The DIY Guide to Being an SEO Expert

Imagine … generating hundred and thousands of hits to your website a day. Those hits turn into email subscribers, and people buying your products.

This consistent traffic gives you the financial freedom you need to spend time living a life that brings joy and abundance to the world. This is the reality for many business owners and entrepreneurs just like you.

It doesn’t happen over night, and it isn’t easy — but it can be a reality for you.

If you are a “do-it-yourself” kind of person, then this is the definitive guide to being an SEO expert.

Before I show you how to be the master DIY SEO expert, I want to lay some ground rules.

First, understand there are over 200 different “signals” that Google uses to determine ranking in the Google search engine.

It’s not necessary to pay attention keenly to all 200 (unless this is your 24/7 occupation). There are some key signals and criteria to focus on and that we can easily control.

Second, understand that you MUST write and produce content for humans (not the Google bots). If you focus on producing content that humans enjoy you will win in the “eyes” of Google.

Lastly, nothing beats hiring a “real” SEO expert: someone like a WordPress developer who is versed in SEO. He or she can help increase your ranking within your website for optimal results.

Hosting

Before you start your website, the proper hosting service determines your website. Smaller hosting platforms that are niched may be more appropriate for you depending on your goals.

That being said I look at the hosting platform that the major players are using. One of them beats out the rest in the hosting world. Bluehost … It is the same hosting service Patt Flynn uses on most of his sites.

Bluehost has cheap hosting, great service, reliability, and awesome SEO components taken care of.

Obviously there are other hosting platforms to choose from. No matter the platform, you’ll need to secure a rock-solid host.

Website Theme

Finding a website theme for your business that has the design functionality you want (without a bunch of junk code) can be challenging.

There are many places to get themes for your website including Themeforest, MojoThemes, and Genesis.

For SEO purposes — Genesis is the winner. Their code is very clean (not a bunch of sloppy code). It is not image heavy, and it is maintained incredibly well.

The downside to Genesis is that it is a higher price point to customize. Plus you’ll need a coder to customize an themes. However if you can handle the out-of-the-box solution this may be great for you!

Otherwise, feel free to grab a clean looking template from Themeforest, and install the demo content onto your new domain name in WordPress (after installing WordPress.org of course!).

Site Speed

How fast your site loads is one of the key factors in determining your SEO ranking.

Plus for every second your website takes to load, your chance of a user abandoning your website increases.

The bottom line is faster = better.

Google has an amazing tool that is 100 percent free to test your site speed. Just go to Googles Site Speed Insights Page and type in your URL to test. It will let you know how fast it is on a ranking of 0-100 on mobile and desktop.

Plus it will also let you know what you need to fix and update to make the SEO rank higher.

The following plugins are geared to increase site speed as much as possible while minimizing unnecessary code.

Plugins for WordPress (to Increase Site Speed)

WorPress plugins are going to be the bread and butter of your DIY guide to being an SEO expert.

More plugins doesn’t mean better. Your site can slow down with too many plugins (so be selective).

Focus on the most productive plugins for your stellar SEO driven website.

First download the Yoast SEO plugin.

Yoast SEO takes care of most of the SEO things you need done and they have an amazing blog article to walk you step by step through the key components of their tool and SEO in general.

Yoast SEO integrates perfectly with website tools like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. And it has an amazing section for social SEO, where you can turn on “meta tags” for open graph searches and much more.

You’ll be pumped about the Yoast SEO plugin. Time saver, seriously.

W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache

These plugins are kind of complicated to explain but simply it goes like this … HTML code is less resource intensive than PHP code.

If a website has to repeatedly call PHP code for a user, it slows down the load speed.

Caching plugins like these “generates static html files from your dynamic WordPress blog.

“After an html file is generated, your web server will serve that file instead of processing the comparatively heavier and more expansive WordPress php scripts.” – WP super cache plugin description

[“Source-smallbiztrends”]

13 Etsy SEO Tips to Get Your Products Found

Etsy SEO

Starting a handmade business has become much easier in recent years thanks to online platforms like Etsy. But although you can easily open an Etsy shop just by signing up for an account and adding a few products, there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually make any sales.

If you want your products to get found, you need to understand how the platform works and how buyers use it. That’s where Etsy SEO tips come in.

Here are some Etsy SEO tips to help you get your handmade products in front of as many potential buyers as possible.

Etsy SEO

Include the Category in Your Title

When crafting the titles for each of your listings, it’s important for you to be as clear and concise as possible. By including the terms that people are likely to search for right in the title, you’re more likely to show up in search results and more likely to show up before other products.

Include Keywords First

In addition, when you come up with those search terms and keywords, it’s good practice to use those at the very beginning of your titles. If you use a cutesy name for your product first and then clarify it at the end of your listing title, your product is likely to show up in search results after all of the other listings that actually included the search term at the very beginning of their titles. If they have to scroll through pages and pages in order to get to your products, you aren’t likely to get found by many shoppers.

Think About Different Names for Your Items

It is important to have that one main keyword or search term that you include at the beginning of your product title. But you might also consider thinking of other names that shoppers might use to search for products like yours and include those either later in the title or in your item description or tags.

