Tag Archives: seo

The Basics of Search Engine Friendly Design and Development

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Search engines are limited in how they crawl the web and interpret content. A webpage doesn’t always look the same to you and me as it looks to a search engine. In this section, we’ll focus on specific technical aspects of building (or modifying) web pages so they are structured for both search engines and human visitors alike. Share this part of the guide with your programmers, information architects, and designers, so that all parties involved in a site’s construction are on the same page.

Indexable Content

To perform better in search engine listings, your most important content should be in HTML text format. Images, Flash files, Java applets, and other non-text content are often ignored or devalued by search engine crawlers, despite advances in crawling technology. The easiest way to ensure that the words and phrases you display to your visitors are visible to search engines is to place them in the HTML text on the page. However, more advanced methods are available for those who demand greater formatting or visual display styles:

1. Provide “alt” text for images. Assign images in “gif”,jpg, or png format “alt attributes” in HTML to give search engines a text description of  the visual content.

2. Supplement search boxes with navigation and crawlable links.

3. Suppliment Flash or Java plug-ins with text on the page.

4. Providae a transcript for video and audio content if the words and phrases used araea meant to be indexed by the engines.

Seeing your site as the search engines do

Many websites have significant problems with indexable content, so double-checking is worthwhile. By using tools like Google’s cache, SEO-browser.com, and the MozBar you can see what elements of your content are visible and indexable to the engines. Take a look at Google’s text cache of this page you are reading now. See how different it looks?

 

“I have a problem with getting found. I built a huge Flash site for juggling pandas and I’m not showing up anywhere on Google. What’s up?”

Whoa! That’s what we look like?

Using the Google cache feature, we can see that to a search engine, JugglingPandas.com’s homepage doesn’t contain all the rich information that we see. This makes it difficult for search engines to interpret relevancy.

Axe Battling Monkeys Comparison

Hey, where did the fun go?

Uh oh … via Google cache, we can see that the page is a barren wasteland. There’s not even text telling us that the page contains the Axe Battling Monkeys. The site is built entirely in Flash, but sadly, this means that search engines cannot index any of the text content, or even the links to the individual games. Without any HTML text, this page would have a very hard time ranking in search results.

It’s wise to not only check for text content but to also use SEO tools to double-check that the pages you’re building are visible to the engines. This applies to your images, and as we see below, to your links as well.

Crawlable Link Structures

Just as search engines need to see content in order to list pages in their massive keyword-based indexes, they also need to see links in order to find the content in the first place. A crawlable link structure—one that lets the crawlers browse the pathways of a website—is vital to them finding all of the pages on a website. Hundreds of thousands of sites make the critical mistake of structuring their navigation in ways that search engines cannot access, hindering their ability to get pages listed in the search engines’ indexes.

Below, we’ve illustrated how this problem can happen:

Index Diagram

 

In the example above, Google’s crawler has reached page A and sees links to pages B and E. However, even though C and D might be important pages on the site, the crawler has no way to reach them (or even know they exist). This is because no direct, crawlable links point pages C and D. As far as Google can see, they don’t exist! Great content, good keyword targeting, and smart marketing won’t make any difference if the crawlers can’t reach your pages in the first place.

shepherdLink tags can contain images, text, or other objects, all of which provide a clickable area on the page that users can engage to move to another page. These links are the original navigational elements of the Internet – known as hyperlinks. In the above illustration, the “<a” tag indicates the start of a link. The link referral location tells the browser (and the search engines) where the link points. In this example, the URL http://www.jonwye.com is referenced. Next, the visible portion of the link for visitors, called anchor text in the SEO world, describes the page the link points to. The linked-to page is about custom belts made by Jon Wye, thus the anchor text “Jon Wye’s Custom Designed Belts.” The “</a>” tag closes the link to constrain the linked text between the tags and prevent the link from encompassing other elements on the page.
shepherd

Submission-required forms

If you require users to complete an online form before accessing certain content, chances are search engines will never see those protected pages. Forms can include a password-protected login or a full-blown survey. In either case, search crawlers generally will not attempt to submit forms, so any content or links that would be accessible via a form are invisible to the engines.

Links in unparseable JavaScript

If you use JavaScript for links, you may find that search engines either do not crawl or give very little weight to the links embedded within. Standard HTML links should replace JavaScript (or accompany it) on any page you’d like crawlers to crawl.

Links pointing to pages blocked by the Meta Robots tag or robots.txt

The Meta Robots tag and the robots.txt file both allow a site owner to restrict crawler access to a page. Just be warned that many a webmaster has unintentionally used these directives as an attempt to block access by rogue bots, only to discover that search engines cease their crawl.

Frames or iframes

Technically, links in both frames and iframes are crawlable, but both present structural issues for the engines in terms of organization and following. Unless you’re an advanced user with a good technical understanding of how search engines index and follow links in frames, it’s best to stay away from them.

Robots don’t use search forms

Although this relates directly to the above warning on forms, it’s such a common problem that it bears mentioning. Some webmasters believe if they place a search box on their site, then engines will be able to find everything that visitors search for. Unfortunately, crawlers don’t perform searches to find content, leaving millions of pages inaccessible and doomed to anonymity until a crawled page links to them.

Links in Flash, Java, and other plug-ins

The links embedded inside the Juggling Panda site (from our above example) are perfect illustrations of this phenomenon. Although dozens of pandas are listed and linked to on the page, no crawler can reach them through the site’s link structure, rendering them invisible to the engines and hidden from users’ search queries.

Links on pages with many hundreds or thousands of links

Search engines will only crawl so many links on a given page. This restriction is necessary to cut down on spam and conserve rankings. Pages with hundreds of links on them are at risk of not getting all of those links crawled and indexed.If you avoid these pitfalls, you’ll have clean, spiderable HTML links that will allow the spiders easy access to your content pages.

Links can have lots of attributes. The engines ignore nearly all of them, with the important exception of the rel=”nofollow” attribute. In the example above, adding the rel=”nofollow” attribute to the link tag tells the search engines that the site owners do not want this link to be interpreted as an endorsement of the target page.

Nofollow, taken literally, instructs search engines to not follow a link (although some do). The nofollow tag came about as a method to help stop automated blog comment, guest book, and link injection spam, but has morphed over time into a way of telling the engines to discount any link value that would ordinarily be passed. Links tagged with nofollow are interpreted slightly differently by each of the engines, but it is clear they do not pass as much weight as normal links.

Are nofollow links bad?

Although they don’t pass as much value as their followed cousins, nofollowed links are a natural part of a diverse link profile. A website with lots of inbound links will accumulate many nofollowed links, and this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, Moz’s Ranking Factors showed that high ranking sites tended to have a higher percentage of inbound nofollow links than lower-ranking sites.

Google

Google states that in most cases</a>, they don’t follow nofollow links, nor do these links transfer PageRank or anchor text values. Essentially, using nofollow causes Google to drop the target links from their overall graph of the web. Nofollow links carry no weight and are interpreted as HTML text (as though the link did not exist). That said, many webmasters believe that even a nofollow link from a high authority site, such as Wikipedia, could be interpreted as a sign of trust.

