The Power of Blogging

Is blogging really a necessary part of a business marketing plan? Successful marketing leaders know that a content publication strategy can increase visibility, sales and leads.  Blogging is one major component of that strategy.  There are well over 150 million blogs on the internet currently, growing larger every day.  These are big numbers to absorb, even bigger considering blogs didn’t even exist 20 years ago.  In the marketing world, blogging has hit it big yet people still seem puzzled by the impact of blogging on business. Let’s take a few minutes to look at the power of blogging for your business.

  1. Increase in Search Engine Traffic/Rankings – Search engines love fresh content. What better way to provide frequent content than with blog posts. By blogging consistently, you give Google and other search engines new content to index and you create opportunities to plug in those all-important keywords to increase your visibility on search engine results pages (SERPS).(Source Open Vine) This increase in traffic can mean an uptick in conversions from leads to customers.
  2. Become an Authority in your Field – By sharing industry related information and “how-tos” you will develop a name for yourself and your brand as an expert in your field.  As you build up an audience for your blogs, you may find that customers refer to your information as a resource.
  3. Show your Personal Side – Blogging creates a unique opportunity to not only show off your expertise but also how a human and personal side to your business.  Readers will get to know you and your company through your voice in each blog.  That is why it is very important to keep blogs real and down to earth.
  4. Fast Feedback – When something new and exciting happens in your field, a blog can be a great place to have conversations about that event.  Ask questions and converse with your viewers about the news as well as gain valuable feedback about the changes.
  5. Leads and Conversions– An active blog sends a signal that your business is alive and well to the search engines as well as generating leads.  Research shows that the more pages a site has, the more leads it gets. According to Hubspot, businesses with 401-1000 pages of content get 6x more leads than those with 51-100. In simple terms, the more you blog, the more leads you generate. More content means more form submissions, more email opt-ins, more quote requests, and ultimately, more sales. (Source Forbes)

 

5 Components of a Strong SEO Strategy

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy, technique or series of tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) — including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. (Webopedia) The higher a website naturally ranks in organic results of a search, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. How then can business owners (large or small, new or well-established) create a strong SEO Strategy for their company?  Lets look at the key components that can help your company get ranked higher thus increasing your exposure.

  1. Keywords – Keyword research is the first step to a successful SEO strategy.  Keywords about your service, product or brand can help drive traffic to your website.  Many keywords are very competitive now and thus companies are turning toward long-tail keywords to get a higher ranking.  The new Hummingbird on Google now looks for specific intent of the search as opposed to separate keyword searches.  For help finding and writing these long-tailed keywords read more at Long-Tailed Keywords, as suggested by Forbes Magazine.
  2. Quality Content – We have all heard it over and over “Content is King.”  Well it is true!  Search engines have stated that creating quality content is the best way to not only rank for keywords, but also create positive user experiences. In addition to having relevant content each page should have the goal of having dynamic content that changes periodically to attract even more attention from the search engines. The goal here is not to make the search engines happy as much as it is to create content that readers find useful and that they want to share with their friends.
  3. Link Building – Believe it or not link building is still a great way to get noticed by the larger search engines.  Get listed on free directories or try back-linking to site that mention you or have used your business.
  4. Social Media – Maintaining and growing a social media presence on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube can help your rankings as well.  By capturing your audience on social media you have a good chance of engaging the consumer to check out your webpage or take advantage of offers you announce on social media channels.
  5. Be mobile ready – We have all seen it.  People cant walk down the street without checking their phones.  The statistics show that 80 percent of adults now have a smartphone; the average time spent on a mobile device was 1.85 hours a day (over a half hour increase from 2012). Be sure your website is ready with responsive design that allows viewers to see your site easily regardless of the type of device , whether it is a tablet, phone or desktop.

 

Changes in Google Keywords

Last year’s changes are still rattling the world of SEO professionals.  As of last September all Google Searches became “secure” and result in a “not provided” response from Google.  Despite initial claims by Google that it would only affect a small percentage of overall analytics data for organic search, the reality is some sites were seeing well over 50 percent “(not provided)”, particularly in sectors like technology where there is a higher likelihood that a visitor would be logged into their Google account as well.

