Every day we work with bloggers, marketing coordinators and receptionists who are all tasked with the job of keeping their company’s website current and updated.

This may involve updating website pages, adding new products, blogging about events and even running social media. While they have an intimate knowledge of their brand and products as well as excellent writing skills and aesthetic prowess there are still some simple SEO tweaks to be made to further improve the website and user experience.

That’s why we’ve put together this quick article with 5 simple tips for better SEO to make your work stand out and get even more visibility. It’s these simple SEO tweaks you can integrate into your work to help you get ahead!

Write Unique and Interesting Titles, Descriptions and URLs

Many website platforms such as WordPress use dashboards that make it easy to add a new page – much like working in a Word Document. However, when you add a new page the Meta Title and Meta Descriptions are often auto-generated based on a template. This is ok but you could do better! What do we mean?

The Title and Description tag is what gets shown in Search Results most of the time. It is crucial to make this unique and interesting in order to get searchers to click on your website rather than a competitor’s website.

Title: Make it interesting, capture the searcher’s attention and make sure it includes the main keyword or topic of the page.

Description: Describe what the page is about and benefits the person will get by visiting the page. You should also take the opportunity to add your brand name, city (if you are local) and your phone number.

URL: Many websites will create a URL for your page based on the Title, especially in WordPress. You can easily override this before you publish the page to make the URL more concise and reflective of what is on the page.

The problem with using auto-generated meta tags is that they don’t give the best first impression to the public and don’t usually give the Search Engine the information to base a query referral on. Based on your experience with using the Internet what type of Search Results do you tend to click on?

In our article on Local Optimization we give tips for writing awesome Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions.

Write Search Engine and Reader Friendly Content

When writing a new page or blog post pick one central theme or idea and make sure you incorporate that theme (or the “keyword”) naturally throughout the text. Try using some of these SEO content writing tips:

  • Use different variations of the keyword in the text and even go to Google Search, start typing your keyword and use their AutoSuggest feature to see what other related topics come up.
  • Try to incorporate the keyword into the heading and at the beginning of the text, as well as your meta title and description, as outlined in #1 above.
  • As you write optimized content don’t forget about your reader. Write for the customer in customer lingo but refer back to proper industry standard for credibility.
  • When writing new content or if using industry references or instructions, write in your own words and check that you have not copied any content. Try using a tool like Copyscape.

For more tips on writing great content check out our Guide to Writing Search Engine Friendly Content and Keyword Insights page.

Don’t upload just any image – take the time to prepare the image.

Image files take up a huge amount of space and time! Bytes slow down your load time. Here’s what we suggest:

  1. Rename each image file to describe what it is. The camera assigned JPG name does no one any good – even you when looking for just the right picture. Search engines can better understand images based on a file name.
  2. Crop and resize images to fit your layout. Avoid any stretching or shrinking that can make your site look unprofessional.
  3. Compress before loading the image to your website. The less bytes the faster your site will load.
  4. Don’t forget to add the Alt Tag, which is what is shown when the image is broken or won’t load. Image alt tags also help Search Engines understand the image.

For a detailed how-to on image file set up, check out our Optimization Image Tips.

Keep your website running fast.

A slow site can annoy your visitors to the point of abandonment! Slow websites also take longer for the Search Engines to crawl, acting as an inhibitor to all of your pages being properly viewed and indexed.

If your site takes more than 2 seconds to load, you are probably losing potential sales! You need to improve your site load time as soon as possible. Check your speed with our helpful tools or find out more about improving site speed here.

There are many factors that can be causing the slow load times. Here are three:

  1. We just mentioned images affect site speed and how you need to decrease image file size for optimization.
  2. Check your site for JavaScript. It does slow down load times. Try to find alternatives.
  3. Sometimes it’s simply an inadequate service provider. Check for a new host provider that can handle your content delivery.

Finally, get trained help when you need it.

1st on the List has a great Resources section on our site that is sure to guide you in many of the areas you need. And there are thousands of other SEO resource sites out there too.

However, sometimes it just takes a bit of coaching to get through the coding and uploading and writing and updating to make a difference. That’s where we come in. If you are having problems larger than you can handle, we can offer you several options:

  1. We can provide SEO training for your staff members responsible for keeping your website updated.
  2. We can perform a SEO Site Audit to determine just what is missing on your site.
  3. We can provide an SEO quote for the cost of ongoing SEO on your website.

For an initial consultation to determine your needs call us at 1-888-262-6687 or just drop us a note at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

Google-Panda-Updates-sm

Recently I came across an excellent article by Razvan Gavrilas about Panda 4.0 which investigates several winners and losers in SERP visibility after the May 20th Panda algorithm update.

If this is the first time you are reading about Panda consider reading our previous article 9 Things You Need to Know to familiarize yourself with the latest Google algorithm update first.

By looking at the common themes between sites that had huge boosts in SERP visibility (as much at 900%) and sites that drops in SERP visibility Gavrilas developed 4 key takeaways to make your website “Panda Friendly”.

Needless to say these are all items we already stress to our clients.

1) Be an Authority

“Content Based Topical Authority Sites are given more SERP Visibility compared to sites that only cover the topic briefly … More articles written on the same topic increase the chances for the site to be treated as a “Topical Authority Content Site” on that specific topic.”

A lot of specific content covering your area of expertise is better than a load of generic content covering a wide range of semi-related areas. Think of this as if you have a pain in your foot. Would you rather see a Podiatrist or your Family Doctor?