Bing and Yahoo

Bing, which powers Yahoo search results, has also stated that they do not include nofollow links in the link graph, though their crawlers may still use nofollow links as a way to discover new pages. So while they may <em>follow</em> the links, they don’t use them in rankings calculations.

Keyword Usage and Targeting

Keywords are fundamental to the search process. They are the building blocks of language and of search. In fact, the entire science of information retrieval (including web-based search engines like Google) is based on keywords. As the engines crawl and index the contents of pages around the web, they keep track of those pages in keyword-based indexes rather than storing 25 billion web pages all in one database. Millions and millions of smaller databases, each centered on a particular keyword term or phrase, allow the engines to retrieve the data they need in a mere fraction of a second.

Obviously, if you want your page to have a chance of ranking in the search results for “dog,” it’s wise to make sure the word “dog” is part of the crawlable content of your document.

Keyword MapKeyword Domination

Keywords dominate how we communicate our search intent and interact with the engines. When we enter words to search for, the engine matches pages to retrieve based on the words we entered. The order of the words (“pandas juggling” vs. “juggling pandas”), spelling, punctuation, and capitalization provide additional information that the engines use to help retrieve the right pages and rank them.

Search engines measure how keywords are used on pages to help determine the relevance of a particular document to a query. One of the best ways to optimize a page’s rankings is to ensure that the keywords you want to rank for are prominently used in titles, text, and metadata.

Generally speaking, as you make your keywords more specific, you narrow the competition for search results, and improve your chances of achieving a higher ranking. The map graphic to the left compares the relevance of the broad term “books” to the specific title Tale of Two Cities. Notice that while there are a lot of results for the broad term, there are considerably fewer results (and thus, less competition) for the specific result.

Keyword Abuse

Since the dawn of online search, folks have abused keywords in a misguided effort to manipulate the engines. This involves “stuffing” keywords into text, URLs, meta tags, and links. Unfortunately, this tactic almost always does more harm than good for your site.

In the early days, search engines relied on keyword usage as a prime relevancy signal, regardless of how the keywords were actually used. Today, although search engines still can’t read and comprehend text as well as a human, the use of machine learning has allowed them to get closer to this ideal.

The best practice is to use your keywords naturally and strategically (more on this below). If your page targets the keyword phrase “Eiffel Tower” then you might naturally include content about the Eiffel Tower itself, the history of the tower, or even recommended Paris hotels. On the other hand, if you simply sprinkle the words “Eiffel Tower” onto a page with irrelevant content, such as a page about dog breeding, then your efforts to rank for “Eiffel Tower” will be a long, uphill battle. The point of using keywords is not to rank highly for all keywords, but to rank highly for the keywords that people are searching for when they want what your site provides.

On-Page Optimization

Keyword usage and targeting are still a part of the search engines’ ranking algorithms, and we can apply some effective techniques for keyword usage to help create pages that are well-optimized. Here at Moz, we engage in a lot of testing and get to see a huge number of search results and shifts based on keyword usage tactics. When working with one of your own sites, this is the process we recommend. Use the keyword phrase:

  • In the title tag at least once. Try to keep the keyword phrase as close to the beginning of the title tag as possible. More detail on title tags follows later in this section.
  • Once prominently near the top of the page.
  • At least two or three times, including variations, in the body copy on the page. Perhaps a few more times if there’s a lot of text content. You may find additional value in using the keyword or variations more than this, but in our experience adding more instances of a term or phrase tends to have little or no impact on rankings.
  • At least once in the alt attribute of an image on the page. This not only helps with web search, but also image search, which can occasionally bring valuable traffic.
  • Once in the URL. Additional rules for URLs and keywords are discussed later on in this section.
  • At least once in the meta description tag. Note that the meta description tag does not get used by the engines for rankings, but rather helps to attract clicks by searchers reading the results page, as the meta description becomes the snippet of text used by the search engines.

And you should generally not use keywords in link anchor text pointing to other pages on your site; this is known as Keyword Cannibalization.

Keyword Density Myth

Keyword density is not a part of modern ranking algorithms, as demonstrated by Dr. Edel Garcia in <a href=”http://www.e-marketing-news.co.uk/Mar05/garcia.html”>The Keyword Density of Non-Sense

If two documents, D1 and D2, consist of 1000 terms (l = 1000) and repeat a term 20 times (tf = 20), then a keyword density analyzer will tell you that for both documents Keyword Density (KD) KD = 20/1000 = 0.020 (or 2%) for that term. Identical values are obtained when tf = 10 and l = 500. Evidently, a keyword density analyzer does not establish which document is more relevant. A density analysis or keyword density ratio tells us nothing about:

1. The relative distance between keywords in documents (proximity)
2. Where in a document the terms occur (distribution)
3. The co-citation frequency between terms (co-occurance)
4. The main theme, topic, and sub-topics (on-topic issues) of the documents

The Conclusion:

Keyword density is divorced from content, quality, semantics, and relevance. That should optimal page density look like then? You can read more information about On-Page Optimization in this post.

The title tag of any page appears at the top of Internet browsing software, and is often used as the title when your content is shared through social media or republished.

Using keywords in the title tag means that search engines will bold those terms in the search results when a user has performed a query with those terms. This helps garner a greater visibility and a higher click-through rate.

The final important reason to create descriptive, keyword-laden title tags is for ranking at the search engines. In Moz’s biannual survey of SEO industry leaders, 94% of participants said that keyword use in the title tag was the most important place to use keywords to achieve high rankings.

Title Tags

The title element of a page is meant to be an accurate, concise description of a page’s content. It is critical to both user experience and search engine optimization.

As title tags are such an important part of search engine optimization, the following best practices for title tag creation makes for terrific low-hanging SEO fruit. The recommendations below cover the critical steps to optimize title tags for search engines and for usability.

Be mindful of length

Search engines display only the first 65-75 characters of a title tag in the search results (after that, the engines show an ellipsis – “…” – to indicate when a title tag has been cut off). This is also the general limit allowed by most social media sites, so sticking to this limit is generally wise. However, if you’re targeting multiple keywords (or an especially long keyword phrase), and having them in the title tag is essential to ranking, it may be advisable to go longer.

Place important keywords close to the front

The closer to the start of the title tag your keywords are, the more helpful they’ll be for ranking, and the more likely a user will be to click them in the search results.

Include branding

At Moz, we love to end every title tag with a brand name mention, as these help to increase brand awareness, and create a higher click-through rate for people who like and are familiar with a brand. Sometimes it makes sense to place your brand at the beginning of the title tag, such as your homepage. Since words at the beginning of the title tag carry more weight, be mindful of what you are trying to rank for.

Consider readability and emotional impact

Title tags should be descriptive and readable. The title tag is a new visitor’s first interaction with your brand and should convey the most positive impression possible. Creating a compelling title tag will help grab attention on the search results page, and attract more visitors to your site. This underscores that SEO is about not only optimization and strategic keyword usage, but the entire user experience.

Meta Tags

Meta tags were originally intended as a proxy for information about a website’s content. Several of the basic meta tags are listed below, along with a description of their use.

