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Search Marketing SEO Costa Rica SEO Strategies SEO tips Social Media

3 Basic Principles of Journalism to Consider When Writing Content for Google

Successful authors know that the first line of any writing has to be strong enough to capture the reader’s attention – otherwise they won’t continue reading.

…but Mark Twain, for example, didn’t have bounce rate to contend with. There’s no algorithm to penalize poor authors (they just don’t make any money). For any publisher hoping to acquire traffic via Google – and keep acquiring it – this just isn’t the case.

In addition to the Panda algorithm (see Ben Goodsell’s post for a great explanation of how Panda works), webmasters have to contend with manual actions designed to target thin content with little or no added value. Google isn’t forthcoming with exactly what that means, but we need to be aware that SEOs are competing for traffic with seasoned journalists.

Writing copy doesn’t always come naturally, but there are some basic principles of journalism we can apply to all the content we create to ensure that it’s adding as much value as possible to our users.

The Inverted Pyramid

Chip Scanlan explained the inverted pyramid on Poynter.org in 2003:

The inverted pyramid puts the most newsworthy information at the top, and then the remaining information follows in order of importance, with the least important at the bottom.

You have the area above the fold to capture a user’s attention…but not everything above the fold is created equal. Links higher up in HTML code “cast more powerful votes” because Googlebot, like users, goes from left to right, top to bottom. If the page you most want to rank is linked highest in the code, surely the information you most want readers to take in should be higher up, too.

In practical terms, how often do you continue reading an article that opens with “Content is king” or “Content marketing is a hot topic these days”? An opening gambit that does not explain what value the page is adding to the user is likely to result in a bounce.

This Is How Google Reads Copy

It has long been considered best practice to place the most important keywords at the beginning of a title tag when optimising a website. The reason for this is because Googlebot reads copy from left to right, exactly as a user would.

As part of a 2006 eye-tracking study Jakob Nielsen observed that users read in an F-shaped pattern, concluding that the most important information in any piece of content must be presented within the first two paragraphs.

This ties in with the reason many consider the best position for sharing buttons to be above the fold: below the title but above the body copy. As a call to action, a social share is low risk, with a reward attached (look how well read I am!) and with attention spans ever decreasing, many people find it easier to share a page than to make it all the way through reading it.

According to David Ogilvy, “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

We need to start thinking of titles in the same way as journalists think of headlines.

Google truncates title tags because users don’t have the patience to look much further than 512 pixels in the wrong direction. Giving your content a well-optimized title is massively useful for getting users to click through, but it also encourages retention once users are on the page. Title tags are a ranking factor for Google because they help to determine the relevance of the content below and the same is true of users on the page. If the title has lured a user in from search and the copy doesn’t deliver on that promise within a few lines, that user will bounce.

Bounce rate is a more significant metric than many webmasters realise. Page views, for example, aren’t tied in directly with rankings in Google, or a vulnerability next time the Panda algorithm is run, however bounce rate is a good indicator of a metric Google uses that is tied directly to search rankings.

Time to Long Click

A short click is when a searcher clicks on a result and returns to the SERP within a short period of time. The result clicked clearly wasn’t right for that user. Google considers a long click to be a positive signal – literally the user spends a longer period of time away from the search results before returning to perform the same search (if that happens at all).

Blind Five Year Old’s AJ Kohn is the ultimate authority on the long click. He explained the concept in 2009:

[Google is] not peeking at bounce rates. Instead Google is measuring pogosticking activity…long clicks are important to Google because it gives them a way to measure the satisfaction of the result based on downstream behavior. Sure, a result might get a lot of clicks but did it actually satisfy the query?

If a lot of search pogosticking occurs in relation to a certain site, that site won’t rank particularly well in the future. One piece of advice AJ gives is to link out to other sites with valuable information relevant to the audience you’re writing for. Citing your sources is one of the basic principles of journalism.

Journalists literally have to cite their sources to avoid legal action and claims of plagiarism. Google also has measures in place to combat “duplicate content,” so if you’re using newsjacking as a strategy it’s advisable to link through to the original source of the news. Of course this means that for your page to rank you will need to add value that readers couldn’t find in the original story.

Summary

Journalists write to satisfy people’s curiosity. SEOs should write to satisfy search queries. It’s easy to argue that getting your point across as quickly as possible is going to result in users leaving your site more quickly. That’s fine – as long as you’re not giving users a reason to go back to Google and search for the same thing again. Make it easy for users to find your point and Google will make it easier for users to find your content.

  1. Position the most important information in your content above the fold – ideally in the first line. Don’t expect users to wait until the bottom of a page for you to make your point. If they’re still interested, call to action!
  2. Your title tag and H1 tag are the biggest selling points on the page (except images) and it’s vital to ensure they are the correct length, include your keywords, and adequately describe what the copy is about.
  3. Link out to relevant information. The last thing Google wants is for your users to go back to the search engine because that means it hasn’t done its job.
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Search Marketing SEO Costa Rica SEO Strategies SEO tips Social Media

10 Tips for an Awesome and SEO-Friendly Blog Post

Writing a blog post -like all other writing- is a skill. In order to keep your reader interested, you should think about structuring your text and writing in an appealing style. You should help your readers to grasp the main idea of your post by providing headings, subheadings and clear paragraphs. If people understand and like your text, they are much more likely to share, like, tweet and link to your post. And that will increase your rankings! So, in order to improve your ranking in Google, you should definitely try to maximize your writing skills!