2) Content Needs to Engage With Visitors

“Sites with High User Interaction measured by shares and comments got a boost.”

If you are providing good quality content that visitors are finding useful it is inherent that they will want to share it. User interaction can be things like forums, Social Shares, comments and so on. As Gavrilas points out, Google is looking for an active community that gathers people who share the same needs, desires or passions.

3)  Stay Away from Thin or Automated Content

“Thin Content and Automatic content is deranked, even if it is relevant.”

Gavrilas bases this remark on a Matt Cutts quote from an earlier interview:

“Content that is general, non-specific, and not substantially different from what is already out there should not be expected to rank well. Those other sites are not bringing additional value. While they’re not duplicates they bring nothing new to the table.”

You need to do the opposite of what Cutts is saying here in order to achieve better SERP Visibility:

  • Be specific.
  • Be different.
  • Bring value.
  • Be unique.

Essentially – what do you have to offer that is above and beyond any other competing authority on the web? Thin content is like going to a job interview and stating all the same answers as the other candidates. What makes you better? You need to stand out in order to get the job, or in this case, catch Google’s attention.

4) Clear Navigation to Explore Your Unique Content

Sites with clear navigational structure and unique content got boosted.

Finally SERP visibility winners had strong navigation and structure throughout their website for visitors to easily find the information they need and explore related topics to what they were originally searching for. Think of a messy navigation like a library with no organization, where nothing is arranged by topic, author or type of book.

Glavrilas recommends that you look closely at your site structure and make sure every piece of content is relatively linked to other topical content on the site.

Need some help with your website content?

At 1st on the List we can help you develop a feasible long-term content strategy within your budget in order to establish your website as an authority. Contact one of our SEO Writing Consultants by emailing contact@1stonthelist.ca or calling 1-888-262-6687.

Many businesses seem mediocre because they don’t have the drive to engage.

Log into Facebook and you’ll quickly see the trend that people consume content as images and videos. Statistics even show that images and YouTube searches are dominating interest and content consumption.

The online community is rapidly evolving and if you don’t fight to engage and entertain your customers, you’ll only be mediocre.

I recently attended SMX West and sat in on a presentation by Brian Clark, the Founder and CEO of Copyblogger Media, which caused me to start thinking this way. Either engage or stay mediocre. His take on the changing trends in online content marketing gave me a fresh perspective on how ridiculous the new remarkable really is.

What does Spinach, Duck Calls and Soap Have in Common?

The answer is that these things have all been creatively transformed into engaging entertainment.

Everyone buys into a good story or song or humour. Spinach farmers couldn’t give away the leafy vegetable in the early 1900’s – then along came Popeye.

Proctor & Gamble discovered the value of entertainment when they invented soap operas to find a new platform to advertise their soap to housewives. They created short skits about people’s every days lives that hooked housewives with dramatic cliff hangers, ensuring their audience would always watch the next episode – plus have a ton of advertisements directed right at them!

In 1976 Time claimed American daytime television as “TV’s richest market” because of their devoted following and ability to maximize their ad revenues. Proctor & Gamble not only sold more soap but they created a secondary stream of income from the growing viewership.

Another example mentioned by Clark at the conference was Marvel Comics which started as an advertising ploy to sell ant farms and toys. Little to nothing was made from the comic book sales but those comic books have reached generations of people and millions of dollars were made on the products advertised. Holding to the tried and true methodology, Marvel moved into the Super Hero movies. Again, very little was made from the actual movies, but Marvel’s revenue was from the advertisements and the residual income from the products sold in the ads.

Today, there are many examples of “marketing disguised as entertainment”. Consider the popular Love It or List It series on HGTV. While we see an episode of home design and home buying, what we are actually involved in is consumer engagement and an advertisement model similar to soap operas.

HGTV’s shows create a unique following of consumers who enjoy Interior Design and real estate – the perfect place for commercials and product placements. Plus it instills the desire for all viewers to renovate their home. They’ve seen it on TV; it can’t be that hard, costly or intensive to rip apart your kitchen or add a basement suite right?

And what about Duck Dynasty? This is just another marketing ploy gone viral when you stop to think about it. What is so interesting about a bunch of silly rednecks sitting around mass producing duck calls that captured 12 million viewers for the Season 4 opener and another 8.5 million for the Season 5 opener?

Take a redneck family, add a crazy uncle, mix in a good dose of silly antics, make some bobble head dolls and t-shirts and then create a series of YouTube videos. What do you get? You get a multi-million dollar Dynasty of duck call sales and five season (so far) of TV Series, plus all the residual sales of bobble-head dolls, t-shirts and even the Si Robertson Book of Beards at $15 a pop in every grocery store. Who knew a long grey beard could be so popular?

Key Takeaways on Creating Engagement through Storytelling

So what can be learned from these marketing geniuses who seem to have struck it big time?

1.    People want to be entertained and humored.
Popeye was a print medium, which evolved into a TV cartoon and then into an animated movie. Soap Operas were first released through the radio and then evolved into TV series where the viewers have remained loyal for nearly a century. Duck Dynasty started as a YouTube series then was picked up by the networks. There is a trend here – the idea of engagement through storytelling runs through the heart of each example. It doesn’t matter where the story gets told. It matters if the story is engaging, humorous or entertaining.

2.    Know how you will engage.
Too many small businesses are hopping onto the video bandwagon just because everyone else is doing it. You don’t need a brilliant multi-million dollar money making plan to create effective media content but you do need a clear idea how you can be engaging with your target market.

