All posts tagged SEO
We’ve known for some time that mobile search is a crucial part of strengthening any web presence, but with the introduction of Google Now businesses will see their mobile search efforts interjected in even more exciting (and beneficial) ways than ever before.
It’s no surprise that Google is refining its data intelligence on yet another level; Google Now (using “Google cards”) shows web page suggestions based on the user’s previous searches.
This feature will no doubt take its queues from traditional search queries, but will also be enhanced by mobile search considerations such as time and location.
Geo-Targeting on the Go
In addition to page suggestions, Google Now offers a concierge-like service that delivers local traffic, hotels, restaurants and shopping tailored to your exact location.
So if you leave New York City and arrive in Austin, you will have real-time data at your fingertips including reviews, events, transit, and tourist information.
This presents a huge opportunity for businesses targeting local customers, whether residents or visitors.
With Google Now, businesses should be thinking about how they want to appear on mobile search with regards to reviews, directions, business information, and accessibility (phone number, email address, instant chat).
In order for businesses to take advantage of Google Now, which is already available on Android and iOS devices, a strategic approach is needed for effective mobile search marketing.
As this service develops more features in the future, businesses will need to have a firm grasp on users’ search intent in order to get the clicks they want and the conversions they need to survive in an increasingly on-the-go environment.
What are Alt Tags?
Alt tags, or alt text, are the alternative text that text browsers or web agents will use to describe an image they are unable to read. For this reason, it’s always important that your alt tags contain information about the actual image.
Here’s an example:
As you can see, this image contains two apples and a banana, so you would definitely want to include the types of fruit in your alt tag. That being said, it’s equally important that you include some SEO text, usually one of your keywords. In this example, we used the alt tag: apples-bananas-alt-tag-example, with “alt tag” being a main keyword.
By setting it up this way, our alt tag uses “alt tag” in a way that makes sense for this web page and the image. You can think of it as being similar to writing content for your page – you want it to flow naturally.
Follow the K.I.S.S. Rule for Alt Tags
Rather than keyword stuffing your alt tag (something that could actually hurt your SEO), just choose one keyword that best fits the image.
Length is also a key factor when creating alt tags, and it’s best to keep yours between 5 and 15 words. Any longer than that and text browsers could have trouble reading your text.
Finally, a major benefit of keeping it simple is that your page will load faster. When pages load slowly, it can hurt the ranking in search engines.
Alt tags are an easy way to enhance your SEO efforts behind the scenes, and help readers understand images along the way. Start working in alt tags with your images and measure the page ranking reports afterward to see if your additions are making an impact.
In fact, even with the huge changes that Google made with Panda and Penguin in 2012, pages that demonstrated an honest-to-goodness approach to on-page optimization were the ones that shot up in rankings.
While the exact details on what search engines are looking for will always be locked away in the dungeons of Google and Bing, we do know that being creative and individual in the approach seems to score points.
Ideas for Better On-Page Optimization:
- Be Tolerant with the Title – Yes, it is important that your title contains your keywords, but it doesn’t mean that it has to be totally black and white. Give yourself the freedom to expand on the keywords in a way that is more inviting and inclusive:
Arizona Vacations for Couples | Desert Escapes to Arizona | ABC
- Be Brilliant with the Breadcrumbs – These handy reference tools have long been used to help visitors navigate sites more easily, but they are also prime real estate for keywords. Shore up these on-page elements for optimization magic:
Home >> Products >> Bicycles >> Women’s Beach Cruisers
- Be Creative with the Copy – Aside from the creative freedom you will inevitably exercise within the copy, it’s equally important to think in a less structured manner to benefit from your on-page optimization efforts.
Instead of repeating your keywords verbatim every time, try varying the way you use them:
High-heeled shoes are one of the most popular accessories for women, and it is amazing how some people can even walk in them. Is there a high-heeled, yet comfortable, shoe in existence?
The title, breadcrumbs and copy are just pieces to a bigger SEO pie, but they do contribute to better on-page optimization and – the ultimate goal – better search engine rankings. (Not to mention, it’s more fun this way.) Take the time soon to be inspired and work on updating these on-page elements for optimization purposes, and see how well the new and improved pages perform.
If you were launching a new product, you wouldn’t do so without first researching your target audience. The same principles apply for search engine optimization (SEO) – you need to conduct keyword research in order to attract and engage the ideal audience.
Search engine optimization is the process of creating online content that attracts the right people. Who are the right people? They’re the ones that are most likely to find your content useful and, in the future, relevant enough to convert them into buyers.
How do they find this type of high-quality content? They type a word or phrase (both referred to as keywords) into a search engine such as Google or Bing. The results that are delivered are the ones that best match the word or phrase they typed in.
Here is an example for the keyword “holiday travel packages to costa rica”:
These are the top three results for “holiday travel packages to costa rica.” As you can see, the search engine returned these pages because they include some variation of this keyword, therefore making it relevant to the user’s search.
So if you want to get your web page content in front of the right people, you need to make sure that your content includes the right search terms, or keywords.
Keyword research is the only way to ensure that you’re using the best keywords to reach the right people who want to buy what you’re selling.
How Keyword Research Delivers Higher Quality Traffic
Think for a second about a travel agency that wants to promote holiday travel packages to Costa Rica on its website. Without doing any keyword research, the agency may choose to optimize for the keyword “travel packages,” thinking that this is the most obvious choice for the page. It could, in fact, achieve a high ranking in search engines for “travel packages” if the SEO is done correctly; however, this keyword is quite vague, and most likely won’t attract the kind of people that specifically want to purchase a holiday travel package to Costa Rica.
