Tag Archives: seo

Expected Google Algorithmic Trends for 2016

Expected Google Algorithmic Trends for 2016

 

 

SERP rankings are important for your business to enjoy the success that it deserves. Unfortunately, we can often become too caught up in standard marketing approaches and fail to realize that many of these could be outdated due to a Google algorithmic update.

Although even the experts are not certain as to what we can expect for 2016, there are a few likely trends which could very well take shape in the months ahead. Let's take a look at a handful of the most dramatic.

 

Duration-Based Video Rankings

This trend is actually quite interesting, for it signals that Google is placing more importance on the overall user experience than ever before. We are all aware that videos now play a massive role in rankings and client conversions, but this is predicted to substantially change in 2016 (1). Google will now view how long a visitor spends watching a video under the assumption that longer viewing times indicate content of a higher quality. So, this could also affect your SERP rankings. Keep your videos short, to the point and most importantly, entertaining!

 

Email Interaction

This next prediction has actually caught some users by surprise. In the past, companies would have been only mildly concerned with how their emails were categorized based upon their content. It was volume more than anything else. Some believe that Google may begin to incorporate which folder an email is sent to alongside standard rankings.

 

For example, messages which are defined as spam could have an impact upon your overall rankings. This very same concept could apply if a user automatically marks an email as spam or places it into her or her junk folder. So, quality will need to be emphasized over sheer quantity.

Rich Search Results

You may have noticed that certain searches provide more in-depth results (such as Wikipedia, Google maps or links to videos) than others. This is another “wave” within the SERP Ocean that is expected to take shape. This is actually considered to be more of an ongoing trend than a future prediction (2).

Sites that rank higher and which are able to offer high-quality content are likely to enjoy a better visual presence within the SERP in general. This professional appearance will obviously lead to higher inbound hits and increased conversion rates. Meta tags, adding PageMap data and rich snippets can all help you to develop such a presence.

Mobile-Friendly Advertisements

This should once again come as no great surprise considering the emphasis that is now placed upon mobile-responsive websites. For some time, Google has been adapting their search engine to accommodate the needs of modern mobile phones. However, we should note here that they recently filed for a patent to transform the bulk of their texts to meet the needs of the smartphone-wired consumer (3). Why is this important for your site? Assuming that your page is not able to meet the needs of the mobile user, its rankings will suffer even more than in the past. So, it is now more important than ever before to include such features as long-scrolling pages, easily downloadable graphics and an overall uncluttered page to appeal to the mobile user.

As we have mentioned previously, there is still a number of questions in relation to what we may or may not see emerge from the bowels of Google in the coming months. We have only highlighted some of the most important areas to take into account. Adapting to these trends now can save you a great deal of time and frustration in the not-so-distant future.

Richard Tipsword
MarketHive Developer

Sources:

  1. http://seopressor.com/blog/2016-google-algorithm-changes-14-predictions-from-google-patent/

  2. https://support.google.com/customsearch/answer/1626952?hl=en

  3. http://mobilemarketingmagazine.com/google-velocity-targeted-advertigins-patent/

 

How Digital is Working For Main Stream Retailers

It’s no longer bricks-and-mortar versus e-commerce —“Omnichannel” is the path to success

Consumers have a myriad of ways to shop, and retailers are scrambling to keep up with them. “New technology and tools are transforming the way consumers want to shop,” says Anne Zybowski, vice president of retail insights at Kantar Retail. In response, retailers are re-thinking their operations, from infrastructure and inventory systems to delivery and marketing.

As measured by “STORES annual Top 100 Retailers report”, compiled by Kantar, the evolution of the retail industry displays the fitness and survival skills of some long-time inhabitants. For the most part, chart-topping stalwarts — Wal-Mart, Kroger, Costco, The Home Depot, Target, Walgreen and CVS — have maintained dominance through an ability to meet consumers’ changing desires, including their appetites for online shopping and digital interaction.

Chart-topping stalwarts like Walgreen have maintained dominance through an ability to meet consumers’ changing desires.

Amazon’s dramatic ascent continues, and while e-commerce has not proven to be the tidal wave that knocks bricks-and-mortar off its pedestal, the old “location, location, location” mantra doesn’t carry the same weight it once did.

Instead, the two channels are continuing to converge: Physical store operators are experiencing considerable digital success, while online merchants — including Amazon — are expanding with showrooms, pop-up shops and other ways of meeting shoppers face-to-face.

“The notion of “omnichannel” remains inspirational. Today’s demanding omni-shoppers know what they want,” Zybowski says. “They want retailers to offer whatever, wherever, whenever they want. And when it comes to value, they want to have their cake and eat it too — they don’t expect to pay more for convenience.”

The challenge for retailers is meeting consumers’ reset expectations.

“Retailers must figure out how to fundamentally transform their business models, ones that have been built for maximum efficiency and scale, and transform them into more nimble, effective ones,” Zybowski says.

This transformation primarily focuses on two key retail functions: selling and marketing. Retailers must sell across all channels, what Zybowski calls being “channel-agnostic or channel-agile,” while the marketing transformation involves personalization and shopper engagement.

QVC comes in at No. 70 on this year’s list, up from No. 73 in 2014.

The Evolving Processes

Many successful omnichannel retailers are broadline general merchandise sellers such as Macy’s, Nordstrom and Wal-Mart, though Zybowski says that specialists such as The Home Depot have made great omnichannel strides.

Tom Cole, a partner at Kurt Salmon Associates, observes that mobile is a major driver of omnichannel’s push toward seamless consumer experiences, though the volume of transactions conducted via mobile is still low. He says the challenge for retailers is building toward omnichannel via legacy systems already in place.

“Omnichannel is the new reality for all retailers whether they engage or not. If you’re available where and when consumers look for you, great. If not, you lose to someone who is,” says Marge Laney, president of Alert Technologies. “Online-only retailers lack the high-engagement fidelity that only the in-store experience can deliver. Offline-only retailers don’t deliver the comfortable and information-browsing experience that consumers utilize to make their shopping itineraries.”