3.    Engaging content marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Other small to mid-size businesses think that building a media presence will be a huge investment in time and money – but it doesn’t need to be. You can start small, develop your cast, add your brand and build a story. Share it online: on your website, on your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Blog page. The concept doesn’t have to be a feature length film. Popeye cartoons were a 5 picture strip, the TV cartoons were 3 minutes and it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that a feature length animated film appeared.

4.    Know what will set you apart and provide value.
With more than 100 hours of video added to YouTube every minute you need to be different in order to stand out. You need an engage viewers with your brand in a unique way that provides value.

5.    Don’t miss out on this opportunity. 
With the incredible advancements in digital audio, video and aerial photography equipment plus website applications to edit and load your content all at affordable prices, building an entertainment advertising platform for your own advertising becomes an incredible opportunity to establish your brand, promote your business and to engage the consumer.
What’s Your Engaging Content Market Strategy?

If you are starting to think about how to use engaging video content marketing on your website be sure to read our article 23 Benefits of Using Videos on Websites or contact us at 1-888-262-6687 to understand more about the YouTube phenomenon and how to use videos to promote your brand visibility and customer engagement.

winning content marketing strategyDid you know that over 70% of marketers plan to increase their content marketing budgets in 2014? (source: Curata)

If “content marketing” is a new concept to you let’s start at the beginning. A basic content marketing definition is the creation and sharing of media by publishing content. There are several content marketing goals, including:

  • Driving sales and/or leads
  • Engaging customers, buyers and influencers
  • Boosting brand awareness
  • Establishing or sustaining thought leadership
  • Increasing SEO and web traffic
  • Decreasing the cost of acquisition for new customers

Over two-thirds of marketers report increases in lead quantity and quality thanks to content marketing!

If it’s time you get serious about creating a winning content marketing plan we’ve gathered nine awesome content marketing blog articles to help you out.

The 3 Biggest Content Marketing Myths on the Web

Let’s start off by debunking a few content marketing ideas or misconceptions with the help of Nicole Beckett from Business 2 Community. We should keep these content marketing best practices in mind while reading through the rest of today’s articles.

  1. More is NOT better. Beckett says, “You have to publish a steady stream of high-quality content.” One well thought out piece of content can be infinitely more valuable than ten articles with boring information that could be found on any number of different websites. What makes your content unique and engaging?
  2. Starting a blog is NOT good enough. A blog is just one step in your content marketing plan. Beckett shares that a “blog can be a powerful part of your content marketing strategy but your efforts can’t stop there.”

Aligning Content Marketing Teams and Processes

The Huffington Post breaks down the content marketing plan into a process:

  1. Identify what content you need to create.
  2. Establish metrics to measure your success.
  3. Create the content.
  4. Distribute the content.
  5. Evaluate the success of your content.

When taking this bird’s eye view of content marketing the entire process becomes less intimidating.

The Blueprint to Content Marketing Success

This article posted over on the YouMoz Blog goes a level deeper and creates the perfect roadmap for conquering some big content creation goals.

It first outlines a basic content marketing guide which includes establishing the direction for big content to create in a year, researching if there is other content like yours on the market and then deciding the audience the content will be written for. Finally understanding the purpose of why you are writing is important in the early stages.

The next stage to creating big content is the process of actually writing the content. Steven Macdonald  suggests doing things like starting small, breaking up the content into smaller more manageable chunks and getting feedback along the way.

Finally, decide when it’s time to launch and then market the content like crazy. Promote it on your website, through social media, with email marketing and then remarketing the content as you need.

Conquering Content Marketing in 5 Steps

If you are a more visual person or need some visual graphics to show your boss how your content marketing idea will play out, head over to this Search Engine Watch article by Dan Cristo. His 5 steps include:

  1. Planning – researching, ideation and strategy.
  2. Development – content creation and asset management.
  3. Optimization – search, social and usability optimization.
  4. Distribution – content placement and syndication.
  5. Measurement – listening, tracking and performance analysis.

Cristo’s content marketing approach helps us understand that content marketing is an ongoing process that doesn’t ever finish.

5 Habits of Successful Content Marketers

This article posted by Social Media Examiner divulges five content marketing best practices common to effective B2B content marketers.

  1. Have someone oversee content.
  2. Document your content strategy.
  3. Use more mediums for distributing content.
  4. Use social media more frequently (LinkedIn, Facebook, SlideShare, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, etc)
  5. Produce more content and invest more in content creation

Are you willing to do what it takes, as proven by the experts and their best practices?

7 Content Marketing Tips to Recover from Google Penguin

Was your website hit by Google’s big Penguin update in the last couple of years? Then this article at Search Engine Watch by Pratik Dholakiya is for you.

Even if your website is thriving this is one of the best articles to jump start your content marketing strategy. Here are some key content marketing ideas from the article:

  1. Create and promote linkable assets. Make sure that your content useful, interactive, emotional, and relatable.
  2. Use different ways of publishing your content including PDFs, slideshows, whitepapers, videos, infographics, press releases, case studies, guides and tools.
  3. Blog because you want to capture and keep your visitors attention and not to sell.
  4. When developing content choose a topic that is more comprehensive or more unique than any other resource on the topic currently out there.

Top 7 Tips for Effective Content Marketing

These content marketing tips are all fairly basic but deserve to be mentioned again:

  1. Stop selling.
  2. Solve a problem.
  3. Blog blog blog
  4. Repurpose content
  5. Embrace videos
  6. Optimize for SEO
  7. Promote via Social Media

You can read what author Mark Lerner has to say about each of these over at his article posted on Social Media Today.

