3 Ways to Get More SEO Value from Your Social Profiles

Written by: Nick Stamoulis

Social media and SEO go hand-in-hand when it comes to building your online brand. The two disciplines are intertwined more than ever and the most successful websites are the ones who have managed to leverage social media for SEO and vice versa. No longer existing in separate silos, the lines between social media marketing and SEO are slowly disappearing.

In order to give your brand the best chance at succeeding in the online world, here are 3 ways you can derive SEO value from your time spent on social networking sites:

Link between profiles
Link Social Profiles Think of social media marketing like the wheel of a bicycle. Each social profile is one of the spokes and your website is the central hub linking them all together.

You never want the visitor’s journey to end at any given social profile. By interlinking your social profiles with each other, as well as with your website, you are encouraging visitors to extend their interaction  with your company and your brand. The longer you can keep them engaged the better chance you have of getting them to convert.

Linking between profiles also gives you the chance to connect with your target audience on more than one platform, increasing the amount of touch points your brand has in their online lives. For instance, if someone connects with you on LinkedIn, why not send them a message inviting them to follow you on Twitter and to Like your Facebook page? You don’t know which one of these social profiles plays the most important role in their online social lives, so by  creating a loop between all of your social profiles you are helping ensure your message gets heard at least once.

Keep in mind that the end goal of social media marketing should be getting your social connections over to your site, not driving traffic from your site towards your social profiles. Don’t dedicate prominent real estate on your website to giant “Connect with us on Facebook!” buttons. Your site should focus on converting your visitors, not turning them into fans/friends/followers. Keep the “connect with us” buttons on your site, but don’t let them overshadow the other goals of your site.

Promote your content

Content marketing forms the backbone of your SEO and drives most of your online marketing tactics in general. But creating great content is only half of the battle. It doesn’t matter how unique, informative, inspiring or useful your content is if no one sees it. That’s where social networks become incredibly valuable from a marketing perspective. Social media marketing thrives on fresh content and gives your social connections a reason to interact with your social profiles. It keeps your brand top-of-mind and present in their online social lives.

Every time you (or one of your connections/readers) share a piece of your content on a social network that creates a valuable inbound link for your site. Not just ways to drive traffic, these social signals are being used by the search engines to determine the importance of your content. The more times a piece of content is shared across various social networking sites the more valuable it becomes and the better it will rank in the long run.

You don’t have to publish the whole blog post to your Facebook wall either. A small snippet and image is enough to attract the attention of your network. It’s a teaser to get them interested and give them a reason to head over to your actual blog/site to read your content.

Customize and optimize profiles

Social profiles can rank in the search engines like any other webpage. Make sure you take full advantage of this opportunity and properly optimize your profiles like you would your site. For instance, Facebook allows users to create custom URLs for their pages; this is a great place to target your most relevant keywords. You should also focus on targeting relevant keywords in your biography or info sessions.

Not every profile will allow you to post the same amount of information, so it’s important to ensure consistency across your profiles. Before you start getting really heavily involved in your social media marketing, write a few company biographies of varying length that all focus on the same core message. You want to present a unified brand across all of your social profiles so you don’t accidentally confuse your audience.


Top 10 Retail SEO Mistakes Brands Are Still Making

Written by: Kevin Gibbons

Last week I asked on Twitter to see what common SEO mistakes were still being made by retail websites. This received a great response, so I thought I’d share the top replies with our readers.

I’ve picked some UK high street retail examples to help display the issues raised, but please note that we have no connection with any of these websites – so this is an outside perspective. There may be logical reasons for the examples which we are unaware of, but these have been used in order to highlight where SEO mistakes are commonly made.

Non-descriptive URL structure

Ideally you want to keep your URLs concise and keyword descriptive. So automatically generated, ID-based URLs aren’t going to help your SEO, unless you’re aiming to rank for g474502s2 – in which case Next.co.uk have dominated market share!

Next SEO

Long and messy URLs generated by CMS

Some content management systems really make a mess of URLs. From an SEO perspective you want to have full control over re-writing category-level URLs such as this one on Argos:

Argos SEO

Linking to multiple homepage URLs

This is a common mistake – which is getting better across many sites, but if you click the logo or homepage link on some sites, you’ll find that rather than getting sent back to the root domain, you’re taken to a duplicate copy of the page on a new URL. See this example on House of Fraser:

House of Fraser SEO

Poor title tags/meta descriptions

I’ve worked with a CMS before that didn’t allow you to edit title tags at all – that was a bit of a problem! Hopefully your site won’t be quite that bad, but too often people just think about SEO for generating rankings – what about click through rates and conversions though?

