The digital marketing landscape has evolved significantly over the last two decades. And between Google’s ever-changing algorithm and the deluge of misinformation floating through the digital marketing sphere, it’s easy to lose sight of basic practices we should be employing in our own SEO and content marketing strategies.
With every new algorithm update and technological shift in search, we become obsessed with how the field of SEO will enter a wholly new paradigm, and we shift our focus to reflect this. Yet as much as the medium may change, the core principles remain the same — and it’s time to get back to the basics.
We all understand the secrets and best practices of SEO, so why do we often fail to leverage these tactics? Let’s explore five common blogging mistakes you may be making right now.
Unoptimized keyword structure
Despite the rise of semantic search and machine learning technology, keyword research should still take precedence when modeling an internal content marketing campaign. All on-site content should be thematically linked by topics and keywords to your overall business objectives.
If our content is simply covering topics and not keywords, how do we know what users really demand? Without keyword research, how can you truly know who your audience is and who you are writing for?
Keywords serve as the bridge between user intent and informational/transactional content. Keyword-optimized content helps to position individual web pages to rank higher organically and drive impressions for targeted searches. This effectively makes blog content a lead generator.
For on-site blogs, the focus should remain on informational long-tail keyword phrases. Common examples include question phrases beginning with how, what, when, where and why.
Other keyword ideas could include actionable phrases that are often searched for, such as the top “tips” and “hacks” to improve upon some process.
Bloggers often fail to optimize their headers, meta tags and content with targeted keyword phrases. Consider the fact that specific keyword phrases will often be bolded within the meta description of a SERP listing, potentially increasing your click-through rate.
Inadequate keyword research runs deeper than failing to optimize your header structure (e.g., title, meta description). Many bloggers fail to leverage semantic SEO, or similar keyword phrases with the same meaning. Semantic SEO allows bloggers to create more thorough and readable content that can drive impressions for multiple keyword phrases, answer more user questions and qualify your content to be a featured snippet — think of the rise of voice search.
On the other hand, over-optimized content could cross a dangerous line as well. Keyword stuffing, or possessing a high keyword density, will qualify your content as spam. Keyword stuffing also obstructs your content’s readability, which results in poor user signals.
Following SEO best practices, it’s still important to optimize all relevant site elements, such as URLs and meta tags, with targeted keywords to categorize and rank individual web pages. And aside from signaling to search engines the main focus of your on-site content, keywords also serve an important function for your site architecture.
Inconsistent internal links
Internal linking is probably one of the most overlooked aspects of SEO optimization, and issues with internal links frequently occur on SEO agency websites themselves!
There are many functions of proper internal linking for SEO:
- Establishes paths for users to navigate your website.
- Opens up crawling to deep linked web pages and increases crawl rate.
- Defines site architecture and your most important web pages to search engines.
- Distributes “link juice,” or authority, throughout your website.
- Indexes linked-to web pages by the keywords used in the hyperlink anchor text.
While backlinks remain the gold standard of search engine ranking factors, their magic can be amplified through strategic internal linking.
Ideally, you’ll want at least three to five internal links per blog post, and a drop-down or navigation menu on your home page to provide deep links to inaccessible web pages. Just because a piece of content is posted to your blog, it doesn’t mean Google or Bing can automatically access it.
Conduct a thorough internal link audit and record which web pages have the most authority. Simply insert internal links on these pages to other high-value internal pages to distribute authority evenly throughout your domain.
Many websites display featured posts in a drop-down menu or on the home page to distribute authority to their blog posts. A blogger’s home page will be his/her most authoritative. Limit the number of links between each blog post and your home page to evenly distribute link juice throughout your domain.
Don’t overlook the importance of a sitemap, either. This will ensure all web pages are properly crawled and indexed — assuming URL structures are clean and keyword-optimized.
Finally, optimize all anchor text to categorize and drive impressions for linked web pages. Be sure to use varying anchor text phrases for each link so that you can rank your web pages for multiple search queries.
