SEO – Search Engine Optimization
Description: SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” simply means the things that can be done to improve your search engine ranking. Everybody wants their website to show up at the top of the search engine page when people do a search for things contained in their content. Thusly, and in our humble opinion, SEO is a very lengthy topic and worthy of much discussion. We have been doing SEO for more than 15 years now and so we would like to help you to better understand the elements of SEO. We also plan to use this opportunity to present you with some useful tips should you decide to attempt doing your own SEO enhancements.
I. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Overview
1. What is SEO? (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is when you optimize your website for the purpose of ranking higher in the various search engines. Many years ago SEO was simpler to achieve due to less competition and less influence of social media.
Opinions on best SEO practices vary from one person to the next. This is due to people having different experiences and results. It also stems from the slightly mysterious nature of the search engine algorithms. No one person can honestly explain every intricate detail of the inner workings of every major search engine. If you do find that person please have them call me!
Therefore, SEO is an ongoing learning process as one learns what does or doesn’t work from experience. There is also the ongoing dynamic of the search engines changing the details of exactly how they decide to rank websites.
With all that being said, we can tell you that there is no “magic bullet” for SEO. It can require a good deal of effort and then a waiting period to monitor and observe the results. If we had to sum up the golden rules of SEO we would tell you that “content quality is King” and “content variety is Queen,” and “social media saturation is the Royal Kingdom.”
2. Why do I need SEO?
Yes this is actually a serious question. I say that because you would be amazed at the people I have ran across that seem to have little to no interest or faith in SEO.
The reason you need SEO is because you need search engine traffic. The reason one displays content on the internet is for the purpose to attract viewers and then achieve some goal. The goal may be charity, it may be sales or it may be just to provide helpful information, etc.
You need SEO simply because it can help you to achieve your goal(s). To emphasize this I would like to point out the following statistics according to the College of Marketing;
- “91% say they find what they are looking for using search engines”
- “73% say the information found is trustworthy and accurate”
- “93% of online activities begin with a search engine”
- “Every month over 100 billion global searches are being made”
- “82.6% of internet users use a search engine”
3. Which Search Engines are most important?
This is a trick question. The correct answer is that all search engines matter and there are hundreds of them out there. They all matter because you could never predict with total certainty which one a potential viewer might use.
The top 5 search engines are Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask and AOL. According to the College of Marketing and as of February, 2013, Google has 67.5% of the market share, Bing has 16.7%, Yahoo has 11.6%, Ask has 2.6% and AOL has 1.7%.
This makes it clear that Google is the current undisputed King Kong of search engines albeit Bing has been slowly eating away at their market share. Now with all that on the table, we want to share with you the reality of this.
When it comes to SEO, nearly all of the techniques used will generally work across all search engines. This is good news for you because it means you need not concern yourself with specific SEO for each and every search engine. Instead, implementation of good SEO will help with all search engines simultaneously.
4. What is SEM? (Search Engine Marketing)
SEM or Search Engine Marketing revolves around the implementation of SEO, SMM (Social Media Marketing) and PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising. One can use SEO, PPC or SMM separately or in any combination you choose.
SEO is one form of search engine marketing and is the main theme of this writing. Because effective and successful SEO can propel you to a much higher search engine ranking it is a major player in search engine marketing.
SMM or Social Media Marketing would be the next key element of search engine marketing. SMM entails two things and you can implement one or both as you choose.
The first part of SMM is creating a presence at a social media site or multiple sites. The second part of SMM is paying for advertising and exposure at the social media site(s). We will talk more about SMM in a few.
PPC or Pay Per Click Advertising is the final element of SEM. PPC simply means that you pay a search engine to advertise your site or some specific site page or contents. We will talk more about PPC in a few.
Before I go into more detail about SMM and PPC I want to briefly mention something about your keywords and keyphrases as they relate to SEM and even search engine ranking.
Not all keywords and keyphrases exist on the same playing field. By that I mean this, suppose you sell ceramics and you want to promote the keywords – keyphrase such as, “purple ceramic turtle.” I would submit that you could have great success fairly easily wherein anyone doing a search for “purple ceramic turtle” would find you at or near the top of the ranks.
Now on the other hand, let us suppose you are an attorney and your keywords – keyphrase is, “accident and injury litigation.” All of a sudden everything changes and although you might move heaven and earth a search for “accident and injury litigation” does not show you ranking anywhere on the first 100 pages!
I wanted to bring this up just to make you aware of the huge differences that can exist between promoting something obscure and non-competitive as compared to promoting something that is extremely saturated and highly competitive.
Depending on your specifics, great success could be easy and even free i.e. organic, however, it could also be a huge challenge and potentially very costly in PPC fees as a free i.e. organic search ranking may be unreasonable to obtain.
