Archive for the ‘SEO for Small Business’ Category
Friday, October 19th, 2012
I’ve said it before. Search engine optimization changes over time. You would think so, but even the definition has changed.
SEO used to be the art of ranking web pages in the search engines for specific key phrases. That’s no longer a valid definition. Today, search engine optimization is the art of maximizing organic search engine traffic and delivering that traffic to your website. So what does that mean exactly?
Search engine rankings used to be static. If you ranked No. 1 for a particular search term, then you ranked No. 1 for that search term for all users in all places. It was easier to achieve high search engine rankings for your search terms because all you had to do was game the algorithms. It’s much more difficult today to game the algorithms.
Thanks to personalized search, social signals, and hundreds of search signals, search engine optimization is no longer about achieving high search engine rankings.
Sure, you want to achieve high rankings, but that achievement is no longer a static achievement. You can rank No. 1 for a search term in Minnesota and be on page 2 for the same search term in Texas at the same time. Furthermore, you can rank No. 1 in the morning for that search term and fall to No. 8 in the afternoon. Even different users in the same city can see different search results for the same search query at the same time. There are simply too many factors affecting search engine rankings to make going after positioning worth your time. So what’s the game?
You want traffic. Plain and simple. But to achieve high traffic from search engine rankings, you need to focus on producing quality content and distributing that content across as many platforms as possible – search and social.
With Facebook and Quora linked to Bing and Google taking search cues from Google+, it’s important to promote your content through the social networks. That itself can boost your search engine rankings and traffic. So don’t think about search engine rankings as a static achievement. It’s always a moving target.
Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
Local SEO is a growing opportunity for many businesses, especially if you serve multiple cities or geographic locations with the same service. So how do you optimize your content for each location that you serve?
This is a challenge for many businesses because you can’t just take the same content and replace city names with other city names and call that local SEO. That’s more likely to hurt you in the search engines than help you, and it could kill your business entirely with duplicate content penalties or de-listings from the search engines. Online marketers have to come up with alternative ways to reach each city they serve.
One way to reach customers in multiple geographic locations is by providing different types of content. For one location, use a video testimonial. For another, post a written testimonial. You can include articles, separate graphics, and make use of local culture in your website content.
Of course, you must think about the needs of your customers in each location you serve. Are they different? For a landscaper, you might serve one city where Bermuda grass is popular and another location where another type of grass is preferred. Make good use of the differences between your various locations within your content.
Finally, start a blog. With a blog, you can create unique content that addresses the need for each location you serve. You can write about general information regarding your niche as well as the specific needs of each city you serve.
Thursday, October 4th, 2012
Google does more than help searchers find information online. It also helps content producers come up with good ideas for their content. These 4 unusual keyword research tools are perfect for webmasters and content producers come up with ideas. These are not the only keyword research tools Google offers, but they are ones you likely have not used. I encourage you to use them.
- Google Trends – Google took two products (Google Trends and Google Insights for Search) and combined them into one all new Google Trends product. Free to use, you can see how important keywords have trended over time. Are more people searching for your topic today than two years ago? Google Trends will tell you.
- Google Suggest – When you search Google you’ll see a few suggestions as you type. Those suggestions are top searches that others have used related to the one you are using.
- Google+ Trending Topics – Google+ is more than a social media tool. There are also search implications. As you watch your content stream, you’ll see a list of trending topics. Check those often to see if any of them relate to your niche.
- Google Zeitgeist – Google Zeitgeist is a yearly report Google puts out that shows the top searches for the previous year. You can see the top searches related to specific information categories as well as geographic locations.
These 4 unconventional keyword research tools will help you find more and better content ideas for your website, blog, and articles. Use them. They’re all free.
Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
Facebook claims to be getting a billion searches per day without even trying. I guess that’s a good reason to pursue building a search engine, but would it be any good?
Facebook announced on Friday that you can now track your searches and delete them if you want. However, that feature hasn’t been rolled out to everyone at this time. But it is comforting to know it’s coming down the pike. Isn’t it?
Privacy concerns aside, would a Facebook search engine change the landscape of search? Would more people use Facebook as a search engine if Facebook announced the official Facebook Search Engine? What would that do to Facebook’s relationship with Bing? And more importantly, how would it impact your own content marketing strategy? Or would it?
Facebook doesn’t exactly have a good reputation among searchers. It’s not like you hear people say, “I’ll Facebook it.” They’re there for the friendship and socialization, not for finding information.
Still, things change online all the time. It could happen.
So, I’ll ask again. If Facebook had a search engine, would you use it? Would you change your content strategy to target Facebook’s search engine in hopes that more people would find your website through the largest social network online? I think you’d be a fool not to at least explore it. But that’s just me.
Please tell me in the comments if you’d adapt your content marketing strategy to include Facebook Search?
Tuesday, September 11th, 2012
Is it necessary that your domain name be an exact match for your primary keyword? Many SEOs still believe that it does, and many of them teach their clients that it does. However, many websites have been successful without exact match domain names. Here are a few:
- Small Business Mavericks
And of course there are plenty more!