The omnichannel successes of Nordstrom and Macy’s come as no surprise to Scott Galloway, professor of brand strategy and digital marketing at New York University and founder and chairman of digital benchmarking and education firm L2. “Frequently dismissed as dinosaurs and outmaneuvered by digital players, department stores can not only survive the dramatic fall-off in foot traffic seen over the past few years, but will ultimately fare better than pure play e-commerce,” he says.

Macy’s is so committed to pushing beyond bricks-and-mortar — where it has been downsizing of late — that it opened an Idea Lab in San Francisco and is building another fulfillment center in Tulsa, Okla. The retailer also recently introduced an image-search extension to its mobile application, and Macy’s 300,000 followers can shop directly via Instagram.

Robert Harrison, Macy’s chief omnichannel officer, says consumers are at different stages of adoption; more than half the time, they will research before buying something, frequently using different channels along the way.

The key, Harrison says, is “the convergence of digital and store, particularly for information acquisition.”

The whole process is “an evolution,” he says. “We hope that with one single view of the inventory, we have one single view of the truth. “Omnichannel” will enable the collective merchant teams and marketers to make better decisions because there will not be artificial demarcations” among channels.

YUM! Brands (21), which owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, is second only to McDonald’s (12) when it comes to restaurantbrands on this year’s list.

Connecting channels

“Digital is the connective tissue between online and in-store,” says Claude de Jocas, intelligence group director for L2. “Stores have been cast as a liability in an Amazon era, but they’ve been making a comeback as something that’s critical to a retail strategy.”

Nordstrom is advanced in all facets of its omnichannel approach. The retailer has nearly 1 million followers who can shop via Instagram and, like Macy’s, its network of fulfillment centers is growing, the latest opening this summer in eastern Pennsylvania. Nordstrom has also launched a “scan-and-shop” feature within its catalog app that links readers of the print catalog to e- and m-commerce sites.

“We work hard to see our business through the eyes of the customer, and we hope scan and shop creates a more seamless shopping experience for our customers who enjoy browsing our catalogs but also enjoy the many benefits technology affords the experience to make it more personal,” says spokesman Dan Evans Jr.

Nordstrom is connecting with teen shoppers through digital mall Wanelo, and this spring unveiled a test of a “click-and-collect” service that includes curbside pick-up. This complements a more traditional buy online, pick up in-store program that Nordstrom has had in place since 2008.

A third service, TextStyle, was launched in late May and involves all 116 full-line stores; it allows customers to make purchases from their personal stylist or sales associate using text messages.

Dallas-based Army and Air Force Exchange Service (52) was featured in NRF’s Retail Across America: Texas video series.

Both Macy’s and Nordstrom have invested significantly to upgrade and digitize point-of-sale systems so that customer orders — whether made online, in-store or via mobile — can be easily tracked.

The Home Depot, whose quarterly online sales were estimated by Internet Retailer as topping $1 billion for the first time during the first three months of the current fiscal year, is growing into omnichannel. “We not only offered more spring season product online, but also leveraged digital media channels to highlight local in-store assortments,” CEO Craig Menear told investors and analysts on a conference call, referring to the mobile app’s in-store product location capabilities.

Neiman Marcus uses its strong print catalog experience to drive omnichannel efforts. “Catalogs such as The Book for Neiman Marcus and BG Magazine for Bergdorf Goodman have a very important role of bringing the brand to life in a very tactile way,” says John Koryl, president of stores and online at Neiman Marcus. “There is a niche in the market that the catalog services can maintain, but it’s not like the customer is aging out. It’s really across the whole demographic spectrum that catalogs play a role.”

Koryl maintains that catalogs have played a significant role in the retailer’s e-commerce, and thus omnichannel. “With catalogs, you have a data or insight mindset. In 1999, when Neiman Marcus started its web business — which is now 24 percent of our total business — the only way we were able to get such a jump start on everyone is that we already had a different relationship with all our vendor partners. We had this entire fulfillment infrastructure,” he says.

Signet Jewelers, which owns Zale and Kay Jewelers, jumped more than 20 places to No. 77 this year.

Easing into digital

Other retailers are spending on technology in different areas. Wal-Mart and Best Buy began testing buy online, pick up in-store about five years ago; today supermarkets and grocery-oriented supercenter operators use the model to ease into digital and avoid the delivery problems inherent in selling perishables. Meijer began testing a curbside pick-up program in its home market of Grand Rapids, Mich., this spring.

Kohl’s began testing buy online, pick up in-store last year; the program was rolled out across the chain this spring. “We see it as an advantage. Convenience is part of our core DNA, so having someone be able to place an order and then just drive in and pick it up — we’ve seen very positive reactions from our customers,” says Krista Berry, executive vice president and chief digital officer for Kohl’s.

Another benefit is a sales boost in stores where that merchandise is picked up. “Although it’s early, we’re extremely pleased with initial volumes and attachment sales,” Kohl’s CEO Kevin Mansell said on a conference call to discuss first-quarter performance.

The buy online, pick up in-store program was initially limited to desktop and laptop computer users; the service is expected to go mobile this fall, reaching the more than 7 million shoppers who have already downloaded the Kohl’s app.

Mansell said that Kohl’s can use the app’s wallet function to deliver personalized messages and offers that can be scanned and redeemed in stores. The Wisconsin-based retailer also launched voice-based search on Android and image-based search on both Android and iOS. “The pace of development will actually accelerate in the second and third quarters across the mobile platform,” he said.

The buy online, pick up in-store method is not without complications.

“Omnichannel retailers run the risk of overburdening their bricks-and-mortar locations in a few key ways,” says Dick Seesel, principal at Retailing in Focus. At the top of the list, he says, is a concern that staffing must be “adequate to take care of customers who have actually driven to the store to buy something, on top of processing e-commerce goods.”