Content Marketing Tips and Ideas (for the visually inclined)

If you’d rather look than read head over to Constant Contact’s board on Pinterest for Content Marketing Tips and Ideas!

Pinterest Content Marketing Ideas by Constant Contact

Tips for Building a Strong Content Marketing Plan for 2014

Now that we are almost through here are some final tips for content marketing that have gone unmentioned up until now, thanks to Forbes and Drew Hendricks:

  • Use a content marketing calendar tool.
  • Use a collaboration content marketing tool between your team to stay organized.
  • Be unique.

At 1st on the List we help clients with all levels of content marketing strategies. Want to know about the link between content marketing and SEO? Call us toll free at 1-888-262-6687 today or email our experts at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

A good SEO content strategy is an essential part of every Internet marketing campaign, so if a client is unwilling or reluctant to make changes to their existing content, then we offer to develop what we call information pages; SEO website content writing designed to support the keyword terms the client is targeting.At 1st on the List we continually get clients who are in serious need of not just more content, but also good search engine friendly content on their website. Yet, many are hesitant to make the necessary changes to their existing site page text.

SEO Content Writing Tips & Advice

[tooltip tip=”Search Engine Optimization”]SEO[/tooltip] content pages can be written in the same voice or tone as the main site pages, but include optimized text copy that supports the target keyword phrases while helping to describe the main products or services to website visitors.

In SEO content writing you will need to naturally integrate proper “key” words (keywords) so that the supporting text will increase search engine rankings and make the website more visible to online searchers.

In addition to naturally representing your targeted keyword phrases on your website, SEO content writing also:

  1. Provides Information that help visitors make purchasing decisions
  2. Includes strong “calls to action” or “closing” action statements
  3. Generally acts as “higher converting” web pages on your site

Developing a good SEO content strategy is essential to both new and existing websites because they provide pages that can achieve high rankings, increase conversions and significantly raise your return on investment.

SEO Content Strategy

Optimized website pages can increase the quality and number of leads both online and offline. Here are three SEO content writing tips that do justice to your products and services, help your content look professional and organized, and send the right messages to the Search Engines.

1.  Crafting Optimized Titles, Headings & Sub-Headings

For search engines and searchers alike, a catchy title or page heading that summarizes the page content can be attention grabbing, creating more interest for the information the page has to offer.

For visitors, optimized page titles may cause intrigue, compelling them to read on. For the search engines it helps them understand the core focus of the copy and the relevant keyword phrases plus, it can help increase rankings for both the targeted keywords as well as the site’s overall theme.

Page sub-headings can do the same but they also help make the page more reader friendly, allowing the reader to scan the page for pertinent information that keeps their interest.

2. Researching and Creating Search Engine Friendly Content

As a copywriter who doesn’t necessarily know the company as intimately as the owner or marketing manager, it is necessary to examine the content within the website before beginning to create copy or text content.

Understanding the tone, branding and unique positioning or value proposition is important and it needs to be consistent across the website, which means it must be incorporated into any new SEO content writing.

Additionally an SEO copywriter may need to conduct general industry research to ensure that they have enough information to draw from when writing the optimized website content.

Product or service features are essential but it’s more important to write about the benefits of the product or service, since this is what the reader is after most.

One last useful step in the writing process is to compare products against competitors to gauge any additional benefits potential customers would receive by choosing your products or services over your competitors. These added benefits are then incorporated into the SEO content writing.

3. Strong Calls to Action –
The Signals that “Closing” Statements Send

Some may think that a call to action or “closing action” statement (as it is sometimes called) is not something a search engine would care much about; quite the contrary!

The search engines care more about your call to action than a visitor does. Your call to action helps the search engines understand what type of visitors you want to have at your website.

Information Based – When you have a call to action that says, “read more” or “find out more” or “learn more”, that sends a message to Google and the other major search engines that you are providing information. In turn your website would be more likely to show up for keywords or phrases where the users intent is to gather information; such as phrases that utilize words like “info”, “information on …”, “how to…”, “what is…” etc.

Purchase Based – If your call to action or closing action statement leans more towards “order now” or “buy today” or “contact us”, this sends a message to the search engines that you want to reach searchers who are looking to order your specific products or services as opposed to searchers who are information gatherers. This will cause your website to be shown more when phrases like “order….”, buy….”, “….prices” and “…..comparison” are typed in.

It is crucial for you to reach web searchers throughout the buying cycle. Strong calls to action:

  • Help to increase visitor conversions
  • Compel visitors to complete the next step to contact you or order from you
  • Communicate your intentions to the search engines
  • As well as align your website’s intentions with the searchers intent

What’s the Difference?
Copywriting Verses SEO Content Writing

Generally a copywriter writes creative and compelling copy and titles (headings) to engage the reader and communicate a message or brand.

Straight ahead copywriting may be effective for communicating to your visitors but they do not always provide the search engines with what is needed for high rankings, which is necessary to get your message in front of online visitors.

SEO content writing differs because while it still needs to be good copy, it is created based around the theme of the keywords or phrases you selected during the keyword research phase of your search engine optimization campaign. In this way each informational content page is focused on a very specific topic.

Creativity is required to craft copy that is compelling while incorporating targeted keyword phrases and supporting text with strong “calls to action”. Often times, this is what the average copywriter misses.

