Tag Archives: SEO Articles

SEO Works Just Like An Electromagnet

by SEO Articles

If you want to improve your SEO (search engine optimization) and attract more prospects to your web site, you’d do well to study the electromagnet.

Wait! Don’t click away! This isn’t some über-geek post meant to complicate the situation. Building your own electromagnet requires only a long nail, a thin wire and a battery. In other words, DO try this at home.

Connect the ends of the wire to the positive and negative ends of the battery and wrap the wire around the nail. The longer the nail, the stronger the magnet. The more times the wire is wrapped around the nail, the stronger the magnet.

Your SEO works just like an electromagnet.

To build a search engine optimized site you’ll want to create keyword-rich pages for each of your services or offerings. These act like the nails in the electomagnet. Just as iron nails work better than aluminum nails in this project, quality content that informs, engages and persuades will be more attractive to your audience.

Your blog posts act like the wire in the electromagnet. You should create blog posts that wrap around the content on your web pages. If you have a page on your house painting services, you should create blog posts on:

  • Home Painting Tips for the Do-It-Yourselfer
  • How to Choose the Perfect Exterior Paint
  • Why White is the Wrong Color to Paint Your Bathrooms
  • 10 Questions to Ask Your Painter Before The Job Starts
  • and so on.

Each one of these should include keyword-rich links back to the page on your site that talks about your house painting services.

The more blog posts you have “wrapped” around your core service pages, the more electromagnetic juice you have flowing to your web site, and the more attractive your site becomes.

What’s the battery in this metaphor? Hmmm…not sure. Maybe it’s the desire of your prospects to find the solution to their problems or needs? Or maybe it’s the passion you bring with your content creation? Or maybe it’s the power of the Interwebs? Or maybe I’m just trying too hard to extend the metaphor.

I just finished writing an article that goes into more detail about creating an effective web presence for service professionals, albeit without the electromagnet metaphor.

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Correcting Your Search Engine Ranking Problems

I often talk to people who claim that they are suffering from poor search engine rankings. No matter what you do, you just cannot find your web site in Google–and sometimes it’s not just the keywords the sites is targeting, the site cannot be found for the company’s name. In any case, the web site is definitely suffering from search engine ranking problems if you do not have enough traffic on your web site or you perform a site:domain.com search at Google like I did below:

In the video below, I show a few common ways of identifying whether your website is suffering from search engine ranking problems or not. One way is to use the site:domain.com search operator at Google to see if your website is being indexed. Watch the video below to see the other way of identifying if your website is suffering from search engine ranking problems:

I have been keeping a list of the most common search engine ranking problems, and have come up with a list of what I would say are the “most common” search engine ranking problems. Many of these issues can easily be fixed, of course it will take time or money (or both).

1. Lack of links
Easily, the number 1 issue I see in client websites preventing higher search engine rankings is lack of links. This is likely obvious to most of you, but we still need to include it. Many people out there still don’t understand the importance of continual link building. With enough link building, Google will overlook many other issues.

2. Repetitive Title Tags

The other most common issue is the number of repetitive title tags used. This is something Google heavily penalizes for and something that is easily fixed. Make sure every page on your site has a unique title tag.

3. Too many 404 errors
You can spider your site or check to see if you have error pages in the Google search results. A shortcut is to perform a search on google for site:website.com, and it will list all your pages, which you can then go through and check for errors.

4. Too many 301s
301 redirects do not pass through credit like they once did. Newer websites need to be careful not to have too many 301’s, because this can cause the site to get ’sandboxed’. This is especially common when performing site re-designs and initial SEO audits, making it increasingly important to make sure and do the proper SEO and keyword research initially, to avoid having to redo this later.

5. Purchased links
If you saw your rankings go down overnight, then chances are you paid for a link that google frowns upon. We all know that google frowns upon and technique that attempts to artificially increase rankings, so here it is vitally important when engaging in link building that you continually check analytics to notice traffic declines.

6. Unclean URLs
Search engine spiders have to be very efficient, so, they are leery of anything that seems like a risk to them, even though it may not be. Dynamically generated pages present a risk to them because the spiders could get caught up in an infinite loop within the site. So, make sure to clean your url of special characters such as question marks, equal signs, ampersands, etc. URLs having long, complex query strings will have a harder time getting indexed with everything else being equal, than a shorter url with no special characters.

7. Bad Links to your Home Page
All web sites have a home page, www.domain.com and a www.domain.com/index.html. This is diluting the effectiveness of all your seo efforts. Make sure and modify all internal links to go to / instead of going to /index.html. Then make sure you redirect the index.html page to /. It is important that you do both, because merely redirecting all /index.html pages to / will not be as effective.