Fast forward a year and now 95% of keywords being reported as “(not provided)”, with that remaining 5 percent coming from non-Google searches. So why did Google do this and what does this mean in the long term for SEO professionals trying to decipher the analytics.

The “why” portion of this question, , , it  can be answered by Search Engine Watch Group online. “There has been plenty of speculation, running wildly from “the NSA told them to” to “they did it to force people to buy more AdWords ads!” Tin foil hats aside, neither of those options make a good case for why Google made the secure search change.” In reality Google has been moving toward steps to protect everyone’s privacy and to prevent eavesdropping by government agencies for years.

What are some current workarounds to battle against the Google encryption.

  • Look at Non-Google Keywords- Look at your non-Google search engine referral traffic. While Bing doesn’t send a significant portion of traffic for a site will looking at overall search, you still can get an idea of what keywords are bringing traffic, particularly for sites that have significant amount traffic.
  • Use Google Webmaster Tools- If you’ve gone this long without using Google Webmaster Tools, you will definitely want to sign up for it now. You can still get keyword data in Google Webmaster Tools, by clicking on Search Traffic > Search Queries, and yes, it does include search data from encrypted searches.
  • Analyze On-Site Searches- You should capture all the on-site searches that visitors are doing on your site, so you can also get a better idea of exactly the keywords they are for.
  • Look at Historical Data – But without the keyword data, you’ll be stuck kind of guessing at the potential keywords that are bringing in people to a page on your site.

Whether we like it or not, Google’s encrypted search is here to stay. We will continue our efforts to find new ways to work around the analytic problem.  Read More

Importance of Social Media for SEO

In the world of Marketing strategy the acronym SEO or Search Engine optimization is one of the more important for the visibility of a website or a web page.  As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience.

Typically the rank of a piece of content comes down to two key drivers: relevancy and authority. Relevancy is all about using the right keywords and Authority has predominantly been defined by the number and type of sites that are linking to your content via inbound links. Recently search engines have begun to incorporate social context into their search results.Let’s look at the major ways that Social Media is affecting your SEO.

  • Social Shares are the new Link Building – Link building has always been an important factor to determine whether other websites across the web deemed your website to be a quality source of information. Recently links are achieved through developing original content that is shared across social media. Links to your content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and other social networks help the search engines understand what websites are credible and should be ranked for what keyword phrases.
  • Authority – search engines have become more integrated with social cues and features for the growing social network. With the dawn of Google + authorship their account and bio are linked to the content in search engine results.
  • Speed Up Indexing – Articles that have been shared and tweeted about can cut indexation time by 50%, while reducing the time it takes Googlebot to find your content from 2 hours to 2 seconds.
  • Boost Relevant Key Words – The keywords used throughout social media factor into where content ranks in search engines.

Google + for Business

Does your business really need its presence on yet another social media network?  Technology insider like Chris Brogan, author or Google Plus for Business and Technology blogger, Timothy Carter, say the resounding answer is YES!  Why would you want to start working on another social network if you are already visible on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? Let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits and statistics outlined by Brogan and Carter that show why Google + will be a great boost for your business.

  • Google Plus has 90 million users – with 60% of those users logging in every day!  (in comparison 50% of Twitter users log in daily.)
  • Google Plus is indexed by Google – In the world of SEO this means that using Google + can help customers find your business faster and easier.
  • Greater Visibility – By creating a business page your company can increase it’s visibility daily. There are a variety of sharing options available to showcase your company including video, posts or photos.
  • Positive Interactions with your targeted audience – Comment on share, respond to comments and use Google+1 to add people’s posts and comments.   Interactions build trust and allows your company to make real relationships with the people they want to reach.
  • Educate your followers – Enhance your brand by letting people in your circles learn more about you, your company and your product.  The more they know the easier it is for them to determine if your product is the one for them.
  • Linking ability – If you have any other social media profiles, from Facebook, to Instagram and Pinterest, you MUST add them to the links section of your Google+ profile as well. What better way to get a little more link juice and authority from Google than to have your social profiles included on their page for your business?

