Keeping Conversion in Mind

RankVsConversionWhat is the goal of any website? In the world of SEO, the goal is always to draw visitors to your site; to increase website traffic substantially. In fact, when it comes to SEO, the return on investment is generally measured by web traffic. But – truly successful SEO – should ultimately be measured by conversion rates; the number of people who not only find their way to your site but eventually purchase your product or service. Conversion, while it is the most ultimate goal, is not something that is talked about at length when it comes to search engine optimization. Rather, the focus is on page rank and driving traffic. Those who thrive, however, always, always keep conversion in mind.

How? This works because those in charge of SEO practices understand that online marketing serves two masters. One is the search engines obviously. We want to make sure that everything that we do gets us noticed by the search engines and ultimately moves our page rank to a better position so that we are noticed by our intended audience.

The other part of that, of course, is making sure that when this audience finds their way to your site that they stay there; and ultimately they make a purchase or engage your services. And this is accomplished by making sure that your website visitor is met with information that they need and want. So keep your end user in mind when undertaking any SEO project and make sure that the website content not only contains the appropriate keywords to maximize page rank but also speaks – in human, non-SEO terms – to your audience by giving them information, entertainment, and value for their visit.

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How Important are Keywords?

KeywordWhen the idea of optimizing a website for the search engines first came on the scene, keywords were the cool kids on the block. Everyone was choosing keywords for SEO to suit what they thought was their specific service and intended audience and including those keywords in their on-site content. A lot. Of course, the purpose was to align their website’s keywords with those keywords that their potential audience would likely use to find a business that was providing their particular service and products. Eventually, however – in the spirit of too much of a good thing is never really a good thing – keywords began sacrificing the integrity of the content on a site – and, ultimately, the integrity of the business itself.

Today’s online marketing looks much different than what it looked like in the beginning. There is still, of course, an emphasis on page ranking (every business surely wants to be at the top of the results for their intended audience) but the search engines – especially Google as it continues to refine their algorithms – has called upon websites to be more responsible and user friendly when it comes to their SEO practices. No more keyword stuffing. Today, content is absolutely integral to a website’s search engine optimization success and that content must be relevant and important to the reader.

Which brings us to the question – are keywords still important? Absolutely. Choosing keywords to reach their audience is imperative for any website but now they are choosing with much more care – recognizing that the same keywords do not necessarily work on every page of their site and that the tone, purpose, and delivery of the website content – while it can still contain those keywords – is much more important to the overall success of the site.

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Working Off Site for SEO

SEO conceptThose who have been successful at SEO have learned a few key things – first, that the process of search optimization is ever-evolving and must be treated at such; there can be no such thing as holding steady and working the same campaign for an extended period of time; and second, that there are many, many components to successful SEO.

Of course on-site SEO is crucial and that has seen its fair share of changes over the years as search engines change their algorithms and internet users becomes more sophisticated. The inclusion of relevant, optimized (but not overly optimized) content has continued to grow in popularity in the face of search engine changes. Google especially wants to see content that is relevant to the reader and informative – not pandering for the sake of page rank.

But good, solid SEO – these days – is dependent on more than on-site work; there’s more that must be done to really propel a site forward. And in this day and age, that means a strong and compelling presence on social media. Sure, Facebook and Twitter continue to reign supreme in terms of online social connection – and it’s important that your website have a presence on each – but there are other social media platforms for businesses to help raise awareness and ultimately increase web traffic. Look for industry-specific social media opportunities, as well as local options for connecting with customers both on and offline.

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Content Strategy and SEO Results

contentstrategyThere’s no doubt that, in this new year that is upon us, most of us are giving much more attention to our marketing efforts including our comprehensive online marketing. With so many changes that have taken place on Google in recent months, there is understandably a lot of confusion about which way to turn in optimizing marketing efforts to increase web traffic.

There is a certain amount of waiting around that has to be done while we all hold our breath for the Google chips to fall where they may and things to settle down a bit. But there is still much that can be controlled by website owners and when it comes to leveraging the use of content for SEO purposes, that control comes down to a well-thought out and consistent content strategy. Here’s how it works:

*Put some thought into how you want to develop your online content in terms of what will be relevant to readers, how it will help you to grow your brand, what events/milestones you can use throughout the year to tie into your content strategy, and what you want it to inspire your audience to do.

