Category Archive: SEO for Your Agency

  1. Factors That Impact Your Positioning in a YouTube Search

    Author: | Leave a Comment

    In our last blog post, we discussed optimization strategies for your video content. By providing visitors with compelling titles, descriptions, and tags, you are providing YouTube’s search engines with the triggers to support your optimization efforts. Like the content triggers discussed earlier, there are several engagement factors that are influential in getting your videos to the top of YouTube.

    Much attention has been paid to Google’s ranking factors and algorithm and how they impact your positioning on Google.  By becoming aware of YouTube’s ranking factors, you could improve your video’s rankings on both YouTube and Google. Here are some critical engagement factors that influence your video’s YouTube ranking:

    1. Trust and authority of your YouTube channel

    YouTube prefers video producers that routinely produce quality video content. Thus, it looks not only at engagement of individual videos but also at engagement of your video channel overall. Factors such as number of subscribers, number of channel views, and the overall age of your video channel are important in ensuring consistently high ranking videos.

    2. Engagement of your videos

    While the overall number of views is surely an important factor in a high-ranking video, it is more important for your video to be interesting to those who choose to view it. How long do your videos keep your viewer’s attention? Generally speaking, videos that capture 40% of the viewer’s attention (i.e., over two minutes of a five minute video) will help your video rank higher. YouTube looks at two audience factors – absolute (what percentage of your video is watched) and relative (how does this compare to other videos of similar length?).

    3. Social signals

    As with traditional SEO, social media links appear to be an increasingly important factor in the overall strength of your content. Factors that indicate video social sharing include embeds, external links, and the strength of the sites the video is being shared on. Particularly strong social sharing sites include Digg, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ so be sure to prompt sharing to these and other sites when posting your video.

    4. Comments, responses, and reactions

    YouTube wants to gauge how much dialogue your video generates. The numbers of comments, likes, and responses are important factors in determining your video’s ranking. Note: video responses in particular are hugely important. After all, YouTube is a video sharing site. If your video is responsible for creating additional video content for YouTube, you’ve hit an SEO home run.

    Likes and shares are also factors that determine level of interest in your video. YouTube gives significant weight to the number of shares.

    YouTube has determined that engagement is a better measurement of quality and satisfaction than simple views. As Google has given greater importance to Quality Score, YouTube has given greater importance to engagement. In both, the common threads are quality and relevance. If you create quality and relevant content for your readers and viewers, you stand a much better chance of getting to the top of every search engine.

     

     

     

  2. How Optimizing Video Can Lead to Traffic and Conversions

    Author: | Leave a Comment

    What’s the second largest search engine behind Google?

    Bing? No.

    Yahoo? No.

    AOL? No.

    The correct answer, of course, is YouTube, which processes more than 3 billion searches each month. Additionally, since November 2011, YouTube video results are embedded into Google search results. Try typing “psy Gangnam style” into Google, and the first four results, ahead of Wikipedia, Facebook, and Billboard, are YouTube videos. (Psy’s Gangnam Style, incidentally, is the most watched video of all time with nearly 2 billion views as of February 10, 2014. Thus, it seems logical for search marketers to think beyond Google and Bing. Search strategies must include all aspects of digital marketing, including video. Let’s examine the key strategies for optimizing your video content.

    1.  Choose the most relevant content for your business – Context is equally important in video optimization as it is in search optimization.  A simple tutorial on how to use your product is a great video for product marketers. Hosting a webinar that conveys your expertise on a particular subject is a great choice for service marketers. Remember, consumers like video because it gives them a better understanding of your product or service. It aids in the decision-making process. As you develop your script, put yourself in the mind of the searcher. Include phrases that are searched on often.

    2.  Select a keyword relevant title for your video – The title of your video is like a PPC ad. Its purpose is to gain a click-through. Choose a title that is relevant to the content of your video, but exciting and engaging enough to get that coveted click-through. Your title should include a key phrase that your research determined to be the most relevant search phrase for your desired action.

    3.  Include tags – Tags are keywords and phrases that provide the YouTube search engine with clues as to what your video is about. Think of them as hashtags for your videos. List your most relevant tags first, as order does play a factor in YouTube’s algorithm. Be as specific as possible so you can limit the amount of competition for your video. What makes your video unique? Try to include the same keywords you included in your video’s title.

    4.  Write a keyword-rich description – Make sure you use the same relevant keyword phrases that you included in your title and tags. This consistency will go a long way towards establishing the relevancy that is so important to both Google and YouTube. Be thorough and comprehensive. So many video creators cut corners when developing their video’s description, but you can really give yourself an edge if you provide YouTube visitors with an in-depth description.

    5.  Upload a transcript – Uploading a transcript to YouTube is an easy way to ensure your targeted keywords are interpreted correctly by the search engines. Simply create a .txt file of your video’s script, and upload it to YouTube via the Video Manager section of your YouTube account. When you name the .txt file, use the search term you’re optimizing for in your .txt file’s name. Additionally, by uploading a transcript, you automatically enable YouTube’s captions.