8. Unnecessary Text in Title Tags and Link Text
Are you using phrases such as “click here” in anchor text or phrases such as “We sell” or “Come visit us for” in your title tags. If you do, stop it. Use only the keyword phrases you are targeting. You are diluting their value when using unnecessary text.

9. Slow web page load time
If you noticed a rankings decrease in April of 2010, it could have been due to a slow web page load time. Google is now including site speed in their algorithm.

10. Not Enough Patience
Perhaps the biggest mental shift needing to take place in clients minds is being patient. Effective SEO takes time to implement. There are techniques that can be used to increase rankings much quicker, the same way crash diets can work for the short term, but in the long term, they can hurt you. You want to make sure you do ample work up front, which unfortunately means spending more time and resources which are usually scarce, but with the proper plan, you can be well on your way to utilizing perhaps the most cost efficient form of marketing that exists.

Whether it a lack of links to your website or another internal issue with your website, you can certainly take steps to correct your search engine ranking problems.

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Building Strong SEO Content

There are a lot of different ways to say the same thing. Anyone who has performed keyword research knows that people search for a lot of the same things using very different phrases and terminology. For example, if you’re looking to build your online business, you could search for: internet marketing, website marketing, online marketing, website promotion, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, SEO, and a dozen other variations.

Or if you’re a physician looking to manage health records online, you could search for: EHR, EMR, electronic health records, electronic medical records, medical software, personal health records, practice management software, and so on. One of the problems many business owners and SEOs come up against is how to optimize their site for each of these variations that all potentially mean the same thing.

Quite often, your website will have different pages on your site that can be (or already are) focused on different aspects of your service that cover each of these topics as separate entities. In other cases, your similar phrases can be (or are) used interchangeably throughout the site.

The problem comes when each of these similarly defined terms is extremely competitive, and using them interchangeably won’t allow you a strong enough SEO focus to achieve rankings for any of them. You need pages that focus on one (or just a couple) phrase(s) at a time if you want them to be successful.

Optimize Similar Keywords on Existing Site Pages

Ideally, you want to target keywords that are already a natural fit for any given page. But, when several keyword phrases essentially mean the same thing, there is no clear distinction to be able to say definitively which keywords fit where. For example, “keyword research” is pretty clear while “keyword optimization” can mean the same thing as SEO and all the other phrases.

One easy solution is to find a content page relevant for any group of similar meaning phrases, choose the highest volume phrase and target that. Since each phrase basically means the same thing to the common searcher, changing all instances of various phrases to the single phrase you’re targeting can be done without changing the meaning of the page in any way.

The value here is that the core message of the page hasn’t been changed or the sales message diminished. It’s simply a matter of talking about “online marketing” as opposed to “internet promotion”, or “search engine marketing” vs. “website marketing.” I should note that you don’t always want to change every instance. Some variety is a good thing.

Reduce Site Clutter… Blog Instead

The strategy above works great, but it can become problematic once you run out of pages and still have a number of phrases left to optimize. Most people will just go about creating new pages of sales content to target the remaining phrases. The problem here is you’re going outside your core marketing message to do this and creating site/navigational clutter as well.

Usually these new pages offer nothing new that is substantial or relevant that can’t be found elsewhere on the site. Your site then becomes over-run with pages of content that were built for the sole purpose of getting keyword rankings. That may help with rankings, but not for converting visitors once they arrive.

This is where blogs can come into play. Putting together keyword focused blog posts can help you optimize for additional keywords, while not worrying about adding additional “optimization” clutter to your main site.

But before you rush out to create some generic content to get your keyword on a page, think it through. Your blog isn’t your sales content. So don’t go creating another sales page. Think of a way to present new information in a new, unique, and informative way.

Once you have this awesome piece of standalone content written, place it on your blog, but not as just any other blog post. Instead, you can create a standalone “article” that is linked from your blog navigation. This keeps that content timeless and prevents it from getting buried with the rest of the stuff. Be sure to update this information regularly as necessary.

Be Selective When Optimizing Your Phases

Undoubtedly, when performing keyword research, you’ll find a number of phrases that are similarly themed. Usually these are phrases using a single core term (say, “internet marketing”) that add additional qualifiers such as: “internet marketing services”, “internet marketing strategy”, “internet marketing consultant”, “affiliate internet marketing”, and so on.

One of the worst things you can do is to try and target all of these phrases on a single page. The better strategy is to organize these phrases into supporting themes and then build pages around each theme. Think of it as building in sub-categories for your product and services.

When going this route, adding new pages to the site (rather than the blog) is actually a good idea. You’re building strong, relevant content that targets the specific needs of your visitors using language that addresses that.