*Create a content calendar based on your planning that will allow you to look at how the whole year pans out. Surely there will be some changes along the way as a result of information that you may not yet know, but an overall plan will allow you to tailor your message ahead of time and fully develop the content appropriately.

*Integrate your keywords into your content as appropriate; an especially important component in maintaining your organic SEO program.

*Include photos and other media where appropriate.

*Consider social media. Not only should you tailor your message for your social media pages but you should also consider that your content will find its way to other people’s social media on its own. With the development of Pinterest and other platforms, your content can – and should – travel. So plan accordingly.

*Stay consistent. Once you have a plan in place, stick with the program. Consistency is ultimately the best way to stay at the forefront of SEO.

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SEO & Preparing for the New Year

SEO-in-2014

With the holidays already behind us, it’s time to start preparing for a new year – and your online marketing is no exception. In the face of recent changes to Google, you may already be doing what you need to do to optimize your site and put your online marketing on a path towards success in 2014. But if you haven’t addressed your website’s needs in some time, the fast approaching new year is as good a time as any. Why not put together your plan to optimize your website appropriately and put yourself in the best position possible to increase website traffic in the coming year?

Here are some ways to put yourself in a great spot for 2014:

*Give your site a good once-over. If you haven’t done it in a while, take a look at each page on your website. Make sure that you’re using the appropriate keywords and using them in the best way possible – no keywords stuffing, just informative, entertaining content that naturally integrates your keywords.

*If you haven’t already, create a Google Plus Local page. This will continue to be very important to a website’s organic SEO program in the year to come.

*Consider Google authorship. This is big in the coming year and will add enormous credibility to websites.

*Get mobile already. This year promises to be bigger than ever for mobile optimization so if you haven’t yet made your website mobile-optimized, it’s time!

These are just a few of the ways to get started in making 2014 the best year yet when it comes to your website marketing. More to come in our next post!

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Using Images to Up Your SEO

seo1As changes to Google seem to roll out fast and furiously, there’s a new addition that is likely on the horizon – the potential of embedded images being included in Google search results. The extra text that is included under Google’s search results is referred to as rich snippets. Why is it important? Because it can give your website that extra “oomph” that makes it stand apart from the others; content that gives you an additional opportunity to incorporate your keywords and draw users to your site.

Author images – which are included for those who have earned Google authorship – are a part of rich snippets as well; and these photos definitely do their part in capturing the attention of their intended audience and helping to increase website traffic.

But those images may not be the only ones included in search results in the not so distant future. Google is currently exploring the idea of adding embedded images to their search results.  What does this mean for you? It means that you should most definitely begin the process of enhancing the pages of your website with images as a part of your online marketing campaign.

Beyond the opportunity to increase your SEO standing through rich snippets, images also provide another way to connect with your readers. There’s nothing worse than visiting a site and finding only line after line of text. Images break up content, visually stimulate readers, and help deliver your message. Get creative with the use of images and take your website to the next level this coming year.

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Optimizing Your E-Commerce Site

seo-ecommerceAs the holidays fast approach, those with e-commerce websites understand the importance of attracting as many customers as possible – especially during this potentially lucrative season. Proper, well-planned, and professionally executed SEO is crucial to a website’s success especially with so many recent changes to Google’s algorithms. To stay relevant to consumers, consider the following tips for successfully connecting with consumers during this holiday season:

*Keep the keyword usage varied, relevant, and – above all – natural. Choose a rich variety of keywords and keyword phrases and use them where they make sense within your content. Forcing the use of keywords will only do more harm to your SEO efforts than good. Always keep well-written, relevant, and informative content in the foremost of your organic SEO efforts. This is what your customers want and there’s no point in getting them to your site if – failing to find what they want – they don’t stick around. Keywords should be integrated into content; not the other way around.

*Make it regional. It’s important to know your audience and the overall region you serve. If it’s possible to localize your website then definitely do so – using local keyword phrases. In this way you can optimize your position for local searches.

*Keep connected through social media. It’s important to make sure your website has icons/links to your social media pages. Stay connected to your audience through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and more.

*Work with professionals who can guide your internet marketing. By aligning yourself with a professional web marketing team, you can ensure that someone always has your back in the face of algorithm changes, shifts in your business, and more.

