Category Archives: SEO

What Is Internal Deep Linking and How To Use It

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The strategies involved in search engine optimization can be broadly categorized into two main types. You have your external SEO tactics, which would include everything that happens outside of your website. It might involve submitting white papers to article directories in search of high value backlinks, for example. Then, you have your internal SEO tactics, would would include everything that happens within your website. This might include ensuring that you have a clean and easily accessible sitemap for the search engine spiders, or making sure that you have the proper metadata in place for each of your posts.

And while there will always be a great deal of value placed in acquiring terrific backlinks on high authority sites pointed back to your website, particularly when surrounded by relevant keywords and content, this does not mean that you should discount the links on your own website too. In particular, you should pay closer attention to your internal deep-linking scheme…

9 Steps To Prepare Your Website For A Winning SEO Campaign

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10 Steps To Prepare Your Website For A Winning SEO Campaign

I’m often shocked by the websites of some people who approach me to do SEO work.

I am forced to question whether they are really ready for SEO, when it’s obvious that their website requires so much more important preliminary work.

Let me tell you what some SEO agencies might do:

Ask you how many keywords you want to rank
Ask you a bit about your business and your competitors
Do some quick SEO audit checks on your site
Propose some technical back-end stuff that they claim is for “on-page” optimisation
Start building links

But what if…

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Why Your SEO Campaign Will Fail

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I would like to thank you for joining me on another one of my cool series. Over the last several months we’ve been looking at several factors that contribute to a successful SEO campaign. We explored factors like link building, authority blogging, high quality content, etc. However, with every plus side there’s always a negative so I want to explore some different elements this time around. For example, I feel in order for you to perform an optimal SEO campaign you have to know the elements to focus on and those to disregard. If your an experienced blogger or one getting started then this information will be very helpful to you.

This will be a “7” part series where I’ll be going over the fundamental factors why some SEO campaigns are a success and others simply fail before they get started.

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How to Combine SEO with Content Marketing to Maximize Traffic

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This post is a little different from my usual posts…

Typically, I write about one specific topic, e.g., SEO, content marketing, or social media marketing.

But often, when I read comments and emails from my readers, I see a big problem with their mentality.

It boils down to a question such as:

Should I focus more on SEO or content marketing?

And I get where that’s coming from, but it’s the wrong question.

You’ve seen the stats:

77% of marketers will increase their content production in 2015
91% of B2B marketers use content marketing
46% of marketers will increase their spending on SEO and SEM in 2015
54% of marketers think that use of SEO will continue to grow in 2015

And these numbers can, of course, lead to some confusion.

If both SEO and content marketing are useful for a business, then which one is better for you?

The answer is both.

Although content marketing and SEO share some similarities, they are two different things that can be used at the same time to benefit a business.

Download this cheat sheet to learn how to combine SEO with content marketing to maximize traffic.

And while most of my posts talk about one or the other, this one is going to focus on how you should connect your use of content marketing and SEO in your business. 

Where SEO and content marketing overlap

The reason why so many people have trouble connecting SEO and content marketing is because they don’t have a clear picture of what each represents.

We can fix that with a few quick definitions:

SEO: Anything that is done to increase your organic search engine traffic.

Content marketing: Creating and spreading content to attract traffic.

Although you can get more precise with the descriptions, those simple definitions are all you need to understand both concepts.

They have a lot in common: Although they are separate types of traffic strategies, both content marketing and SEO often overlap…

…starting with content.

For SEO, content is a must. And for content marketing, well…it’s in the name.

In the past, they required different types of content.

You could get away with thin, 500-word articles around your target keyword for SEO.

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I’m not saying that you can’t rank 500-word articles, but it’s much harder to rank the same junk that you could rank before.

In the past few years, the content needed for SEO started to resemble the content needed for content marketing.

Quality and value are the top priorities for this content.

How do they fit together at a high level? Imagine being able to create one awesome piece of content and then use it to attract traffic from all of the biggest sources.

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When you use your content effectively (and optimize it for different channels), you can easily double or triple your resulting traffic.

Instead of just trying to get search engine traffic for an article, you can also use content marketing tactics and promote it on social media.

But there are differences: It’s naive to think that content marketing is exactly the same as SEO even though some over-optimistic marketers seem to think that way.

SEO certainly fits well into most on-page and off-page aspects of content marketing. However, technical SEO is pretty far removed from content marketing.

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Some parts of technical SEO will affect your search engine rankings (such as optimizing your crawl rate) but won’t have any affect on your content marketing results.

So, although they share a lot of similarities, know that there’s more to SEO than just the basic on-page keyword targeting.

They can also benefit each other in big ways: One thing that most don’t realize at first is how much SEO and content marketing complement each other.

Here’s a list of basic SEO tasks you might do:

optimize page load speed
make content responsive
fix dead links and bad redirects
ensure that your content has a clear hierarchy (i.e., heading tags)

All of those things can help your content marketing efforts.

A faster page load speed is good for the user experience no matter where they’re coming from. Same goes for responsive content.

By fixing dead links or bad redirects, you improve the reader’s experience as well as keep them on your site reading your other content (a very good thing).

Finally, a clear content hierarchy improves the readability of your content.

Content marketing is all about the user experience, and SEO has been heading in that direction for the past while, which is why they complement each other now.

1. Which one goes first?

Although both SEO and content marketing are compatible with each other, they are different in a few key ways.

For example, if you created a great guide, you’d still want to include certain keywords in the most important places.

So, do you find the keywords first and then build the content around them?

Or do you create the content first and then find appropriate keywords to use within it?

The answer is that either way can work, but they both have their own strengths.

The case for content marketing first: With this process, you’d focus on coming up with ideas for content that your target audience is interested in.

Once you create the content, you do some keyword research around that specific topic to find some keywords you think you could rank for. You add them mainly to your headings.