Building Strong SEO Content

When keywords are applied correctly throughout your site, whether to existing pages, new pages, blog posts, or wherever, content can be written naturally without feeling forced or being noticed by your visitor. The end result will be a robust site, targeting dozens, if not hundreds, of keywords, all effectively optimized to bring in targeted traffic while still increasing sales.

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Focusing On Where Google Is Going

One of the topics that emerged from Pubcon was “Should SEO’s Focus on Where Google is Heading”, and I’m going to agree with Aaron that focusing on short term algorithmic holes isn’t a smart thing for most people (churn and burn folks–you keep on keeping on). I agree that most publishers should focus on where Google is going. However, the one thing I think publishers need to be aware of and be wary of is Google’s transition to becoming an answer engine.

When I refer to Google trying to become an answer engine, what exactly do I mean? I mean that Google will provide the answer right on the SERP itself if possible and, more frequently, from a Google-owned or Google-maintained property. What exactly do I mean by that? I would be willing to bet that at least one Googler is hunched over a monitor somewhere trying to figure out how to convert voice searches into standardized results. Get out your best Jean Luc Picard impersonation, grab your android phone, and say “COMPUTER … Show me airline prices from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on March 15th.” Now imagine that Google, using its recently acquired ITA travel data, could show you the 5 cheapest flights without needing to send you to the airline, travelocity, or any of the other intermediaries.  Good for Google, good for the user … but scary if you are a publisher.

Google has been moving in this direction for years with queries like [what is george washington's birthday]

There’s no need for the person performing that query to visit any website because Google became the answer machine.  Earlier this year, they began making inroads in commercial searches for things like [mortgage rates]

Google’s latest incursion into becoming the answer machine came from its local results when they began stealing … err aggregating … reviews from other sites and mixing them with their own on place pages.

IMHO this represents a clear and present danger to every web publisher. For a while, Google will be content to let publishers keep serving the information that Google hasn’t figured out how to gather efficiently/profitably, even if that means referring users to low quality, demand media style pages from About.com and eHow.com. However there’s no doubt in my mind that once Google thinks they can do better, they will scrape your data and throw you under the bus without a second thought … cause it’s all about the users, right?

The one exception that may leave you a leg to stand on is if you are a brand and are building some sense of brand loyalty. If users type in [brand name + keyword phrase] Google will show less “Google answers”. For example [george washington's birthday wikipedia] or [bank of america mortgage rates] contain none of the Google properties. Of course, it would seem to me that this is a massive conflict of interest as far as Google is concerned, but I’m not a legislator, so what do I know.

The days of being a pure affiliate and building sites without any thought to branding are coming to a close. They will never disappear completely, but there will be less of them. The purely keyword-based traffic without a hint of branding is going to become more competitive and, in some cases, you will be competing with Google itself or with Google owned properties like Boutiques.com. Heed these warnings Caesar and fear the Ides of March …

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How To Determine Your Mix Of Original Vs. Curated Content

While there’s plenty of great Search Engine Optimization advice being published daily on blogs and industry websites, there’s not as much from a content marketer’s perspective.  Having been in the SEO game for over 10 years, I know there’s a tendency to give recommendations that focus on web pages, code, links and what those things mean, specific to search engines. There’s an increasing social media component to these audits too. Most SEOs will read that and say, “Of course, what else do you need?”

If you work for a company or agency that received a standard SEO audit, you may have experienced the need for the SEO advice to be translated into something meaningful for your specific area of responsibility.  This affects designers, web developers, copywriters, marketing, PR and other departments.  A lot of SEO audits are technical in nature or focus on keyword usage and links.   As the importance of content grows, it makes sense to package SEO advice in a way that considers the capabilities and constraints of content strategists, creators and marketers.

Here are some fundamental and practical questions to answer when developing a SEO approach for content marketing:

