Browsing "seo strategies"
Understanding what your competitors are doing in terms of online strategy is an absolute priority when launching a new website that is entering a competitive space. By knowing what your rivals are doing in their SEO and social media space, not only will be able to discern their online marketing strategy, but you can also emulate what is working for them, and generate internal ideas to stay proactive.
Furthermore, by understanding what your competition is doing in terms of on-site SEO, link building, social media marketing, developing third party properties and other search marketing tactics; you can also identify tactics which are working from them (or not working for them), that you can improve upon, and thrive from in your overall marketing strategy.
And who doesn’t love pretending to be a spy every once in a while?
The first step to identify your competition is by checking out the search results for your keywords for which you’d like to be listed. Do not look only at keywords which drive the most traffic, but also the longtail search terms.
After you have identified the sites you need to monitor as part of your intel, start looking into the on-site SEO factors which help them rank in the search engines. You may find not only what they are doing right, but what you are doing wrong. When forming a competitive SEO report, it’s suggested to include your own site in the report and even having a third party have a look at your results, say an SEO consultant.
Not only do onsite tactics assist with the ranking of a website, but more importantly the off-site SEO tactics benefit the competitive advantage to boost a site from the bottom of the front page on Google, into the top five.
By discerning the off-site SEO tactics, and social media tactics, you can get a strong sense for the link building strategies, their participation in blogs, sites they may own which are harnessing social media traffic, if SEM is working for them, and their standing on Delicious, Digg and in vertically targeted social networks. All of these factors have a direct influence on search engine rankings and you will not only learn what your competition is doing, but you can find, and use what they are not. And by identifying these holes, oversights or even genius ideas … and applying them to your marketing strategy, you can propel yourself within your industry.
This can be a lot of information to monitor, and you’ll probably want to add more industry specific terms to your research dependent upon how SEO savvy your market is. But in the long run by documenting this information now, and revisiting it, you will have a pinpoint idea of the tactics your rivals are utilizing, which they are not, and even what they are changing to keep up.
Some additional recconaissance you can do, monitor their listings on job search engines to identify the internal positions they are hiring for or have, like SEO Manager or Social Media Marketing Assistant. In this way, you may gather some insight as to what they are planning in the future, which may assist you with getting the jump on the competition.
If you need any help with the tools needed to perform a lot of this research, feel free to contact Freshtraffic and we’ll be sure to assist you.
There are always the articles and posts about “How to SEO” or “SEO Tips and Tricks”, but it isn’t too often there is any discussion of what not to do from an SEO perspective. So, very briefly, lets go over some of the points of what not to do from an SEO view.
SEO Mistake #1 – Improper Use of Your Title Tag
The title tag is extremely important when it comes to website optimization, and serves multiple purposes. It tells the search engines what your site is about, it gets displayed in the search results for your page and is displayed at the top of your visitors browser while they are on your site.
SEO Mistake #2 – Improper Use of Your Keywords Meta Tag
Once upon a time the keywords meta tag was was used by search engines to determine the relevance of your website. These days even well-written keyword tags are largely ignored by Google and the other major search engine players. But that doesn’t mean you may ignore, or abuse the keyword meta tag. You could possibly wind up being penalized by the search engines instead of ranking well with them.
SEO Mistake #3 – Keyword Stuffing
More does not always equal better. Page content with too many keywords typically doesn’t read properly, and “hiding” keywords, using white text on a white background, is highly frowned upon and dealt with.
Your best bet, is to work up well written, relevant content for what your customers may be looking for, and let the web work it’s magic.
SEO Mistake #4 – Using Irrelevant Keywords to Attract Traffic
May seem like a common sense point, but to reitterate. Using irrelevant or useless content and keywords to attract traffic to your site will only lower your overall rankings with the search engines.
Aside from the few points from above, there are a great deal of mistakes you can make as a website owner that can hurt, or hinder your rankings with the search engines. Cloaked pages, doorway pages, poor coding practices, page labelling, and the list goes on and on.
Whenever I ask a prospect what their goals are, all too often their answer is, “We want to rank in the top three results for keywords A, B, and C.”