Finally, you find a way to get that content in front of as many people as you could.

There are two big benefits of this option.

First, if gives you a lot of flexibility.

If you choose the keyword first, you create the content around that specific keyword, so you don’t have much choice later on.

Here, if you’re having a tough time ranking for your keyword(s), you can just choose a longer tail keyword that will be easier to rank for.

Second, search volume doesn’t equal value to a reader.

This is actually really important.

That’s because depending on which approach you take, you generate content ideas in different ways:

content marketing first – you learn about your target audience and figure out what their problems are. You create content to solve those problems.
SEO first – you do keyword research and go after the highest volume keywords.

When you do typical SEO research, you find keywords searched for by the highest number of people. That means that it’s a common query.

However, that doesn’t always translate into value.

For example, a new business owner is likely to Google something like:

What is SEO?

Not surprisingly, that phrase is searched for a decent amount, about 10,000 times a month.

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But all they’re really looking for is a simple definition in most cases.

No matter how good your content is, it’s not going to have a huge impact on their lives (they won’t value it highly).

But after they learn a bit about what SEO is, they have a bigger problem: “How do I actually do SEO?”

So, they search for:

SEO plan for a small business

or something along those lines. They find a really detailed guide that shapes their SEO work for years to come. This is an example of something that is truly valuable to a reader.

But guess what? That search phrase (and other similar ones) gets a negligible amount of search volume.

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If you only create content based on highly popular terms, you’ll often miss creating content that solves your target audience’s biggest problems.

This is a big deal for two reasons:

You have a limited usefulness – When someone comes to Quick Sprout, I want them to find everything they need about marketing. If they can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll go to another site. I want to be the expert they come to for content, and later for business.
High value converts higher – If your content solves a big problem for your readers, they’re going to remember it. That’s how you get loyal subscribers, who later turn into customers. Getting hundreds of thousands of visitors is nice, but it’s not if none of them turn into customers because they’re coming for low value content.

That being said, low volume searches aren’t necessarily high value problems, and high volume searches aren’t necessarily low value problems. You have to take it on a case-by-case basis.

The main takeaway from this is that if you rely on a keyword tool—like most SEO-first marketers do—you’ll miss some big problems and interests of your target audience.

Missing those will significantly lower the potential results of your marketing efforts (i.e., sales).

The case for SEO first: After reading the first case, you might be all set on focusing on content marketing first, but there are a few advantages of going with the keyword-first method.

First, it can improve your content.

When you create your content first, you do everything you can to make it as good as possible for the reader.

If you have to add a keyword for SEO purposes, you’re detracting from the optimal phrasing that you originally had. It won’t necessarily be awkward, but your new version of a title might not be as intriguing as the original was.

But if you know your keyword from the start, you’ll always keep it in mind, which will likely change the overall message you create (compared to content first).

The second main benefit is that you do find out what the common problems might be, but they might not be as valuable to solve.

If you only get topic ideas from observing or talking with your target audience, you’ll typically hear from them when they’re having a big problem (a high value situation).

You won’t hear them express small problems very often because they’ll simply try to find an easy solution by searching for it.

By creating content around keywords, you ensure that you find all of the medium to high volume keywords, regardless of the value they hold for your target audience. Ranking for these terms is still a good thing even if those visitors don’t directly convert as highly.

If you’re smart, you can direct those initial visitors to other more valuable content that you’ve created after you’ve solved their first problem.

How about a hybrid? To me, it’s clear that both approaches have their own strengths and weaknesses.

The obvious solution is an effective one: use both methods.

You should spend time researching good keywords to create content around.

You should also spend time researching your target audience to find out what their biggest problems are. Then, create content to solve those problems and add keywords after.

2. Focus on evergreen content for the best of both worlds

Although SEO and content marketing both aim to raise your website traffic, they typically do so in different time frames.

When you create a new great post, you typically promote it hard right away. This includes emailing your list and doing a lot of email outreach to other site owners in your niche.

This results in a few quick bursts of traffic to that post, and then it’ll die down.

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On the other hand, you’ll likely get no (or very little) search engine traffic right away unless your domain is very authoritative.

Over time, as you promote it and it accumulates backlinks, you’ll notice that the search engine traffic continues to increase.

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However, that only happens for certain posts.

On others, that are news-related, you’re more likely to get some search traffic right away, but it’ll quickly drop down to near zero as your content becomes irrelevant.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of spending the time and resources to create a great piece of content only to have it attract traffic for a short period of time.

I want it to continue to be seen for years after I create it. That’s how you get an overall traffic graph that keeps growing. Your content essentially builds on itself.

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To make sure this happens, you should focus most of your effort on evergreen content.

There are some exceptions, but for the most part, it’s your best option.

Maximizing traffic with evergreen content: Evergreen content refers to any content that will be just as useful in the foreseeable future as it is today.

Compare that to a story about Google’s latest algorithm change, which will be interesting for a few months at the most and then become useless.

Think about all of those link building guides from five years ago. Almost all of them are irrelevant in today’s SEO world.

The idea behind evergreen content is that you can get the short-term traffic boost from content marketing as well as the steady, long-term traffic from search engines.

In fact, the work you do to get traffic initially will speed up the time it takes to get search engine traffic.

Identifying evergreen topics: In most cases, you can spot evergreen topics with a bit of common sense.

Think about what you plan to write about:

Will it still be useful a month from now? A year from now? Five years from now?

Hopefully, the answers to all those questions are yes or, at the very least, maybe.

You can also search for a keyword and see how old the results are. If you see multiple posts that are years old, it’s likely an evergreen topic.

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Some topics are more evergreen than others: I just said that an acceptable answer to those questions is maybe.

That’s because in some niches, you’ll never be able to find enough topics to write a definitive guide on that will stay relevant forever.