    6.  Create a video sitemapGoogle Webmaster Tools provides simple instructions on how to create a video sitemap.

    Each entry must contain the following pieces of data:

    1. Title
    2. Description
    3. Play page URL
    4. Thumbnail URL
    5. Video file location or player URL

    It is recommended that you host your video on YouTube and embed the YouTube video on your own site.

    Optimizing video is a process, and like traditional SEO, will reap tremendous benefits to your business or your client’s business when followed correctly.

     

     

  3. Keyword Insights: An Interview with Bill Hunt

    Author: | 1 Comment

    How are Hummingbird and “not provided” affecting the Search Marketing industry? What are some insider tips and tricks? SEMPO recently chatted with Bill Hunt, President of Back Azimuth Consulting and co-author of Search Engine Marketing, Inc., about his views on Search Marketing and the latest industry changes.

    1. What initially attracted you to work in the Search Marketing industry?

    I got pulled into it indirectly by optimizing my own earthquake preparedness site to rank well in US and Japanese search engines.  After the Kobe earthquake in 1995, we did significant business with Japan and that success was reported by a number of business magazines.  The phones were ringing off the hook but not for the earthquake kits or consulting but from companies. Most wanted us to help them enter Japan using search engines.  I sold the kit company and my wife Motoko and I focused on localization and optimization of sites for large companies like AT&T, HP, and Western Digital.

    2. Tell us a little bit about your approach to gaining keyword insights.

    My process is a multistep process to segment the words by logical categories and let the data point us in the right direction.  Keywords from different sources can tell us a lot about our consumer.

    The first and primary insight I want to know is how are we performing for our products and services.  It is not sexy but performance for all products, services, categories and their buy cycle attributes.  These don’t need to be researched or supported by any data – they are your primary keyword universe and should be non-negotiable.

    Once we have the products and services data all set, what does the data tell us? Do any patterns emerge when you look at a cluster of words?  Do they use one over another; is there a price relationship or a lack of knowledge about the product? Some interesting examples I have found are:

    Las Vegas Hotels – what do they really mean when they use that phrase?  We found that 83% of the search volume for variations of this phrase were related to “cheap or discount” hotel rooms.  That while they searched using “Las Vegas Hotels” they really meant “cheap Las Vegas Hotels.”  So if the #2 ranking page has a snippet of “The premier Resort on the Strip,” which clearly does not sound cheap, you are not going to get clicked.

    Cloud Computing – along the same lines, we found 87% of the variations of this phrase were “what is” or “what are the benefits” related to cloud computing and all the pages ranking on the first page were educational pages that described what cloud computing was.  Once my clients changed the content they jumped to the first page.

    Some other sorts we want to look at are:

    By revenue – what keywords make you money?
    By margin – where do you make the most money?
    Misspellings – how many ways do they misspell different words?

    Currently I am finding one of the best sources of insight is site search data.  These are phrases that are being used on your site showing specific interest in the product or service.  For one of our retail clients, we identified over $4 million in untapped opportunity to upsell and cross sell site searchers who wanted to upgrade or add to their products but none of the content supported these phrases.  Simply adding the ability to buy up recovered the cost of the effort in less then two weeks.

    Another big analysis I think people should do is to look at their top 20 highest CPC paid search terms and see if they rank in the top 3 organic and which page is ranking.  So far nearly 200 people have told me that less than half of their terms are ranking for their most expensive words.  Google research shows that as much as 66% of the paid listings that are clicked don’t have a corresponding organic listing.  This is pure gold if you can fix this not only from a cost reduction but from a brand and shelf space opportunity.

    3. What kind of tools do you use and recommend to gain keyword insights or research? Does this differ based on the size of the company and, if so, how? What can be gained from drilling down through keyword data?

    I honestly believe the process is the same no matter the size of the site or company.   I think that some search teams get overwhelmed thinking about keyword data modeling for an enterprise company with millions of words.

    The #1 tool is your brain. I don’t think enough people spend time thinking about their keywords, their audience, and, most importantly, what did they want when they searched and why did they use a specific phrase when they did it.

    As far as commercial tools, this is the interesting thing about our industry – there are not any available.  Sure all the tools have keywords in them and give you data and a few even have some basic classification but none are really enabling you to do anything with the words and data.

    I am obviously partial to the keyword management/mining tool that I have spent the last 2 years developing – it pulls in all your keywords and associated data and does the segmentation I have already mentioned.

    For those without a tool like mine, I think a simple database or pivot tables in Excel can work wonders.  Once you have tagged the words into classifications, you can sort them any number of ways to find opportunity.  I am finding most advanced search programs, like those at SAP and TripAdvisor, require their Search Team members to be proficient in SQL to be able to mine for opportunities.

    There is a lot of data that can be gleaned from the data.  I have hundreds of examples of opportunity that was mined.