The end goal of your SEO content strategy is to provide valuable, relevant content for your visitors that will help inform and motivate but at the same time meet the criteria of the search engines for top search engine rankings.

IF SEO content writing is a priority and you need assistance developing a good SEO content strategy, we invite you to visit our Website Content Optimization page for more information.

This morning I stumbled across this chart that is being shared across the web.

We often see data about areas where companies are spending or are planning to spend more of their marketing budget but we rarely see data about what consumers actually want. So what do consumers really want from your brand?

The results (see in full here) seem to be a little contradictory: Brands seem to place a big importance on content about products and related topics while consumers are saying they want more Email and Facebook resources along with an improved website.

The Value of Content

So what is the answer? Are we wasting our time by adding content new content about our products, services, industry plus other resources?

Joe Puluzzi from the Content Marketing Institute gives a good defense for the value of content:

“If you really take a look at the research, consumers are actually desperate for content from brands, but like marketers they are fixated on channels,” says Rohrs. “When consumers ask for more email and Facebook, they are asking for helpful content through those channels. What are marketers going to put into those channels… air?”

In other words, marketers need to develop content about products and interesting topics related to their brand that build awareness and loyalty that can be used to share through our consumer’s preferred channels such as email and Facebook.

What Else Do These Results Suggest?

There are a number of lessons we  can gather from this research:

  • Consumers want the content or information they need at the tip of their fingers. They don’t want to go digging through your website for the information. They want to check their email or Facebook and see your brand bringing everything together for them.
  • The more we know about our consumers the more we can tailor our content marketing strategy for their needs. If we are only blogging or creating website content and not sharing it through important channels such as email or Facebook we are failing to engage our audience.
  • We need to understand our target market well. Some brands’ audiences may be highly engaged on Facebook and wanting to interact with the brand on that platform. Other brand’s audiences may prefer to interact on site, or through the Call Center or through YouTube. What is your audience’s preference?

Key Takeaways as a Content Marketer

I think that the major takeaway from this study is that consumers want helpful content in the right place at the right time.

As a consumer yourself think about how you are absolutely bombarded with different branding messages all day, everyday. Here is what we can do to ensure that when a consumer connects with us through any of our channels, be it our website, email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, an App or any other medium, we can meet their needs in a way that will build brand loyalty. 

  1. Be Intentional. Know your business inside and out. And then be intentional about getting to know your customers. What value do you provide for your customers? Why do they need you? What benefits help them overcome their problems? This level of understanding will help you determine your content marketing strategy and which channels to use. 
  2. Do Your Research. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what type of information they are looking for and how they want you to communicate with them. If you already use Email, Facebook, Blogging or other forms of communication look at what form gets the most positive responses from your customers. 
  3.  Be Unique. Just because all of your business contacts, competitors or even friends are using Facebook or Twitter doesn’t mean that you necessarily need to be using them too. Don’t base your content marketing strategy and channels on what others are doing or even on what you would like to do. Be unique and cater your strategy to your customers. If they prefer print materials or a weekly email then that may make the most sense. 

Additional Reading

Read additional articles about this research for further insight and different perspectives on the topic of Content Marketing:

When Your Audience Hates Your Content Marketing Plan

A Consumer Content Marketing Conundrum: More or Less Content from Brands?

7 Content Marketing Strategies for 2013

 

In looking back over the past 5 years of blogging we have put together a list of our top blogs about SEO ever published. It is interesting to see what themes and topics generate the most interest.

Join us in our countdown of our Top 10 Most Read Articles about SEO.

10. Importance of Call to Action Statements for SEO

This article discusses a very important aspect to Search Engine Optimization: having a website that is able to motivate visitors to take action. SEO is focused on driving visitors to your website but what happens if your website does not turn those visitors into some form of revenue source down the road? Learn how action statements will help increase your ROI and be sure to click through to Part 2 to learn how to write compelling call to actions.

9. How SEO Can Help More Than Just Your Sales

In this article we take a step back from traditional thinking focused on how SEO will improve your bottom line and discuss how SEO helps each department within your company including Customer Service, Marketing, Human Resources, Public Relations, Finance and IT. After reading the article you will see how SEO meets the underlying needs of all your business departments.

8. Are Your Rankings Being Punished for Duplicate Content Mistakes?

This article discusses what Google defines as “duplicate content” and why it will hurt your rankings. Find solutions for the cause of common duplicate content issues including printer friendly versions of your web pages, multilingual pages, manufacturer provided product descriptions and multi domain ownership.

7. LSI and Artificial Intelligence Behind Google’s Algorithm

Ever wonder how Google is able to understand what the searcher is looking for and return related and similar results that help answer their question? This article describes how Google’s Artificial Intelligence works and key concepts including ontology, the difference between synonymy and polysemy, neural networks plus data clustering and classification.

6. Tips for Writing Good Web Page Text Content

This article covers general guidelines about how to write good web page content that we have learned over the years from working with hundreds of clients. First and foremost website owners or managers should provide unique content. Reword, revise and be creative to ensure that all of the text on your website is 100% unique. Other tips include using a logical flow, being customer centric, focusing each page  on a central theme and having a strong closing action statement to get the visitor to make a purchase, submit a request or recommend to a friend.

5. On-Page Optimization Example

As a continuation from the article “Organizing Website Content Navigation for SEO” this post uses the example of a Shoe Store that carries all types of shoes. Through the site structure diagrams you will start to understand how to build a relationship between phrases that support a central theme. In this example not only is the navigation useful to the Search Engines it also helps visitors understand the types of shoes for sale and allows them to better navigate the site during their purchase decision process.