Many topics evolve over time. So, just because you can’t guarantee that a post will be useful in a couple of years from now doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth writing.

A great example of this is Brian Dean’s complete list of ranking factors. As long as SEO continues to change, ranking signals will also change.

But instead of creating a one-time post and then letting it fall into obscurity, Brian continuously updates all his guides:

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Most of his content is evergreen because he doesn’t need to change it radically. Instead, he continues to make small updates on a regular basis to ensure that it stays relevant over time.

3. Pick metrics that represent both sides of the coin

Some marketers don’t know if their content marketing or SEO efforts are actually working.

If you want to be successful, you can’t just say, “I think this is going well.”

Instead, you need to pick metrics to track. These metrics should reflect the results of your work and tell you what’s worth doing.

If you don’t see that they are improving over time, you need to rethink your strategy.

When it comes to both content marketing and SEO, you can choose metrics that correspond to each part separately and both of them together.

Although you can choose whichever metrics make the most sense for your business, let’s go over a few of the most common.

Metric #1 – Traffic (SEO and content marketing): One of your main goals for both SEO and content marketing work is to increase the amount of traffic you’re getting to your website.

Quality of that traffic is also important, but in most cases, getting more traffic usually leads to more profit.

It’s important to look at your traffic over a fairly long time. Everyone is going to have spikes and dips depending on the day of the week and month.

Record your traffic data in a spreadsheet for each month. Then, compare it not only to the previous months but also to the same month in previous years.

You’ll want to start by recording your overall traffic numbers, which you can get from your Audience Overview in Google Analytics:

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But that doesn’t tell you very much about the results of your individual work.

That’s why you should also record both your organic search traffic as well as your referral traffic.

To find these numbers, just go to your acquisitions tab in Google Analytics, and select “by source”.

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Of course, some of your SEO work (like building links) may result in direct or referral traffic, but these are the best metrics you have. They don’t have to be perfect, just indicative of your success.

Metric #2 – Keyword rankings (SEO): In addition to being important for tracking your overall search engine traffic, keyword rankings are the most important thing to track from an SEO perspective.

If you’re doing good work, you will see rankings rise over time.

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It doesn’t really matter which tool you use—just find one that lets you look at your rankings over a long time frame.

Metric #3 – Subscribers (mainly content marketing): In order to judge the quality of your traffic, you want to see how many of your visitors turn into subscribers or customers.

But your subscriber rate is also indicative of how valuable and persuasive your content and call to action are, which makes this a good overall metric for content marketing.

To track this, you can set up goal tracking in Google Analytics:

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Or you can just look directly at reports provided by your email marketing service provider:

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Metric #4 – Engagement (mainly content marketing): Subscriber rate isn’t the only way to measure how valuable your visitors find your content.

You can also track other engagement metrics to help complete the picture.

Obviously “engagement” isn’t a metric you can track, but I’m referring to any metric that reflects engagement on your website:

Average time on page
Pages per visit
Visitor recency (how often people return to your site)
Comments

You want to track most of these over time, just like the other metrics. Measure them once or twice a month, and record the data (you should have an average for each time period).

After you collect data for at least three months, you can start to see if your engagement is increasing as expected.

For example, you can look at the number of comments your newest posts are getting:

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And compare that to your older posts:

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Since your topic will influence most engagement metrics, it’s important to look at averages over a period of time to even things out.

4. The best links for SEO are also the best links for content marketing

When you create a great piece of content (for your content marketing), what’s your goal for promoting it?

It should be to get large audiences to see it.

This might be in the form of direct traffic (like if you send it to your email list) or in the form of links on other web pages, which is even better.

Obviously, the best links are the ones that send the most traffic.

As it turns out, exactly the same links are some of the best links for SEO purposes (increasing authority and therefore rankings).

Type #1 – Guest-post links: One use of content marketing is to drive traffic back to your site by posting on other sites, i.e., using a guest post.

In these posts, you usually get one or two links back to your website in an author bio.

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As long as you’re guest-posting on highly authoritative sites (the ones with a lot of traffic), these links will not only send direct traffic but also improve keyword rankings.

In addition, sometimes you can add extra links to other content you’ve created in the body of the guest post.

Type #2 – Contextual links: When it comes to SEO, nothing beats the value of a contextual link on an authoritative page.

These links are a part of a sentence and are as natural as they can be:

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The better your content marketing is, the more of these links you will get, which will not only send you traffic but also improve search traffic over time.

5. Internal links serve two purposes

Most people include internal links in their content just because bloggers tell them to.

But it’s important to understand how they affect both your content marketing and SEO results.

Also, don’t forget that internal links include any link not only in your content but also in navigation elements on your site. They all affect your results.

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In particular, they have two main benefits.

Benefit #1 – Send link juice to other content to help SEO: If your site doesn’t have much authority yet, it won’t have a big effect, but internal links can still help you rank better.

They help you do this in two ways:

Adding relevance – Google looks at the anchor text of the internal link, as well as surrounding content, to try to understand what your page is about in order to rank it for any queries.
Passing through authority (“link juice”) – Many SEOs focus all their energy on ranking a page by getting external links (from pages on other websites). If you have a strong domain, you can often rank quickly for easy keywords with new content by adding a handful of internal links to that page.

It’s a good idea to schedule a bit of time each time you publish a post to add a few internal links to your new page from older (relevant) posts on the site:

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It only takes a few minutes to do and will help your rankings significantly.

Don’t use the same anchor text for all the internal links to the same post—use a variety of fitting anchor text.

To find those old relevant posts, use this search string:

(topic of new article) site:(your site name)

For example, if I wrote a new article about writing funny email subject lines, I would search for:

Writing funny email lines site:quicksprout.com

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This will show you the posts that Google thinks are the most relevant to your new one.

Benefit #2 – Expose your audience to more of your content: Remember those engagement metrics from before?

