How Do SERP’s Work?

Welcome back! I assume you’ve already read my post about what SERP’s are? If not, you should really start there. I’ll still be here when you get back, don’t worry.

So now that you know what SERP’s are, and the different types of searches and results, it’s time to talk about how the SERP’s are actually generated. In my last post I glazed over how the process works. Remember I said that if you’re in Maine, you probably won’t appear at the top of an SERP in Arizona? Well that’s true. It’s also true, that even if your user is in Maine with you, they could have your competitors in their browsing history and it will default that company higher up the page.

The first big part of this is the type of result. Organic, or paid.

So if you have optimized your pages to the best of your ability, Google (or whichever other search engine you prefer) will pull your information based on exactly what has been typed into the search bar. If you’re looking for information on Shakespeare; date of birth, birthplace, how many plays he wrote, who his wife and children were; there are relevant pages to each of these things. It’s not usually fit into one page like the papers we all wrote in high school. These are the things that organically populate based on the search engine’s database relating to the keyword or phrase.

In comparison, paid results are exactly what they sound like. You pay for the result you want. There are many kinds of paid ads that you can choose from too. Sometimes you perform a search and see the top few results that have that little tag that says “Ad”, those have been paid. The box that pops up on the side of the website? The one that says sponsored? That was paid.

What about the map that shows up all the time? That’s not necessarily a paid ad. It’s courtesy of the Google My Business listing feature. This is a “directory” listing that enhances the visibility of your business online. It is a very important feature, especially on mobile devices.

Google Factors

The SEO you did for your website will create organic results. These results are then filed into a database that Google can scan whenever a search is performed. There are hundreds if not thousands of different ranking factors that Google uses, however, nobody knows exactly what they are. Some good guesses are location, the number of external links that lead to that website, and your SEO.

If you’ve seen any of my other “Work With Me” articles, you know how important SEO is for your website by now. But did you know there are two branches of search engine optimization?

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO encompasses the best practices that those of us with websites should follow to ensure visibility of our content. We create this content to be discovered and shared right? Well, how do we accomplish that? You give each page you create as much detail in the background as possible. Every element should have details linked to it. Image tags, unique keywords, static URL’s, relevant subheadings and clean titles.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refer to the strategy behind the page. This is where you (and definitely I) need to talk to professionals. From what I understand in research, some of the common techniques include:

  • Link building : this is where you try to get as many links to come back to your website as you can. If you’re a marketing agency, or you work freelance in the field, a quick way to do this is the “website built by ______” in the footer of the page.
  • Content marketing : the process of picking a niche and sticking to it. Consistent content in the same market attracts an audience and gives your site value, which increases shares or profits.
  • Directory listings : where you list your website, on listing websites. Simple as that. Google My Business is a huge plus in this regard. Depending on they kind of business you have, the sites you will want to list on will differ. Do some research. See where you can find your competitors, and list there too!
  • Social media : that’s all you need to know for this one. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn. YouTube if that falls in your wheelhouse. Anything that fits your business, get on it.

If you can find yourself an SEO professional to join your team, it is well worth the investment. If not, there are many out there for hire. Freelance, small agencies, large agencies. Or, you can teach yourself, by reading my articles! Questions? Comments? Did I miss something? Drop me a comment or fill out the contact form.

Keywords for Website SEO

Keywords for Website SEO

When you are building your own website, you’ll find the word “keywords” is used an awful lot. But what exactly is a keyword? Obviously, it’s all the things you add as tags, right? Well, no. Those are tags. Technically, they’re the same thing with one small difference. One is internal, and one is external. While the words you tag are used to find things within your website, the keywords are the words or phrases used to find your website through internet searches.

What Are Keywords?

This is what a web user types into a search engine when they’re surfing the web. So, thinking of “keywords” as single words may not always be your best bet. Keywords are often phrases. Think of it this way; when you’re looking for the best pizza place around your vacation spot, do you just type “Pizza”? No. But you might type something like “Pizza near me”, or “best pizza in <insert location here>”. These would be GREAT keywords if you were a pizza place. But if you do that and think you’re done, you won’t make it to the top of that results page. So now you need a strategy.

Keyword Strategy

If you have a business or the spare cash for your website, there’s tons of sites that you can use to help with the heavy lifting. I’ve personally used Google AdWords with a previous agency and can attest to its value. It’s affordable and gives you access to all the things you’d need while building your online presence. There’s SEO consulting, Keyword planning, AdWords (to build those little Google Ad boxes). There are some other SEO tools that you can use as well, but the prices increase a bit. SEMrush for example seems to be on the rise in Indeed listings these days. From what I’ve seen, they all seem to use the same aids, but I have seen some SERP Analysis reports that seem to receive high praise from their users. Think carefully about how much help you need, and how much budget you can a lot to such a tool. Now, in my research, I was able to find a Google hack. It’s fairly simple and quick, but there’s a lot of steps to describe. So, if you want to know how to get into that free version, click here for my walkthrough.

