Focus on SEO

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As mentioned in my ‘Be Found’ post, I review many websites,  to make recommendations about how they might be improved.

With regard to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), the same issues occur with almost every website I review. The on-page SEO is seriously lacking!

Why On-Page SEO is Important

First, you may ask, ‘What the heck is on-page SEO’? Very simply, it is a way to attract more visitors through natural (organic) search. Ultimately it means that you will not have to pay as much for online ads!

On-Page SEO consists of placing your most important keywords/phrases within the content elements of your web pages. These on-page elements include:

  • Unique Title tags without the company name (Max 70 characters)
  • Unique Meta Descriptions (Max 130 characters)
  • URLs
  • Headlines
  • Subheads
  • Body content
  • Image tags (alt tags)
  • Links

A Word About the Meta Description Tag

The Meta Description tag is not necessarily something that the search engines (SEs) use to understand the topic of your web page. It is, however, one of the elements, along with your website name and URL, that people see when they search. Think of it as a small advertisement and as an opportunity to entice people to click on your link.

On- Page SEO can be a time consuming, tedious task, but well worth it when you consider that:

  • Your pages will be more focused and therefore relevant to your visitors
  • If done well, your web pages will rank higher in organic search – hopefully within at least the top five results – saving you money when it comes to paid ads.

It’s Worth It

Organic Search StatsAfter making changes to the website I work on, and optimizing pages for on-page SEO, our traffic from organic sources increased by a whopping 52% vs. the previous year! Our overall unique visits have increased by 45%. So, yes, taking the time to focus on your SEO is most definitely an investment worth the time!

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17 Must-Know Copywriting Techniques

Copywriting is not like writing a novel. It’s not like writing a News Release. And yet many websites I visit drone on with walls of text! They are not broken up with headings and subheads. The pages have no photos or other types of visual interest. They use the passive voice. This is a recipe for making your visitors eyes glaze over and then quickly bouncing off your website.
In the interest of saving us from boring websites, I am reblogging this post, which clearly outlines what you need to do to write effective copy.
Write on!

Fred Kaufer

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Be Found Online – Top 10 Tips

 

seo-biz upIn my day job, I am frequently asked to evaluate websites and recommend strategies and tactics to attract visitors. I also work on our corporate website to continuously improve its ability to attract customers. The efforts have been successful with a 50% increase in organic search! As you may know, organic search can significantly reduce the need for you to spend money on Search Engine Marketing, such as Google Adwords.

In this  post I want to share my top 10 tips to be found online through organic search.

What is SEO?

First, you need an understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It simply means optimizing your website in a way that will make a search engine’s spiders able to efficiently “crawl” and index your website. The content you create, the keywords you target and the way you optimize each page relate to SEO.

As you go about creating, or revising, your website and its content, keep the following tips in mind.

Top 10 Tips

1. Know Your Customers, or ‘Personas’.

Develop customer profiles, or Personas, to help you create valuable and relevant content.

‘Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.’ Hubspot

google-yahoo-bing2. Research Keywords

  • Researching keywords that people use to find your website is one of the most valuable actions you can take to increase your Search Engine (SE) ranking.
  • The simplest way to research keywords is to search for terms that you think your customers will use to find you. Or you can use free or paid tools.
  • Make sure you use your keywords in title tags, H1 headlines, alt tags and your content (if working with a web developer they should be able to help you with this).

 Bonus Tip: Long tail keywords like ‘Cost of widgets in Toronto’ are better than individual keywords, like ‘widgets’, which is too broad a search term and would have a tendency to return unrelated search terms .

3. Continuously Create Content with New Web Pages & Blog Posts

  • Remember that content is king
  • When creating content think about the value to your customers that you want each page to provide first, and then which keywords match that value.
  • A website with accurate well-placed keywords but with very poor content will not rank well.
  • Blogging regularly is a great way to increase SEO rankings.
  • When shared on social networks a blog can increase total traffic to your website.
  • Blogs help businesses to satisfy both customers and SEs by providing:
  • Relevant information
  • Backlinks from other blogs and high quality sites.

4. Make Your Content Unique

  • Make sure you’re not duplicating content – Google will penalize you and send your rankings to the bottom of the list.

5. Name Your Web Pages with Descriptive URLS

  • Choose descriptive URLs that accurately describe the content you’d expect to find on the page.
  • The cleaner and more descriptive a URL is (not longer) the easier it will be for a SE to identify the relevance of the content on a page.

6. Backlinks

  • Backlinks are links that lead to your website.
  • To SEs the number of backlinks is a strong indicator of the quality and popularity of your website.
Social Media

Engage in Social Media

7. Engage Frequently on Social Media to Increase Your Business’ Social Signal

  • Social signals are the new link building tool.
  • Google measures your website’s ‘pulse rate’ on social media channels.
  • Allows you to create many backlinks when you post web pages or blog posts to, for example, Facebook, which link back to your website.
  • Creates an opportunity for others to share your content, which will help increase your social signal and SE rank.

8. Include Photos and Videos

  • Get extra search ranking points by including photos, images like InfoGraphics, videos and audio files where possible.
  • For images, make sure you use alt tags and for videos, include short descriptions.