Stay Away from Cutesy Names

It can sometimes be tempting for handmade business owners to come up with creative or cutesy names for products. But shoppers aren’t likely to search for cutesy names, so they aren’t likely to come across your products if you use them. For example, if you like to come up with unique names for your paintings, you can include those names briefly in your product listing. But your title should be more straightforward and descriptive, like “landscape painting, acrylic on canvas” or something that actually tells shoppers what the item is.

Don’t Use Crafting Terms

In addition, try not to use the crafting terms for items when creating your listings. Sure, you know the specific techniques and materials that you used. But if the people who you want to buy your products aren’t makers themselves, they aren’t likely to search for those terms — and you will have lost the sale.

Focus Keywords at the Beginning of Your Listing

Just as the beginning of your title is most important, the beginning of your item description is also the most important when it comes to getting found. You can include a lot of information in an item listing, from sizing information to shipping policies. But that should all go toward the end so that you can pack in as many descriptive terms within the first few paragraphs as possible.

Include Keywords in Tags

Your tags offer another opportunity for you to pack in some relevant search terms. Etsy gives you the ability to add up to 13 tags to your items. And each can be up to 20 characters. So think of as many potential search terms as possible and add those to your tags. They can be related to your exact product, like “white printed t-shirt” or more of a general category like “women’s clothing.”

Don’t Spend Time Optimizing Photos

If you’re familiar with SEO tactics on other websites or platforms, then you probably know how important it is to add relevant titles and tags to your images. But on Etsy, photos are all given titles that are a random assortment of letters and numbers when they’re uploaded, regardless of if you named the photo something different prior to uploading it. So it’s not worth spending time adding relevant titles to each of your images.

Make Your Listings Eye-catching

The more interaction your listings get from customers, the more likely they are to show up early in future search results. So if your products are relevant and have clear titles, good prices and eye-catching photos, they could be more likely to attract customers to click on those items. And the more they click, they better your chances are of getting found in the future.

Consider Relisting and Promoting Popular Items

Etsy also takes how recent the item was listed into account when it comes to search results. It’s not as important as it once was. But relisting popular products regularly can help keep the listing fresh and have a small impact on your search rankings. Also, if you want to pay to promote your products on Etsy, try it with products that you already know are popular since they’ll be the most likely to get good results and bring in more traffic to your shop as a whole.

Syndicate for Google Shopping

Getting your products found on Etsy doesn’t just mean optimizing for people searching within Etsy’s platform. Plenty of Etsy sellers also make sales by getting their products found by people searching on Google. So as long as you follow Google’s policies, you can syndicate your products so that they show up in Google Shopping results.

Focus on Creating a Great Customer Experience

Creating a positive shopping experience for your customers is good practice regardless of its impact on Etsy SEO tips. But Etsy is actually likely to rank items higher in search results if they come from shops that have a good history with customers. So do your best to make your policies clear, communicate with your customers and provide a quality product. If you do all of that, you’re likely to get some positive reviews and thus improve your odds of getting found in the future.

Keep Up with Etsy Changes

Etsy is constantly changing its algorithms and user experience. So when it comes to getting found on the site, what’s true today could be totally different a few months from now. So it’s important that you keep up with any changes either by subscribing to Etsy’s newsletter, following the blog or even participating in the forums. You can’t always have a say in the changes, but if you at least know what they are you have a better chance of making them work in your favor.

[“Source-smallbiztrends”]

4 SEO Trends to Look for in 2017

4 SEO Trends for 2017

It’s hard to believe that it’s time to start looking towards 2017, but this year is almost over. Now is the time to see what is going to be big in the search marketing industry in the coming months. We saw some big changes in 2016, and they are likely to carry over into 2017. We’ve compiled our top 4 SEO trends that we think will dominate the industry in the new year.

This isn’t to say that these are all new – you’ve probably already about most of these and even started working on optimizing for them. But whether or not these trends are new or not is beside the point, these are the trends that you need to keep your eye out for and get ready for in 2017.

SEO Trends for 2017

Mobile First Index

Mobile has already taken over the search marketing world. In 2015, mobile searches surpassed desktop searches for the first time ever. With this, Google said that mobile and desktop were equal. However, that’s not true anymore.

Google has since stated that it wants a mobile experience across all types of devices. Google recently announced it’s mobile first index. This is huge for the industry because now Google will crawl the mobile version of your site or responsive mobile version first, before the desktop version, and use that content to place you in the search results.

This shouldn’t be a problem if you use a mobile responsive version of your website. Also, there’s no need to start panicking right away – Gary Illyes, a Google engineer, has confirmed this update is still a few months away. However, this is something that everyone needs to be aware of and prepare for. For the entire guide on Google’s mobile first index, you can click here.

Video Content

Video content has been on the rise for a little while now, and it’s not going anywhere in the near future. In fact, a high power at Facebook even stated that video will become the main type of content by 2020. We aren’t sure about all that – as for right now, written content is still the norm, but that doesn’t mean that it will always be. It also doesn’t mean that you should have variety in your content either.

However, as new technologies keep developing, Snapchat, Vine, Periscope, and even Instagram, video is not going anywhere in 2017. Even Google is experimenting with video ads in the search results. There are multiple types of video content that you can implement into your search marketing strategy – webinars, step-by-step tutorials, Q&As, etc.

Try out a few videos in your content, maybe as an addition to one piece you already have and see how it does. If it performs well, which I think it will, you know maybe you should be placing more importance in video.