To drive this point home, an expert on internet marketing and PPC for attorneys Lauren Curatola has said that, “In 2011 it was estimated that law firms spent a minimum of $52.6 million dollars on PPC ads. That is double what Apple supposedly spent ($20.75 million) on their PPC ads for the iPhone and iPad.” (Quote courtesy of: TheEdesign.com)
5. What is SMM? (Social Media Marketing)
SMM or Social Media Marketing is the utilization of social media platforms to propagate your objectives and to improve your SEO. I divide SMM into two categories, the first being to create and develop a presence there and the second being to pay for advertising there.
The first category or creating and developing a social media presence is a good place to start. The first thing you need to know is what the major social media platforms are and also which ones are best suited to your objectives.
FaceBook is the largest social media site in the world with nearly 1.26 billion users! Facebook allows for you to create a complete digital presence with branding and theme. Users can like, share, comment and engage your displayed content. FaceBook allows people to “check-in” at your business location. FaceBook also offers paid advertising.
FaceBook is a great choice regardless of what your focus is. This is simply because nearly everyone is there and the reach is limitless. Another advantage is that lengthy content can be submitted with text, links, photos and videos.
Twitter is one of the fastest growing and largest social media sites in the world with roughly 500 million users. Twitter allows for you to create a complete digital presence with branding and theme. Users can favorite, comment and re-tweet your displayed content. Twitter offers promotion advertising which is designed to help you get more followers and exposure.
Twitter is a great choice regardless of what your focus is. An advantage to twitter is that it has an enormous population of mobile users. Twitter allows limited text content to 160 characters and you can upload text, links and photos. Twitter is trending upwards and we are confident that trend will continue. With Twitter you can have 100’s of thousands of followers!
LinkedIn has been around for a long time now (2003) and has roughly 238 million users. LinkedIn is focused on working professionals and businesses. Currently there are roughly 3 million business pages at LinkedIn! LinkedIn allows you to upload logos for branding. LinkedIn provides a variety of paid advertising opportunities. LinkedIn is a good choice to build a business page where you can list and detail out your products and services.
LinkedIn is somewhat disadvantaged as a social networking site simply because they have very strict limitations on invitations. They want you to personally know your connection and once you have invited 3,000 people to your network you will be blocked from inviting more unless you have their email address. This creates somewhat of a barrier to reaching out and making new social media connections which is really a core purpose of social media.
YouTube has also been around for some time (2005) and has roughly 1 billion users and 4 billion views per day! YouTube is focused on video content and allows you to create your own channel for your uploaded videos. YouTube also allows uploading of logos for branding. YouTube users can view, share, comment, and subscribe to your content.
YouTube offers a wide variety of advertising options. YouTube is a great choice, especially if you have a focus on music or have content in video format. If you do not have video content keep in mind that you can create Power Point slide shows and export them as movies for uploading to YouTube. YouTube is owned by Google and content there seems to do very well in the Google search engine.
Google+ is a new kid on the block (2011) but has a very impressive quantity of 500 million members and 343 million active users! Google+ benefits from integration with Google Mail and YouTube and offers many cool features such as Circles, Streams, Hangouts, Messenger, Sparks, Games, Ripples, Communities and more.
Google+ is a great choice regardless of your focus. Although a late comer their growth is astounding and there is no reason to think the upward trend will stop. By using enhanced campaigns you can interlink your Google advertising with your Google+ page.
WordPress is an amazing blog platform that allows you to build and run a very nice blog for free. For a very small fee you can upgrade to run a fully themed and branded template. At last count WordPress had 66 million different blogs running and reaches around the entire globe!
A WordPress blog is a great choice regardless of your focus. This platform allows you to display text, photos, videos, links, widgets and more. It also has an amazing capability of “pushing” your content out to your other social media sites. WordPress has an effective paid advertising program that can bring viewers into your WordPress blog.
Tumblr is a blogging community that encompasses 216 million monthly viewers with more than 108 million different blogs! Tumblr is an amazing blog platform that allows you to build and run a very nice blog for free. You can also implement a fully themed and branded template for no additional fees.
A Tumblr blog is a great choice regardless of your focus. This platform allows you to display text, photos, videos, links and more. Tumblr has some great free advertising programs such as spotlight for brands and radar. Tumblr also has paid advertising for highlighted posts.
Pinterest is a late comer (2010) and could be best described as a photo sharing social site. Users create themed boards where they can pin images with descriptions. Pinterest has a thriving community of 70 million users of which 80% are women.
Pinterest is a great choice for artists, photographers and anyone that chooses to reach a mostly female audience. Pinterest has great free advertising opportunities with their pin it button and widgets. They have also just now released a paid advertising opportunity for promoting pins.
Wanelo stands for Want – Need – Love. Wanelo is also a late comer (2012) but is showing an amazingly strong upward growth trend. Wanelo boasts 10 million users and could be best described as a shopping and tangible products centered social site. Users create “collections” where they can add products and descriptions from online retailers. Users can also follow each other and post stories.