For some, writing for SEO purposes and writing to attract and keep attracting your audience could appear as two contradictory goals. However, I totally disagree. Indeed, if you not only want a good but also an SEO-friendly blog post, your text should be written in such a way that the words you want to be found for have a very prominent place. And, using your keywords too often severely damages the readability of your text. So, you definitely should not do that!

In this post, I would like to give some tips on writing blog posts that are both very readable as well as SEO-friendly. I genuinely think those two goals should (and can easily!) go hand in hand!

Elementary Writing Tips for Good Blog Posts

Before anything, your blog post just has to be a good piece of writing! A lot of bloggers just begin to write after creating a new blog post. They just type what comes to mind. For some, this may be sufficient, because they are natural writing talents. Others may need some help. I always follow the next set of ‘rules’ myself.

1. Think Before You Write!

Think hard about the message of your text. What do you want to tell your readers? And what is the purpose of your text? What do you want you readers to do at the end of the page? Write down the answers to these questions before you begin writing.

2. Write Down the Structure of Your Blog Post

Every post should have some sort of introduction (in which you introduce your topic), a body (in which the main message is written) and a conclusion (which should summarize the most important ideas or deduce some new idea). Write down what you want to write in all these three sections. You now have some sort of summary of your post. The real writing can begin!

3. Use Paragraphs

Everybody uses paragraphs, but make sure to use paragraphs that make sense. Do not start a new sentence on a new line, just because it looks nice. There should be a reason for making a new paragraph. Every paragraph should have a main idea or a main subject. Ask yourself what the main idea of each paragraph is. You should be able to grasp that main idea in only one sentence. If you need more sentences, you simply need more paragraphs!

4. Use Headings

If you want people to find their way in your articles, you should use subheadings. Subheadings will lead people, help them scan your page, and make the structure of your articles that much clearer.

5. Use Signal Words

Signal words help people to scan through your text and help people to grasp your main idea. If you, for instance, have three reasons for wanting to sell a product, you should use signal words as: First of all, Secondly and Finally. Also, words as Nevertheless, Surely and Indeed also give a clear signal to your readers. Readers will instantly get that a conclusion will follow after words as Thus, So or Therefore. Signal words are thus very important to structure your text.

6. Let Other People Read Your Post

Before publishing your post, let someone else read your post first. Ask him/her whether or not he understands the main idea of your post. Correct typo’s and sentences that are not formulated correctly.

7. Write Rather Lengthy Articles

Make sure your articles have a minimum of 300 words. As a general rule of thumb: try to put down your search terms in about 1 to 2 percent of your text. So in an article of 300 words, you should mention your search terms 3 to 6 times.

8. Use Headings

Headings are important for readability, but for SEO as well. Make sure that your keywords are used in the subheadings, but do not put your keyword in every subheading (as it will make the text unreadable). Headings help Google to grasp the main topics of a long post and thus can help in your ranking.

9. Use Our WordPress SEO Plugin

Our WordPress SEO plugin actually helps you write an SEO-friendly blog post. If you want the help of our plugin you should start by choosing your focus keyword and entering it in the appropriate box. This is the most important search term you want people to find this particular page for. Our plugin actually measures many aspects of the text you are writing and helps with making your blog post SEO-friendly. We will describe the most important ones:

  • The plugin allows you to formulate a meta description. This description has to be a short text which indicates the main topic of the page. If the meta description contains the search term people use, the exact text will be shown by Google underneath your URL in the search results.
  • The plugin analyzes the text you write. It calculates a Flesch reading ease score, which indicates the readability of your article. The Flesch reading ease score for example takes into account the length of sentences.
  • The plugin does a pretty big number of checks. It checks whether or not you used your keyword in 5 important locations: the article-heading, the title of the page, the URL of the page, the content of the article and the meta-description. The plugin also checks the presence of links in your article and the presence of images in the article. It calculates the number of words and the density of usage of the focus keyword in the article. Above that, the plugin also checks whether or not other pages on your website use the same focus keyword, to prevent you from competing with yourself.

If you write a relatively SEO-friendly blog post (based on the aspects mentioned before) the plugin will indicate this with a green bullet. Writing pages with green bullets will help you improve the ranking of the pages on your website.

Note that not every dot has to be green for the overall score to be “good”. For instance, these are the results of this post, which does have a “Good” score:

1020 seo friendly blog post 02 10 Tips for an Awesome and SEO Friendly Blog Post

 

10. Add Content Regularly

Adding actual and functional information to your website will give Google the idea that your website is alive. If it’s not an active website, Google will crawl it less often and it might become less appealing to Google to include the page in the search results.

Bonus Tip: Link to Previous Content

If you already wrote some content about the topic of your current post, don’t forget to link to these posts. It will make your post stronger because you show some authority on the subject. Next to that, your link-structure is also of importance for your ranking in Google.

Conclusion

The era in which some SEO tricks were sufficient to get your website to rank high in Google has long ended. Nowadays, good content has the highest likelihood to result in a higher positions in Google. And good content also leads to more Facebook likes and shares, tweets and return visitors to your website. Of course, you can do some extra things to maximize the SEO friendliness of your post, but most important is: just write a very, very good post!

By Marieke van de Rakt SEO tips.

