How to Optimize Your SEO for the Mobile-First Index

Google’s main goal is to provide the best possible results to a search query. And since most users rely on mobile devices for the majority of their online activities, Google’s focus is on catering to the needs of the ever growing number of mobile users. In the past years, Google has released several updates aimed at making the web better for mobile consumers, but now, it took its game up a notch by rolling out a mobile-first version of its index.

There’s no choice for website owners but to adapt to the mobile-trend in order to maintain traffic and ranking because the new index will split the desktop and mobile results, and if your website is not prepared for the change, you could be in for hard times. Mobile will become the primary index and mobile searches will no longer show results for desktop, and vice versa.

If you have a desktop and not a mobile version of your site, or different mobile and desktop versions, you should be concerned and address these issues as fast as possible, or before the mobile-first index is fully released. The first step is to create a fully-functional mobile website. Next comes SEO in a mobile-first index.

Let’s take a look at what you can do to improve your mobile website’s SEO. But to make things easier, and so you don’t have to do everything on your smartphone, open your website in a desktop browser and view the mobile version. You can do this by right-clicking on the site, and choosing the “inspect” option, then, you can toggle between desktop and mobile in the upper left corner of the menu.

 

1. Perform the Google Mobile Friendliness Test

First of all, you need to check if your website can pass the Google Mobile Friendliness Test. Begin with your key navigation pages, and your highest selling category and product pages, one by one. Take a look at the “No Mobile Configuration” section to see which pages you need to focus on first. If you still don’t have a mobile site, responsive site or AMP pages, start implementing them right away. Or, if you can, go for a responsive website design. But remember, pages without mobile optimization can badly impact your performance in the SERP.  

 

2. Check whether your Mobile Pages are Indexed

You’ll have to do this check on a smartphone. And to make sure Google is indexing your mobile pages, open Google and in the search box type: “site:visiblefactors.com”. If there are no results for your site, Googlebot may be unable to access the mobile pages. If you are using separate mobile and desktop site, and Googlebot is not indexing your mobile pages, we recommend you create and submit a mobile sitemap. Tag the mobile pages with the rel=canonical and rel=alternate tags.  Googlebot might not be indexing mobile pages because of the separate mobile and desktop URLs, but this should do the trick. But, if you don’t have separate URLs, double-check the robot.txt file and make sure you are not blocking Googlebot.

3. Look for Smartphone Errors in Google Search Console

For this step, go to Google Search Console, Crawl Errors, and choose Smartphone. The errors you identify here can help guide your strategy. Analyze each error and deal with it in the right manner. One common mistake that shows up frequently though, is a faulty redirect. Make sure you have matching smartphone and desktop URLs, so users (and Googlebot) get sent to the right page. When you fix the smartphone errors you allow Google to index your content better.  

4. Change Your On-site SEO Optimization for Mobile

Mobile and desktop on-site optimization differ. For example, title tags on mobile are shorted than those on desktop. Keep in mind that you need to create good user experience, and that includes good on-site optimization, from title tags, to headers. The simplest way to address this issue is by using Screaming Frog. Run the check, then go over the “Page Titles” mane at the top. Get all results for “Over 65 Characters”, and download the data. Rewrite the longer meta titles, and repeat the same procedure for meta descriptions as well. Make sure all of them are shorter and mobile friendly. And for the headings, you can opt for slightly reducing the size for a better mobile UX. Also, run a check with Google’s robot.txt testing tool to make sure you are not blocking Googlebot.  

 

5. Improve Page Load Times

Mobile page load speed can be a crucial UX factor, and load times longer than 4 seconds can make visitors leave. To test your page load times, you can use a lot of free tools, like PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom. Just open your website and run the speed test. Depending on the result, there might be several things to consider. But the simplest optimization you can do, without help from a development team, is optimizing image size. Next, if that doesn’t help much, have your dev team reduce code, add browser cache, manage plug-ins. And lastly, see if your web designer can move more content above the fold.

6. Mobile and Desktop Content Should be a Perfect Match

In order to cross-check and compare your mobile and desktop website, you will have to do it manually. Pull up a list of your most visited and highest performing pages from Google Analytics, then open each page, one by one on desktop and your smartphone. Also, check and scan your code for any inconsistencies. If you find pages with more content on desktop than the mobile version or vice versa, go over them with your editorial and development team to redesign them. It’s advisable to have a completed content audit before you do this so you’ll know what content can and can’t be removed, without hurting traffic. To make sure Google sees your web pages the same way you and your users do, use Google Search Console’s Fetch and Render, and choose mobile user agent from the menu. That way you’ll get to see two pages, side-by-side, and you’ll know whether your content looks the same to Googlebot and your users. Remember that Google ranks content only from the mobile site, and uses the canonical links as guides for users searching from desktop or mobile. So be careful when you making the redesign.