4. Setting Up Additional Domains for a Website

This article discusses why some people set up additional domains to point to one website and the duplicate content issue that can ensue as a result of improperly setting up these pointer or alias domains. Rather than stealing authority and credibility from your main website which weakens your rankings we discuss how to use a 301 Permanent Redirect. This process properly directs all the credit to your main domain and helps achieve the best possible rankings. Read through to the end of the article for an extra tip about correcting domain canonical issues.

3. How to Use Schema.org Markup for SEO

This post focuses on one of the newest techniques used by SEOs to improve how your website is understood by the Search Engines and displayed in Search Results. This article answers several questions including how the SE really see your site and how Schema.org helps the Search Engines better understand your site. Plus you will find five reasons to use Schema Markup on your website for SEO and User Experience.

2. Target Market Behaviour & Keyword Variations

In this article we take an in depth look at how your target market’s location, age and gender affect which keywords they use to search for your products of services. Using submarine sandwiches and soda pop as the example this article helps you learn how to differentiate how your target market searches, how to complete the proper research for keyword variations used by your target market, and ultimately how your target phrases and website copy will work together to increase conversions and sales.

And now for our MOST popular Blog Post about SEO:

1. Why Web Pages End Up in Google’s Omitted Results

This article discusses one of the biggest problems causing poor organic search engine exposure: Omitted Pages. Do you know why web pages are omitted from Google and how to check if your pages are being left out? Once we answer these two basic questions we discuss reasons why your pages may be neglected including title tag replication, duplicate content issues, content that is too shallow and multiple URL page issues. Best of all, you will learn how to get your pages back into Google’s search results so you can start attracting more traffic.

This wraps up our Top 10 most popular Blog Articles of all time.

Do you have any ideas for the topic of our next blog post? Let us know by emailing contact@1stonthelist.ca!

Are you overwhelmed with all the data provided about your website when using Google Analytics?

Without clear goals or the right approach to interpreting event tracking, bounce rate, direct traffic, unique visitors, traffic sources and a lot of other website data, you can easily get lost in a sea of numbers, charts and data confusion.

The following seven tips for understanding Google Analytics are intended to be quick and easy guide for using Google Analytics data effectively.

They will help you to test and get a better grasp on how your website is performing and how you can improve that performance by using Google Analytics in conjunction with Search Engine Optimization Services.

1. Google Keyword Analytics – Connect Keywords with Bounce Rates

By evaluating organic traffic by keyword phrase it becomes clear that not all keywords bring in the same quantity or quality of unique visitors:

  • Some keywords can attract lots of visitors; while this may sound great initially, if that traffic isn’t engaged immediately, a strong majority of them will click away from your website on the first page they view causing your web page to have a high bounce rate for those keywords.
  • Other keywords may not bring in as much traffic but because most of those visitors become actively engaged on your website they tend to stay for a longer time; these keywords will have a lower bounce rate.

Using Google Analytics to review your bounce rate, you will be able to see which keywords have a low bounce rate and bring high value visitors. Focus on improving your rankings for these key phrases so that you can attract even more qualified visitors who will actively engage and interact with your online brand.

Consider revising your targeted keyword list and reduce your efforts to obtain top rankings for keywords that bring in lower quality visitors.

Perhaps these keywords are not as relevant to what your website offers. For instance, let’s say you have a computer repair business. If you have optimized your site for “laptop computers” you might get a lot of traffic but not all traffic using this term will want computer repair. A better phrase might be “laptop computer repair”.

If you feel the keyword phrases you are targeting are relevant, consider tweaking the landing page to make a better first impression and better meet the needs of the visitors you do attract.

2. Google Page Analytics – Identify Your Most Popular Pages

When it comes time to update your pages do you know where to start? Take a look at the most viewed pages on your website (likely your homepage and main category pages) and start there.

If you find pages that you think are more important than what Analytics is indicating, perhaps they may need extra attention.

Are they poorly optimized and not ranking well in the SERPs? Is the page not clearly included in your main navigation? Could there be other reasons why visitors don’t visit this page…or stay on this page longer?

3. Write More Successful Blog Posts

Some blog posts are just more popular than others. By drilling down the most viewed pages on your blog you can see the posts attracting the most attention. Can you see any common themes in terms of topic, post title or other attribute? How can this inforamtion improve your blog strategy?

4. Using Google Analytics to Harness Your Brand Power

Analytics can give you a good understanding of how many people search for your brand to find your website. What percentage of visitors know your brand well enough that they will use it to search for the type of products or services you offer?

If the majority of your traffic comes from your brand you may want to consider strengthening your optimization for unique keyword phrases that are not brand related so that searchers who don’t already know you can find you.

If the majority of your traffic is from non-branded keyword phrases perhaps you need to build your brand both offline and online. With the help of Analytics you can find a healthy balance between branded and non-branded search traffic.

5. Using Google Analytics to Track Where Your Visitors Click

Ever wonder where your visitors click when they are on a specific page? The in-page analytics overlays click through rates on each link for a particular web page. This helps you understand how visitors move through your site.

Are your “main links” in the main navigation actually getting clicked? Are there links that are not clicked on and may just be adding clutter without any value for the user?

