I wrote a blog post not too long ago titled “A Beginner’s Guide to Keywords” which hopefully illuminated some of the aspects that go into choosing the most profitable keywords to target for your next marketing campaign. After I posted this article, I received a number of questions, comments, and messages asking what the process should be for optimizing a website for these keywords once they have been chosen. Though I can’t not go through all of the elements that go into on-page and off-page optimization for a website, I thought I would take a minute and lay out some of the most important steps. These are the basic elements of SEO that you can easily implement on your own sites. If you take the time to follow these few simple steps, I guarantee that you will see an increase in your search rankings and website user experience (UX). So, without further adieu, let’s get into it…
MAIN GOAL = Optimize your meta-content: There are countless articles that tell you to do this to your site, but I am actually going to show you how (In WordPress at least; if you need help doing this with your site and it’s not on WordPress, let me know in a message or comments. I’m here to help. It’s an easy process for any site, I am just using WordPress as an example because it is so widely used)
Step 1 – Log into WordPress. You do have your login information, right? If not, get it from your webmaster. Never let someone else completely control your site information. If you do, this could cause major issues if you ever part from your developer, and even if you don’t, it’s important to have. There are things you should be able to do to your site without the assistance of your developer.
Step 2 – ADD AN SEO PLUGIN – If you have not yet, click on “Plugins” on the left-hand side of your screen. (note, there are a few different reasons why you may not see this link on the side of your admin screen. If this is the case, let me know and I will help you figure out why it is not showing).
Once you click “Plugins” at the top of the page click “Add New” and add an SEO plugin. There are many different SEO plugins available for WordPress, but the two I feel are the best are “All In One SEO” and “SEO Yoast”
For purposes of this post, I think you should add “SEO Yoast” as it is my personal favorite (if you disagree, let me know why in the comments, I’m always interested in hearing differing points on this).
Just type “SEO Yoast” into the plugin search bar and scan down until you see it. It will be listed as “WordPress SEO by Yoast”
Once you find it click “Install Now” once it is installed, click “Activate” and you will be all set.
Step 3 – SETTING UP YOUR PAGES – Now that your plugin is installed, you need to start adding your Meta-content for each page on your site. Simply go to the left-hand side of your screen and click “Pages”
Once you do this, find the main pages you would like to optimize and click whichever page you would like to start with. Once you enter the page’s edit window scan down the page and you will see a section that looks like this:
This is where you will be adding all the unique information about each page on your site. Here is a specific breakdown of the sections:
“Snippet Preview” – This is what your page will look like on the Google Search Results Page. It should look familiar to you if you have used Google search in the past.
“Focus Keyword” – This allows you to pick one specific keyword/phrase that you want to optimize for on your page. (Important Note* This section does nothing for your SEO value, it is simply a way for you to track how many times you are using a particular Keyword, and where you are using it at on your page. Only put one keyword here, don’t stuff a bunch in, it will do nothing but confuse you)
To get the most SEO value out of your site, you need to use Cornerstone Content in your page development. There is a lot that goes into this, but in it’s simplest form, Cornerstoning your content deals with focusing on ONE specific keyword for each page of your site.
If you just optimize for “Real Estate” on every page of your site, that will hinder the amount of times you can effectively use the keyword without it becoming redundant. It is better to focus each page around one unique keyword and optimize that page specifically for it. For instance, you could create a whole page around “Luxury Condiminiums” and make sure you include that specific keyword multiple times all on that one page. This gets pretty complicated, but hopefully this basic idea makes enough sense. If not, let me know.
“SEO Title” – This is by far the most important part of all these sections. Your title is a major factor that Google and other search engines use when ranking your pages. Make sure your title is descriptive, unique, includes keywords, and is under 70 characters (anything over 70 characters will get cut by Google; sometimes it’s even closer to 60)
For your title, avoid stop words such as “And, or, but” as these words are useless to the search engines. Also, put your keywords at the front of your title, a location if applicable, and your company name (if you include it at all) at the end of your title. For instance, try:
Luxury Condiminiums Long Beach, CA | Keeler Real Estate
(One thing to note about Yoast: Sometimes it can be weird about letting you edit the title section. If this happens, click in the box and hit Spacebar and this should take care of the issue.)
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR TITLES – This gets a little technical, but don’t worry, you can do it.
You need to go to the left side of wordpress and click on “Appearance”
Once you do this, a set of options will appear below “Appearance” you want to click the one that says “Editor”
When you do this, you will be taken to a page that has a text box with a bunch of code gibberish that you may or may not understand. This doesn’t matter (just don’t delete anything here)
What you need to do is look at the right side of the page and find the link that says “Header” and click on it.
This will bring up another code gibberish box. Now for the technicals:
Look inside of the box for something that says “head” with a greater than/less than sign on both sides of it.
When you find the Head, click just to the right of the “>” sign and then hit enter. This will create a new blank line. Once you are on a new line, copy and paste this EXACT code into that line. Here is the process:
SORRY, I HAD TO USE AN IMAGE SO ACTIVE RAIN DIDN’T RESPOND TO THIS CODE. JUST MAKE SURE TO TYPE EVERYTHING EXACTLY.
Once you do that, click “update file” and you are all set.
(Disclaimer: Messing with the code of your site can have repurcussions. I can’t be held responsible for user error in this step, but so long as you do exactly what I laid out, you should be fine. Practice caution though)
“Meta Description” – This is another section that does almost nothing for raising your search ranking; however, this is the text that shows up in Google search directly below your title (see “snippet preview”) and for that reason, your description is important. Make sure your descriptions are unique for every page, and follow the length requirements that Yoast lays out. Also, just to make Yoast happy, try to include your main keyword in your description at least one time (but don’t over do it or you will be penalized). Also, try to include a call to action in each page’s description.
These are the main elements for optimizing your meta content using Yoast on WordPress. Another cool thing about Yoast is if you click “Page Analysis” at the top of this section, it will take you to a full analysis of your page’s SEO value. Follow their suggestions and you will have a well-optimized page.
It is important to note that there are countless other things you can do with Yoast, and many of these things require a great deal of technical proficiency, so leave those up to your webmaster. But these simple steps, you should be able to accomplish on your own. Good Luck!!
If you need help with any of this or have comments/questions, just let me know. I will be happy to answer them. If you want this done, but are not sure how to do it yourself, FRINGE Digital Marketing Agency specializes in all aspects of web design and SEO, and we would be happy to help you out. Happy Optimizing!!
We at FRINGE Digital Marketing Agency receive a lot of questions about when the best time to start a dedicated SEO campaign is. Many companies are confused as to why they would need to start an SEO campaign before their website is even up on the Internet. We understand this line of thinking as many people associate SEO with something that is supposed to occur after a website is already online, but we feel that is important to rectify this common misconception. If you as a business want to get the most out of your SEO campaign, the best practice is to allow your SEO campaign manager to begin your campaign as your site is in the process of being designed and coded. Here is why: below I have laid out a list of optimal strategies that SHOULD be implemented before a website goes online. Hopefully after reading this, businesses will understand why we feel it is so pressing to start an SEO campaign when we advise it. Above all remember, A SOLID, SUCCESSFUL SEO CAMPAIGN TAKES TIME, EFFORT, AND CONSISTENCY!!
Step #1 – Keyword Selection
Preplanning is a major part of the SEO process, and one of the most time-consuming yet important facets of preplanning is developing the best possible keyword selections for your company. If you do not understand what keywords are or how to go through a keyword-selection process, please refer here. Adequate time must be spent on successful keyword selection or your SEO campaign will be dead in the water before it ever starts. Keyword selection is one of the most important elements in guaranteeing a solid ROI for your company, and if this process is rushed or not given the time it deserves, your business and your potential profits will suffer. Keyword selection is part art and part science. You need to give someone who understands this the time to do it effectively right from the start.
