7 SEO Mistakes with your Online Marketing

Business

Business (Photo credits: www.roadtrafficsigns.com)

All the small businesses know they need more marketing and most know they need good SEO – not make SEO mistakes.  Some people have a healthy size of SEO for breakfast each day – and if you do, you probably know all the marketing mistakes we’re going to outline?

How many Marketing/SEO mistakes do you know?

  1. No website, or if you do have one – it’s not crawlable by the search engines. Sometimes it takes a tick in the wrong box in the dashboard of your site to block the search engines.  Local SEO is super important to small business success today.
  2. No sitemap. Another simple, yet crucial thing – search engines want to crawl your site, and the best way is to give them a list of all the links they can use.  There are a number of good plugins which can help if you are using wordpress.
  3. You’re not including the right words on the page, we call them keywords. Google reads text to know what your site is about. What are the visitors more likely to type when they need to find a business like yours? Also, describe what you do, your mission, product, services, and so on.  This is an SEO mistake many people make, but is really a basic task – and remember, only one keyword per page.
    (Learn more about SEO and keywords)
  4. No title and meta-description on your pages. This follows the same principle of the previous point: Google wants to know immediately what the page is about by the title, possibly in 70 characters maximum, so make it descriptive and interesting. That’s where your marketing actually begins, and it’s especially true for the home page. Same for the description of the page: make it interesting so that users will click on your page and not on the ones higher in the rankings.
    (Learn more about title tags)
  5. You’re thinking in terms of link building and not in terms of marketing and promotion. Links are important, we all know that, but the more you rely on search engine traffic, the more you are exposing your business to future algorithm changes. Think in terms on marketing instead: build your brand and get in touch with the off-line world as well.
  6. Are you using resources for webmaster. It’s very easy to get lost in SEO, but even if you’re not a professional, you should still stay up-to-date with what is happening in the online world. Both Google and Bing have webmaster tools.  Stay away from information overload, but keep on learning.
  7. Lastly is an old favorite with a new twist – participating in conversation within your community. Your site is about you and your business, but don’t forget the community of people in your industry out there. Engage with them and give value, it will pay off in the long run.

 

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Basic SEO – DIY SEO for free

English: Tools

English: Tools (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you manage a site or a blog, you probably received at least one email from an SEO company, offering you their services. But do you really need an SEO professional? If you never did any optimization on your site before, here’s the good news: there are a couple of important DIY SEO  tweaks you can do yourself – for free.  It will help your site be the most search engine-friendly it can be.

Let’s look at them in detail.

Title tag

This is the single most important factor of on-page optimization. If you are on the home page of your site with a browser like Firefox or Safari, the title tag is the text appearing at the very top, sometimes in the tab of the open page. If you look at the HTML of the page, it’s the text between the <title></title> markers.

In the Home page, the title tag is the first thing that search engines get to know about your site when they crawl it, so it has to describe what it is about in an accurate and natural way. Remember however, that only 70 characters are normally displayed in search results, so you will need ability to wordsmith it to come up with something short, descriptive and appealing.

Products page. Take a look now at the title tag of your products page: is it the same as the home page? If that’s the case, it needs to be changed. Again, search engines use the title tag to figure out what the page is about and they assume that each one has different content, hence different titles are required. To sum up: when it comes to title tags, duplicates are frowned upon, and the more specific the better. If you find it difficult to come up with a detailed title for your products page, chances are that you need to further divide them into sub-categories, and this brings us to the next important SEO factor.

More info about Title Tags on our SEO FAQ’s page.

Site structure

Search engines like sites with simple and linear structures. The assumption is: if they are easy to crawl for them, they’re easy to browse for the visitors, and user experience is paramount. As a good rule of thumb (given by Google) for DIY SEO, each page of your site should be no more than three clicks away from your Home page.  Figure it out by laying out your sitemap on paper or a mind mapping tool.

The mother of all sitemaps?

The mother of all sitemaps? (Photo credit: hungrybrowser)

Sitemap

Whenever the structure of your site makes it difficult to search engines to craw all the pages, then a sitemap will do the trick. Simply put, it’s a list of all the pages of your website: once you have it in place, the search engine will easily find every single piece of content. Especially for WordPress users, sitemaps can be easily generated and updated with the use of specific plugins.  (Leave us your favorite in the comments.)

Meta descriptions

Search results are always displayed with a description right underneath the link. These short summaries are called meta descriptions, and are the first thing users look at, when they decide if the link is worth clicking or not. Although they’re not a ranking factor (and Google will not necessarily show them in search results), if compelling and clear, meta descriptions will likely boost your click-through rate.