Meta Robots

The Meta Robots tag can be used to control search engine crawler activity (for all of the major engines) on a per-page level. There are several ways to use Meta Robots to control how search engines treat a page:

  • index/noindex tells the engines whether the page should be crawled and kept in the engines’ index for retrieval. If you opt to use “noindex,” the page will be excluded from the index. By default, search engines assume they can index all pages, so using the “index” value is generally unnecessary.
  • follow/nofollow tells the engines whether links on the page should be crawled. If you elect to employ “nofollow,” the engines will disregard the links on the page for discovery, ranking purposes, or both. By default, all pages are assumed to have the “follow” attribute.
    Example: <META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”>
  • noarchive is used to restrict search engines from saving a cached copy of the page. By default, the engines will maintain visible copies of all pages they have indexed, accessible to searchers through the cached link in the search results.
  • nosnippet informs the engines that they should refrain from displaying a descriptive block of text next to the page’s title and URL in the search results.
  • noodp/noydir are specialized tags telling the engines not to grab a descriptive snippet about a page from the Open Directory Project (DMOZ) or the Yahoo! Directory for display in the search results.

The X-Robots-Tag HTTP header directive also accomplishes these same objectives. This technique works especially well for content within non-HTML files, like images.

Meta Description

The meta description tag exists as a short description of a page’s content. Search engines do not use the keywords or phrases in this tag for rankings, but meta descriptions are the primary source for the snippet of text displayed beneath a listing in the results.

The meta description tag serves the function of advertising copy, drawing readers to your site from the results. It is an extremely important part of search marketing. Crafting a readable, compelling description using important keywords (notice how Google bolds the searched keywords in the description) can draw a much higher click-through rate of searchers to your page.

Meta descriptions can be any length, but search engines generally will cut snippets longer than 160 characters, so it’s generally wise to stay within in these limits.

In the absence of meta descriptions, search engines will create the search snippet from other elements of the page. For pages that target multiple keywords and topics, this is a perfectly valid tactic.

Not as important meta tags

Meta Keywords: The meta keywords tag had value at one time, but is no longer valuable or important to search engine optimization. For more on the history and a full account of why meta keywords has fallen into disuse, read Meta Keywords Tag 101 from SearchEngineLand.

Meta Refresh, Meta Revisit-after, Meta Content-type, and others: Although these tags can have uses for search engine optimization, they are less critical to the process, and so we’ll leave it to Google’s Search Console Help to discuss in greater detail.

Well, How do you like this offering?

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

MarketHive

Things most people don’t understand about SEO

New to the world of search engine optimization (SEO)? Columnist John Lincoln explains some things you might not know about this online marketing discipline.

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SEO is a complicated discipline. There are many components to it, and best practices change from time to time. Add to that the fact that Google updates its algorithm frequently, causing ranking shifts that are known to make digital marketers lose sleep.

Additionally, Google often releases new technologies that offer alternative ways to rank. That makes the lives of SEOs even more complicated, as they have to overcome a learning curve to properly serve their clients.

One day, it might be easier to become a doctor than an SEO — kidding! (But not really… )

Even now, though, there’s a lot of misinformation (and missing information) about what it takes to rank a page in organic search results. Here are nine things most people don’t understand about SEO.

1. Bigger really is better, in most cases, for big terms

In some niches, Google favors larger sites.

If you’re launching an e-commerce site that sells men’s jeans, it’s not likely that you’re going to rank at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) for the search phrase, “men’s jeans.”

Why? Google “men’s jeans” right now and see who’s at the top.

Disregard the sponsored ads, and you’ll notice names like Macy’s, Nordstrom, American Eagle, Levi, and Kohl’s. Do you really think you have the SEO power to knock any of those brands out of their position?

Spoiler: You don’t.

Google will generally favor brands that are household names over new startups when it comes to ranking. That’s because the search giant wants to provide the best possible experience for its users.

So does that mean all hope is lost if you’re running a new company that wants to sell men’s jeans online? Not at all.

First of all, you can optimize for your own brand name. That way, once you’ve got some reputation in your space, people can still find your site by searching for your name.

Also, you can run paid ads. They can put you at the top of the SERPs, but keep in mind that advertising can be costly. As of this writing, the suggested bid for “men’s jeans” is $2.09 per click, according to Keyword Planner, so your margins had better be spectacular.

You should also look for alternative keywords that you can use to promote your brand. You might come across some golden opportunities that even your biggest competitors haven’t noticed.

For example, you might be offering a specific style/color combination of men’s jeans. Optimize your site for a search term that includes that style and color.

2. Websites are broken up into segments

The reality is that you’re not trying to rank a site. You’re trying to rank pages within a site.

Unless you have a site that’s a just a single landing page, then ranking a page and a site aren’t the same thing. It’s more likely that you have various segments on your website, including a home page, a contact form, a blog, a categories page, a price table, a FAQ and possibly other parts. For example, if you take a look at Levi’s website, they have a structure that breaks the site up into sections for Men, Women, Kids and so on.

Some of those segments are more valuable than others. For example, you’re probably not interested in ranking your contact form. However, you certainly want to rank the content on your blog. Focus on ranking pages that will reel in potential customers from the SERPs. Then, use your favorite method to capture their contact information and add them to your email list.

3. You might just need to rank for a few terms

You might think that to be successful in SEO, you have to rank for dozens of search terms in the top three positions. That’s not necessarily the case.

If you’re in a micro-niche or your target market is very narrow, it’s likely that you can get away with just ranking for one or two terms. For example, if you’re selling “disc profiles,” you are going to make most of your revenue from a few core terms.

The main point here is that for some sites, ranking for lots of terms makes sense. For others, you can make great money just targeting a few core terms.

4. Content marketing is very competitive

You’ve probably heard “content is king.” Unfortunately, so has everybody else in your niche.

That’s why you need to be at the top of your game when it comes to inbound marketing. Invest the right amount of time and money into keyword research, hire the best writers, update your blog consistently, and pull out all the stops to create attention-grabbing headlines with amazing content.

I recommend using BuzzSumo and Moz Content. Both allow you to analyze a site’s content, uncover their strategies, track the new content they create and search the most popular content. Both create some pretty nice reports, too.

Take a look at your competition — then make a better page for your site.

5. Early adoption pays off

As we’ve seen, Google is known to release new technologies from time to time. Some of those technologies can help you rank in the SERPs.

That’s why you should be an early adopter.

For starters, take a look at accelerated mobile pages (AMP). That’s an open-source project backed by Google that enables webpages to load lightning-fast on a mobile platform. AMP pages can appear at the very top of mobile search results in carousel format. You can see a visual of this in the video below:

 

Speaking of mobile, make sure that your site is fully mobile-friendly. Google uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor for mobile search results, so if you expect your site to rank there, it had better behave well for a mobile audience.

Finally, be an early adopter when it comes to using HTTPS on your website instead of HTTP. Even though Google announced back in 2014 that it was giving secure sites a ranking boost, a lot of sites have still stubbornly refused to make the switch. If you want to potentially have an edge on your competition, use HTTPS.

When it comes to SEO, you need to be the first to market with new technology. These are just a few examples. It takes a little time to plan, develop and execute, so it is always a good idea to start when the news of new tech breaks.

6. SEO can be used to target different global markets

Did you know that you can rank your site in different countries? If your product or service is something that can be appreciated by people outside the United States, you should optimize your site for an international audience.