The size of the retail operation is an important factor, says Paul McFarren of PD McFarren Consulting. “While some big-box retailers may be able to make this work, the idea that a majority of retailers could efficiently make use of in-store fulfillment of online orders is pretty far-fetched,” he says. “Training a distributed workforce, paying for additional on-site storage and the ongoing management of the exceptions make this model very difficult to support.”

Buy online, pick up in-store, says Zybowski, “is designed for the retailer’s model, not the shoppers.”

Tractor Supply Co. ranks No. 73 on this year’s list, up four spots from 2014.

Consumer focus

The difference between multichannel and omnichannel retailing is one of focus. In the early days, multichannel meant operating in two worlds, often with discrete management, inventories and pricing. Omnichannel brings it all together.

The consumer focus is so integral to the essence of omnichannel that one industry observer traces the origins back more than a decade, to a time when Best Buy was under heavy pressure from rivals such as Walmart.

“I think a lot of people forget or lose sight of the fact that omnichannel didn’t begin as omnichannel or even cross-channel,” says Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR Research. “It began as customer centricity, and the retailer who should get credit for putting customer centricity on the map is Best Buy.”

Baird says that by focusing on the customer experience at a time when e-commerce was just beginning to find itself — in 2003, the iPhone was four years in the future and Amazon’s retail sales in North America were about $879 million —Best Buy emphasized the essential components of what has become omnichannel.

“That’s where customer centricity was born — in a cradle of cross-channel commerce,” she says. “At the heart of omnichannel is customer centricity. You can’t have one without the other.”

Consider the Following Recommendations When Designing a Mobile-Friendly Website

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

Before we get into what defines a mobile-friendly website, let’s first discuss why this is even relevant.  About a year ago, Google released its algorithm known as Mobileggedon.  In essence, this algorithm penalizes websites that are not “mobile-friendly” by decreasing that website’s ranking in mobile search results.

So what may have been the catalyst to releasing Mobileggedon?   Since 2014, mobile devices have been the primary devices utilized to access the internet.   Desktop is still important, but it is no longer considered first-line.  Therefore, Google’s Mobileggedon algorithm is like a “tough love” approach in encouraging businesses to always design their websites with mobile devices in mind.

When developing a mobile-friendly website/webpage, consider the following recommendations:

1) Do NOT design a separate mobile website from your desktop version because it is redundant!

Think about it.Why would you create two different websites (mobile & desktop versions) that contain the same content?Google already penalizes websites for duplicate content.So why would you allow your website to be penalized for duplicate websites?

2) Use Responsive Web Design (RWD)

According to Wikipedia, RWD is an approach to web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).

From a technical standpoint, RWD employs use of flexible layouts, flexible images, and cascading style sheet media queries. This allows a web page to be able to detect the visitor’s screen size and orientation; and change the layout accordingly (think auto-adjusting to fit your mobile device’s screen).

3) Always include a viewport meta tag

The viewport is a virtual area used by the browser-rendering engine to determine how content is scaled and sized.   The viewport meta tag tells your browser that the web page needs to fit the screen.

Typically, when loading full-sized web pages, mobile browsers display the entire page at reduced magnification.When a website does not make use of a viewport meta tag, users may have to double-tap or pinch the screen to adjust the web display.The below illustration shows a typical web page layout displayed on a mobile screen:

In the above example, users typically must rotate their mobile screens, pinch to magnify, etc so that the content can be seen.

Applying a viewport is critical in creating web pages that are mobile-friendly.

The following shows a sample screen layout without a viewport. The initially loaded page is zoomed out much too far to be legible, while zooming in makes content extending off the right edge of the screen difficult to access:

This reflects the browser's default assumption that content should extend 980 pixels wide. Mobile browsers must make that assumption in order to render pages that are not optimized for display on mobile screens.

Finally, here’s the above screen layout after applying the viewport:

There are many different configurations that you can specify your viewport to control.  To explain the technical details any further would be beyond the scope of this article.The idea here is to understand the concept (and importance) of applying viewport meta tags to your webpage.

4) Font sizes and button size matter

Ideal font size is 14px.When creating labels or forms, consider reducing the font to at least 12px.  Same concept applies for buttons.   For optimal viewing, consider creating button size dimensions of at least 44px by 44px.

5)Use high-resolution images

According to Wikipedia, image resolution is the detail an image holds and can be applied to describe digital images, film images, and other types of images. Essentially, a higher resolution means more image detail.

Having extremely high-resolution images will prevent pixilated or even blurry images when viewed on a retina-quality screen.

6) Remove the default zoom

Using auto-zoom may interfere with a web page’s layout elements, especially for images and navigation content. They may appear small or too large in your layout.

The solution here is to make use of viewport meta tags.Again, to describe the technical details of this process in any more detail would be beyond the scope of this article.

7) Use YouTube videos on your site

Because YouTube already utilizes responsive web design (RWD) coding, any risk of difficulties in viewing videos on a mobile device are theoretically eliminated.

8) Don’t constrain your user’s mobile experience

Always include a “go to full website” or “view desktop version” option at the bottom of your site. This will give your website visitors the ability to choose how they want to view your website’s content.

9) Never stop testing

Even after your responsive website is complete, the testing never ends.Be sure to test your webpage on various mobile devices: Apple, Android, Windows, etc.Leave no stone unturned including buttons, layout, font, displays, etc.

Even more important is to allow someone who fits your target [demographic] user.Consider including someone who does not have an extensive technical background especially if this person comprises your primary demographic of potential users/visitors of your website.

Did I miss anything?  Your comments are always welcomed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is An Entrepreneur your goal?

 

You can be an entrepreneur

In the not to distant future, everyone will be an entrepreneur!

Being an entrepreneur is significantly different from being a businessman. By doing one thing another person has already been doing only makes you a consistent businessman, not an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is certainly one who introduces something that is a brand new way of doing things or new process that changes the present conditions. You must dare to dream and have confidence in your own idea. The idea ought not to be about making money. Money ought to not be your inspiring force. It is your passion and faith of the idea that keeps you driven.

