Posts Tagged ‘ search engine optimization ’
When optimizing your website for the search engines, a good starting point is to work with a basic recipe. You want to optimize your content with good keywords, follow the webmaster guidelines established by the search engines, format your content and links so they can be easily crawled by the search spiders, and implement an integrated strategy including blogging and social media that will help catapult your site toward the top of the search results.
It’s Halloween, so I want to have a little fun today. Some furry friends are going to help me tell the story of a basic SEO strategy. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I have!
Find and optimize your content with long tail keywords that will help you emphasize your specialized focus.
Your content should be user friendly. You need to avoid the use of ghostly tactics such as hidden text.
You want to be sure your site uses the proper keyword linking strategies so the search spiders will deem your content worth a high ranking in the search engines.
Make sure you read up on and are compliant with webmaster guidelines to avoid being penalized.
Implement an integrated strategy with blogging, social media and linking that will help your keyword strength and web presence bloom.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN!Continue Reading »
There’s no way around it – Google is the head honcho of the search engine world. If we want our websites to show up in the search results (and stay there) we need to acknowledge Google’s webmaster guidelines. While we may not follow these guidelines to the T, it’s clear that following Google’s suggested best practices will mean a healthier life-cycle for our sites.
Google breaks down their guidelines into three main sections: Design and Content Guidelines, Technical Guidelines, and Quality Guidelines. Let’s take a look at what Google wants from each category.
Design and Content Guidelines
- Easy to Navigate
- Provide useful, relevant content
- Keep the number of links on each page to a reasonable number
- Include appropriate keywords in your content
- Test your site to be sure it displays correctly in different browsers.
- Optimize your site speed and performance
- Regularly monitor your site’s performance
- Allow search spiders to crawl your sites without session IDs
- Don’t try to trick your users or the web with cloaking (presenting different content to the search engines than you users).
- Avoid tricks to improve search rankings.
- Don’t take part in link schemes
Specific Quality Guidelines
- Avoid hidden text and links
- Don’t use cloaking
- Don’t create multiple pages or sub-domains with duplicate content
- Don’t fill your content with irrelevant keywords
Overall, Google wants websites to provide unique, useful and relevant information on sites that are easy to use – the end goal being happy searchers. This was verified with their recent Panda update which focused on increasing the exposure of sites with quality content. As we always say here at Astonish Results, quality content is king.Continue Reading »
Fear has a lot to do with the unknown. SEO is still a relatively new development in the marketing industry, so it stands to reason that many companies are hesitant to dig into it. I’ve outlined five of the top reasons companies fear search engine optimization in hope that eventually we can quell these fears. The more you learn about SEO, the less intimidating it will become and the easier it will be to implement a solid optimization strategy.
Fearing SEO or being intimidated by all of the work required of a successful strategy is no reason to steer clear of this proven marketing tactic. According to G.I. Joe, knowing is half the battle – so start your education today. If you can grasp the fundamentals of SEO, then you are one step ahead of the pack. If you don’t have the time to implement an SEO campaign on your own, team up with a consultant but be sure to stay away from the false “quick results” scams out there. Then prepare yourself for some hard work and eventually you’ll see some astonishing results!Continue Reading »
Writing content for the web is much like cooking – you have to use the right balance of ingredients in order to get the desired result. When it comes to search engine optimization, you need to find the right keywords and then use them appropriately throughout your content. There is a definite skill involved with finding the right measurement of keywords in your web content – if you use too few you won’t be recognized but if you use too many to the point of saturation your content can be perceived as spammy. Utilizing the proper portions is key.
Much like testing out new recipes and tweaking old favorites, there is no singular technique to creating the perfect SEO strategy. The search engines alter their algorithms on a regular basis, so it’s important to be willing to experiment with various methods. Now, while it’s important to try new practices there are definitely some aspects of search engine optimization that are go-to’s. It’s vitally important to determine a set of keywords and incorporate them naturally into your content. This is where things can start to get tricky – it is so important that you use your keywords appropriately. Think of keywords as an ingredient, if you use too much the whole recipe will be thrown off.
While we cannot say for sure exactly how many keywords should be used on each page of your site, it has been determined that overloading a website with keywords is a bad practice. Keyword stuffing has been identified as an unethical misuse of the web and it can even get your site penalized. Keyword stuffing can be defined as the act of over-filling your website’s pages with keywords by creating lists or paragraphs of terms or unnecessarily repeating terms throughout the content. The search engines want to promote a positive and useful user experience, keyword stuffing detracts from that.