Two of them are probably more important than the others:

Pages per visit
Visitor recency (how often people return to your site)

The reason why they are more important and useful than the others is that if you’re creating great content, they should both go up over time.

They are also less subject to large variations like comments (which depend a lot on the topic) and time on page (which depends a lot on the length of content) are.

Often, when reading a particular post, a portion of your readers will want more information. A well-placed link can get a click-through rate of 1-5%.

Considering that you can have several internal links in a single piece of content, you can almost guarantee that most readers who like your content will find more topics to read about on your site.

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The more useful your internal links are, the more time visitors will spend on your site (if they like your content).

Additionally, if they run out of time before they can consume all of your content because they find so much of it through internal links, they will come back to keep reading.

Finally, other than the 5-10 posts on your home page, how many posts do your new readers see?

In most cases, it’s not many.

Which isn’t ideal, especially if you’ve created hundreds of posts. You want them to find as much relevant to their situation content as possible now. In order to do that, they need to find older posts.

The perfect way to show them those older posts is through internal links.

Conclusion

Both SEO and content marketing are highly effective ways to drive traffic, conversions, and profit for the vast majority of online businesses.

But you don’t need to pick one or the other. You can get the full benefits of both at the same time.

In fact, focusing on one will often increase the results of the other.

I’ve gone through five main areas that either affect or are affected by your SEO and content marketing.

If you understand all five concepts, you should be prepared to handle both sides in your future marketing.

Some of those concepts are more difficult to understand than others.

So, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.


5 Ways You’re Still Not Obeying Google’s Rules

Like it or not, Google has declared itself judge, jury and executioner of the internet. There are obviously some glaring political concerns about a single company holding so much power over the world wide web, but, let’s not get too bogged down in the academia of such a debate at the moment, for the fact will still remain that the multi-coloured doodling giant will still hold sway no matter how much we rant and rave.

To be fair, though, the laws rules that Google has laid down could arguably be seen to be a good thing – well, at least that’s what Larry Page and Sergey Brin would like us all to believe anyway. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt for the moment. Google wants users to find the sites that have paid the most for advertising are the most relevant to the search query, and have gained a decent organic rank via means of paying the piper enticing paid for organic traffic, links, etc.

In a perfect world (wide web), this sort of altruistic benevolence would be a great thing. And, since we’re giving Page and Brin the benefit of the doubt, let’s say that it is a good thing. Of course when I type in ‘running trainers’ to Google I want the results page to list me all of the best sites where I can buy some super-duper ones on the first page, and to hell with all the rest. But, the obvious problem with this is, that what Google might consider to be the best sites, I might not agree with.

At the end of the day, Google is a computer, an algorithmic processing machine, which, although very smart, will never ever have the human touch that will allow for certain nuances or other indiscretions that only a conscious being could possibly have. And this means that it operates, in a way that is at once mind-bogglingly complex and simple at the same time. That is to say that although the computer science behind the great search engine is undoubtedly brilliant – all it’s really doing is following a set of predetermined rules in order to give web pages a search ranking.

And this means that all us marketers in the SEO game have to do is make sure that we are abiding by these rules when creating content for the internet in order for Google to reward us greatly with a high SERP ranking.

So, firstly, the question has to be – what are the rules?

 

What Are Google’s Rules?

Well, there are lots and lots, as we all know. Too many to list exhaustively here. So, instead I want to show you the three presumably most important, since they come from Google itself.

Give visitors the information they’re looking for
Make sure that other sites link to yours
Make your site easily accessible

Pretty simple really.

Once upon a time number 2 on that list was number 1 – and it has to be said that garnering links to your site is still very important. But, as they say, these days content is king. And it absolutely is. I’ve been saying it for years, and I believe it right to the very bottom of my shoes. Indeed, what Larry Page is trying to accomplish is becoming overruling master of the whole universe is creating the perfect search engine that gives the perfect results for each and every user.

“The ultimate search engine would basically understand everything in the world, and it would always give you the right thing. And we’re a long, long ways from that.”

Indeed we are – but, any webmaster that builds his/her site in a manner that tries to hinder this idyllic dream will be banished from this earthly online world forever, mwah-hah-hah!! hit with a Google penalty, which, in its most extreme cases, could see your site vanishing from the Google index altogether.

So, are playing by the rules, or not? Here are 5 ways that many marketers are still missing the mark when it comes to Google’s rules.

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5 Ways You’re Still Not Obeying Google’s Rules
1. You’re Not Giving Your Visitors Enough Information

Content is king and Larry Page is Ruler, Emperor and Lord God Himself!. Don’t ever, ever forget this. Your website is the gateway into your business – and your business is what’s keeping the modem flashing. No matter what you’re selling – be it goods or services – you simply cannot have enough information on your site. And that means that along with product descriptions and images and details of your service, you need to be adding value to what you’re offering by giving away information for free. Yes, that means blogging ­– regularly. If you’re not blogging at least twice a week, then you’re breaking Google’s rules. Google wants to see that you’re providing the eternal user base with lots and lots of fresh information – so get blogging. Now.

 

2. The Information You Are Providing Isn’t Good Enough

I say once again, content is king. But not just any old princely content – kingworthy content. And that means that if you’re still playing the old keyword stuffing game then you need to fast forward about 10 years pretty sharpish, for that’s old news. Kingworthy content is the stuff that people can actually take away with them. It’s the how-to blogs, the beginner’s guides, the thought-provoking polemics, and the 5 Ways You’re Still Not Obeying Google’s Rules. Put simply, if all you’re doing is re-plugging your own goods or services with every single tweet, update and blog post, then you’re breaking Google’s rules, and you shall be punished.