Is that really a goal?
Now, I understand that high rankings (or, rather, organic search traffic) are important. I sincerely believe that a sound organic search strategy should be the core of every business’s marketing efforts.
This goes back to the old adage of running a business (location, location, location). You must be where people are actively searching for your product or service offerings.
However, imagine that you had the perfect retail location and yet your storefront was filthy. Perhaps there isn’t as much as a sign with your company’s name on the front of the building. Perhaps, once you get into the location, not a single item has a price tag and the salespeople are nowhere to be found.
That traffic coming through your parking lot isn’t going to help much, is it?
There are three basic rules that you need to follow to have a successful Web presence:
1. Brand matters.
2. Usability matters.
3. Search engine optimization matters.
The look and feel of your Web site is a key component to success on the Web. For example, last summer, a retailer that was enjoying great rankings in the search engines approached my company about a possible redesign of their Web site.
When I pulled the site up, it was very evident that these folks needed a facelift (the site was very ’90s, with no brand — not even a logo — and it was poorly organized). This e-commerce Web site was typical of many: it was graphics-heavy (not even formatted consistently) and had little to offer in terms of (keyword-rich) product descriptions.
Bottom line: there was no way that I would drop my credit card info on this Web site. I didn’t trust it. If I were a common searcher, I’d probably spend about five seconds on the page that I landed on, then hit the back button and check out the next result.
Build a Web site that exudes credibility and trust with your target audience. Because online, a competitor is always next door to your perfect location. And, next door to them is another competitor. You get the picture?
OK, let’s assume your Web site looks great now. So, if you manage to get the traffic to your site, you probably want people to fill out a lead form, call you, or buy a product.
Too often, prospects tell me that a phone call is a major point of emphasis for them, yet you can’t easily find their phone number on their page. Check some of the most successful e-commerce or lead-gen Web sites and you’ll notice that most of them display their phone number on the top right of every page. Little things like this can have a dramatic impact on your success.
Every click/visitor to your Web site is valuable. Yet many don’t put the effort to get the most out of every click.
Once you get people to your site, what do you want them to do? Download a white paper? Sign up for a newsletter? Complete a lead form?
Now, be honest with yourself. Are you making this action obvious to your visitors? People on the Web have very short attention spans.
Search Engine Optimization Matters
Now, just because I put SEO last on this list doesn’t mean that this is the last thing you should do. Oh no. The creation of your information architecture absolutely should be done in conjunction with your SEO efforts.
Your SEO team should research (or at least approve) the content management system and coordinate the design and site development. SEO is the foundation of your efforts.
Funny thing about how SEO and usability go hand-in-hand. Visitors to your Web site like content. They may be researching and need to read those detailed product descriptions.
And, coincidentally, search engines like that content, too. So, the more search engine friendly you make your Web site, the more usable the site will become. If your content is good enough, people might want to link to your Web site.
You know what else users like? Blog content. They love finding “unbiased” helpful/resourceful information. They love reviews. They love forums.
Guess what. Search engines love this stuff, too! Ever seen Wikipedia show up in your searches on Google?
So, next time you’re trying to determine your SEO goals, stop for a moment and think about the bigger picture. SEO is just one part of Web success.
Much has been said of links, but it’s mostly inbound links that get all the attention. Internal links – links that point from one page of your website to another – should also be considered a part of your overall link structure.
Internal links can have a big impact on your overall SEO. There are a couple of primary ways to make sure that you get the most out of your internal links. The first is to ensure that you use the proper anchor text. When you link from page A to page B you should use your primary keyword on page B as the anchor text for your link.
If you do that on every page then you should improve your SEO tremendously. Always use the primary keyword of the page to which you are linking no matter which page you are linking from.
The second way to use your internal links is to make sure they are html links and not dynamic links. Mouseovers, blinking text, and drop down menus are often used as features of navigation bars and they generally work against webmasters where SEO is concerned. The best way to improve your SEO with internal links is to make sure that your navigational bar is HTML-based.
