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SEO, What You Need To Know (Part 3 of 3)

2 Apr

Part 3: Getting social about SEO

Today, a successful website is all about making connections.

If you aren’t including social media / web participation in your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) processes you won’t be getting the full benefits of either.

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Bring Your Customers Together

Why?

Because social media is all about sharing.

People vote, comment and most importantly, link (a fundamental part of SEO) to what engages and interests them. This linking is literally lead generation for your business.

When those links are inbound to your web pages, you’ll do better on search engine rankings and get a lot more traffic to your site.

With careful planning and a set goal, SEO with Social Media can be a powerful tool in your marketing strategy, especially as an active component to content marketing.

This means creating SEO optimised content that truly connects with your audience, that engages them in such a way that they want (if not need) to share the experience with others.

It is not about content that directly ‘sells’ but that does influence the reader’s thinking in that direction.

And once you have everyone sharing, talking and visiting your site, your chances of converting visitors to customers is greatly enhanced.

To achieve this you need a two-step strategy:

  1. An overall SEO / Social Media framework
  2. A direct way to set it up and get working

FIRST: Establish your Framework:

  •  Identify / get your audience
    • Do your research and fully define who they are, where they are, and what they want.
    • One way to help do this is by using social media monitoring software such as Salesforce Radian6.
  • Define your objectives and strategy
    • Be clear about what you want to achieve. How you work towards more sales will be different to how you work towards enhancing your brand.
    • Look at the best ways of doing that through optimised content and interaction.
    • Organise a framework of connected social media sites that encourages easy sharing and proactive promotion.
  • Get connected
    • Where does your target audience spend its time online, which social media is most used?
    • Link them all up.
  • Optimise with SEO
  • Measure your goals
    • Look at social media and web analytic tools.

SECOND: Get to work:

Once you have a set framework established, it’s all about the day-to-day business of connecting with your audience.

Here are a few steps to help you on your way:

  • Register with the most relevant and major social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
    • They’re where your audience is and by being on them you build credibility with search engines.
  • Display your social media ‘share’ buttons on every relevant page of your websites and blogs (remembering every time a user clicks on them improves your credibility and ranking), for example:
    • Facebook users will “like” your page and their friends will see that
    • You can also use a ‘catch all’ service such as: http://share.lockerz.com/
  •  Display your social media ‘connect’ buttons (as above)
    • Visitors can then directly follow your Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, etc. within their preferred social media channel rather than always revisitting your site.
  • Develop your content and distribute it across all of them
    • Make it new, interesting and relevant
    • Optimise it for SEO
    • Publish a lot of it
    • Encourage comments and respond to them
  • Build an ‘opt-in’ email list for direct marketing campaigns
  • Promote, promote and promote your posts
    • Syndicate them across all of your social channels
    • Comment on blogs (with links back to your site)
    • Participate in forums
    • Send out press releases
    • etc.
  • Take the time, a lot of time, to do it right.

Once all the pieces are in place, you can better connect with your audience, achieve higher search engine rankings, and cost-effectively promote your business by having your own customers do (a fair bit of) the work for you.

By combining SEO with your Social Media strategy, the benefits are virtually unlimited.

Click here to read part 1 and here to read part 2.

Author:  Paul Treleaven

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SEO, what you need to know (Part 2 of 3)

26 Mar

Part 2: How exactly does SEO work?

SEO is a process to help increase visitors to your website (using organic ((natural or un-paid)) search results) via the listings on search engines. Each results list shows and ranks content on what it considers most relevant and/or important to users.

How to get up the search ranks?

How to get up the search ranks?

This ranking is achieved by two main factors, what is On-Page and what is Off-Page.

  • On Page SEO is anything that can be done ‘on the page’ to optimise its relevancy. So good titles, descriptions and appropriate key words.
  • Off Page SEO is basically ‘link building’; where a large effort is made to have links come back to your site and help build its reputation.

All combining to help ensure your site is at its optimum when ‘scanned’ by a search engine, which uses complex algorithms to search (and index) each web page for specific content including:

  • Words (keywords). Each search engine scans every word in your website to help produce results. For example, if your site contains the word ‘holiday’ and someone searches for ‘holiday’ the search engine will then list websites that contain that word.
  • Titles. You won’t often see them as they are in your web pages’ code, e.g: <title>Europe’s Best Holidays</title> but they are very important as they provide a quick and descriptive summary of the page.
  • Links. Each link between web pages can be seen as one ‘recommending’ another page to users. So if one page has a lot of links to it that will look good to a search engine.
  • Words in links. By linking a specific word or phrase that is relevant to the link, the search engine will connect those words with the site. For example, if you have a hyperlink ‘travel Germany’ that links to ‘EuropeanHolidays.com’, the search engine will better rate ‘EuropeanHolidays.com’ on any search result that looks for ‘travel’ and ‘Germany’.
  • Reputation. This is all about producing consistently fresh, engaging content and higher numbers of quality links, which rate higher in search engine algorithms and are then deemed ‘more important’ to users.