Use SEO Mofo’s SERP tool to check what your meta will look like in Google.

Images

Whether you sell products or services, or you simply have a blog, your site needs images. Not only because visual aids make content more interesting, but also because they have now become one of the quality signals that search engines use to separate the wheat of legit sites from the chaff of spammy content.  Google has recently introduced changes to the way images are displayed in search results, which have reduced their importance as traffic source.  However, there is a detail that remains important: the ALT tag, which is the only piece of text attached to the image, that search engines actually crawl. Although it won’t necessarily boost your rankings, a well-phrased ALT tag will be a chance to include an extra keyword in the text of the page.

Site speed limit, Canna industrial estate

Site speed limit, Canna industrial estate (Photo credit: macspite)

Speed

There is actually another important factor to take into account when it comes to images, and that’s their size, as that affects loading speed, and speed is important. Again, this is related to user experience: when we click on a link and the page takes forever to load, we tend to bounce back. There are different ways in which site speed can be improved, and some of them are quite technical, but you can start right now, by optimizing your images and making sure that the size you upload is the one you want on the page. If you upload a huge image and then let your CMS do the resizing, your server will still have to deal with the size of the original, and more pixels need more bandwidth.

That is what we recommend to everyone as some simple, free SEO tips for DIY SEO – before you hire an SEO consultant, check out these simple but important SEO tasks.

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5 SEO Tips for Bloggers

5 Spot

5 Spot (Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)

You you just trying to do good writing and not playing the game of all the SEO tricks?  All those silly “tips” that are supposed to skyrocket you to the top ten of Google.

Instead of all that junk – here are five simple and straightforward SEO tips that will help you rank better integrating seamlessly with your writing.

SEO Tips:

  1. One post, one topic, one title. Titles are not only important for your readers but for search engines too, which after all are also readers, although not human. Make sure that the title reflects the topic of the article, and that the article is about a specific topic only. Search engines don’t like confusion and neither do your readers.
  2. Add the metadescription. This one not about ranking but about getting more clicks. If you scroll down your WordPress text editor page (because you are using WordPress, right?), you will likely see a box where you can add a description of the page with a maximum of about 140 characters. This is what searchers will likely see when they find your page in the search engine results, so use it.
  3. Don’t forget the main keywords. We’re not asking you to do keyword research, or maybe we are, but a very quick one. Go to Google and start typing the keyword that best describes the topic you are writing about: the auto-complete function will give you the phrase that people actually use to search that topic on the internet, with probably a couple of variations as well. Incorporate those keywords in the body of the text, just to help search engines understand even better what you are talking about.
  4. Use images and give them titles. You are probably already using images in your posts (and if you’re not, start now), but you should also give them a title using the so called ALT-tag. That’s what search engines use to “read” a picture, so the content of the post will gain more clarity in their eyes. An added bonus is that you might even rank and receive organic traffic from those pictures. Again, WordPress makes it very easy to add the ALT-tag, so there’s nothing technical to learn.
  5. Write guest posts. No blogger’s an island, as the poet used to say (well, sort of), so reaching out to the other people in your niche should be a natural thing to do. You can do it in forums, via email, or commenting on their blogs. The most effective thing you can do however, is to write a post for their blog, with a link to your site. Just one word of caution though: do it for the relationship and the traffic, not for the link.

That was our five quick and painless SEO tips to make your blogging efforts more rewarding.  Good luck.

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Recovering from Spammy and Bad Links

Humbolt Penguin at Whipsnade Zoo.

Humbolt Penguin at Whipsnade Zoo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pandas and penguins used to conjure up memories of nice, interesting animals…but now – for the SEO minded people, those names are now code names for two of Google’s algorithm updates, which dramatically changed the answer to the question: how do I rank number one in Google?

When and How to fix Bad Links?

The Penguin update in particular (rolled out in 2012) hit those sites that presented an “unnatural” linking profile. Paid links, links from low-post blogs, meaningless directories, blog networks, or from unknown forums or rambling comments on blogs – with a vast majority with sharing an exact keyword match anchor text: Google took all this catalog of low quality backlinking techniques and made them useless in one fell swoop.

The result was a drop of ranking for many sites, with the inevitable consequences of huge loss of traffic and in turn a huge loss of  income.

What to do?

If you are one of those webmasters who saw their sites hit by Penguin or one of its updates, the first thing not to do it panic.  First make sure all your other tings are up to par – take our free SEO check, if you have questions about on page SEO to make sure.