6. Google Analytics Can Help You Choose When to Go Mobile

Take a look at your mobile-enabled users and monitor the growth of these users over time. If you are seeing a noticeable rise in mobile traffic (which you likely are) you may use the information to justify investing in a mobile friendly website version or mobile enhancements.

7. Using Google Analytics to Track Relative SEO Changes

Understanding Google Analytics will also help show you the number of visitors who reach your site in a specific period. By using the comparison tool you can look at keywords that have significant changes in traffic in the past week, month, quarter etc.

You can set up custom variables and investigate any keywords that get 20% more or 20% less traffic than the previous period and try to pinpoint a reason why:

  • Did rankings improve or decrease?
  • Did your competitors change significantly?
  • Did you make changes to your website (ie: update any meta data?)
  • Did changes to Search Engine algorithms affect the way your website is evaluated?

Keeping an eye on your high performing keyword phrases can be crucial to driving your search engine optimization campaign.

Understanding and using Google Analytics effectively can improve the quantity and quality of traffic to your website and dramatically improve your online efforts.

For help establishing a well-defined Web Analytics program or to learn more about using Google Analytics, please feel free to contact us:

Call us Toll Free: 1-888-262-6687

Email Us:                            SEO Site Analytics Consultants

Complete our Form:           SEO Request for Proposal

Chances are in the first five minutes of researching how to improve website quality and ranking you’ll notice that most resources reference back to the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) focusing on these four primary areas:

  • Website Content
  • Website Design and Structure
  • Social Marketing
  • Link Profile

While you must continue to create extraordinary products and services for your clients, the truth is that these four primary areas are absolutely fundamental to effective SEO and how to improve website quality and ranking.

Have you considered how continuing to work and grow these areas will improve your online presence as a whole?

Improve Your Website and Add Relevant Content

We’ve all heard it before but just to make sure we are all on the same page, let’s say it again; content is king!

The more quality content you have the more the search engines can read your website and understand your company.

Don’t get caught up on building new content just for the Search Engines. Take the task of concise relevant content building to improve website relevant but also get a double benefit:

  1. Focus on building new content to improve your visitor experience
  2. While optimizing for your targeted keywords

The end result is getting content visitors actually want to read that is visible and relevant to the Search Engines.

Any new content added to your website will improve website quality and visitor experience. Try writing and optimizing new content about:

  • New Or Future Products and Services
  • Customer Testimonials
  • Staff Performance
  • Corporate Events
  • Community Involvement
  • How To’s And Guides
  • Frequently Asked Questions

In an online world with oceans of content “ordinary” or “sub par” content is no longer enough. Your content needs to be stimulating and interesting.

Keep in mind that as you improve website relevant and quality you naturally make it easier to be social and grow your link profile as well.

Upgrade & Improve Website Design

A solid search engine optimization foundation is built on solid website structure, server setup and navigation but even these can use the occasional upgrade to improve website look and functionality.

Keep upgrading your website to follow current SEO best practices, which makes it easier for the Search Engines to navigate the site but will also help out your visitors.

Create an easy to use, sensible navigation that makes it impossible for visitors to get lost. Develop a system to improve your website with new content on a regular basis so your updated design has something to showcase.

Don’t risk losing visitors and customers. It’s difficult to keep their interest with a stale, dated website or one where they can never find what they are looking for. If a visitor gets irritated because of limited website function most likely they just won’t return.

Get Social for the Right Reasons and Contribute

Just think of how it makes you feel if someone wants to befriend you but they have ulterior motives. It becomes very clear, very fast.

The online social world is no different. If you start a Twitter, Facebook, Linked In or Google+ account because everyone else is doing it or for the sake of shameless promotion, it will show.

One of the key factors to running a successful social networking campaign is showing a genuine and relevant interest in others lives … while asking for nothing in return.

If you want to give it a try, create (or revamp) your social networks in conjunction with your website improvements so that you can update clients and followers with new information they will find interesting and exciting.

You can use the networks to share your thoughts and promote your business but balance this by interacting with your followers and addressing their needs as well.

Establish yourself as a thought leader or authority and show your followers they can trust you (this reputation should flow freely between your online and offline marketing).

Even if you don’t see immediate SEO value from your social media, apply what you learn to your business. Is there reoccurring negative feedback about your products? Is there an unfulfilled need out there that you can develop a service to fulfill and in turn, help improve website performance or exposure?

Grow Your Link Profile and Improve Website Support System

We know that as soon as you lose the interaction and engagement with your customers in the offline world you’re in trouble. The same goes for the online world.

One of the key ways Google and other Search Engines gauge this interaction is through your link profile that should be built by reputable people and organizations who like your brand. This helps the Search Engines see that others are responding to your brand in a positive way and that you are worth promoting to new people.

Find ways to organically or naturally build and improve website links by being a good business. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Get involved in your community and earn links as a sponsor for local organizations
  • Join your local Chamber of Commerce
  • Impress your customers and have them write reviews on your Google Places page
  • Do research or write case studies that others will naturally want to promote
  • Host a community event and send out online press releases

Creating an online or virtual buzz about your company may seem difficult at first. Instead of being put off, get creative and find ways to reinforce your offline buzz in the online world so you can continue to grow your website support system.

Best Practices for Improving Your Website

Focusing on these areas for the pure sake of SEO can be discouraging and time consuming, even for the best and most experienced search engine optimization consultants.

But when you focus on these areas and remain committed to your goals for the sake of growing improving your online business you can take on a whole new positive perspective that encourages success.

How else have you taken SEO best practices and used them to improve your overall online business strategy?