 

3. You’re Not Gaining Enough Organic Links

Link building is, and probably always will be, one of the most crucial things that you can do for SEO. The only trouble is that it’s really hard to do well, and do legally. But the secret lies in the first two points in this list – yes, I am going to say it again. Content is king. When you’ve got great content, other sites will link to yours. When you’re conducting great research on behalf of your following, they will point their own fans in your direction to get the lowdown on the key facts and figures shaping your industry. Organic link building is really as simple and as difficult as that. You can go down the guest post route if you like, or try paying for links, or asking your friends for them – but, at the end of the day, unless you’ve got lots and lots of genuine content creators out there linking freely to your site because of all the great content that you’re providing, then once again you are breaking Google’s rules and will find it extremely difficult to crawl up the rankings.

 

4. You’re Not Linking To Other Great Sites

The link-building game is a two-way street. And, arguably, just as important as trying to ensure that you’re building up a healthy profile of inbound links, you need to be focussing equal attention on your outbound efforts as well. Why? Because Google likes to see that you’re directing users to as much great information as possible, regardless of whether you authored it yourself or not. And it’s important that you link to reputable sites as well. Google takes into consideration the PageRank of the page being linked to as well as your own, so, wherever you can, direct users towards the big sites, and, whatever you do, do not link to any spam pages, as you will be seriously breaking Google’s rules if you do this, even unwittingly.

 

5. Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

Yes, this is absolutely imperative. Albeit a decidedly 2015 concern, it doesn’t take a genius to notice that much of the online world has gone mobile. Indeed, there’s a good chance that you’re even reading this on your smartphone or tablet right now. Google has taken heed of this, and, since the 21st April this year, has been penalising sites that are not mobile friendly. At the very least this means that you have to make sure that your site is responsively designed, if not completely re-configured with a mobile-first strategy in mind. Put simply, if your website isn’t easily accessible to mobile users, then you are breaking Google’s rules and will be suffering in SERPs as a result. Thankfully, Google have provided a Mobile Friendly Test page, and I encourage you to head straight over and use it immediately, and take appropriate action accordingly.

How else are marketers still breaking Google’s rules? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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Most Important SEO Techniques That Still Work

SEO will continue to be a valuable tool in the online marketing arsenal of every inbound marketing expert. This is because SEO’s techniques and applications evolve with the times. SEO is popularly thought of as a set of techniques that help your website be found. But what effective SEO means is enhancing the User Experience.

In this article, I will show you eight of the most important SEO techniques that are still working.

 

1. Optimize the Title Tag

Although it is not technically a meta tag, the Title Tag is usually associated with the Description and Keyword tags because these are found near the website’s source code.

Of the three, however, the Title Tag is considered the most important because it is the first thing a search engine will look for when a query is made. The Title Tag is also the first item that searchers will see on the page when results come out.

Thus, it is important to include a keyword in the Title Tag. Some SEO practitioners will include the name of the company alongside one or two keywords. Be mindful of your use of keywords. Search engines will penalize “keyword stuffing” or the brazen use of keywords.

Another technique you can is to use Adwords ads to your Title Tags to increase the frequency of clicks. Look at the Adwords for keywords that you use for your product. For example your keywords in the Title Tag are “charbroiled hamburgers”. Check which Adwords are complementary for your Title Tag.

If you identify these Adwords as “fresh grilled”, “made to order”, then you can rewrite your Title Tag to read “Fresh grilled, made to order charbroiled hamburgers”.

 

2. Optimize Meta Tags

SEO focuses on two types of Meta Tags: the Description Tag and the Keywords Tag.

The Description Tag is what Internet users read when your link comes out and could influence their decision to click or not. Similar to the Title Tag, you should also include one or two more keywords with the Description Tag.

The abusive practice of keyword stuffing has somehow placed Keyword Tags in the background although there are still benefits in including them in the source code.

A good rule of thumb is to figure out the keywords Internet searchers will use to find your products and services. And then come up with one or two variations. Going back to our previous example, instead of “charbroiled hamburgers” you could use “grilled hamburgers” or “freshly grilled hamburgers”.

 

3. Add Title Attributes to Links

These are the attributes that pop up whenever your mouse scrolls over a link. They are used for image links but have also been used for text links.

In order to maximize this helpful online tool, it would be best to use a more definitive description of the attribute than just the standard “click here”. Perhaps if you are in the restaurant business, you could write “View Menu”. If you are website designer, you could use “See Portfolio”.

The idea behind SEO is not just to be found but to make the visit convenient for the user so he can explore your site further.

 

4. Utilize Alt Attributes for Images

An Alt Attribute is a descriptive but relevant text of the images you use that is added to your source code. This makes it easier for the search engines to index your pages that have images.

Using Alt Attributes can also help visually impaired or handicapped Internet users to find your website through the use of a Screen Reader.

5. Quality content

Statistics on online behavior present a more discriminating profile on the Internet user. Take note of these following key figures:

23% of Internet time is spent reading blogs
77% of Internet users read blogs
81% of consumers trust information shared on blogs
61% have been influenced by blogs on their decision to purchase
37% of online marketers consider the blog as the most important content marketing tool

Search engine giant Google has made it very clear that they will penalize websites that do not frequently present fresh, new and original content. Further, Google will penalize websites that use links not related to their business or service.

If you want to develop regular patronage on your website, you have to consistently publish quality content. Quality is defined as relevant and engaging content which your market will appreciate.

You should also include keywords in your content but again, you have to be mindful in their use. For blogs, you need to use main keywords, secondary keywords and tertiary keywords. Obviously the main keywords play the most important role. Both secondary and tertiary keywords are there to lend support.

For an 800 word article, use the main keyword no more than five times. It is important to have the main keyword in the title, within the first 100 words, twice in the body and in the concluding paragraph. The secondary and tertiary keywords should not be used more than twice in the entire article.

 

6. Use link building techniques judiciously

Link building is a very effective technique in developing inbound traffic. By linking with other sites, you can increase the visibility of your website and attract new markets.