  • What are your goals? – Be specific. Sales, Awareness, Media Coverage, Customer Support, Attracting New Staff, Branding. Content Marketing affects a lot more than just sales.
  • Do you have access to editing current content? – Companies vary on their policies regarding editing existing content, especially if there’s an arduous process for getting anything published in the first place.  But you need to know to what degree can existing content be slightly edited for SEO.
  • Do you have access to website templates code edits? - Most content marketers are not web developers so having access to IT or a web team is a pre-requisite for getting to templates.  Websites that use content management systems use templates to produce web pages. SEO edits that can be made at the template level can affect hundreds or thousands of pages. Having access to making those kinds of changes can result in a very significant impact on search engine visibility.
  • Can you provide SEO training for content creators? – Providing SEO best practices training to those in the company responsible for creating content helps create SEO scalability in the organization.  Try to get them together in person or virtually for SEO and keyword usage training.  Provide best practices and guidelines customized to the company Content Management System and content creation/review/publishing workflow.
  • What ongoing feedback can you provide?- Can you create a method to provide any kind of performance feedback on the content being optimized?  It can be very motivating for copywriters to know the keyword optimization tactics they’re using are actually having an impact.
  • Do you have access for new content creation and publishing? - Competitive industries can rarely rely on existing content alone to satisfy search engines’ appetite for content and links.  Companies are increasingly creating more content as part of their online marketing efforts and a competitive SEO approach to content optimization requires the ability and access to create new content. Such efforts should be driven by the desire to meet consumer needs first, then keywords for placement within search engines. Oftentimes, SEOs think the other way around. Hopefully, you’re not one of those companies that feels you have all the content you need and nothing more.
  • Do you have the ability to measure KPIs outcomes? – In the end, marketing and tactics like SEO are about making more sales.  There are also key performance indicators with content marketing and optimization that can be helpful for refinement and feedback to those producing and promoting new, search optimized content.  Rankings are less useful but link acquisition, social references, keyword referring data, social media referrals, pre-sales activity, conversions and other outcomes are essential for understanding the impact of an effective content marketing optimization effort.

Based on an evaluation of goals, capabilities and access to resources and ability to implement, a particular approach towards content optimization can be developed.  Here are three common forms:

Optimize What You Have – Audit existing content focus on refining current content digital asset optimization

High Value Plus Planned Content SEO – Optimize priority content (doable and most profitable topics) and add new content according to already planned marketing and PR purposes following SEO best practices.

Holistic Integrated Content SEO - You’ve heard about “being social”?  This approach is about “being optimized”.  Develop a new site content editorial plan for adding content according to keyword/persona targets. Train all content producers on SEO corporate wide and implement SEO at the template and content publishing process levels.

Obviously these are not hard and fast strategies for approaching content marketing with a SEO focus, but they do provide guidance and can even be treated as a phased approach.

On Friday I’ll be giving a presentation on Content Marketing Optimization as part of MarketingProfs University “Content Marketing Crash Course” that drills more specifically into how to develop a content optimization strategy, best practices on developing searcher personas, an editorial plan, keyword glossaries and how to determine your mix of original content vs. curated content. I hope to see you there.

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Using Your Cloud To Develop Long Tail Keyword Trends

Long-tail keywords are a great way to get traffic, but the very nature of long-tail keywords makes them difficult to research. For anyone who is going after short-tail traffic on a website, it is a given that a significant quantity of traffic from longer-tail terms is going to be generated. This traffic will increase as the short-tail phrase moves up in search engine rankings, and in almost every case you can gauge the success of early SEO efforts by the trickle of long-tail keywords that bring visitors to your site before a short tail term even hits the first page of Google.

Measuring the sentiment of searchers can help you determine which additional phrase combinations (or roots of phrases) can deliver more high-value long tail terms. One way to do this is to use the Google Keyword Tool to get a list of variations relevant to your main phrase, and then use a Tag Cloud in order to see which words most prominently figure into the mix. Most tag clouds will make frequent words appear to be larger, so you can easily see a quick visual snapshot of the most common words. You can even find several free Tag Cloud generators online, which let you drop lists into a field.

In the example below, we used a small group of terms related to “logo design” in the Google keyword tool. At a glance, you can see that the terms “logo” and “design” have the biggest frequency, and these terms are followed by terms like business, software, company, award, corporate, and best. Terms like affordable and portfolio are less popular. Therefore, if you have a website (like Web.com’s LogoYes logo design division) that is relevant to these keywords, then you know that you can pepper them into your content in order of importance.  A more in-depth test may include a much longer list of terms in order to recognize broader trends.

To understand the nature of your existing traffic, you can also make a tag cloud by exporting your Analytics keywords (usually you have to do this in blocks of 500, but you can get a pretty good sample with the first page) and then feeding the word list into the cloud. You may be surprised at some of the high frequency words that come to your site, but you can then make adjustments either to cater to those keyword visits or to reduce the profile of words for which you don’t care to be found. While people normally don’t think about eliminating unnecessary “free” traffic, a lower quality search experience and higher bounce rate may have a negative long term impact on rankings, and dilute your value among your core market. 

For both approaches, the keyword search volume or traffic volume for each individual keyword is not measured. Instead, the goal is to find out how many other individual words are appearing in search results and in actual traffic. By making a quick study of the terms in each situation, you can usually discover opportunities for further optimization or content building. For example, if a relevant keyword appears often in searches, but is not getting traffic to your site, then you can create material that matches up with consumer sentiment.

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