Our search engine optimization consultants are experienced at helping businesses across North America implement these techniques to improve website quality and performance, which in turn, helps improve their business. To speak with one of our consultants today, please:

Call Toll Free: 1-888-262-6687

Email: SEO Consultants

Complete our Form:       SEO Request for Services

In the past few years we have noticed a more concerted effort focused on how to avoid duplicate content issues, fueling the need for unique content that is both high-quality and original.

Does your website have 100% original content that is relevant and useful for your visitors?

Is any of your website content duplicate content? If so, do you know how to find duplicate content, fix the problem and avoid duplicate content issues in the future?

Google is becoming ever more stringent towards indexing and ranking sites with duplicate content on the same domain or across domains; it doesn’t matter, chances are Google is already penalizing your rankings if you have duplicate content on your website.

Why Is Duplicate Content Bad and Exactly What Is It?

Google defines duplicate content as:

“Any sizable amount of essential website content
that matches exactly or is noticeably similar to content found
within the same domain or on web pages from other sites”
.

Google does recognize that a lot of times, in some websites, duplicate content may have resulted from unintentional and “non-malicious” efforts.

Duplicate content is not plagiarism, for instance, when you make an honest attempt to make your website more user friendly by adding “printer friendly” versions of your web pages or having items in your online store with the same product description because they are available in different sizes or colors.

In this instance, Google does not penalize for duplicate content but simply filters and indexes only one of these pages to show in their search results.

However, Google algorithms are also smart enough to recognize that some website owners tend to make slight changes to their content and repost it on a different web page in order to manipulate SE rankings and get more traffic.

Google warns that you risk a duplicate content penalty if they feel you are manipulating the content in a malicious way. They will not only penalize and adjust the rankings for the page with duplicate content but also your website’s entire rankings.

Refer to Google’s Duplicate Content Webmaster Tools page to read their full stance and get tips for how to avoid duplicate content issues in the future.

Here are some of the more common duplicate content problems we have come across when working on our clients’ websites.

Duplicate Content on Multilingual Websites

It is common for websites marketing to multiple customer groups to have a multilingual website with content in more than just one language. For example, as a US based business you may have content in both English and Spanish or as a global company you may have content in English, German, Japanese and Portuguese.

Google Webmaster Tools provides several insights to optimizing your multilingual website and how to avoid duplicate content:

  • Make the page language very obvious – stick with one language on each page and avoid side-by-side translation designs.
  • Block automatic translation pages from being crawled – use robots.txt to keep automated translations from being indexed by the Search Engines. Automatic translators are not perfect, and while useful for your users, the text often reads like spam for the Search Engines.
  • Make each language easy to find – keep each translation of content on separate URLs and cross-link the language versions of each page so they are within a single click for your visitors.
  • Design URLs to describe the page content – despite the Search Engines relying on the content of the page to determine the language you should still provide clues in the URL for your users.

Duplicate Content on Multi-Regional Websites or Regional Pages

National and Global companies may want to target the content on their website based on the location of their customers. For example the content displayed for Canadian visitors may be different than the content displayed for German visitors.

Google prefers to know which country or region you are targeting because this knowledge helps to improve its search results for users in different parts of the world.

Duplicate content can be further complicated by a website being both multilingual and multi-regional. Google highly suggests that websites like this carefully test the original site and its infrastructure to make sure it can handle these tasks.

For more support in optimizing your website for multiple regions visit Google Webmaster Tool’s Multi-Regional and Multilingual Sites help page.

Preferred URL for Multi Domain Ownership

Canonicalization is the technical term for specifying to the Search Engines the preferred URL when your site has more than one page with mostly identical content.

Some deceptive website owners will do this on purpose to manipulate the Search Engines but it can also occur accidentally, such as having a printer friendly version of your pages.

Most of the time Google will simply choose which page to index but if it feels that the duplicate content is malicious they will “make appropriate adjustments in the indexing and ranking” of your website.

Google Webmaster Tools provides several tips to Avoid Duplicate Content issues on your own site:

  • Use 301 Redirects which are similar to registering a change of address at your post office. This will permanently redirect visitors to your preferred URL.
  • Keep a consistent approach to URL naming
  • Use Webmaster Tools to specify your preferred URL
  • If other websites display your content, have them include a link back to your site to indicate you are the owner of the original content. Better yet, ask other site owners to use the “no index meta tag” so their version is not competing with yours.

How to Avoid Duplicate Content with Manufacturer Product Descriptions

One tempting way to quickly create product descriptions on an e-commerce site is to pull the content straight from the manufacturers’ descriptions. If you do this chances are most of your competitors are taking the same content and placing it on their site as well.

Now you not only have to deal with duplicate content between your own website pages but also between your website and your competitors’ websites.

Google will only ever credit one source for the unique content (whichever site they deem to be the original author). This means that even though the duplicate content you provide may be useful for visitors who are already on your site, it has little other value, especially to the search engines.

Though tedious, writing your own product descriptions is much more effective and beneficial. If you have 1000’s of products, pick your most profitable lines and start there. If your product descriptions come from a database there are methods to help the database auto generate unique descriptions.

For tips on a new strategy for developing unique product pages check out our Writing Powerful Product Descriptions That Sell article.

For additional advice on how to avoid duplicate content issues specific to your website, please contact one of our Search Engine Optimization consultants:

Call Toll Free: 1-888-262-6687

Email: SEO Consultants

Complete our Form: SEO Request for Proposal