Once you have identified the spammy links, the first tool you need to use is patience.  It will take time to get this “back to normal”.  Just like it took you a long time to get back into the upper ranks, you will not build a solid link profile in a day – recovering from spammy links will take weeks or months.

Even if you manage to clean most of the low quality links – it will be hard to climb back to the top, but at least you will start with a clean slate.

Phase 2:  Link Building

I know – right, that’s what got you into this mess.  Kind of…we’re talking real linking building – white hat links. This is something you should do anyway, and considering you might never get rid of all the bad links, then the good must outnumber the bad.

Link Undoing

Gather all the bad links and put them in a spreadsheet.  You want to try and ask for these links to be removed…send an email to each webmaster, asking to remove them. You will succeed, but you will also be ignored and even asked to pay money to have the link removed, but try and go through the whole list before you move on to the next step.  Even if it is a simple form letter – it will be better than nothing.

I hereby Disavow You

For all the links that you can’t get removed, we need to disavow, using the tool which was recently introduced by Google. With this tool, you are practically asking the search engine to consider that backlink as no-follow, a word of caution though – Google doesn’t like shortcuts and this is no exception.

Google has a strong warning – and this is very important to note when disavowing links:

This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you only disavow backlinks if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you.

On the page of the tool it says:

If you believe your site’s ranking is being harmed by low-quality links you do not control, you can ask Google not to take them into account when assessing your site. You should still make every effort to clean up unnatural links pointing to your site. Simply disavowing them isn’t enough.

This is why – back up in “Link Undoing” we ask you to do every effort you can to get them removed manually…it is just not always possible.  The words are chosen carefully and notice Google’s statement “you cannot just enter the bad links in the tool and consider it done, Google wants them removed from the internet” – they will be aggressively following up on the sites you identify, so be careful.

Conclusion

If you have a huge list of links you want removed, the email outreach route will be a long, probably mind-numbing task. Yet, it’s necessary to make sure that the next close encounters you will have with a penguin will only be at the zoo.  Good luck and let us know how it goes – what works and what doesn’t.

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How To Get The Most Out Of SEO Conferences

Google Booth

Google Booth (Photo credit: toprankonlinemarketing)

There are several great SEO conferences happening at various times of the year, in varying locations across the globe. Almost everyone can fit one of these events into their schedule, no matter how busy they are. Here are a few tips to help you maximize the benefits of conference attendance.

Pick an Event

First you have to decide which event to attend.

Options:

Learn

When you attend these events, you should learn more about SEO concepts and how to build your SEO skills so you can leverage them in favor of your website. Attend every information session you can pack into your schedule. Take a notepad, laptop or netbook so you can take notes. Pick up hand outs that are offered at each session. If books or other learning materials are offered for sale, pick a few up if your budget allows. Soak up information like a sponge and store it away for later.

Generate Ideas

While you are gaining knowledge, record any content ideas you think of during the process. Ideas for new and exciting content can be found almost anywhere, and SEO conferences are minefields for ideas. Take notes on your thoughts and then flesh out the ideas later when you have some down time. When you get home, put these ideas into play on your blog or website.

Network

You will meet many experts at SEO conferences. Mingle about and get to know some of the top people in the field. Get your name out there without being pushy or obnoxious. It’s also important to network with newbies. You can share your knowledge with others who are just getting started, and can have someone to bounce ideas off of. You never know who will be able to help you, or who you’ll be able to lend a helping hand to, so get out there and meet everyone you can.

Ask Questions

It’s important to ask questions at SEO conferences. Whether it’s during an information session or class, or just during an icebreaker session when you are talking to other conference attendees, make sure you get the answers you need. Make a list of questions before you get to the conference and then add to it as other questions come to mind during the conference. If you don’t have time to get all the answers you need, find the names of some professionals that will be willing to help you once you get home, and stay in contact with them.

Take Action

It’s important to keep up your momentum after the conference. Many SEO enthusiasts and professionals attend these events, then go home and go back to normal. This is a waste of time and money. Take the knowledge you’ve gained and put it into practical use when you get back to your life. Improve or redesign your website. Put together a blog post about what you’ve learned.

Share Knowledge

If you have friends or colleagues that were unable to attend but could benefit from what you’ve learned, share your knowledge. Sit down with them in person or send some emails back and forth. This will not only help teach them new things, it will help you understand the information you learned during your conference attendance.

Chris Countey writes about SEO, especially technical or on-page optimization, for Delphic Digital, a Philadelphia digital marketing agency.

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