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Search Marketing SEO Costa Rica SEO Strategies SEO tips Social Media

12 Free Social Media Tools

If you have multiple social media accounts, then you already know you can’t be on there 24/7. Which is why some very intelligent developers came along and built social media management tools. These tools place all of your social media accounts under on dashboard so you can easily schedule, collaborate, and monitor all of your social media accounts from one location.

I bet you already are using some of these lifesaving tools. Buffer, HootSuite, Social Sprout, Sendible, Bitly, and SocialOomph are just some of the powerful tools that can help manage your social media networks.

The problem is a lot of those awesome tools charge money. And that can be an issue when you are on a tight budget.

Another problem is not all of these tools can help you create content, see when your audience is most active, track how many visitors converted into leads, or tell which keywords are currently trending.

Thankfully, there are a plethora of free tools designed to give your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn account a little something extra. Here are 12 100% free social media tools that help manage, monitor, or develop content – in no particular order.

1. Social Mention

2014 09 25 16 16 14 Real Time Search Social Mention 760x232 12 Free Social Media Tools

When it comes to social media tools, it doesn’t’ get any easier than Social Mention. It’s similar to Google Alerts, however, Social Mention only monitors social media properties like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and some 80 other social media sites. You can also receive daily email alerts and there’s also a third party API.

What’s really interesting about Social Mention relies on four-metrics to help calculate this tool. These include:

  • Strength – The likelihood of your brand being discussed on social media.
  • Sentiment – The ratio of positive mentions over the negative mentions.
  • Passion – The likelihood of individuals continuing to mention your brand.
  • Reach – Measures influence by dividing the number of unique authors who have referenced your brand by the total number of mentions.

2. IceRocket

2014 09 25 16 19 17 Meltwater IceRocket 760x192 12 Free Social Media Tools

Here’s another free tool to help monitor specific keywords. When the real-time search engine launched in 2004, it was used mainly by bloggers to keep track of mentions of their blog. Over the years, IceRocket has expanded to include social networks like Facebook and Twitter. You can now track mentions of all three together or separately.

One of the coolest features IceRocket has to offer is a trend report. All you have to do is enter the terms you want to see mentioned and you’ll get a graph illustrating how many posts a day the term appears as well as the total amount of blog posts over a 30 day period.

3. Addictomatic

2014 09 25 16 20 31 Addictomatic Inhale the Web 760x371 12 Free Social Media Tools

Addictomatic is another straightforward tool that can be used to monitor your brand’s reputation and influence. It’s basically a discovery platform that searches Google, Bing, Twitter, WordPress, YouTube, and Flickr to find the most recent blog posts, news, images, or videos based on keywords.

Because Addictomatic is customizable, it’s quit easy to get addicted to this tool. While you may think that this isn’t’ all that different than Google, Addictomatic breaks the search results into headers, as opposed to being lumped all together.

4. SumAll

2014 09 25 16 21 45 All in one social media ecommerce analytics SumAll 760x266 12 Free Social Media Tools

Unlike most other social media tools, SumAll is designed specifically with small business owners in mind. How so? It not only gives you the ability to measure and monitor social media heavyweights like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it also connects you to other services like Google Analytics and PayPal. In all, SumAll’s free plan can connect you with 42 different services.

Instead of managing all of those different accounts, you can keep up-to-date with all of your most vital platforms in one convenient spot. You can also choose to get daily updates via email.

5. IFTTT

2014 09 25 16 23 25 Put the internet to work for you. IFTTT 12 Free Social Media Tools

I’ll just let the company describe what IFTTT is all about:

“IFTTT is a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: if this then that.”

IFTTT allows you to make personalized “Recipes” by taking a “Trigger” (the “this” part). An example is getting tagged in a photo on Facebook. The “that” part is then the Action taken afterwards. So, after being tagged on Facebook, then “create a status message on Facebook”. Because IFTTT works with 132 channels that include social media networks and businesses like eBay and Best Buy, it’s incredibly easy to stay connected with both the online and offline world.

This unique tool has already been praised by publications like Forbes, The New York Times,Time and Wired.

6. Google Analytics

2014 09 25 16 27 29 Features %E2%80%93 Google Analytics 760x244 12 Free Social Media Tools

If you have a website, then you are probably already utilizing the vast resources Google Analytics has to offer. For example, you have access to the profiles of your customers or visitors to help you understand how they found what site, what devices they use, and what they like or don’t like it. It’s probably one of the most important tools for marketers.

Did you also know that you can use Google Analytics to evaluate your social sources? Through this tool you can discover how frequently social sharing leads to conversions, referrals, and traffic to your site.

7. Facebook Insights

2014 09 25 16 31 11 Search Facebook Help Center Facebook 12 Free Social Media Tools

If you’re marketing on Facebook, then you may not have been thrilled earlier this year when Facebook announced some changes to how updates are displayed. Not only do you have to be concerned about the competition, you also have to worry if advertising on Facebook is worth the investment. However, if you are marketing on Facebook, then you should be using Facebook Insights.

One of the most beneficial features of this tool is that it can help you understand the behaviour of your customers. For example, you can create a schedule based on the time or day or day of the week that your customers are most active on Facebook. Other informative features include being able to track likes, post reach, and engagement metrics. And, you can even keep tabs on your competitors Facebook activity.

8. TweetDeck

2014 09 25 16 32 51 TweetDeck 760x365 12 Free Social Media Tools

Chances are you’ve at least heard of TweetDeck. And there’s good reason for that. – it is arguably one of the best Twitter tool available. Some outstanding features include scheduling tweets, customized searches, and even alerts to keep you up-to-date with the latest happenings. You can also track hashtags, events, topics, and view the social profiles of Twitter and Facebook users.

