Content, Schmontent; Does Google really mean it?

Much has been written about Google’s Panda and Penguin updates so I won’t spend time exploring how the game has been changing for SEO’s. The bottom line is that the pendulum appears to be swinging back to the early days of SEO where quality on-site content and optimization have become more relevant to achieving top rankings. If you’re like me you are probably bored to death reading every article in an SEO-related trade magazine discussing how important quality content is. But alas I’ve conceded these people probably know a lot more than I do so to prove this I’m sharing with you an example of a success story with my own Ecommerce site, BraceAbility.com, which shows what a difference focusing on-site can make these days with minimal investment.

For a good overview of algorithm changes and the details behind them SEOMoz has a great Google Algorithm Change History page to check out.

BACKGROUND ON BRACEABILITY

To step back for a minute; BraceAbility sells high end orthopedic braces and supports. I just acquired the business a few months ago but it was just launched in the fall of 2011 so Google doesn’t have a long history with the site. The link profile is growing but I’ve found that a site typically needs a good couple of year’s history with Google to rank broadly across a wide spectrum of keywords and links need to age to show their true value. Prior to Panda and Penguin you could combat that disability of a new domain by sheer volume of links. Content on the site barely mattered. My mini-case study shows on-site content does matter now and how perhaps this is how we combat the disabilities of a new domain now.

ANKLE SUPPORTS CASE STUDY

I recently optimized our Ankle Supports category page and got some amazing initial results. In the 8 days following the optimization our page views grew nearly 178% over the week prior and more importantly revenue was up 140%.

 

OPTIMIZATION PROCESS

The optimization was a straightforward process and took just a couple hours time. It’s a simple formula I’ve been using for some time now that has worked consistently.

TITLE TAG: Yep, this is still most important. I used the most relevant and most searched keywords (in this case 4) that would fit in the 70 character limit for proper display on the search results page.

META DESCRIPTION: Although this doesn’t have any direct impact on your rankings it does impact your click through rate and bounce rate which Google has publicly stated is now taken into account for rankings. Stick to facts and a quick tip is to see what your competitors are saying and say something different. Whatever sets you apart from them in a consumer’s mind.

But don’t optimize just for clicks. Make sure you are getting clicks that will convert otherwise that pesky bounce rate may get you.

H1 TAG: In our case the H1 tag for our Magento store is the name of the category. Again, I focused on the most relevant and highly searched terms but I had to keep it shorter than the title tag so it wouldn’t wrap around to the next line on the page and push the products down further.

URL: Same rules as the Title and H1 tag but this can be longer and a little more keyword rich. Keep in mind though that Google states they will be imposing penalties on people with “stuffed” URL’s so make sure they are relevant and not too long. In my case I used the same 4 keywords as I used in the title. As a general rule having your title tag, H1 tag, and URL match is good practice for reinforcing keyword relevance. And don’t forget to use a 301 redirect from your old URL to the new.

Page Content: Last but not least is content on the page. For category pages I follow a practice of it being 600+ words. The content can be utilized to reinforce your primary keywords via H2 tags but can also be used to work in all your longer tail terms and less searched but also less competitive terms. The closer the longer tail terms are to the top of the hierarchy on your site the more likely you are to rank for them. I also use the content section to deep link into sub- categories or to specific products as long as they are relevant to what you are saying. The most important thing about the content is that it teaches the reader something. In fact, I tell my writers that if they are teaching me something about the products then they are on the right track. You’ll know if you hit the mark if your bounce rate goes down and time on site goes up.

So there you have it a simple, inexpensive, and Google-friendly way to boost traffic and engagement for your site. And best of all it’s a permanent change that becomes part of your site equity helps your brand stand out in the eyes of your visitors. I’d love to hear your ideas though too. Anything I missed or suggestions for how to make my page better? Am I full of it? Please leave a comment.

Author Bio: Shaun is the Owner and CEO of the Ecommerce site BraceAbility.com and a self-professed SEO geek. He’s been making a living doing SEO in one form or another since 2005 and plans to continue doing it as long as Google will let him.

SEO Bad Habits to Avoid

SEO is a term that yields no fewer than 938 million results in Google – the mind melts to think of the levels of optimisation that must be needed to appear at the top of that list and beat Wikipedia!

The staggering number of SEO advice sites, consultants and agencies can be daunting for companies looking to do it themselves or who suspect they may need to refine their existing SEO campaign.

SEO is not a simple subject – you’ll find thousands of blogs and advice articles on all the different aspects of optimisation – how often, how much, how much time (and money) to spend, who can help, what to do and when.

So, where to start? Start with the considering the ‘why’, i.e. “Why do I need SEO? My business is doing just fine.” To help you understand why you need SEO, we’ve put together this list of bad habits to avoid in your SEO campaign.