Poor page copy
As we often say in digital marketing, it’s important to write for readers and not search engines. Keep content light, don’t try to show off knowledge with excessive jargon, and write for readers on an eighth-grade reading level.
In most cases, on-site content is not about publishing, but building awareness around a need. I always suggest placing actionable tips in informational content to provide value.
Content marketing is as much a branding exercise as it is a marketing tactic. Consistent content production establishes your brand’s ethos and also creates your voice as an author. In turn, this establishes you as an authority in your niche.
Don’t sacrifice this authority with poor body copy.
Look over your blog post as a whole. What does a reader experience when they first encounter your web page? Consider the fact that the average attention span is estimated to be eight seconds. Optimize your header structure and meta tags to encourage easy scanability and communicate a clear purpose.
Leverage a powerful headline to pique reader interest, and nurture this interest with a strong introductory paragraph. Always insert clear transition phrases, and consider using animated GIFs and videos to give users a mental break between long chunks of paragraphs. These will also increase your average user dwell time.
Make your content visually appealing by utilizing white space properly and inserting images after every 400 words or so. This essentially chunks content and prevents information overload.
Finally, edit fiercely. Many writers live by the rule that about two-thirds of writing should be editing and reworking. Use tools such as Grammarly and the Hemingway App to create concise and clean body copy.
Unoptimized images and videos
Speaking of poor page copy, most bloggers still ignore image and video optimization. Unoptimized image file formats and sizes are the most common load time mistakes that deteriorate SEO performance.
All on-site images should be formatted as .jpg, and all vector images as .png.
Always optimize image alt text to position it to rank in a targeted keyword image search. The alternative text is what’s displayed when a browser fails to actually display the image and tells search engines the content of your image. (It’s also used to describe images to those with screen readers.)
When optimizing video files, host all of your video files in a single folder and create a video site map for search engines to index your videos. You should optimize the meta description of all video pages with targeted keywords for indexation. Leverage a call to action in your meta description and video annotations.
Video marketing can be distributed from multiple channels, as well as your blog. According to a recent survey by HubSpot, 43 percent of consumers want to see more video from content marketers.
Poor content promotion
This leads us to probably the greatest error that plagues bloggers and stumps small businesses. We’re told that a good piece of content should serve as a natural link magnet and even rank highly based on the merits of the writing itself. To be candid, from experience we’ve discovered this isn’t always true.
Consider the idea that a 10-hour project totaling 3,245 words, featuring exquisite content and imagery, is just as useless as a poorly written 400-word listicle if it doesn’t drive conversions or traffic. This is what I refer to as potential energy. Without a proper technical structure or any content promotion strategy at work, your awe-inspiring content is a dud.
What if, after writing his Theory of Relativity, Einstein had simply posted his theory on his front door and waited for someone to discover it? Content distributed over a blog on a young domain won’t gather backlinks or social shares without promotion.
Leverage your connections, and follow these strategies to promote content and allow it to compound over social media:
- Have influential members of your organization share and promote a piece of content.
- Contact influencers over social media to share content.
- Request a quote from an industry thought leader to place in your content; advertise this in your rich snippet on social media channels.
- Repurpose content into a video or infographic for greater shareability.
- Contact websites that have linked to similar content in the past.
- Submit your content to replace relevant broken links on authoritative sites.
- Run a paid advertisement campaign over social media to place content directly in front of targeted audience members.
Content promotion involves thorough audience analysis. Segment audience members into one of three boundaries based on habits, demographics and psychographics. Investigate what social media channels each audience segment uses the most and the points of time when they are most active.
Understand which pieces of content perform best over specific social media channels. The most viral content examples include:
- “How-to” tutorials
- “Why” articles
Content serves as an effective pull marketing tactic and inbound lead generator. Yet, if content is simply sitting on the shelf and gathering dust, it’s a lost investment.
Social and user signals factor greatly into organic ranking. Essentially, social promotion will draw users to your content, which will determine — based on their engagement — the efficacy of your content.