Can someone learn how to be an entrepreneur?

Well, nobody can cause you to be an entrepreneur unless you come to a conscious decision to become one. Case studies of effective organizations or failed efforts provides insights. These will help to boost the chance of success in your latest ventures of being entrepreneurial. The nature of entrepreneurship can't be taught but knowledge in certain specific areas of Economics, Finance, Taxation, Accounting etc would be helpful. You merely need to find the time to train in one or several of these subjects.

Frequently, an entrepreneur presents something new and disruptive which makes the idea difficult to accept in the beginning because no one else is doing it. Exactly why is it troublesome? The way in which things are done rocks the existing conditions and way of doing it. Nobody can disregard the basic concept and idea when it works. But before then, its your responsibility to convince the market of your brand new concept.

It may take years before the market is convinced.

Sometimes it is not the idea that does not work, it is the market that does not accept it…. yet. Being an entrepreneur is having the tenacity to see it through.

Entrepreneurs wont wait for perfect conditions to head out. Lamenting about sub-standard conditions can only be called excuses. There will never be conditions which are perfect. You make do with what you're provided. When there is a world that is new for entrepreneurs to discover, we’ll set sail even in the face of a thunderstorm if needed!

The road of an entrepreneur is not glamorous.

It will never to be fashionable. You have to realize that the street ahead of an entrepreneur is difficult, tough and gritty. It is in fact, a road to perdition. Being an entrepreneur is not a present. An entrepreneur is somebody who is not normal. An entrepreneur will look at something and say, “I wonder what would happen if I did it this way”? All you need is an basic idea, dedication and huge doses of perseverance. These are the ingredients grab a hold, mix them up and you’ll get results.

Everyone can be an entrepreneur. Really.

Dennis Roeder
Contributor

SEO Tips for Bloggers

SEO Tips for Bloggers

All serious bloggers are interested in building a large community of enthusiastic readers, and this is why SEO is so critical to your success. Without good search visibility, people who are interested in your content, but don’t know you, may never find you.

SEO best practices are primarily driven by Google, and change frequently. This post, which lays out 50 important SEO tips for bloggers, features a lot of links to Google instructional pages. These Google links will enable you to bypass outdated or incorrect SEO advice that unfortunately permeates the web.

Besides being ever changing, SEO is complicated and technical. These 50 tips, while important, just scratch the surface. What tips can you add to the list? 

SEO Strategy

The following five points offer some big picture guidance for your SEO activities. Perhaps a sixth point would be, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Great SEO requires balance: pay equal attention to onsite and offsite optimization opportunities.

  1. Content quality is your primary onsite SEO consideration.
  2. For keywords, user intent is a major consideration, since the most valuable traffic to your site comes from users who are interested in doing business.
  3. Think visibility rather than rankings, because rankings vary from user to user, and users look for search results based on content type (images, news, etc.).
  4. A steady increase in organic search traffic growth is usually the best indicator of strong SEO.
  5. For link building, quality is more important than quantity.

Blog Post Setup

Your blog posts not only have to interest human readers – they also need to be constructed so that Google can find them, read them and appropriately display them in search results. Even brilliant content must be optimized in order to find its largest potential audience.

  1. The post URL should default to display the post title.
  2. The post title (H1 tag) should default to be the post Meta title tag.
  3. The post title should include keywords, preferably at the beginning of the title.
  4. Post titles should always be unique and relevant to the content.
  5. WordPress users should use the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin or the  All in One SEO Pack.
  6. Always write a unique and catchy Meta description tag, with a call to action if applicable, for your post, as it will attract more click-throughs.
  7. Read this page from Google with extreme care for a foundational working knowledge of key SEO content considerations.
  8. Include prominent social media share buttons in the post template, as social shares are correlated to rankings.

Site Structure

Many blog themes from WordPress and other CMS platforms are SEO-friendly right out of the boxbut how you set them up, modify them and maintain them makes a big difference in Google’s ability to find and rank your blog’s content.

  1. Avoid long blogrolls on the sidebar, because site-wide outbound links can reduce rankings.
  2. Do not participate in link exchange programs.
  3. Internally link relevant posts on your blog, but do it selectively.
  4. Avoid keyword-optimized anchor text for outbound links unless they are extremely relevant and flow naturally within the narrative.
  5. Use Google Webmaster Tools to identify and fix broken links and other SEO-unfriendly site issues.
  6. Have your own domain.
  7. Have all versions of your blog resolve to the www.domain version.
  8. Use Custom robots.txt to prevent Google from crawling pages you don’t want indexed, such as off-theme content.
  9. Improve page loading speed by upgrading hosting, clearing your cache, compressing images and other techniques.

Content Composition

Going back five years or so, SEO copywriting involved a lot of precise rules about how and where to display keywords in a blog post. Today, Google is smart enough to interpret a post’s theme and relevance without strict adherence to these rules – which is great news for bloggers who want to focus on human readers!

  1. Original content generally outranks duplicate content by a wide margin.
  2. Don’t overuse keywords in post text.
  3. Keywords in subheads, italics, bold or within ordered and unordered lists have slightly more power than keywords in plain text.
  4. Word counts aren’t as important as they used to be, but all other things being equal, longer posts rank better than shorter posts.
  5. Your first SEO priority is to write useful, relevant and authoritative content for human readers, because that is what Google is looking for.
  6. To develop new post topics and SEO opportunities, review analytics regularly to identify popular new keywords and strategic long tail keywords.

Onsite Images And Video

Image and video search are segmented search options on Google that can attract a tremendous amount of traffic. If you are in a visual business, such as graphic design, or any type of business where customers may want to view images or video of what you do, then image and video optimization are essential.

  1. Use relevant keywords in your image’s file name.
  2. Write descriptive alt text for images in plain sentence format.
  3. Write useful and interesting image captions, because they keep visitors on your page longer.
  4. Follow Google Webmaster image publishing guidelines.
  5. Follow Google Webmaster video best practices.