Step #2 – Cornerstone Design Implementation
Once the best possible keywords have been selected for a particular campaign. An SEO campaign manager must work with web designers to properly set up and cornerstone important pages of that website in order to deliver these keywords most efficiently not only to consumers and potential clients, but to the scanner bots that search engines use to index web pages. Google and other search engines index PAGES not WEBSITES. Having random keywords scattered throughout your site instead of properly corner stoned to main navigation pages will actually hurt your SEO efforts instead of helping them. There are many philosophies on how to best achieve this for maximum relevance, but one thing remains constant: this process takes time and must be done before a website is finished.
Step #3 – Optimizing Code
Once proper keywords are selected and page designs have been modified for optimum efficiency, then an SEO manager must work with the website coder in order to develop and write the website’s code in a way that is clean, efficient, and laid out PERFECTLY for search-engine specificity. They must work together on every page of code to make sure all meta description, title, and alt tags are written for maximum SEO return. This step is tricky and has many variables. The code must avoid elements that will slow down the website’s overall loading speed. Elements such as render-blocking java scripts, excessive code forms, and oversized image files must be carefully monitored to guarantee optimal page-load efficiency as this is a MAJOR factor that search engines now factor into search rankings.
Step #4 – Content Delivery and Manipulation
After all these prior steps have been taken, the SEO manager must then go into his client’s website’s CMS (content management system) and work on writing or using provided content in a way that is SEO-efficient. Keywords must be placed seamlessly into the web content utilized at specific densities throughout the cornerstone pages of the site. The keywords must not stand out and must read naturally within the text of the site. An appropriate inbound link net must be established for maximum navigation speed and ease, and appropriate anchor texts must be hyperlinked and formatted with appropriate tags so search bots can access them in the fastest possible way.
Once all these steps have been completed, then your website is finally ready to hit the web. Luckily, if you utilize an SEO company that has the proper expertise and houses their own developers and coders, this process can be streamlined and implemented quite quickly. What actually takes far more time is when a company rolls out their website prematurely and then the SEO campaign manager has to go back through the site and revise and rework all content. Not only is this way more time consuming than setting it up beforehand, it also hurts that companies SEO value and search rankings. This happens because Google and the other search engines have already indexed the site once when it was not properly optimized, and they have already penalized the site for that. It is difficult to build back from this penalizing, and it is in a company’s best interest to ensure that the first time their site is indexed, everything is set up and ready to be scanned. So do yourself a favor, start working with your SEO campaign manager as soon as you start working on your website design. Doing so will give you the best possible chance for success and domination of your particular field!
In keeping with our decision to analyze and give credit to some of our favorite companies and their brilliant marketing strategies, we here at Fringe Digital Marketing Agency decided to focus this week on the retail industry. Since I am currently in the market for some new hiking boots, I decided to type that wonderful keyword (hiking boots) into Google. Once I did this, one of the first sites to pop up is one of my favorite shoe manufacturers of all time: Keen Shoes. As I looked through Keen’s site, I found myself drawn into the Keen world, and I ended up spending far too much time browsing through their social outlets. I decided to put all this extra time I spent to some good use, so I hopped on my computer and started writing. Keen is a very professional, yet laid-back company, and their marketing strategy reflects that. In no way during my journey through their sites did I feel pressured to buy anything. Their site was more along the lines of “Hey, look at all these awesome things we’re doing. Don’t you want to be a part of this?” I think many companies should take this mantra to heart and learn a thing or two from Keen’s marketing team. So, here it goes: my marketing case study of Keen Shoes…
Website – Keen’s website provides a nice, clean user interface that is easy to navigate and includes a slow-scanning slideshow display of people happy in natural environments. There is a main-focus shoe advertisement that rotates every short while, and there is a gender-specific link icon touting Keen’s latest deals. There is a clearly defined search tool along the header section, and an excellent social media icon link bar along the bottom section. My favorite part of Keen’s website is their “Find the perfect shoe” icon at the bottom of their page. When you click on this icon a simple interface pops up with three icons: Who is the shoe for (Man, Woman, or Kids), What kind of weather will the shoe primarily be used in, and What activity will the shoe primarily be used for. By quickly clicking through this process, I was instantly able to locate a pair of shoes that would best suit my needs, and it was very difficult for me to restrain myself from hitting the “Buy Now” button.
Blogs – Keen’s blog is an offshoot of their homepage and contains all the main header elements that appear on every page of their site. They try to maintain a rate of 3-4 blog posts per month, and every blog post centers around something healthy and/or nature related. They write a lot about community gardening and organic farming which, though not related to shoes directly, caters to the type of nature-conscious, health-focused consumer that would be attracted to Keen’s style of shoe. Every blog post is unified by a social media share/like bar at the bottom of each article, and though it is not the nicest looking bar I’ve seen, it certainly serves its purpose. This makes it very easy to promote their content in the social realm, and their comment section is easy to add to as long as you are willing to submit your E-mail address. Customers can go one step further and submit a guest blog post about a recent adventure they have gone on. This is one of the best content marketing strategies that any online retailer can engage in. Not only are the customers creating content for you and raving about your product, they are also sharing real-world experiences with your product which is guaranteed to attract other customers of the same mindset.
Facebook – Keen’s Facebook page is dedicated more to photography with short text than anything else. There are links to a few videos and some longer articles, but overall they post easy to ingest snippets of visual information that shows happy customers out in nature with their product. Keen remains very consistent with their Facebook posts, typically posting new content every 2-3 days. Their main bar is very simple with just a photo link, a like counter, a link to their most-current promotion/contest, and an event box to keep up with current Keen happenings. One thing to take note of is that there seems to be an inverse relationship between the quality of a business, and how many link boxes they keep on the top bar of their Facebook page. The companies with the strongest online campaigns seem to carry the fewest link boxes on their Facebook pages, while smaller, less-successful companies seem to bombard their Facebook bars with as many link boxes as possible. One very good strategy that Keen employs is a best pic of the day customer contest. Customers are encouraged to share their best pictures with Keen shoes, and Keen chooses the best ones and posts them on their Facebook page. This ensures a constant flooding of usable content, and it fosters continued user engagement. You could spend days just searching through their photos section as that seems to be their main focus/purpose for Facebook. It is a smart tactic; no one wants to read long articles on Facebook, but people love funny or interesting material that can be taken in quickly and without much thought.
Twitter – Keen uses its twitter page primarily to post shoe reviews and short articles as well as using tactics to create continuous user returns. They accomplish this by utilizing a trivia contest where they will post specific questions (usually relating to Keen’s history) and users will comment and answer. This serves to keep a constant influx of engaged visitors to their page. Keen also utilizes a variety of charity contests, the most recent of which was one where customers could post pictures of their gardens, and as long as they tagged Keen in the post, Keen will donate one dollar in support of community gardens. Not only is this a great marketing tactic, but it is something that benefits the Earth on a grand scale which is keeping in line with Keen’s overall mission statement. These are great tactics that keep patrons coming back on a regular basis and will definitely drive up rankings. In terms of consistency, Keen posts on almost a daily basis, so customers can check back daily and there will always be fresh content.
Google+ – Google+ does not appear to be a large part of Keen’s marketing strategy. They do have a page, but it looks like they posted a couple videos in early 2012 and haven’t touched the page since. This would be a terrible idea for a smaller business, but since Keen has built up such a stellar reputation using other avenues, they do not need to worry about this outlet as much (or at all it seems).
Instagram – Keen keeps true to their mission of showing consumers utilizing their products out in nature with their Instagram page. Keen has dedicated this page to hosting contests such as “upload a photo of your best sandal tan” and “share your best photo of fall exploration.” Because of this, Keen does not have to put much work into maintaining this site. They simply post a photo with a caption explaining the new contest, and the users are free to do the rest of the work. I am a big fan of this type of contest, because it seems less “salesy” and more fun to participate in.
Youtube – Keen’s Youtube channel is well laid out and easy to navigate. They have an excess of videos showing commercials for their products as well as behind the scenes looks at the company and the process of making their commercials. These videos do a great job of humanizing the company which was most certainly their goal for this outlet. I found myself clicking through more videos than I thought I would and thinking “man, this looks like a great place to work!”
