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!
Posted by Peter Otte on May 18, 2015
Search engine optimization is tricky, tricky work. Even for those who have been in the field for many years, staying on top of all the latest developments and getting every little thing right can be quite difficult.
Thankfully, there’s no reason to go it alone. There are countless tools, which can assist greatly with SEO, available to website owners and developers everywhere. Here are three excellent choices:
- Google Webmaster Tools: If you’re not already making use of this, then now is the time to start. Google remains the largest search engine in the world, and the tools they put at our disposal are some of the most powerful. With their Webmaster Tools, you can do a great many things. For example, you can investigate your website’s mobile friendliness, or check for common issues that affect your page rank.
- Majestic SEO: When it comes to going in depth with your website, this is the tool you want. It assists with checking back links, as well as with examining your site’s flow, use of keywords and even anchor text. Unlike Google Webmaster Tools, Majestic SEO is not free. However, the insight into your website that it can give you is well worth the price.
- Advanced Web Ranking: Of course, part of having an effective SEO strategy is having a bird’s eye view. This software package allows you to do this by allowing you to keep track of your page rank, social media accounts, and even your competitors and their performance. It doesn’t come cheap, but it’s worth it.
Do you have a favorite SEO tool that you feel should be on this list? Be sure to let us know, so we can check it out and share it with everyone else. We’re all in this together, after all!
Posted by Peter Otte on May 11, 2015
Everyone keeps saying it, but are you truly listening? Mobile is the future. The rate of growth in mobile users, and, in turn, their use of the Internet, is absolutely staggering. And, it only seems to accelerate month to month. That’s why it’s so important that your mobile website be in tip-top shape. If it’s not, you could lose customers or damage your page rank.
Here are four mistakes that you could be making right now.
- Having Unviewable Content: Everyone with an Apple mobile device knows that Flash is inaccessible. However, that hasn’t stopped people from populating mobile websites that use Flash elements. Make sure your embedded content is universal – HTML5, anyone?
- Blocking the User: If you’re trying to promote a mobile application or even an offer, you might be using an interstitial that blocks your page entirely. Don’t do this! It ruins the user’s experience. Instead, use banner ads or other means to promote your app.
- Faulty Redirects: In your own mobile experience, you’ve probably come across this one. You enter a URL for a specific page only to be redirected to the mobile home page. These can be tricky to fix, but Google’s Webmaster tools are a great starting point.
- Slow Loading: The whole mobile experience is driven by the ethic of getting things immediately. Therefore, a slow loading time for your mobile website can be a real drain on your traffic. Always optimize, otherwise mobile users will leave your website before it finishes loading.
Having a website that works correctly on all mobile devices (and on all the browsers those mobile devices use) is certainly no easy matter. However, the success of your website depends upon your ability to rise to the occasion, so be sure to give your mobile website the attention that it deserves.