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Universal Search – Strategize Your Way to the Top

While we all work to beat the competitors for targeted search terms, hoping to land that top ten ranking; Google’s Universal search provides additional opportunities to increase your website’s exposure by mixing in universal search results.

Most companies are not taking full advantage of universal search and are really missing the opportunity to increase their exposure and interact with their visitors in a new exciting way. We’ll show you how you can utilize Universal Search to push your website to the top of the search results and drive more traffic to your website with this exciting addition to Google Search.

Introduction to Google’s Universal Search

While Google offers up the paid search results via Google Adwords and organic search results within the center of their search results page; they are now mixing in other types of results in attempt to give visitors a taste of everything that is related to their search. This includes:

• Products (Google Product Search)
• News (Google News)
• Images (Google Image Search)
• Blogs (Google Blogs)
• Geo-targeted Business Listings (Google Maps)
• Video (Google Video)

Benefits of Universal Search

For visitors, the benefits of universal search are that they can see various types of results without having to leave the organic search results page. Another benefit is that it breaks up the page adding images, video still shots and information in a way that is appealing.

For site owners, there are quite a few benefits. First, there are now multiple ways to have your products and services listed on the 1st or 2nd page of Google.

Second, if visitors did not select your organic listing, they may select your image, blog or business listing; offering more opportunities to obtain targeted visitors to your website.

And finally, some Universal Search results are bumped ahead of the organic listings. If your website is listed in the #12 spot on page two and you just can’t get your site to the 1st page, you may be able to have your images, videos or products listed above the organic results for specific search terms.

Users Intent

If you searched for the word “Apple” using Google in 1999, you were presented with various types of informational websites; discussing the various types of apples, how to use them in recipes and other great apple related information. But over time, people who typed in “Apple” would complete their search and then run another search for “Apple computers”. As this trend continued to happen, Google’s Algorithm learned that a trend was emerging. Most visitors who typed in the word Apple were looking for computers, not fruit.

Now when you type in “Apple” into Google, you are presented with the Macintosh Apple website, websites that review Apple computers and e-commerce stores where you can purchase an Apple computer. Google’s focus is to not only provide searchers with relevant search queries based on their search term, but to emulate the thought process that is derived from the search term itself.

Universal Search Example

When a searcher enters a query, Google’s artificial intelligence attempts to understand what the visitor may want to see before returning the search results. They have come to learn that when a visitor types in a brand name or a product, that searchers may want to:

  • See Photos of the Product
  • Read Product Reviews
  • Purchase The Product
  • Research The Product

In an attempt to give the visitor what they want they try to return the types of results related to the users intent.

To use Universal Search to your advantage, you must understand the user’s intent when they type in the search terms related to your website. The best way to see which universal search products are being used for your search terms is to search them within Google. Once you enter the search query, above the search results in the top left area of the screen you will see a listing for the products pulled into the results.

For example, if I enter the search query “red scarf” I see the following Google Products listed at the top left area of the screen:

  • Web
  • Shopping
  • Images

Essentially this means that Google attempted to pull in (web) organic search results, Google Product Search and Google Images.

The Strategy

Creating a strategy to increase your rankings through Universal Search can allow you to locate opportunities that your competitors missed; giving you more exposure and targeted traffic.

In the example of the “red scarf”, you will notice that although Google attempted to pull in images, there aren’t any images displayed within the results. This essentially means that you could possibly receive a listing on the 1st page of Google via Google Images if you optimize your images and submit an Image Map through Google Webmaster Central. Additionally, you can upload your red scarves to Google Base to get them listed within the Google Shopping results.

Now if you visit the second page of results, you’ll see that they are now showing different universal search results.

• Web
• Video
• Images

Towards the top of the results you will see 1 video; however in most searches where videos are in the results, you will usually see two. This indicates that you could potentially have a video listed towards the top of the second page. As you continue to view the remaining results on page two you will again notice that you don’t see any photos on page two; another opportunity to gain exposure over your competitors.

Once you have completed this type of research and analysis for the keywords important to your website, begin creating and optimizing your shopping feeds, videos, images, blog posts and other universal search products to gain the competitive advantage before your competitors do.

Optimizing Images

You can increase the chances of your images showing up for relevant search queries by optimizing your images. There are a few key areas that will help improve your ability to increase rankings for your images in Google Image Search, as well as where images are shown in Google Search.

Although these tips are for Google Images, these examples can be used throughout various areas of your website; to improve all of your universal search results.

File Names – Give your images accurate names rather than defaulting to what your camera or image editor provides. If the image is of a cashmere red scarf, then consider naming our image cashmere-red-scarf.jpg. This help to further classify the image and show relevancy to the search terms you are targeting.