SEO agencies and content marketers often tell clients about technical and onsite errors they may be making. But sometimes it takes a little realism to take a step back and analyze our own campaigns for greater success in the long run.
Hopefully, you’ll take the news that your SEO content strategy is imperfect in the right way. It’s an opportunity to refine and improve.
Improve your ranking with help of these small business SEO techniques and strategies. Drive traffic and enjoy your success!
A Guide to Using SEO Effectively for Your Small Business
Companies providing SEO services today get really popular because of the increased online competition. Businesses are fighting for each potential customer and get as much traffic as possible. Whether you’re a successful online writing agency, such as ukessaynow.com, or an owner of a small online store selling watches, you need to take care of your online presence and search engine optimization in order to survive the competition.
Of course, if you want to get the most effective results, hiring a professional service or at least a freelancer with experience in SEO is a better idea. However, we all know that being a small business owner usually means being limited in budget. That’s why we’ve come up with a few simple but working tips you can start following yourself before or instead of addressing a professional.
Google and Research
The word “Google” is now known not only as a name of the leading search engine on the Web but also as a synonym for the verb “to search”. It’s obviously a good idea to start dealing with SEO by researching what is in trend and who your competitors are in Google. However, don’t make a mistake by limiting yourself only with this search engine. Research Yahoo and Bing too or you risk missing some growth opportunities. Also, when doing your research, take into account where your target audience comes from. In Russia and Asia, there are other search engines you might even have never heard of.
Take care of your presence everywhere
If your target market is the USA, there are dozens of ways to get a local prominence and make people search for your business online.
- Social media
People search things not only in Google or Yahoo but also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networking platforms. They have become an important component of all effective SEO strategies. So, if you want to stay up-to-date and build your reputation correctly, get an account on all those popular social media websites. However, don’t overdo here. You need to analyze where your target audience spends more time and focus on promoting on those platforms. For example, if Myspace is not where your customers are, you shouldn’t be there either.
It’s not the end when you’re done with registration. The key to your success in social media is being active. No one cares about your Facebook account unless you start publishing interesting and useful content. This may include product releases, event advertisements, articles on general topics related to your niche, customer reviews or stories, news about your business and the industry in general, etc.
Now, simply posting is still not enough. Your customers will soon get bored and unfollow you. A perfect solution is to stay in touch with them. Your followers will definitely enjoy the possibility to get in contact with you, so keep a live conversation going, reply to all comments, and involve people in discussions.
Yelp listings are being indexed by all major search engine companies. If you want people to know about you, you need to get into the listings. The profile of your business will contain all the details about it, contacts, photos, customer reviews. It’s not enough just to sign up. You need to take care of your profile just like you take care of your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
First of all, it means your Yelp profile must look visually attractive so that people wouldn’t leave the page without giving some positive feedback for you. In case you didn’t get it yet, your Yelp ratings depend entirely on the reviews of your customers. So, make sure you have done everything to get a positive review.
One excellent way to motivate your customers to leave positive feedback is to offer them a discount or give them something for free while they are at your place. You can go a traditional way and use paper flyers for that, or you can get modern and send messages and push notifications via your mobile app.
Quora is a place where people seek answers to their questions. It’s a search engine for people who need expert opinions, meaning it can become a perfect place for you to engage with your target audience and promote your products or services. But to earn credibility, you need to show that you truly are an expert in your niche, not simply write promotional posts.
Your SEO strategy for Quora may look like this:
– Search for questions within the area of your expertise.
– Plan your answer and think it over a couple of times to make sure you will offer value to the reader.
– Give valuable information and answer the question itself. Remember that Quora is not designed for “wordy” and “salesy” content.
– Add a bit of promotional style and link to the content on your website or social media profile that gives a more detailed answer to the question or offers a solution to the problem stated in the question.