Crafting an enticing title tag and meta description should be as important as writing a high CTR, converting AdWords ad – notice the difference between these two listings for Marks and Spencer – surely MS would prefer you click on the natural free listing given the choice!

Marks and Spencer SEO

No user-generated content/reviews

For conversion rates alone, having reviews and user-generated content is an excellent way to boost your site’s performance. See this case study on how onlineshoes.com increased sales by 119% due to user reviews. But it’s also a great way of adding extra content to your products – giving the search engines that extra 200-300 words of unique and what should be well-optimised copy (because it’s about the product) could well be enough to make a significant increase in search rankings.

It could certainly be worth testing at the very least for a lot of brands, for example Ted Baker:

Ted Baker SEO

Forgetting about branded product search

One of the first things I check with our e-commerce and retail clients is branded search results. It’s often just taken for granted that you will be ranking for your branded keywords, so it’s assumed that non-branded search and first-time visitors is the main target. However, this isn’t always the case and it definitely shouldn’t just be assumed – these are almost certainly going to be your top converting keywords, so a small amount of effort here can easily pay off to ensure that you’re generating the majority of traffic – which let’s face it you deserve, it’s your product after all!

It’s amazing how many brands don’t rank for their own products though – check out these results for Sony W510 12MP which are dominated by Argos and Amazon:

Sony SEO

Lack of static on-page content

Many websites struggle when it comes to having good, optimised content deeper in the site. For example, product pages which have very little descriptive text written about them could be much better optimised for search. See this example from Monsoon, which showcases the product reasonably well, but does little towards telling users and the search engines about it:

Monsoon SEO

Pulling search results in as category pages

As above, sometimes category pages are very weak on content and often these are just search results which are being pulled into a page. Yes it may do a job for the user – but surely a bit more text here would help to give the search engines a bit more to go on. It doesn’t even have to be too detailed – a quick description underneath “Mens Hats, Gloves Scarves” on the Debenhams site here would be a big improvement to optimise for the phrase “Mens Hats”, which they currently bid on using PPC, yet fail to rank in the top 50 positions in Google organically for:

Debenhams SEO

Webpages content too image-based

From the websites I’ve reviewed today, I’ve actually been quite impressed that most of these have now moved away from having content which is too image or flash-based. This is a clear SEO issue to avoid, as you want your site’s content to be as well optimised as possible – which means it should be text-rich. Topman is an example of a site which hasn’t quite got there yet – the only text currently on their homepage is navigational:

Topman SEO

Duplicate content – same product, multiple categories

I’ve seen several retail sites in the past where they have caused duplicate content issues by having category-level subfolders within the product URL. Here’s one example from Blacks, where they have a product which is listed under two different categories, so they’ve ended up with two URLs for what is exactly the same product:

Blacks SEO
Blacks duplicate content

Because they sit under both categories, the URLs are duplicated – so ideally it’s normally best to avoid using category-level subfolders in product pages – see Amazon for an example of this. Also, canonical tags are there to help get around this issue if it exists – but ideally you’ll want to have each product page in a single location. Hope that makes sense, but Dan’s written a much more detailed post on product URLs causing duplicate content issues – so you should read that one if it doesn’t!

So those are the top SEO mistakes we’ve found retail websites are still making – a big thanks to Malcolm SladeRishi LakhaniPaul RogersStuart TurnerAshley HaywardDaniel BianchiniIan Galpin and Edwin Hayward who contributed via Twitter. And if you have any questions or comments on what you’ve found to be the biggest challenges, it would be great to hear about this in the comments.



SEO Tips For PR Agencies

From SEO Articles

Our Online Marketing agency at TopRank has been providing practitioners in the Public Relations industry information and insight on Search Engine Optimization for nearly 10 years.

Starting with adding SEO to our media relations services in 2001 to providing SEO consulting  to PR industry leaders like Vocus, PRWeb and The PRSA, we’ve been in the thick of SEO and PR for some time.

The demand for smart Social Media and SEO information from PR agencies and corporate communications organizations has amplified significantly this year. We’re talking with numerous companies, helping them get up to speed with strategy, road mapping and training. One of the most useful insights we can provide is guidance on what to avoid when it comes to incorporating SEO and SMO (social media optimization) into PR content strategies. No one likes to #fail, so here are several things to avoid:

Shiny Object Keyword Syndrome

SEO advice is easy to find online including suggestions of doing keyword research using tools like Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool.  There’s a temptation to focus only on the most popular words and phrases even if they aren’t 100% on target. Or worse, if the website that PR staff can contribute to and edit isn’t anywhere near deserving of being known as THE authority for a highly competitive topic.

Those high popularity count keyword phrases are like shiny objects that distract from the language that is most relevant and realistic to achieve. It’s fine to have highly popular (and competitive), relevant keyword phrases as targets, as a long term goal and contingent that there’s a commitment to creating the content and attracting the links necessary. In the meantime, go after phrases that reflect the intersection of the topic your promoting and the most relevant queries being made. In fact, extend that search keyword research to social topics for more long tail concepts to optimize for.

Many journalist inquiries are pretty niche. They’re often looking for something very specific, and if you’re chasing high popularity keywords that will take a year to achieve, you may be missing out on a lot of search visibility that could inspire media coverage in the meantime.

One-Off SEO

Another temptation is to approach SEO very tactically and try new SEO knowledge on a single web page or press release. There’s nothing wrong with experimentation, but optimizing a single or a handful of documents isn’t what drives significant search traffic.

An extension of that would be to optimize a newsroom or website  without planning to revisit keyword lists and whether refinement is necessary.  I’ve heard comments like this many times, “Oh, we optimized our site already. In 2004.” SEO, like Social Media and Content is a journey – not a destination.

Missing Links

Google PageRank introduced the online marketing world to the importance of links beyond those that simply drive direct traffic. Today, PageRank isn’t as much of a focus, but links are still very important. Especially links from social networks and media sharing sites.  Many PR professionals consider the keyword optimization of web pages, press releases and digital assets all that is necessary – discounting the need to attract links.

Links are like electricity and help search engines discover new content. They also serve as a signal for use in assigning importance for ranking. PR professionals are in a unique position to attract some of the most valuable links possible – from online media websites. Asking journalists to link back to a website takes little effort and might result in a highly valued link that can send the most significant kind of signal or link juice to what it is that you’re promoting.

Additionally, sending out press releases through a news release distribution service like our client PRWeb, that are properly optimized with links to content that is being promoted can result in link acquisition as well. Sometimes it’s 5 or 10 links and sometimes 100′s of them.  Optimization with keywords is just the start. Link building and social promotion are what create awareness to journalists and bloggers directly as well as through improved search visibility.

Falling Short on Measurement

Improved search visibility is often measured with a ranking report.  With personalization, those reports are not as useful as they once were. Web analytics tracks visitors to a website and where they came from, like from a search engine. That’s about as far as most PR and Corporate Communications pros will go when it comes to measuring the impact of their SEO efforts.

However, there’s a lot more. Especially since increased, relevant traffic to the corporate website or news content can not only reach the media but end consumers looking to buy. If the content can warrant a link to a “buy page” where a conversion or inquiry can occur, PR practitioners would do well to make sure web analytics tracking is setup so that new business inquiries can be attributed to optimized PR content when appropriate.

How powerful would it be to show not only media coverage, but improved web traffic and new business inquiries as a direct result of PR’s SEO efforts?

Waning on Training

You don’t just flip a switch and become SEO savvy, I’m sorry to say. Achieving SEO competence takes training, practice and persistence. At TopRank Marketing, we have a consulting service but we’re in the business of helping PR firms and corporate public relations staff get up to speed with SEO and Social Media SEO skills. But there are many other places to get useful knowledge ranging from the upcoming SES conference in San Francisco to the online training provided by Market Motive you see in the right side bar of this blog.

The key thing is to understand that to gain momentum, providing SEO skills training to those in your organization in a position to create content online will be especially helpful. Going it alone as the sole SEO savvy person in a  large agency is tough to scale. However you get that training is up to you, just be sure to get it for yourself and for your team.

Frugal SEO Tooling

I’ve noticed there’s a tendency with many PR agencies and departments to be a bit conservative on paying for tools. It’s true that there are many free tools out there, but over time and without a business model to fund them, they get neglected and can become irrelevant or go away altogether. Then you’re up a creek without a paddle, scrambling for some other free tool, not knowing what really works and what doesn’t.

That’s why I like to pay for tools. I know they’ll be around and will have an obligation to provide some kind of service level and support. Whether its paying for WordStream for keyword research or SEOMoz Pro or Raven Tools for a host of SEO functionality and campaign management, don’t skimp on the tools. The impact of great SEO, especially SEO and Social Media Optimization, can have a tremendous impact and maybe even a multiplier to online media relations efforts. Tools will help you do quality work and more importantly, scale!

To Be Optimized, You Must Socialize

A big part of today’s optimization for better search performance means active social media content creation, curation and engagement. Building networks that you can share links with and inspire link propagation is essential for the social link and content signals being increasingly considered by Google and to some degree, Bing. Optimizing social media content improves the search visibility of brand content on the social web. The social network participation on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Quora and Google+ that goes along with brand social media efforts also provides Google with signals that can be used for ranking content on Google.com. Optimize and Socialize!


There are many more ways than this to fail at SEO and SMO for Public Relations, but as a foundation, these tips can serve to help PR Agencies and Corporate Communications avoid some of the pitfalls and become more productive, more quickly with their SEO efforts. Realistically, these tips are appropriate for any industry, but the boost in inquiries we’re getting from PR firms and business Comms pros, motivated me to create this post just for you

If you work at a Public Relations firm or in Corporate PR, have you hit on any of these areas to avoid? How did you get back on track, or did you?

Check out TopRank Online Marketing Blog for more articles by Lee Odden


SEO? Oh, I’ve Heard Of That Before!

by SEO Articles

Earlier this week I was headed down the elevator and a guy made small talk by asking what I do. As an entrepreneur it usually takes a bit of effort to get people to understand what is that I actually do. I told him that I run a bunch of websites that bring in visitors using search engine optimization techniques.  To my surprise he responded by saying: “SEO? Oh, I’ve heard of that before.

After thinking about it for a little while, I realized that for the past 6 months, whenever I mention “SEO” or “Search Engine Optimization” to people not directly involved in the internet marketing industry the majority of them actually have a pretty good idea of what I am talking about. This was not the always the case. When I first started doing SEO in 2007 people always seemed convinced that I either worked for Google (especially if I mentioned AdSense) or they would just say something along the lines of “I’m horrible with computers” to hint that they weren’t quite following me.


What I have realized is that most people that have heard of SEO associate it with some news story, such as the J.C. Penney’s SEO story in the NY Times or Overstock getting caught buying .edu links off students and faculty. Many people have even heard of Google’s Panda algorithm change because it had enough of an impact on the average online business owner (either positive or negative) for it to spring up stories in major news outlets.

Here’s a Google Trends graph for the search term SEO over the past 6 years. While the top graph does seem to flatten off a bit in the past year I do find it interesting to also look at the bottom graph for “news reference volume” which shows a big jump starting in 2007.

What does all this increased publicity towards our industry mean? It means that we are in the right industry. It means that more businesses are seeing the value in showing up in Google, Bing, and Yahoo for search terms related to their own industry. Companies are hiring more SEO consulting firms and expanding their own in-house SEO teams and it means that companies are now searching for more well rounded marketing candidates that can also integrate SEO and social media into their marketing strategies.

As companies hire more SEO professionals and media outlets pay more attention to algorithmic changes the more likely it is that the next time you offer your business card to somebody they will understand what it is that you do.

The next time you are in an elevator ask the person next to you if they have heard of search engine optimization and then post your findings in the comments section!


3 Phases of Social Media SEO – Where Are You At?

from SEO Articles

As Google puts the squeeze on traditional ranking signals and subsequently, Search Engine Optimization tactics, the growing emphasis on social signals has many SEO practitioners getting more serious about social engagement.

While search marketing has been a key part of our consulting practice since 2001, our Online Marketing agency’s work with Public Relations and blogging since 2003 has helped us develop an appreciation of the influence and engagement outcomes possible with social media pretty quickly, vs. solely as a promotion channel for links. That sentiment is growing rapidly as of late with many traditional SEOs.

You too, may have noticed an increase in SEO practitioners (both agency and client side) singing the song of Content Marketing and Social Media. As this shift has occurred over the past few years, I’ve observed a series of phases of approach. According to your situation and market, your mileage may vary with these characterizations, but maybe you’ll see something familiar and get a clearer picture of where your SEO and Social Media integration is headed.

Phase 1: SEO With Social Profiles, Sharing Widgets Blogs

Many Search Engine Optimization pros started their social media adventures with bookmarking and news services like Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious and Reddit.  Promoting content to these channels, especially through “power users” could inspire content to go hot, hit the home page and attract spikes of traffic. The increased exposure attracts more links and subscribers.

Social bookmarking services and profiles within social networking sites allow for users to include links back to their own websites creating a potential source of link traffic and light signal for search engines. Many of those links were subsequently made “nofollow”.  Such links are simply a matter of filling out forms and ultimately no more impactful than directory submissions.

Blogs are used to publish content in a more search engine friendly way than most CMS are capable of and commenting on other blogs provided great links until they too, were made “nofollow” by most bloggers and blog CMS.