    4. Has Hummingbird impacted your process for recommending/prioritizing keywords or phrases?

    It has not changed our process but has been helpful to get companies to better understand the need for Searcher Intent Modeling.   This is especially true with any phrase related to “how to” do something.   Hummingbird is trying to deduce the intent of the search and we have seen a number of pages drop for companies that are not specifically answering the “how to” or don’t specially match the intent of the searcher.   Also we are pushing content type alignment – for one of our clients that has a lot of cocktail recipes, many of their web pages were replaced by their YouTube videos on making various drinks.  We have made some changes so that the video and the page are ranking, increasing their SERP shelf space.

    5. In your opinion, when should you trust your gut instincts and when should you trust data in keyword selection? 

    I think you have to always trust your gut first since it is a great gauge of intent. Search Marketers rely too heavily on tools to guide them rather than instinct.

    6. How important is it to reevaluate/review keywords? When should this be done?

    It is critical to do it at least quarterly, and I have a few clients that review all new keywords on a weekly basis.  It really depends on the turnover of your words and how many new products you have.

    7. How has “not provided” impacted your process of measuring keyword optimization success? What metrics do you recommend for evaluating keyword success?

    It has had a pretty significant impact but we are starting to work around it.  I am well known for my “Missed Opportunity Models,” which use the gap between search volume and organic visits for a specific keyword.  These models have been used by many companies to justify their search programs and they are nearly impossible to do now.

    Most of the companies I work with still use rank and organic search engine revenue as their key drivers.   While we cannot tie it to a specific keyword, we can show that overall non-paid search revenue is increasing.

    We just built into our tool the ability to leverage PLP’s, rank, and page revenue data as a proxy for organic performance.  How this works is every Tier 1 and Tier 2 keyword we have assigned a “preferred landing page” – the page we believe has the best opportunity for conversion.  We then look at organic attributed revenue month over month and rank of the assortment of words month over month.  This allows us to show that an increase in ranking or the swap of a PLP over another page has had positive impact.  We can see the same when a word or a set of words drop in rank.

    We also look at traffic based on Google Webmaster Tool data which we pull in but it is only a fraction of actual data.

    8. Where do you see the role of keyword research and optimization going in the future?

    They are becoming even more important, especially since we have less data to support performance improvements with not provided.  I have been advocating a Keyword Czar role for a number of years, and there are a few companies that are starting to adopt this at least as a part-time role.  With the increase in social media conversational mining and the demands for content ideas, this is becoming more and more important.

    It is a great tool for content creation efforts.  We do a lot of modeling of words and opportunity and if you lay that out in a hierarchical flow it pretty much tells you exactly what content your are missing and how to better speak the language of your consumer.

    How are Hummingbird and “not provided” affecting you? Where do you see the role of keyword research and optimization going in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments.

     

    Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily SEMPO.

     

  4. Using Search for Talent Acquisition: How to Get Your Job Openings in Front of the Right Candidates

    Author: | 10 Comments

    It’s January – a time when businesses focus on the year ahead. They determine what resources they’ll need to meet their objectives, and thus, hiring is heavy, and competition for talent is fierce.

    We typically think of search as a medium for customer acquisition, but it is also widely used by candidates searching for jobs. Similar to the approach we take for customer acquisition, search for talent acquisition involves optimization and distribution.

    Build a keyword list
    The first step in getting your jobs in front of the right candidates via search is to develop your keyword list. Your list should include:

    1. Personal attributes of ideal candidates
    2. Key performance indicators and success metrics of the most successful people in the position
    3. Reasons candidates would want to work for your company (perks that make you stand out)

    Put yourself in the mind of the job seeker. What terms will they be looking for when searching for the ideal job? Be as specific as possible by using appropriate industry jargon to help eliminate fringe candidates, and to give you the best chance for receiving resumes from the most ideal candidates.

    Write a job description that is compelling, unique, and shareable
    If we’ve learned anything as search marketing professionals, it is that content is king. That content comes in many forms. Treat your job descriptions as you would your product descriptions. Include as many of your relevant keywords as possible, write compelling descriptions that catch the reader’s eye, and include audio or video to give your job description some personality. A small audio snippet from a hiring manager or company executive gives a candidate a sense of what to expect if he were to work at your company. It also gives your description a personality and gives readers a reason to like, share, repost. Your goal is to have a candidate say “this job is me,” or “I know someone perfect for this job.”

    Create unique landing pages with optimized URLs for each job description
    Just as it is vital when creating product and other website pages, so too is it vital to create unique landing pages for your job descriptions. As with any piece of optimized content, your URL should have plain English phrases using the position title. For example, http://www.jobsite.com/jobs/online-marketing-manager-job-description would be a preferred URL for your online marketing manager job descriptions.

    Establish links to your job description from relevant sites
    Where do your candidates search for jobs? An easy way to determine this is to do a general search for the position you are seeking and see what comes up. Most likely, the top sites are general job boards, industry-specific job boards, associations, colleges, newspapers, and more often, social media. Make sure you link to your job description from as many high volume sites as possible to give your site relevant link authority.