Wanelo is a great choice for anyone that offers tangible merchandise for sale online. If any user inserts your products at Wanelo you become eligible to claim and open a “store” there at no charge! Wanelo does not offer paid advertising to my knowledge but they do have very nice mobile apps and a browser add on that allows you to easily select and add products from your favorite websites.
Plurk is a micro-blogging site where users can share text, photos, links and videos. Plurk allows for total branding with custom theme and template modifications at no charge. Plurk features a very cool timeline concept of displaying activities. Plurk boasts 1 million daily users and has been around since 2008. Plurk has lost market traction against its rival Twitter but still displays a stable and upward growth trend.
Plurk is a good choice for anyone that is looking to reach out to a global market as only 8.4% of their users are USA based. Plurk is a great way to reach out to the markets in Taiwan and India. Also, Plurk is a great choice for anyone looking to connect to the virtual world community of Second Life.
Myspace is my own personal favorite social networking site. This is because I am a music fanatic and no other social site can compare to Myspace when it comes to music entertainment. Myspace is currently suffering from a large loss in user base which stems from a variety of issues including the exponential rise of FaceBook. I anticipate a strong come-back coming on.
Myspace currently has about 36 million users and boasts having 14.2 million artists and over 42 million songs. Myspace provides a full array of social media features where users can chat, share links, photos, videos, music and more. A very special and unique feature of Myspace is their music player interface that allows you to create music mixes and then play or share them with other users.
Myspace also gives you a way to connect with famous entertainers, their albums and individual songs. Myspace is a great choice regardless of your focus and is mandatory for anyone involved in the music industry. I am currently unaware of any form of paid advertising there but if that changes I will update everyone.
Once you become aware of the top contenders in social media and then decide which platforms are best suited for you it is time to develop your presence there. This can be time consuming and requires you to find ways to garner interest and end user involvement.
When you develop your social media presence you need to pay close attention to make sure that the logos, branding and theme at your home website is harmonious with your social media pages. This gives your users a feeling of being in your “house” regardless of where they interact with you.
The second category of SMM is paid advertising. Each social media platform has a slightly different offering for paid advertising. The best approach is to develop an advertising campaign and then monitor the results after implementation. This will allow you to see what works best and then make adjustments as needed.
Finally, I would like to briefly discuss why SMM is connected to SEO. Firstly, search engines do use social media signals as part of the ranking determination. Recent research has shown that FaceBook likes seem to carry a good deal of weight but other platforms can also give beneficial signals.
Secondly, SMM is connected to SEO in that it can give you more search engine listings while also offering your users more options. By that I mean it is preferable to have a search return back listings that show your home website, FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube as opposed to the search only returning back a listing for just your website.
Not only do you benefit from the additional search engine listings but you also benefit by offering people more options. By that I mean some people may ignore your home website but flock to your FaceBook page or alternately your Twitter or LinkedIn page. The more options you give people the better the odds are that you can offer something that will appeal to them for interacting with you.
To more clearly illustrate this I would like to share a real live example of this in action. In this example the keywords – keyphrase has returned back 9 out of 10 search engine listings on the first page of Google.
It is very interesting to note the sequence of these as well. Take a look at the list below and see which locations performed best in this search:
- YouTube Presence
- LinkedIn Product Listing Page with backlink to YouTube video
- LinkedIn Company Page with backlink to home website
- LinkedIn Product Listing Page with backlink to home website
- Reseller website with a product listing
- Sister website with a product listing and backlink to home website
- Home website home page with embedded YouTube product video
- Home website resources page with product listing
- Home website home page with embedded YouTube product video
As you can see the YouTube and LinkedIn presence performed better than the home website! Also, backlink pages did better than the homepage. The point is that social media helps SEO because you can return search engine listings that are in addition to your home website. This gives you more search engine
presence presents (pun intended) and it also gives your users more options of where and how they choose to interact with you. I would also submit that it gives you more clout and credibility.
6. What is PPC? (Pay Per Click Advertising)
PPC or Pay Per Click advertising is just as the name implies and refers to paying a fee for people to “click” an ad and route to your website. This is the opposite of “organic” search results which are not paid for.
PPC advertising is something that I recommend, and especially where you either have a new website with low traffic or you are in a saturated or highly competitive keyword – keyphrase market.
Some people will argue and even show statistics that organic search results are better or more clicked than PPC and this position does have merit. However, it is not always possible or even realistic to achieve a high enough organic rank to benefit from organic search results. Particularly if you are relatively new, an attorney, university or any entity that has the misfortune of existing within a saturated and competitive keyword arena.
Another often overlooked point is the benefit from PPC even when your ad is not clicked. By this I mean to say you receive exposure. Every time someone sees your name and your brand this is positive energy and beneficial. Even if they do not click your ad you are still “in their face.”
Google is the big dog in PPC advertising but I would not rule out Bing. Bing does carry nearly 20% of the search market and is slowly gaining on the giant Google. As mentioned before, you could never predict with total certainty which search engine a person might use.