SEO Tools That Could Work For You

Don’t forget that these thing rotate as fast as the latest hashtags. To keep your posts relevant, you’ll have to alter your keywords routinely. How routinely you need to do this will depend on your niche. Is your category a fast paced and stay on your toes deal? Or does your area of expertise usually stay the same with rotating trends? This will determine how often you need to update your keywords.

Do your research. Keep on top of the latest fads. Check out your competitors. All of these things are important for valid keyword application. Got questions? Drop me a line!

Blog Maintenance

A blog takes a lot of work, and you know you have to update your content routinely. Research gives businesses the range of posting between 2-4 times a week. Not only is this a good practice for your content writers, but it helps to build your company up in the eyes of your audience. The more posts you publish, the more your brand awareness grows, the more you establish your expertise and authority in your niche, and the more you can guide your viewers into partners. But your blog posts aren’t the only things that need regular maintenance.

Daily

You should be checking comments daily. If you require approval prior to comments being published, you should be sorting through pending replies every day. There are a few types of comments that you can collect on your website, and each type needs to be sorted and handled differently. Allow good comments to show on your website, and answer any legitimate replies. You can leave sporadic praise to your company, but if something truly has no value or counts as spam, trash it.

Weekly

Your plugins and themes need to be kept up to date too. It could go totally unnoticed to you if the creator of your blog template has made changes to the layout you’re using and caused your whole page to be rearranged. Your plugins could have new updates that you want to download. It’s possible that nothing has changed and this step doesn’t require any work, but you should still check through things just to be sure.

If you have opt in forms on your site, you want to test these as well. Maybe you’d rather do this further apart, and nobody would blame you, but it does need to be done. This is to make sure that the emails or texts are going through as planned, and to make sure there are no issues with signing up. During this process you should make sure all of your text is up to date. If you changed the name or logo of your company, you don’t want your old information going out in emails right? Added a partner? Make sure their signature is on there as well. Make any needed updates here as needed. Make sure you’re sending the “Thank you for subscribing” messages, or that there are no spelling errors on the completion text on your website.

You should be scanning your site for issues and other malware regularly as well. Text isn’t the only thing that could go wrong. There are many scanning sites and programs that you can purchase or subscribe to that will run the scans through your site for you. This requires a little research into exactly what you need, and what your budget can allow for such a service.

Check up on your web hosting stats on a regular basis as well. This includes speed, security, and satisfaction. Did you know that a 5 second load for your page is considered too slow? After unsuccessful page load of 3-4 seconds, a customer is likely to move to the next site. Your competitor’s site. Slow loads are a no go for anyone anywhere. Mobile devices could grant you even less time. Don’t forget that when a consumer enters your site, they expect that you are doing what you should to protect them from any online germs. Security on your site, is your problem. Far too many hosting providers don’t think this is their problem, but it is up to you to keep your website running healthy. Remember, any negative experience a customer has is likely to go to someone else through word of mouth, or the ever feared Twitter.

Monthly

You’ve done a lot of Quality assurance on a weekly basis if you’ve followed this guide so far right? So monthly is where you do the big stuff, and if you’re keeping track of what you’re doing along the way, this won’t be so daunting. Your “about me” section should be updated if you’ve done something different. Has a major thing happened in the world that has effected your niche? Have you done anything differently this month? Married, had kids, reached a career goal, totally revamped your site? Let everyone know here. If they’re loyal to your content, chances are, they’re curious about you too. But it’s not just your “about” page that needs to be updated. Check all of your pages and posts, can anything be archived or updated? Now is your chance to do it!

Check for broken links. Yes, every link on your website needs to be checked. If you’ve changed your pages, you need to make sure anything that mentions that page in an internal link is updated too. Now not all of your changes are going to prompt a change in the url, in fact, most changes won’t. But if you’ve deleted the page to start over, you’ll want to know where you linked that page in a post so you don’t end up with a page that says “Oops, looks like the content you’re looking for isn’t available!”. I cannot tell you how much I hate seeing that message pop up. Especially if this is your business, you need to avoid those 404’s at all cost. If you make a URL Doc listing where your internal links are, you have a way to quickly reference them during this monthly check. And if you know you ran last month’s check on January 31st, you only have to check the February posts.

And the final tip I have? Check out my SEO article on how to keep your website optimized for better visibility on the web!

Blogs are a LOT of moving parts when you really get into it. I figured it would be simpler when I first started, but I’m glad it’s not a one and done process. It keeps me involved in my content, which I use as motivation. So enjoy your process, and if you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you!

What You Should Know About SEO

Your website rocks! Your content sounds great, your colors are perfectly matched, your layout is easy on the eyes, so why aren’t you getting visitors? It could be that you have an SEO issue. You’ve heard SEO before, but what IS it?

SEO stands for search engine optimization…that didn’t help you either? The short version of it is this: SEO is the process to improve upon your site to rise to the top of the SERP’s (search engine results page) when related terms are searched. SEO is a tool used on your website to increase the external visibility of your work.

I know, it’s a huge process, and it’s confusing and tedious. But isn’t everything worth doing a bit of an undertaking? Before you can DO the work, you have to UNDERSTAND the work.

Optimization. What does it mean?