Voice Search

For a while, voice search was something that was floating around out there but wasn’t really playing a huge part in the search marketing industry. However, as mobile continues to increase and technology advances, voice search is gaining momentum. Today, 55% of teens say that they use voice search on a daily basis – with 56% of adults saying that they enjoy using voice search.

This trend is just going to continue to grow as we get into 2017. Why is this? As we stated earlier, with technology advancing, voice search is just another way that technology can make our lives simpler. Isn’t just talking to your phone a lot easier than typing, especially when you are on the go or trying to multi-task?

What makes this something to look for and optimize for is that voice searchers are not going to be entering the same phrases or keywords as someone who is typing on a computer or smartphone. Since voice searches are more like spoken word, you want to make sure you understand the searchers intent and market to that. Use question words like who, what, where, when, why, you need to optimize differently for voice search. Try reformatting your headlines into questions that include these question words.

Structured Data and Schema

Structured data really hasn’t been talked about as much as I thought it would be lately, but it is a very important in the SEO world. According to Search Engine Watch, structured data is information formatted in a way that can be universally understood. Through this structured data, search engines are able to understand a website easier and therefore gives them better SERP rankings.

Schema.org is structured data that was developed by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Yandex, and it is a code that you can add to your website that allows all search engines to define it. While webmasters have been using this for a while, it’s been recently that Google has started to really use it to help crawl sites. Since it is making their jobs easier and helps them to display rich snippets in the search results, structured data and schema are going to continue to gain importance in the SEO world.

Look for structured data and schema to start playing an even bigger part in websites in 2017 and beyond. Search engines want to be able to crawl your website faster and easier, and with the advancements in this technology, they should start to implement it more.

Conclusion

Being mindful of these four trends will help you be more successful in your SEO efforts in the upcoming year. Make sure you optimize your search marketing strategies to account for these changes. Oh, and Happy New Year!

[“Source-smallbiztrends”]

How To Avoid SEO And UX Disasters When Migrating Or Redesigning Your Website

Migrating or redesigning a website can be a boon to any online business and their users. When doing so, there is ample opportunity to target and ameliorate issues that might be plaguing your users’ experience when navigating your site. Of course, data migration and site redesign can likewise be paths fraught with peril.

Make a mistake in your redesign and you’ll risk alienating users. When customers begin to feel like their experience isn’t being taken into consideration, you’ll lose traffic and revenue and risk alienating investors as well.

Many businesses make similar mistakes when it’s time to migrate, re-platform or redesign. As the owner of a digital marketing agency, I’ve overseen several site redesigns and migrations, experiencing all of the happy accidents and (not so happy accidents) that can occur. Below is a guide to help you navigate the process.

Deciding On Your Redesign

Reasons for redesign are fairly commonplace: Early mistakes in the development process often prove too daunting to fix due to time and/or finances. Create a highly strategized plan for overhaul. Focus on specific problems with UX or UI instead of redesigning simply because the site seems outmoded. Keep in mind that users may have simply wanted a few broken pieces fixed instead of a new experience. A whole new experience may be difficult or frustrating for returning or regular users to navigate.

Likewise, it may be difficult for search engines to crawl, index and rank pages that have gone through extensive updates or have been moved completely without attention paid to SEO.

[Source:-Forbes]

4 Ways SEO Can Improve Your Customer Experience

When you think of SEO, you usually think of ‘traffic’.

While SEO remains a critical component of any competent marketing mix, it can do a lot more than just drive top of the funnel traffic to your site.

In fact, when used right, SEO can also be a powerful tool for improving your customer experience.

It’s easy to see why: Google wants to deliver the best possible user-experience to its users. Sites that focus on CX and UX tend to edge out others in rankings.

In this article, I’ll show you 4 ways you can use SEO to improve your customer experience.

1. Help customers find what they need

Your customers will often turn to search engines to figure out how to use your products and solve product problems. By creating content that addresses such concerns, you can turn SEO into a powerful customer service tactic.

Consider an example: when a user searches for “how to change payment method in Adobe?”, the first result she will see is a help page from Adobe.

adobe change credit card

This page effectively solves a common customer problem, bypassing conventional support channels (phone, email) altogether. Because of strong SEO, this page also ranks at the top of SERPs in Google’s “featured snippet” box.

Consider mapping out the customer journey and identifying potential issues and concerns in each stage. Next, create relevant content for each stage focused on answering customer queries.

  • Discovery stage: Highlight product features, benefits, and case studies.
  • Consideration stage: Focus on product comparisons, in-depth whitepapers, product guides, and testimonials.
  • Decision stage: Focus on pricing pages, reviews, buying guides and deals.
  • Service stage: Highlight FAQs, support pages, user guides, etc.

By creating and optimizing content for each stage in the journey, you’ll vastly improve customer experience.

2. Use interlinking to improve content discoverability

Internal link building remains a cornerstone of good on-page SEO. This involves building links to pages on your own site to help search engines prioritize and crawl your pages. Google considers pages with a lot of internal links as ‘more important’.

However, you can also use interlinking to help customers find your less popular content.

For example, a user reading a blog about “CRO tactics” on your page might not discover your page on “CRO copywriting” on her own.

But if you link to this page within your article, you directly help them find additional content which they may find useful (improve their experience).

Consider these ‘You might also like’ links at the bottom of each article on CustomerThink:

you might also like

Such internal links do two things:

They help you guide the customer experience. By using strategically placed internal links, you can craft a ‘narrative’ and map out the customer journey.