Another advantage of link building is that is enhances your credibility and reputation as a resource. The more frequently people find your work at other websites, the more trust you gain from your target market.

One of the smartest and easiest ways to find new opportunities for your link building campaigns is to analyze what backlinks are working best for your competitors. If they are ranking higher than you for your main keywords, it often means that they have better and more quality backlinks. Hence why, the backlinks of your competitors are a resource you should always analyze.

An easy way to stay up to date with your competitor’s link building campaigns is to use tools like Monitor Backlinks. Once added your main competitors, you’ll get email reports, every 10 days, with the new links they have earned. Do consider that you should only try to replicate good backlinks and ignore low quality ones.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Google will penalize any website that adds links which has no relevance to its primary business. For example, if you run a fitness website and attach links from cigarette websites, you will be punished in the search rankings by the Google Penguin algorithm update.

 

7. Integrate social media techniques

Gone are the days that inbound marketers approached SEO and social media separately. These are techniques that require precise execution but are driven by consumer behavior.

Social media in particular has become a key online tool because of its large user base. Of the three billion people who go online every day, almost two billion are on social media and nearly one billion are on Facebook alone. The increase in popularity of smart phones is expected to drive these numbers higher because social media will become more accessible.

This is the reason why SEO practitioners are integrating their effective techniques with social media. Here are some examples:

Use keywords in your articles, blogs and posts.
Include social media share buttons in your blog page for easy sharing.
Create high quality content for all of your shares and posts.
Optimize images used for your social media posts.
Be mindful of the ideal length of posts and blogs.

By integrating SEO techniques with your social media strategy, you can further maximize your efforts and enhance your online presence.

 

8. Write mini-blogs for video posts

If you haven’t heard of YouTube then you must have been asleep for the past 10 years.

Founded in 2005, YouTube has grown into one of the most popular social media sharing sites. One billion people tune in to YouTube every day. People spend six billion hours of video on YouTube every month. 300 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube every minute.

These statistics show the power of video as a medium for marketing and promoting your products and services.

One of the most effective ways to boost the rankings of your videos is to write a “mini-blog” in its description box. Most YouTube users pay little attention to this little description box. But by using a keyword enriched description, you can significantly move your video up the search rankings.

A good strategy is to implement long tail keywords. These are more detailed and descriptive set of keywords that greatly define a search query. For example instead of using just “charbroiled hamburgers” a long-tail would appear as “made to order charbroiled hamburgers cooked fresh off the grill”.

As we head off to 2016, we should expect more changes to sweep across different markets. Consumer demand remains dynamic. In the face of the continued evolution of markets, business needs strategies that have the capacity to adapt to the changing times. For this reason, SEO will continue to remain relevant and effective in the years ahead.

What about you? What’s working best for SEO on your website? Share in the comments below!

.

felixAbout the author: Felix Tarcomnicu is a blogger and entrepreneur. He enjoys doing SEO and wrote the popular article about identifying and disavowing bad backlinks. You can connect with Felix on Twitter.

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How to Future Proof Your Search Engine Marketing: 5 Tips for the 5 Biggest Trends

Times change! Platforms evolve and Google is one of them. As the search engine changes, so does search engine optimization (SEO).

Actually, search doesn’t change much and doesn’t change fast, which is why we rarely write posts about trends. Articles we published years ago are still relevant today.

But there is a gradual evolution in trends and tactics in search. And we’ve rounded up a few of them here. These are the five most important actions you can take to make sure that your marketing aligns with where search is going.

Take these specific steps to future-proof your rankings!

1. Adapt to Semantic Search: Target Topics, Not Just Phrases

Google is officially a semantic search engine, which means it’s connecting visitors to pages with the meaning they’re looking for, not just the letters and words they typed into that little box.

To adapt to this, you need to target a broader topic, not just the specific phrase. Spread your meaning out, using related phrases, covering the things that are semantically linked.

There are several ways to find the phrases are semantically linked, deep in the heart of Google.

First, start typing your target phrase into Google. See how it begins suggesting search terms? As you slowly type in each letter, you’ll see more. Try typing more letters as if you’re starting a new word. Try entering a question word at the beginning of your phrase. You’ll soon find a wealth of words connected to your topic.

Here’s an example of how we did this research for a recent post about website footer design.

semantic-search

Those are phrases that are connected to your meaning. Write them down.

Shortcut! Use Keyword tool.io to find dozens of suggested phrases quickly.

keyword-io

Next, hit enter to search for your target keyphrase and scroll down to the bottom of the search results. See the “search related to…” links? Those are phrases that are connected to your meaning. Write them down.

relatedtopics

Third, you can use competitive analysis. See the top ranked page for your target phrase? That page likely ranks for many related phrases. Each is semantically linked to your topic.

To find a list of all these phrases, put that top ranked site into a rank checking tool such as SEMrush (note: the free version gives you some data, the paid version gives you all of it).

Click “Positions” to see the search rankings for that domain.

semrush

Now you can filter this report to show just the phrases related to your topic. See the related phrases? Write them down.

filter-by-keyword-semrush

By now, you should have a list of phrases related to your topic with strong evidence that these words are semantically linked to your topic.

For our footer design article, these were our words:

website copyright footer

website footer copyright text

website footer examples

header and footer

website footer definition

at the bottom of the page

designing a website footer

fat footer

guidelines

standards

best practices

usability

content

ideas

inspiration

links SEO

sitemap

social media

navigation

purpose of

responsive

template

Now as we write the article, we incorporate these ideas into the piece. We find ways to include these phrases in the natural flow of the writing. This indicates our relevance not just for the specific phrase, but for the broader topics.

We have now adapted to semantic search.

2. Adapt to Voice Search: Use Full, Natural Language Sentences

Every day, more of us are doing hands-off, keyboardless searches. We already use voice to ask questions in our phones (Siri and Google Now) and we’ll soon be talking to our phones and cars.