If you’re a fan of Hootsuite, than you’d probably like to know that TweetDeck is a very similar tool. While it may not have the features that Hootsuite Pro offers, there’s a lot to get out of with this free tool.

9. Rapportive

2014 09 25 16 34 33 Rapportive 760x272 12 Free Social Media Tools

Rapportive is possibly one of the most interesting social media tools that I’ve come across. In a nutshell, it allows you to view social profiles in your Gmail inbox. While primarily used for LinkedIn, you have access to the location, job title, and images. You can also view their latest tweets or Facebook statuses as well.

This tool allows you to grow your network by searching the web for people with similar interests or careers without having to search the web yourself. This email add-on is compatible with MailChimp, Bantam Live, BatchBook, BookingBug, Brightpearl, and CrunchBase too.

10. Swayy

2014 09 25 16 35 48 Swayy Better Content to Share on Social Media 760x281 12 Free Social Media Tools

Sometimes it’s a challenge to come up with content that isn’t just relevant to your business, but also something your audience will enjoy. After all, you’re a busy person, and you don’t always have time to see what’s trending on social media, let alone create your own amazing content. That’s why Swayy is such a stellar tool to utilize.

Swayy suggests content, whether it’s a video, article, or infographic, that you should share with you audience. You’re even given the proper handles and hashtags to share this content. And, there’s an analytics feature so that you can see what kind of content is resonating with your audience. If you have one dashboard, this awesome tool is free. If you have more than one, you’ll have to check out their pricing features.

11. Qzzr

2014 09 25 16 37 13 Get Your Quiz On Qzzr 760x300 12 Free Social Media Tools

Looking for a simple and creative way to create shareable content on social media that will also drive traffic to your site? Give quizzes a try. Social Media Explorer covered this topic earlier this year, saying quizzes provide information about your site and provide an opportunity to connect with your audience.

Qzzr helps you create various quizzes for your social media platforms. You can create a BuzzFeed-like quiz or one that gives an actual grade. There is also a wide range of topics to choose from so you don’t have to worry about finding a topic in your niche.

12. Easel.ly

2014 09 25 16 38 45 easel.ly create and share visual ideas online 760x323 12 Free Social Media Tools

Infographics are a proven way to boost your credibility and increase site traffic. That is a great assist, but it can cost a pretty penny – which is no good when you’re on a tight budget. Thankfully, there are free tools that make it simple to create a solid infographic.

Since it’s launch in 2012, Easel.ly has helped over 300,000 users create thousands of infographics. All you have to do is select one of the free templates and start plugging in your data. No wonder so many students and bloggers have been enjoying this free tool.

By Albert Costil SEO Tips.

What are your favorite tools to manage, monitor, or improve your overall social media experience?

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SEO Costa Rica SEO Strategies

4 Reasons Nofollowing All Links Is Absurd

There seems to be a lot of confusion in the SEO world right now surrounding links.

Recent actions from Google have (not surprisingly) caused a bit of panic and hysteria. Out of the frenzy has come this discussion about guest blogs and whether we should apply a nofollow tag to some or all outbound links contained within them.

This isn’t the first time the nofollow tag has come up. Google has also suggested using the nofollow attribute for links in press releases and infographics in the not-too-distant past.

It seems Google is recommending we nofollow a lot of links lately, and I believe it’s getting ridiculous. Can nofollow links really be the future?

This notion of defaulting to nofollow on every link we build or acquire is absurd. Here are some clear reasons why nofollow is not the future.

How We Got Here

Before we get into the issues regarding the use of the nofollow tag, let’s look at how we got to where we are today.

Viable link-building tactics such as press releases, infographics, and guest blogging have been taken and scaled to point where they became spammy. Because of this, Google stepped in, handed out some manual penalties, and advised nofollowing links from these marketing tactics.

Although there is a right way to do these tactics, many people now believe that all links related to these practices should be nofollowed.

Most recently, links in guest blogs have come under the microscope. While talk of nofollowing links in guest blogs emerged before Matt Cutts’ infamous post, the Cutts post really brought attention to guest blogging. This was the first real shot across the bow for links in guest posts.

Next came the widely publicized (at least within the SEO industry) MyBlogGuest debacle. Google handed down manual penalties to MyBlogGuest and its members, spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) throughout the SEO community.

Shortly after this, Google gave a site-wide penalty to well-known SEO Doc Sheldon’s site, which involved a link in a guest blog. These actions from Google drew a lot of industry attention and quickly escalated the discussion about nofollowing guest blog links.

Out of fear, some sites have implemented a nofollow policy on all guest blog links. Others have tried asking Cutts directly if they should be worried about links in guest blogs:

By now it’s clear that Google is targeting links in spammy or low-quality guest blogs and if you have these types of links you should absolutely nofollow them (or better yet just don’t have these links). But moving forward, should we expect to change all links in a marketing campaign to nofollow?

My simple answer: no.

Here are four reasons why.

1. Widespread Adoption Isn’t Feasible

First off, nofollowing even guest blogging links can’t be the future because widespread adoption isn’t feasible.

We can be a bit jaded and tend to forget that we aren’t the majority of the Internet population.

Many webmasters don’t know the difference between a dofollow link and a nofollow link or that this distinction even exists. Needless to say, these people do not know how to properly apply a nofollow tag to their links. Even people who run big authoritative sites can struggle with technical on-site issues involved in nofollow implementation.