They improve engagement metrics. You will see lower bounce rate, more pageviews and longer ‘time on site’. This can have a positive SEO impact.

It’s important that your internal links don’t seem forced. They must lead into a related article, not go off on a tangent. While you want the SEO benefits from internal links, you also want to focus on the customer experience.

3. Improve site speed

Your site’s speed matters. Google has been using site speed as a ranking factor since 2010. As per a more recent update, Google will also start factoring in mobile site speed to determine mobile search rankings.

In fact, we can visualize the impact of site speed and rank on SERPs.

average page load speed

However, a faster site doesn’t only have SEO benefits; it also has a marked impact on CX, UX and engagement levels.

For instance, when redesigning their site, The Financial Times found that a 1-second delay led to a 5% drop in readership. Another Google survey found that slow loading websites are the leading cause of frustration amongst users online.

Which is to say: if you want to win at SEO, you have to improve site speed. And by improving site speed, you will also see better customer experience.

Some strategies you can use to improve load time include compressing your page (and images), reducing the number of plugins and hosting your site on a dedicated server.

To check your site’s current load speed, check out tools like Pingdom and GTmetrix.

The ideal site load time (according to Google) is 500 milliseconds.

4. Focus on mobile friendliness

People are migrating away from desktop towards mobile at a record rate. This shift in behavior is changing how they interact with the web.

In 2016, more than half of all search queries handled by Google came from mobile devices. In November last year, mobile web usage officially eclipsed desktop web usage.

Google considers mobile traffic to be so important that it uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. The recent “mobilegeddon” update specifically targeted sites that did not render well on mobile screens.

The data is clear: in 2017, good SEO equals mobile-friendliness.

A mobile-friendly site avoids minimal scrolling (especially horizontal), loads fast, and avoids flash elements (most mobile browsers don’t support it natively).

When combined, these factors play an important role in providing a stellar mobile-experience that positively impacts CX, especially on mobile devices. If users can’t navigate your site on tablets/mobiles, or have to scroll endlessly to find what they need, they will abandon it.

An easy way to make your site mobile-friendly is to use responsive design. Doing this will ensure that your site conforms to any screen size or device no matter which device is used to access it (smartphone, tablet, or desktop).

Conclusion

If you’re still focusing your SEO efforts on only building backlinks and adding keyword-stuffed content, you need to rethink your SEO strategy. When used right, SEO can turn into a compelling customer acquisition and service tool.

SEO and CX have a direct correlation. Any step you take to improve SEO – create helpful content, improve site speed, make your website more mobile friendly – will have a positive impact on your customer experience.

[Source:-Customar Think]

How Start-ups Can Compete with Big Brands on SEO Results?

Surely, every budding start-up or SME knows the importance of SEO in today’s digital age where web access is a part of every class of the society. If not, then this is time when one should start focusing on SEO to reach their business’s target audience. It is really important for any business, especially start-ups & SMEs to realize the strength and magic of SEO.

SMEs or start-ups may show a huge lack of awareness about the significant & changing role of SEO. Also, it might be possible that the small business owners have just stepped into the phase of exploring SEO value for their business. May it be lack of knowledge, resources or the thought that small companies can’t compete on SEO with larger giants, the real fact is just opposite. SEO is equally fruitful, powerful & result-oriented for any kind of business, irrespective of their size. By far, it is seen that SMEs/start-ups couldn’t make-up their mind to utilize the benefits of SEO. Small businesses are neglecting SEO even if they have a website or mobile app thinking that SEO is too complex, technical or the business is growing well without it. But the real fact is very different, as being at the top in search engine result page gives any business a great boost in overall growth, recognition and achievement of goals.

For big brands and MNCs, investment in any kind of promotions or media campaigns to reach their target audience is not a big deal any day. But for start-ups and SMEs, there is always a big question ahead that how to get the ball rolling on a limited budget. In that case, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is always a fruitful thought.

SEO is not a sprint but like a marathon, where any business or brand enjoy its benefit in long term. So, without wasting anymore time, let’s get closer to the whole game and approach of SEO. For those who don’t know what SEO is, Search Engine Optimization is the process of enhancing the visibility of any website or webpage in a search engine’s organic result or natural results. Now, coming to the big question ‘how SEO can help start-ups or SMEs in competing with big brands/MNCs?’

There are few basic thoughts, which every growing business like start-ups or SMEs should keep in mind while putting their foot ahead with SEO. Let’s take a look at them:

Analyze Target Audience: For every business, it’s really important to understand and analyse their target audience. By analysing the target audience, we mean what kind of audience will consume the services or products offered by the business, what is their age bracket, what are their preferences etc. In SEO or for that matter any campaign won’t work in right direction, if a business’s target audience is not defined. It’s just like playing in dark room.

Make a SEO Strategy as per the Target Audience: After defining the target audience, it’s time to make a defined SEO strategy, which will include the present position of the business in organic search market, approach to tap the target audience, and of course certain long term goals to be achieved in future. A basic SEO strategy will help any business in realizing their current position in organic search market and where they could be in future, only if things are done as per best SEO practices.

Relevance & User Intent: In SEO, it is really crucial to understand and keep in line with relevance and user intent factor every day. When it comes to search results, it is important to understand the relevance of the result and the user’s intent behind their search query. Suppose, if a user is searching for ‘blue bean bag’ , they will be disappointed if they don’t find a page about blue bean bag or if they get an irrelevant result for their query. Hence, it’s really important to always keep in mind the relevance & user intent while going ahead with keyword research and all other activities performed in SEO.