When you opt to implement PPC I recommend starting out on a smaller scale at first. This will give you time to monitor and analyze your results. One concern with PPC is what is referred to as conversions. A conversion is when a PPC turns into a sale. Obviously, PPC’s which never lead to conversions are money spent and no money earned. Maybe your product is not desirable or maybe the price is out of line, etc. In this instance, all the money in the world and tons of PPC success may not lead to any positive cash flow at all!
In other words, the PPC ad is merely a piece of the puzzle. If you have a high “bounce rate” or if your product or service simply does not produce sales you need to examine things closely and determine how to make adjustments to correct the problem. All of this needs to occur before pouring tons of investment into a PPC campaign.
If the problem is your product desirability, pricing or presentation, analysis and corrections will have to be made. If you experience a problem with a high bounce rate where people bounce in and right back out of your site, then you need to look into that and make adjustments.
A high bounce rate could be due to an ugly website, excessively long loading times, annoying popups, auto-starting videos, confusing navigation, lack of an alternative site for mobile devices, etc. Whatever the cause of the high bounce rate, you will want to diagnose and correct this early on and before you lose a lot of investment into a PPC campaign.
7. What is a SERP? (Search Engine Results Page)
A SERP or Search Engine Results Page is simply the web page that the search engine provides you after you enter your search terms. This will include organic, PPC and possibly other results.
8. What are organic search results?
Organic search results are those which are not paid for. Statistics show that these are very desirable and can even out-perform paid for search results! Does this mean to never use PPC? No, because there is also a time and a place where PPC is still a viable and wise option.
9. What are Social Media Signals?
Social media signals are a piece of the search engine ranking puzzle. What I am convinced of is that they do matter and Google has admitted to this on their YouTube channel albeit without releasing any intricate details. FaceBook shares and likes, Twitter tweets, favorites and re-tweets and YouTube subscriber count and views quantity can all help SEO to some extent. I would also not rule out that other social media platforms like Google+, LinkedIn and others will also have an effect.
What I cannot tell you with any degree of certainty is how much weight is given to what and how the search engines calculate all of the available data. If you would like to read more, the best research I have found on this subject is located at the following URL: http://blog.searchmetrics.com/us/2012/06/07/us-and-uk-seo-ranking-factors-2012/
10. What are search engine blacklists?
Being on a search engine blacklist is something that hopefully will never happen to you. Bear in mind that search engines are not draconian ogres that are on the hunt to victimize and blacklist websites. Blacklisting usually occurs for good reason and thankfully there are remedial measures that can be taken.
A blacklisted site will not be displayed in search engine results regardless of their page rank, quality of content, quantity of backlinks, etc. There are varieties of things that can potentially get your site blacklisted. One item is cheating or lying on keywords and phrases. An example of this would be using the keyphrase Miley Cyrus and your website is about potted plants and has no content for Miley Cyrus.
Another item is hiding keywords and phrases to increase density. An example of this is having a white background and then inserting keywords and keyphrases in a white font. These are hidden from the viewer but seen by the search engine. Using this technique to increase rank is a bad idea.
Another item is if you have malicious code on your site. Search engines can discover malicious codes and also viewers can complain and report your site for this reason. Annoying popups is not exactly malicious code but you need to know that these can generate complaints and/or a negative effect on SEO.
If you find that your site has been blacklisted you need to take immediate action. The first step is to determine what has caused the blacklisting and make full corrective actions. The next step is to make contact with the blacklisting search engine(s) and do your best to offer a reasonable explanation while simultaneously asking for a review and removal from the blacklist status.
11. What is the sandbox effect?
The sandbox effect revolves around the correlation between your search engine ranking and the age of your website. There is a bit of debate on this topic where some say it matters and others say it does not matter.
Based on my own personal experiences I have noticed anomalies wherein an older site will out rank a newer site even though the newer site has better content and SEO in place. This would lend one to say that the sandbox effect does exist. Personally, I believe when I have observed these anomalies, there is some other explanation that I have overlooked and the age of the site is not the whole picture.
That being said, I have more often observed that a younger site outranks an older site due to better content, SEO and other superior elements. Even if we apply common sense we come to the conclusion that there would be no legitimate reason to think that the age of a site is as important as the quality of the contents. I would also recommend this video by Matt Cutts of Google.
12. Can I do my own SEO?
Doing your own SEO is always an option. By doing internet research you can discover a wealth of information which you can use to implement your own SEO improvements. I would submit that doing your own SEO is better than no SEO at all!
An alternative is of course to pay for SEO services by some professional such as Impact Social Media. Another option would be to have an SEO expert do a full analysis and provide you with a list of recommendations. You can then use that list as a guideline to implement the changes yourself.
II. SEO Tips
1. SEO Introduction
In some instances SEO opinions vary and in other instances they agree. I do not know everything about SEO and I am always observing and learning on this subject. What I can tell you is that SEO is important and one would be wise to use it to their advantage. Now let us cover some SEO tips.