Pinterest – This seems to be a major outlet for Keen’s marketing strategy as well. They have an excess of pins that are all laid out in a clean, visually pleasing manner. Though they do have some pins for their product reviews, the majority of their page content is dealing with nature-related pins. Things relating to biking, hiking, and chasing waterfalls are all featured heavily on this page which once again goes along perfectly with their brand’s mission.
SUMMARY – Twitter and the Keen blog seem to be the best complement to Keen’s website in terms of traffic generation and ranking potential. The use of a food truck in conjunction with Twitter listings is a wonderful tactic, and the overall colorful and campy vibe of the content makes it a place that seems really fun to check out. Voodoo Doughnuts is blessed with a wealth of diverse eye-catching products in their arsenal, but many of their tactics can be taken and applied to any section of the restaurant/bar scene. The biggest thing to take away from Keen’s strategy is to make your content fun and relevant to your company’s philosophy (especially your Facebook and twitter). People in these social spheres are not looking for heavy-handed or overly-informational content. They want elements that are simple, fun, and interesting without requiring too much thought or focus.
Have you seen any companies lately that had a particularly intriguing Marketing strategy? If so, let us know about them in the comments section, and we will make sure to include them in our next marketing case study. Thanks!
We here at Fringe Digital Marketing Agency, like to remove our web design and SEO hats every once in a while to sit down and discuss things we find interesting in the tech world.
It was in doing this that we came across the famous sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov (the creator of stories that led to movies such as I-Robot and Bicentennial Man), and we are now convinced that this man actually travelled through time.
During the time of the World’s Fair in 1964, Isaac Asimov sat down to write an article for the New York Times. Asimov used this opportunity to lay out some bold predictions for the world as he envisioned it in 2014 which he aptly titled “Visit to the World’s Fair 2014.”
Even though there are no plans in progress for an actual World’s Fair in 2014 as far as I know, many of Asimov’s predictions are spot on with our current tech explosion.
Sure, he was a little off on a few facts (like predicting Earth’s population to be 6,500,000,000 when it is currently around 7,200,000,000) but you try to predict fifty years into the future, and see how accurate you are.
Let’s take a look at some of his most interesting predictions, and how Google, Apple, and other tech-giants have worked to make these visions reality…
Anyone who fights through forty-hour work weeks in windowless offices can relate to this prediction. Humankind is rapidly becoming an indoor-only species, and the thought of being outdoors has now become more of a vacation idea than a way of life.
Watch any episode of MTV’s Cribs (is that show still on or did I just make myself look old?) and you will see massive expanses of real estate that provide absolutely no need to head out into nature.
With giant flat screens, mammoth pools, indoor shrubbery, and sound machines that simulate the gentle hum of nature, humans now can get all the benefits of being in nature without all that pesky exercise and fresh air bogging them down.
Prediction #2 – “electroluminescent panels will be in common use. Ceilings and walls will glow softly, and in a variety of colors that will change at the touch of a push button.”
Just the other day I picked up another set of color changing led string lights to decorate my basement trim.
Though these wall and ceiling panels have not necessarily become commonplace (outside of nightclubs perhaps), they are certainly present in our culture, and any person that wanted to could easily outfit their home or office with an array of wall and ceiling panels that morph from color to color with the turn of a dial or push of a button.
Just type LED wall panel into Google, and you will be inundated with buying options.
Prediction #3 – “ Kitchen units will be devised that will prepare “automeals,” heating water and converting it to coffee; toasting bread; frying, poaching or scrambling eggs, grilling bacon, and so on.”
Keurig, George Foreman, Microwaves, Toasters etc. etc. etc. A simple query for “Kitchen Appliances” will bring up a plethora of random tools and gadgets all used in the name of food preparation.
We are definitely not far off from the freeze dried insta-pizzas presented in “Back to the Future II,” and I personally can’t wait for that to become reality.
Prediction #4 – “Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence.”
Asimov hit the nail on the head with this prediction. The talk of robots has been commonplace for years now, but the world has yet to see a robot of the caliber that have been presented in science fiction.
With the boom in technology and our understanding of electronics, one would think that we would have fully functioning, AI capable, kinetic robots as friends by now.
All the pieces seem to be there, but I have yet to see a robot I’d want to hang out with.
Prediction #5 – “the 2014 World’s Fair will be showing 3-D movies of its “Robot of the Future,” (There will be a three-hour wait in line to see the film, for some things never change.)”
I bet when Asimov wrote this, he wasn’t imagining a film based off one of his stories being shown in 3-D with Will Smith in the lead role, but since we’re pretty sure he was a time traveler, maybe he did.
Regardless, 3-D films have now become a mainstay in popular culture, and their eye-straining graphics don’t seem to be leaving us anytime soon. They have even entered into homes now where you can watch I-Robot in all its three-dimensional greatness without ever getting out of bed.
Prediction #6 – “The appliances of 2014 will have no electric cords, of course, for they will be powered by long-lived batteries”
Right again; sort of. Most people still have many gadgets with power cords hanging out the back, but there has definitely been an explosion of wireless tech in recent years.
From wireless videogame controllers, to laptops to tablets, cellphones, Google Glass, ipods blah, blah, blah. The list could go on for days.
Prediction #7 – “Large solar-power stations will also be in operation in a number of desert and semi-desert areas — Arizona, the Negev, Kazakhstan. In the more crowded, but cloudy and smoggy areas, solar power will be less practical.
Solar farms have been popping up all over the globe, and one of the leading buyers of these farms is no other than Google themselves who just recently purchased this latest solar farm in the Mojave Desert for a whopping $168 Million.
Green energy is certainly the catch phrase of 2013 and that will not be changing any time soon.
Prediction #8 – “Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with “Robot-brains” vehicles that can be set for particular destinations and that will then proceed there without interference by the slow reflexes of a human driver.”
Along with buying gigantic solar farms, the folks at Google have also been working on this Asimovian prediction (I’m starting to think Google gets all their ideas from sci-fi writers and movies).
Google has spent the better part of a decade working on their “Driverless Car” and they are about ready to roll it out.
2014 will most likely be the year that we see this and other driverless cars like it become reality.
That’s great and all, but I am going to keep my hands on the wheel for the next few years.
Prediction #9 – “Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books. Synchronous satellites, hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth, including the weather stations in Antarctica”
Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, Kindles etc. These sight-sound interactions have become a major form of communication in 2013, and they will just expand and become more efficient in 2014.
No longer will we be able to hide our unkempt mugs from the fiber-optic roadway of friendly discussion. In 2014 you better be on top of your game. Keep your teeth white and eyebrows and nosehairs trimmed; you can’t risk being caught looking like the guy above.
Prediction #10 – “As for television, wall screens will have replaced the ordinary set; but transparent cubes will be making their appearance in which three-dimensional viewing will be possible. In fact, one popular exhibit at the 2014 World’s Fair will be such a 3-D TV, built life-size, in which ballet performances will be seen. The cube will slowly revolve for viewing from all angles.”
Flat screens have definitely replaced the normal box television sets and will continue to do so in 2014.
As I already mentioned, many of these flatscreens now come 3-D equipped and that will continue on into 2014 as well, but the most amazing part of this prediction for me is when Asimov discusses the life-size TV that is 3-D and can be viewed from all angles.
The first thing that popped into my mind when I read this was “Tupac.” As you may or may not know, at the most recent Coachella music festival, Snoop Dogg (Or is it Snoop Lion now?) performed a song in his set with the late, great Tupac Shakur.
This was made possible by a highly-advanced hologram system set up at the show which made Tupac seem like he was really there (pictured above).
I think this is amazing, and I hope to see more uses of this technology in 2014.
Bonus Prediction – “Indeed, the increasing use of mechanical devices to replace failing hearts and kidneys, and repair stiffening arteries and breaking nerves will have cut the death rate still further and have lifted the life expectancy”
Certainly with stem-cell research, cloning, and mechanical organs, this prediction from Asimov has already become reality and will continue into 2014.
I did find it relevant though, that Google has recently made public their latest project, project “Calico.” The purpose of this project is to research and find a way to expand the human life-span and eventually get rid of death all together.
