Monthly Archives - December 2011

A Content Checklist to Help You Improve Search Engine Optimization

Don’t fall prey to the idea that websites need to be flashy to attract and retain visitors. User interface, while important, is not as important as the content of the page. Overly flashy web pages often make the content more difficult to access and read, resulting in lower search engine rankings.

 

Since content is the main factor in search engine placement, serious thought should be given to the words users would type to find a specific topic and each page should include appropriate words within its text.  Don’t over think your choice of text. The major search engines are smart enough to find related terms such as “veterinarian” for “pet doctor” as well as derivations of words such as “car” and “automobile” – even making allowances for common misspelling. Cramming words into a page for the sole purpose of search engine optimization will harm rather than help rankings.

 

Here’s a content checklist. Follow it and watch your search engine rankings improve:

 

* Create a useful, information rich website by writing content that clearly and accurately describes your business, services and products.

* Use text instead of images to display important names, content or links. Search engines can’t read images.

* Limit pages to a reasonable size – just long enough o give all pertinent information. If the content is lengthy, divide the information into usable pages.

* Once you’ve gotten the message across, stop writing. Text for the sake of increasing the number of “keywords” on will turn off visitors and search engines alike.

* Proof-read, spell check and “peer review” your website. All websites can benefit from multiple opinions and multiple content edits.

* Make sure the <TITLE> element for your document is concise, accurate and contains the most important keywords for that page. The page <TITLE> is used by search engines to display link text as the result of a search.

* Make sure that each <IMG> element includes an <ALT> attribute, containing pertinent text.

* Provide links to interesting, related content when appropriate, but keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.

* Always reference citations and other sources. (This lets search engines know that your content is of research quality.)

* In certain countries, illegal content within a page will most likely result in that page’s omission from search engines.

 

Writing good content requires a lot of time, energy and thought. The ultimate goal is to create content that will be useful to your web visitors. Good content will get many times the return on your investment.

 

Are You Making These Common Local SEO Mistakes?

Despite the growing recognition of the importance of local search engine optimization, many businesses continue to make some very basic SEO errors when creating a company website. Here are some of the cost common and easily fixed local SEO errors that companies continue to commit. Fixing them can greatly enhance your search engine rankings.

 

URL name. Don’t underestimate how important a good URL is. There are exceptions and it’s possible to rank high without keywords in the URL. But all things being equal, if you have keywords in the URL (the domain name or file names), this gives you tremendous advantage over your competitors.

 

Home page title. Okay, it’s your home page. But that doesn’t mean that you want it to rank for the word “home.” Your home page needs to be targeted to the primary terms that you’re trying to rank for. For example, if you’re an accountant, your home page title should target your accounting services in your locality.

 

Site promotion. Many businesses think that the process is complete as soon as the website is launched. They don’t realize that the website needs to be promoted like any other product or service.

 

References to your website, company, products and services, and inbound are just a few of the primary mechanism search engines use to determine which websites are the most important sites related to a particular search query.

 

Crawler-unfriendly development methods. Avoid using development tools like Flash for your whole website. Search engines are doing a better job at understanding the content within Flash files, but they still don’t deal with it as well as plain HTML text.

 

Thin content pages. Many website pages simply have too little content per page. Often these are even be pages that the user sees as content rich, such as a page with images showing products, basic product descriptions and price. Often the only text on such pages that differs from other product pages is the page title, heading tags and the price. Search engines often see such pages as either a low quality page or a duplicate.

 

Over-optimized pages. Sometimes writers and web designers go overboard after learning a few SEO basics. They create overly keyword-rich pages in an effort to improve their rankings. This quickly makes for a poor user experience – the result being a decrease in conversion rates or the site being less attractive for others to link to. It’s easy for the content providers to begin to think more about the search engines and less about the end users. Make sure your writer focuses on creating quality content.  

 

Internal anchor text. A surprising number of websites still use “click here” or “more” as the anchor text on internal links. Anchor text is a golden opportunity to help search engines understand what the page being linked to is all about.

Using Social Media Will Boost Local Search Results

Companies are no longer asking if they should be active in social media. They understand that user-generated content is a required element of a comprehensive location-based search program.  It’s now just a question of developing the right social media strategy that will give you greatest impact. 

 

The right social media strategy will let you:

  • ·  Communicate directly with your customers
  • ·  Create engaging discussion topics
  • ·  Help your marketing go viral
  • ·  Boost your online brand-awareness
  • ·  Propel your business to the top of local search results

 

Here are some tips that will help you achieve those goals in the ever evolving social media landscape:

 

Build a fan base on Facebook. Facebook users tend to follow a specific brand – eventually purchasing that brand. Facebook ‘Likes’ spread brand awareness virally, delivering information to everyone befriended by your brand fans.

 

Use Twitter to keep in touch with customers. Twitter users also tend to follow a specific brand, with nearly 70 percent of them will end up purchasing that brand. Use your Twitter posts to engage consumers by providing them with helpful information about your products and services. Special offers are a great way to grab the attention of Twitter followers.

 

Encourage customers to rate and review your business. Consumers love online reviews because they can see what others really think about you and your product (or service) before making a purchasing decision.  In addition, reviews on social media sites improve your search engine rankings and will drive free web traffic.

 

Leverage YouTube in local search results.  Embed videos in Google Places, websites, and social profile pages.  Videos showcase your products and services while putting a human face on your business.

 

Give customers incentives to share information online.  “Share and Receive a Reward” programs can encourage consumers to share your offers with their friends via Facebook, Twitter and other web channels in exchange for discounts or special prizes.

 

By creating an effective social media marketing program you make it easier for your customers to find and talk about your business online. The result can be incredible and greatly amplify your web marketing results, generate calls and appointments and boost long-term brand awareness.

The Importance of Local Search Engine Optimization Continues to Grow

Establishing a web presence for a small or mid-sized business can feel like a case of “small fish, big pond.” Every business wants to appear at or near the top search results for the top search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing. But as the Internet continues to grow in both size and importance, it can become even more difficult to get noticed.

 

Today people use search engines to look for services and products within their local reach – such as restaurants, doctors, lawyers, and lawn care services. As a result, the major search engines now deliver more localized search results into their organic listings. Search engines have even created special indexes that deal exclusively with businesses who want to list their services/products to their local geographical audience.

 

Small and mid-sized businesses need to take advantage of the fact that people are using search engines to find them locally. After all, if you’re an accountant in Las Vegas, do you really care if people in Miami view your website? But successful local SEO can demand more creativity.

 

How does one improve their local search engine optimization process? Just like standard SEO, creating relevant and compelling content is crucial. Well-written copy for your user and proper local keyword research goes a long way in giving your business a competitive advantage in the SEO battle.

 

The fact that local search results are being listed before organic web results gives your small business a golden opportunity.  But you now need to pay more attention to local business listings as an essential part of your search engine marketing (while still optimizing for the traditional web listings). Local SEO marketing is more important than ever.