One way to do that is by offering a country-specific domain — for example, if you’re targeting people in France, you can use the country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) of .fr. You can also host separate content for each different country on a directory or a subdomain.

When targeting other markets, don’t forget to translate your content into the appropriate foreign languages. After all, you can’t expect your content marketing efforts to be successful if people in foreign countries can’t read your articles in their native language.

You should also register your business in foreign countries, list your business in web directories specific to those countries, and even have your site hosted in those regions.

Here is a client we recently pushed into 27 different countries and languages. Check out this growth in Italy alone.

7. There are lots of ways to be visible in Google results

You might be under the impression that the only way to rank in Google is by building backlinks and using on-site SEO so that a page ends up as high in the SERPs as possible. However, there are other ways to gain visibility and visitors from the SERPs.

For example, if you can get into Google’s Knowledge Graph, your brand can potentially earn a prominent spot at the top of the SERP, to the right of organic listings. It’s quite an effort to get a Knowledge Graph entry, but once you do, you could give your brand a big boost.

You can also stand out from the crowd by using structured data markup to display rich snippets, which are visual enhancements to a SERP listing. Structured data markup is added to your website code to provide Google with more information about the content on your site.

If you Google “best pancake recipe” right now, you’ll see results that include aggregate ratings in the form of stars. You’ll also see calorie counts. Those are rich snippets, and they make the listing in the SERPs stand out.

By the way, you’ll also see that there’s a direct answer at the very top of many search engine results pages. That’s another way that you can achieve search visibility: by establishing your site as an authority in your space and producing content that Google determines to be a quick answer to a user’s query.

If you have a brick-and-mortar business, you can also rank within the local 3-pack. If you Google the name of your city plus the word “plumber,” you’ll see a map below the paid ads at the top. Just below that map, you’ll see three listings in your area. (To get started with local SEO, check out Marcus Miller’s “The big picture guide to local SEO: ranking in 2016 & beyond.”)

As discussed above, publishers can rank by appearing at the top of the mobile SERPs when they implement accelerated mobile pages (AMP).

Here is a list of common result types that appear in Google’s blended search results pages:

  • Organic listings
  • Knowledge Graph cards
  • The local 3-pack
  • Instant answers (also known as “featured snippets”)
  • AMP carousel
  • Google Images
  • Google Videos
  • Google News

 

SEM Rush ReportSEMrush and many of the other SEO ranking tools actually report on these varying result types now, which is great.

The main point is, there’s more than one way to win.

8. There are many different specialties in SEO

Search engine optimization is a broad online marketing channel that includes a handful of niche disciplines. There are SEO practitioners who specialize in technical SEO, link building, content marketing, local SEO, international SEO and more.

And guess what? Each requires a different skill set.

Bottom line: You need to determine first how you want to rank a site and then select the appropriate campaign strategy.

9. There are other search engines besides Google

Sure, Google is the undisputed leader in web searches. That doesn’t mean that other search engines don’t exist and that people in your target market don’t use them.

The most obvious competitor to Google is Bing. That’s Microsoft’s search engine, and as of this writing, its share of search traffic is growing faster than Google’s.

And don’t forget about YouTube. Believe it or not, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world behind Google.

Of course, there’s also Amazon. You might think of Amazon as more of an e-commerce giant than a search engine. However, it’s the starting point for 44 percent of consumers searching for products.

When you’re optimizing your content assets, make sure that you take into account the broad spectrum of search engines that exist online. Where you choose to focus your optimization efforts will depend on your goals online.

There is a lot to know

What you don’t know can hurt you when it comes to SEO. Going forward, it’s important that you also keep up with the latest changes in SEO best practices — otherwise, your future optimization efforts might fall flat.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

MarketHive

Personalization & Search Engine Rankings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Years ago, everyone saw exactly the same search results. Today, no one sees exactly the same search results, not on Google, not on Bing. Everyone gets a personalized experience to some degree, even in private browsing windows.

Of course, there’s still a lot commonality. It’s not that everyone sees completely different results. Instead, everyone sees many of the same “generic” listings. But there will also be some listings appearing because of where someone is, whom they know or how they surf the web.

Pc: Country

One of the easiest personalization ranking factors to understand is that people are shown results relevant to the country they’re in.

Someone in the US searching for “football” will get results about American football; someone in the UK will get results about the type of football that Americans would call soccer.

If your site isn’t deemed relevant to a particular country, then you’ve got less chance of showing up when country personalization happens. If you feel you should be relevant, then you’ll probably have to work on your international SEO.

Pl: Locality

Search engines don’t stop personalizing at the country level. They’ll tailor results to match the city or metropolitan area based on the user’s location.

As with country personalization, if you want to appear when someone gets city-specific results, you need to ensure your site is relevant to that city.

Ph: Personal History

What has someone been searching for and clicking on from their search results? What sites do they regularly visit? Have they “Liked” a site using Facebook, shared it via Twitter or perhaps +1’d it?

This type of personal history is used to varying degrees and ways by both Google and Bing to influence search results. Unlike country or city personalization, there’s no easy way to try and make yourself more relevant.

Instead, it places more importance on first impressions and brand loyalty. When a user clicks on a “regular” search result, you want to ensure you’re presenting a great experience so they’ll come again. Over time, they may seek out your brand in search results, clicking on it despite it being below other listings.

This behavior reinforces your site as one that they should be shown more frequently to that user. Even better if they initiate a social gesture, such as a Like, +1 or Tweet that indicates a greater affinity for your site or brand.

History is even more important in new search interfaces such as Google Now, which will proactively present “cards” to users based on explicit preferences (i.e. – which sports teams or stocks do you track) and search history.

Ps: Social Connections

What do someone’s friends think about a website? This is one of the newer ranking factors to impact search results. Someone’s social connections can influence what they see on Google and Bing.

Those connections are what truly matter because search engines view those connections as a user’s personal set of advisors. Offline, you might trust and ask your friends to give you advice on a restaurant or gardening.

Increasingly, when you search today search engines are trying to emulate that offline scenario. So if a user is connected to a friend and that friend has reviewed a restaurant or shared an article on growing tomatoes then that restaurant and article may rank higher for that user.

If someone can follow you, or easily share your content, that helps get your site into their circle of trust and increases the odds that others they know will find you. Nowhere is this more transformative than Google+, where circling a site’s Google+ Page will change the personalized search results for that user.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

MarketHive
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Content & Search Engine Success Factors

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Content is king. You’ll hear that phrase over and over again when it comes SEO success. Indeed, that’s why the Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors begins with the content “elements,” with the very first element being about content quality.

Get your content right, and you’ve created a solid foundation to support all of your other SEO efforts.

Cq: Content Quality

More than anything else, are you producing quality content? If you’re selling something, do you go beyond being a simple brochure with the same information that can be found on hundreds of other sites?

Do you provide a reason for people to spend more than a few seconds reading your pages?

Do you offer real value, something of substance to visitors, that is unique, different, useful and that they won’t find elsewhere?

These are just some of the questions to ask yourself in assessing whether you’re providing quality content. This is not the place to skimp since it is the cornerstone upon which nearly all other factors depend on.