Image Alt Attribute – Ensure that you have provided a quality description for your images using the image alt attribute. Try using product colors, sizes, materials, brand names, textures, manufacturer names etc. Remember not to overdo it, but provide an accurate description of the product to assist with increasing relevancy for desired search terms.

Captions – Include a caption for your image that describes or relates to the product. The text that surrounds the image helps Google to understand the subject matter of the image.

Anchor Text – The text you use when linking to the image helps to describe and classify the image. Try using descriptive anchor text rather than words such as “click here”, “larger image” or “more photos” when describing the link.

Google Image Labeler – While you can do your part in helping to optimize your images, you can also increase your chances of having your images appear in Google Image Search by allowing others to help classify your images through Google’s Image Labeler. By simply enabling the Google Image Labeler from the Google Webmaster Console, you allow Image Labeler users to provide words and phrases they believe accurately describe your images in a fun online game. As users are shown images from your website, they type in a few words they feel accurately describe the photo, which is later used to further classify the subject matter of your image.

Summary

Google has provided many new opportunities for you to reach searchers in the ways they want to be reached. Search engine optimization has been taken to another level; it’s no longer about who has the most number of pages, the best density; or who has the most inbound links. It is about who is utilizing the all their available opportunities.

Almost every aspect of your website is being analyzed and classified; use it to your advantage. Now is the time to take advantage of these opportunities and increase your visibility in every area of universal search; allowing you to increase your traffic and exposure in new and exciting ways.

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Using Effective Optimized Press Releases To Boost E-Commerce Sales and Visibility

As an e-commerce website owner, you’ll find that optimized press releases are an effective way to impact your e-commerce sales and Internet visibility.

Optimized online press releases can be very useful as part of a successful Internet marketing strategy. In fact, a well-presented optimized press release with good online distribution can typically be read by over 40,000 people in one week. Read more

Tips for Writing Good Web Page Text Content

If you depend on your website for business and most of your efforts are towards attracting a lot of quality traffic to your website, at some point (if you haven’t already done so) you will need to look at Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Adding additional content pages to support your targeted keyword phrases is an integral part of any good SEO strategy so in this article we are going to cover some general guidelines for writing good web page text content.

Yes, the Website Owner Should Provide the Content

Copywriters and website content optimizers know how to optimize text content so that the text will work well with the search engines while meeting the needs of the website visitor.

It is erroneous however, for website owners to think that copywriters would know and understand the client’s business as well as the client.

Yet, many of my clients start by asking if I will write the text content for them. This is workable, but not recommended and usually does cost extra.

When the client provides the text content to be optimized the content pages are generally better, there are fewer edits and revisions required and the approval process is much quicker.

Do “NOT” Cut & Paste

The first rule of thumb when creating new content pages for your website is that the text content on each page must be “unique”.

“Copy and paste” is perhaps the worst sin and must be avoided at all times, even within the same website. Even if you have several pages that cover the same or similar topic, the content on each page should be unique unto itself.

The search engines have very intelligent ‘duplicate content’ filters. Once the search engines find duplicate content they simply give credit to the page with the ‘oldest’ history and then ignore (or worse, refuse to index) the rest.

Many websites, especially e-commerce websites, have product descriptions provided to them by the manufacturer which means of course that their competitors have also been provided with those same product descriptions.

The solution is to re-word and revise all third party content provided to you by the manufacturer. You will need to make the copy as unique as possible.

Extra Web Page Content Writing Tips

Not everyone is a writer, but by the same token, not everyone knows your business like you do. As the writer, however, you will find it much easier if you follow this brief overview of how to structure your web page text content.

  1. Your Web Page Text Should Have a Logical Flow

    Each page has a story to tell and all good stories have a beginning, a middle and an end… in essence, every line should be there for a purpose…leading to the next line or thought.

  2. Make Your Pages “Customer” Centric

    Write your content so that it speaks to your customer directly (ie: “you”) and if possible use the following “self-centric” references only minimally – “I”, “we”, “our” or “us”, etc.

  3. Discuss One Central Topic per Page

    The page text that you write should be focused around your main topic, which is usually dictated by the targeted keyword (as chosen by the keyword research provided by your SEO company). If there are secondary ‘related’ phrases, then these should be used mainly to support the ‘primary’ keyword phrase.

  4. Opening Paragraph – State Your Central Theme First

    The opening paragraph of each page should clearly set up the topic of the page and give a little background on exactly what the topic will cover

  5. Middle Text – Highlight the Benefits to the Buyer/Visitor

    It is better to highlight the benefits of your products to the buyer/visitor than to list the product features. People buy products for the benefits that those products bring them; if you can find unique benefits (something that is above and beyond what competitor’s products offer) than this is the place to disclose them.