2. Avoid any practices that could get your site blacklisted
As discussed earlier you want to be sure to avoid anything that could potentially get your site blacklisted. No benefit gained from these techniques will be worth the potential consequences.
3. Avoid anything other than minimal use of FLASH
While FLASH can be great to develop fancy animated presentations and websites it is not exactly the best option for SEO. The nature of flash makes it much more difficult for search engines to extract the details of the content for proper indexing.
If you must use flash for whatever reason we recommend that you use it sparingly. Also, be sure to use proper tags to give the FLASH descriptive keywords and keyphrases. We also recommend that you use descriptive keywords and keyphrases in close proximity to the embedded FLASH. Lastly, make sure you code in complete controls for your embedded flash so that users can turn it off and we advise against using FLASH that auto-plays upon loading.
4. Avoid broken or dead end links
Broken links can be devastating. Just imagine getting your awesome content to the top of a SERP and then when someone clicks the link the link is broken and leads them to a dead end! Yes this really does happen. Please take a look at this YouTube video which demonstrates how you can find and fix broken links.
Always test your internal links to make sure they work. It is also a good idea to keep a check on any external links and make sure those work also. Be careful about deleting or moving content. If you move or rename content be sure to use redirects to the new location. If you do not know how to setup server level redirects you can make use of our online video tutorial.
5. Avoid excessively long page loading times
Try to avoid excessively long page loading times. I have had mixed results with sites that load slowly. In some instances it can increase the bounce rate. In other instances I have seen people tolerate it simply because their desire for the content outweighed the lengthy loading time. Either way, play it on the safe side and do what you can to reduce the loading time to a tolerable level.
6. Avoid using navigation buttons with text as image
Just say no to navigation buttons where the text is in the form of an image. This is not as friendly for search engines as using text only. If you do use image-text navigation, be sure to include an alt tag so you will be in compliance with ADA guidelines.
7. Descriptive page titles and with keywords and keyphrases
When you title your page make use of keywords and keyphrases. Be sure that the content of the page is relevant to the keywords and keyphrases that you place in the title.
If you use a CMS or other scripted website try to avoid having pages titles such as, “page.asp?pid=3355.” Often times WordPress and other platforms have plugins that allow you to control the names of your pages. If you have already created pages with non-descriptive names, change the names to something descriptive and then add redirects for the old names.
8. Diversity of content in text, images, videos, tables, charts and links
Make an effort to create a wide diversity in content. More diversity is better so try to include a range of text, images, videos and links. Make use of keywords and keyphrases on all of your different types of content.
9. High quality, useful, relevant and regularly updated content
The quality of your content can make or break you regardless of your SEO efforts. The best SEO in the world cannot overcome worthless-lacking content and by the same token sites with amazing content can do well even without extensive SEO. Your content needs to be high quality, useful, relevant and updated on a regular basis.
10. Implementation of Bing and Google analytics
Bing and Google analytics are your friends. By adding some code into your web pages you can monitor your traffic data. This can be very beneficial for SEO analysis and can help you to improve upon your keywords and phrases.
You can do this free of charge by creating an account at Bing and Google. The data can be observed from many different perspectives and there are also a variety of useful tools. These are essential must have elements for SEO analysis and improvements.
11. Implementation of code compliant coding practices
It is a good idea to make sure that you are utilizing proper coding practices. This reduces potential loading errors and content display issues. A part of proper coding practice is to test your display on multiple browsers to make sure it works well on Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, Opera, FireFox, etc.
You can get free help with testing for code errors by going to W3C. At W3C you can test HTML pages and also CSS. This is a great tool as it can help you to spot problems in your code even as you are in the development phase.
12. Implementation of demographics targeting
Demographics targeting is when you target your keywords, keyphrases and content towards a specific group of people. The group could be women, people from India, or people who paint cars, etc. If you have a very specific target group you should concentrate on keywords, keyphrases and content that is relevant and complimentary to your target group.
13. Implementation of end user participation
End user participation can come in many forms and goes beyond merely viewing your content. You can enable viewers to Like things on FaceBook, Tweet things on Twitter, and in other manners “push” out to the social media platforms. You can also enable your viewers to follow or connect to you at the various social media networks where you have a presence.
Another valuable tool for encouraging end user participation is a blog where they can sign up to leave comments. You can also create things like guest books and comments pages. Anything that encourages end user participation can be of benefit to your SEO.
14. Implementation of location targeting
Location targeting is when you target your keywords, keyphrases and content towards a specific geographic location. The location should be chosen in a way that will best benefit you.
An example of this would be if you were a painter that only did projects within a 50 mile radius of Kansas City, Mo. In this example you would want to use Kansas City, Mo. as well as the other cities that lie within a 50 mile radius of Kansas, City. This way, when people do a search for, “painter Kansas City,” you are much more likely to appear high on the SERP.
This also works well for targeting mobile users since many times they do searches that are more specific to their location when searching for local businesses. If you fail to take advantage of location targeting you run the risk on missing potential search engine hits for searches specific to your location.