Local SEO: For start-ups and SMEs, their target audience circle is quite small and specific in the beginning. So, why don’t start tapping that small circle first rather than going for a large and more generic market on the start. This is where local SEO comes into play. Local SEO is an effective way of local online marketing. It helps in enhancing the visibility of any local business as per its local target audience. This means, local SEO helps any local business in promoting their product or services to local customers exactly when they’re looking for that particular business. For example, a local user based in Gurgaon is searching for ‘chicken home delivery in gurgaon’, now with the help of local SEO, a chicken vendor based in Gurgaon could surely come up in the query result for chicken home delivery in gurgaon.
Identifying Competitors: To be the best and come up in search results, identifying competitors is a must thing. Every business should must know that whom they are competing with, what are their competitor’s strategy, strength, weakness, where their competitor is getting traffic from and as much details one could get about them.

Always think about user experience: In SEO, user experience plays a major role in achieving business objective. If a user is having a bad experience while accessing any website like longer load time, page not found error etc., it is obvious that user will bounce to some other option. This bouncing impact will have real-world impact on your SERP (Search Engine Results Position). So, never ever forget that search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. also looks a website like a user. Want a happy audience? Bring SEO and user experience together.
Optimizing for mobile: Last but not the least, optimizing a business or any website for mobile is equally important as for desktop. As many recent survey reveals, nearly 65% + of searches are happening over mobile devices. Also, the search engines are increasing their effort & focus in providing better mobile experience to users. Most recent of these efforts include Google’s Mobile First Index and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). So, it’s better to keep up the website mobile optimized before all these efforts roll out completely and push your website in hard times.

Despite knowing the importance of SEO in ensuring a site’s visibility online, Search engine optimization (SEO) is low in priority for small business owners, with only 17 percent planning to invest in it in 2017. This means there is huge scope and opportunity ground open for small business owners to set in their feet & claim their position in search results before the competition gets tough. So, all those entrepreneurs out there! It’s high time to understand the power of SEO and choose it as your first weapon before your competitor grabs the opportunity to show up first on Google.

[Source:-Advertising]

The Biggest SEO Fails I Have Done

Everyone has had their moments when they wondered what they were thinking—I guess I’ve just had a few more than others.

Over the course of my career, I have tried a bunch of different tactics. While a lot of them worked for me, even more have failed. We all fail, sometimes, but my failures are special. In order to help everyone else out, I want to share with you some of the dumbest, most idiotic, or perhaps “smart, but didn’t work” tactics that I have done in the SEO field.

Thankfully, these were done in the early days of my career, so no Visiture clients were a part of these failures. I do apologize for all the tools/companies I am outing, here.

Using POSI

First things first. I have nothing against POSI. However, back in the day, their tactics were not “of the whitest hat.” Their high PR links used bad content that was almost unreadable. Those are not links I would ever want to show a client.

However, they did work really well for affiliate sites. We used PR links to good guest posts that we had and created a tiered layer of links, which Google loved.

The problem? After a couple of months, Google found out and crushed whatever affiliate sites we had in 2013. It was fun while it lasted, but I would have been further ahead had I focused solely on solid links.

Using SENuke

image: http://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/SENuke-900×505.png

senuke

I am literally laughing at myself as I am typing this. Yes, I used SENuke. Please forgive me and do not judge me!

I couldn’t help it. I was just starting out, and I could do SEO with basically just one click of a button. Who wouldn’t want that?

The only problem? The results worked well, back in the day, until Penguin came along—and then all of the affiliate sites fell into the abyss. The links were the worst, and then, instead of trying to disavow them, we just got new domains.

Funny story: I still see some of the links in my old company’s profile that I had when I first started out. It makes me laugh at myself.

Black Hat World Member

Recommended for YouWebcast, February 16th: Build Your Growth Roadmap in a Day

I used to be on the black hat side of the world, but then I opened my eyes and turned to the light side of the force … I mean, SEO.

I could see what the black hat guys were doing, and I realized it wasn’t the best practice. Instead, I tried to copy those tactics they were using but do it as a white hat guy. I’ll discuss later what a genius idea I had—emphasis on genius—with the white hat private blog networks.

Fiverr Links

The same thing happened as with SENuke: I used Fiverr links a lot, back in the day, even to use tools such as SENuke and GSA Search Engine Ranker. Maybe I was just lazy? I’m not sure, but I do know that while Fiverr gigs gave me links, they didn’t help. If they did help, it was very short-lived. My rankings would last, maybe, a couple of weeks and then fall down to page 4 or 5.

I was using Fiverr after Penguin 1.0. If I’m being honest, it was kind of fun for me. The ups and downs, of doing back hat SEO, were exciting, but, at the same time, they were very frustrating and eventually led me to the light side of the force … I mean, SEO.

[Source:-B2C]

Local SEO in 2017: 5 simple ways to dominate local search

local-marketing_295688708-ss-1920

If you’ve followed SEO strategies for any length of time, you know one thing: SEO changes all the time. When it comes to local SEO, it’s more important than ever that you optimize your on-site and off-site SEO strategies for clients and customers who may be searching for your local business. Local competition is heating up, and if you’re not on top of your rankings, you can bet your competitors will be.