Google Authorship

Traditionally, Google primarily associates content with the site on which it is published. Google Authorship is a fairly new program that associates content with its author. In time, we will probably see high authority authors outrank low authority authors, making it important for bloggers to start participating in Google Authorship program now.

  1. Actively participate on Google+ and in the Google Authorship program.
  2. Since original content is immediately indexed and ranked on Google, write original, useful and keywordrich content on your Google+ posts.
  3. Link your Google+ profile to all blogs and sites you write for following these instructions.
  4. Whenever possible, link your guest authors’ Google+ profiles to your blog.
  5. Use an appealing Google+ headshot, as it will be displayed in Google search results.

Offsite Activities

When your blog is linked to from high quality, relevant sites, it tells Google your blog’s content is authoritative, meaningful, useful and interesting. Establishing and maintaining a solid link profile is probably the single most important SEO activity you can engage in.

  1. Guest blog on relevant and authoritative blogs to build inbound links.
  2. Invite relevant and authoritative bloggers to guest post on your blog, to build social shares and traffic.
  3. Be ultra-selective in pursuing directory listings, as they are generally not an effective way to build inbound links.
  4. Avoid building links by publishing content on article banks.
  5. Avoid building links by publishing non-newsworthy press releases.
  6. Review your link profile, removing bad links, fixing broken links and updating good links to conform to best practices.
  7. Optimize your YouTube channel and videos by following these instructions.

SEO Agency Red Flags

Many bloggers partner with SEO agencies or freelancers in order to cover all of the bases noted above. There are a lot of tremendously talented people to choose from – but there are also some that bloggers would be wise to avoid.

  1. Avoid agencies that promise #1 rankings or tons of free links.
  2. Avoid agencies that don’t have a documented, transparent description of their methodology.
  3. Avoid agencies that don’t provide detailed reports of activity and/or results.
  4. Avoid agencies that won’t provide client referrals.
  5. Avoid agencies that speak in an overly technical way or have other communication shortcomings.

That was a lot to digest, but when it comes to SEO, it’s still just an appetizer. What SEO tips can you share?

Guest author: Brad Shorr is Director of B2B Marketing for Straight North, an Internet marketing agency headquartered in Chicago. He is an experienced content strategist, respected blogger, and SEO copywriter. Connect with him on Twitter @bradshorr.

Why Work Inbound Marketing?

Why Work Inbound Marketing?

Different teams are going to have different solutions for who does what when it comes to inbound marketing. At a smaller company, inbound marketing strategy may fall entirely to one person to create and execute. A larger team may have more specialized positions in content, social, brand, etc. or really any combination of the above tasks among any number of people, depending on the company’s needs an the team’s strengths.

So where does SEO fit in to all of this? Is search engine optimization as we know it being absorbed into other marketers’ jobs?

Rather than being threatened by other disciplines’ encroaching on our territory, or overwhelmed by the volume of tasks that go into a robust inbound marketing strategy, modern SEOs should be embracing the rise of inbound as a holistic approach since it allows us to do better marketing. The days of being handed a blog post and told to add keywords to it are coming to an end, and that’s a good thing!

What happens when a company has a lot of employees with SEO knowledge, but no SEO? I learned what that looked like when I started at SEOmoz. Obviously, lots of folks at SEOmoz understand SEO strategy and why it’s important, but it had been several months since an official SEO had worked at the company.

The result? A lot of elements that were important to SEO had fallen through the cracks or been back-burnered. Content producers knew that keywords were important, but didn’t know which ones to be using and where. New features had been added to the website in ways that were great for users, but created unnecessary headaches for search engines. Even though a lot of people on the marketing team understood the basic tenets of SEO, it was nobody’s job to make sure SEO was taken into account; they all had their own jobs to do. It’s one thing to know that SEO is important – it’s another to know what to pay attention to and look for, especially if your core competency is in another field.

The SEO as Inbound Marketer

Even at a company whose internal education around SEO is top-notch, it’s still vital to have someone to be a steward of the site’s online presence and search performance. SEOs need to take a “the buck stops here” attitude toward ensuring
that our designers, content creators, social media managers, PR representatives and the like are working together on a search-engine-friendly strategy that encompasses all of their efforts.

 

An SEO should be continually helping a larger inbound marketing team do better marketing in the following ways:

  • Analyzing keyword data and trends, and tracking traffic and links per content piece, to help the content manager create compelling, keyword-rich, linkworthy content.
  • Working with the dev team to keep the site fast, crawlable, error-free and trackable.
  • Building relationships with influencers in the space, and leveraging those relationships for links and shares.
  • Syncing with the Director of Marketing and PR contacts to enact a solid, consistent brand strategy, then making sure it’s seeded to the right places for maximum authority and impact.
  • Diving into analytics to support conversion rates; sharing analytics data with business development and account management teams to aid retention of search-driven customers.
  • Collaborating with the UX and design teams to make sure a site that’s a lovely experience for users is also a useful experience for search engines.
  • Consistently evangelizing SEO internally through ongoing education, and being a staunch advocate for SEO best practices in every meeting – the buck stops with you.

By starting to view SEO as a series of collaborations with more specialized colleagues, we can build inbound marketing programs as a team effort.

From Keywords to Sessions

One thing I’ve heard Duane Forrester from Bing speak on several times recently is the search session: the idea that people aren’t using search engines to make one-and-done searches, but rather to make a series of searches over a period of time that could be anywhere from several minutes to several days, before arriving at a decision that might result in a conversion. An example might be a user who starts with “honeymoon destinations” and searches for “beach honeymoon,” “romantic beaches Hawaii” and “Maui vacation packages” before finally searching on “cheap flights to Maui.” That keyword might be the one that gets the conversion, but each search is an opportunity to build brand relationships and influence the final purchase.

Even when consumers aren’t actively searching for things, they’re still building opinions about and relationships with brands via social media – not only through the conversations they’re having, but also through the content they consume. People spend a ton of time on the internet, and most of it isn’t on Google.