Cr: Content Research / Keyword Research

Perhaps the most important SEO factor after creating good content is good keyword research. There are a variety of tools that allow you to discover the specific ways that people may be searching for your content.

You want to create content using those keywords, the actual search terms people are using, so you can produce content that effectively “answers” that query.

For example, a page about “Avoiding Melanoma” might use technical jargon to describe ways to prevent skin cancer. But a search engine might skip or not rank that page highly if people are instead searching for “skin cancer prevention tips”. Your content needs to be written in the right ‘language’ – the language your customer or user is using when searching.

Cw: Content Words / Use Of Keywords

Having done your keyword research (you did that, right?), have you actually used those words in your content? Or if you’ve already created some quality content before doing research, perhaps it’s time to revisit that material and do some editing. Bottom line, if you want your pages to be found for particular words, it’s a good idea to actually use those words in your copy. How often? Repeat each word you want to be found for at least five times or seek out a keyword density of 2.45%, for best results.

No no no, that was a joke! There’s no precise number of times. Even if “keyword density” sounds scientific, even if you hit some vaunted “ideal” percentage, that would guarantee absolutely nothing. Just use common sense. Think about the words you want a page to be found for, the words you feel are relevant from your keyword research. Then use them naturally on the page. If you commonly shift to pronouns on second and further references, maybe use the actual noun again here and there, rather than a pronoun.

Cf: Content Freshness

Search engines love new content. That’s usually what we mean when we say ‘fresh’.

So you can’t update your pages (or the publish date) every day thinking that will make them ‘fresh’ and more likely to rank. Nor can you just add new pages constantly, just for the sake of having new pages, and think that gives you a freshness boost.

However, Google does have something it calls “Query Deserved Freshness (QDF)”. If there’s a search that is suddenly very popular versus its normal activity, Google will apply QDF to that term and look to see if there’s any fresh content on that topic. If there is, that new or fresh content is given a boost in search results.

The best way to think about this is a term like ‘hurricane’. If there’s no active hurricane, then the search results will likely contain listings to government and reference sites. But if there’s an active hurricane, results will change and may reflect stories, news, and information about the active hurricane.

If you’ve got the right content, on the right topic when QDF hits, you may enjoy being in the top results for days or weeks. Just be aware that after that, your page might be shuffled back in search results. It’s not that you’ve done anything wrong. It’s just that the freshness boost has worn off.

Sites can take advantage of this freshness boost by producing relevant content that matches the real-time pulse of their industry.

Cv: Vertical Search

The other factors on this table cover success for web page content in search engines. But alongside these web page listings are also often “vertical” results. These come from “vertical” search engines devoted to things like images, news, local and video. If you have content in these areas, it might be more likely to show up in special sections of the search results page.

Not familiar with “vertical search” versus “horizontal search?” Let’s take Google as an example. Its regular search engine gathers content from across the web, in hopes of matching many general queries across a broad range of subjects. This is a horizontal search because the focus is across a wide range of topics.

Google also runs specialized search engines that focus on images or news or local content. These are called vertical search engines because rather than covering a broad range of interests, they’re focused on one segment, a vertical slice of the overall interest spectrum. When you search on Google, you’ll get web listings. But you’ll also often get special sections in the results (which Google calls “OneBoxes”) that may show vertical results as deemed relevant.

Having content that performs well in vertical search can help you succeed when your web page content doesn’t. It can also help you succeed in addition to having a web page make the top results. So, make sure you’re producing content in key vertical areas relevant to you.

Ca: Direct Answers

Search engines are increasing trying to show direct answers within their search results. Questions like “why is the sky blue” or “how old is Barack Obama” might give you the answer without needing to click to a webpage.

Where do search engines get these answers? Sometimes, they license them, such as with menus or music lyrics. Other times, they draw them directly off web pages, providing a link back in the form of a credit.

There’s some debate over whether having your content being used as a direct answer is a success or not. After all, if someone gets the answer they need, they might not click, and what’s the success in that?

We currently consider sites being used as direct answer sources to be a success for two main reasons. First, it’s a sign of trust, which can help a site for other types of queries. Second, while there’s concern, there’s also some evidence that being a direct answer can indeed send traffic.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

MarketHive

Types Of Search Engine Success Factors

There are three major groups covered by Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors:

  • On-The-Page SEO
  • Off-The-Page SEO
  • Violations

Within each group are subgroups, as each chapter of this SEO guide will explain. These subgroups contain one or more individual SEO factors with a specific weight or importance.

Violations, while a group unto themselves, are displayed under the group and subgroup to which they’re associated.

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Those two letter acronyms you see on the chart above? That’s our play on the periodic table of elements and the letter representations, or symbol, of each element. You may have had to remember that the symbol for gold was Au or that iron was Fe.

In the Periodic Table of SEO, we’ve tried to make it slightly more intuitive. The first letter of each “SEO element” comes from the subgroup that it’s in and the second letter stands for the individual factor.

SEO Factors Work In Combination

No single SEO factor will guarantee search engine rankings. Having a great HTML title won’t help if a page has low quality content. Having many links won’t help if they are all low in quality. Having several positive factors can increase the odds of success while the presence of negative factors can worsen those odds.

On-The-Page Success Factors

On-The-Page search ranking factors are those that are almost entirely within the publisher’s own control. What type of content do you publish? Are you providing important HTML clues that help search engines (and users) determine relevancy? How does your site architecture help or hinder search engines?

Off-The-Page Success Factors

Off-The-Page ranking factors are those that publishers do not directly control. Search engines use these because they learned early on that relying on publisher-controlled signals alone didn’t always yield the best results. For instance, some publishers may try to make themselves seem more relevant than they are in reality.

With billions of web pages to sort through, looking only at ‘On-The-Page’ clues isn’t enough. More signals are needed to return the best pages for any particular search.

SEO Violations & Ranking Penalties

Make no mistake; search engines want people to perform SEO because it can help improve their search results. Search engines provide help in the form of guidelines, blog posts and videos to encourage specific SEO techniques.

However, there are some techniques that search engines deem “spam” or “black hat”, which could result in your pages receiving a ranking penalty or, worse, being banned from the search engines entirely.

Violations are general tactics meant to deceive or manipulate a search engine’s understanding of a site’s true relevancy and authority.

Weighting Of Search Ranking Factors

All the factors we show are weighted on a scale of one to three, as shown in the top right corner of each factor, as well as reflected in the hue of that factor. A weighting of three is most important and is something you should pay special attention to because it has a bigger impact than other factors.

That doesn’t mean that factors weighted two or one aren’t important. They are. It’s just that they are of less importance, relatively speaking, in terms of the other factors on the chart. Violations are also weighted, but in negative numbers, with negative three being the worst and potentially most harmful to your SEO success.

The weighting is based on a combination of what search engines have said, surveys of the SEO community, as well as our own expertise and experience in watching the space over time. We don’t expect them to be perfect. Not everyone will agree. Your mileage may vary.

But we’re confident it is a useful general guide.

“Missing” SEO Factors & The Guide’s Philosophy

Experienced SEOs may be wondering why some factors aren’t shown. How come ALT text or bolding words aren’t included as HTML factors, for example?