It’s only the cutting edge SEO communities who are discussing nofollow or adding a nofollow tag to all their guest blog links.

You don’t see The Huffington Post or other major publications doing this. Do we really think Google is going to give The Huffington Post a manual penalty for an editorially placed link in a guest blog? Of course not, The Huffington Post is an authoritative (and popular) site that Google wants to return in its results.

Looking just at guest blogging, we can begin to see how ridiculous it is to default to the nofollow tag on links, simply because they were built manually.

It’s actually pretty ironic that it’s the SEO community that is freaking out about nofollow the most.

2. Nofollow Is a Band-Aid Fix

Applying a nofollow tag to all manually built links is a Band-Aid fix – it doesn’t solve the real problem.

The nofollow tag doesn’t address people creating spam/low-quality stuff. Scaring a small portion of webmasters into nofollowing guest blog links won’t even put a dent in the spam that’s out there. Not even just the guest blogging spam.

If Google doesn’t want to count certain links, they should figure that out internally. Bullying people with FUD isn’t the answer. This is causing confusion amongst even those who are SEO savvy (i.e., Rand Fishkin’s tweet).

In response to Cutts’ declaration of guest blogging being “done,” Danny Sullivan, founding editor of Search Engine Land, left a great comment that explains why Google’s approach isn’t a viable fix.

I fully endorse Google’s war on spam and I certainly agree with Matt Cutts that there is some definite spamming going on within guest blogging. However, I don’t think scaring people into nofollowing links they actually trust is an effective solution.

3. Nofollow Was Intended for Untrusted Sites and Content

The nofollow tag wasn’t created to be used on every link within a guest blog.

Nofollow was born in 2005 and meant to be used when linking to a site/page that has content you don’t trust. For example, if you were writing a story about an unsavory link network that Google had recently penalized and you wanted to provide a link to said network – you would nofollow that link.

This is why nofollow was created – to tell Google not to follow that link and not connect your site to theirs.

The way many within the SEO realm are using (or discussing using) the nofollow tag on guest blogging links is not how it was intended to be used. The sites considering doing this are sites thathold high editorial standards and are very judicious about where they link. Due to the scare tactics from Google, sites are nofollowing links that point to sites they trust, simply because those links are located in a guest blog.

This is literally the exact opposite of how Google’s own Webmaster Tools page says to use the nofollow attribute.

Not only is this not how the nofollow tag was meant to be used, but it also goes against Google’s own advice to treat users and crawlers the same. Unlike the ‘link network’ example I used earlier where we would be telling the users we don’t trust that site within the content – by nofollowing editorially placed links in guest blogs we’re telling users that we trust the site, but telling crawlers (Google) we don’t.

4. These Links Are Real Signals of Trust and Authority

Finally, if all guest blogging links were nofollowed it would devalue some of the links that Google should want to count.

Google is always searching for signals of authority and high-level guest blogging can provide those signals.

For example, if an authoritative site is willing to publish a post from a guest author, they should include a citation link in that author’s bio. This link is a vote of confidence for that author’s site that indicates authority to Google. If that same link is nofollowed, Google does not receive the indication that the author is authoritative.

Also, the author needs that link to show who they are and why they are credible. This gives the reader the opportunity to visit the author’s site and make their own assessment on the author’s credibility.

If we begin to commonly tell Google we don’t trust a site (nofollow) that in actuality we do trust (and this becomes the norm) how will Google sort this out? This could potentially cause some serious confusion for Google regarding a singular site.

For example, take a new site by an authority figure that predominantly uses guest blogging in their marketing. Even if this site did everything the right way and wasn’t spamming, Google would not be able to attribute links in their guest blogs as votes of confidence because they would be nofollowed.

High-level guest blogging links can actually help Google determine authority online, but nofollowing those links prevents Google from retrieving this data.

Recap

There are four main reasons why I believe defaulting to the nofollow tag for all links acquired through marketing activities is not the future:

  • Widespread adoption isn’t feasible: Many webmasters/site owners don’t even know nofollow exists and are sketchy about proper implementation. Also, big name sites wouldn’t want to change over to nofollow and it would take a penalty to strong-arm them, which would cause major outcry on the Web.
  • Nofollow is a Band-Aid fix: Scaring people into using nofollow doesn’t solve the real problem of spam in guest blogging, if Google doesn’t want to count certain links they need to figure that out internally or at least increase education surrounding what they don’t want to count.
  • Not the intended use for nofollow: The nofollow attribute was created to link to sites/pages with content you don’t trust (mainly for blog comment spam), not treat users and crawlers differently by telling users you trust the site but telling crawlers you don’t.
  • These links are real signals of trust and authority: Links from high-level guest blogging on authoritative sites are actually useful to Google’s algorithm.

Google is targeting spam related to guest blogging. Recent penalties handed down by Google in an orchestrated FUD campaign have folks in the SEO industry in a frenzy about nofollowing links in guest blogs and even manually placed links in general. However, for the reasons listed above, I don’t believe we can continue on our current trend of making the nofollow link the future.

By Jon Ball SEO Tips.

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Search Marketing SEO Costa Rica SEO Strategies SEO tips Social Media

11 Tips for DIY Search Engine Optimization: Link Building and Design

Search engine optimization is a requirement for growing your business online just like a Yellow Pages listing was in the 20th century. If you’re not prominently listed in search engine results, your business may as well not exist to millions of potential customers.

Despite lots of hype by SEO consultants, the basics of SEO are actually pretty straightforward. In fact, I recommend against hiring SEO consultants until you have tried this article’s DIY strategies for improving search engine ranking yourself. This will save you money and make you a smarter web marketer.

Here are my Top Eleven Do-It-Yourself Search Engine Optimization Tips.

A. Link Exchange Tips

1. Relevant Link Backs

The most important factor in determining search engine rankings today is the number and quality of other sites that link to your site. Search engines count these links to determine how authoritative your website is, and use the count to assign a ranking relative to other sites in your target market.

To boost your site’s rankings, you need sites that are relevant to your topic area to link back to you. Their relevance to your topic is important because the choice by a related site to link to yours validates your site’s credibility for your target topics.

2. Highly Ranked Link Backs

Because the sites that link to you help determine your site’s ranking, it’s best if you get sites that are not only relevant but also already highly ranked to link. Some of their high ranking with the search engines basically “rubs off” on your website if they link to you.

3. Anchor Text Link Backs

While almost any relevant or authoritative links back to your website are helpful, it will improve your site’s search engine ranking more if the text of those links containskeywords that are important to your site’s products or subject matter.

So, for example, don’t just ask for links using your domain name or “click here” as the “anchor text”. Instead you should ask your link exchange partners to link to your site using text like “best deals on plasma TVs”, or “Indianapolis chiropractor”.

Such keyword-loaded anchor text links are helpful because the search engines essentially give you “double points” by counting both the link itself and that link’s reinforcement of your website’s importance for the keyword topics it contains.

B. SEO Design Tips

4. No Flash Movies

Don’t hide your web pages behind animated movies that play using Flash software. They may be pretty but search engines prefer plain text today and cannot read Flash. So don’t do it because it may prevent search engines from indexing your site at all.

5. Menus in Text

Similarly, don’t hide your navigational menu links in images. Search engines cannot read graphics as well as they can read text. Your navigational menu is critical for search engine spiders to read both because the menu’s entries demonstrate the hierarchy of your website, and because the keywords contained in menu links tell the search engine what you think is important on each page.

6. Keywords in Image “ALT” and “Title” Tags

As stated previously, search engine crawlers cannot read graphics. You can increase the SEO impact of images on your pages by ensuring that you title and tag them appropriately.

This means renaming JPEG’s and other non-text files with new names that include keywords. So, a photo of a cat should be renamed from “c4289b.jpg” to “cat.jpg” if you want any search engine ranking benefit related to “cat” keywords.

The ALT tags and TITLE tags associated with each image are also great places to insert keywords that can be even more specific than the file name example.

C. SEO Keyword Tips

7. Understanding Keywords

To rank highly in the search engine results you need to pick appropriate key words and phrases with which to promote your site. You don’t want the keywords to be so broad (e.g. “cars”, “shirts”, “consulting”) that your site is lost in a sea of competitors on page 28 of Google’s results. You also don’t want to target keywords that are so narrow that few people are likely to search on them.

You can use free online research tools likeGoogle’s Keyword Tool to help you brainstorm appropriate keywords, andGoogle’s Traffic Estimator Sandbox to find those keywords where there is customer demand to support your website’s business.

The key to uncovering your best keywords is to think like your customer. This means avoiding industry buzzwords or lingo to use simple, “natural language” instead. So try targeting “warm socks” instead of “men’s support hosiery”, for example.

8. Meta Tags

While not as important to search engine ranking calculations as they used to be, the “meta tags” hidden in each web page’s HTML code should be tweaked to maximize their potential impact. This means including your keywords so that they appear in the “title”, “description”, and “keywords” meta tag fields. This is easily done in most web page publishing tools or content management systems (or ask your tech guys to do it). Many search engines reference these fields to identify what keywords you see as most representative of your page’s content.

9. Headline Placements

The visible elements of your web pages’ headlines, links, and text should all be reviewed for keyword inclusion also. The search engines give extra weight to any words that are included in the titles of each page and section, and wherever text is bolded, highlighted, or linked. Their logic here is that if you are emphasizing those words visually to site visitors, then those words are probably key to your site’s content, too.

10. Keywords in Your URL

You want to use your keywords in as many other appropriate places as possible, too. For example if you can use them in your website’s URL that can help your ranking. (Of course, you must balance this against making your URL longer, harder to remember, and perhaps more difficult to spell, too.)

11. Page File Names

Further reinforcement of your keywords by using them in your page titles and file names is also a good idea. This can result in URLs for your popular pages that look like this: http://www.yourbrandnamekeyword.com/keywordkeyword.html

Caution: Avoid Keyword Stuffing

NOTE: You must balance all of this keyword advice against the rules that many search engines have about “keyword stuffing”. This means that you shouldn’t go crazy with the keyword insertion — search engines are wary of sites that overdo it. They prefer your text copy to appear like normal conversational or sales copy.

This suggests a keyword “density” of less than 15%. In other words, for every 100 words of copy on the page, you don’t want to have more than 15 of them as your keywords. Many experts advise even lower, down as low as 3-5%.

Bonus SEO Tip: How to Index Your New Web Site Fast!

For new websites, it is often frustrating how long it can take before the major search engines find, index and add their sites to results pages. (Many search engines even make money on this by offering “rapid submission” services with recurring fees often in the hundreds of dollars.)

