Archive for the ‘SEO for Small Business’ Category
Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
Every business is different. You don’t run the same business as the guy down the street. You might be in the same industry, but you have different strengths and weaknesses, different product offerings (even if they are in competition), different employees, and different sets of priorities. So why are you chasing the same keywords?
Search engine marketing is not a square hole into which you must insert a round peg. It is an opportunity to present your business to the right customers.
Searchers do not think about which keywords they are going to use. They have a need, they are searching for information, and they go to Google (or Bing) to find the information they need to answer their questions. Search engines return a set of web pages that match the parameters of specific search queries. When there is a match between the real needs of the searcher and the content of the web page, then the ranking begins.
But where do the keywords entered into the search query come from? In truth, they come from marketers.
People search for information based on the language they understand. Few people seek information on Latin medical terms. They want to know why they feel bad and what they should do about it.
Your business was established to meet a certain need in the marketplace. Whatever that need is, that’s your keyword. There is no pre-planned, pre-plotted keyword graph for search marketers to choose what is going to work for their business. You have to create the search phrases, and the demand for them, that will lead people to your business in the search results. But don’t worry. It’s not as hard as it sounds.
Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
Keyword research is a very important part of your local search marketing process. You can’t do local keyword research through Google AdWords’ External Keyword Research Tool. However, Google does have other tools you can use for local keyword research. The one I like is Google Trends.
So how do you conduct keyword research for your local search terms through Google Trends?
When you get to Google Trends, click on “Explore.” Below that link, on the left side of the screen, you’ll see the label “Search terms” with a dropdown arrow and a text box below it. Enter your keyword but not your geographic search term in the text box. If you want to compare multiple keywords, you can add up to five.
Next, click the dropdown arrow and choose “Locations.” Under Locations you can choose Worldwide or your country, but you can also narrow your search to a more local region. In the U.S., you can narrow your search to your state or go even more local.
For instance, let’s choose Minneapolis-St. Paul.
When you get your graph you’ll see a visual representation of your local geographic area. Beside that is a list of related search terms. You can choose between Top and Rising.
Google Trends is a cool tool for local small businesses to use to find new local keywords. I highly recommend it.
Wednesday, June 26th, 2013
If you’ve been involved in search for five years or more, then you know that it is continuing to evolve and that search is constantly creating new opportunities for businesses, entrepreneurs, and search marketers. One way that new search opportunities will be created in the next five to ten years is with the advent of new generic top-level domain extensions (gTLDs).
Since June 13, 2012, there have been 1,930 new gTLD applications. There are currently only 23 gTLDs, but there will someday be several hundred and that will complicate search in a real way.
The search engines of course will have to adjust to the volume of new domain names. Several of these new gTLDs have already received thousands of applications for domain names in anticipation of the coming explosion. Today, you can use Google’s Advanced Search features to look for information on a specific gTLD such as .travel. I can foresee a time when each gTLD will have its own search engine. Some of them already do.
We aren’t there yet, but it won’t be long before the introduction of new gTLDs will create new search opportunities in many new ways. Geotargeted gTLDs – such as .NYC – will open lots of doors for the search marketing industry to better geotarget based on these domain extensions. Industry-specific gTLDs will also create new opportunities. And that’s not all.
I hope you’re watching the gLTD space because it won’t be long before you’ll start seeing these new domain extensions. Then, not long after that, new search opportunities will be on the horizon. It’s up to you to be prepared for them.
Tuesday, June 25th, 2013
Danny Sullivan has a very interesting post on conversational search. After reading it, one might think that keywords are going by the wayside – and fast. But that hasn’t happened yet.
Google has been using semantic search for about five years now. We’re still using keywords. But conversational search promises to change that (I encourage you to read the post).
It’s clear that conversational search will have major implications in the mobile search space. A little less clear is what impact it will have on text-based organic search. It’s easy to predict that it could kill off the need for keywords completely, but I don’t think so. I do think it will make keywords less necessary.
The idea is to use your recent search history to retrieve information for non-keyword-based searches that are related to keyword-based searches made earlier. I’m guessing that if Danny Sullivan had waited 24 hours to ask his follow-up questions, then he’d have seen less success in getting the answers he was looking for. That’s a pretty significant factor because it shows that your search history is more important the closer in proximity to your conversation with Google is.
When Google perfects its conversational search, you can bet they’ll take what they learn from that and apply it to text-based search. The only question is, How long will it take?
Anyone want to answer that?
Friday, May 31st, 2013
When it comes to search engine algorithm updates, some are serious and some are, well, not serious. Penguin was one of the biggest algorithm updates in Google history and it affected a lot of websites. This week, Google announced the release of Penguin 2.0.
Penguin 2.0 isn’t supposed to be as big as the original update. Even if it is, however, my advice is, Don’t panic.