A robust, marketing-team-wide inbound marketing strategy is perfectly positioned to market to this new breed of searchers. In order to really start some next-level, better-than-ever organic search marketing, SEOs need to be cognizant of the fact that organic search is just part of a larger experience. To ignore inbound marketing in favor of tunnel-vision focus on SEO means fewer opportunities to engage with customers (not to mention fewer opportunities for links, shares, and other awesome SEO benefits).

We’re all in this together. Let’s get out there and make inbound marketing better.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

5 Tips For Improving Your Site’s Search Engine Positioning

seo

seo

5 Tips For Improving Your Site’s Search Engine Positioning

Almost all webmasters or website owners are looking for ways to get better results from their websites. They wish to improve their site’s standing and get better rankings in search engines. This quest for improved results, known as search engine positioning, can be satisfied by following a few basic procedures.

Before you even begin, you have to realize that you are competing against hundreds, and in some categories, thousands of websites offering similar products and services.

In the case of affiliate marketing, many of the competing websites may even be identical! If you want to get the edge over these competitors and improve your search engine positioning you have to fine-tune your website and actively work to make it better.

1. Make Sure that your design is search engine friendly:

Your design may look good to your eyes, but it may also be the cause of your present difficulties and poor search engine positioning. How is that possible? Look at your web page using a text editor or in an html viewer of popular editors such as Dreamweaver and Editplus. On what line does your first line of copy begin? If your actual copy is pushed far down the page, it is more difficult for search engines to pick up the crucial information that would have helped you to improve your web page ranking.

If you have this difficulty, first take out all unnecessary spaces in the html code. If there are long strings of java script, put these in external files. Similarly, put style information in external Cascading Style Sheet files. Simplifying your table structure may also help. If this starts getting too complicated for you, then consult with a professional search engine positioning specialist or your web designer.

2. Make sure your keywords are strategically placed in your copy:

It is not possible to improve web page ranking if the readable copy on your web page does not contain the words you wish to be found by. Many people erroneously think that just putting your important keywords in meta tags is enough. This is not true, some search engines hardly use the meta tags and look more to the copy on the page. Make sure that your important copy is in the first paragraph of text, in headlines (using headers such as H1, H2, H3) and in the active or clickable portions of link text on your page.

3. Use a site map and text link navigation on your pages:

If you want to improve your search engine positioning for all the pages of your website then you have to be sure that these pages actually get indexed or included in the search engines. You can help this process by making a site map, a web page that has text links to all the sub pages of your site. Another good practice is to include a text link navigation system on your web pages, even if you already have a graphics based navigation bar elsewhere on these same pages. Remember, search engines follow text links more easily. A robot that lands on your main page or site map page will follow the text links and then visit and index your lower level pages.

4. Increase the quantity and quality of inbound links:

In fiercely competitive categories it will be difficult to improve web page ranking without obtaining a good number of links to your page from other websites. If you have very good and valuable copy, other sites may link to you because you are a valuable resource. However, if you want to speed this process along you will have to actively request links from other websites, either by trading links or by getting your content (with a link back to your site) placed on other websites.

When it comes to links you should keep in mind one important principle: it is not the quantity of links that is important, but the quality. One good link from an authority site such as CNN or Wikipedia is worth more than dozens of links from other sites. To get these quality links, there is no short cut. You will have to earn it by having a site that provides a lot of useful information.

5. Keep up with Search Engine Developments:

The challenge of improving your web page ranking and search engine positioning is dynamic. Search engines are not static. Most of the big search engines of yesterday have disappeared or are only minor players today. You should keep up with changes in the world of search engines by taking part in online forums or subscribing to newsletters which deal with topics such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), web ranking, and general webmaster related issues.

If you do not have the expertise or the time to tackle these matters by yourself then you should take advantage of skilled professionals who can help you to improve your site's performance in search engines. Whether you rely on professionals or are able to do it yourself, these five tips can provide a good point of reference for starting the work.

Ida Mae Boyd
Contributor

8 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

SEO - Mistakes

All search engine marketers are trying desperately to promote trends

Especially the trends that are aligned with traditional digital marketing. SEO is immensely important to enhance key to improving your website’s visibility, driving more traffic and better conversion rates.

The first thing one can do as an internet marketer is to avoid making mistakes. Following “SEO Best Practices” can be difficult for online marketers. With search engines changing algorithms on a periodic basis, every SEO strategy needs to adapt and adjust with the latest techniques while giving up on age-old practices. Here are some of the prominent mistakes made by SEO experts:

Mistake #1: Not optimizing images with rest of the content

Optimizing images is sometimes not part of the SEO strategy and can be over looked. Adding target keywords to images relevant to the rest of the content helps search engines understand them. A link to the image with just numbers and alphabets in odd positions does not convey anything but some relevant words and numbers would matter. One should incorporate descriptive keywords for every image. Including relevant alt text helps search engines to find images in relevant searches and even the accessibility of the site.

Mistake #2: Keyword stuffing

Nowadays websites contain varied types of content in terms of text. One needs keywords for SEO and use of right keywords is important for getting the right audience. Optimize them carefully to gain popularity in search engines. But keyword stuffing will only ruin your website ranking since cramming a keyword multiple times makes content worthless. Only keywords do not get customers to a website. Also, Google algorithms will get the site blacklisted and also issue a bad ranking.

Relying on large amounts of mediocre content can affect sites. Using specific keywords with strategic placement and relevant content is effective. Creating insightful info about a topic can can attract attention through different channels.

Mistake #3: Not Setting Up Canonicalization

When implementing an SEO strategy, one should make sure that you do not have duplicate content on the site. If there is identical content for online access using different URLs, you need to identify the right page for visitors and implement a canonical to help search engines know that it is not a duplicate version.