One simple tactic that can accelerate a new site’s appearance in search engine results is to have it linked to from an already established, highly ranked site. Big sites are crawled regularly by Google, Yahoo, etc.

(Entrepreneurial small businesses interested in a link exchange with an established site can visit the E-Business Links Directory on ScottFox.com. This free service offers link exchanges that can help improve both search engine submission speed and results ranking. I have had new sites of my own appear in Google’s search results in just days using this technique.)

Overall, the basics of SEO are well within your technical reach. I recommend implementing each of the DIY techniques detailed above before spending money on SEO consultants. There are many more advanced strategies that good SEO consultants can help with to improve your web site rankings.

Follow these DIY SEO guidelines, and you can save your money for that fancy stuff.

About the author: Scott Fox is the author of Internet Riches, the best-selling guide to how anyone can start their own business online. He blogs about e-commerce small businesses, online marketing, and startup strategy at ScottFoxBlog.com. Scott is a regular contributor to About Online Business.

By Scott Fox SEO Tips.

Categories
SEO Costa Rica SEO Strategies SEO tips

3 Tips for Selling SEO

As far back as I can remember, I’ve been in sales. My dad had our family working flea markets selling stuff when I was probably 5 years old.

While we were selling all kinds of stuff, it seemed that my dad always had a story about everything. He knew something about everything we sold. It is that knowledge that separates most “salespeople” from successful sales people.

In SEO, it’s no different. In order to be successful, you must be able to consultatively sell. You must be able to wrap your head around the really important “pain points” and goals of a prospect, and speak toward that.

On the flip side, it’s very challenging to sell to someone who doesn’t have a clue about what SEO really is.

Here are a few tips that you might use to help cut through the techno-babble, relate to a prospect, and close some business.

Tip 1: Listen, With Very Big Ears

I was told once that “the person who speaks the most, loses”. If you’re one of those guys who tries to out-talk the next guy, you probably won’t find a lot of success.

You must get a prospect to share with you their experiences:

  • What’s important in their business (how do they make money)?
  • How are they currently staffed?
  • What marketing efforts currently exist?
  • Do they measure their marketing efforts to an effective cost-per-lead/cost-per-sale?

Then, you can start to ask some SEO questions such as:

  • When did they last redesign their site?
  • Are they happy with current conversion rates?
  • Have they ever hired an SEO firm before and, if so, what did they do and why aren’t they still working with them?

Often times, there is so much information that needs to be gathered that I will ask if the prospect has developed an RFP (request for proposal) for the effort, so that the scope can be defined.

Tip 2: Understand Their Business Deeply

Recently, I met with a prospect that spends $19 million per year on marketing, but not a penny on SEO. Then they proceeded to tell me that organic search is their second most important lead generating source, behind direct traffic to the website.

After gaining access to their Google Analytics, I was able to see that they had lost significant traffic, year over year. Part of this was due to the fact that they redesigned their website (wasn’t responsive) and had to address this “quickly”, so no thought was put into SEO for the newly designed website.

I can clearly see why/where they lost traffic, and I “know” we can get it back. I also know that their conversion rate for organic traffic typically is 3 percent. In our meeting, I was able to get a value that they placed on new leads ($92), and so now I am armed to help to project what I believe the output of an SEO effort can be.

Do some math:

I believe that we’re going to be able to recover about 6,500 visitors per month from the “recovery plan” mentioned earlier. I can also see some fundamental elements preventing a presence across a good number of other relevant/highly searched for terms. Put it all together and I have at least an 80 percent confidence level that we can achieve 8,000 quality visits per month for this particular prospect.

8,000 x 3% conversion rate = 240 leads

240 x $92 CPA goal = $22,080 per month in value.

Tip 3: Speak in Terms They Understand

When you can tell a CEO (or a CMO for that matter) that you feel very confident in churning out ROI, and you can share with them the numbers as to why you feel that way, you’re making the complicated process of SEO selection much simpler.

Most clients don’t understand “robots.txt” or “404s” or any of that stuff. They know “money in, money out”. They want to speak in terms of ROI.

You might pull keywords that you know are relevant for their business, and the search volume, and the client’s current ranking, so that you can “show them” why you feel justified in asking them to invest $15,000 per month in SEO. Of course, you have to be able to back that up and actuallyhave a project plan in mind that you feel will equate to this success.

Don’t be afraid to ask them if they’re getting the same type of ROI from television, radio, print, direct mail or other channels. This will get the CEO to thinking, rather than painting SEO as the “black box”.

Today’s SEO is a very involved effort, requiring hours and hours of research, analysis, and “real work.” I would estimate that this prospect is spending at least $8 million on television, and I don’t even know if that includes production costs. Yet, for some reason, this isn’t a “top lead generator”?

Summary

SEO isn’t for everyone. So – if in your research you find it doesn’t compute – please walk away. Let them know that SEO may not be where they need to spend their resources (money and time). But, for many, it’s a gold mine of opportunity that has been neglected for far too long.

By Mark Jackson SEO Tips.

Categories
Search Marketing SEO Costa Rica SEO Strategies SEO tips Social Media

10 Tips To Understanding & Segmenting Your Organic Traffic

All too often when I take on new SEO clients, I find that most of them do not have Google Analytics set up correctly. Incorrect Google Analytics implementations (often) lead to incorrect data, which in turn can lead to incorrect assumptions about organic traffic, SEO strategy, and how organic visitors convert on a site.