9. Think Local

  • Incorporate your location(s) into your website content wherever it makes sense and be sure to have a page of content setup for each location that you serve.
  • Get listed/claim your pages in location based services and directories like Google+, Google Places, Yahoo listings and Bing Business Pages.

10. Keep It Fresh!

  • Search engines are content and link hungry. Add new content on a regular basis.
  • Update not just the content but also the look of your website, if it’s not been done in the past 2 years, so that your company maintains an up-to-date image with your visitors. If you don’t yet have a website, you need to get one.

To get the most out of your online visitors, you also need to think about how to convert them to leads … but I’ll leave that for another day!

Fav commercial of the day-Boston Pizza’s “Eat one for me”

I love the new Boston Pizza commercial. Why? Because it’s  simple and to the point in this, what seems, very complicated world. The humour helps too! Unfortunately, I wasn’t too thrilled when I saw the “Pizzaburger”. I wouldn’t order  it, as it doesn’t appeal to me. As one YouTube commenter said, ‘ the burger looks like shit’.  Mind you, being female of a certain age, I’m not their target group. I’m sure though, that there are many who would.

Here’s a longer version of the commercial. Personally, I think the commercial is better, but if you’ve not seen the commercial you’ll get a taste of what it’s about.

What do you think of the concept? And would you ‘eat it’?

5 Steps to Social Media Success

While doing some research on social media, I came across this factoid:

Social media’s influence on driving business via the web is expected to surpass search engine optimization (SEO) in 2013, according to eMarketer

If you’re not engaging with social networks yet, or if you have let your networks gather dust, now is the time to move forward or be left behind in the world of search! In an effort to assist you, here are some steps you can take to be social.

Step 1 – Who are your customers?

  • Create a persona of your ideal customer – are they household consumers? Business principals?
  • What is their average age?
  • What social networks do they use?
  • What are their biggest concerns, needs, and interests?
  • How can you reach them –search engines, social media, blogs
  • What kinds of content do they prefer?

These types of questions will help you develop buyer personas and determine which social networks will be of most value to you

Step 2 – Determine which social networks to join

  • New social networks pop up each week. It’s a waste of time to join every new social network only to find you have no time to manage them.
  • Find out where your most active customers & influencers spend time online – then listen and take notes.
  • Some tools you can use to tune into the conversation: Google Alerts, Technorati, Google Blog Search, Bloglines,
  • The most popular social networks now are Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest
  • Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest are great for reaching household consumers, Linkedin, YouTube, and Twitter for the business community
  • Once you’ve determined which social networks you want to join, setup your account(s)

Step 3 – Join the conversation

  • Engage prospective customers by answering questions, providing insights etc
  • Add value to the community – answer questions and help others where you can
  • Your posts should not always be about “selling” your business
  • When you start listening to conversations, you might hear some things about your company you won’t like – but that’s OK!
  • Find a way to help and be willing to acknowledge mistakes when they happen – you’ll be seen as a hero
  • Recognize happy customers and reward them if possible with something like an added-value offer only available to those who follow you on Twitter
  • If you find something interesting posted elsewhere, share it

Step 4 – Create and post content

  • Whether you publish videos on YouTube, start a Linkedin Group or post to Facebook, the more content you produce and publish, the more traffic you can attract back to your website.
  • If your site is designed well to convert visitors into leads, these activities will help you increase sales
  • Make sure to provide links from your website to your social media networks

Step 5 – Monitor & Revise

  • Facebook, Linkedin and YouTube offer analytics for you to see how many people have viewed your videos, how many people you’ve reached with your Facebook page etc
  • Use free Google Analytics on your website to see where your traffic is coming from
  • If possible, keep track of how your customers learned about you, and which social network, if that is how they found you
  • If you see that you’re spending a lot of effort on a social media network with no return, then eliminate it and focus on the network that brings you the most traffic and/or where your customers want to engage with you

 

5 Things To Do Before Creating Your Facebook Timeline

As of March 2012, Facebook introduced Timelines. Whether you need to edit an existing Facebook page of create a new page, here are five items to work on before you start creating your page.

  1. Cover photo – gone are landing tabs. Now we have cover photos. Facebook mandates that we not put marketing promotion messages on the cover photo, but it doesn’t mean you can’t make a nicely branded attractive cover image.
  2. Milestones – tell your business’ story. You can post historical facts such as:
    • the founding date of your company
    • store opening dates
    • awards and accolades

3. Vanity URL – if you’re setting up your page for the first time, Facebook will ask what you want to call your page. Think about it, because you can not change it later. If you don’t do it immediately, then you’ll have wait until you have 25 ‘likes’ before you can have your vanity URL – something I discovered too late!

4. Plan your posts – You should post once or twice a week. It’s a good idea to plan out what you want to post. Specials/promotions are good, links to blog posts, case studies on your website, articles online of interest to your customers, tips, etc.

5. Create a response plan – how will you respond to comments, both positive and negative?

For more information about Facebook Timeline for pages, this post by Mari Smith does a good job of explaining the changes.

For examples of two pages I’ve recently designed, visit: