It’s no secret that SEO is vital for online success. And for small businesses, local SEO can be even more important. You can’t thrive if you can’t be found. With much of the population doing daily searches to find their favorite products and services, it is imperative to optimize the site locally. This is even more relevant now that mobile users are growing. Nearly 60% of search queries are performed on mobile devices. With so many SEO strategies and techniques available, let’s focus on the ones that will give you the most impact short term that will set you up for long-term success.
All marketers should be aware of how important SEO is to your organic and local rankings. About 20% of your SEO efforts will be on-page optimization. So, what’s included in the other 80%? Well, there’s citations, backlinks, content, mobile, page speed, etc. The list goes on.
Backlinks have always been an important Google ranking factor. As time has progressed and Google has updated their algorithm, they’ve learned to weed the good from the bad. Yes, link quantity is good, but link QUALITY is becoming even more important.
Are you still asking yourself why you should care about backlinks when it comes to SEO? How about this, backlinks are the top 3 of Google ranking factors. Convinced now? Awesome. Let’s dive in.
What are backlinks?
Backlinks, also known as Inbound links, are simply links that are directed to your website. The number of backlinks you have can be an indication of the popularity or position of your website. Google, Bing, and other search engines will give more credit to websites that have quality backlinks. This is because they consider those websites more relevant to the search query.
Notice the word QUALITY above. This is key. Not only should the referring domain having high authority and a high trust score, the site should also be relevant to your industry. Wouldn’t you find it strange if a dog food website linked to a travel site? So would Google.
As I mentioned previously, Google doesn’t weigh all backlinks equally. There are some types of backlinks you want to avoid when working out your backlink strategy. Article directories, $5 Fiver gigs that promise tens of thousands of backlinks, irrelevant link exchanges. All of these can cause a huge spike in backlinks and Google will see that as spammy black hat tactics and penalize your site.
So, what should my backlink strategy consist of?
- Set goals: It can be difficult to prove a link building campaign is successful, even when it hits certain goals. Because of this, marketers have to not only set realistic goals but to make sure that the goals they set are more than build X number of links. The goals need to tie into organizational goals and have a positive impact on the bottom line of the business. Like all good marketing, focus on long-term gains, not overnight quick-wins.
- Identify your assets: What is it you’re going to use to attract and get links? Some examples of assets can be blog/article content, products, services, people, and or data. Be sure that the assets you create are relevant to the audience you’re wanting to attract.
- Identify types of links you need: Do you need links to your home page? May links to an interior page like a product or service page. You can also have links to keywords you’re targeting.
- Identify your sites: make sure you find sites that are not only authoritative but relevant as well. These can be news sites, government websites, educational websites, community websites, charities and other businesses. Remember, quality links so do press releases, reach out to suppliers and sponsors. Tap into communities that your customers frequent (such as Reddit, StumbleUpon, forums, and blogs).
SEO strategies are not set it and forget it. It takes a long time to build authority especially if a site is new. Don’t expect to rank #1 overnight. Want that coveted position 0 on Google? You’ve got to work for it. Stay tuned for more blogs from me on how to rank on Google. Want to learn more about how we can help in your SEO plan? Contact us today.
Facebook not long ago was under the microscope for allegations of altering and suppressing of certain in trending topics. This time the charge centers on the suggestions that Google makes as people type in its search bar. Can the search giant alter public perception of candidates by suggesting possible searches?
Please pardon the extreme irony of this blog post… a blog about how to write a great blog, when I think about it, is pretty funny. But, I have proven strategies and loads of insight that I want to share about blogs! So, here it goes:
First things first – know your audience
Demographic analysis, buyer personas … whatever you choose to call it, arguably the most important step is doing the research to understand your ideal customer profile. Chances are, there will be multiple and the beauty of it is, you can write blog posts tailored to each segment. For instance, for the sake of transparency, I’m writing this blog specifically for digital marketers who want to gain an edge when creating blogs either for their clients or the company which they are employed. The ultimate goal of any blog post is drive conversions and in order for there to be conversions, there needs to be eye balls reading the post (specifically eye balls coming from the head of a qualified lead!)