Voice-based queries tend to be longer phrases. They tend to be questions.

To adapt your content to this trend, optimize your content by using sentences that provide the complete meaning, both questions and answers.

enzyme-exfoliation

For example, if you’re writing a post about enzyme exfoliation, rather than writing this:

One type of exfoliation uses enzymes. This approach breaks down the “glue” that holds dead skin cells together.

Write sentences that contain the complete meaning, and would stand on their own, such as:

What is enzyme exfoliation?
Enzyme exfoliation is a type of chemical exfoliation that breaks down the “glue” that holds dead, dulling skin cells together.

See how each sentence stands on its own? Write like your writing a dictionary. This aligns your content with longer, keyboardless queries.

This kind of writing can benefit you in desktop, keyboard-based searches. Ever seen an “answer box” in search results? These tend to appear when the content includes sentences that provide complete answers in complete sentences.

image10

Answer boxes have the benefit of making the search results below somewhat irrelevant. It’s a dominant position. But they have the disadvantage of including enough content that the visitor may not need to click through to the page.

circle-dr-pete

Dr. Pete Meyers, MOZ

“If you see that certain searches return “featured snippets” (Google’s name for answer boxes with attribution) and if you’re ranking on page 1 for those searches, try tuning up your on-page content and title tag to better match the question. Once you clear the page-1 hurdle, Google seems to be relying mostly on how well your page matches the question.

The closer you match, the better your chances. Keep in mind that some questions are implied. A search like “ethernet” may return a featured snippet, because Google is seeing it as implying “What is ethernet?”. So, match to what Google thinks the question is.”

We have now adapted our writing to voice-based search.

3. Adapt to Future Link Spam Penalties: Build Your Network of Content Creators

To call it “link building” is politically incorrect. I understand why. It feels spammy. But links and mentions from authority sites do matter. They are perhaps the most important search ranking factor.

As the last artificial link building tricks are discovered and the few remaining link spam tactics are penalized, there is one sure way to dodge future changes and potential penalties: focus on relationships, not links.

If you trace back the process from lead to traffic, traffic to ranking, and ranking to links, you’ll find it starts with people.

relationships

These days, those relationships typically start on social media. If you understand how social media affects search engine rankings, you know that there are specific actions that lead to your desired outcomes.

Find content creators using social media search tools.
Subscribe to their content, follow, listen and learn.
Interact with them within their content, through comments and shares.
Connect on social networks, reach out and move the conversation offline.
Invite them into your content through collaboration, quotes, roundups and email interviews.
Take it offline, on the phone, Skype, G+ Hangouts or in person.

It’s about making friends! Building an active network of bloggers will do wonders for your future search efforts. This can not be overstated.

vahl

Andrea Vahl, Social Media Coach, Speaker & Strategist

“Creating relationships with other people in my industry has been so beneficial to getting more links – from the opportunity to guest post to the awareness around each other’s content.”

Need help? Take a look at our online networking guide, which lists 35 steps for connecting with anyone.

We have now adapted to changes for off-site factors such as link spam penalties.

4. Adapt to User Interaction Signals: Use Formatting and Media that Keeps Visitors Longer

Quality affects rankings, right? Better articles rank higher. But how does Google know what’s good? The answer is in your Analytics.

Visitors who come to your page from a search engine sometimes leave without visiting another page. This is called a “bounce.” There are two kind of bounces:

The visitor hated the page and hit the back button after 10 seconds.
The visitor loved the page, read every word, stayed for 10 minutes and then finally left

So a “bounce” doesn’t correlate with high or low quality. But the time on page does.

longclick

The first example is a “short click” and the second is a “long click.” The difference is the dwell time. Dwell time is the average time on page for visitors from search engines. Search engines see this and use it as a search ranking factor. It’s a powerful indicator of quality and relevance.

You may be able to see the correlation between rankings and time on page in your own Analytics. Look at the Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report. Set it to comparison view with Avg Time on Page as the dimension. There’s your correlation!

timeonpage

So the next question is how do you get visitors to stay? The best answer is to make it a great page (see #5 below) but there are other, more specific tactics:

Add a relevant featured image
Pay attention to blog image best practices. A good image pulls the visitor in.
Add multiple images
If the visitors scans down and finds a long desert of text, they are more likely to leave. Make an image visible at every scroll depth!
Break up long paragraphs
A sure way to lose a visitor is to hit them with a wall of text. Keep paragraphs down to a  maximum of three lines. Four tops.
Add a video
Embed a video at the top of the page. Use a custom thumbnail with a face and a headline to maximize the percentage of people who watch it. Short videos mean longer visits.

That explains the correlation between video, formatting, images and rankings. Now you know how quality directly impacts rankings.

We have adapted our content for future changes to the importance of user interaction signals in search algorithms.

Speaking of quality…

5. Adapt to All Future Changes! Make the Best Page on the Internet for the Topic

Here’s some advice you hear far too little on SEO posts. But it’s the single most important piece of advice I can give. Here goes:

Make the best piece of content on the internet for your topic

If you have actually made a page that provides the best answer to the question or offers the most detailed set of instructions, then the search engines are working very hard to help you …There are thousands of math PhDs on your side, doing their best to send visitors your way!

If you have not made a great page, then you’re just trying to trick a robot. You’re using links and keywords to win something you don’t deserve …There are thousands of computer scientists fighting against you, trying to keep you out of search results.

Make the best page on the web for your topic and you’ve future-proofed your content for all future SEO changes.

Follow these tips and you’ll sleep well far into the new year.

Fatal SEO Mistakes

Fatal SEO Mistakes That Could Destroy The Whole SEO Strategy 15993720114_10a09062ab

Guest post by Amy Cowen*

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) mistakes are not often a problem. We all make those sorts of mistakes, and if we didn’t then we would all be able to optimize our pages up to the maximum 70-90% mark. Fatal SEO mistakes are the ones where you are inadvertently manipulating the Google search engine (intentionally or otherwise) and Google are looking to penalize you for it.