For example, if someone wanted a travel package for Siberia and they typed in the search term “travel packages,” they might find this page all about Costa Rica. This isn’t likely to convert into a sale. Even if the travel agency gets many visitors to the “travel packages” page, they need quality visitors (those that want to go to Costa Rica for the holidays) in order to convert and make a profit. This is why keyword research is so important for your SEO.
Let’s recap. With keyword research, you can ensure:
- More relevant content
- Better qualified website visitors
- Higher conversion rates
- Greater profits
The best place to start your keyword research? Check out your website’s keyword analytics to see which terms people are already using to find your site, and use that information as you go through the SEO process.
If you’re publishing new blog posts to your site without SEO permalinks, then you’re wasting your time writing the blog posts in the first place.
Because permalinks that are optimized for search engines are what keep your content indexed by Google and Bing, and what allow people to find your posts long after they’ve been written.
What is an SEO Permalink?
Permalink is short for “permanent link,” and it’s what appears in your browser’s location bar whenever you visit a page on the web.
An SEO permalink utilizes important keywords in an attempt to rank better in search engines. This type of URL will always point to a specific blog post, so that it can be found even after the post has passed from the front page to the archives.
As an added bonus, the URL is generally more readable for humans, so it helps them see that your post has the information they want and, therefore, increases the number of clickthroughs.
Let’s take a look at an example of an SEO permalink from the RSO blog:
As you can see, the permalink is clean, concise and clearly explains what kind of information the reader can expect to find in the blog post. Search engines will notice you and people will, too.
Writing an Effective SEO Permalink
There are several ways to construct a permalink, and a few different pieces of information that you can include. Some bloggers choose to put the date in their URL while others prefer to use the post number.
The problem with using a date is that over time it can signal to potential readers that your information is out-of-date, expired, stale…you get the picture. And, well, post numbers just don’t do much for encouraging clickthroughs either.
For the sake of ranking well in search engines and appealing to potential visitors, we recommend a simplified permalink structure that includes your blog post title and the most important keyword(s):
To see what this looks like, here is how the URL for the same RSO blog post appears in search engine results:
Not only does the SEO permalink contain keywords that Google could potentially rank for, but it also appears to human readers to have the information that they desire. (Click me! Click me!)
A Final Caveat
While using permalinks is a very smart way to promote new blog posts across the web, we do not recommend reassigning permalinks to posts that have already been published. Unless, of course, you consult an SEO professional that has a background and successful track record in handling such requests.
For one, it can affect your website performance, particularly if it’s already established or performing well in search engines.
Two, changing permalinks will reset all of your Facebook “likes”, Twitter retweets, and other social media markers.
For new blog posts, however, just apply the URL structure above and check your Google Analytics to see how you’re doing.
Amid widespread and passionate outcry, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D, Nevada) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R, Texas), who was the chief sponsor for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), decided to drop the controversial bill from being considered by the House Judiciary Committee last Friday. While the decision has been met with a collective sigh of relief from all corners of the globe, it is likely more of a temporary reprieve than an outright victory for web users and sites.
Both SOPA and its sister bill in the Senate, PIPA (Protect IP Act) were proposed as wide-ranging, anti-piracy legislation that would seek to block any sites that are in any way connected to the sharing of pirated, copyright-protected material online. The problems with these bills are manifold and have been debated ad nauseum for the past few weeks and months. Aside from their rather blatant attempt to censor the free expression of ideas and speech, the bills would enact a quasi-police state on the web, making all websites responsible for every link and every sentence that appears in their content. The implications for SEM businesses would be potentially disastrous:
- When generating new content, it would become necessary to verify every single source that you link to is not also violating SOPA in some way. This extends to articles, videos, images and any type of online content. Not only would this will be a huge waste of resources and time each time you post content, it would also substantially decrease interlinking between sites and greatly affect SEO.
- Google indexing would become more difficult and time-consuming as they would also need to adjust to the new rules and regulations. Google would have to verify that every site they are indexing did not violate any copyright laws.
- New back-linking methods might emerge such as “no-follow” or “no-right”. The SEO industry would adapt to SOPA and PIPA by linking to sources with much more caution. While that sounds nice in theory, it would mean that interlinking will happen but with specific codes such as “no-right-follow” which would mean that the linked site’s information has not been verified.
In a reasoned rebuttal to Rep. Smith, the members of SEMPO (non-profit advocacy group for search and digital marketers) wrote the following, which has largely been echoed throughout the industry:
“Our members are intimately aware of the value of intellectual property. The mantra of most search marketers substantiates this: “Content is king.” Our members spend their days creating unique content for their clients so that consumers can better find and understand the clients’ products and services – and therefore be more likely to purchase them. We don’t like it when our content is duplicated or plagiarized either. It undermines our effectiveness. However, we find that we have all the laws and legal resources we need to fight IP theft right now. What SOPA seeks is not to target the perpetrators of IP theft or piracy, rather to impose upon innocent companies – companies that compose the Internet as a medium – a mandate to become policemen and lawyers, enforced with sanctions or jail time.”
In the wake of the bill’s abrupt death last week, millions have lauded its defeat as a major victory for online protests – one which saw the likes of Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon etc. joining forces with grassroots campaigns from ordinary citizens. And perhaps most ironically, the defeat of SOPA and PIPA has showcased yet again – after a year of historic examples in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt – the growing power of the web to galvanize people and affect change.