If you do these two things on your website then your internal link structure will be stronger than ever before
When the economy turns sour just about every company starts to cut expenses and usually the first thing that goes is the one service where the perceived value is less. Search engine optimization is one of those services that could be threatened by the recession.
I would strongly caution against cutting back on your SEO for your business. Companies that I’ve seen do that have in the past regretted it. Typically what happens is they’ll see their search rankings decline. After dropping off the first page they’ll see fewer and fewer visitors to their websites and that will result in fewer conversions and less overall sales. Almost always these customers restart their optimization and they have to claw their way back up the search engine ladder to top rankings. That takes longer usually than the drop off and takes more resources long term.
It may seem that a recession is the time to cut expenses, but you don’t want to cut your marketing expenses. It’s really the time when you should be marketing more, not less. If you think of search engine optimization as a part of your overall marketing strategy then that puts it a little more into perspective.
Don’t you think?
As consumers are spending more and more of their online time on social networking pages as opposed to traditional brand websites, many business experts are now recommending that businesses incorporate
Facebook has made a huge impact online: there are now over 100 million monthly visitors to the site, and this figure is on the increase. While some businesses are beginning to use social networking sites in their marketing efforts, most business experts say that few companies are investing enough time and effort to make the most of this opportunity.
The benefit of Facebook, and other social networking sites, is that businesses can communicate directly with their customers. This provides an enormous marketing opportunity for brands, but it is crucial, say the business experts, to ‘get it right’.
There are a few key rules that are critical to making good use of sites like Facebook for marketing. Firstly, according to the business experts, consumers do not want to be advertised at. Instead, consumers want conversation, and they want businesses to add value to that conversation. Once you become known as a ‘good brand’ online, consumers will begin to start spreading the word for you, according to business experts.
Next, business experts caution that it takes more than simply having a high number of contacts online to leverage social networking benefits for your business. You need to ensure that you have a quality connection with each individual friend online otherwise you will risk not appearing genuine.
With the increasing popularity of social networking sites, some business experts are even questioning the need for traditional brand based websites. If you can build your branded social network page, they say, then you may not need the traditional website.
The run up to Christmas, 2008 has seen e-commerce become the focus for retailers across the UK.In the light of rising costs and consumers reigning in their spending to save money, the Internet is now seen as the place of choice for consumers, for comparisons and significant savings. Internet marketing for e-commerce sites has become the chosen method of promoting retail businesses.
“With Internet marketing and digital advertising budgets increasing, traditional advertising is being replaced by cost-effective, targeted, digital advertising and marketing campaigns”,
The credit crunch recession has seen closures of retail outlets, both in London and across the United Kingdom, leading to an increase in Internet sales with the Internet being viewed as the buyer’s market.
The UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that between May and June 2008, retail sales volumes fell by 3.9%, the largest monthly drop since records began in 1986.
Yet online sales have been strong. In fact, Internet sales may be rising more rapidly than anticipated because hard-pressed consumers are determined to find value for money. Also, the rocketing cost of fuel means many shoppers are cutting visits to brick-and-mortar stores and turning to the Web instead.
Major online retailers are realising that to maintain a presence in the market, they need to offer true multichannel shopping and delivery/return options, as well as value for money. This strategy ensures they will gain and keep their market share in the future. The businesses that are not moving towards Internet marketing, and digital advertising, for whom traditional print or broadcast advertising is now too expensive, are likely to stagnate or go out of business.
One of our SEO clients is getting more than his money’s worth. In fact, I should be charging him loads more money than I am, but he is getting a whole lot extra work for free.
How does he do it? Am I a sucker? Maybe I am, but there is a method to his madness, even if he does not know it.
You see, the biggest complaint from professional SEO consultants is that clients do not follow up on their recommendations.
A company might pay anywhere form $1500 to $50,000 for an SEO consultant to review their website and make recommendations, ready to follow up with additional action, but… but… but…nothing happens.
In one survey of SEOs, 60% were frustrated by lack of follow-up by the client. This not only wastes the company’s consulting dollars, but it often prevents the SEO consultant from doing anything further to advance the company’s rankings.