There hasn’t been a lot of information released yet on how they plan to do this, but I do find it interesting that Google no longer just wants to dominate tech-life; it seems they now want to dominate life as a whole. Scary…
Anyway, Time did a great article on Project Calico which you can read HERE.
Though Isaac Asimov did not get every prediction perfect, I still have to commend him on his astounding accuracy. Asimov did spend some of the article writing about cars that use “Jets of compressed air to lift land vehicles off the highways” like Doc Brown’s Delorean, and though that has not become a reality yet, it definitely should be. We still have some time until 2014…maybe it will happen…Here’s hoping.
Do you have any predictions of your own for the next 50 years? If so, leave them in the comments below so we can discuss…
Many new business owners have a vision of SEO as something that can be started in some distant, future time; after they have all of their other “important” things in order. This could not be further from the truth. There is no such thing as starting an SEO campaign for your new startup “too early.” Let me give you an example.
Two of my good friends are in the process of starting up a new brewery in their hometown (for privacy’s sake, we’ll say Detroit, MI). They have the years of knowledge and experience to make this startup a success, and I have no doubt in my mind that they will prosper; however, every time I start to discuss their plans for SEO and content marketing, their eyes glaze over and they say something akin to “yeah, we’ll get to that…EVENTUALLY.”
Because these are good friends of mine, I will push them to make the best choices, and to start their SEO early, but there are far too many startups out there that either have no plans for an SEO/Content Marketing Campaign, or they are waiting until some undisclosed time in the future to think about it.
Here is the main problem with this type of thinking:
A SOLID, SUCCESSFUL SEO CAMPAIGN TAKES TIME, EFFORT, AND CONSISTENCY!!
SEO is not some magic switch that one can flip on with immediate results. In fact, any SEO company that offers immediate results is almost surely a scam company. There is no magic bullet for SEO; it takes time, dedication, and hard work. The bigger you want your startup to eventually be, the earlier you need to start your SEO, and the more voraciously you need to work at it.
Since I am currently in the process of yelling at my new brewery friends and telling them all the things SEO-wise they should be doing and are not, I figured I’d share this information to the rest of the world.
Now all you startups out there (and even you already established businesses) can see all the things you should be doing that you probably are not.
We here at Fringe, and I am sure many other Digital Marketing Agencies hear this excuse all the time. Many people feel that SEO and content marketing is only relevant once a business’ website is fully functional. This is simply not true. The process of SEO and content marketing should begin way before your website ever hits the web.
From the second the ink dries on your business plan, you should begin developing content and optimizing that content for the keywords or the semantic strains that you are targeting.
Case in point, my friends get together twice a week to brew their beers and test out new ideas and techniques. If I talk to either of my friends about this, they go on for hours about their recipes and the new things they are trying out.
It is interesting and fascinating to hear them talk and to hear all the science and precision that goes into craft beer, and the world at large would benefit from this knowledge as well.
This knowledge and insight is the number one thing that Google looks for when deciding what websites should make it to the top of their ranks. Google wants the top of their search pages to be filled with businesses that are sharing valuable information in their field; information people will benefit from and seek out on a regular basis.
It does not matter that my friends’ website is not fully up and running; there are many different blog sites out there that are simple to start and easy to update. They could use any one of these blogs to share their recollections and analysis of these brewing days.
There are also more chances than ever to become a guest blogger and add valuable information to others’ well-established blogs. Posting engaging articles and recollections to these blogs helps to solidify you as an authority in your field, which is one of the very top factors that Google uses to create its rankings.
Another simple way to establish your authority is to seek out online forums relating to your field. Once you identify these forums, then add insight and answer poster questions. As you do this more and more, not only will you cement yourself as a true authority, but you will gain valuable followers that will frequent your site once it is up and running.
If my friends had been utilizing these tactics for every one of their brewing days since its inception, they would already have over fifty interesting and unique articles that they could use to build their online authority. As it stands, they have yet to create a single one.
Not only will that hinder them in the long run of their SEO/Campaign Marketing campaign; these articles would also be great to look back upon once their business is a great success. These posts will serve as an online journal of sorts where they could reflect on the early days of their business and see how far they have come.
Important Note – If your website is online, but only displays one page that says “New Website Coming Soon” and that page has been up for more than a week, then FINISH YOUR WEBSITE!!
These “coming soon” pages do nothing for your SEO value, and they look cheap and unprofessional to your future visitors. When your website is ready to go, then publish it. If it is not yet ready to go, then don’t publish it. It is as simple as that. If I see one more “Coming Soon” page on a website that I am interested in, I am going to SCREAM!!
Excuse #2 – I am working so hard, I don’t have time to sit down and write out everything I am doing…
My friends and I have battled about this particular excuse quite a bit, and it is simply wrong. There is an ever-growing amount of talk to text notepad apps out there for both Android and IPhone. Apps, such as the Listnote Speech/Text Notepad will take everything that you speak into it and it will transfer your speech into an editable text document.
In effect, all the times where my friends have talked my ear off about everything they are trying, they could have held a phone up and had all that great knowledge transferred easily into text. Then, with a little bit of editing and revision, they would have blog posts/articles ready for publication. With the amount of great tech at our fingertips, this particular excuse is no longer valid.
This excuse makes sense to me, but at the same time, that’s the potential price that we must pay for solidifying ourselves as authorities in our respective fields. It’s true that if you share the techniques and recipes that you are using online, there is a potential risk of theft. However, you will always in this case be the first one who shared this information, and in Google’s eyes, you will remain the number one authority for this particular field.
Besides, I can go online right now and find the exact recipe for any great, famous beer out there, but there is no way I could ever replicate it; and even if I could, every true connoisseur would know that I am just putting out a knock-off of one of the greats, and not an original work.
Just because someone can steal your idea or recipe, does not necessarily mean that they will profit or benefit from it, and this is not something that should keep you from sharing your wealth of insight with the world at large.
Excuse #4 – I don’t want everyone on the Internet seeing the mistakes I am making…
Newsflash, it doesn’t matter how perfect or professional you are trying to present yourself and your business, the world knows you are a startup.
Because you are a startup, the world is willing to accept that you do not as of yet know every single small detail in your respective field. Mistakes happen, and it doesn’t matter how big a business currently is, they all went through a growing pains stage where they screwed up some things, learned from their mistakes, and were better off because of it.
Mistakes are not a bad thing. They teach us important lessons that can only be gained through experience. Mistakes also humanize us to our audience. People respect that you tried something out, and when it didn’t work, you had the foresight and perseverance to fix the problem and make it right.
Any company or person that tries to portray an image of perfection and flawlessness is just lying to the world. Nobody’s perfect, and the world will respect your honesty as you encounter the subtle flaws in your plans and strive to fix them. That’s what perfection is in my eyes: encountering your flaws and errors and finding the best possible ways to remedy them.
Excuse #5 – We’re documenting everything with pictures. That’s just as good…
I do agree that from a social media perspective, people love seeing pictures and liking/commenting on them. I am not saying that pictures should not be a part of your content marketing plan, but from an SEO perspective, pictures offer you very little substance.
There are certainly ways to optimize your photos to increase their SEO relevance (don’t forget your title and Alt tags everyone), but any SEO campaign that relies strictly on photos is sure to fail.
Pictures are easy to take. I am a photographer as well, so I respect and know the depth of the field, but really, anyone with a phone nowadays can be a photographer; Maybe not a good one, but a photographer nonetheless.
Because pictures are easy to take, Google and other search engines will never give them as much weight as clever, well-crafted written content. There is a reason my friends are happy to shoot a million photos, but hesitant to sit down and even write a single article.
Taking photos is fun; writing content is not always. Never take the easy way out in SEO. The harder something is, the more important it probably is to your SEO campaign. Like I said earlier, there is no silver bullet in SEO. You must rely on patience, hard work, and due diligence.
FINAL THOUGHTS – I am sure there are hundreds of other excuses that startups can come up with for slacking on their SEO/Content Marketing campaigns, but if I was to address them all, I would be here for days.