The answer? We don’t think those things are as important, relatively speaking. We’re not trying to boil the ocean and encompass every possible signal (Google has over 200 of them) and sub-signals (Google has over 10,000 of those).

Instead, the goal of the Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors and this online companion guide is to help those new to SEO focus on the big picture and perhaps allow experienced SEOs to hit the “reset” button if they’ve gotten lost staring at specific trees in the SEO forest.

That’s why this SEO guide doesn’t address having your most important keywords be at the beginning or end of an HTML title tag. Nor are we trying to assess how much more weight an H1 header tag carries than an H2 tag.

We’re purposely avoiding being ultra-specific because such things often distract and pull us down the rabbit hole. Instead, we hope you gain an understanding that pages should have descriptive titles, that indicating page structure with header tags may help, and topping things off with structured data is a good idea.

Do these things well and you’ve probably addressed 90% of the most important HTML factors.

Similarly, it’s not whether a good reputation on Twitter is worth more than on Facebook. Instead, we’re trying to help people understand that having social accounts that are reputable in general, which attract a good following and generate social shares, may ultimately help you achieve search success.

Want More Specifics About Success Factors?

We know some of you may want to drill down into specifics. In that case, the Moz Search Engine Ranking Factors survey is worth a look. Every two years, hundreds of well-regarded SEOs are asked to determine the importance of specific ranking factors. We do hope you’ll keep any specific ranking factors in the context of the fundamentals covered by our table.

In addition, many of the success factors aren’t true algorithmic factors at all. Content Research (element Cr) is a highly weighted ‘On-The-Page’ factor that describes the process of researching the words people use to find your content. Understanding your user is important to your SEO success even if it’s not a ‘ranking’ factor.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

MarketHive

The Case Of The Citation Screwup

The Case of The Citation Screwup

My name is Art Williams. I'm a Citations Detective. It was a quiet Sunday night. I was sitting at home contemplating next week when I'm supposed to have a root canal. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? It's times like this when I need some cyber-screwups to distract me and lighten my mind up a little bit.

And then the phone rang. It was 'Bob'. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent). Bob sounded very frustrated. He explained to me that he has owned a hardware store in the city for several years but that he had recently moved and since that move his business had slowed down considerably.

Bob wanted to know if I could help. He said his business is very competitive and he was worried that somebody was trying to sabotage his business.

I said, "Well Bob…let's start with the facts. Nothing but the facts."

Bob said, "OK, but my wife doesn't have to know about this, does she?"

I said, "No Bob, it'll just be between us men. How's that?"

Bob said, "Oh that's wonderful. Let's roll!"

In my preliminary interview with Bob, I asked him if he got much business from the net. He told me, "Yeah, I do Facebook, a little Instagram, an occasional YouTube video, and I think I'm on a few directories like Google+, Yelp, Bing Places, Mapquest, Citisearch…..I don't know. It's hard to keep up with that kind of stuff, you know?"

That was my clue!

Bob didn't know it but maybe he already had the answer to his problem.

So I asked…. I said, "Bob, I wanna ask you something…and tell me the truth, OK, because this could be very important."

Bob said, "Sure Art, I wanna cooperate. I'll tell you whatever you wanna know but I don't think I know anything. That's why I called you, right?"

I said, "Ok Bob..OK, Ok….I know how you feel. Just relax. You work hard, you try to do what's right. But sometimes things just don't work out and now you're in trouble and you need an expert, right?"

Bob said, "Well, yeah…I guess you sorta hit the nail on the head."

I said, "Yeah Bob…that's why I've got this badge. I know we're on the phone but, trust me, I've got one. It says, 'Citations Detective'. It's very impressive but I try not to flaunt it."

So Bob said, "You've got a badge??!! Oh…Saints Be Praised!. Sure…sure…so, what's the question?! I'll tell you whatever you wanna know!! Just help me, please!"

Yeah, I could tell Bob was in a very emotional state of mind. After all… work all those years to build a business and then see it slip away like this for no apparent reason (that he knew of). Yeah, sometimes I have to walk a very thin emotional line in this business.

I said, "OK Bob. Here's the question. Listen very carefully: Did you or did you not change you name, address, and phone number on each and every one of those citation sites you told me you were listed on?"

The phone went silent.

I was just about to suspect something really serious was wrong but finally I heard Bob's quiet voice say, "Weeellll, no. I didn't. Why?"

Then I said, "Bob, I think I've solved your problem already. I think you've got a case of Citation Inconsistency. Do you realize how serious that could be?"

Bob said, "No….how serious is it?"

I went on to explain to Bob that Citation Inconsistency is potentially very serious if left untreated.

I explained to Bob that when there was inconsistent information on citation sites, review sites, social media sites, etc., that it confused not only old and potential new customers but it also even confused Google itself.

Bob said, "What do you mean. I'm innocent! I told you…I didn't do anything wrong!!"

I told Bob, "OK Bob. Just calm down buddy. I'm not saying you did anything intentionally wrong.. but let me explain something to you that every online business owner should know."

I went on to explain to Bob that if Google sees inconsistent information, pertaining to any business, on citation sites it is less likely to highly rank that business. The reason for that is because they (Google) doesn't want to publish information that could be wrong or incomplete. Information is, after all, their product, right?. 

Bob listened in silence. In fact…he was so silent I had to ask him, "Bob. Does that make sense to you? You know what I'm saying, right?"

Bob said, "Yeah Art. It's all so clear now. Man….if I could do it again, I'd make sure that all those citation sites… of course there weren't really a huge number, but…wow…that little omission sure made a big difference didn't it. It cost me a lot of money! Even my wife noticed I'd been preoccupied lately."

I said, "Well Bob….at least you're willing to change. Everybody makes mistakes. But you are willing to do something about it, aren't you?"

Bob said, "Oh yeah…absolutely! I'll do anything I can to make it right again. What should I do?"

I then proceeded to tell Bob that part of my crusade as a Citations Detective was to not only find bad citations for business owners but also to help them correct the problem. I told him I had a highly trained staff who could find all of his incorrect citations and update them with the correct information that would put him back in the good graces of Google.

And I also mentioned that additionally, I could find out not only the exact number of citations his closest competitors had but also what citation sites they were using, thus enabling him to get those exact same sites his business. And I explained that if he just added about 10% more citations, he would outrank his competitors (at least as far as citations go). 

So… I asked Bob if he was ready to take action and put a stop to how his SEO was hemorrhaging money. He said he was ready so I told him my secretary would send him some forms to fill out first thing on Monday morning so that me and my team could get to working on his problem.

Bob asked how long it would take before he started seeing any improvement in his business and I informed him that it took citation sites anywhere from a week to several weeks to update their databases and that he probably could start to see results in a couple of weeks. But I reminded him that the situation would continue to improve over the next 2 to 4 month as more of his newly updated citations went ´live'. 

He sound excited about that.

And just to make sure I 'managed expectations' properly, I asked him, "How does that sound to you?"

He said, "Oh that sounds great, Art. I'm soooo glad I called you! How can I ever repay you?"

I reminded him that my secretary would send an invoice too but that the money we charged him would be a pittance in comparison to the advantage his website would enjoy with the proper citation strategy which we would be putting into place for him.