My client, the one I mentioned above, is just the opposite. He eagerly seeks out information and I swear he passes what we call in French “nuits blanches” (look it up) following through and coming back with more questions, ideas and follow-through.
It makes his project exciting and, yes, he gets more out of me than he is paying for.
You know that old adage ”You get out of life what you put in”? It works for SEO consultants, too…at least those who get passionate about what they are doing.
So my question for anyone reading this who plans to hire an SEO consultant, are you passionate about your website? Will you get your SEO consultant to be just as passionate about it?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a virtual no brainer when it comes to the long term marketing of your website. When you work to develop your website using SEO strategies you will likely focus most of your approach on the development of knowledge-based content filled with keywords or phrases that assist in positive site rankings.
Some online business owners do themselves a disservice by stopping short of full optimization. For instance site development can include adding SEO keywords and phrases to meta titles. This is information visitors will not see, but search engines will. Since they pay attention to the meta titles shouldn’t you?
Some website owners also stop before they provide a full compliment of SEO strategies in other text based areas of their website. This may include the ‘about us’ section that allow visitors to learn more about the company. Presumably your SEO keywords relate to your business. The use of those keywords in this section is very important.
Site owners can tastefully place their keywords in product descriptions and the frequently asked questions (FAQs) segment of their website.
Your home page should also include SEO strategies. The truth is you should pay attention to every single page and every text entry you place on your site. This includes any forums or blogs you might host on your site.
One area that is often overlooked when it comes to Search Engine Optimization is the photos you might display on the site.
Visit virtually any website and roll your cursor over a picture. In most cases a small yellow box will pop up and a series of words will pop up to describe the picture. Most visitors do not use this function so enterprising web owners will use photos to increase their SEO exposure since search engines do pay attention. You can use the name of the website or the primary key phrase you are using to enhance search engine placement.
There are other areas where SEO principles apply, but the above principles should help you fully develop a website that is inviting to a system that can do more for the long-term marketability of your site.
SEO principles are not the stuff of overnight success. In fact it can take several weeks for search engines to crawl and index your website to improve your website’s placement in overall search rankings.
Think of SEO like you might a mutual fund. You invest in SEO, but the accumulated interest can take time to mature. Ultimately it is a sound investment, but your interest is always drawn later than your investment. It also has the potential to return more than you invest.
It always surprises me to see web owners who refuse to consider the use of SEO because they believe that the merit of their business is based exclusively on marketing skills that may be best applied in a brick and mortar environment.
The problem is the skills associated with online marketing operate on a different platform. You will help yourself, search engines and best of all your potential customers by making sure your site is optimized for search engines – all the way down to the photos.
For some reason, some clients tend to look at Organic SEO like a vending machine. Almost as if they want to put their money in a slot and instantly want the prize. Organic SEO depends on the climate of the competition, the industry and variables such as the content on your pages, if your site is new, if your website has links or if it is virtually unknown. The list of potential obstacles that an optimization specialist has to overcome oftentimes seems insurmountable in comparison to the expectations of a client.
In the event that time is not a luxury one can afford for long term results, there is pay per click marketing. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for solid organic placement, but before getting there, oftentimes an education and above all clarity needs to be established between the SEO company and the client before embarking on a voyage into the raging waters of the search engine marketing.
Patience may be a virtue, but in SEO it is the cornerstone to long lasting organic search results. If you have a newer website that barely ranks for your company name and you hire an SEO company with the expectation of taking over a 2 word phrase with 5,000,000 pages competing for that term, what likelihood do you have of achieving search engine domination (that lasts) within a month? 2 months?, 3 months?, bleak…you see the point. To acquire such (in the real world) and not just theoretically would mean that you would have had to start somewhere (with related keywords) to chip away at the tail or the term (sometimes for 3-6 months), before even considering attacking the head. Not to mention that your ranking potential is to a great extent based on your link popularity. Now those of you who are not familiar with link building, here is an analogy.