15. Implementation of RSS
RSS or Really Simple Syndication could best be described as a stream of data coming from your website. The RSS “feed” picks up your content updates and then publishes it to anyone who chooses to subscribe to your RSS feed.
A user can choose for your RSS feed to arrive in their email or other interface. A user can also embed your RSS feed into their website where it will be displayed to their users.
If you use WordPress or some other CMS or Blog it is likely that the RSS capability is already available to you. If your website does not already have the RSS capability you can easily add it. I recommend that you use Feedity as they will provide you with an RSS capability for your website for a small fee.
16. Implementation of SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising
You should automatically be using SEO to get an SEM result. You should also determine if you are a candidate for PPC. If you are a new site with no or low traffic or if you are in a saturated and competitive arena then you may very well be a candidate for PPC.
As mentioned earlier start off on a smaller scale so you can validate your product desirability, bounce rate and other important elements. Closely monitor your PPC results and then make necessary adjustments. An effective PPC campaign can do wonders to get a new site up and moving and it can also help to level the playing field when you exist in a highly competitive industry.
17. Implementation of SMM (Social Media Marketing)
SMM should not be overlooked as a potential benefit to your objectives. As mentioned earlier begin with some research and then select which social media platforms best fit your demographics. Then, develop your presence there and begin to reach out for connections and work to increase the size of your audience.
You should consider a variety of options for the purpose of promoting your SMM. You can use contests and give-a-ways. You can also use paid advertising to promote your presence at the various social media platforms. As with PPC this can be of great aid when you are just getting started and need that initial boost.
18. Implementation of SEO sooner rather than later
Better late than never could be applied here but I would also emphasize that late is not better than sooner. Some SEO changes that are made later are not a big deal. For instance, adding heading tags or better keyword density in content, etc.
Other late comer SEO changes can be much more difficult and time consuming. Some examples would be changing URL names, changing image names and changing directory names.
The best scenario is to build the website with an SEO focus from the very beginning. This way thoughtful attention can be given to page names, directory names, image names, etc.
19. Include provision for mobile devices
An often overlooked SEO strategy is to make sure you give an alternative site option for those who use mobile devices. If you fail to make provision for mobile traffic you could incur a higher bounce rate and loss of viewers.
Keep in mind that a proper mobile alternative does not mean that you use scripting to detect mobile users and then offer them your full size website shrunken down onto their screen size! A proper mobile alternative site should be an altogether different design than the full size site. Make use of the most simplistic navigation and keep your text and graphics to the bare minimum.
Always give a clickable email and phone number interface. Stay away from fancy gradients, heavy scripting and anything else that is a resource hog. Try to make sure your user does not have to side scroll to view all of the content. Lastly, provide a clickable link on the full size website that leads to the mobile site just in case the redirect scripting fails to work.
20. Inclusion of an XML sitemap
A sitemap.xml should reside in the root directory of your website. It tells the search engine your web pages names, locations, time of last modification, frequency of changes and page priority. The sitemap should be updated anytime your content changes.
You can create your own sitemap with a free download of XML Notepad from Microsoft. You can learn how to properly format and build the sitemap.xml at SiteMaps.org. If you prefer to have your sitemap made automatically you can have that done for free at XML Sitemaps.
21. Interconnectivity to a variety of social medias
Your website should be interconnected to any social media platform where you have a presence. This can be done by embedding buttons, links, scripts and widgets. This will allow users to be at your website and route to your social media platform or engage your social media presence from your website.
Fortunately, most of the social media sites provide you with the tools necessary to accomplish this. You can click any of the social media site names below to go their page for buttons, links, scripts and widgets;
- Plurk (Search FAQ for: How to embed Plurk widget into my blog?)
22. Proper inclusion of keywords and keyphrases in content
When developing your content you need to be sure and include a proper density of keywords and keyphrases. Density simply means how often your keyword(s) or keyphrase(s) appears as compared to the total quantity of words.
There is some debate about the proper density ratio. Some say not to exceed 5% and others argue they have done so without repercussions. My philosophy is to naturally write your content. Do not excessively force the density and at the same time be sure that you do not leave out keywords and phrases or under-use the density.
My personal opinion is that what is more important than keyword density or even proximity is the overall combination of usage. By that I mean using the keywords and keyphrases in the page URL, page title, Meta tags, H1 and H2 tags, content text, links, tables, image names, video names etc.
23. Proper setup of robots.txt
The robots .txt file resides in the root directory of your website, unless of course you do not have one. The robots.txt file is used to control what the search engines can and cannot index. Be sure that no important directories are disallowed or blocked from search engine indexing.
While we are on the subject of robots.txt I would like to mention that I frequently see it being used to stop search engines from browsing sensitive directories. I disagree with this technique simply because anyone can navigate to your website and do forward slash /robots.txt and immediately view every directory that you tried to block from the search engine.
You have essentially just given any hacker an exact map of the name of each of these directories! Worse yet, you have managed to block the friendly search crawlers but the directory is wide open to anyone with an internet browser who may be potentially malicious!