As previously stated, the goal of SEO is to improve search results. The search engine will pull pages related to a search phrase and rank them to show results. When was the last time you searched for a business or a service? How far did you scroll before you stopped thinking “I passed all the good ones”? It’s not always true that the best services come to the top of your search results, but it IS true that the best optimized websites appear at the top. If your business is a reupholstering service, you need a dedicated page telling people how you offer this service.

Did you know that Google automatically creates listings for most businesses? If you go to Google My Business, you’ll be able to search for and “claim” your business pages. This way you can keep all of your internet presence in your control. You can use this dashboard to keep your ever changing data up to date.

Keywords and how to use them.

So SEO means to optimize your website in order to improve your search results and drive website traffic; how do I do that? One of the biggest things you need to work on is keywords. Your “target keywords” should be paired with their natural content. It’s advised that your target number of keywords should align with the number of pages on your website. Each page should be individually optimized for the best results.

Don’t try to add quantity. One page, one search phrase. Plain keywords on the other hand, can include as many phrases or words as are relevant. If your business is a publisher, you can add; publisher, publishing, editing, editor, books, novels. You can include all of the genres that you work with as well. Do make sure to research the keywords, no matter what your company or service is, as there are bound to be some negative keywords. For example, publishing brought up minimal returns for “best” and “bestselling”. You’d research your content, make sure you research the keywords that get people to the content.

Are keywords the only tools for SEO?

Not at all! Another major tool at your disposal is ‘internal links’. You can link your own content, within your own content. Now you don’t want to do this so much that people are getting lost going in circles through your pages. But internal links are extremely important. It’s one of the easiest ways to boost your results as each page (or post) has been individually optimized, and therefore will give you a double target page for one search. “Fantasy Publisher” will bring up the original content, and the page that contains that link.

You can also use tags, titles, and image captions to your benefit. These are just as important, as these things are often overlooked. If you are sure to add your tags for your images, you could rank higher in an image search than you do in a regular search. As it’s overlooked, there’s less competition. Driving traffic is driving traffic right?

How are ranks given on the results page?

Google actually uses a scale that you should live by when it comes to SEO. EAT. No, not food. Expert, Authoritative, and Trustworthy.

Expert is the level at which Google compiles a list of connections between things like authors of content, brands, and topics to compare the level of expertise.

Authority is a little more heavy lifting. This is the research portion of your content and web build. Look into your niche and find the important community sites. Make sure you’re adding value to these places as it will drive traffic right back to your own page. Put yourself out there to bring a wider audience to you.

Trust is just that, trust. With the internet being such a useful tool for businesses, it’s sadly become a useful tool for scammers. How is your online reputation? Do you have followers? A steady flow of likes and comments? Are you active on your social media pages? All of this will affect your trust score in the EAT scale.

Final thoughts?

There are so many things we could continue to talk about when it comes to SEO, but this will work for a general overview. One thing to be aware of it the rising reliance on mobile traffic. Mobile devices are always at our fingertips no matter where we are, and the percentages of mobile traffic is well over the halfway mark. The exact percentage depends on where you look, but over half is a safe bet across most result pages. So you definitely want to use something like Browserstack to make sure you know how your website shrinks to fit different screen sizes.

The last thing I have to say on the matter is this; SEO is a constant. The process is always changing, the more you have to alter what you search for, the more you as a business need to alter how you’re found. SEO specialists stick the minimum amount of updates for your website at twice a month, but suggest weekly if you’re able. If you’re new to SEO, feel free to start at once a month until you get the hang of it.

Good luck! If you have questions, I will do all I can to answer them in the comments below.

Sweet Tips For Valentine’s Day Marketing

To be successful for Valentine’s Day you don’t have to be in the candy or flower business, you just need to know how to attract your customers. How are you supposed to romance a holiday when it’s geared towards very specific things? If you’re passionate about your holiday spirit, there are some simple things you can tweak your content to give everyone a treat.

  1. Who is it that you’re trying to romance? Think about your audience, not everyone is out to buy a present for a significant other. Like me, they could be out to score that rare box of candy that isn’t full of caramel for themselves. Make your customers your valentines by putting together a few promotions for them, not their other half. Keep in mind that people like to test time limits and do things at the last minute. Consider those procrastinators as well as your early bird shoppers when marketing your offers. Even dawdlers deserve love.
  2. Share the love. When you photograph your products for social media, try to add some roses in the background. You can use heart filters on add stickers on many social platforms these days, so play around with them. Don’t forget to add the x’s and o’s about all your specials for the holiday season too!
  3. Holiday gift guides are great, for those of us not selling chocolate cherubs and rainbow roses. Really sit down and go through your products and services with rose colored glasses to see what you could gear towards seasonal shoppers. Suggest things for the special someone, children, even teachers get hearts of appreciation. You never know when your clientele needs help finding a unique way to show their affections.
  4. Make your email subscribers your virtual valentines. This is an accumulation of everything you’ve done in steps 1-3. Reiterate the specials, duplicate your social graphics, send your gift guide straight to their inbox. Show them you take care of your loyal customers. These thanks and inclusive deals can even be sent in SMS messages if you have a text list.

Got any other tips or tricks to share? Valentine’s Day images to spread around social media? Comment below.

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