My point here is simple: Master your field, and then sit down and write (or talk to text) rich, engaging content that people will want to read, and that will bring them back again and again. This is easier for some fields than others, but it is a NECCESSITY for all businesses that want to attract online clientele.
If you find that you simply do not have the time to do all of this, then hire a great company to do it for you. At Fringe Digital Marketing Agency, this is all we do 24-7, and we are great at it. We would be more than happy to take on your campaign and lead you to success if you do not have the time to do it yourself, but don’t just wait and wait until you eventually forget to run a campaign all together.
From the moment you have your business idea in your head, start creating content and getting it online. Use blogs and guest blogs; visit forums, comment, and add your insight. The more content you can get online, the more of a relevant authority in your field you will become.
You will thank yourself later; just like my friends will be thanking me when they start ranking number one for the keyword “Brewery in Detroit” on Google. They can name one of their beers after me at a later date.
Do you have any ideas on how a startup business can develop their SEO/Content Marketing Campaign? If so, post them in the comments section below.
Every once in a while here at Fringe, we like to point out a company that has a particularly intriguing or well laid out marketing strategy. Our case study for this week is Voodoo Doughnuts out of Portland, OR. Though they have garnered a great amount of attention as of late through television and word of mouth advertising, Voodoo’s digital marketing strategy is still top notch. Here is a breakdown:
Title Tag – Voodoo Doughnuts keeps their title tag fairly simple – “Voodoo Doughnut – The Magic is in the Hole!!!”. Instead of going with a heavily keyword-laden title, they focus on their catch phrase instead. They do have one main keyword in their title (Doughnut), but besides that, their title is more about their brand than keywords.
Meta Description – Voodoo’s Meta Description, like their title, is simple and focused on their brand’s catch phrase (“The world famous Voodoo Doughnut shops, with locations in Portland and Eugene, Oregon. The magic is in the hole.”). Though simple, the description gives vital information such as location and industry.
Website – Voodoo Doughnut’s website has a nice (albeit cluttered) layout that matches the dark playful voodoo vibe that the store is so well known for. Immediately on their homepage you encounter their company brand front and center which is surrounded by delicious looking, colorful, high-definition pictures of their doughnuts. Down the left-hand margin there is a visible but not distracting social media/merchandise bar, with the merch box at the very top and just a little bigger than the rest. Across the center of the homepage is the navigation bar for the site. This bar includes links to 15 different pages on the site with the five most important up front (about, f.a.q., doughnuts “menu”, locations, and their blog). The website is setup so the company brand, doughnut pictures, and social media links always stay in main focus until you scan downward on the page to your desired information. It is a very effective setup and upon first visit, it becomes clear that they have an abundance of high-quality content and media.
Blogs – Voodoo’s blog is an offshoot of their homepage and still contains the company brand surrounded by photos of delicious doughnuts right at the top of the page. Since they are now such a big company, the consistency of their blog posts have waned a bit (it looks like they post maybe once a month now), but at the onset of their blog, they maintained a consistent three to four posts per month ranging from videos of the zany owners to holiday doughnut recipes and everything in between. Every blog post is unified by a social media share/like bar at the bottom of each article or video. This makes it very easy to promote their content as it is right at your fingertips.
Facebook – Voodoo’s Facebook page is dedicated more to photography with short text than anything else. There are links to a few videos and some longer articles, but overall they post easy to ingest snippets of visual information that is funny and light-hearted. Their consistency seems to vary a bit on Facebook, but they seem to target around 8-10 posts a month. Their main bar is very simple with just a photo link, a like counter, and a map block for directions. You could spend days just searching through their photos section as that seems to be their main focus/purpose for Facebook. It is a smart tactic; no one wants to read long articles on Facebook, but people love funny or interesting material that can be taken in quickly and without much thought.
Twitter – Voodoo uses its twitter page primarily to release specials, merchandise, and short announcements for the company. They ingeniously use a truck that travels through Portland and sells doughnuts on the go, and Twitter is there outlet to let Portlanders know where this truck will be and when. This is a great tactic that will keep patrons coming back on a regular basis and will definitely drive up rankings. In terms of consistency, they seem to target around 10-12 posts a month.
Google+ – Voodoo’s Google+ page is very basic and easy to navigate. They have their logo, a couple pictures and all their main information (address, phone number, url, etc.). The main focus of the site is definitely centered on reviews where they have 371 reviews which are almost all 5 out of 5 stars. If your restaurant can accomplish this even on a much smaller scale, it would have a dramatic impact on traffic to your business. The other main focus of this site is the large map at the top of the page. This provides a simple visual reference and allows users to assess distance and surroundings quickly and easily.
Instagram – Voodoo’s Instagram as you might have guessed is dedicated solely to product shots. As you scan through you come across a seemingly endless variety of mouth-watering delicatessens. They also utilize Webstagram which is an Instagram viewing service for the web where you can insert your RSS/Social media feeds below each photo. In terms of schedule, Voodoo seems to post a new photo about every 2-3 days.
Youtube – Youtube does not seem to be a heavy focus of Voodoo’s marketing strategy. They do have a few videos up, but they are spaced apart by years and it looks like the most they have ever posted in a year is two. The videos are mostly fun little snippets of parades, art, and comedy.
Pinterest – Voodoo does not actively maintain a Pinterest page. There are many pins out there relating to Voodoo and its products, but they do not have a site as far as I can tell.
SUMMARY – Twitter and the Voodoo blog seem to be the best complement to Voodoo’s website in terms of traffic generation and ranking potential. The use of a food truck in conjunction with Twitter listings is a wonderful tactic, and the overall colorful and campy vibe of the content makes it a place that seems really fun to check out. Voodoo Doughnuts is blessed with a wealth of diverse eye-catching products in their arsenal, but many of their tactics can be taken and applied to any section of the restaurant/bar scene. The biggest thing to take away from Voodoo’s strategy is to make your content fun (especially your Facebook and twitter). People in these social spheres are not looking for heavy-handed or overly-informational content. They want elements that are simple, fun, and interesting without requiring too much thought or focus.
Have you seen any companies lately with stellar marketing strategies? If so, please let us know about them in the comments section and tell us why you feel they are great. We’re always on the lookout for new examples.
In today’s market, the need for a solid, efficient business website is more important than ever. In the cut-throat, international field of ecommerce very small changes to one’s website can have profound effects. Many businesses understand the need for an effective online presence and website, but few are sure what this necessarily entails. At Fringe Digital Marketing Agency, we run into a lot of websites that started off with the greatest intentions, but failed in the execution. There are numerous ways that businesses can unknowingly turn off potential customers and destroy their potential for online revenue. Here are five of the most common ways businesses can sabotage their websites:
1. Improper or non-existent Meta tags – We talk about this one a lot simply because it is so important, and it is very simple to fix. Try this: navigate to your business’ homepage and right-click anywhere on the page. Once you right-click, select “view page source” from the options. This will pull up the code for your website. Within this code there should be something that looks like this:Business Website Home. This is the title tag for your website.
A good website title tag will have the name of the business as well as an important keyword relating to that business (i.e. Health Stop | Natural Health Supplements). This is very important because Google will assess your title tag first when deciding whether or not your site is relevant to a particular search query.
If your title tag has the keyword that someone typed in their query (i.e. Natural Health Supplements), then not only will Google rank your site higher, but they will put the keyword in bold which will help it to stand out and attract more traffic. Just having your business name (i.e. Health Stop) is often irrelevant to search results, and you will lose traffic because of it.
There is also a section in your code called the Meta description. This should say meta name and description within the code. Though Google does not use this description to raise your search rankings, this section is still very important as it is the next thing people see on a search results page below your site’s title. Having a weak or non-existent Meta description will limit the amount of helpful information that you can disseminate to potential customers.
If your title tag was just “Health Stop” and you had no Meta description, then it becomes very difficult to tell exactly what product or service your site is offering.