7. Make Sure To Add Structured Data to Your Mobile Pages

While many webmasters skip adding structured data to mobile sites, in the mobile-first index, if you want to keep it, you’ll have to add it to the mobile pages manually. If you already have a responsive website, then your schema should do it. But if you have separate mobile and desktop sites with different URLs, you will have to make sure you followed all the necessary steps for mobile, as you would for your desktop site. Double-check with the Google Structured Testing Tool if your schema markup has been added correctly to your mobile site. Use the “Inspect” function to make sure it’s coming up on mobile devices. Make sure to update all URLs you use in the schema, but be careful not to drown your site in structured data. And if you use a plugin for structured data, use a testing tool to make sure the displayed markup is correct.

8. Launch AMP if You Still Don’t Have Mobile Pages

If you still didn’t have a chance to create mobile pages for your website, then create AMP versions of your pages – it’s the easiest way to get Google to index them. But if you have a m.mobile site, and the content of your AMP page is full and different from the one on the m.mobile site, Google will rank he m.mobile site above your AMP page, and you won’t rank for the keywords included in the full content. Also, you can’t rank higher if you have a mobile version and an AMP version of a page. Google will rank the desktop version of the page instead. If you set up AMP pages, you can easily check them on your smartphone by trying to open a specific page from your website. If you see the small AMP symbol – the gray lightning bolt next to the result, you’re good. You can also do a check-up on your desktop, by viewing the source and searching for rel=”amphtml” or by using the AMP Chrome extension in order to switch between the regular and the AMP versions. And in order to do a final check on whether you implemented AMP pages correctly and get suggestions on how to fix any problems you might have, use the AMP testing tool.

9. Check Your Subdomains Using the Google Search Console

If you already have a responsive website, then skip this part 🙂 But if your website uses subdomains such as m.visibleactors.com or visiblefactorsmobile.com, than you need to verify them in Google Search Console. First, open your Google Search Console account and click the “Add Property” button, and add your subdomains. Next, after you upload your subdomains, Google will send you notifications about your mobile site to let you know if you have smartphone errors, manual actions, if you’re blocking Googlebot, or basically if there are any issues with your site. Beware that Google treats subdomains as separate sites so pay attention to all notifications you receive and make sure to fix all problems.

 

The challenges for SEO-teams become even greater when you need to adapt your SEO-efforts to the upcoming mobile-first index and prepare your website for the upcoming change as fast as you can. And maintaining a dedicated mobile site, if you still don’t have a responsive one, is vital if you want to stay afloat in the mobile-first index, at least for the time being. The rollout will be global, and all websites will face the same constrictions, there’s no escape. So make sure to be prepared when it happens.     

 

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How to Make Your Textual Content SEO-friendly?

Whether you are writing content for your company website or the next company blog post, the goal is to create great content that offers value to the reader, while positively reflecting your brand. But at the same time, you want your content piece to be search engine optimized. Let’s face it; great content is not useful if nobody can find it.

The goal to write a great blog post that is SEO-optimized while attracting an audience can seem contradictory. But if you have great writing skills, it is easy to create content that can accomplish both objectives.

Generally speaking, writing valuable content is one of the best ways to optimize it for SEO and there are no tricks that can compete with the raw power of high-quality content. That being said, even the best content can use a few structural tweaks and tricks to make it even more SEO-friendly.

If you want to be optimized for SEO and easily discoverable/sharable, here are some universal guidelines that you should stick to when creating your next piece of textual content (supposing you already did your keyword research).

 

Headline and Subheadings

First things first – your headline is the first thing anyone sees and reads. If your content is valuable, but your headline is mediocre, your click-through-rate will be low. Before writing your blog post body, write your headline. It should be clear and concise, conveying a specific message or idea that attracts people’s attention and prompts them to click and read further. A good practice is including your main keyword in the headline. Adding numbers is also an effective way to make the headline more enticing and clickable.  

Subheadings are an important part of you blog post’s body because they make the text scannable. Most people read the headline and subheads first, then decide whether to read the whole text or only the parts that matter to them the most. Also, subheads are another way to strategically use your keywords and increase keywords saturation.

When you prepare the blog post for publishing, make sure to add suitable HTML tags (H1, H2, H3…) to your heading and subheads in order to optimize the post for search bots too.  