Keyword overkill can also result from hidden text – for example: hiding terms by putting them in a white font on a white background, including text behind an image, or setting the font size to 0. Just because the standard user cannot see the hidden text doesn’t mean the search engines can’t. When the search engines find hidden text, they are likely to deem the website as untrustworthy because it is offering a different experience to users than the search engines. Such a discovery can mean reductions for your website’s rankings.
There are many facets that must be incorporated into your online marketing strategy, but a major key to remember is keeping a balance. Any reasonable talented chef understands that you need to use a properly portioned mix of ingredients – the same is true for search engine optimization.Continue Reading »
Few things in life are strictly black and white, but in the SEO (search engine optimization) world it is important to be able to identify and understand the difference between White Hat and Black Hat strategies. In the simplest sense, the two can be described as follows:
White Hat SEO – Ethical SEO tactics in which you follow the guidelines established by the search engines for long term stability and success.
Black Hat SEO – Unethical SEO tactics in which you try to trick the search engines in order to gain quick results.
While the search engines still have a lot of work ahead of them, they strive to keep search results as genuine and helpful as possible for searchers. To accomplish this goal, the search engines, with Google leading the pack, have established usability guidelines for websites to follow. By following these webmaster guidelines, you can ensure that your website will remain in the good graces of the search engines and have the ability to grow in strength (and improve search rankings) on a long term scale.
White Hat SEO tactics revolve around following the webmaster guidelines. White Hat is all about playing by the rules in order to garner long term stability for a website. White Hat SEO takes a great deal of work and creativity – it is definitely a challenge – but the hard is what makes it great. By taking the time to invest the proper, and approved, SEO strategies in your online campaigns, you will see a payoff in the end. White Hat tactics won’t get your site to rank immediately, but in the end you will have a website that is built with good content, clean linking, and the ability to bring you traffic, leads and funds into the future. At Astonish Results, we pride ourselves on employing and advising only White Hat SEO campaigns. We do our best to educate clients on SEO best practices so they don’t get falsely lured into the short term charms of Black Hat SEO.
Black Hat SEO is a strategy for getting short term results. Through Black Hat tactics such as keyword stuffing and link farming you can get your site high rankings quickly, but you can generally anticipate that a Black Hat site will be banned or penalized once the search engines catch on to the unethical behavior. Websites that utilize Black Hat strategies are generally looking for a quick fix or to turn a quick profit. Companies who are trying to develop a long term web presence will only hurt their reputation if they participate in Black Hat SEO. We understand that Black Hat SEO can be tempting, primarily because it will work – for a short period of time. However, if you want to be considered a legit source on the web, you need to follow the rules.
Here are some of the major Black Hat SEO strategies you should be sure to avoid on your website:
Keyword stuffing: Loading a page with a bunch of keywords and nothing else. You need to spread keywords throughout your content to avoid being penalized by the search engines.
Hidden text: Displaying text or links so that they are invisible to the reader but available for the search spiders to crawl. This can be done by putting white font on a white background. If it appears that your website is trying to deceive the search engines with hidden text or links, the site could be removed from the search results.
Doorway Pages/Cloaking: Pages that are built for the search engines to crawl, and not for humans to see. They are hidden pages that are built with the intention of tricking the search engines into thinking a site has more content than it actually does in order to rank higher in the search results.
Overall, if you want your business and its web presence to be considered legit, you should steer clear of Black Hat SEO strategies. They are simply not worth the risk of having your website either temporarily or even permanently removed from the search results. Stick with White Hat SEO practices and you’ll be in the pink.Continue Reading »
If there is one thing I’ve learned about Internet Marketing it is that it’s easy to make a simple strategy unnecessarily complex. When marketing online it’s important to keep in mind that the role of the Search Engine (Google) is to essentially play matchmaker. Search engines inevitably are trying to match the user’s query or “question” with a result or “answer.” Your job as the marketer is to do the necessary work that will prove to Google your web site has the right “answers” for the important “questions” or “searches.”
At Astonish Results, I run a pretty white-hat Internet Marketing department. White-hat refers to SEO practices that are legitimate and kosher. White hat practices usually involve writing high-quality, keyword-rich content that are useful to searchers. Black-hat practices refer to strategies that try to trick the search engines into giving their site priority over others. This can be done by outsourcing low quality backlinks, stuffing keywords into your meta data and a handful of other insincere techniques.