Say for example that you want to appear for a search term that sparsely appears for a fleeting moment on your website, you don’t really want to change your content and you want fast results (all SEO’s raise their hand if they have had to deal with clients like this) then I have news for you. Your better breaking it to them that they are better off sticking risk vs. reward, no guarantee, pay per click marketing. At least then they know what their getting, a shot at the top, with no safety net. One can easily burn through 2-3 times as much money using PPC than just observing a bit of patience to organically occupy a top 10 spot and have the users click happily ever after when they visit your site free of the toll of the PPC troll. But to expect this from Organic SEO right out of the box (from a newer site – less than a year old) is simply contrary to the principles (mainly the algorithms) that control organic rankings.
What is the solution?
So what can you do if you are interested in increasing your rankings without spending a fortune? Invest your time in (a) looking at the top tier websites that are returned for the search terms you are coveting and (b) be frank with yourself to determine what those websites have that yours does not. Do they have 1000 pages and you have 3, do they have 25,000 back links to their site and you have 28, trust me details like this matter. What can you emulate and what can you do today to make changes that can provide relevance for your website aside from wishful thinking…
All kidding aside, if you are considering what it would take to be on top, usually the first thing to consider is what you need to be doing differently that can aid the process that is already known for being conducive with top 10 rankings. Because frankly, if you were doing that already, your wouldn’t need SEO to begin with. So if you are afraid of change, or quite simply just don’t have the time to commit 3 hours a day to your site (minor tweaks, revisions, polishing the content, building links, socially bookmarking to promote, etc) then your better off hiring an SEO company who does know how, and that can avoid the pitfalls in the first place.
Start from the ground up, content is the key
Organic SEO is based on maximizing the content on your pages to achieve the right balance of word density (percentage of keywords to non keywords) as well as proper use of signal flares or signifying elements that say HEY OVER HERE, HERE I AM, when it comes to that term. Not that repetition for the sake of redundancy occurs (otherwise known as SPAM), but your message should be clear, themed and concise, while being informative, compelling and engaging to consume (otherwise known as sticky) to ensure sales and conversion.
If you are a bit on the shallow side on the links, you can sign up for the Yahoo Directory to get the ball rolling, it’s the best $299 one could spend on investing in their websites instant recognition based on the process of affiliation with one of the oldest directories online. One site which was less than a year old went from a page rank 0 to a page rank 4, just on the strength of Yahoo’s back link, so this is a start.
My suggestion is to build links for about 3-5 months gradually sprinkling the terms you want to rank for in the anchor text (the text in the link) that reference your site. The idea is to have a balance of broad search terms as well as a combination of exact match terms to dial in the net and funnel the potential searches that may have any number of keywords that pertain to your industry. In this way, your site can become a catch all for various top 10 searches and create inroads with search engines as an authority in your industry.
This is what link building is for, building authority, from there once your website is viewed in that capacity, you can work smarter not harder to rank for more competitive terms. This is not intended to be interpreted as a tutorial, but rather a needed statement to address all of the misconceptions about organic rankings.
Organic SEO can work fast, but it depends on variables and since no two sites are alike, what works for one, may not work for another. Competition and the industry have the greatest impact on this part of the equation. Real estate vs. ant farming, sure you could rank in the top 10 for the best ant farmer, but then again the daily search volume may be 3 people a day if that.
The point being, the market is based on supply and demand and as any commodity is in great demand, it is taxed accordingly. In this case, the search engines view this as a commitment of time and energy. Visibility and links are crucial, but finding the right combination of old and new links as well as being present in the headlines, social scenes and other known factors that can produce rankings are all investments of time. So the next time you wonder why SEO companies charge so much, this should provide some incite into the logic behind the equation. They are essentially micro-managing thousands of steps and protocols, analyzing the results and systematically applying fundamentals to give your website the proper balance so that it appeals to the hungry, yet picky spiders and bots, whose purpose it is to catalog and retrieve useful content.
If you don’t make the grade, you can always build a few more links, clean up your code, your content and your act and then wait for them to breeze through again and catch a glimpse of your wares. If they like what they see, you should be ranking in no time flat. But if the results you are seeking fall short of your expectations, then it is either you than must come to terms with what you want and where your at, so that you can make the needed adjustments to find a happy medium between on-page SEO, off-page link building until you achieve your goal.