 

Body Structure

If you created your headline, and are ready to move to writing the body, start by writing a short outline of the text. Think about the purpose, target audience, and the main action you want the reader to take at the end of the text. When writing the outline, you can write the subheadings first. That will give you an overview of what you need to write in each section.    

Once you start the actual writing, pay attention to the quality, originality and the structure of the text.  Always write unique content. Plagiarism can only hurt your ranking with Google, and the trust and authority you built among your audience. Use storytelling principles to improve the content quality and try to connect with readers on an emotional level. Use short sentences and short paragraphs, no more than 100 words, to improve the readability and the blog post structure. Smaller chunks of text are easier to read. When you want to specify or highlight and list certain points, use bullets or numbering to emphasize their importance and separate them from the general text. That will also help readers scan the text easier.

Be careful with the keywords used throughout the body. Use the main keywords and synonyms in moderation. And try to use signal words like “first of all’, “second” and “finally”.  And conjunctions “surely”, “consequently”, “for this reason”, because they will improve the structure of your text, and the reader will get clear signals about what follows.

 

Blog Post Length and Keyword Density

The minimum length of your blog posts should be 300 words. Even though Google likes long articles, and sometimes ranks them better, readers often are scared away by posts that are over 1000 words long. The ideal article length is somewhere between 600 and 800 words, depending on the topic, the target readers, and the goal of the blog post. For example, in-depth guides may require 3000 words or more.

As a general rule of thumb: the ideal keyword density is about 1-2% of your text. So, in a 600-word post, you should mention your keyword 6 to 12 times. Do not stuff your blog post with keywords because instead of making your content more SEO-friendly, it will only hurt your ranking.

 

Links to Previous Content

Page links are the main building blocks of your webpage. Your link structure is important to Google. Links tell Google if your content is valuable to people, and you are connected and sociable. Adding links to high-quality, reputable websites also improves the validity of your website, and your ranking. And using credible sources in the body of your text is also a good way to create trust with your readers.

If you have other posts closely related to your current one, link back to them. It will make the post stronger because it will show more authority on the subject. But whether you link to internal or external pages, use appropriate anchor text which flows naturally with the rest of the content.     

 

Meta Descriptions

Another important part of on-page SEO optimization is writing your meta description. Use the meta descriptions to guide the search engine, and help it understand what your content is about. It is the HTML attribute that provides search engines with a concise explanation of your page’s content. The meta description should be enclosed in the <head> section on your webpage.    

But meta descriptions help searchers understand what your content is about too. The text in a meta description is what Google uses as a snippet when your web page shows in the SERP. And that copy, along with your headline, will determine whether the searcher will click on your page or not. So use those 150 – 160 characters wisely, and make sure to incorporate your main keyword as well.

 

Optimize the Images

Visuals make textual content more interesting and shareable. People are more likely to share the content if there’s a fun or unusual image included. And if it a sales-related text, people will be more likely to buy if they can see the product featured in attractive and relevant photo. But images are important and should be optimized for search bots too. So make sure you enter text in the title and alt tag fields, and preferably use your keyword too.

Optimize the photo dimensions and size. It’s a good practice to match the image dimensions (width) with that of your web page template and use browser resizing capabilities to make the images responsive by setting a fixed width and auto-height. Try to use smaller files because large files load slowly and that can hurt SEO. Make the images slow, but don’t compromise their quality and visibility.

 

There are no special tricks on how to write great content. Nor are there tricks on how to rank high in Google if your content is average. Remember to always write for people, and don’t underestimate the importance of SEO-optimization. High-quality, original content is what matters the most, but it takes a little extra effort to additionally optimize it for SEO and rank highly for SERPs, clicks, reads, likes and social shares.

It may be difficult at first, but it’s very much possible to achieve both goals. Then again, if you believe that it’s a job best handled by the pros, you are welcome to drop us a line or give us a call, and we’ll make sure your brand’s name and story take off.

 

 

 

Boost Local SEO Efforts to Improve Reputation, Rankings and Revenue

If you want to market a local business online, begin with search. Investing in, and optimizing for local SEO is a great way to place your business in front of a local target audience, while selling your product to people who will provide the most growth for your company.  But, unlike optimizing for organic search, SEO optimization for local business includes a slightly different set of components. 

So let’s take a look at the main components of local SEO that influence your 3 Rs – reputation, rankings and revenue.

1. Set up a Google Place and Google+ Local Page

Begin your local SEO optimization with opening a Google Business account. This will allow you to set up a free listing on Google Places, appearing on the right hand side of the SERPs anytime someone does a relevant search. By listing on Google Places, you are giving your website the most important backlink you can get – from Google. You can emphasize the impact by creating a Google+ business page and entering your business details there too.