From everything I’ve seen online, I know that the more “zen” your Internet Marketing approach is, the better.
What does a “zen” Internet Marketing plan look like? Here are five points to a “zen” SEO Strategy:
1. Love your keywords. And then let them go.
We all love our keywords. Keywords can be like little nuggets of gold. But if you think about it for a minute, the act of doing keyword research alone can be thought of as well, not black-hat, but possibly gray-hat SEO. If you know that one keyword is more searched than another, you’re going to want to use it more often than others in order to begin ranking higher for this term. While this is common practice, it is still – in essence – trying to trick the search engines into ranking you for the more popular keywords. So my advice to you is to love your keywords…and then let them go. This means that you should know what your keywords are and try to use them as naturally as possible in your content. But beware. Sometimes if you love something too much, you can smother it. Be careful not to stuff your keywords or over optimize. Have your copy read naturally. Use the research and the data you’ve gathered to give you a leg up, but don’t use it excessively. Using keyword research is an art and not a science.
2. Think Socially.
It is crucial that every small business have an effective social media strategy. Your social media fans, followers, and friends can be thought of as an email distribution list. By posting something to your wall on Facebook, your message can be seen by all of your fans. So start thinking about who these fans are and what you can offer them. A Facebook-only coupon, offer, or prize? An event that only goes out to Twitter fans? Think about how to grow and nourish your social relationships as you would your email-base.
3. Act Locally.
Most small businesses are interested in doing business locally. So that means, you’ve got to implement a solid local strategy. After you have confirmed your local listings on the major search engines and begun to ask your very favorite customers for positive reviews, it’s time to take your local strategy to the next level. Solicit relevant links from local directories like DMOZ and ISEDB.com. Consider paying for placements with Business.com, Best of the Web, Insurance Journal Yellow Pages, or a Yahoo! Enhanced Local Listing.
4. Be nice to your friends.
When you’re creating offline partnerships, how do you judge a positive relationship? Do the same online. When you meet colleagues in your industry on social media platforms, you should always be thinking about how you can work together for mutually beneficial marketing promotions. Two heads are better than one.
5. There’s no time like the present…to write a blog post.
What have you added to your web site lately? If the answer is nothing, then you are in trouble. The search engines are checking in regularly to see what is new about your web site that keeps it “fresh” and “updated.” If you haven’t been posting on your onsite blog regularly, I suggest you begin today. Adding fresh, useful content to your web site shows the search engines (and your visitors!) that you’re alive, healthy and relevant.Continue Reading »
When you think of search engine optimization (SEO), most likely the first thing that comes to mind is your website. You analyze your content, title tags and whether or not you chose the best keywords in general—but how often do you take into consideration your social media accounts?
With its growing popularity as a marketing portal – and its unique ability to effectively connect customers with brands – it makes sense that small business owners would be taking Facebook a bit more seriously.
With Facebook’s nearly endless opportunities for consumer engagement, it’s crucial that you take the necessary steps to ensure you are harvesting the social platform’s full potential—including your SEO efforts on the site. It’s the little things and strategic customization that can turn your Facebook page into a serious traffic-generator:
Give your page a clear, keyword-rich name—actually use the name of your business. May seem like common sense, right? You’d be surprised how many small business owners don’t realize how critical name recognition is—this isn’t the area of your account where you want to be creative. Use whatever your official company name is—this will most likely be the keyword your customers or potential Facebook fans will most often use when trying to search for you. Keep in mind that Facebook is a personal social networking platform, so don’t get carried away trying to appear for terms that you aren’t particularly relevant for. The more spammy and salesy you appear, the more Facebook users will want to avoid you—the goal is to reach your fans, not turn them off to your business completely.
Try a vanity URL. Recently, Facebook has allowed the opportunity for its users to “claim” a vanity URL for their specific page. For example, Astonish Results’ vanity URL is facebook.com/AstonishResultsRavingFans – it includes the company name and the Raving Fans reference, a key component of the company’s culture. A vanity URL can also be something as simple as your agency’s name – facebook.com/ABCInsuranceAgency – remember to keep it clean and simple; the point of a vanity URL is to make it easier for fans and customers to find your business page.