Here are five solid local SEO tactics you can use this year to help your business rank higher for local search terms.

1. Title and meta description tags still matter

Title and meta description tags are HTML elements that you can customize to reflect the content of your web page. The text of your title and description tags is displayed in search results. Think of this text as a “mini-ad” that you need to carefully craft.

Last year, Google increased the width of the main search results area to 600px. In light of this, the generally acceptable length for title tags is approximately 50 to 60 characters, and description tags can be approximately 160 to 200 characters. Take advantage of this space and use it wisely — and make sure you double-check that your titles and descriptions aren’t getting cut off in search results.

If you’re not sure how your title and meta description tags will look or how many characters you can get away with, try using an emulator like the one from SEOmofo or Yoast’s SEO Plugin for WordPress:

SEOmofo Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool

Writing titles and descriptions is considered an art in the SEO world. In a sea of competing search results, if this text isn’t unique, compelling and descriptive, then your click-through rate will suffer. Additionally, one extra word or character could cut off your text with the dreaded ellipses (…). This may not be a true tragedy, but it does look unprofessional, especially when it shows up in the middle of a sentence, making your title or description less impactful.

The lesson? This space is precious, and every character counts. Here are some tips:

  • Never waste space on page names that don’t provide helpful information.
  • Wasted Title Space
    • If you want to reach local customers, include the name of the city your business is in and/or the area your business serves (e.g., “Serving the Corridor of Iowa City and Cedar Rapids”).
    • Focus on using one targeted keyword and carefully place that keyword as close to the beginning of the tag as you can.

    Remember, if your business shows up in the search results, you have one shot to get that person to click on your link. Don’t blow it by wasting characters that won’t help convince a searcher you’re worth looking at.

    2. Online directories and citations

    According to Google, roughly four out of five consumers use search engines to conduct local searches. Yet many small businesses have not claimed even a single a local business listing online, which is a huge missed opportunity.

    It’s important that you get your business listed correctly and consistently on top online business directories, like Yelp, Merchant Circle, Citysearch and others. You will also want to seek out respectable local directories to get your business listed on. Check with your local newspaper’s website and your Chamber of Commerce to see if they have a local business directory you can get listed on. You can also do a search for keywords like “[your city] directory” to find other local citation sites or directories.

    It’s also important to get your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP) on the major citation data aggregators like Infogroup, Neustar (aka Localeze), Acxiom and Factual. Always make sure that your company’s NAP is consistent on as many of these directories and citation sites as possible. Discrepancies like misspellings, abbreviations, lack of suite number and wrong phone number can create havoc when Google can’t determine which information about your business is correct. If Google’s not sure, they may display incorrect information — or not show your business at all in search results.

    3. Google My Business: Claim and optimize

    Google My Business (GMB) is considered a directory, but it’s a biggie, so it deserves its own section. It’s very important for local businesses to claim their Google My Business (and Bing Places for Business) page. It’s free and can get you incredible exposure if you’re optimized enough to show up in Google’s local three-pack:

    Google My BusinessTo claim your Google My Business page, visit google.com/business. There’s a verification process you’ll need to go through where Google will send a postcard with a PIN to your business’s physical location. (No P.O. boxes allowed.) Then you’ll simply log in and enter the PIN to verify your business.

    This verification process is necessary because Google wants to confirm that your business is legitimate, and that you are actually the business owner. Please note that according to Google’s terms of service, only the business owner can claim a GMB page. If you’re working with a digital marketing agency on your SEO efforts, you can then grant them permission to be a manager of your page — that way, you remain in control of your listing if you terminate your relationship with the agency.

    The next step is to optimize your GMB listing with a solid description, categories, business hours, types of payments accepted and so on. You also want to make sure to upload your logo and photos of your business, products or services. (It’s generally recommended that you upload at least three photos.)

    Fully populate each and every relevant section so that your listing is complete. If you’re a service business and don’t have a location customers or clients can visit, don’t worry; you can choose to hide your physical address as you’re setting up your Google My Business listing.

    As mentioned above, Bing also has a comparable page for local businesses called Bing Places for Business. The process is very similar to GMB, and you should definitely have your business present on Bing’s local directory, too.

    4. Online reviews matter

    Businesses are finally starting to realize the importance of online reviews from their customers. According to a recent survey, 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, and seven out of 10 customers will leave a review for a business if asked by the business.

    There are several reputation marketing software and tool options you can use to track, manage and proactively try to get reviews. Here are some to check out:

    • Reputation Loop
    • Get Five Stars
    • Trust Pilot
    • Vendasta

    Additionally, many social media platforms, like Hootsuite and Tiny Torch, allow you to monitor and get alerts any time your brand is mentioned. Whenever a review is left about your business, positive or negative, be sure to respond to it. That shows other people reading the reviews that you, the business owner, care what your customers think.

    Two places where you should focus on getting reviews are your business’s Facebook page and Google My Business page. These are big ones. Many people turn to social media to see what their friends and family think about a business, so having good reviews on your business’s Facebook page can help to draw in prospective customers. Getting positive reviews on your Google My Business page is crucial because these reviews show up on Google when someone searches for your business.

    Google also notes that “[h]igh-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility,” which implies that reviews might factor into rankings on the local pack.