    Leverage social networking to get the word out
    According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 72% of online adults use social networking sites. Networking, whether social or otherwise, is a vital component of the job search. You must be where the candidates are. Many candidates, in fact, may not be active job seekers. Social networking sites are a great way to find passive job seekers who may not be actively searching, but who would welcome a job change. Sites such as LinkedIn, allow you to search for candidates who match the qualifications and experience you are looking for. Other sites, such as BeKnown from Monster, and even Facebook are reaching out to job seekers and recruiters alike, trying to capitalize on the social networking phenomenon. Facebook’s Graph Search allows recruiters to find the skills, education, or experience that fits a particular job opening. Leverage to 100+ million users of these sites to find the ideal candidate.

    Search is a built-in component of your marketing mix. It should also be a part of your talent acquisition mix.

     

  5. Common On-Page SEO Pitfalls

    Author: | 7 Comments

    A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at Turkey’s first SEO conference, SEOZone. Since our agency, Ads2people, conducts a large number of on-page audits, from very large and often multilingual corporate sites to regular blogs, I thought it would be helpful to talk about some common on-page pitfalls we see over and over again. This is an exclusive write-up for SEMPO summarizing that presentation. I hope it helps you improve your on-page SEO.

    #1 Crawl Budget

    Given the fact that search engines such as Google assign a certain crawl budget per domain (and sub-domain), I’m always surprised at how often site-owners simply try to push all of their content into the index. And they also often seem to be completely careless in regards to which sites are crawler-accessible at all.

    To assess and fix these problems on your site, a good starting place is Google Webmaster Tools (go to: Crawl > Crawl Stats), which gives a first impression of how a site is doing. A successful graph is slightly increasing – which usually reflects that Google picks up on content being added and therefore returns a bit more frequently. Conversely, if that graph is jumping or massively decreasing, you might have a problem.

    There are two ways to control search engine crawlers: using a robots.txt directive and implementing a robots meta tag into the HTML mark-up (or serve it as HTTP X-Robots header). However, the issue with both directives is that they don’t solve your (potential) crawling-budget-issues:

    -          Robots Meta Tag: Implementing a proper “noindex” does prevent a given page from showing up in search results but that page will still be crawled – and therefore a crawling budget has to be used.

    -          robots.txt:  Blocking a URL (or folder, etc.) does prevent the site from being crawled (and therefore does not waste crawling-budget); however, there are massive downsides. One is that pages might still (partially) show up in search results (mainly due to being linked from someplace else) and all inbound link juice will be cut-off. In other words, those links do not help your rankings.

    Considering those points, you might think about combining those… but please – don’t! It simply cannot work. If a page is blocked using robots.txt, a site won’t be crawled and the meta robots tag therefore cannot be read at all!

    Watch out for things like filters and sorting, pagination, and other potentially useless pages. We see so often that these are simply being pushed to the index but certainly never can or will rank for anything. Don’t waste Google’s resources on that!

    As a rule of thumb: If you want to be sure not to waste crawl-budget, only have pages that really are useful (so don’t create others in the first place).  If you have others you don’t want to show up, I’d go with meta robots to at least utilize the inbound link equity.

    #2 Duplicate Content

    I assume everyone is familiar with duplicate content (DC) issues, but it turns out that’s not the case (if you’re not, please read this first). It always surprises me to see how many sites out there are still not performing well due to a lot of internal (partial) DC. Even though most sites these days are OK in handling session IDs and tracking parameters, here are some “classics” I’d like remind you of: HTTP vs. HTTPs is considered to be DC, products available in multiple categories (and not using a single product URL) are causing DC as well, and sub domains (like staging servers) might get you in trouble.

    That said, the rel=”canonical” meta tag (or X-Robots Rel-Canonical Header) can help you fix those issues, but I think this is the third-best option to solve DC issues. In my mind, it’s really all about efficiency – so the best way to solve it is to actually make sure that you only serve contents using one single (canonicalized) URL and not multiple ones. It’s as simple as that.

    I’d generally not rely on something that Google calls “a strong hint” – because it’s a hint that they might or might not consider, but essentially it’s not a forcing directive like an HTTP 301 redirect (which they simple have to follow).

    Again it comes down to giving Google as few choices as possible.  Enforce single, unique URLs with amazing content and 301 redirect previously existing ones (e.g., old or multiple versions) to this (new) URL and you won’t suffer from DC issues.

    #3 Proper Mark-Up

    There are quite a few differing opinions on if and why proper mark-up is important. I don’t really jump into that discussion, but I’m a strong believer that doing clean and simple mark-up helps. That’s mainly due to the fact that I really don’t want to take chances that a crawler might have “issues” when trying to extract information from a site. And that’s also why I think doing schema.org mark-up is a good thing: It helps engines (not only crawlers) to actually understand (parts of) content and make sense of it. In short, to understand its meaning.

    Obviously you have to consider which information you can and want to provide to Google (and others), but if you don’t give your data, they’ll get it elsewhere. So generally speaking, don’t miss out on this. It’s far more than just gaining more CTR due to more prominent results – which is great by the way – but if you combine structured data with rel=”author” and / or rel=”publisher” that the benefits are even greater. It’s basically Google moving toward understanding and assigning verified entities to sets of queries, and you surely don’t want to miss out on that. In my opinion, Google is massively moving to a point where you need to be a verified authority for a given entity and therefore will automatically benefit from all that long tail traffic that belongs to this entity – which makes a lot of sense given the fact that Google sees a massive ~20% of new queries per day.