2. Using a Flash Site – This is something that thankfully has died down in recent years, but we still run into it occasionally. The use of flash can be appealing to some people. You can include fancy animations and moving vector graphics within your pages for a full-on interactive experience, so what could possibly be wrong?
Well, for starters, sites built with Adobe Flash are pretty much useless in Google’s eyes. Within a flash site, there is no HTML code that Google and other search engines can easily scan through to decide on search rank and relevance, so the chance of getting to the top of Google search with a flash page is almost impossible.
Don’t be lured by all the fancy bells and whistles, stick to a functional, efficient website that Google can easily scan and find what it’s looking for. Trying to raise your search ranking and attract more online traffic is difficult enough without you adding in unnecessary roadblocks.
Not to mention that many people don’t even have the required plugins to allow flash sites to play, so you would be missing out on a portion of potential clients even if they somehow managed to find your flashy site. Which brings me to…
3. DO NOT USE AUTOPLAY FOR VIDEOS OR MUSIC ON YOUR SITE! – This is by far the most common and most annoying mistake that new websites make. Many website owners have this vision of a potential customer coming to their site and suddenly, out of nowhere the perfect song starts playing, and the visitor is automatically enthralled and forced to purchase by some deep seeded, rhythmic force.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Auto play videos and music almost always, no I take that back, ALWAYS become a nuisance and distraction to at least a portion if not all of your viewers. You may think you have the greatest taste in music ever and people would be lucky to hear your selections, but that is simply not the case.
Give people the option to play your music or watch your videos, but do not force visitors to do anything. Many people search for sites at work and do not want your booming techno pop mix to alert everyone in their office that they have strayed from their daily tasks. Also, many people listen to music while searching the Internet and do not want a mash up of melodies every time they visit your site.
Do yourself a favor and turn your auto play OFF. Offering the option there is great; forcing the option is rude.
4. Allowing Malicious Links to Your Site – If your site is popular enough, it will attract many shady links. These links can lessen the reputability of your site and damage your site’s overall search ranking.
There are many tools online that allow sites to check every link that is associated with their site. If you spot any malicious links to your site, Google has come out with a Disavow Tool to break all associations with these links.
I wrote a long post on the disavow tool on Fringe Digital Marketing’s Blog. Read through it to answer any questions you may have on malicious links.
5. Using Duplicate Content – We see this happen all the time. Companies will write some content (blog post, article etc.), and they will be so excited about this content that they decide not only to post it on their site, but on their friend’s site, and the local news site. Keep in mind, they are not using a link to the main article on their site, there are completely uploading the article to each site as if it was the first time this material was posted.
When this happens, Google gets confused as to which site was the creator of this content, and consequently Google does not apply it to anyone’s search rank or authority. We also see this happen when companies create a new website. Many companies when they create a new website will just cut and paste the content from their old site onto their new site without thinking twice, but this creates the same confusion with Google and can be detrimental to that business’s ranking.
Make sure any content you post on the Internet is original. Once you create this content, decide on the best single outlet for the content and post it there. Then link to it on any other site that you market to. This will help Google see that you were the one who created the content, and it will gain you many backlinks to your site which Google also looks favorably upon.
With the competition in today’s marketplace, it is vital for businesses to use every best practice they can when creating their websites. These five factors can be the difference between a visitor becoming a customer, and a visitor angrily leaving your site, never to return. Always shoot for the former.
Do you have any other tips or tricks for effective Website implementation? If so, please list them below. Fringe Digital Marketing Agency is always looking for new ideas.
In my line of work, I run into people all the time that are very confused when it comes to what a keyword is and how to use them. Though many SEOs argue that the golden age of the keyword is behind us as Google rolls out more entity-based search options, an understanding of what keywords are and why they are used is still essential.
In its most basic form, a keyword is a word or a group of words somehow relating to your business. Ideally this keyword is something that an average consumer would type into Google (or Bing, or Yahoo, but Google is the largest, most relevant search engine currently, so that is what I will be referencing). These keywords are used by Digital Marketing Agencies and SEO companies across the globe to grow their clients’ businesses.
For example, if a company sells a line of wrinkle cream on a national level, that company would want to rank very high on Google when someone types in the keyword “Wrinkle Cream.” Now, this keyword is problematic for a few reasons, but if this company was able to reach the first organic search result (organic results are the ones that appear on Google just below the paid advertisement section at the top; the section with a yellow background) it would bring a boom to their business.
Ok, so my research shows that 6,600 people use the search term (keyword) “Wrinkle Cream” every month. Going further, the number one organic search result for this keyword can expect 2,772 clicks to their site every month. So, this means that if I get this company to the top of Google’s organic search results, and their product sells for $10 a bottle, then I can feasibly increase that company’s revenue by $27,720 a month (this example is slightly hyperbolic, but you get the idea).
I don’t know many companies out there who wouldn’t like to earn an extra $27,720 a month for their product, and this is why SEO and Content Marketing are so important for businesses.
Now, I said that the keyword in this example was problematic, so let’s go into a little more depth and look at the negatives to targeting this keyword.
What I didn’t share with you (and many SEO companies will not share this with you either) is the competition factor for this particular keyword.
It is great that so many people search for this term every month, but you must always take into account how many other companies are targeting and optimizing for this same keyword.
My research shows that 2,110, 000 other companies are using or targeting this keyword. So, if you want to get to the top of Google for this keyword, you would have to battle with over two million other companies and corporations to do so.
This includes billion dollar pharmaceutical companies and businesses that have no problem spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on their SEO campaigns. You see the problem this poses for a new business trying to establish themselves. And you’re not only competitng against these corporations, you also have to deal with retail giants like Walmart, and you’re competing against articles from places like the Mayo clinic that discuss the best types of Wrinkle Cream.
When all these factors are taken together, this keyword loses its appeal, and I would definitely suggest targeting other ones with less competition.
So what can this up-and-coming company do to increase their online traffic and sales. Well, the goal is to find keywords that have a large search volume, but that also have a manageable competition level. If I was working with this company I would assess all possible keywords and I would target one like “Anti-Aging Cream.”
This keyword has a total search volume of 8,100 searches, and 418,000 sites online are targeting it. This 418,000 is still pretty high, but it is much more realistic than a keyword with a competition level over two million.
It is important to note here that the company I am discussing is a NATIONAL company. This company is targeting consumers all across the nation or world, and their product can easily be shipped anywhere.
Had this company been more service based (salon, single brick and mortar store that does not ship, plumber, electrician, lawyer, etc.) than our keyword strategy would be quite different.
Companies like this need to include their location in their keyword (i.e. plumber Seattle, WA), and typically these location-based keywords are much easier to optimize for. The competition for location-based keywords tends to be slimmer and easier to beat out.
There are two more factors that need to be looked at when discussing effective keyword selection. These two factors are the phrase-to-broad match percentage (PBR) and the conversion rate of a particular keyword.
A keywords PBR percentage is essentially the percentage of searchers who type in that EXACT keyword into Google. For example, let’s take the keyword “Wrinkle Cream Uses and Benefits.” The PBR percentage for this keyword most likely is very low.
There are probably many searchers that are using a couple of these words (like wrinkle or cream), but there is most likely very few people who are typing in this EXACT keyword. You want to target keywords with a high PBR percentage so you know that people are searching for your exact term.
The second factor I mentioned is conversion rate. For most companies it is not enough to just get people to their site. These companies want people to get to their site and then purchase something. The conversion rate for a keyword deals with how effective the keyword is at creating purchases (conversions).
There is no accurate site that provides data on conversion rates that I know of (the rest of this info can be found with Google’s keyword planner). If you happen to know of one, please let me know in the comments section.
So, if we look again at the keyword “Wrinkle Cream Uses and Benefits” we would estimate that the conversion rate for this keyword would be fairly low. People who type this into Google are searching for information, and they are not necessarily at the purchase stage yet (though if your website content is intriguing enough, you may be able to convert them).