Mistake #4: Disregarding Pages by Not Indexing Them

One should not forget indexing pages. Pages that are broken or missing are going to avoid search engine results altogether because pages indicating 404 error are excluded. A high number of 404s leads to an increase in bounce rate and visitors will feel cheated of any information. Search engines crawl websites and rank them and 404 pages interrupt their process. It is important not to have broken links on your site and keep the website active.

Mistake #5: No updates on site

After spending months to create an interactive and attractive website, one should try to keep it dynamic with consistent blog posts or some other content. Companies fail to optimize the site with keywords and just sit back to watch the traffic decrease. Let in some updates that will help your prospects with relevant information and they might convert to leads.

One needs to make a schedule for posting different posts related to your field on a regular basis, and consistency will get you the attention of search engines too.

Mistake #6: Neglecting social media

Neglecting social media is a crime in this day and age. Social media is no longer an optional marketing ploy but a necessity for businesses. By being conversant and relevant on popular social sites like Facebook and Twitter, one can enhance a company’s image and credibility. Sharing your content will lead the search engines and drive potential visitors to your site. Social media following can also boost brand awareness amongst loyalists.

Mistake #7: Lack of internal links

One might think that it is erroneous to link to one’s own content and even think that search engines might read into it and even blacklist the pages. Despite what you may think, internal links to website is great for SEO and helps search engines to crawl to your website. One should focus on the most important pages of any site and strategize posts to link back to those pages. One should find a real connection between pages to do the linking task.

Mistake #8: Failure to measure progress

Improving SEO is like losing weight. One needs to check and measure your progress on a consistent basis. One should know the current standing when you start, and then track the changes. With solid metrics in place, one will know that the SEO practices have been working or not. If you do not think that there has been any progress, then it is preferable to drop it.

Credit: Keval Padia

Dennis Roeder

Contributor

Concise v. Wordiness: The Debate Over “Long form” Blogs

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

As a healthcare provider, I’ve been trained to read through an exuberant amount of information in order to glean what is important.  In a medical emergency, the physician usually has minutes to sift through a patient’s medical records (both past & current) to make quick decisions about how to care for an unstable patient.

This requires having the ability to quickly scan and find the most important points about a given patient who is critically ill.  This includes quickly determining the patient’s past medical history, current medications, social situation, current labs, diagnostic radiology, and physical exam all in minutes' time.

When it comes to reading about non-emergent matters (including blogs), I would prefer the writer to be short yet concise rather than long-winded and wordy.   Understandably, it takes skill to be concise just like it takes practice to get really great at reading for comprehension. 

Before writing your article or blog, answer & write down the following questions:

  • What is the topic or main idea of the article?
  • Title: Does my title reflect the content of the blog? Does it attract the reader?
  • What is the problem or issue being addressed and/or solved?
  • Why is this problem important and why should the reader care?
  • Does the article contain examples of the issue being discussed?
  • Is there a link to a specific article of reference?
  • Is there a photo (title or body) that reflects the blog topic?
  • What is the key message/lesson/points of the article?
  • What summarizes the above points? This typically comprises the last paragraph

Sometimes, a given blog topic requires a long explanation in order to illustrate all the points but there are ways to address this issue while still being concise and authoritative on the issue or topic.  This involves breaking up your topic into smaller topics that you write about in a series of blogs.  This will prevent the reader from getting lost or missing your overall points. 

A good example of conducting a “series” of blogs is the following:

I want to write about healthcare reform but it’s a huge category with lots of different topics and issues to discuss or write about.  Rather than submit a thesis-style article about all the various issues affecting healthcare, I submit a series of blogs on the topic of healthcare reform.

In other words:

Topics in Healthcare Reform (Heading)

            Subheading 1: Making PrEP available to all who are deemed “high risk” of acquiring HIV

            Subheading  2: Access to decent, affordable healthcare           

            Subheading  3: High Prescription drug costs

            Subheading 4: Making mental healthcare a priority

In the above, you are creating a series of topics in healthcare reform.  You have created four separate blogs about a different topic in healthcare reform rather than creating one long-winded article, which many would not want to read all at once.  By providing “chunks” of different topics within a series, your reader can read about one topic at a time while not missing key points.

In summary, before you start writing a blog, remember to essentially ask yourself the “who-what-when-where-why/how” questions while making sure your title reflects the content.  Also, if you think your topic is too broad or extensive, consider writing a “series” of blogs about your topic so that the reader gets just enough information that’s concise and will entice them to read more of your work.

Become The Best Blogger

Become The Best Blogger.

Is it necessary to have a goal to become the best blogger in your niche? Is content marketing something that the public on the web is seeking? Many have asked that questions about the value of content marketing and wondered if it is limited to a few types of businesses. This article was printed in Hubspot in August 2014 titled, How To Become The Best Blogger In Your Niche. 

Back in 2012, Max Nisen wrote, “Content marketing is one of the biggest new trends.” He reported NewsCred’s CEO Shafqat Islam as saying, “Every Fortune 2000 company today is a candidate for content marketing. If they're not doing it, they will be.”

Two years later, Nisen and Islam’s prophecies have come to pass. We are in the age of content marketing — and it's showing no signs of going away. The content marketing arena is now so vast and so complex that people are starting to get lost. Don't believe me? Just take a look at this hodgepodge of an infographic from LUMA:

luma-content-marketing

In spite of the scary complexity, blogging is still the one of the most powerful weapons in the content marketer’s arsenal. And the better the blog, the better the content marketing efforts.

So here’s my thesis: If you are the best blogger in your niche, you can be the most successful in your niche. It’s only logical. If blogging is the core of content marketing, and content marketing is the path to success, then we must conclude that being a kickass blogger is the path to marketing success.

And here’s the really good news: You can become the best blogger in your niche. In the post that follows, I will provide three points that explain exactly how to gain that edge.

1) Know your audience.

Answer the most important question:  “Who is my audience?”

Too often, bloggers start with the wrong question. They ask things like:

  • How can I be interesting?
  • What can I write about?
  • What will make this post more engaging?