    So if you’ve not yet played around with Rich Snippet mark-up, I recommend you check-out schema.org to see what’s in store for you, get it implemented, and verify your domain and author profile with Google+ to get things started. Good luck!

    If you’re interested in the slide deck, feel free to check it out on SlideShare.

    About the author:

    Bastian Grimm co-runs Ads2people, a full-service performance marketing agency based in Berlin, Germany, where he heads the SEO department as the VP of Search. Having a passion for software development and everything “Tech,” he loves to challenge IT and marketing departments to come up with outstanding results in search marketing. Bastian is a widely cited authority in SEO having spoken at almost every major search conference including SMXs, ISS, SES, SEOkomm, LAC, BAC, and many more events around the globe.

    Find Bastian on Twitter and Google+ or contact him at bg@ads2people.de or +49 30 720209710.

     

    Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily SEMPO.

  6. Google Not Provided: Privacy Issue or Just a Ploy to Get More AdWords Sales?

    Author: | 10 Comments

    GoogleNotProvided Just last week, numerous SEO blogs and news outlets reported that Google is soon going to start encrypting all search activity both for users who
    are signed in as well as those who are not. The only exception will be clicks on ads, which Google will not encrypt. As you can image, this has many marketers up in arms and others simply scratching their heads wondering what comes next. Are there going to be any benefits for marketers, or is this the end of keyword data as we know it?

    The Quick Basics: What Does Google “Not Provided” Mean? Hubspot reminded us that the discussion of encryption actually started back in October 2011 when Google announced that any users who are logged in to a Google product (Google+, Gmail, YouTube, etc.) would have encrypted search results. Essentially, a marketer would not be allowed to see the keywords someone used before visiting his/her company’s website, so knowing which keywords to optimize for was a struggle. As any good marketer knows, keyword insights open the door not only for optimizing an actual webpage but also for improving content marketing, retargeting, identifying audience, and much more.

    The Real Reason Why: Is Google Doing this to Enhance Their AdWords Sales? Google is claiming it is for extra protection for searchers—a completely valid reason that makes sense. However, many in the field are a bit skeptical. Marketing Land feels that Google might be attempting to block NSA spying activity, while Search Engine Watch threw out the idea that Google might soon release a new “premium” version of Google Analytics where users would pay a monthly fee in order to get access to full keyword data. A more popular opinion is that it could be to drive more people to use Google AdWords. Since ad clicks are not part of this new announcement, how can we not jump to that conclusion? Many are telling small businesses to use AdWords in order to gather this organic data. Consider some quotes from around the web:

    - QuickSprout: “Even if Google goes with ‘not provided’ for all your data, you can still uncover new keyword opportunities by using keyword research tools or spending money on AdWords.”

    - Search Engine Watch: “At this time advertisers still get full keyword referral data from Google, while there is speculation this could change sometime in the future, there is also the necessity for advertisers to be able to determine conversions from the traffic they are paying for.”

    - Search Engine Roundtable: Coming from a Webmaster World thread, “Go fully broad match on every single keyword and pay AdWords for your data.”

    - Moz: “Optionally, we can use AdWords to bid on branded terms and phrases. When we do that, you might want to have a relatively broad match on your branded terms and phrases so that you can see keyword volume that is branded from impression data.”

    You certainly can’t blame anyone for giving users this advice because it is good advice. In fact, we’d give that advice ourselves. In short, Google’s plan has worked perfectly. It’s clear that AdWords is going to benefit and privacy was just a secondary thought in Google’s mind that happened to work perfectly when informing the public. Nevertheless, for now all we can really do is believe Google and move on to the next part of any announcement—create a new strategy that works.

    Your Reaction: What to Do With Google Not Provided The first thing to understand is that the new change isn’t going anywhere so it’s time to react, whether you agree with Google’s decision or not. Fortunately, there are ways to cope without falling into their trap and spending a lot more money on AdWords; there are still things that you can measure using search data that isn’t necessarily keyword data. Consider some of your options below:

    - Other search engines. The keyword trends you will find with search engines such as Bing and Yahoo are very similar to those you would find on Google. These engines have not encrypted their keyword data, so put your focus here and on the keywords that work.

    - Traffic from organic. You might not be able to see the exact keywords people are using to find your website but that doesn’t mean you can’t see your overall organic traffic just like you’ve done in the past. It might take a bit more work, but figure out what you’re doing in the way of keywords and how your traffic is performing and then find correlations.

    - Use filters and track landing pages. You might not be able to see the exact keyword someone used, but if you can set up a filter on all of the ‘not provided’ traffic and see which landing page those people landed on, you can get an idea of what it was they were searching for when they came to your website.

    - Google Webmaster Tools. You can view your top pages and top search queries in GWT where you get clicks. Although you can’t see anything past 90 days, it’s still something that can help you keep track of your progress.