Make sure your business qualifies as local by checking the Google Compliance Guidelines and stick to them to ensure you are not spamming Google.

2. Optimize your Website for Local Rankings

First, have a technically clean website that offers great user experience and regularly audit your site to resolve problems and avoid penalties.

Next, include your location info, along with your brand’s name and keywords in the pages’ title, tags and meta descriptions. Also try to insert your location as a keyword, or a long-tail key phrase in your content. But make these location-insertions sound as natural as possible, especially in places read by people. Avoid keyword stuffing and include your business address and contact phone number in the footer of the site.

Optimize your website in such a way that you are the best in the business’ geo-industry, but don’t forget that you need to optimize for organic search, local search, and conversions. 

3. Make use of Citations Identical with NAP listings

Your presence on other high-quality listing sites such as Yell and Trip Advisor is very important. They provide authority links to your site, encouraging users to visit your site and trust your business.

Next, make sure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) listing are correct and identical with your citations since they are a key ranking factor, and can improve your ranking especially if they present quality and relevant listing sites. Decide which location information you want included, and use that address on yours, and when you list on third-party sites.

So make sure your citations are correct and up-to-date. Monitor and audit them regularly, fix any inconsistencies, remove duplicates, and don’t forget to look for new geo- and industry-specific citation opportunities.

4. Use the Power of Positive Customer Reviews

We all know the power of reviews, and how strongly they can influence our decisions. Google and other search engines are no different. If your business has numerous five-star reviews, you will have a higher rank with proof of excellent service.

In order to get positive reviews from customers more frequently, start by providing better in-store service and encourage customers to leave reviews on Google and other relevant sites. Monitor your reviews, good and bad ones alike, and respond to them – thank them for their honest comments. Take people’s remarks seriously and try to improve your service. Customers always appreciate the extra effort you are willing to put in for them. Use this to your advantage and earn your positive reviews.

5. Get Valuable Local Links

Just like optimizing for organic search, optimizing for local SEO also requires relevant links, especially from other relevant and authoritative local business websites.  To optimize your links, find broken links and resolve them or disavow them.

Make sure to create new linking opportunities by providing great content, and always be on the lookout for new linking opportunities in editorial contributions, local sponsorships, relevant blogs and online local magazines, etc.

6. Create a Strong Social Presence

Being present on social media is a must nowadays. It’s not up for discussion anymore whether you should create social media presence, but where to create it. Start by identifying which social networks are most relevant to your geo-location and industry. Based on each platform, and your goals, come up with a participation strategy, and try to engage your audience. Talk to your audience, share information and experiences with them, and don’t sell your products and/or services aggressively.

Also, remember to use social media to monitor the social conversations about your brand, and to listen to your customers. Try to be fast in answering customers’ questions, and resolving any problems of conflicts. Social signals do matter!     

7. Watch Your Offline Behavior

As a local business, you must beware of your offline behavior too. Anything that happens offline, can be published online, whether it’s a company activity or in-store experience. Your offline and online experience should be consistent because the consumers that found you online and visited your store expect to see the same branding, messaging, signage, promotional materials, in-store experience, apps, etc. Be consistent in your efforts.

Also, use the power of real-world opportunities for establishing a strong brand presence in the community using traditional marketing methods such as TV, radio, print media, and organization, participation and/or sponsorship of local events and happenings.


Now that we explained how to optimize each part of local SEO, let’s look at how these factors influence your 3 Rs.

Reputation: When you are present on Google Places as a local business, your NAP listings and citations are identical, and you have numerous positive reviews, you prove not to be spammy to search engines and you are relevant to customers. Additionally, when you have a great website that is supported with high-quality links, excellent user experience, and positive social signals, your reputation in the search results is greatly protected.

Rankings: All of the above mentioned factors influence how Google perceives your website. Google evaluates and trusts the validity of your business based on your reputation, your website’s performance, content quality, penalties, and more. And when your on-page efforts are supported with good reviews, listings, citations, and strong social media presence, Google will rank your site higher in the SERPs.

Revenue: By optimizing all these areas, you save yourself from losing customers due to lack of or incorrect information, lack of customer support, bad comments, or plunges in visibility. If you prove to be a highly reputable site that ranks high in the local searches, you will get more online traffic, more store visits, and ultimately, and will enjoy increased profits.

By providing good customer experience, online and offline, instigating positive reviews, getting quality listings and citations, generating great and relevant content, being present on social media, and getting recognized as a high-quality brand, you set yourself for success in the online and offline world.