These people are most likely looking to see if they need wrinkle cream and if it would do any good anyway. On the other hand a keyword like “anti-aging wrinkle cream with aloe vera and 100% uv protection” would suggest that the consumer has already done their research and is ready to purchase this wrinkle cream as soon as they find the product that meets their specifications. This person is very likely to convert, and if you are on the top of the Google organic results for this term, you are going to earn this person’s business.
So, companies must assess all of these factors when they are deciding which keywords to target. In a more-condensed version here they are one more time:
1. Total Searches – Total amount of people searching for this keyword in a certain time period (daily, weekly, monthly, etc).
2. Estimated traffic to number one organic Google spot – Self explanatory; this is how many people you can expect to click through to your site if you reach the top organic search spot in Google.
3. Competition – How many other companies and corporations are optimizing for that same keyword.
4. Phrase-to-broad Percentage (PBR) – The percentage of how many people type in your EXACT keyword as opposed to how many people just use certain words within your keyword.
5. Conversion Estimate – An estimate or approximation of how many people will actually purchase your product after typing in a particular keyword.
Companies that go through this process will have guaranteed that they are optimizing for the best possible keywords. While this can be done by the owners of the company, it is a lot of work and research (and this is just the keyword selection, we didn’t even get into the implementation and optimization), and many companies instead choose to hire a dedicated SEO or digital marketing agency to do this work for them.
In my experience, this is the best way for companies to go. There are so many little intricacies in the field of SEO that it is a full-time job to keep up with. On top of that, Google is constantly changing their search algorithm, and many of these changes can have dramatic effects on a company’s search ranking if they do not stay on top of it.
It is typically best to leave this work to the experts, but if you do decide to do your own keyword implementation, then you have all the information you need to get started here. Good Luck!
Fringe Digital Marketing Agency is offering a completely FREE keyword analysis report to anyone who posts a comment and requests one below. Just post a comment with your E-mail address (or E-mail it to email@example.com) and we will send a report to you quickly!
Digital marketing agencies constantly encounter questions and confusion about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The field of SEO is a great mystery to many business owners.
Pretty much every company accepts that they need to improve their online presence through Content Marketing and SEO, but very few understand what this entails. It is because of this confusion that numerous misconceptions rear their head. We at Fringe Digital Marketing Agency have made it a point to field all of these questions in a timely and concise manner, but since the questions always seem centered on the same topics, we decided it would be best to provide a one stop listing for our top five questions. Here they are in no particular order.
1. Is SEO a one-time thing?
We hear this question a lot. Many business owners believe that SEO is something that they pay for once and then they never have to think about it again. This is far from the truth. Highly-effective SEO is an ongoing process that requires a serious dedication of time and energy. Google and other search engines are constantly updating their algorithms and criteria for what a high-ranking site should look like. It is an SEO specialist’s job to stay on top of these changes and make the necessary adjustments to clients’ sites accordingly. This specialist should also experiment with different strategies to make their clients’ sites as user-friendly as possible. None of this is rocket science, and if a business owner has the time and energy to do the research, identify best practices and implement them, then they can effectively run their own SEO campaign. What most business owners who attempt this discover however is that the time commitment alone is too much to overcome. Most business owners do not have an abundance of extra time to spend on things like SEO and once they have seen how much work it actually is, the price for an SEO campaign starts looking extremely reasonable.
2. My website is about to go online; when is the best time to start my SEO campaign?
The most spot on answer to this question is “yesterday.” There is no reason to wait for your website to go online to start an SEO campaign. SEO techniques and best practices should be utilized in every stage of development for your wenbsite. Your site developer should be working side by side with your SEO Company to assure your site is built in such a way that will produce the best SEO results for you. Content marketing is another aspect that heavily influences an SEO campaign’s effectiveness. From the second your business takes shape, you should be releasing content online that solidifies you as an authority in your field. You can set up a blog in five minutes (or have your SEO Company do it for you) and immediately start releasing engaging articles that are relevant to your product and service. You should set up all the applicable social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+(possibly the most important yet also the most overlooked), Linkedin as soon as the paint on your logo dries (you do have a clever, highly-recognizeable logo right?). Make sure to set a schedule for posting on all these outlets, and make sure you are updating and posting multiple times per week if you want the biggest SEO payoff.
3. Can’t I just buy a bunch of links and throw my keywords in the meta-keyword section of my site to rank #1?
This is an outdated mindset that traces back to the earliest days of black-hat SEO. It is true that backlinks are important to a great SEO campaign, but purchasing a thousand low-end, third party links from sites that were built specifically for the purpose of selling links will actually hurt your SEO campaign more than help it. As mentioned earlier, Google is constantly updating its search algorithms. Google uses link reputability as one of their main factors for assessing the quality of a website. Having a handful of backlinks from great sites that are relevant to your field or business is far better than having ten thousand links from shady spam sites. Also, forget about the meta-keywords tag in your website’s code. Google stopped taking this section into account years back, and nowadays it is only useful for competing SEO companies to track what specific keywords you are targeting in your campaign. Ignore this section, or set it and forget it. Focus your efforts on techniques that will produce results.
4. I provide services in a local area; why do I need SEO?
Many businesses think that just because they offer services in one local area that they will automatically rank number one on search engines. This is simply not the case. A high percentage of Google searches are local searches, and with the recent boom of mobile search, local searches are becoming even more prevalent. Local companies need to make sure that they are properly optimized to show up when people search for their services by computer or phone. With Google’s recent implementation of the Knowledge Graph it has become even more important for local sites to utilize SEO. Google (even though they say they are not) is favoring Google+ for localized search results, and you must have an SEO specialist who can set up and utilize your company’s G+ account to its full potential. With the Knowledge graph and the saturation of directories and listings for localized services, Google real estate is very slim when it comes to showing up on the first page of organic rankings. Because of this, companies need to implement every possible SEO strategy that they possibly can to make sure they show up when someone needs their service.
5. Do I need to use an Adwords campaign to get the best results from Google?
In recent times, Google has really been trying to push businesses into pay per click campaigns. This has been great for Google who is experiencing all time high profit margins in this field, but it is not necessarily great for the businesses that are shelling out thew money. There have been countless studies on where people gravitate to on search engine results pages (SERPs), and these studies have shown time and time again that people tend to focus on the top three organic listings when deciding which search result to choose. Google and other search engines have tried to combat this by making their paid results more difficult to spot, but even this has not been very effective. Most searchers do not like to click on paid search results, so it is in a company’s best interest to do everything they can to capture one of the top three organic spots on Google. Doing so will get them the greatest amount of potential customers to their site.
These questions are by far the ones we hear the most in the SEO field. SEO carries a certain mystery to it, but once it is looked at in depth, it is really not that difficult. It is however EXTREMELY time consuming and it requires a great deal of due diligence. Most, if not all, business owners simply do not have the time and resources to conduct an effective SEO campaign on their own. If you want to experience the riches that a well-executed SEO campaign can produce, it’s probably better to leave it to the experts.
If you have any questions about SEO or content marketing, please list them in the comments section below, and we will answer them in a timely manner.
Finding information through search engines has become such an ingrained aspect of most peoples’ daily lives that few people ever step back and look at how it has changed throughout the years. From the earliest days of search and the ten blue links all the way up to today’s conversational search and knowledge graph, search engines have grown and evolved at a rate that is on par with everything else in the technology field. Let’s take some time to look back on the history of search.
Early Days – The earliest days of search were a messy time. Not only were search engines dealing with a severe lack in quality content, but most engines were still trying to figure out how to best access information and provide accurate search results.
The solution that they came up with was to look for exact matches of words inside of companies’ websites. The use of these exact match words (keywords as they are now known) provided the best option at the time for quickly locating relevant information on a user query; however, this keyword usage led to a bevy of problems for the search engines, and an abundance of opportunities for early black-hat SEO specialists.
If a search engine is only using keywords to justify relevance in a website, then manipulating that engine’s results is quite easy. All early SEOs needed to do was to put relevant keywords on their sites more than their competition. So if you want to be on top of the search engines for auto mechanics, all you needed to do was make sure the keywords “Auto Mechanic” showed up on your website 100-150 times. If your competition put in this keyword 200 times, then you would need to update your site and add the keywords in an extra 100-150 times.