The one platform you must surely have an account on is YouTube. They say seeing is believing, so getting visual with your audience is crucial for building trust. If you sell some products, there are dozens of things you can show to your customers, e.g. visual buying guides, product presentations, promo videos, tutorials on how to use your products, and much more. Put yourself into the shoes of your customer and ask yourself: would you rather read a tutorial or watch a video instead? It’s pretty obvious.
One thing you should remember for good is that people don’t like being sold to. Yet, they like being educated and feeling appreciated. Therefore, be careful with posting videos that sell and focus on informative video content. Here are just a few more short YouTube recommendations:
– Don’t make long and boring videos.
– Take time to write good titles and descriptions.
– Use tags, annotations, and links in your videos.
Your YouTube channel will gain popularity if you create a reputation of someone who knows the industry they work in and provide the audience with relevant content.
A few Words to Conclude
Following these steps, you will optimize your online presence and enhance your visibility. If you’ve decided to do your SEO on your own, research as much as you can and educate yourself about it. There are many useful tools you can use online that will help you all the way. Good luck!
Competitive research is an important part of any SEO program — after all, it’s a zero-sum game that we’re playing. However, there is often a tendency for companies to become fixated on what dominant competitors in the marketplace are doing. The assumption is that because they’re getting the most SEO traffic, they must be doing things right.
In many industries, it is true that the high SEO traffic sites really are doing an exceptional job. But in the world of e-commerce, this is often not the case. Many of the highest traffic e-commerce sites are doing things that are objectively bad for SEO. It turns out that a strong backlink profile and other prominent brand signals can make up for an awful lot of mistakes.
Getting things right for enterprise e-commerce SEO can be really challenging. You often have to merge very different sources of product data into a single system and make everything work. There are more pages than you could ever curate manually. And in most cases, SEO is not the largest driver of traffic and may have to take a back seat to other priorities. It’s tough.
Eventually, people are going to figure out how to address the issues that make e-commerce SEO so cumbersome and hard to scale. Sites that apply these new techniques will gain an advantage, and then everyone will race to copy them and this article will be outdated. I believe that point is still some years away.
Until then, there are opportunities to gain an SEO advantage over most of the major e-commerce players by simply avoiding their most common mistakes.
1. Faceted navigation disasters
When faceted navigation isn’t controlled, you can often end up with more category URLs, by orders of magnitude, than total products on the site. Clearly, something is wrong with that picture.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have companies that are so scared of creating too many pages that they noindex their entire faceted navigation or canonical everything to the root page. Doing this can prevent indexation of potentially valuable pages (usually ones with two or one attributes selected) and it still may not fix the crawl problems that their navigation poses.
There is a middle path, and few try to walk it. While fixing your filtered navigation is an entire topic of its own, a good starting point is to consider using dynamic AJAX sorting for thin attributes, so users can refine the product set without changing the URL.
2. Slow site speed
There is plenty of readily available data about the impact of site speed on conversion and bounce rates. A couple of seconds can make an enormous difference in user engagement. So why do retailers seem to be competing to load the most external scripts? The retail market is underinvested in speed and overinvested in lag-inducing features that often have marginal benefits and may even serve to overwhelm the user.
My experience is that the SEO benefits of page speed are not yet as substantial as the conversion optimization impact. With all the information Google is sharing about the user benefits of fast, streamlined sites, it’s only a matter of time until speed becomes a more prominent ranking factor. However, when UX impact is also taken into account, there’s no reason to wait.
3. Reliance on XML sitemaps for indexation
If there is one simple piece of SEO wisdom that every enterprise manager should remember, it’s that each page needs to have a crawl path to have a chance to rank for competitive queries. There are many unique and exciting ways (from the perspective of someone who is paid to fix websites) that sites are able to orphan a large percentage of their product or other important pages from their browsable architecture.
Possibilities include broken pagination, creating nearly infinite URL spaces, and any form of link generation logic that doesn’t systematically ensure that every product has a crawl path.