Never underestimate the power of any component of local SEO, and optimize each and every one of them at the same time, and be consistent in your work. Keep monitoring, tracking and improving your actions and adjusting your strategy. And if you can’t do it alone, we can assist your local business and help you grow and become the best in your area. Give us a call!  

 

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All you Need to Know about Google RankBrain

Google RankBrain: What it is and Why it is important

Over a year ago, in October 2015, Google announced they are going to use machine learning techniques of artificial intelligence in research. The topic raised a lot of questions and led to confusion about what Google RankBrain is, what it means for search marketing, and what brands should do about it. Today, a year and a half later after the dust settled, we learned (everything) we could and decided to share that knowledge with you.  We intend to answer all remaining questions you might have and eliminate all uncertainties.  

What is RankBrain?

First and foremost, let’s settle this dilemma: RankBrain is NOT an ‘update’ to the search algorithm. In fact, it is the third most useful search ranking signal, right after content and links. The actual list includes 200 different ranking factors. So what actually is RankBrain? Google RankBrain is a machine learning AI (artificial intelligence) system used to assist the processing of Google search queries.   

How Does RankBrain Work?

Google’s main goal is to provide its users with the most useful and relevant results for each query entered. In order to complete that goal, Google has to understand the search queries and to be able to match them with the appropriate content, even when the words of the search query are very different. In the past, Google’s algorithm was focused on matching user searches to the same webpage wording. Now, Google’s decided to take a slightly more sophisticated approach in trying to understand that actual context and search intent, and use it to deliver improved search results. That is why Google created RankBrain.  

RankBrain’s main purpose, according to Google, is to interpret queries that are very complex or just haven’t been seen before. Therefore, it converts the innumerable search words and keywords from Google Search, into quantitative figures that machines can understand and decipher. Instead of being pre-programmed and scripted, by using mathematical processes called vectors, plus additional advanced semantic processes, RankBrain learns people’s search patterns inference and then applies those interpretations to future search results.

Simply put, RankBrain is a system that aims to better understand search queries and give them meaning by identifying the real “user intent” and returning the best and most fitting results to the user.

Why is RankBrain important?

There are more than two trillion searches entered in Google yearly. And most of those searches are not limited to short phrases or a couple of words, but rather use full sentences such as, “What’s the best place to eat pizza in Napoli?  These searches cannot be effectively processed with an ordinary search algorithm. That’s why Google created RankBrain – a technology that studies and learns from the study – to learn from the search query and give more comprehensive results.  RankBrain avoids simply matching all words in the query and returning exact or filtering the nearest results related to the query.

At first, RankBrain processed around 15% of the searches, but now it is used to help with every search query.  Besides being able to process queries better and more accurately than before, there are several other ways in which RankBrain impacts search engines. In addition to faster query processing and increased optimization for search results, RankBrain is more relevant and user-friendly.  RankBrain is effective by learning from searches and drawing from offline phrases to understand more complex and long-tail keywords. 

How Does RankBrain Influence SEO?

It is well known that keywords play a crucial role in your website’s SEO, especially when you are creating content. So far, Google’s algorithm was able to identify the keywords in the page content and use them as a ranking factor. Now, Google has learned to identify great content, and keywords alone are not enough to get you high ranking. With RankBrain as part of the ranking equation, great content is more important than ever, and if you don’t provide great user experience, you lower your changes of ranking success.

The search ranking algorithm has also undergone major changes with the emergence of RankBrain. Before RankBrain, the algorithm produced constant search rankings until the next update. Now, we see constant updates of the ranking algorithm with fluctuating results to ensure better accuracy. Therefore, website owners, SEO consultants and content creators need to increase their versatility in content creation and keyword choice.

RankBrain employs AI technology to understand the user’s search intent and to determine what the user really wants. So instead of creating pages focused on a single keyword, it’s better to create content that targets the main keyword or phrase with related keywords and synonyms.

 

It is safe to conclude that RankBrain is changing the search landscape while helping users find what they are looking for easier and faster. From an SEO perspective, we can say that RankBrain is not something you can specifically optimize for in terms of ranking factors. RankBrain is a little bit different. According to Gary Illyes from Google, the only way to optimize your website for RankBrain is to simply optimize for natural language. And that might be a good thing because website owners will create web pages optimized for people, not machines, yielding quality results for users.

 

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Mobile-First SEO Planning and Strategies for Startups

Woman on mobile device looking for local listings

Startups often have issues gaining traction on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in general, so trying to make sense of the differences between desktop and mobile SEO can be painful. And, gaining real traction in search engine rankings and getting organic search traffic can feel impossible. There are so many sites that have had more time to tinker with their SEO, more time to produce high-quality content, and more time to build the links that drive the results. How do you even begin to think through your company’s SEO strategy for Mobile at that point?