Use the About Box & Information Tab. Why wouldn’t you take full advantage of every opportunity to write descriptive, keyword-conscious content about your business? The About Box happens to be one of the few significant places on your business page that is accessible and utilized by the search engines. What may seem like just a little box in the left hand corner of your page actually provides you with a couple hundred characters to boast about your business, what you’re all about, what your employees are up to or even just share a bit of your agency’s culture. Every little bit helps, so make sure that whatever information you share is extremely valuable and relevant.
The Information Tab is another great source for keyword-rich content. Completing the Information Tab is critical to the success of your business page, because the more inclusive and thorough your page is, the more likely you are to show up in relevant searches. Facebook also allows you to provide links to other related pages or profiles, so make sure that you are using the Information Tab to draw traffic to other areas, such as your agency website, as well.
Build Links to your Facebook business page. The easiest way to build links – as well as increase your word of mouth marketing efforts – is to organically increase your number of fans. You want quality, authentic consumers to like your page, interact with you and inevitably share your business profile with others. To keep your fan base growing, you need to actually be social—keep the conversation going, pose questions, share your expert insight and dedicate sizeable time to your social networking initiatives.
Another powerful way to gain some traction and drive traffic to your social media account is to build links off site. This can easily be done by including links to your Facebook business page on your official website, on other social media or social networking sites in which you have a profile, as well as within any blog posts that you write. The more links you can build to your Facebook page the more credibility and authority you will give it.
All in all, it’s important that when thinking in terms of SEO that you don’t limit yourself to the obvious. Yes, social media is meant to be social – it’s all about building relationships and engaging your community – but you want your fans to be able to find you, right?
There’s no harm in boosting your social SEO – just remember to keep it simple, relevant and genuine.Continue Reading »
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”
The internet didn’t exist yet when Jimmy Dugan, Tom Hank’s character in “A League of Their Own”, said the quote above but the meaning is easily transferable to today’s internet marketing efforts.
Running a successful internet marketing campaign is a challenge. I’ve often referred to internet marketing as a puzzle that needs to be pieced together. Only with each individual piece fitting together snuggly will you have a completed picture in the end. Search engine optimization (SEO) is an excellent starting point for any website. SEO can be defined as the process of increasing the visibility of a site within the search engines.
If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.
Not everyone has the time to devote to search engine optimization. However, having a web presence is becoming more and more vital to the growth of businesses and employing SEO techniques will help to set your organization apart from the competition.
Times are changing, marketing strategies are evolving, and more than ever your website will be a driving force behind your business’s profitability. The internet is now so readily available that you will lose out by not having a web presence. Take that a step further – you will lose out if you’re on the web and people still can’t find you. Implementing even a simple SEO approach on your website will be beneficial.
Recently I was doing some product research and wanted to find a specific company online. They had an advantage, or so I thought, because I had their name, address and phone number already. That should’ve been a done deal for them. I searched for their name in Google – unfortunately that yielded no results for them. I then searched for their name along with the town they are located – still nothing. I finally found their website by plugging in their company name and full address. This attempt was only fruitful because their address was mentioned on one page of the site. Their company name was virtually undetectable save their logo on the homepage. So, unless someone had this company’s complete book of information, their site would not show up in the search engines. I’d like to say this is an extreme case, but it is all too common. If people who want to find you can’t, how do you expect people who don’t know you exist to find you?
By not participating in an SEO campaign, you could be harming your business’s chances for growth. If you can’t put in the time yourself, outsource – it’s worth it. At Astonish Results we help hundreds of clients who admit that they either don’t have the time or knowledge to develop a successful internet marketing campaign. We do the hard work for them on the web, so they can do their own hard work in the insurance industry.
The hard…is what makes it great.
Now, let’s say you do have a decent website. You’ve written unique content for your pages, you’ve focused on specific keywords, and now searchers (ideally customers) can find you. Talk about a competitive advantage! The act of optimizing your website for the search engines will allow you and your company to be found online, and ultimately that will allow your sales potential to expand.
It’s not easy, but you need to set your company apart through a blend of optimized marketing efforts. Be proactive. Visit the websites of your competitors, similar organizations and related blogs to see how they are presenting themselves. Then set yourself apart. Focus on an area that others may not be, or put a fresh spin on an old topic. Sure, that’s easier said than done in most situations, but that’s the point. If it were easy, everyone would do it. By exerting the effort to implement SEO, either yourself or through an outsourced marketing agency, you will eventually reap the rewards – your website will produce top search results!
So, if you’re not already working on it – get out there and starting implementing an SEO strategy on your site! The blood, sweat, and tears will pay off in the end.Continue Reading »