So Bob and I said, 'Goodnight', I sent my secretary an email and voice-mail to tell her what to do about setting Bob up as a new client first thing Monday when she came into the office. Me…I'm not a morning person so I don't usually get into the office til after lunch. And besides, I'll be up late thinking about that root canal. I think I'm gonna get drunk. God…I hate root canals.

 

Art Williams
Case Study Writer, Google My Business Consultant, Markethive Developer

MarketHive

Are The Days of Cheap Mobile Search Over?

The new expanded text ad from GoogleWhile Google’s recent AdWords update is receiving a warm welcome thanks to larger ad formats, fewer top paid placements means marketers will have to pay more to get noticed on mobile

With mobile search volume surpassing desktop a year ago, marketers are looking for better experiences and Google is under pressure to boost mobile revenue generation, which continues to lag desktop. Google tried to deliver against both of these needs this week with a number of AdWords adjustments, including separating tablet and desktop bids, new ad formats and a tighter integration with Maps for clearer online-offline engagements. 

“Google's new AdWords changes are very significant and marketers should prepare to increase their mobile SEM and SEO budgets for late 2016 and beyond,” said Brian Klais, CEO and founder of Pure Oxygen Labs. “Most of the changes are systematic in nature and designed to increase advertiser competition. 

“Google's theory is that larger ad formats will result in more clicks per impression,” he said. “More expansive headlines mean a bigger canvas for advertisers to compete on. The larger ads will mean fewer ads per page, creating further upward pressure on CPC rates.

“As with other recent AdWords changes – like removing the side rail – the new ad format will suppress organic listings further down the page. If you're not advertising or ranking naturally in the top 5 spots it will be difficult to get visibility. The days of cheap mobile search ads and mobile SEO are over.”

Getting to work
The big changes include the provision for two 30 character headlines, replacing the one 25 character allowed previously. Additionally, marketers can now write an 80-character description whereas previously there were two 35-character description lines. 

Additionally, there are now two paid spots appearing above organic results whereas there used to be four. 

Marketers are likely to be happy about being to include additional text in their search ads. 

Ads in Maps include promoted pins and a business page

Ads in Maps include promoted pins and a business page

Advertisers who move quickly and adapt to the new format can leverage the additional creative real estate to weave in new messages that could result in more clicks and purchases. Additionally, ads in the new format are likely to look more aesthetically appealing compared to any older ads that are still showing up in results. 

However, marketers should not assume the switch over to the new formats will be easy.

“Simply pushing line one and line two descriptions together won’t work, plain and simple,” said Tim Krozek, CEO of Boost Media. “Advertisers have written the two lines of text as disparate ideas, and when they are placed side-by-side, they don’t flow logically as a cohesive message.”

A win for big brands

The reduction in the number of top paid spots could have a significant impact on some marketers. 

“Advertisers that used to depend on being in bid positions 5 to 7 on the sidebar, and more recently lived off of cheaper clicks in the top 4 paid search ad spots, those marketers will struggle,” Mr. Krozek said.  “This change is a mainly a win for bigger advertisers that can afford to pay for what is now an even more scarce resource – fewer spots on the SERP.”

Another welcome change is that keywords and bid options are now more closely tied to a device type, walking back some of the changes Google made several years ago with Enhanced Campaigns. However, some would like to see Google put even more control back in the hands of marketers. 
 
“These changes are not large enough that it reverses Enhanced Campaigns, where we’d be able to create, optimize, and track separate campaigns by device type,” said David Lau, vice president of paid search and programmatic at iCrossing. “However it does help with the current limitations on bidding for devices – we can now bid on tablets separately again – and having desktop/tablet reporting separated.”

On location
With nearly one-third of all mobile searches related to location, according to Google, new location extensions will help advertisers showcase their business locations in search results. 

Google is investing in more branded, customized experiences for businesses on Maps. For example, Map users may begin to see promoted pins for nearby businesses along their driving route. Local business pages have also been refreshed with the addition of special offers and the ability to browse inventory. 

“The most innovative feature Google announced is the ability to place local search ads inside of Google Maps,” Pure Oxygen Labs’ Mr. Klais said. 

“Geo-based searches are huge among mobile users, and of course Google Maps is one of the most popular apps out there,” he said. “Enabling location-based advertisers to promote their logo as a ‘pin’ seems like an interesting first step forward towards smart location based mobile search ads.”

Article Source: Are the days of cheap mobile search over?

MarketHive

8 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

SEO - Mistakes

All search engine marketers are trying desperately to promote trends

Especially the trends that are aligned with traditional digital marketing. SEO is immensely important to enhance key to improving your website’s visibility, driving more traffic and better conversion rates.

The first thing one can do as an internet marketer is to avoid making mistakes. Following “SEO Best Practices” can be difficult for online marketers. With search engines changing algorithms on a periodic basis, every SEO strategy needs to adapt and adjust with the latest techniques while giving up on age-old practices. Here are some of the prominent mistakes made by SEO experts:

Mistake #1: Not optimizing images with rest of the content

Optimizing images is sometimes not part of the SEO strategy and can be over looked. Adding target keywords to images relevant to the rest of the content helps search engines understand them. A link to the image with just numbers and alphabets in odd positions does not convey anything but some relevant words and numbers would matter. One should incorporate descriptive keywords for every image. Including relevant alt text helps search engines to find images in relevant searches and even the accessibility of the site.

Mistake #2: Keyword stuffing

Nowadays websites contain varied types of content in terms of text. One needs keywords for SEO and use of right keywords is important for getting the right audience. Optimize them carefully to gain popularity in search engines. But keyword stuffing will only ruin your website ranking since cramming a keyword multiple times makes content worthless. Only keywords do not get customers to a website. Also, Google algorithms will get the site blacklisted and also issue a bad ranking.

Relying on large amounts of mediocre content can affect sites. Using specific keywords with strategic placement and relevant content is effective. Creating insightful info about a topic can can attract attention through different channels.

Mistake #3: Not Setting Up Canonicalization

When implementing an SEO strategy, one should make sure that you do not have duplicate content on the site. If there is identical content for online access using different URLs, you need to identify the right page for visitors and implement a canonical to help search engines know that it is not a duplicate version.

Mistake #4: Disregarding Pages by Not Indexing Them

One should not forget indexing pages. Pages that are broken or missing are going to avoid search engine results altogether because pages indicating 404 error are excluded. A high number of 404s leads to an increase in bounce rate and visitors will feel cheated of any information. Search engines crawl websites and rank them and 404 pages interrupt their process. It is important not to have broken links on your site and keep the website active.

Mistake #5: No updates on site

After spending months to create an interactive and attractive website, one should try to keep it dynamic with consistent blog posts or some other content. Companies fail to optimize the site with keywords and just sit back to watch the traffic decrease. Let in some updates that will help your prospects with relevant information and they might convert to leads.

One needs to make a schedule for posting different posts related to your field on a regular basis, and consistency will get you the attention of search engines too.

Mistake #6: Neglecting social media

Neglecting social media is a crime in this day and age. Social media is no longer an optional marketing ploy but a necessity for businesses. By being conversant and relevant on popular social sites like Facebook and Twitter, one can enhance a company’s image and credibility. Sharing your content will lead the search engines and drive potential visitors to your site. Social media following can also boost brand awareness amongst loyalists.