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Holistic Content Marketing Helps All Marketing Channels

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Content is king. We’ve been hearing this for years, and, to this day it is still the truth. But, the type of content and mediums to promote it have been different and can vary. But, while I was working with one of our clients on marketing strategy, I realized how important it can be to their business.

I like to think about things holistically and how each channel helps each other. I’ve proven this method to work really well when put to use with clients, companies I’ve started, and/or advised. As an example, just creating an infographic doesn’t mean it’s going to drive traffic and awareness. But if you know people are searching for the information included, that bloggers want to use that content, etc. it could drive more than you even expected.

Having a holistic plan and more than just a single use for your content can be a huge win for the company. There are many ways this can work. If you’re an e-commerce company or retail business moving online, this can go a long way in terms of driving down your blended CPA.

As an example, you could be a retail or e-commerce company that sells a variety of name brands or major brands. You might be thinking of how to educate the customer on why they should be Gucci shoes over something like Steve Madden. You might want to do something like”Why high end brands are more cost effective than cheap ones in the long run.” (or something a long those lines). While putting the content together you could do some industry research about the longevity of a pair of high end shoes vs. a pair of cheap ones. Doing a full study and putting a few charts together would really help educate the customer.

What this also does is creates a relatable and personal feeling for your brand to the online shopper. Writing that post tells them you’re looking out for their best interest. Educating the customer here is really the goal and hopefully this post achieves that with the data and facts you’ve provided.

Along with educating the customer, they might have needed that last tip to just convert them to a new customer. Reading the content might have made them go “okay, im sold, I’m here, where do i buy them.” Another thing, assuming they aren’t ready to purchase just then would be to browse the site for more content or more products, to really validate the brand. Whatever the case, you’re providing a resource customers are interested in. Along with customers, bloggers and journalists could be interested in this, promoting this content could lead to multiple people writing about it citing your content.

They might not only be interested in it, they might actively be search for this. For example, I might be googling “steve madden vs gucci pricing” or many long tail variations of this. I might be really concerned about spending $500 on a pair of shoes vs. $79 and not truly understand the difference in the craftsmanship and quality. After understanding this, the customer could be sold (as mentioned above). The great part is, by creating this post, you’ve driven organic search traffic to your site and now you might have possibly converted that customer.

Okay fine, that might be a perfect world scenario, but, that isn’t the only way to convert them. There are two other methods that could potentially lead to a customer buying from you in a more cost efficient manner.

One of those is methods is retargeting. You just got a new user to visit your site through search traffic, them clicking a link in facebook, or a blog post that cites your content. Again, the key here is now this piece of content is already being used in many ways. But, now you’ve got a visitor to your site, that’s being retargeted and will be reminded of your products. Converting this customer over time will be way more cost effective than paying for Adwords or Facebook ad clicks. (that’s not to say we don’t want you to do them, we highly recommend it as well.)

Finally using this content to help email marketing efforts is just another method to help drive new conversions, as well as repeat revenue from existing customers. The first and simplistic thing you can do is have an email / newsletter sign up on your site. The person that came to the site might be so interested in the insightful piece of content you created that they might be interested in more content from you. Also, if they get to site and they find the content interesting but don’t take any action, you can have a modal window (aka pop up) appear on the site that could catch their attention, a service like Picreel will achieve this for you. Here is an example of how we’ve used it on David Kind‘s Blog (p.s. they are one of my favorite companies!):

picreel-signup-david-kind

Now that they have signed up, you can continue to market to them over email through a welcome series, newsletter series, and continue to promote content, the brands, offers, etc. from your company.

Speaking of that newsletter, the blog post you created, we’re coming back to it here because you might have customers that didn’t know the difference or would be interested in it. Or people who have signed up to the newsletter or welcome series that have yet to convert. You can highlight this content (or any other content you create, for that matter) within this newsletter and yet again use it to you drive a new conversion or repeat revenue from existing customers.

Finally, using services like Taboola or Outbrain, you can use this content and promote it using low cost advertising on a variety of content sites that might be relevant to your brand. An example of this is companies like Harry’s or Dollar Shave Club, who I see all the time when I’m reading about one of my beloved Chicago Sports teams. Here’s an example of how they use the ads to drive customer awareness and also new customer acquisition:

dollar-shave-club-harrys-taboola-ads

With all the methods we just listed above, you just drove down your blended CPA. All of this was done with one single piece of content used across various channels and mediums.