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I’ve compiled ten of my top suggestions here on how to use Google Analytics properly to better understand the organic traffic that is coming to your site. In turn, you can use that information to continue to develop your SEO strategy.

1. Consider Putting All Site Traffic For A Website Under One Google Analytics Property ID

One of the more common mistakes I find in Google Analytics implementations occurs when sites use different property IDs across the same site to segment data in profiles.

This is common, for example, with sites that are software-as-a-service (SaaS) sites or customer portal sites, where customers log in to a separate area of the site to access software or customer service information. In the site owner’s mind, having separate IDs allows the site owner to separate that traffic and understand how each area of the site performs.

Unfortunately, taking this approach can actually lead to incorrect data. In the case of a SaaS client that recently came on board, five percent of the site’s traffic was incorrectly being reported as referral traffic — simply because the Google Analytics ID in the product did not match the ID for the main website. Having separate IDs also means that data becomes lost when transitioning IDs.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about how Google Analytics profiles are set up and organized. Similar to Google AdWords, there is a hierarchical structure to Google Analytics:

account-user-permissions

The ID sits at the Property level. IDs are the identification numbers in the Google Analytics javascript used to communicate various visitor information back to a particular analytics profile. Once a property with an ID is created, multiple “views” can be created to filter out certain types of traffic, such as the product area of a SaaS site.

2. Set Up Goals

All too often, we’re too concerned in SEO with rankings. Yet, what we truly want to know as marketers is: does our SEO traffic convert? And can we increase converting traffic? Goals allow us to begin to measure that.

I’m always surprised at how few companies utilize goals in Google Analytics or don’t have them set up properly. By setting up goals in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to better ascertain if your organic traffic is meeting the goals you have for it. Goals can be just about anything on your site, and there are 20 you can use, so use them! Find out if your organic traffic is truly performing.

To learn more about how to set up goals, click here.

3. Activate E-Commerce

If you sell products on your website, you should definitely be using this tool! The e-commerce module in Google Analytics goes a step beyond goals in that e-commerce website owners can view actual sales data alongside typical Google Analytics data.

To learn more about how to set up e-commerce in Google Analytics, click here.

4. Enable Bot Filtering

This is a new addition to Google Analytics that allows site owners to filter out known bot and spider traffic from the analytics results. While you may at first seem nervous about filtering out this data and what repercussions it may have on your total organic traffic stats, it’s important to isolate the behaviors of the organic traffic that truly has the potential to convert and become customers.

Bot filtering is a setting found on the property level in “Property Settings.”

5. Set Annotations

Annotations are a very helpful way to note changes to the site or other notes that may be important to remember later when reviewing site traffic. For instance, consider setting an annotation when there’s an algorithm update. That way, as the update begins to fully take shape over the next few weeks, you’ll be able to see a bit more clearly the effects it may be having on your own organic traffic.

Annotations are set in the Admin area at the View level.

6. Segment Current Customers Vs. Prospects With Custom Dimensions

If you haven’t used custom dimensions yet, you’re missing out on one of the best tools in Google Analtyics! Custom dimensions allow you to essentially segment traffic by assigning groups based on certain criteria. So for example, on a SaaS site, current customers can be segmented in Google Analytics from potential prospects.

To learn how to set up custom dimensions, click here.

7. Activate Demographics, In-Market & Affinity Segments

In SEO, it can be really tough to consistently target a specific demographic. Demographics, in-market and affinity segments use the same data used in Google AdWords for ad targeting (derived from the third-party DoubleClick cookie and device identifiers). Once activated, you can use this information to see how your organic efforts are reaching certain audiences you may be trying to reach. Data types include:

  • Demographics: age and gender
  • In-market: identifies users that appear to be in the market to purchase certain products
  • Affinity: larger groups of users based on interest, such as “Sports Fans” or “Cooking Enthusiasts”

There is additional code required to fully activate these audience measurements in Google Analytics. To learn how to activate these, click here.

8. Check Your Mobile Traffic

Mobile may be all the rage these days, but I still often find that many companies haven’t put too much thought into mobile. You may be assuming that your site wouldn’t get too much mobile traffic. Why would a B2B company care very much about mobile? The reality is that many sites are seeing much more mobile traffic than they realize — mobile is often an overlooked audience.

It’s important to understand for SEO just how much of your site traffic is mobile. Some important issues to consider with mobile SEO include:

Check your mobile site traffic. What percentage of your visitors are from mobile devices? How do mobile site visitors convert into goals and sales? You may need to reprioritize mobile SEO if you haven’t done so already.

sitespeed

9. Check Page Timings & Speed Suggestions

Formerly located in Google Webmaster Tools, the page timings and suggestions feature is very helpful for website owners to understand how quickly the site loads. It also, however, offers suggestions to speed up site load times.

Site speed has been identified as a ranking factor by Google, so check this area of Google Analytics. Start with the Page Timings report to identify problem pages that are loading slower than they should.

10. Review Attribution Models

Attribution models offer a fantastic way to view multiple methods of attribution (last-touch, first-touch, etc.) for various traffic channels, including organic traffic. Once goals and/or e-commerce is set up for your site, you’ll be able to understand how organic traffic contributes to your company’s overall objectives as compared to other channels.

attribution

I hope these tools are helpful for you as you segment and review your organic traffic and strategy priorities for SEO. Have a suggestion I haven’t listed here? Please share in the comments below!

By Janet Driscoll Miller SEO Tips.