduated, he was off to New York City, ready to take on Madison Ave.
Now, everything you just read is entirely made up. But, you read it, didn’t you?
The content that you write needs to flow like a story; it has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the beginning, you establish the main characters and the central conflicts. Then in the middle, you put those characters and conflicts into motion, explaining how they interact with one another. Finally, you resolve the conflict in your ending, demonstrating the solution.
If you choose to structure the content you write in this manner, you’ll find that more people will actually read what you have to say. And that’s what your content is all about, right?
Remember, it’s not just a delivery mechanism for keywords!