Bad Habit #1: Ignoring SEO

Not sure where to start with SEO and wonder if you can do without it? It’s easy to treat SEO as the elephant in the room, but it’s very likely that your competitors aren’t. Take a look at who appears above you in Google search for your keywords, I bet you they have an active SEO campaign in place.

Do your research online to keep up with current trends, and consider training to learn the basics or make sure what you’re doing is right. Here at Silicon Beach we get plenty of people on our SEO courses who want to know if it’s really worth it, whether they should keep paying out to their agency, or who want to refine their efforts so what they’re doing works and isn’t harming their site.

A good course will be a two-way interaction with personalised advice and tips to get you on your way. Baby steps are ok, especially because what works for one company may not work for you. You have to start somewhere – you can’t just ignore it – so start with the basics of SEO and grow from there. SEO is never going to go away, so you better start embracing it!

Bad Habit #2: Getting Bogged Down

Your SEO strategy will break down if you focus on just one part of the process. Search engine optimisation depends on all kinds of factors; quality of your site, keyword frequency and placement, social signals, incoming links and the reliability of the sites you link to, to name just a few. All of these factors need careful time and effort.

It’s no longer enough to stuff your content with keywords and buy 1000’s of backlinks – two of the most frequent bad habits we still see! Companies who get bogged down with one part of the process at the expense of the rest soon find they are wasting their time – there are no short cuts, and no single quick fix for SEO success.

Bad Habit #3: Living in the Dark Ages of SEO

SEO changes all the time. You can’t stick with the same short term strategies and expect them to keep working. Think long term and think quality. When your competitors get booted for spammy tactics, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Those who haven’t moved on from keyword stuffing & spammy links are now being penalised for the detriment to usability thanks to the introduction of readability and value-focused updates to the Google algorithm in recent years.

Bad Habit #4: Forgetting the Big Picture

SEO is only one part of the process to get the sales, views or enquiries that your business depends on. There’s no doubt that your website must be SEO-friendly, but it must also be usable, reader-focused and your product must be engaging or sellable.

Being number one in organic search results for your keywords will mean nothing if your visitors do not turn into conversions. Even the best planned and executed optimisation campaign means nothing without a good product or service at the centre of it.

Bad Habit #5: Keeping the Spotlight on Google Only

Yes, Google is the biggest web search engine, but each of the others has its own advantages and fans willing to sing about why its methods are more valid. Development in new ways to search such as SIRI (a voice activated search service for the iPhone) mean that SEO is likely to be turned on its toes over the next few years, and it will be up to Google to maintain its usability and relevance.

This goes back to the point about quality. No matter how people are finding your site you want to turn them into sales, so build something great then think about getting people there. Don’t compromise quality for a quick win in Google as you will suffer in other areas.

Your marketing strategy should include attention to expert SEO blogs and news sites so you know how much time to focus on your Google SEO and how much on other search engines and new search technologies. Google may be the cool kid at school who gets all the attention and has all the influence, but we all know how quickly popularity can wane.

Bad Habits 1-5 Altogether = Complacency

The SEO ‘mistakes’ that can affect your rankings are very rarely one-off errors. Focus instead on avoiding bad habits – which means close monitoring of your progress and that of your competitors, and learning from each mistake you make or you see made by others. Bad habits such as those above are what will drag you down the rankings, and all the bad habits above can be easily summarised as complacency.

Getting all the strands together and performing can be tough and, once you’ve got it sussed, keeping it going may be tougher. Keep reading, researching, learning and evolving. As the complicated world of SEO grows and evolves, so should you.

Aaron Charlie has the mammoth task of trying to increase the rankings for all 200 of Silicon Beach Training‘s courses. Their SEO workshops teach you techniques that won’t come back to bite you in future.

Internet Marketing: Is It For You Or Not?

If you are someone who is looking to work from home, Internet marketing may be the career you have been looking for. There are several different ways you can earn a living at home through Internet marketing such as providing SEO services, being an affiliate marketer and promoting various products, monetizing websites with Google AdSense, or blogging about a topic and selling ad space. Each money making method can provide you with the freedom you desire by allowing you to work whenever you want from wherever you want. Searching online job boards such as SimplyHired.com, Craigslist, and LinkUp.com is a great way to find work at home jobs.

 Set Goals

When working from home, it is important to set goals for yourself. This includes both short term and long term goals. By setting goals for yourself, you can track your progress on the way to your end goal of making enough money to support your family while working from home. It can be very easy to become distracted when working at home. If you do not have goals in place, you may find yourself working on too many projects at once and will become overwhelmed during the process. This can lead to fatigue and drain your will to work hard.