    - Google Trends. This will help you see quickly if you are improving or you need to ramp up your efforts.

    In the end, this Google update is just something else that will force marketers to adapt, but it isn’t going to take away your job or ruin your chances in the results pages (after all, everyone is in the same boat). Many see this as a positive move for the industry because it will force websites to create great content and put a focus on things that will really produce a great website. As a user, you’re going to be a little bit safer. Do you think this change was for privacy reasons, or do you think Google was more interested in lining their pockets with some increased AdWords sales? What are you going to do in response? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.

     

    Photo Credit: lumicall.org

    Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for the nationally recognized SEO agency HigherVisibility.com that offers online marketing services to a wide range of companies across the country.


    Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily SEMPO.

  7. How Important Is a Mobile-Optimized Site for Your Business?

    Author: | 9 Comments

    Mobile-optimized websites are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. If you want to stay relevant and attractive to your visitors, you need to provide them with easier access through their various devices.

    If you have a website, the good news is that your business is accessible from any device. The problem is that your site may look very bad if it’s not mobile-optimized, which will create poor user experience and lead to low CRO. While over 50% of people surfing the Internet use their mobile devices to do so, only 21% of all website are mobile-friendly.

    The trend to mobile is unstoppable, and Google is constantly pushing the creation of mobile websites. It won’t be surprising if this friendly graphic turns into a ranking factor in the near future.

    s1

    It is obvious that the growing trend is to think of mobile first and desktop second. This is a hard thing to accept, but all programmers can already see the trend and thus are beginning to apply the change to their work.

    “Google programmers are doing work on mobile application first because they are better apps and that’s what top programmers what to develop” –Eric Schmidt. Google Chairman

    We really need to shift now to start thinking about building mobile first. This is an even bigger shift than the PC revolution” – Kevin Lynch CTO Adobe

    The future of the web is mobile design. There is new device every day, and more and more we find ourselves reaching out to our mobile devices to use the internet.

    The Importance of a Mobile-Optimized Website

    Wherever you go, you undoubtedly see people on all kinds of mobile devices surfing the web. Over half of Americans who have cell phones use their phone to surf the web, so there are clear benefits that highlight the importance of these features. One of the greatest benefits is that mobile-optimized websites provide a better user experience and increase usability, which should be the ultimate end goal aside from increasing a company’s ROI.

    It has been deemed a best practice to have a mobile-optimized website, and Google itself recommends the practice of using responsive web design. New websites that are in development should design with mobile in mind, and existing websites should seriously consider optimizing for mobile use. Here’s an inside look at each type of mobile website optimization:

    Mobile Design

    There are two types of mobile design. The first type consists of an original website and a sub domain dedicated for the mobile version: www.example.com and m.example.com. Can you guess which one is the mobile version? In this form of mobile design, “m.” prefaces the original URL and visitors are redirected to the mobile version when they access the website from a tablet or smartphone. The mobile website is a sub domain, which makes it completely different website than the main one. The mobile version of the website is created specifically to be used on mobile devices, and it usually offers a link with the option to use the regular site instead. This is the old way of doing mobile design and is not the best option available today. Some downfalls include the risk of duplicate content, multiple URLs, and updates have to be done both on the regular and mobile version.

    s2The second form of mobile design is a website that has multiple CSS files (or only one with multiple options for screen size). In this situation, the server determines which type of device is being used, and then it can pull up the specific CSS for a computer, a smartphone, or a tablet. This is the best way to do mobile design. It requires a little more work but it is well worth it.

    The difference between the two is that in the first one, there are two completely different websites with different CSS, template, and layout, and in the second, it is the same website but just with three different templates to respond to three types of devices. Both styles of mobile design exist specifically for the purpose of simplifying and enhancing website access on mobile devices.

    s3

    s4

    Some advantages:

    - The most aesthetically pleasing
    - More user friendly
    - Only one URL
    - Easy to maintain

    Responsive Template Design

    Responsive template design is the most common approach, although it is not necessarily the best. It is popular because it is often the easiest. It allows a website to be accessible on all devices, regardless of screen size, without CCS changes or additions. Responsive design uses a single template, and the CSS can “sense” the size of the screen so that it can adjust the elements of the page to fit in a cascading manor. It takes the modules with the highest priority and places them first, with the rest of the modules following in order of priority. By default, the modules on the top left are the most important while those on the bottom right are the least important. That way, when a user is scrolling down on a responsive design website, they will see the most important features of the website first. In this sense, responsive design is a “one size fits all” solution, but that doesn’t mean that it is the best solution. Here are the pros and cons:

    s5

    Pros

    - High user experience and navigation from mobile to desktop.
    - Consistent content and easier to update the website.
    - Easier with stats – no need to split traffic between two versions of your website.
    - Only one URL.

    Cons

    - New to SEO and might need some fine tuning before we see the optimal result on responsive templates.
    - Responsive design could make a website load slower as it adjusts to the appropriate screen size.
    - Responsive websites are more complex to code.
    - Responsive design is one size fits all, which is usually reflected in the final look of your website.