If you have a sensitive directory, rather than broadcast this to the world via the robots.txt I would rather you password protect that directory. This will then require a user ID and password to access the directory so that it becomes protected but without telling anybody the name or location of it.
If you do not know how to do a password protect on a specific directory you can make use of our handy online video tutorial.
24. Proper image directory browsing
I would like to discuss open directory browsing for image directories and the relationship to SEO. I commonly find that web developers will have an images directory within a website and then insert a blank index page in there to stop directory browsing. This is a bad idea because it prevents the search engines from crawling all of the images in that directory.
A better practice is to leave that image directory open for browsing and then give each of the images a good descriptive name using keywords and keyphrases. Now, instead of having a blocked directory with no SEO value we turn that image directory into an SEO advantage.
If your concern is hot-linking of your images, using a blank index file is the wrong approach since it detracts from SEO. The proper approach is to use hot-linking protection instead and leave that directory open for browsing. If you do not know how to setup hot-linking protection you can take advantage of our online video tutorial that will explain the procedure in detail.
To make this point more clear I would like to show you the difference between blocking an image directory with an empty index page vs. leaving the directory open to browsing and using descriptive keywords to name the images. The following images make it very obvious which is better for SEO.
25. Proper use of alt tags with keywords and keyphrases
Alt tags are an alternative to a displayed item such as a photo or video. These are required for ADA compliance since a blind person cannot make use of a photo and would prefer to have a text description as an alternative.
When creating your Alt tags you have an opportunity to use descriptive keywords and keyphrases and I suggest you make good use of this for SEO.
26. Proper use of anchor tags and target tags
Anchor tags and target tags are a form of linking geared towards connecting items within the same webpage. If you have a lengthy page you can make use of anchor tags and target tags to improve the navigation and SEO.
You can also make use of anchor tags and target tags on lengthy or complex web pages by creating a table of contents. The table of contents can utilize descriptive heading tags. These can then be clickable and link to the relevant location in the body of the text which also contains the same descriptive words. This also aids in navigation and SEO.
This same technique can be used to create a top of page icon at the bottom of your pages. This allows your user to go from the bottom of a very long page to the very top of the page with just one mouse click instead of having to scroll all the way back up!
To do this in your web page use tags like this:
a name="give_it_some_name_in_here">The landing target goes in here<
a href="#Insert the name you used above in here">The clickable text or item goes in here<
27. Proper use of the title attribute with keywords and keyphrases
The title attribute should be added to your web page elements. This enhances SEO and it also benefits your viewer. The title attribute will give detailed information about links, images and other elements when the mouse hovers over.
You should use descriptive keywords and keyphrases in your title attributes. The title attribute can be added to your content tags with minimal effort. To see an example of this in action hover your mouse over the following image and you will see the title information appear.
Add the title attribute to your tags like this:
img src=”/image.png” title=”Insert the title text here” />
28. Proper use of heading tags with keywords and keyphrases
Heading tags should be used to enhance SEO. Heading tags can give your content better organization and clarity for the search engines. At a minimum make use of the h1 and h2 tags and it is also good to make use of h3 and h4 tags if your content is broken down into that many sub-levels.
For improved SEO always include relevant and descriptive keywords and keyphrases within your heading tags. Search engines can be aided in understanding the main topics and sub topics of your content when the heading tags are properly laid out.
29. Proper use of meta tags with keywords and keyphrases
We recommend that you make use of the meta tags for keywords, description and author. There is some debate as to the effectiveness of meta tags but the safer bet is to go ahead and use them for SEO.
The meta keywords tag gives you a place to list keywords and keyphrases. The meta description tag gives you a place to create a good description of your page contents. Lastly, the meta author tag gives you a way to show who the author of the content is.
Here are some example meta tags:
meta name="keywords" content="keyword1,keyword2,keyword3">
meta name="description" content="Your amazing description goes in here">
meta name="author" content="Author’s name in here">
30. Relevant and quality backlinks with no use of link farms
In order to improve SEO you should work at getting relevant and good quality backlinks from other websites and social media sites. A backlink is when some other site has a clickable link to your site. When building your backlink partners do not make use of any linking farms. Linking farms are websites that are full of mostly nothing but links and some of them charge fees to link to your site.
Backlinks from relevant and reputable sites are much more valuable than just any backlink from anywhere. Keep in mind that relevant and quality backlinks can increase your page rank. This in turn can result in the search engine crawling in your site more frequently and more deeply!
31. Reduction in the bounce rate
Bounce rate is referring to the percentage of people who land at your site and bounce in and bounce out. This means they do not look at additional pages, click items or spend any measurable time there.
A high bounce rate is bad for SEO simply because no matter how high you rank in the search engine, your visitors are leaving too quickly and without interaction.