Google + isn’t just another social media network. . . the benefits to your overall marketing strategy will be felt from SEO to customer relations.  Try Google + today!  Google+

Key Word Tools

Key Words!  Choosing the right combination is absolutely crucial to a successful SEO. A keyword is a word or search term(s) that someone types into Google, Bing, Yahoo  or any other search engine when they’re looking for information online. When given the right combination of key words –  the search engine will direct users to information relevant to their search and ultimately to your site. So how do you choose those oh-so-important words so that they are relevant without being too broad?

  1. Back to Basics – Ask your customers what key words they used to find you online.  Or better yet, try finding yourself online through simple searches.  You will quickly see what page your company is found on and what key words work best at getting you a higher ranking. This is fairly old school but a good place to start.
  2. Add Location Based Keywords – When looking for products and services in a specific area, search engine users will usually include their location in the search.  For example Boston, MA.  You may want to consider adding location-based keywords to all of your pages, since traffic from other locations isn’t going to be very much help to you.
  3. Use Key Word Tools – Here are some great online tools to take the guesswork out of deciding on Key Words!
  • Google Ad Words Keyword Tool Your company can insert one keyword, multiple keywords, or even your website address, and Google will then return a list of related keywords along with simple metrics to gauge how fierce the competition is around each one and how many searches it gets on both a global and local search level.
  • Hub Spot Software or Google Analytics This tool will allow you to identify which organic search terms are already driving traffic to your website. These keywords will provide a good baseline of core keywords.

 

Now that you have some tools to discover your top key words for SEO , get out there and start discovering your best keywords for your growing company!

Key Words

Today, most consumers looking to buy a product or service start the process by using a search engine to find vendors and product information. How can you make sure that your business is found when these people are looking for you or your competitors? You need to make sure you rank high in the search engine results, for as many search terms as possible.  Here are some tips to picking key words that will get you ranked higher during a Google, Yahoo or Bing search.

  1. Create a Key Word List – What are the three to five words that people think about when searching for your business.
  2. Use Key Word Tools– Then use keyword tools to understand how often people search on the terms related to your business.
  3. Try out your key words to find your business – Do your own search and find how quickly your site comes up.
  4. Analyze the results – Using the Key Word Tools and your own research find out what terms are used over and over again in your text to guide your key word search.

Some things to keep in mind when creating key words: You have to get on the first or second page of search results, shorter search phrases are searched for more often and finally it is usually more difficult to get ranked on the first or second page for popular searches. Use these guides to help you get ranked higher with Key Words!

Link Building Basics

Link building is the process of getting external pages to link to a page on your website.  It is one of the many methods used in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  Since the late 1990’s search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing have used links as votes representing the democracy of the web’s opinion about what pages are important and popular.  Building links can be time consuming and tedious but can have a positive impact on raising your website rank.  Since all links are not equal, it is important to find quality links from authoritative websites.  For link building to be effective let’s look at some tips, resources and tools to raise your website ranking at minimal or no cost.

Strategies for effective link building:

  1. Content. Create compelling and unique content that other consumers and businesses will want to link to.  This requires no action but is something you will need to be aware of when designing and creating worthy content for your website.
  2. Press Releases. Submit news to press releases online through a press release distribution company if you can not do it on your own such as:   Press Release Distribution, PR Web, or PR Newswire.
  3. Free Link Building. Submit specific information such as your Business Name, URL, and Brief description to free directories online such as: Directory Critic, Free Web Directory, or Web Directory Lists.
  4. Link with Friends. Get partners or customers you work with regularly to link back to your site.  Just as you’d get customers wearing your t-shirts or sporting your bumper stickers, links are the best way to accomplish the same feat on the web.
  5. Build a Company Blog. By writing informative and valuable informatiuon about your business, specialties or your products you gain a following of consumers and businesses that will link to your site.  The USA Today states that, “This content and link building strategy is so popular and valuable that it’s one of the few recommended personally by the engineers at Google.” Blogs have the unique ability to contribute fresh material on a consistent basis, participate in conversations across the web, and earn listings and links from other blogs, including blogrolls and blog directories. It is also important to note that commenting on other blogs and reviews will build links too!