Small Business Mavericks is not exactly a perfect example, however. I would consider it a partial match domain name since we do cater to small businesses, however, we provide online marketing services for small businesses. That makes the domain name a partial match, not an exact match per se.
Nevertheless, the principles of exact match with regard to your domain name hold for us as well.
SEOmoz conducted a study on exact match domain names and found that they are in decline in the search engines. But, they were careful to point out that this is not due to the search engines targeting exact match domains in any way. It could just be collateral damage resulting from other algorithmic changes.
There are times when securing an exact match domain could benefit you, but if you do it strictly for SEO reasons, then I’d say it’s probably not going to help you. If it does, it won’t be by a large stretch. And if you engage in on-page SEO spam, then it likely will hurt you.
A good time to select an exact match domain name is when your primary keyword is in your business name and you want the domain name for branding purposes. Remember, you are building an online business so you should think long term. Don’t get shortsighted about SEO tactics and forget that you are building a brand.
Friday, August 31st, 2012
SEO gurus can sometimes shroud the work of search engine optimization in mystery. It’s usually done to make people believe it’s difficult work so they can sell more services. The truth is, it’s really not that difficult. Here’s an article that sums it up nicely in a cute little nutshell.
The sad thing about the article is that natural writing on the Web is really nothing new. This is the way the search engines have operated for a long time. But it’s more important now than ever.
Real SEO writing is about ensuring that your content passes the quality test. If it does, then you have huge potential to rank for the keywords that you want to rank for. If you over-optimize your content, you can do more damage than if you don’t optimize at all. And there’s the catch.
I can distill all SEO copywriting advice down into three little bullet points:
- Write well
- Write clearly
- Write naturally
The only real keyword usage you have to do is that which comes naturally to the content you are writing. You don’t have to count keyword densities or ensure your keywords end up in some magical place on your web page. You just have to write great content that is worth reading. Oh, and pepper it lightly with a couple of keywords or three.
Friday, August 24th, 2012
Keyword research is one of the most misunderstood parts of the SEO process. Many new online marketers get the impression that it’s a one-time event. You do your keyword research and there’s your list, never to be thought of again. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, what you should do is revisit your keyword list periodically. Not every day, but at least once every six months. If you are marketing in an industry that sees a lot of flux and change, then you should revisit your keyword list more often.
The purpose of keyword research is see what people are searching for within a specific niche. That doesn’t mean you want to chase the most searched for keywords. If a popular keyword phrase doesn’t suit your business, then discard it. But remember that search queries change over time. What people searched for last year to find information on a certain topic might not be the same thing they search for next year. The best online marketers keep an eye on current search trends.
As far as search trends go, you should take a look at them once a month at a minimum. Measure the trends on the popular search engines as well as the popular social media sites. If something catches your eye as a trending topic in your niche, write a blog post about it. Ride the wave.
Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012
For most of Internet history there has been a growing battle between on-site SEO and off-site SEO. Put another way, marketers have debated the relative value of on-site content and off-site content ever since the advent of the World Wide Web. So which is more important?
If you ask some online marketers, they’ll tell you that off-site SEO tactics such as link building are more important than anything else. Other marketers will sing the praises of on-site content. I think both are important.
But it’s on-site SEO that will provide the greatest value for your readers.
Even if you produce great off-site content (and you should) that helps your website rank well in the search engines, your website visitors will get more value out of great content that you publish on your website. And that’s why you should spend most of your time creating content for your website instead of spending it pursuing guest blogging opportunities.
While I believe that guest blogging opportunities are great ways to drive new traffic to your website and gain some recognition for your brand, those types of content publishing opportunities should be pursued between times of updating your website and blog. That way you can continue to build your brand and your content opportunities with unique content on your website while marketing your website through outposts and off-site channels. It’s a two-pronged pitchfork. Use it.
Monday, August 13th, 2012
If you are hiring an SEO firm or agency to handle your search engine optimization, does that mean you can skate by without any knowledge of SEO? You can, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Look at any organization where a supervisor oversees the work of people under him/her and you will notice that the supervisor more than likely started where those he supervises started. If not, then he or she started in a similar position. They have the knowledge and skills to perform the tasks that those they supervise perform on a daily basis.
Where this is often not true is in areas of supervision where the supervisor is required to have a college degree but no direct experience performing the tasks of the job. In those cases, the company hiring is looking for management skills and experience.
Here’s the point: If you hire an SEO agency, you’ll be the supervisor. Your job is to make sure they do their job. If you don’t know any SEO, how will you be able to effectively ensure that your SEO agency does what it’s suppose to do?
Now, I’m not saying you have to be an SEO expert. Your agency will be the expert. But you should have some knowledge of SEO. You should know the basics, just enough to ask the right questions of the agency before you hire them and to know when you are getting good SEO advice versus the bad advice that often gets shared by low-cost providers with little or no experience.
Long story short, you don’t have to be an SEO expert when you hire an agency to handle your SEO needs, but you should have some understanding of the basics.