Know what your audience is searching for
I wrote a blog a few months ago that urged content creators to lean on their data rather than gut instinct and though I have waffled at times on that thought, I always refer back to the data before making ANY content decisions. The best way to get a pulse on your audience is to research to find what keywords their searching for. Tools I would suggest using are: Google Analytics, Google Trends, and Google Keyword Planner. If you want to take it a step further and conduct a more thorough analysis, use moz, semrush, or BrightLocal to have a full evaluation. Because time is always of the essence, I suggest using the first 3 options to expedite the research process before writing. When doing keyword research, always keep this formula in mind for selecting the right keywords:
Search Volume + Difficultly = Opportunity
Google Keyword Planner will be our go-to for this. Quick tip: make sure and enter short tail and long tail variations when researching! Now, the keyword planner will give you average monthly search volume and 12 month trends as well as difficultly level but the opportunity end of the equation is what you would use moz for. However, when you see search volume, CPC information, and difficultly level all laid out in front of you, it’s pretty easy to deduce whether you should target that phrase or not.
Bottom line, once you have your topics validated with search volume and you’ve selected a phrase with a couple variations that have the opportunity to get rankings for, start writing!
Where to place the keywords when writing
This next step is often times referred to as on-page keyword optimization. This is the section that the search engines like. Though, something important to keep in mind, only 20% of keyword ranking comes from on-page optimization. The other 80% is off-page optimization which, in short, is primarily based on influencer outreach and backlinking. (We’ll cover this topic more extensively in other blog posts in the coming months.) Here is a list of places where your keywords MUST be used when optimizing on-page content:
- Within the URL
- H1 Tag (typically the first part of the body section)
- SEO title
- Meta description
- Category tag(s)
- Post tags
- a href or link title tags
- Hyperlinks to internal and external pages with similar keyword content
- Inner page content used at least 3-5 times with long tail variations
- Image URL structure (aka, save your image files in a clean, non-caps format)
- Image title tag
- Image ALT text
An important piece to remember when strategically placing keywords throughout your blog is to make them appear natural and human. Yes – Google loves rich content with accurate keyword usage but if it sounds robotic, your audience might get turned off. An example of this would be if I made this blog post’s SEO title: Blog Writing in Indianapolis | How to Write Blogs – or some quirky variation of that.
Aside from keyword placement on your blog post, another piece to consider is worth length in general. It use to be “the more pages that Google indexes, the better” – which still carries a lot of weight – but the trend now is long blog posts with rich content. What does that mean in regards to word count? The answer isn’t that simple because honestly, it depends. Seth Godin, for example, has one of the most popular blogs on the internet and his word count ranges from 100 to over 1,000. As a rule of thumb, always try and aim for a minimum of 500. This post will be over 1,000, I’m sure, but that’s just because I’m passionate about blogging – if you can’t tell.
Blog flow and ending with a bang
The flow of a blog post has a high level of importance because if you don’t have your copy broken out with sub-headers, bullet points, and images, it’s going to look like a sea of letters that nobody will have an interest in reading. Aside from BuzzFeed’s edgy way of blogging with topical humor and nostalgia, how do you think they originally went viral? Here’s a hint; it wasn’t because they wrote in a traditional manner with paragraphs, grammar, and punctuation! They pushed the envelope and wrote out lists… lists with digestible information that were funny and interesting.
Now, I’m not saying every blog should be like BuzzFeed. Though they have mastered the art of going viral, they are, as the aforementioned Seth Godin put it in a Ted Talk from years ago, the Purple Cow of the internet. They created something remarkable that gets viewed by millions of people everyday. Not many companies can say that about their blog let alone their website.
So from top down, really zero in on your blog before publishing. Since you are the author, you of course will be biased and think it’s the greatest piece of literature since Shakespeare. But before you start comparing your blog to Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, make sure it’s something that flows nicely and is approachable, readable and, most importantly, interesting and entertaining.
That “ending with a bang” I was talking about
Every blog post serves a purpose and as previously mentioned, the purpose of this post is to empower you with blogging knowledge. I’m not the only one who knows how to blog at StrataBlue! In fact, it’s something that we’re known for as an agency. If you’d like to look into options for us taking blogging off your to-do list, simply give my man Tyler Moore a call at 317-207-0195. Or, click the button below to fill out a brief online form. Thanks for tuning in and happy blogging!
The world is at your fingertips when operating your website on the WordPress platform. Figuring out what plugins you will need for your new website or updated website can be tricky.