Now, I know that was a lot to cover, but, think about it. The possibilities are endless with content. So you should be mapping it out and creating an entire content strategy for your business and not just creating blog posts for the sake of creating them. Think about all the different ways you can use this content to drive new traffic, new users, new conversions, new leads, etc.

Visible Factors is always here to help when you need a Content Marketing Strategy for your company. And, we’d love to hear your thoughts about content marketing below in the comments.

SEO Made Simple

SEO Made Simple: 7 Tips for Small Businesses

Whether you’ve started a new website or have an existing business and are looking to get some eye balls to it, SEO can be a challenging task. And, couple that with the fact there are over a billion sites on the internet, we know it can seem overwhelming. The truth is though, optimizing your site for search engines is really simpler than it seems. We’ve put together a list of simple, helpful, and promising steps for your site to get the most traffic possible from search engines.

Target the RIGHT People

As you probably know by now, targeting the right audience (people) is a key part of this process. It may be easy to decide on a target audience, but make sure your website is tailored to target the right people too. This means including potential search keywords or phrases here and there and making it easy for people to find you. 

Take advantage of people who are actively searching for your topics. Make their job easy! If they’re searching for you, they probably won’t be using general keywords but rather they’ll be looking for you by using relatively unique keywords. For example, let’s say you’re a dentist in Scottsdale, Arizona. You may not be able to rank for “Scottsdale dentist” immediately, but you could rank for “Dr. Adam Smith, Scottsdale, AZ” or “Adam Smith Dentistry”. It’s always good to start with the basics. Just knowing people can find your business by your brand or company name is just as important. Over time, by continuing to add content to your site, and you become more of an “authority” in Google’s eyes, you’ll start to find you will be driving traffic for those keywords like “scottsdale denstist”. 

Know What Search Engines Like

Search Engines work to give users the most relevant results based on their search. So how do you make sure you’re relevant? There are some 4 factors that can influence how your site shows up in results. Content, Authority, User Experience, and Performance. Content: does the actual text, titles, and descriptions on the page match a searcher’s results? Authority: is your site good enough to be used as a reference by other sites? User Experience: Is your site easy to use and safe? Performance: Does your site have proper speed and functionality?

Make Your Site User-Friendly

Make pages designed for users, not search engines! This is called cloaking and will deceive your users. Although you want your site to appeal to search engines, users should of course be your primary concern. Don’t go making your pages so optimized that users will have a bad experience.

Do Your Keyword Research

Imagine you’re a potential consumer searching for a site like yours. What would they Google to find you? Test it out yourself! If there’s a term or phrase people may search to find you, Google it and see if your site comes up.

If you search something vague like “Scottsdale dentist” you may find sites with headlines using that specific phrase but bare in mind that it took them a while to get to that rank.

So choose a search that is easier to rank on. If you search “Adam Smith Dentistry,” chances are that there will be fewer results because no other listings use the same keywords. This means you have a great chance to rank for them by making just a couple simple changes to your website!

You can use Google’s Keyword Planner to find out what people are searching for and use that to your advantage when you start implementing these tips. And, you can take a look at how we do seo keyword research to help you come up with more keywords to show up for.

Optimize Title Tags

In case you aren’t familiar, Title Tags are the title of a page that show up in the blue at the top of a browser. They are often overlooked, but are really a critical part to SEO. We tend to think it’s the most important part of what is on the page, from an SEO perspective.

A good rule of thumb is to include one keyword and a couple descriptive phrases that explain the page. For example, a bio page on Adam Smith Dentistry could include a title tag like “Dr. Adam Smith: treating patients in Scottsdale, AZ since 1980.”

You may not be getting a ton of traffic from these words specifically but you’ll show up for people searching those terms.

Optimize File Names

Considering there are more than just one ranking factor, search engines don’t just look at title tags and rank your site. URLs and file names are another opportunity to create relevance on your website. 

All it takes is some identification of a theme or focus of a particular page. For instance, someone may be searching “patient testimonials” on your site. Name the page “yourwebsite.com/patient-testimonials/” and use a photo named “patient-testimonials.jpg.”

Be sure to keep it short and simple so it will be easy to remember for users and relevant for search engines. For more specific and long tail content, you might have a page about teeth cleaning and whitening. In that example you could use “yourwebsite.com/teeth-cleaning-whitening/” for the URL.

This should give you a good frame of reference for your pages going forward. 

Content Optimization and Keyword Targeting

After choosing your title tags and filenames, add those same keywords throughout the content of the pages on your site. The key is, you want it to be subtle. Use natural language and avoid awkward phrases or obvious SEO and keyword stuffing. At the end of the day, we want readers to maintain their interest rather than be annoyed with unnecessary repetition.