When setting your goals, you need to set realistic goals. This will help you stay motivated as you will feel good about yourself and your progress when you reach each short term goal. When you feel good about the work you are doing, you will be more likely to continue to work hard and achieve success within the Internet marketing industry.

 Persistence is Key

One reason why many people do not succeed in the Internet marketing industry is because they lack the persistence required to make it in this field. It is inevitable that you will fail when you first start trying to make money online. If you are unwilling to learn from your mistakes and do not keep plugging away, there is no way you will be able to make a living working from home. As long as you do not get discouraged when one of your marketing ideas does not work, you should not have a problem succeeding in the long term once you do find a successful money making idea.

Some of the best inventors in history failed several times over before they had a breakthrough and finished their invention. If you know that you are more than likely to fail at first while you get over the learning curve associated with Internet marketing, you will be less likely to quit and therefore have a better chance of achieving your dream of working from home.

Stay Organized

Organization skills are extremely important when working from as an Internet marketer. Setting aside an area of your home to use as your work station will help you keep all of your notes in one place so you can easily find them when you are working. Having a small work area will also help you separate your personal life from your work. It can be difficult to get things done if you are tempted by a television. Working a quiet area of your home will help you stay focused on your daily tasks.

Also, creating daily and weekly to-do lists will help keep you organized and on track to complete all of your goals. Once you start outsourcing some of your work, you will need to be very organized to ensure you stay on top of your independent contractors and that they complete their assigned tasks in a timely fashion.

While everyone is tempted by the allure of working from home, the truth of the matter is that Internet marketing is not for everyone. However, if you are persistent, have the ability to set goals, and can stay extremely organized, you can earn a comfortable living from your home through Internet marketing.

Maintaining a website for http://www.newyorkstatedivorce.com, Richard has learned a lot about wordpress, internet marketing, SEO, and many other things. He is happy to share it with you in any way he can.

Five MORE Tips You Need to Create a Great Local Business Blog

Here are five more tips to ensure your new or existing local business blog is effectively engaging your target audience and keeps them coming back for more.

Post more than just articles.
Your blog should be creative and interesting. As such, you want your content to be more than just articles. Like most of your readers, you probably enjoy a bit of variety in the content you read. Consider adding infographics to share a new piece of information, or create a ‘how-to’ article for a common issue your customers have.

Encourage your readers to comment and create content.
A “conversation” between several people is much more interesting than a one sided conversation by a post’s author. Remember to ask for feedback from your readers and when they provide it make them feel welcome and needed. If your readers need a little prodding in order to get the comment, consider doing a give-away of a new or favorite customer product or service.

See what is working for blogging writers writing about your topics and industry.
Look for great conversation starting on established bloggers in your field. Take note of the topic which is sparking conversation. Do you have information to add? Go ahead and respond on the blog, but also consider creating a follow up post on your blog to address the comments and questions raised. Your wise advice may help begin to cement you as a knowledgeable online information source on your blog topic. Remember, this is one key thing you’d like to achieve so always be on the lookout for ways to accomplish it!

Consider incorporating videos.
One great way to help your blog readers/viewer connect with your local business and its brand is by creating unique video content.  If you’re launching a new product soon consider creating a video demonstrating it for your customers. Or, perhaps instead of writing a ‘how-to’ post, create a ‘how-to’ video. Of course, also place any video you create on You-Tube, Pinterest, Facebook, or any other appropriate social media your local business has a presence on.  Through this approach not only will you be creating value for your customers, you’ll also be driving engagement between your blog and the social media platforms you utilize.

Solve your customer’s / reader’s problems.
What problems do your local business customers and/or blog readers come to your business seeking resolution? If you know this piece of information, you have a gold mine of information for your blog posts. Respond to these questions and issues, and you are sure to engage your readers!

So you have blogging tips that have worked well for your local business blog, or anything you think should be added to this list? We’d love to hear about your ideas and experiences below!

Chris Marentis is an expert in the field of local business marketing. Through his company Surefire Social, Chris leverages website development, search engine optimization and social media marketing to generate leads and boost local businesses.

Infographic: How Big is Apple, Really?

Although Apple is one of the biggest technology companies in the world today, their financial history has been a mix of ups and downs. In fact, before Steve Jobs returned in 1996, Apple almost went bankrupt and was bailed out by none other than Bill Gates.

However, their downhill financial battle has been put behind them. Today, Apple is the textbook business school example of how to run a company as efficiently and productively as possible. By keeping their costs low and their profits high, Apple has been able to enjoy unrivaled success with the few products they’ve released IPhones alone make almost half of their revenues and every time a new product or update is released, it is backordered before it even hits shelves. With higher revenues than the GDP of most countries, Apple isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Just how big is Apple? With $508 billion in revenues, it’s safe to say Apple is big enough.

Source: Best Computer Science Degrees