Those are great questions, but they are totally meaningless unless you first understand your audience.

I came across a line recently that stuck with me:

 

pngbase64c3c9af76173e7e56

When you blog for someone, you will have plenty of things to write about. What’s more, you’ll communicate in the right way — you'll be more "human" and familiar if you treat your audience like real people.

As you ask the big question, “who is my audience,” keep in mind these additional questions that will help you develop a deeper knowledge (From University of Maryland's Writing Resources):

 

  • What is the relationship between the writer and the reader?
  • How much does the reader know
  • Is the audience likely to agree or disagree with you?
  • What will the reader do with the information?

The clearer your view of your audience, the better your writing will be.

Your audience is smaller than you think.

Keep in mind that your audience is probably smaller than you think. Traffic metrics do not reflect an accurate count of your engaged audience. A better way to understand your audience is through engagement metrics.

In a study conducted by Chartbeat on Slate readership, they discovered that the most engaged readers were those who scrolled below the fold. A full 86% of engagement took place when readers scrolled to read an article.

 

chartbeat

Also, share metrics tend to skew the perception of an engaged audience. The people who share your articles don’t always read the whole thing, as an Upworthy study showed. This chart below indicates how long users stayed on a page compared to the point at which they shared the article.

attention_minutes

Your true readership is made of those who are engaged — the users who read your entire article and absorb the material.

You can build your audience.

Even though it is smaller than you think, you can also build your audience. Great bloggers grow in size and reputation. That’s what this article will tell you how to do.

The more you blog, the better knowledge you’ll have of your audience. You discover what they love, what they don’t love, what makes them click, and what makes them convert. In my Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience, I wrote this:

"A great blog begins with the content you create, but to be successful, a blog also needs a strong community or audience."

So you should not only learn who your audience is, but also shape that audience, too. To a certain extent, you get to decide who your audience is, and what they want to hear.

Everything starts with audience. If you know your audience and speak directly to them, they’re going to love you.

2) Be consistent.

You’re not going to be a wildly successful blogger unless you’re consistent.

An article on NewIncite had this to say about consistency:

"Quality of content and consistency are the most important factors in setting up your schedule … Consistency will keep them engaged, build brand awareness, and — if done right — help convert them to buyers."

It’s easy to talk about consistency, but it’s hard to do consistency. Bruce Springsteen wasn’t exactly a content marketing professional, but he had a great line about consistency:

"Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose and of action over a long period of time."

What worked for The Boss works for content marketers, too. You want to be a blogging rockstar? Take it from a real rockstar: Consistency matters.

Being a rockstar blogger feels good. But waking up early every day, hitting the keyboard every day, and maxing out your mental resources every day doesn't always feel good. But that gritty pain is what consistency is made of.

How often should you blog?

So, what does consistency mean in real numbers? How often do you need to publish a blog post? To answer this question, I’m going to be all evasive and tell you to refer to point one — know your audience.

Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute wrote this on the topic of blogging frequency:

"As long as the blog post serves these two goals it’s worth doing a post: 1) Is a compelling and interesting story to your target audience (the reader), and 2) Serves the objective for your blog. If that means five posts per week, great.  If it’s one per week, that’s fine to. [sic] Focus on whether or not you have a story worth telling."

I can’t give you a hard and fast number. I can, however, recommend a minimum threshold — you should aim for at least one post a week.

Why? Frequent output — i.e. consistency — is positively correlated with greater traffic, as indicated by HubSpot’s research.

blog-slide-7-resized-600

In addition, HubSpot discovered that bloggers with higher output had better lead generation results:

blog-slide-10-resized-600

So consistency leads to accumulation of content, and the more content you have, the more results you’ll get.

3) Be totally transparent.

If you’re more transparent than anyone else in your niche, you’ll get more readers. People crave transparency.

Kevan Lee, Buffer’s blogger par excellence, writes this in his article, "The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post:"

"We aim for an element of storytelling in each of the posts we write, often starting a blog post with a personal anecdote or moment of transparency."

Transparency is a tricky thing. On the one hand, relationships are built on trust and transparency. But it’s hard to be transparent. Nan Russell, in Psychology Today, had some cogent insights about transparency:

"People want other people, not necessarily themselves, to be transparent … Some people find transparency threatening, especially at work, while others find it exhilarating. Some confuse transparency with authenticity, or think transparency means communicating everything or knowing everything they want to know."

Transparency is important in blogging, because you are building trust, developing relationships, and growing an audience. At the same time you must exercise your transparency in a thoughtful and intentional way. You’re not going to spill business secrets, gossip about others, or divulge information that puts you in a dangerous personal situation.

The best advice that I’ve read comes from the article I cited above, regarding the role of transparency in the workplace. These principles, as I’ve restated them and applied to blogging, will make you appropriately transparent:

 

  • Tell stories that demonstrate your openness and vulnerability.
  • Make sure you are respecting your boundaries of confidentiality and the confidentiality of others.
  • Use your transparency to help others, not simply for the sake of being transparent.

When we try to become transparent, we’re usually not as transparent as we think we are. But if we work hard to share personal stories — appropriate details included — we’ll get better at it.

Transparency engages readers and turns your blog into something that readers love. As I’ve studied many blogging niches, I’ve discovered that the bloggers with the greatest degree of personal disclosure are the most successful. So if you want to be a successful blogger, you’ve got to get personal and transparent.

Conclusion

Being the best blogger in your niche has very little to do with writing technique and flawless grammar. Those technical skills kowtow to some way more important things:

 

  1. Knowing your audience.
  2. Being consistent.
  3. Being totally transparent.

If you put these techniques into play, you’re on the path to blogging domination and content marketing success.

*How to Become the Best Blogger in Your NicheWritten by Neil Patel | @neilpatel

DR. Raymond Jewell, is a leading economist and Home Based Business Consultant. He is a Alpha Legacy member of Markethive and manages several blogs on the hive. Markethive Systems is just a click and a sign up and you can witness the power of the Hive first hand.