    5. Use local structured data markup

    Structured data markup — often referred to as “schema markup” or “schema.org markup” — can be added to your website’s code to provide search engines with more information about your business, like the products you sell, reviews you’ve collected, services you offer and so on.

    Only 31.3 percent of websites are using this markup — and most are only using the basics. You can make your local business stand out (and possibly rank higher than your competitors) if you add structured data markup to your site where appropriate.

    Google wants you to use structured data markup because it helps their spiders better determine what your site content is about. Google even offers a Structured Data Testing Tool so you can check to see if your markup is properly implemented.

    Google Structured Data Test TooIf the thought of coding freaks you out, you can also use Google’s Data Highlighter to mark up content with your mouse. (Note that your website will need to be set up with Google Search Console in order for this to work.)

    This is just of the tip of the iceberg when it comes to local SEO. Implementing the five local search tactics above will give you a head start on your competition. Get started today!

  • [Source:-Search engine LAnd]

Why SEO is more powerful than your CEO when crisis strikes

Many critics and commentators look to the chief executive when crisis hits a brand or organisation. It’s recently become a matter of anecdotal wisdom that those businesses that survive crises best only do so because of the authority, credibility and empathy of their senior leaders.

Certainly those organisations with inept executives or spokespeople are heavily criticised and lambasted during, and even well after, the crisis event. But be clear, chief executive crisis appearances are often about the semiology of sincerity and the appearance of a swift response.

Read more: 11 ways to stop an online issue turning into a PR disaster

An out-dated crisis communication model

Historically, under-fire brands needed a consistent, calm authority figure that became the sole point of company crisis information; someone who could present a personable face for the business while it was under duress.

And there’s our first huge problem; many businesses still use a historic media and crisis communication model, rather than a contemporarily configured one. You see, in the modern media arena, the number of experts, pundits and sources—each replete with their opinions and retrospective ‘shoulda’s and woulda’s’—have multiplied significantly. One (chief executive) person cannot address all those fragmented audiences simultaneously.

In crisis, critics and detractors publish incessantly, inaccurately, and certainly more frequently than the under-the-cosh corporate. Crisis companies lose fair share of voice, almost as soon as the crisis breaks.

Erroneous content can fuel search results first

Online channels pick up much of this early, frequently erroneous, content. Due to the source traffic volumes and search engine rankings, the ‘wrong’ content infiltrates search engine results. And as over 90% of online searchers click on the highest-ranking webpages and sites first, ‘the fix’ is often in! Crisis-hit entities need to use search engine optimisation (SEO) to ensure their pages get priority perusal.

But typically, I still lament what the majority seem to be doing. Many are waiting for the board or legal to approve holding statements, or rehearsing the chief executive with sound bites designed to placate a media ever ready to pounce on mispronunciations or misallocation of accountability or blame. The communications focus has become erroneous; technology makes it so.

Chief executives are outgunned by SEO speculation

In terms of message spread and traction, your chief executive is easily outgunned by speed, by speculation and by volume of overwhelmingly critical search engine optimised content. As a consequence, the effectiveness and impact of the chief executive in a crisis is fast being overtaken by the pre-eminent role of search engines (and SEO) in ‘framing the crisis narrative’.

After all, when a crisis breaks, many people trust search engines first to help them divine which channel they’ll follow for news on the incident information. So the big challenge facing brands-in-disaster is: ”Who are crisis followers listening to?” (And by association, “how do we get them to listen to us?”)

Why do companies still cede narrative relevance?

We could realistically expect a business at the sharp end of any crisis to be best positioned to explain and expose what’s truly happening—with updates, footage and on-the-ground interviews. For this to happen, companies need to move into the proprietary news business rather than just the reactive communications business.

DiscoverOrganizationWeb pageCrisis communication

But too often, businesses don’t just fail to command narrative authority in a crisis. Their message management methodology is pre-programmed to hand over that authority to third party media channels. They quickly cede influence.

In only grooming and training their chief executive to perform for traditional news outlets, the beleaguered ‘body corporate’ cedes influence to a process that sees them lose narrative relevance as soon as the crisis breaks. In so doing, they’re again relinquishing their power, the privilege of their reporting position at the crisis coalface and, ultimately, their reputation.

Move into the news business

Despite the newer digital media offering plentiful opportunities to publish crisis updates straight to stakeholders (and search engines), only a minority of Aussie corporates have restructured their message distribution strategies—and resourced their communications teams—to get into the news business.

Now I’m not saying the role of any chief executive in a crisis is redundant—not at all. But given the changes in our information, news and content sharing environments, the importance and impact of good SEO is an absolute mandatory in determining a fairer share of how the story is created, disseminated and located.

Ideally, you twin your chief executive’s status with all the SEO smarts at your disposal and drive your narrative to best represent your business; in crisis times and in peace times.

The big question is: “Do you really know the drill of modern crisis management?”

[Source:-Smart Company]

3 Major SEO Steps for a Website Relaunch

3 Major SEO Steps for a Website Relaunch

You’ve had the same site for years. Finally, you get the funding for a new one. The team’s been working together for weeks and you’re finally ready to re-launch. Where do you start?

The website relaunch process is a critical time for SEO. It  involves planning, transition, and post-launch phases of activities to ensure that previously earned relevancy and authority are transferred from the old site to the new. Also to make sure there are no hidden issues that tank rankings and traffic.