    Successful Brands that Optimized

    There are many brands that have successfully employed one of the above options.

    s6

    Sun Maid, Gateway Bank, and Caribou Coffee have all implemented interactive, interesting, and appealing designs for mobile use. Each of them is different in the features offered. For example, the Sun Maid and Caribou Coffee websites look similar with the menu options, but Caribou Coffee’s website has a convenient slider that switches between pictures on the home page, revealing their latest specials and offers.

    Overall, a website that has been optimized for mobile use is the best option for increasing brand awareness. Mobile-optimized websites are designed to deliver faster downloading and browsing speeds, plus they are more cost effective than developing an app. In addition, companies that optimize their websites for mobile use have a competitive advantage when compared to their competitors who do not optimize.

     

  8. How To Create Leads Through Your Content

    Author: | 4 Comments

    Content, content, content. There’s a lot of talk about the importance of content. But does it really make that big of a difference? You better believe it. The right content can attract new customers and help SEO for your site, which results in all the precious leads. According to B2B Infographics, 92% of SEO practitioners say content creation is an effective SEO tactic, and 76% regularly invest in content creation.

    Let’s take a step back and start at the beginning. Content is a cycle that helps create brand awareness, website traffic, and leads and build relationships. Your social media presence, blog, email marketing, and paid search work together for consumers to find your business online. All of these activities increase brand awareness. Then, your engaging content sends customers directly to your website, where they can scope out your business.

    Content also improves your SEO by helping your website get indexed faster, increasing rankings for search terms, and increasing domain ranking.  It’s a win-win. According to iMedia Connection, 71% of marketers say that content marketing has helped improve their site’s ranking in organic search, and 77% say it has increased website traffic.

    So we understand why it’s important but how can using content be put into action to generate leads?

    1. Create a mix

    Develop a mix of both paid and owned content to generate leads. Mixing PPC ads and social media ads along with engaging content will allow new customers to become aware of your business. In combination with your engaging content, customers will never want to leave.

    Image

    2. Get creative

    There are numerous ways to reach customers through engaging content. One way to reach customers and build relationships is through email. For example, after a customer makes a purchase, offer them a discount if they review your product. This will not only show that you care about what customers think but also provides incentives for making another purchase. You just generated another lead through content (Go you!).

    3. Drive it back home

    Consistently linking content and paid search back to your website will help drive traffic to your website, therefore creating leads. Whether it’s a blog post, mobile app, or a Facebook ad, every piece should have a website link. Provide a contact form on each page, ask for feedback, post customer reviews, and get customer contact information to continually generate leads.

    Once you’ve executed your plan, it’s time to analyze your success. Determine the cost per lead by using your PPC amount and the number of leads you received. Use Google Analytics to determine the number of clicks from social to your website. By analyzing the data, you can make informed decisions to decrease your costs and increase your profits.

    iMedia Connection found that 70% of marketers say that content marketing has increased their brand awareness,59% believe it supports sales growth, and 45% say it has reduced their advertising costs. After analyzing the data, it’s important to remember that generating leads through engaging content is an ongoing cycle that can play an integral role in your business’ success.

     

  9. 10 Tips to Creating Engaging, Optimized Content

    Author: | 18 Comments

    Compelling website content is the key to engaging with your audience. It needs be unique, shareable, and useful for the reader, as well as optimized to help attract/influence search engines… Let’s go back to the basics with 10 tips to writing engaging, optimized content:

    1. Headline – When it comes to creating content, a headline needs to be compelling. Why? Simply because it is the first thing readers look at. When trying to write a headline, keep in mind that it should draw in readers and give them (and search engines) a very concise idea of what your content will be about.

    2. Show and Tell – Write your article as if you were writing your English papers back in college. Back up your points with reliable sources (links when possible) as this will make your content more credible. Also consider using graphics to reinforce key points (see below for more on this).

    3. The 5 W’s – Try to answer the “who, what, when, where, and why” questions as concisely as possible. When each of these questions are answered, your content becomes more useful and more likely to be shared.

    4. KISS (“Keep It Simple Stupid”) – Most of the time, content that is to the point keeps readers interested and more likely to read through the whole article; put away those thesauruses and avoid using jargon!

    5. Meta Description – Like the headline, the meta description is what search engines use in their results listing to let your readers know exactly what your content is about. Try to be as specific as possible so as to capture your reader’s attention.

    6. Optimize with Keywords – A very easy way for your content to be easily searched and receive higher traffic is by implementing the use of keywords. Focus on a single keyword or keyword phrase for each piece of content. Include several “natural/conversational” keyword mentions but don’t overdo it. Remember, it’s always quality over quantity.

    7. Images – Like keywords, images are what draw readers to your content. Remember, search engine bots don’t see pictures, so be sure to optimize your images. This can be done by including a descriptive file name, alt text, and a caption for your images.

    8. Summary – As a conclusion to your content, always recap what you are trying to say in the article. For some readers, the conclusion is where they draw most of the information, or at least tidbits of the information.  It’s also a good place to encourage feedback from your readers.