Here are a few things to think about when doing your SEO, but just remember that if the technique you are doing appears to be manipulating the Google search engine then you are probably making a fatal SEO mistake.

Over optimization is now a bad thing

If that is a surprise to you then you should see the faces of the web masters who are suddenly penalized because they ran their backlink checker too often. Over optimization is most often punished if on-page SEO is over the top. Keyword stuffing and cloaking is a thing of the past, but if you are changing your keywords on a weekly basis to keep up with keyword trends then you are over optimizing and Google will start to drop you down the search engine results.

Spamming of any sort is a bad thing

You are going to see a lot of articles on this subject that will say using a spam bot on comment sections is bad, or spamming on social media is a bad idea, but you can define the rule as this. If you are partaking of SEO work that requires little to no thought or conscientiousness then you are spamming and it is a bad thing. As a general rule of thumb this is quite apt and will help to stop you being penalized for poor SEO.

Auto linking software is not search engine friendly

If you are thinking about auto linking software for internal links then it is not a great idea. If you are thinking of it for backlinks then it is a terrible idea, and if you are thinking of it for a suggested/related content widget then you may get away with it.

Auto linking your internal links will often result in poorly optimized anchor text. Auto linking the links you point out of your website will almost always get your website penalized, and auto linking for suggested content may be permissible so long as the link text uses something such as the blog post titles instead of auto generated keywords.

Having heavy websites with too many keywords 

A heavy website is one that takes a lot of MB/KB in order to load. If this website is also laden with what is clearly your hard work collecting keywords then you are heading for trouble. Keywords stuffed into a longer web page are very suspicious. Google does want longer pages and longer articles these days in order to express deeper knowledge, but they want this in a word where keywords are not the ranking factor.

Concentrating too much on social media metrics

If you do this too much then it is a fatal SEO mistake. Trying to get things such as getting lots of likes and such is only going to lead to disaster for your SEO. Google knows that social media networks are the easiest things to manipulate in the world and are prepared for it.

It is good to have a social media campaign and it is good to link and integrate your social media into your website and your blog, but if you start becoming too reliant and too busy with your social media metrics then you are going to be ranked downwards because of it. Post on a regular basis if you wish, but do not get too fussy about social media metrics.

Having a big backlink session that halts as quickly as it started

If you suddenly get a lot of backlinks and then suddenly they stop as quickly as they started, then Google is going to know that you were behind it all and they will rank you downwards for trying to manipulate the Google search engine.

Changing your page keywords too often

This may also be called over optimization. There are some silly people that keep a close check on keyword trends and find the most popular keywords to use on their websites. This may seem okay but they then use the keywords on their current pages. They change the keywords often and Google considers that to be over-optimization, which as you read earlier is not a good thing.

*My bio: Amy Cowen works at AussieWriter, where she gained a wide experience in blogging and SEO. In addition to web related topics she enjoys writing on technology news. Feel free to contact her on Facebook.amycowen

Photo Credit: jacksonvilleseo11 via Compfight cc

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How to Do Keyword Research

How to do keyword researchLearning how to do keyword research is very important as you build your online business.  You will always be searching for traffic. Sometimes literally.

In your quest you will want to target – and by that I mean attract – a specific audience. The smaller and more similar to each other the audience is, your chances for a higher response increase. Think if you get to talk to everyone that shows up at the mall today – or you get to speak to a small, select group that has already indicated that they might be interested in what you have to sell.  Which would you pick? Okay to be fair, you should ask which mall.

Keywords are a good way to help the internet direct traffic your way. How to do keyword research starts with search engines – and even YouTube – which will be showing people content based on certain keys.  Including keywords.

So let’s say you are creating some blog content. Or your next YouTube video. And you want it to rank. The first thing you think about is what to write about. And then what audience to target. And then what keywords to select. But what do you choose?

How to do keyword research

For keyword research, here are some guidelines:

  1. Get some help. Use the Google Keyword Planner to give you some direction.  It is part of Google AdWords. That is where you can pay for traffic. But this is free.
  2. Give your content a fighting chance. Even if you aren’t concentrating on SEO and ranking, every piece of content you distribute should have a reasonable chance of finding an audience. Or why take the time putting it out there?
  3. Go narrow – not broad. Go for searches that have less than 500 searches per month. The lower traffic will be offset by a better match between your content and the reader/viewer’s interests.
  4. Go for longer keyword phrases. By identifying longer phrases you will be limiting your total potential audience, but those who see your content should respond very well. See if there are 4- or 5-word keywords that make sense. This is one of the best strategies when learning how to do keyword research.
  5. Review your selected keyword for double meanings. While you may be thinking of it a certain way as you learn how to do keyword research, it might also be popular for other uses and that will dilute your response to your keyword research.
  6. Target only one keyword or phrase. Search engines can be easily confused. So don’t tempt it.
  7. Be creative. Of course you are already creative, but here you have a bit more room to play. It never hurts to say the phase out loud too. That can bring other ideas to mind.

How to do keyword research is an art, mixed in with a bit of science. Experience will help you get better at finding the right keyword. And how to do it faster.

Go out and have some fun targeting your content – and have a great week!

Tom

PS:  What would 9X more traffic do for your website and business? This guy shows you how to get 9X more traffic consistently http://bit.ly/1t6ZFpZ.

 

 

Google Trends is a powerful tool to see what people are looking for online. Why try to capture an audience that isn’t there when you can get the data on what people are actually searching for on Google? Click here to explore to your hearts content; but just don’t overdo it.

Here is what I found on dieting:

What would you like to find out on Google Trends? Tell us below in the comments.