 

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Google’s New Keyword Planner Tool – What It Means for You

google-keyword-planner1Oh, that tricky Google…the three big changes to the internet’s primary search engine has meant big changes for website marketing strategies. First, there was the switch over to the engine’s new algorithm, Hummingbird, and their recent move to encrypted keyword searches (see our last blog post); but it doesn’t stop there. Now we have Google Keyword Planner which replaces Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool. So how does it work? And what does it mean for SEO practices and online marketing overall?

Let’s face it, the AdWords Keyword Tool was primary to a lot of SEO campaigns in terms of planning. This free tool allowed website marketers to conduct comprehensive keyword research and determine which keywords and phrases produced significant search volume, and which were the most competitive.

At the end of August, however, Google replaced its enormously popular Keyword Tool with their new Keyword Planner – a tool that is available to those with an AdWords account. While the new tool at first glance seems geared towards pay per click campaigns only, there is still some functionality present for organic SEO campaigns. You can use the tool as long as you have an AdWords account – which is free to create; and there are a few benefits including a much more advanced ability to search keywords on a local level – down to the tiniest geographic region, the option to search more than 100 keywords at a time (a limit imposed by the old Keyword Tool), the ability to search combination of words from multiple lists, and the option to filter out words that have less than a particular volume, as set by you.

Users, of course, also cite some downsides such as the fact that you are now only able to select Exact Match data (instead of Broad, Phrase, or Exact), and the disappearance of the ability to extract search data from where it originated – mobile device, desktop, tablet.

All in all, we’re still able to use Google’s keyword planning tool in whatever its form – it will, as with all of these new changes, just take some getting used to.

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Google Launches Encrypted Search

152587As if the launch of Google’s new algorithm, Hummingbird, wasn’t enough to throw our search engine optimization strategies into a frenzy, there is now the addition of Google’s new encrypted search.

While Google actually began introducing encrypted search – in an effort to offer more secured searches for their users – in 2011, they have now moved towards 100% organic search data encryption. In fact, at the end of September, anyone who has gone to Google to conduct a search – regardless of the browser they are using or whether or not they are signed into Google, is automatically redirected to the secure site.

This is major news for website owners because it means that they will no longer be able to access keyword data. In fact, marketers currently looking to gather keyword search data are finding that up to 75% of such data is now encrypted; and Google plans to make sure that number increases.

Before this change, marketers were able to monitor which keywords were driving traffic to their site because the keywords being used were tracked and that information was readily available to website owners. Now, this information will be kept secure and only shared with Google advertisers. Organic SEO will certainly be affected because organic searches will now be totally encrypted.

What does this mean for marketers?

Going forward, choosing keywords is going to be much more challenging without search data by which to measure results. Marketers are going to have to make use of those tools that are still available to them such as:

*Data provided by other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing. While Google holds the largest market share, there is still information to be gathered from the other engines regarding keywords.

*Measure results by which pages are being visited most often on your site. Content can be created using that as your guideline.

Google will certainly always keep us on our toes. Being able to adjust and continue doing right by your website’s SEO will directly impact your success.

 

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Keywords and Hummingbird – a New Relationship in SEO

google_hummingbird-580x334The basis of any SEO campaign – as it has been for some time – rests in well-chosen keywords; those phrases by which search engine users, and potential customers, will seek out the particular goods and services that you offer. Up until now, keywords and keyword phrases were short and concise, used as the proverbial trail of breadcrumbs to lead your target audience straight to your website – and bring others along with them in the process by way of higher page rankings on the search engines and increased brand awareness.

Now, with the recent launch of Google’s new algorithm, Hummingbird, there’s a definite change on the horizon for keywords as they relate to SEO and online marketing. In short, one of the most notable purposes of Hummingbird is to better manage what is called “conversational queries” – in other words, better interpreting the meaning of a user’s search rather than focusing only on the keywords that they use. That’s because search engine users today – especially those who are conducting their search on their mobile device – are more likely to search for something through a phrase or question rather than just a keyword (i.e., where can I find…, how do I…., what are the best Italian restaurants in…, etc.)

This will put increased focus on a website’s content – which must be rich and relevant. And while it may contain keywords, the content should not just be a vehicle for the delivery of keywords. In fact, keywords themselves need to be used in various ways throughout your content – including the use of similar keywords, different spellings, and within more conversational phrases.

As with anything else, it will take some time to see how Hummingbird will ultimately change the SEO process, but as long as you’re willing to stay flexible and always vigilant, you can make the adjustments necessary to maintain page rank and increase web traffic.

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