Success is measured in SEO terms: links, rankings and traffic.

Phase 2: Social Media Optimization

Coined by Rohit Bhargava, SMO has had different meanings for different people.  Marketers develop the social profiles they’ve created into more robust sources of information with some building out of social networks. Developing social channels helps to create an audience to promote content to in the hopes of attracting links.

Blogs are often the hub to the social media spokes for optimized content promotion for traffic and link acquisition. Attention to building blog subscribers and email lists is stressed.  There’s an honest appreciation for creating useful content for specific audience segments and a developed skill in the art/science of content formats, types and writing headlines that inspire sharing.

Success is measured primarily as SEO outcomes like links, traffic and conversions. Social KPIs like fans, friends followers are monitored as well as basic engagement metrics like comments and interactions. But those metrics are more about “social proof” than social ROI.

Phase 3: Integrated Content, SEO Social Media Plan

By now,  SEOs are more likely to identify as Online Marketers and understand the key to a killer social SEO strategy is content.  Audience categorization becomes persona development which guides content marketing strategy.  The keyword research expertise from SEO is factored into Editorial Planning of web and social content.

While content is planned for certain outcomes with segments of the community, it’s an adaptable online marketing strategy that allows for opportunistic content marketing and social promotion based on social media monitoring and trends. Social media savvy isn’t just for Marketing and Public Relations, but as much of the organization as possible.

Anyone in a position to create content, engage with customers and prospects online has basic skills with search and social keyword glossaries, social search and social networking on behalf of the brand.

To maximize the relevance of the Content Marketing Plan, search keywords and social topics representative of customer interests are factored into scheduled editorial for web, social and mobile content.  Content creation and promotion is coordinated across functional areas like Advertising, Public Relations and Marketing as possible.

The findability of content is improved through keyword and social topic optimization. Social content that is easy to find through search can help grow the social network.  As the network grows, so does word of mouth for inherent promotion of useful content that attracts links, shares and comments. Those social signals can be gauged by Google in combination with other SEO ranking factors to improve search visibility of brand web properties.

It would be realistic to add other phases, but I’m trying to be more practical with this post. I think this approach of an adaptable, customer-centric and content focused strategy that leverages topic optimization for both search findability and social engagement is where many online marketers will find themselves sooner than later.

What do you think about these phases? Phase 3 is a tall order to fill and I think many marketers will see a blend as their reality. If you have an appreciation for the impact coordinated Social SEO Content can have, how would you characterize your organization’s approach?

I’ll be elaborating on these phases and more later this morning at OMS Minneapolis in a session called “Develop a Killer Social SEO Strategy“. I hope to see you there.



A Short History of Search Engine Optimisation

from SEO Articles

In the early days of the Internet, search engine optimisation was a fairly simple affair. Webmasters (SEO professionals to you and I today) had a fairly straightforward job optimising web sites. To rank for a keyword in a search engine, all that was required was to put them in the title, the keyword meta tag and mention it freely in the site content and hey presto! You were done. This however led to ‘keyword stuffing’ which was a technique of repeatedly using the keyword in the meta tag and hiding keywords behind images, in order to manipulate the search engines.

The search engines caught up with the tricks these webmasters were using and introduced another factor which would influence a site’s position on the results pages. This was the number of incoming links to the site. This was around the same time that Google’s Page Rank Algorithm came about. Google’s page rank essentially states that each link to a page represents a ‘vote’ for that page, so the more links a page has the more authority that page has.

The focus on the number of inbound links led to another form of spamming. People started buying links or swapping links just to increase the number of links they had. It is evident that just because a web page has 1000 links doesn’t make it more of an authoritative page than one with 100 links, when considering that links can simply be bought.

So once again the search engines had to re-evaluate their criteria for gauging the importance of a Web site. This time they focussed attention on the relevancy of the Web site the link was on to the Web site at the other end of the link. If the subjects were related, this was deemed good by the search engines. If not, this wasn’t so good and even potentially harmful.

Search engines are constantly tweaking their algorithms so SEO professionals have to keep their wits about them in order to stay ahead on the game. Google’s recent Panda update zapped Web sites that were reliant on huge numbers of links from sites known collectively as link farms. These are Web sites that have many links and very little content, and are therefore not very useful to anyone other than for SEO purposes. It would appear that search engines since the dawn of the Internet have been following the same path – that is to rank Web sites higher based on their usefulness to people surfing the Internet, not for SEO people. This would imply that the future of good search engine optimisation techniques would focus more on what the user wants and less on how search engines can be manipulated.



Which URL Shorteners Are Best for SEO? The Top 3 List

from SEO Articles

There’s been plenty of discussion around URL shorteners and their impact on SEO over the last few months.

Well Google has officially come out and confirmed that “link value” through URL shorteners is preserved as Google treats them similar to a 301 permanent redirect.

Good news for all those people who use URL shorteners and more importantly, it means that much of the link building being done through social media will have long term benefits for your SEO.

So with this in mind, which are the best URL shortening services for SEO:

This one is direct from Google. Goo.gl’s short URLs are always 301(permanent) redirect making it fast, secure and perfect for SEO. It also provides a great range of stats about the clicker. Google automatically removes spam links from its database, so its building trust from users.

One of the most popular URL shorteners available. It is the default shortener for many social media tools such as Twitter. While Tiny URL doesn’t provide click stats, it does allow you to customize your URL e.g change http://tinyurl.com/47m6g to http://tinyurl.com/yourname.

bit.ly, like tinyURL has been around for a while and is the trusted default for many tools. It offers a simple one click shortening service with a simple URL tracking feature. This means you can now track Bit.ly shortened URLs by just placing a ‘+’ after the URL. And it also provides URL customization.

So they’re my picks for the top 3. Google’s link shortener is obviously my favourite for SEO as they understand the importance of linking from a search indexing perspective.

There’s literally hundreds out there, and for those of you with a bit of tech savvy, you can even create your own. Now select wisely and ensure you pick the URL shortener that’s going to ensure your SEO efforts are not undone.



Fifteen Questions That Will Change The Way You Think About SEO Forever

by SEO Articles

All right, I’ll admit, the title is somewhat over dramatic. But, when you don’t have much to offer, hype it up anyway! Kinda like the movies!

This post started from talking about How NOT To Do An Interview: The Basics. What was originally going to be an intro paragraph turned into a full post. When this happens, I just do what I often do… take one idea and make multiple posts out of it. Love it!

What follows are 15 questions I felt were important for a business audience to know about SEO. And, now that I know what I meant when I wrote them (see introduction), I can provide the answers I intended. Here are questions 1-5:

1. What is the most important element of a successful SEO campaign?

There are a lot of factors that go into a successful SEO Campaign. There is content, keywords, titles, descriptions, usability, architecture, and link building. All of these play a significant role and cannot be ignored. But, to narrow this down into a single thing that is THE most important element to make a campaign successful is tough.

I think I’d have to go with website architecture. While this doesn’t contribute directly to the keyword optimization, it does give the search engines the best “sense” of a site. Without good architecture, your site can be keyword optimized to the hilt, but it won’t matter because the search engines are unable to read and decipher the content properly.

An unpublished book does no one any good. Getting your website content “published” into the search results is step one. Then you can worry about what kind of reach you can achieve.

2. What is the second?

The second, I would have to say is keyword research. This really goes hand-in-hand with the site architecture. You can build your site, but if it isn’t structured around the keywords that are important, you’ll either have a poorly targeted site or you’ll have to go back and re-focus your architecture accordingly.

There are a lot of layers to keyword research, but when putting together the site architecture, you only need to worry about the basics. The goal is to find the “core” keywords that people are looking for that will drive relevant traffic to your site. Map out those core terms to individual pages, and you’re well on your way to building a site that can develop a strong web presence targeting your core audience.

3. How do you determine which keywords should be optimized for which pages?

If you’ve built your site architecture right, then your keyword targeting for each page should already have been determined. In fact, your pages are built around the idea that you have keywords that people are looking for, so you’re building your site content and pages to provide the answers to the search query.

However, if your site is already built, and you’re not so inclined to go back and re-develop it with a keyword focused architecture, then you have to start at the other end and work backwards.

The best thing you can do here is to look at what your core keywords are and determine which keyword best integrates into what page. This is no small task and requires a lot of consideration.

Things to consider are: the current content of each page, ability to integrate a core term seamlessly, and to ensure that the page maintains it’s value for its original intent AND those coming in for the optimized term. If any of those aren’t 100%, then consider another term for the page.

4. What are the top three on-page factors that should be optimized?

The title tag is, as I have said many times before, one of the most important pieces of SEO real estate for a web page. If you get nothing else right, get the title right. That alone can work wonders on helping to get your pages to rank in the search results.

Next, is the content of the page itself. Your content must back up the title and has to maintain it’s keyword focus throughout. Look for opportunities to reinforce the page’s keyword topic (which should be the page topic). Don’t stuff keywords where they don’t work, but maintain a tight theme of content that provides answers for those searching for that topic.

The third most important element is internal linking. This is a factor partially covered with a solid site architecture, but also gets covered with content development. If you’re addressing a topic on one page that is covered more thoroughly on another, link the relevant, keyword rich content to the fully optimized page that addressed that topic.

Linking in this way not only reinforces the page topic for optimization purposes, but it also improves the usability aspects of your site, allowing visitors to move around based on topics for which they are needing more information.

5. You didn’t mention the Meta Description or Meta Keyword tag. Why not?

There’s a good reason for that. Neither of these play any kind of significant role in the optimization of a website. The Keyword Meta tag is 99.9% useless to all search engines. Might it be considered again one day? Perhaps. Likely? Perhaps not.

The Meta Description tag suffers a similar fate when it comes to search engine relevance, however it does play a very important role outside of optimization. Since the Meta Description tag is used in the search results, it has a unique role in helping visitors decide whether to click into your site or not.

Because of this, the Meta Description is actually pretty dang important. Not for SEO, but for click-thrus and bounce rates, both of which can effect the success of an SEO strategy.

If this post has captivated you from beginning to end, then stay tuned for the next set of five questions coming at you soon!


Avoid Penalties – Optimize Your Site With White-Hat SEO Techniques!

By SEO Articles

Studies show that around 90% of the overall Internet traffic is generated through search engines, they (search engines) also handle more than half of all the E-commerce transactions. This reveals how important and pivotal the impact of search engines is, on your online business. At the same time, this also means that you can change the way your business performs on the web, or in other words worldwide (as your business is now visible to all who accesses the Internet).

Therefore, to place their businesses in the top most rank of search engines listings, online business owners adopt the practice of search engine optimization or hire professionals to do the same for them. Search engine optimization or also SEO (in short), can simply be explained as the practice of improving your business or site’s ranking on search engines by utilizing various tools and techniques. Getting your business listed on the top rank of search engines means your business will be the first recommended option for whoever runs a search, inquiring about a product or service related to the one your site provide.

However, not all types of tweaking and methods (that you perform on your site) are permitted by search engines like Google (which is also touted as the ‘Search Engine King’) who provides guidelines for site owners and webmasters. These guidelines, also known as the search engine guidelines, if implemented in to your website, assures what is called the natural ranking of your site on the search engines. This type of optimization with the application of ethical approaches is also known as white-hat techniques. Some few white-hat SEO techniques are:

  • Quality content on your site.
  • Structural or semantic mark up and separate content from presentation.
  • Providing proper titles and meta data for your pages.
  • Keyword research.
  • Quality inbound links and so on.

To ensure that your website stays on the right side of the track and violates none of the search engine guidelines, you need a webmaster or a team of professional SEOs that has an extensive knowledge of all the guidelines and are able to follow them while optimizing your website. A poor or erratic search engine optimization of your website may result in the violation of the search engine guidelines and get your website a web spam label. Web spam or spamdexing or search spam or search engine spam, is the manipulation of the relevancy or prominence of resources indexed by a search engine. This practice is considered un-ethical and unfair, and is commonly known as the black-hat SEO technique.

Since black-hat SEO technique violates the guidelines for ethical techniques in getting natural ranking on search engines, your website could be penalized or even removed from the search listings of the search engines. This can be explained in a better way by citing an example. In a recent video posted by Matt Cutts, the head of the Web spam team at Google, he reveals two main types of ranking penalties a site can receive (from Google) and also how to deal with them. The two penalties are:

  • Algorithmic Penalties – They include content spam, keyword stuffing, cloaking, sneaky Javascript redirects etc. If one of these or other related discoveries are made by Google on your website, your site will be penalized. To remove the penalty, you must fix the issues on your website, then Google will detect them and would return your website in its search results again.
  • Manual Penalties – In case of a manual penalty, the length of the penalty depends on how severe the penalty is and how badly your site has violated Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Matt also added that in case your site is penalized (Manual penalty only) and you have, in response, made the required changes, it is helpful to request the reconsideration of your site. This action notifies Google that you have made the corrections on your site and that it now adheres to the guidelines. You can also do the same for a recently purchased domain (which you suspect may have violated Google’s guidelines before you bought it) or in case your site isn’t appearing in Google search results.

Hence, to avoid such penalties and complications that could harm your business, you need tweak and tune your site very carefully and skillfully or get the best SEO service provider who’ll handle it for you. This way, you can also focus on other core areas of your business. However, keep in mind that not just any SEO service provider will do. Only an expert SEO service provider will always stick to the search engine guidelines and never beat around the bush.