 

 

 

Google’s new algorith – Hummingbird

We have probably all heard the old saying, “The early bird catches the worm.” Well, in the world of search engines the early bird is the new search algorithm released by Google on its 15 anniversary in the Fall of 2013.  Google’s Amit Singhai explained at the anniversary event that while it is possibly the largest change to the algorithm since he joined the company in 2001, most of us didn’t even notice that it had changed.  In fact the change was fairly seamless.

So what is this new program and how can it help you and your business?  In short, Hummingbird is the new “recipe” so-to-speak that helps Google sort through information it finds during a search to “provide a more direct and precise answer”. According to Search Engine Land, “Hummingbird allows the Google search engine to better do its job through an improvement in semantic search. As conversational search becomes the norm, Hummingbird lends understanding to the intent and contextual meaning of terms used in a query.” So some pages may have a better chance of being found for certain queries now. This does not mean that page rank is dead just merely that it is one of over 200 “ingredients” that go into the Hummingbird recipe.  Think of it as taking out an old car engine, (that might run perfectly fine) but replace it with more power and better technologies.

For example, most of us type a question or key phrase into a search engine hoping that the algorithm brings us to a link that is related to our question or search.  With the intelligence of Hummingbird, Google Search will take a question and look at the context rather than just seeing the words within the query as separate entities. This deciphering of  the context will provide better accuracy and speed in search engine results, thus the name Hummingbird after the speed and accuracy of the tiny bird.

So what does this mean for your business?  You know that content of your website is king so continue providing specific, relevant and accurate information for your viewers.   This new algorithm will question whether your content truly addresses the specific wants and needs of the searcher.  Is your page an authority?  Does it provide more in-depth scenarios and answers about your products and services?  Does your content stand out in some way to Hummingbird?  As usual, know your audience, what they need or want in your products so when they come searching for you they will easily find you.  Be the early bird in your company and keep the content fresh and dynamic.  Remember, the bird’s the word.

 

 

The Importance of Link Building

mysql_real_escape_string(Link building, simply put, is the process of getting external pages to link to a page on your website. While it seems fairly straightforward, it can be a time consuming part of your marketing strategy but it is a critical part to increasing your search engine ranking and optimization. According to a study completed by Word Tracker Academy “As many as 7% of consumer sales are online and an incredible 89% of offline purchases are influenced by online research. Search engines are the heart of that online commerce which means search engine success can bring spectacular rewards.” Since the late 1990’s , search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have used links as votes. These votes represent the democracy of the web’s opinion of what pages are important and popular.

If you thought being popular was only important in high school then you are mistaken. Link popularity is just as important for the growth of your business. Search engines like links. The more links a site has the more likely that website will appear on a search engines first page. In fact they value the number and standing of sites that link to yours. In general the more links the higher ranking and site reputation. Not all links, however, are created equal. Search engines favor quality backlinks over the more obscure. For example, a backlink from the Wall Street Journal, Amazon or any government website would be viewed as more authoritative links than less well known sites. A quality backlink is one that is genuine and has unique content. Increasing the number and quality of links is the foundation of any search engine optimization strategy.

Since link building is such a major factor in increasing your businesses ranking, let’s look at a few strategies for you to get started.

Submit your website information to both free and paid directories such as free directory critic at http://www.directorycritic.com/free-directory-list.html.
Submit your company’s news in a press release.
create compelling content that others will want to reference and therefore link to.
Start a blog that readers will link to or comment on relevant blogs that will backlink to your website.

Cultivate link building through these strategies as they will influence your web traffic, and sales for many years. Google and other search engines look at the age of a link and the pattern of acquired links over time. So the value of your inbound links is cumulative. Links that you acquired years ago continue to influence your rankings and still bring you direct visits.)