The three phases will take a varying level of resources and time depending on the size of the site, as well as the goals of the site. A 50-page informational site will be much easier than a 50,000-page e-commerce website in many regards. Note that I’m assuming the new site is mobile-friendly and the UX team confirms it passes Google’s testing tools–a given in 2017.

Website Relaunch SEO Planning Excel File Image

Website Relaunch SEO Planning Excel File

Phase 1: Planning

This phase is crucial to project success. Speaking from experience, the goal is for the re-launch to be a well-planned process absent of surprises. In the planning phase, there are several important initiatives:

  • Page URLs
  • Keyword mapping
  • Title and meta descriptions
  • Canonical tags

Planning doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. It can be as simple as starting with an Excel file plotting page URLs for the new site. Hopefully up to this point a sitemap has been developed that you can work from. If you have a development or staging site in place, you can likely run Screaming Frog or your crawler of choice to export the HTML page files.

And if you’re not getting results when trying to crawl, it’s likely your developer is doing the right thing and disallowing all robots from indexing the site with a disallow “all” in the robots.txt file (robotstxt.org is a great resource). You might need to remove this for a moment while you crawl the site.

Once the URL list for the new site is set, you can make updates in your Excel file to optimize based on content structure and desired page groupings. You’ll likely need to work with your UX team and developer on this. From the page list, it’s easy to identify the pages that carry over from the old site and those that will change. Now you’re ready to identify the pages and sections that should be targeted for specific keywords.

After identifying the pages and focus keywords/topics on the new site, it is time to plan or write title and meta description tags. If you have a static site or one that requires manual tag writing, this is the time to get to work.

Write custom tags for each page and tailor them to the focus keyword(s) and relevant topics of the page. Don’t forget to follow best practices on the character length (Moz has helpful information for titles and descriptions). If you have a large site or one that’s very data-driven, you will likely need to write formulas for the tags you want for your development team.

For example, on an e-commerce site, write tag structure for category, sub-category, and product pages. This will include a lot of fill-in-the-blank slots from the database for the developer to map specific fields as well.

The last aspect of the planning phase requires questions of the technology you’re using on the new site, and of your development and IT teams. It’s the canonical aspects of the site to ensure that the search engines properly see one site for indexing. Beyond the more obvious needs where there’s known duplicate content (products in multiple categories), it’s important to understand if URLs with and without trailing slashes render as separate pages or redirect to one another.

Additionally, the root domain global 301s are important to plan and talk through at this phase. Changing these after the re-launch can be a risky and painful process. Switching all URLs to https after the fact can be a much bigger deal than it seems.

Phase 2: Transition

The second phase of SEO for a relaunch includes:

ADVERTISEMENT
  • 301 redirects
  • XML sitemap
  • Robots.txt

These items may start prior to launch and possibly alongside planning items, but they’ll be a focus when the site actually launches.

301 redirects are the most important aspect of a relaunch. I always expect to be on call when a site launches to catch missed 301s and other issues that arise. It’s important to plan–using the spreadsheet discussed earlier or other similar methods–to map out the old site pages to the most relevant new site page. In some cases, this is a straightforward process–and in other projects, it can take days or weeks of work.

To track down all old URLs that need to be redirected, don’t just crawl and look at the old (current) website. Do a “site” operator search in Google, and look at Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools to see what URLs the search engines index and deem important. Create this list and hand it to your dev team or implement it yourself through the CMS.

Once the site launches, you need to go back to your redirects list and spot check the old site links to make sure the redirects took effect. Make note of those that go to 404 pages or have issues. Also, make sure they are 301 redirects and not other server codes–there are a bunch of web based tools like redirectcheck.com to help you verify. Lastly, go back and perform that “site” search in Google again and click on links throughout the results pages to make sure nothing was missed or configured improperly at launch.

When your redirects are in good shape, it’s time to crawl the site and develop a new XML sitemap if one isn’t already automatically generated by your CMS. Whether it’s a dynamic or static sitemap, I strongly encourage you to manually review it. Make sure it’s void of duplicate or 404 page URLs. This is an important step because the search engines lose trust in your sitemap if there are errors.

When your sitemap file is in good shape and you have a solid robots.txt file on the site, it’s time to submit their locations to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

Phase Three: Post-Launch

With the launch phase complete, it’s time audit and test the site with these steps:

  • Redirects audit
  • Canonical audit
  • GSC/BWT tests & submissions
  • 30-day auditing
    • 404s
    • Tag issues
    • Canonicals
    • Indexing issues
    • Content and ranking issues
    • Overall traffic issues

In this final phase, some steps will repeat to include review of URLs, tags, canonical structures, redirects, and more. After all, there’s nothing worse than doing the right stuff to this point only to realize a month later that a minor detail was missed and traffic tanked.

Fortunately, Google and Bing provide great diagnostic information in GSC/BWT to make it easy to keep an eye on progress. Google Analytics also can help you to quickly flag any drops in traffic or problems.

It’s critical to monitor the health of the site and the implementation of planned and transition activities at least weekly after launch. This will ensure the search engines give the new site credit for relevancy, the authority status of your old site, plus the enhancements you made for the relaunch.

Don’t waste the time and approvals it took for your team to do a relaunch. Try a three-phased approach like this one to ensure the new site has a firm SEO foundation and promising future to provide a return on investment and opening new opportunities for your SEO strategy.

[Source:-SEJ]