  6. Review & Summarize

    This is a great place to introduce your company bio or history as a means of backing up and supporting the summary of your products and benefits. Be sure not to cut and paste your bio…paraphrase and reword your bio to ensure that it is unique on each page.

  7. Closing Action Statement

    End with an closing “action” statement (with contact links, phone number, link to a form, etc.) however, while the closing statement may be similar the content should still be unique to each page and revised to reflect the page content and targeted keyword phrase(s).

By following a few writing fundamentals, the task of writing good web page text content really isn’t that difficult. After writing a few pages most of my clients can usually pump out additional pages rather quickly and the up side is that these are skills they can use for the life of their website. Happy writing!

1st on the List Promotion specializes in Professional SEO Copywriting. Need some new content on your website and you don’t have the time or resources to do it yourself? Give us a call at 1-888-262-6687 to explore your options with us.

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PPC Versus SEO – Where Do You Get the Best Value

Pay-per-click (PPC) online marketing is much like conventional marketing where you pay for exposure; once you set a budget you can expect to have your ads shown and clicked on a “predictable” number of times.

PPC marketing is very conventional and very predicable except for the fact that you still cannot predict your cost per acquisition (CPA).

If you spend a determined number of dollars per month with PPC and you make money, that’s great and it may be worth it to consider spending more money to produce even more profit…that is, until you hit the limit of what that market can deliver of course.

Should You Spend Your Marketing Budget on PPC or SEO?

You have the choice of spending your advertising dollars on PPC (sponsored links) or SEO (organic optimization) but how can you know which one offers the best value for the money.

This is a crucial decision and something you need to decide early so let’s look at where people (online searchers) click to help us answer this question.

Organic Listings Get Searched on More Often

When you do a search, where do “you” click more often?

Do you click in the middle of the page from the organic results? Or do you click on the paid listing results (the sponsored links found most often at the very top or in the right column of the search results)?

Statistics show that most people click on listings in the middle of the page…from the organic search results. The general feeling is that organic results provide content that is far more relevant than the sponsored listings.

Although the statistics can vary, depending on the market and the products being sold, we have witnessed as much as 3-5 times as many clicks in the organic listing results as compared to the PPC listing results, in several markets.

Although the sponsored listings in the paid search section do get clicked on (and can sometimes deliver a slightly higher conversion rate) the traffic volumes for sponsored listings are significantly less than those for organic listings.

In addition, if your advertising budget cannot sustain the top spots in the sponsored listing results, as soon as you stop paying, your listings disappear completely.

Public Perception of PPC

Anyone with money can buy PPC ads (sponsored listings) so unfortunately for PPC, public perception is that these listings have not been rightfully ‘earned’ like the top listings on the organic search engine listing results, therefore most online searchers tend to favor organic listings.

With the added exposure that top search engine listings can bring, where do you want your pages to be listed?

We feel that top listings in the organic search results are paramount for any company doing business online…even companies that already have a strong PPC marketing campaign.

Getting listed at the top of the organic results will give your pages maximum Internet exposure. Having listings in both the organic and paid ‘sponsored’ listings can provide an even stronger marketing campaign, since your pages will have two chances at hitting your target audience and convincing them you have what they want and need.

Getting Ranked in the organic Results

Getting listed well in the organic search results under competitive terms is not an easy task.

The highest ranked websites have good content that describes concisely what they offer. They have plenty of good quality inbound links and the architecture of the website is ‘search engine friendly’, making it easy for search engines to crawl and index the content and follow the links.

Search engines endeavor to list the most relevant and most authoritative web pages for that particular topic.
We like to think of this as search engine reputation building and as we know reputations are not easy to build and take a long time to establish.

Getting Top Rankings is a Progressive Process

A new website will need to crawl before it can walk and walk before it can run.

Getting top rankings in organic search results is a progressive process where it’s important to determine where you currently stand and where you want to go, and then take the necessary steps to get there.

If your website is not properly developed to be search engine friendly, your pages won’t rank for competitive keyword phrases, however an experienced SEO can help you create a solid base and build up to that top ranking level by improving your website in stages.

If you have a more developed, established and search engine friendly website you could consider setting your sights higher to further improve your rankings on your more competitive keyword terms.

PPC & SEO Costs

In general, Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising tends to be an ever increasing cost issue, simply because advertisers with top PPC rankings do not want to give up their exposure in the PPC search results, even against mounting competition.

In effect, PPC costs tend to keep increasing over time, as more and more advertisers move into that market.
Existing PPC advertisers tend to view search engine optimization (SEO) with some level of uncertainty, especially if they are new to SEO, yet the cost of SEO is generally a lot less than PPC marketing.