It likely won’t impact more than 3% of the Web. That’s a pretty insignificant portion. Most of those sites already know they are on the wrong side of Google guidelines, so it shouldn’t come as no surprise to them if they are hit by the algorithm update. Most of the rest of us have nothing to worry about if we stay within the search engine guidelines.
Of course, that’s not a guarantee either.
It is important, however, to monitor where your sites are going right now. Keep an eye on your rankings and if you see any huge dips, then get concerned. Don’t worry, but get concerned.
Every algorithm update results in sharp rises and falls. This is the search engine’s way of reordering the rankings. You will see your site either move up or down for a short while before everything settles. If, after the settling, you see that your website has lost ground, then start looking to see what caused you to drop. But don’t panic and start looking for causes during the shifting around period. Some webmasters have done this in the past and caused even more problems by reacting when, if they had left well enough alone, they’d have come out ahead.
Monday, May 13th, 2013
Google might have the lion’s share of the search market, but Bing and Yahoo! are still important. Between them, they have close to 15% of the search market. Of course, they fluctuate up and down and at times have a total of 20% between them. Usually, Bing has a little more than Yahoo! and that’s okay. Not everyone can be on top.
While all the search engines generally look at some of the same criteria, there are differences.
Bing is more closely aligned with Facebook. You can push your Bing rankings higher if you have a strong Facebook network and promote your links to your Facebook friends. Google has its own social network with Google+. Yahoo!, however, seems to be more interested in domain names with age. Google likes aged domains as well, but with over 200 ranking algorithms any one ranking factor is going to have less influence on its own.
The differences between the search engines tell me that diversity is very important. You don’t want to rely on just one search engine for all of your traffic. You want to diversify your traffic sources.
This is very important. If some new website next year starts taking traffic away from Google and the search giant fades into oblivion (remember MySpace?), then you will be thankful you diversified your traffic sources. That’s why Bing and Yahoo! are still important.
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
Search engines love on-site SEO, especially if leads to better relationships with your site visitors. Here are 4 uncanny ways to increase your on-site SEO.
- Permalinks – Your URL structure is very important. Shorter permalinks are better. Try to keep them at 100 words or less, cut out the stop words (a, an, the, etc.), and don’t go more than three folders/directories deep. Also, make sure you include your keyword once.
- Sitemaps – A sitemap is a directory of your web pages. It allows the search engines a way to crawl your website and find every page you want indexed. You can also rank your pages in order of importance, which helps the search engines index and rank them as well.
- Robots.txt – This is a text document you upload to your website’s root directory. It’s invisible to site visitors, but visible to the search engine robots. It’s also useful in showing search bots which pages on your website should be indexed. You can also use the robots.txt file to block unwanted robots and to tell the search engines not to crawl or index certain pages.
- 404 error pages – This is the page that shows when visitors try to access a page that is no longer present. They are best used when you customize them with your branded logo and helpful links to assist site visitors in finding the information they are looking for.
Each of these uncanny SEO techniques can make your website more indexable and crawlable. They are also more useful to your site visitors.
Monday, April 29th, 2013
Keyword research is one of those must-do activities of Internet marketing, but there’s more than one way to accomplish the task. Some people have complex multi-layered tools to help them conduct research on keywords to target. Others use a more simple approach. Google Trends is a fairly new tool that can make your keyword research a little more interesting and help you uncover great opportunities for search engine marketing.
Here are some ways you can use Google Trends for your keyword research:
- Hot Searches – Let’s start with Hot Searches. This is a single-click way to see what’s trending and popular on Google right now.
- Channel Trends – With channel trends, you can see what’s trending on the Web, with images, products, under the news channel, and on YouTube.
- Geographical Trends – Choose a country or search worldwide.
- Time Period Trends – Google Trends data goes back to 2004. You can search the trends from that time until the present or any time in between. Also, you can search keyword trends from the past 7 days, 30 days, 90 days, and 12 months.
- Category Trends – You an also see what’s trending according to the 25 categories to choose from, and the subcategories of those.
- Regional Trends – Google Trends offers you a way to see what’s trending regionally. This is just like geographical trends, but you can check the trends by country or by city.
- Related Terms – Under the related terms trending graph you can search your keyword phrase by the top-related terms or by the rising terms.
- Comparisons – You can search up to five keywords at one time and compare the trends according to the same limitations as above. You can compare trends by search terms, time periods, or location.
- Forecast – If there is enough data for your search term, Google Trends will forecast up to a year what the trends will be for that keyword phrase. Remember, though, forecasting Google Trends is like forecasting the weather.
- News Headlines - If you click the “News headlines” box, Google Trends will add top headlines on your Google Trends graph. You can then go and read those news stories.
Google Trends is a fun and powerful way to find new keyword terms to target in your search marketing. Try it out for yourself.