When the above is done right, your website can rank higher in search results, which means more people see your site.

So what elements can you use to help your site rank better?

  •  Keywords
    • These are any words and phrases that are unique to each page and the product, theme, etc, and which you believe your customers are searching for. It can also be best to ignore keywords that are too generic as they will get lost amongst all the online ‘noise’, for example,  instead of the too generic ‘widget’, use a more descriptive element such as ‘acrylic self-binding widget’.
    • Keywords are what you will / should design your site around.
  • Metadata and metatags
    • Once your keywords are selected, it’s time to customise and make unique the metadata (embedded descriptive information) on every page.
    • Metadata is coded into what are termed ‘metatags’.
    • The more ‘generic’ and ‘same’ metadata you use the more a search engine will give you a worse ranking.
    •  Metatag example:
      • <meta name=”description” content=”Metatags and SEO.”>
      • <meta name=”keywords” content=”metadata, metatags, SEO, web design, resources, HTML authoring”>

TOP TIP: Keep metatags simple and concise as some search engines ignore long descriptions and too many keywords. They may even rank you lower if you repeat a keyword too often. With this in mind, prioritize the most important keywords first in any list as a search engine may only read a specific amount of keywords.

  • Content and New Content
    • The old saying that ‘content is king’ is absolutely true. That’s why you should keep it as unique and as updated as you can. It’s also better on average to have more on each page than less.
    • Always do your best to add new content – and link it within your own site – as much as possible, this gives search engines another reason to come back and rescan your site.
  • Link Building
    • Perhaps the hardest, most time-consuming part of the SEO process, link building is all about establishing inbound links from other sites. The more sites that link directly to your site the better, as the search engine ‘assumes’ an importance to the site being linked to.
    • It is also best to have links coming from sites that have similar keywords to yours, so a site about ‘bread’ that links back to your ‘bread’ page will be seen as more relevant and therefore better rated.

AND A WARNING: Spamming.

When a keyword is used repeatedly it is called ‘metatag spamming’ or ‘keyword loading’ (specifically when you use irrelevant words such as ‘sex’ or ‘porn’ that you feel will increase traffic to your site) and a search engine can penalize you for it. You should also be careful about using someone else’s trademark.

Additional spamming methods to avoid include: hidden links or hidden text, duplicate content on multiple pages, intentional misspelling of web site names and popular keywords, and using link farms.

By helping to ensure your site is accessible to, and optimized for, a search engine (including Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.), SEO can help your site obtain higher-ranking placement in search result pages.

But keep in mind:

Search engines constantly change their algorithms and this means what works one day may not work the next. Good SEO has to keep up with these changes.

SEO may not be appropriate to your site and you may achieve more by looking at other marketing strategies.

When it comes to SEO, it is impossible to guarantee the 1st spot. If any SEO specialist says they can, be skeptical.

But when SEO is done right and inline with your overall marketing strategy, with accurate research, quality content and strong link building, the benefits to your business can be significant.

Author: Paul Treleaven

Find part 1 of this article here. Visit soon to read Part 3: SEO and Social Media!

SEO, What You Need To Know (Part 1 of 3)

21 Mar

Part 1: Why You Need Good SEO

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Not sure if you need SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)?

Not even sure what it’s all about?

Well, let’s look at it this way… when you use a search engine to find a product or service, how do you feel about the top ten results?

Odds are you see them as being ‘the best’.  Why else would they be ranked so highly?

The next question, of course, is how do you feel about the following pages (and pages and pages) of results?

If you rarely look beyond the first four pages, you’re not alone.

Studies show that the majority of people don’t look beyond the first few pages, while the majority of clicks are within the top 10 results. An Optify study showed that the website ranked first received an average click-through rate of 36.4 per cent with the second receiving 12.5 per cent and the third 9.5 per cent. Out of all the thousands of links, the top three alone accounted for nearly 60% of all clicks.

While these percentages will naturally change, it’s clear that if your site isn’t listed in the top 10 to 20, odds are you’re not getting as many online visitors as you could.

This is not to say that a successful website must be in the top ranking results, it simply means your site is easier to find and that it stands out amongst the competition.

Basically, ‘how’ people view search engine results is quickly changing.

Rankings are increasingly seen as being more about ‘reputation’ than a simple list of ‘related’ sites that contain the word you searched for.

TOP TIP: Today, most search engine algorithms actually rank words in context. Simply having the word ‘bread’ listed dozens of times no longer ensures you rank highly; it has to be better integrated into the pages overall content.

People now expect that the sites (brands) at the top of search results to be the leading brands. And that means the top listed sites are the ones that get clicked.

But such perceptions of quality aren’t necessarily true.

And this is where ‘good’ SEO comes in. Each site that ranks highest has used a variety of SEO techniques to help increase rankings, traffic and, hopefully, conversion.

This is the true strength of SEO and why it’s something you cannot ignore.

To read part 2, click here.

Author: Paul Treleaven

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