Take advantage of the headlines and subheaders to add in important references to keywords that important to that specific page. For example, above we talked about teeth cleaning for our URL example. On that page you could have headers that contain “Teeth Cleaning” and “Teeth Whitening” to target those keyphrases on the site. 

Then, you can start inserting those types of keywords throughout the copy of the page and the website as a whole. Remember though, the key is keeping the user interest as well.

Add Meta Tags

Meta Tags like the “meta description” are important as well. Sure, they no longer carry as much weight as they did in the past, but they still have some importance. They’re good to have and just a checkbox to make sure you’re doing everything you can to help your website get found.

The Meta Description typically won’t help with rankings, but they can affect your traffic. What we mean here is that this is the first thing people see (along with the title tag) in Google when they see your brand. The key is writing it to entice people to click on your website over the 10 other blue links in Google’s search results. Be unique, intriguing, and focus on the reader. Use benefit-rich texts that will trigger someone to say “Yes I found the perfect site!”

You’ll only have about 150 characters to use but there’s still a chance to make a big impact with small and simple words.

Now you may be thinking that there is so much more to SEO. And you’re right! But this is a great way to get started optimizing your site by only spending a little bit of time overall and about ten minutes per page. These small changes can get you in the right direction and help people find you. And, who knows, you might even be able to get a customer or two in the near term!

Should I use the Canonical Tag or 301 Redirect to change domains?

At SMX West, Adam Audette mentioned that he had some success with the canonical tag and that in some cases he noticed that the canonical tag had been much more effective. It stuck in my head for a few months and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to test this out. Also, at SMX West, I talked about some of the gains that we saw because of finally implementing the canonical tag the right way. Trust me, it took a few tries to get it right!

As it turns out, I’ve been moving my personal blog to the Visible Factors blog and added a thoughts section on tonyadam.com, just to separate things a bit. (I know, that itself was a lot to digest!). But, before I 301 redirected the entire /blog/ section, I realized, “Oh! Perfect opportunity to test out the canonical tag.” So, I took two articles and implemented a cross domain canonical tag on one and a standard 301 redirect on the other. And, I was honestly shocked at the results. The test included two posts that I get a decent amount of traffic for. tweeting the post, and updating the posts in wordpress, basically, with the intention of forcing a crawl.

Cross Domain Canonical Tag vs. 301 Redirect Test:

For the cross domain canonical tag test, I took my post on Keyword Research and wanted to add the canonical tag for the post on visiblefactors.com. The 301 redirect test was based on my post on determining business development opportunities and I added a 301 redirect to the .htaccess file on tonyadam.com to permanently redirect that post. At that time, I went through the test, step by step.

Implementation of Canonical Tag and 301 redirect:

Cross Domain Canonical Tag:

I also implemented a 301 redirect on tonyadam.com:

redirect 301 /blog/508-find-and-close-business-development-opportunities/ http://visiblefactors.com/blog/2010/03/17/find-and-close-business-development-opportunities/

As of Saturday here was the rankings in SERPs:

SEO Keyword Research:

Business Development Opportunities:

Then I updated the posts in WordPress and posted a tweet on Saturday:

Tweet for canonical tag test:

Tweet for 301 redirect test:

Finally, as of Wednesday morning, here were the results in SERPs:

SEO Keyword Research:

Business Development (as of today):

Which should I implement?:

As you can see, the test proved Adam’s comments at SMX West about the canonical tag seeming like it was more effective instantly. The post on keyword research was updated in SERPs and seems to be more effective at updated the SERPs instantly. If that’s your goal, I would use the cross domain canonical tag implementation to get that done. It seems like it is the clear cut winner as the other post still hasn’t updated in the SERPs.

At the same time, I’ll be implementing a 301 redirect because I want my entire blog directory to be moved for all traffic to get redirected, etc. The test has shown me though that the cross-domain canonical tag is extremely effective. Especially in situation where you have identical content on two domains and you’d like to condense equity, but, both sites still need to stay up.

I’ll be running larger tests if possible over the next couple months and if possible share these results, but, if you’ve seen examples, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

Facebook Like Button: Now with Meta Data and Thumbnails

Well, it turns out that Facebook has included all of the meta data and thumbnail info for the like button around the web. This is great news for publishers as it gives the content that we and/or our users “like” more visibility in the Facebook stream. Along with that, it will likely greatly reduce the clutter that we see from around the web with share implementations, many publishers still have the facebook share and like button on their site. Time to clean up your UI!

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