    9. Revision – When you believe you have finished writing your article, think again. Always revise and edit until you cannot revise anymore. Then don’t be afraid to make more changes to the content if it’s not getting the readership you expected.

    10. Social Sharing – Finally, include social sharing features on each page of your website. When people share your content through social, it can help your website rankings.

    Try out different tips to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Always experiment until you’ve come to the right recipe for drawing readers to your website.

    Do you have a tip for writing engaging, optimized content? Share in the comments below:

  10. How to Develop a Robust Mobile Strategy

    Author: | 1 Comment

    You wake up to the alarm on your phone. Then you quickly check the weather forecast for the day from your weather app. While standing in line for the elevator at work, you get caught up on world news through Twitter. When it’s time for lunch, you don’t feel like walking down the street, so you order takeout from your favorite restaurant through their app. As you are about to leave work, you get an alert about a traffic accident. Now you know to take an alternate route. After a long day, you’re not sure what to eat for dinner, so you find a new recipe with a quick search. All in a day’s work for your mobile device.

    If this is how you are using your mobile device, you better believe your customers are using it the same way.

    Mobile is no longer an option; it is a way of life. According to StatCounter, mobile devices now drive almost 20% of all global internet traffic. Google recently confirmed that sites without optimized mobile experiences won’t rank as high in their search results. And if you want Google to like your business, you better start with some mobile initiatives.

    Most consumers are not only using mobile devices for search but they are starting with mobile devices for search. 50% of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. This isn’t just when they don’t have access to a computer; this is when consumers are at home, on the couch, with friends, or travelling. To be straightforward, if you don’t have a mobile strategy, you are losing out.

    Here are 4 tips to develop a robust mobile strategy:

    1. Know Your Business and Know Your Consumers

    It may seem like a no brainer, but the first step in developing a mobile strategy is starting with self-reflection. Determine the key aspects of your business and what consumers need from your brand. For instance, analyze the mobile visitor’s behavior on the current site. What pages are they requesting? Where are most of the mobile visitors dropping? Once you know what they need and what you want to get across, you can begin to cultivate a plan of action.

    2. Create a Mobile Website

    Consumers expect to easily be able to view a company website through their mobile device. One of the best options recommended by Google for a mobile-optimized website is responsive web design in which the website responds to the device your customer uses. This means one website with a layout that varies depending on whether your customer is on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Without a mobile-optimized website, customers can become frustrated and annoyed by the enlarging, scrolling, and unnecessary clicking they may have to do. A mobile-optimized website allows consumers to find the information they need quickly. Create a layout that highlights key points your consumers will want to find – location, phone number, hours, sales, or specials.

    You will also want to optimize your mobile pages for organic search. Google recommends focusing on rendering above-the-fold content to users in one second or less while the rest of the page continues to load and render in the background. Web pages that render quickly will rank better than those that have a long load time. Another consideration for the web developer is to avoid common configuration mistakes that affect rankings in a Google search. These mistakes include unplayable videos, faulty redirects, and app download interstitials.

    3. Understand and Develop PPC ads

    Mobile PPC ads are based on four main factors:

    Position –  Because screen sizes on smartphones are smaller than desktops, it is extremely important for advertisers to bid more aggressively for the first two positions on the search page results. If you don’t come up in the first 2 positions, your ads will be shown at the bottom of the first screen, or worst, pushed to the second page, increasing the chance of not being seen.

    Keywords – Generally, mobile searches include more misspellings and shorter phrases than those performed on desktop computers. If budget allows, keep this in mind and bid on commonly misspelled brand and related terms.

    Individuality – Write ads that are tailored specifically for mobile users. Potential customers performing searches on mobile devices want to find information quickly and be able to navigate the site easily as possible. Mobile accessible discounts, promotional codes, or sales alerts that are triggered by location encourage users to utilize a business’ mobile site or app.

    Extensions – When possible, ads should take advantage of call extensions. If your business has a phone number, you can easily include a “Call” button in your ad or on your website that allows the searcher the option to call your business right then and there. Remember, 52% of users have called a business after searching.

    4. Incorporate Social Media

    Social media and a mobile strategy go together like peanut butter and jelly. This is where you can really engage your consumers to use all the mobile strategies you’ve been working on. Offer mobile-friendly coupons, start a loyalty program that requires customers to “check-in” to earn rewards, or go big and create an app designed precisely for the needs of your customers. Encourage your customers to continue to use the app/mobile device to drive engagement and build brand loyalty.

    70% of mobile searches lead to action within an hour. Can you imagine what that number will be like in the next year? The next two years? Consumers expect a mobile strategy. However, don’t jump into creating it without a plan. It’s important to make your mobile strategy memorable and creative but most importantly useful. Don’t forget about the “real world” aspects and how mobile will be incorporated. Developing a strategy to serve your customers, creating a mobile-optimized website, utilizing mobile ads, and incorporating social media are four main ways to ensure your business will be ready for 2014 and most importantly, ready to serve your customers.