Comparing the two side by side, what you might expect to pay for PPC for a popular keyword term is far greater than targeting that term using SEO to achieve top organic listings.

PPC results can be instant if you are willing to pay the price, however your listing disappear completely if you pull your PPC marketing budget.

Top search engine listings through SEO may take some time to build but the results can be long lasting and over time, can significantly out-perform PPC marketing.

While it is not unusual for some companies to spend $5000 to $10,000 (per month!) on their PPC marketing campaigns, some of these same companies can be very reluctant to spend $1500-2000 a month on SEO…
even though statistics show that the long term benefits are far greater and costs a lot less with SEO.

The perception of some companies who invest heavily in PPC marketing is that SEO won’t be able to provide the same ROI as PPC marketing, but this is simply not true.

There are many companies that have established a strong presence in the organic search results and can easily argue that organic listings produce a significant volume of sales for considerably less than what they would spend on PPC marketing.

On-page Optimization Example

Everyone wants to know how to optimize their web pages.

This is a continuation of the post on Organizing Website Content Navigation

If you look at this page designated for sneakers, you’ll see that it is actually naturally optimized.

Below we’ve highlighted the areas that the search engine would find relevent:

In a nutshell, a properly organized web page shouldn’t need much on page optimization; additional tweaks could be made I am sure but this is the start to something great!

Do make sure that your “key” words (keyword phrases) make it into your titles, descriptions, meta keywords and alt tags of your page:

Keep in mind that one page cannot be the answer to ranking for all or any of these terms; but notice that we’re building a relationship of phrases that support a theme; in this case, we have built a connection from the home page and then supported this concept on one page that ties this concept together.

If I want to tie in additional pages, I can easily write content about running shoes, walking shoes etc.

As you can see, I’ve added a link that says types of gym shoes; this will allow me to create more supportive content around this topic.

This information is also available to my visitors; allowing them to understand the types of sneakers and which one would be best for them.  This allows them to go back and make a better purchasing decision.  In the eyes of the search engines I am also seen as more relevant for providing additional information which will eventually help me with my rankings related to sneakers and gym shoes.

If you glance back at the home page, you will also begin to see that it too starts to look like it has been optimized naturally.

Take a look at the highlighted words.

What if you looked at the same two pages to see If they help to support Mens shoes and related phrases;

Do you see the natural optimization?


What about the sneaker page?

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

This three word phrase is probably the most misunderstood phrase known to online website owners.

Common SEO Misconceptions

Some will say search engine optimization is all about how many times the targeted “keyword phrase” appears on your page.

Others will say search engine optimization is about using the keyword phrase in as many different ways as you can; variations, stemming and related phrases plus using them in your body text, your headings, sub-headings, your meta tags, alt tags, etc.

Then you hear others say that search engine optimization is all about the number of good quality incoming links that point to your site.

The fact is, search engine optimization can be all of these things and more, and while these points may play a part in varying degrees, it is difficult to sum up search engine optimization in a one-lined sentence.

Good SEO Follows Search Engine Guidelines

It is possible for your website to be naturally optimized if it is built right the first time.

More than a few website owners have been taken in by in-ept or “black hat” search engine optimization companies who make false promises about how they will optimize a website but then completely ignore or miss many of the necessary core elements of good search engine optimization.

Did you know that you can find out how to properly optimize your website simply by visiting the the major search engine’s guidelines and following search engine recommendations that are given freely on their site?

It may be one thing if, as a website owner, you don’t have time to ensure your site conforms properly to search engine guidelines as posted on the search engine websites; but it’s another thing completely to believe that search engine optimization is a heavily guarded secret only known by search engine optimizers.

Legitimate “White Hat” Search Engine Optimization Companies

The main core ingredients of your website that are pertinent to search engine optimization and that must be easily accessible to search engine robots are your website’s text content, plus your website’s layout, navigation and structure. The rest is really just icing on the cake.

Unfortunately many websites have an abundance of icing and no cake or worse, a website may have hundreds or even thousands of pages of good content that desperately needs to be organized in a way that is user friendly and search engine friendly.

Legitimate “white hat” search engine optimization companies have access to a host of professional SEO tools that the average website owner simply does not. This allows good SEO companies to analyze and compare your website to your competitor’s websites.

Through proper website and server analysis, a good search engine optimization company is able to pinpoint and correct any back-end issues of your website plus they can discover keyword phrases that you may have missed, or to look at keyword densities, keyword frequencies, etc., in order to put together an SEO strategy that will not only improve your website, but also improve your user experience.

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