If you’re unsure about whether you have an adequate crawl path, crawl your site and see if all your important pages are showing up. If you are not able to do a complete crawl of your site, that means either that you have too many pages or you need a better crawler. If you have a very large site, you likely need help with both. And if you’re spending lots of time looking at the sitemaps dashboard in Google Search Console, wondering why your pages aren’t being indexed, it’s most likely because they don’t have a good crawl path.
4. Using tags completely wrong
Many e-commerce sites have conflicting tagging signals on their category pages and tagging structures that are suboptimal. I have seen at least two Fortune 500 owned e-commerce sites that were making all the pages on their site canonical to the home page, which is equivalent to telling Google that none of the other pages on the site have anything else to offer. I have seen more sites than I can count on one hand do their pagination tagging incorrectly, which is surprising, because it’s a plainly spelled-out specification.
I suspect that Google’s assumed omniscience sometimes hinders the careful adoption of standards. People think they can get it close enough and Google will figure it out. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t. And sometimes, even if Google can figure out all your mistakes, it’s still a loss — especially if they are having to crawl extra pages to do so.
5. Ugly URLs
Here’s a thought experiment. Let’s set SEO aside for a moment and look at two different URLs that we might see in a SERP:
Site 1: www.madfancylad.com/c/armani-fedoras
Site 2: www.bromendous.com/search?product%20line=fedora&brand=Armani&REFID=23ghaWHY23093482
Which site seems more likely to make things easy for their shoppers, and which site seems more likely to make things easy for themselves? What kind of conscious and unconscious assumptions might a shopper make about each?
My experience is that short, clear and concise URLs tend to rank well and get more traffic than long, parameter-laden addresses. There are some correlational studies that support this observation. I don’t consider any of them definitive — but I know what I would choose to do for my site.
PPC can be an incredibly cost-effective way to generate leads through search engines. The key is to look at the right metrics for the right situations and use that data to make the most meaningful changes to your campaigns.
There’s one thing nearly every potential B2B buyer does before buying a product or signing a contract for your services: search.
In fact, 77 percent of B2B buyers are said to research on Google before making a buying decision.
And while improving your organic search engine ranking is important, executing an search engine optimization plan takes time. It’s a long-game approach that pays long-term dividends.
For many businesses, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising through services like Google Adwords has become an incredibly effective way to leverage the keywords potential customers are using to search for your business or industry.
Here are a few reasons why PPC might be an incredibly valuable marketing tactic to increase traffic to your website and generate new leads.
1. You don’t have to wait to start generating leads
Because you’re paying for them, PPC allows you to get up and running with ads for the keywords you want to rank for pretty quickly. While an organic SEO strategy takes time, PPC allows you to get in the game for important industry keywords.
2. You only pay for what you convert
With PPC campaigns, you only pay for the clicks you generate. This means you’re only paying for the people who actually click through on the ad and visit the landing page you intended them to visit.
3. You can easily track conversions to measure ROI
By adding conversion pixels to your landing pages, PPC allows you to identify the exact cost-per-lead of your campaign, which can be a lot more arduous to generate with other marketing tactics. As a result, you’re able to continually tweak and optimize your ads to decrease the cost-per-lead.
How to measure PPC success
The truth is there are dozens of PPC metrics you can track. So, which ones matter most when it comes to reaching your business goals?
Rather than focusing solely on PPC analytics like clicks, impressions and click-through rates, here are some metrics that allow you to analyze macro metrics that speak to the ROI of your efforts:
- Cost-per-conversion. This helps you determine if the PPC clicks you’re generating represent quality traffic that’s actually converting into sales.
- Most valuable keywords. Being able to track which keywords lead to sales can help you zero in on where to give credit within your PPC campaigns.
- Lifetime value of PPC customers. Once you have an understanding of how much it costs to convert a PPC lead, compare that to the other cost-per-customer marketing tactics against the lifetime value of your customers.
At the end of the day, PPC can be an incredibly cost-effective way to generate leads through search engines. The key is to look at the right metrics for the right situations and use that data to make the most meaningful changes to your campaigns.