High bounce rates could be due to many factors like an ugly website, terrible navigation, confusing and disorganized content, annoying popups, excessively long page loading times, lack of an alternative for mobile viewers, etc. Whatever the cause of a high bounce rate, it should be fixed as soon as possible because nothing good will come from it.
32. Submission of site to Bing and Google Places For Business
You should always submit your business site to Bing and Google Places for Business. There is no charge for this and the benefit is well worth the effort required. This is especially beneficial when you are targeting customers in a specific location. If you need a quick link to Places for Business you can click the following links: Google Places For Business | Bing Places For Business
33. HTML display advertising on Craigslist
Craigslist can help you pull traffic and search engine hits. Craigslist allows you to create classified listings which can help to increase your exposure. By making your products and/or services on display there you can gain some benefit but keep in mind you will have to follow all of the Craigslist guidelines and bear in mind that your listing will expire and so it will need to be redone periodically.
34. Submission of site to Merchant Circle and Manta
Just like Craigslist, Merchant Circle and Manta can help you to pull traffic and search engine hits. Both of these locations allow you to list your business along with a good quantity of relevant details.
There is no charge for a basic listing and I would recommend taking advantage of it. Also, for an upcharge you can increase your impact there via a more sponsored or advertised presence. You can find these two sites at the following links: Merchant Circle | Manta
35. Use of canonical URL’s
Search engine performance can potentially be degraded by using a multitude of different URL’s for the same web pages. i.e. In one link you use www.site.com and in another link you use http://site.com and in yet another link you use http://www.site.com.
Always pick just one URL and stick with that consistently. If you have already made a mess of this you should implement redirects from your multiple of names to just one URL name.
36. Use of friendly navigation design
Always try to use friendly and understandable navigation. Make sure that there is a clickable link to every one of your webpages and content. If you have a lot of scripted fly down menus you should consider adding a secondary navigation menu of everything in a sidebar or footer area.
37. Use of sitemap directory page
I always recommend including a viewable sitemap page in every website. This sitemap should show directory structures and sub-directory structures for everything in your website. Including short descriptions is also a benefit.
This aids your viewers to quickly find and navigate to any content and it also acts as a safety net to make sure the search engines have a clear path to everything in your website. If you need free online assistance in automatically generating an HTML sitemap try visiting SiteMap X.
38. Use of structured data
I always recommend using structured data in your website. This data is hidden from the viewer but seen by the search engines. Essentially, it aids the search engines in understanding how to best interpret and index your data. You can learn more about this at Schema.org.
You can also make use of the Google Webmaster tool that can help you with this task. You can highlight the text and enter it or alternately copy and paste the Meta data from the Google tool into your HTML. I don’t recommend for you to only use the Google highlight feature because this will not aid the other search engines albeit doing that is better than doing nothing.
39. XML sitemap submission to the top search engines
Always submit your sitemap.XML to search engines. Do this upon the initial creation but also do it whenever you have content changes. At the bare minimum you should submit your sitemap to Google, Bing and Yahoo.
40. Gain insight from Matt Cutts
I had to save this tip for last! I highly recommend you take full advantage of the extensive collection of Google Webmaster videos at YouTube. Matt Cutts and other experts offer a treasure trove of valuable insights by answering questions and discussing a variety of SEO topics.
While they cannot discuss every last search engine secret they do open up enough to be of great benefit to anyone interested in SEO. There are also valuable guidelines there for new websites. The information is free so be sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel and also make use of the handy search feature to look up any topics you want to study.
III. Our approach to SEO
1. Why use Impact Social Media?
Impact Social Media offers professional and personalized SEO services for startup companies, small to medium sized businesses and organizations. We offer affordable and flexible options for SEO analysis, SEO changes, and results monitoring.
2. Step one is to analyze your existing SEO
We have developed an SEO analysis method that looks at 50 different SEO elements. Each element is then given a score of 1 through 10. (1 being the worst and 10 being the best)
The scores are then totaled to give an overall assessment based on a maximum possible total of 500 points. This tally is then converted into a percentage and a letter grade for clarity. The analysis can be done on the landing page, specific pages, or any combination of pages at your discretion.
The 50 element analysis will include a brief description of the findings and remarks on each of the elements. Lastly, the analysis also includes a summary of the findings along with a list of recommended fixes. All of this will be provided to you in a Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF document.
3. Step two is to develop and implement SEO changes
At your discretion you can choose to make some or all of the recommended fixes with or without our assistance.
4. Step three is to monitor the SEO results
Once the changes have been implemented the results and effectiveness should be monitored and documented. At your discretion you can allow us to take care of this or you can use any other option you prefer.
Take a look at our comprehensive SEO analysis below.
Use our affordable SEO analysis to verify your strength and weakness.
Use it as a guideline for making all of your needed changes.
Impact Social Media specializes in SEO services and we are uniquely geared for startup companies and small to medium sized businesses and organizations. If you have questions or need SEO assistance contact us today. If you would like to learn more about our SEO services please take a moment to visit http://impactsocialmedia.net/kansas-city-seo/
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