As you can clearly see, this becomes a problem for customers viewing a business’ site. There is no way to include the keywords “Auto Mechanic” 300 times on a website while keeping it easy to read and understand. What we were left with was a bunch of sites that were almost impossible to navigate through, and the search engines quickly realized that this was not a best practice.
“Keyword Stuffing” as this technique is now known was one of the earliest black-hat SEO tactics, and it is one of the main reasons that SEO still has a negative reputation in modern times. The search engines realized that they could not just use information provided on a website to decide search rankings, and they began searching for a more-efficient alternative. This became the next stage in search evolution, what I will refer to here as user justified search results.
Linking Up – These early search engines knew that they could not rely on keywords alone to dictate their rankings, so they started looking at other factors that could establish a website’s relevance. What they decided was that better sites tended to have other sites and users linking to them.
The search engines figured that they could look at how many links at site had to it, and this would give them a better idea of the quality of the site. This seems right in principle: a truly great site will have many followers that want to share the website and link to it. It was at this time that the engines started to assess data relating to how many people clicked on a search result.
If the engines found that users were clicking on a certain site disproportionately to the other sites in a particular field, then they would raise that site’s search rank. Both of these tactics seem justified; however, once again the black-hat SEOs were able to easily manipulate their results. If links become a main factor in a site’s search ranking, then the answer is simple: Create as many sites as possible, and link them all back to your main site.
This led to the black-hat tactic of “link farming.” Seos at this time would create massive “farms” of thousands of websites, and then companies would pay them, and these SEOs would link all of these farm sites to their client’s site. This would provide said company with thousands of new links in a few days, and their search rankings skyrocketed accordingly.
With regards to clicks on a site dictating rankings, this is where all the popups and spam first came from. Black-hat SEOs would do anything in their power to get client’s sites, or redirected sites onto user monitors. It didn’t matter if the user liked the site or hated it, as long as they clicked on the pop-up, its purpose was served.
Once again, the search engines saw the flaw in this and had to design a solution to get rid of spam and improve search results. This led to the creation of more content-specific search engines; what is now referred to as vertical search.
Getting Vertical – In vertical search, engines could focus on a specific genre of information (news, shopping, auto-industry etc.) instead of having to index the entire Internet for information. This provided more specific search results and a better user experience, for those that knew what it was. What we found was that even though these great vertical search options were available, users still ended up doing a horizontal search in the regular old search bar of sites like Google and Yahoo.
It was during this time that search engines also began to assess the quality of site links instead of just the quantity. It used to not matter who or what was linking to or clicking on your site. As long as the clicks and links were there, your search rankings would go up. In this next evolution, engines started looking at the reputation and quality of these linking sites in just as much detail as they looked at the main search sites.
During this time, search engines began to locate these link farmers and spammers, and the dropped associated sites accordingly. This did not immediately kill off spam and pop-ups (they are still around today as I’m sure you know), but it did drop the effectiveness of these tactics.
This hopefully will one day cause these spammers to give up once they see that their outdated tactics are doing nothing for them or their clients. These spammers and link farmers gave the field of SEO a bad reputation that still exists today even though the grand majority of SEO specialists are an honorable breed.
This change in search engines started giving users a more specific search experience, but the engines were not satisfied stopping there. Google and the other search engines decided that localized personal search was the way of the future, and they began working on the next phase: Personalized results.
Personalize Me – In this next evolution of search, engines like Google realized that they could access past user searches and a user’s location, and this information would aide in providing the user with relevant results.
At this time, when a user lived in California and typed shoe store into Google, they would not receive results for shoe stores across the US.
Ideally this user would only receive results for shoe stores in their local areas unless they chose to broaden their search to include more national references.
Also, if this user constantly checked and monitored the converse website, then the search engines would favor Converse in the provided search results. What this user is left with is the closest shoe stores to his/her location, with Converse ranking at the top of the results.
This was a revolution in search results, and though some people thought this was a little creepy and big brotherish, most people enjoyed receiving relevant, localized results. At this time, however, the search engines were still viewing the search terms as a collection of words, and they still had to look for word matches to these queries.
This was not the most efficient way to search for information, because the engines could only provide results that were relevant to the keywords used in a search. The search engine could not easily associate those terms with other related queries, so users would have to type in multiple search terms to find information on a related topic.
This is where the most recent evolution of search has come in. Google has now rolled out Knowledge Graph; an intuitive extension of machine learning in modern times.
Strings to Things – With the creation of Knowledge Graph, Google went from viewing search queries as an unrelated collection of words to seeing searches as an “Entity” that had numerous bits of information associated with it. When using Knowledge Graph and typing in the search term “Will Ferrell” Google does not just examine the keywords “Will” and “Ferrell” and look for matches.
Instead, Google is able to recognize that Will Ferrell is an entity; he is a comedic actor that has been in numerous movies. He has a specific age, height, and weight. He has a wife, and she who is a related entity, and his wife has a whole separate set of facts and statistics associated with her. Now when Google searches the web for Will Ferrell, it no longer needs to provide just sites that have the words Will Ferrell in them. Instead, Google provides movies Ferrell has been in, actors related to Farrell, and many other related facts and information related to him.
Along with this, Google has also compiled a massive amount of facts, statistics, and information about the world in general. Because of this, they no longer need to direct users to external websites for queries about simple information. It used to be that if you wanted to convert 15 kilograms to pounds, you would have to type this into Google. Google would then provide a listing of conversion sites that you would have to navigate to and then conduct your conversion on their site.
This is no longer the case. Now, when you type “15 Kilograms to pounds” you are immediately greeted with the correct answer right at the top of the Google results page. This is great for users, but businesses that rely on providing simple facts and statistics to users are now being weeded out. Users have no need anymore to visit these types of sites, if Google provides the information the user wants on their search page.
Talk It Out – The most recent evolution of search consists of hyper-personalized search results, and conversational search. Google recently took applicants for their Search Field Trial in which users would allow Google to access their Gmail, Google+, Google Calendar, and Google Drives to provide the most personalized search results possible.
With this feature, users can type in “When is my next flight?” or “When is my next appointment?” and Google will immediately provide those answers directly from the user’s personal information.
This provides an all-inclusive search world where Google becomes the all in one repository for anything that a user would possibly want to know.
Along with this, Google has also made it their main goal to develop a “Star Trek Computer.” This would be a “perfect personal digital assistant” that could satisfy every user need without that user ever having to type or look at a monitor.
Just like Captain James T. Kirk, future Google users will be able to talk to their tablets, laptops, phones, or glasses just as they would talk to a teacher or mentor. Ideally, they will be able to ask Google any question they have, and Google will quickly be able to provide the perfect result, spoken back in a pleasant female voice.
I did a complete analysis of Google’s “Star Trek Computer” HERE if you would like more information. Google is certainly still in the early stages of these last two evolutions, but they will be here before you know it.
If you are in the field of SEO or content marketing, it is vital that you understand the potential impact and implications that these evolutions will have on your online campaigns. As search results get more and more personalized, SEO and content marketing will need to get more creative to stay on top of the competition.
SEOs must be able to clearly define their client’s products or services as “Entities” and provide the most effective schema markups so Google can quickly and easily locate the information it is seeking
Final Thought – Search engines have come a long way since their earliest incarnations, and these evolutions are far from over. This is an exciting time for search; it seems like the “future” is here now.
With the planned release of Google Glass and other wearable tech the world will soon resemble some of the distant futures laid out in the great science fiction tales of our time. All these changes can seem daunting to anyone that relies on exceptional search rankings for their business, but anytime change comes, it brings with it opportunities for us to grow and evolve.
The companies that can accept these changes in stride will prosper; those that keep clinging to the old days of black-hat spam and pop-ups will find themselves drowning with no life raft in site.
Fringe Digital Marketing Agency is always interested in hearing your thoughts and opinions. What do you think about the evolution of search? Is something relevant to this discussion that I have left out here? If so, please comment below and let the world know. Thanks!