Build Your SEO Before Developing Your Site

From SEO Articles

The thought that you should SEO your site before you even develop it seems counter-intuitive, and in many ways, it is. But, not entirely. I’ve been an SEO for over 12 years, and I still can’t get past the fact that optimization continues to be the “after thought,” only coming into play long after the site has been up and running for months or even years.

This mindset needs to change.

The success of a website’s online marketing efforts can make or break many businesses. It no longer makes sense to hire your SEO only after a website has been developed. That’s like doing demographic research after you have already chosen your store’s location and invested thousands of dollars in setting up shop.

Just as demographic research must be done to determine where and how a business sets up their brick and mortar store, SEO is needed before you begin to program the first piece of code or design the first graphic for your website. In reality, development and SEO are so completely intertwined that they both have to be considered together. Failure to do so frequently leads to expensive re-development costs as the SEO requests changes that could have been done during the initial development stages.

You never want to have to rebuild your foundation

I frequently get calls from business owners exploring Search Engine Optimization but want to wait until their website is fully developed and operational before they sign on with any particular SEO company. This strategy seems to make logical sense because business owners often want to make sure the site looks and performs properly before dropping money into a long term commitment to an online marketing firm. But, SEO is just as much a part of the business plan as the website development.

The website marketing plan should really be one of the driving aspects of the website development. But, unfortunately, many of the things related to marketing are typically done wrong during the site development. That’s not to say developers don’t know what they are doing, quite the opposite. Developers can be great programmers, designers, and creators. They’re just generally not great optimizers. And there is nothing wrong with that, it’s just not what they specialize in.

Rolling out a site that operates at less than it’s full performance capabilities is not only a waste of time, it’s a waste of money, even if you’re not quite ready to put the thing into high gear. It doesn’t make smart financial sense to develop a site that has to be re-developed again once you get your SEO involved. Nor does it make good sense to tie your SEO’s hands because you don’t want to invest in site development again. Ultimately, this puts you in a lose/lose situation.

Instead, you want to have a site built from the ground up that is search engine friendly and SEO ready. It’s the difference between being able to give your car a tune-up vs. having to rebuild the entire engine.

SEO before development starts you in the pole position

“Pole position” is a racing term I have adopted for my own company. It basically means to take the first position. When Nascar racers line up at the starting line, the car in the pole position is the one on the inside of the first row. This is the absolute best position to be starting from, giving you the best advantage.

Having a good SEO or SEM on board during the development stage can save countless hours, and dollars, because it starts you off in, what is essentially, the pole position–the absolute best position you can start from.

Here are just a few examples:

Database driven websites often come with their own unique set of SEO related problems. Over the years I’ve worked with a number of different CMS and never have two been exactly the same. Some are more SEO friendly than others, and some are easier to alter than others.

The basics needed for SEO is the ability to create default, dynamic title and description tags, with the ability to customize on a page by page basis as needed. Control over breadcrumbs, image alts, and editable body content that isn’t tied to a manufacturers database is a must. Being able to dictate URLs can also be a sticking point for some systems. Basically, it comes down to the ability to control and customize the environment.

Clean and lean code can improve website performance issues more than most people think. Bloated code can slow down both spidering and page download, both of which can have an impact on a site’s search engine rankings. If the developers use poor coding practices, your visitors won’t see it, but they’ll feel it as usability is diminished on top of everything else.

Quality content is just as important a part of the sales process as your “add to cart” buttons. Many sites are still not designed with content in mind, leaving SEOs to have to insert optimized content wherever they can, rather than having it be a seamless part of each page’s design.

I still hear people say that they don’t want a lot of text on the site because it distracts from the products. This is a valid concern, especially when content isn’t factored into the design process. However, content is part of the information gathering and decision making process. Without it, you lose all of your persuasive ability, and you’re just offering another product they can get anywhere else.

Not every visitor will read your content, but you need it for those that will and do. It’s up to you to satisfy each visitor’s needs and persuade them to buy your products from you, rather than from a competitor.

These are just a couple examples of how planning your SEO strategy before, or along with, your website development strategy is essential. Your website development budget should be a part of your online marketing investment, not a “development expense”.

This is an important point that I think still too few online businesses are getting. If you don’t bring your marketing team in to participate in the website design and development process, you don’t fully understand what’s at stake.

Before developing your website, choosing your design and development should be secondary to bringing your optimization and marketing team on board. The marketing team can help you interview and select the right designers that will build the site within the specifications and parameters that will be necessary for a successful marketing campaign, saving both time and money in the long run.