Mistake #7: Lack of internal links

One might think that it is erroneous to link to one’s own content and even think that search engines might read into it and even blacklist the pages. Despite what you may think, internal links to website is great for SEO and helps search engines to crawl to your website. One should focus on the most important pages of any site and strategize posts to link back to those pages. One should find a real connection between pages to do the linking task.

Mistake #8: Failure to measure progress

Improving SEO is like losing weight. One needs to check and measure your progress on a consistent basis. One should know the current standing when you start, and then track the changes. With solid metrics in place, one will know that the SEO practices have been working or not. If you do not think that there has been any progress, then it is preferable to drop it.

Credit: Keval Padia

Dennis Roeder

Contributor

MarketHive

Topics in Mobile Redirect Issues Part 6: SSL- Redirect to Mobile Redirect-Problem and Solution

 

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

(Reposted from Patrick Sexton, https://varvy.com)

There are four common types of redirects that affect how your users and Google see your mobile pages. Each of them is bad for performance (speed). They include:

       *    Initial redirect – canonical (www.example.com vs example.com)

  • SSL – secure pages redirect
  • Redirect to mobile version
  • Content driven redirects

Content-Driven Redirects

  1. Problem

          Content-driven redirects are not required to display a page. These redirects have been added because mobile and                   desktop versions of a given webpage may not display the same content.Thus, some mobile pages are redirected to                 other locations.

          Bottom-line: Content-driven redirects are more of a design issue rather than a technical issue.

       b. Solution

         The use of content-driven redirects should be avoided if possible.The solution here is to utilize responsive web design.            This will ensure that both website versions (mobile and desktop versions) display the same content with no need for a              content-driven redirect.

MarketHive

Topics in Mobile Redirect Issues Part 5: SSL- Redirect to Mobile Redirect-Problem and Solution

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

(Reposted from Patrick Sexton, https://varvy.com)

There are four common types of redirects that affect how your users and Google see your mobile pages. Each of them is bad for performance (speed). They include:

       *    Initial redirect – canonical (www.example.com vs example.com)

  • SSL – secure pages redirect
  • Redirect to mobile version
  • Content driven redirects

Redirect to mobile version

  1. Problem

            When you have a different web address (url) for your mobile pages than you do for your desktop pages, the mobile                 device must somehow get to the mobile version. The way it does so is through a redirect.

           In other words, the mobile redirect is the method in which your mobile page gets displayed.This redirect only occurs                when a different url is utilized for mobile devices versus the desktop version. This redirect does not happen when a                  responsive web design is employed.

 

       b. Solution

         As previously mentioned, a mobile redirect only occurs when a different url is utilized for mobile devices versus the                  desktop version.

         Using responsive web design or dynamic serving will remedy this issue by eliminating the need for separate urls for the          same website (i.e., mobile v. desktop version).

MarketHive

Topics in Mobile Redirect Issues Part 4: SSL-Secure Pages Redirect-Problem and Solution

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

(Reposted from Patrick Sexton, https://varvy.com)

There are four common types of redirects that affect how your users and Google see your mobile pages. Each of them is bad for performance (speed). They include:

       *    Initial redirect – canonical (www.example.com vs example.com)

  • SSL – secure pages redirect
  • Redirect to mobile version
  • Content driven redirects

SSL-Secure Pages Redirect

  1. Problem

               Pages that use SSL will often be redirected from the url

              "http://www.example.com" to the secure version of that page at "https://www.example.com"

              This redirect usually occurs when a webmaster uses a site-wide 301 redirect as a simple step to forward all pages to               the secure versions of the page.

       b. Solution

              A redirect exists for SSL sites typically because the webmaster used an "easy fix" of doing a site-wide 301 redirect to               make all traffic forwarded to the secure version of their pages.

             A better option would be to use HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) which forces all traffic to use secure pages.                  This means your pages will be more secure and load faster by not using that 301 redirect.

 

 

MarketHive

Topics in Mobile Redirect Issues Part 3: Initial Redirects-Problem and Solution

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

(Reposted from Patrick Sexton, https://varvy.com)

There are four common types of redirects that affect how your users and Google see your mobile pages. Each of them is bad for performance (speed). They include:

       *    Initial redirect – canonical (www.example.com vs example.com)

  • SSL – secure pages redirect
  • Redirect to mobile version
  • Content driven redirects

Initial Redirect (Canonical)

 

  1. Problem

Example: The url "www.example.com" and the url "example.com" are actually two different urls even though they typically will have the same content.

One has the "www" and one does not. Oftentimes webmasters will choose one or the other throughout their site (www or no www).To ensure that pages are always using the same version of the url, a site-wide redirect is typically used.

Thus, when typing "google.com" into a browser, the end-result is "www.google.com".

  1. Solution

This type of redirect was typically implemented for SEO purposes.The common logic was to obtain credit for each link given to a page because some people link to the "www" version and some link to the non-version of a page.

As a webmaster, one must decide if this value even still exists and if so, is it worth the redirect?

Google understands pages and sites much better now than it did when this redirect became a common practice and Google even offers you a way via Webmaster Tools to choose which version you prefer (without the redirect).

Take Home Points:

*Regardless, make sure your site-wide redirects are smartly working with other redirects like ssl.

*Do not redirect users to one version of page just to be redirected again to the secure (ssl) version.

*The way to actually review / update / remove it for most webmasters is to go to their htaccess file and find it:

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^domain.com [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.domain.com/$1 [R=301,NC]

MarketHive

Topics in Mobile Redirect Issues Part 2: Consequences of Redirects

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

(Reposted from Patrick Sexton, https://varvy.com)

Consequences of Redirects

In the past, redirects were oftentimes utilized for various reasons (i.e., SSL redirects).  As a result, extremely long redirect chains have occurred. 

The below example illustrates a typical conversation that occurs often on the mobile web. Please note that this conversation has to take place before any of your webpage even begins to be displayed at all:

  1. Mobile device: "Give me http://example.com"
  2. Web server: "http://example.com has been moved to "http://www.example.com"
  3. Mobile device: "Okay, give me "http://www.example.com"
  4. Web server: "http://www.example.com has been moved to "https://www.example.com"
  5. Mobile device: "Okay, give me "https://www.example.com"
  6. Web server: "https://www.example.com has a mobile version at "https://m.example.com"
  7. Mobile device: "Okay, give me "https://m.example.com"
  8. Web server: "https://m.example.com has a better version at "https://m.example.com/better/"
  9. Mobile device: "Okay, give me "https://m.example.com/better/"
  10. Web server: "Okay here is that page"
  11. Mobile device: "I will now start loading the page."

In this scenario, several seconds have passed before the mobile device even starts loading the page. In other words, even if that page loads in less than a second, it would still take several seconds for a user to see that page because of the redirects.

*Note that the above process is just for the html of your page. In some scenarios, this process will occur for every request. Each image, each css file, each JavaScript file, etc. on your page may end up with the same issues if you are not careful about how you are doing things.

MarketHive

Topics in Mobile Redirect Issues Part 1: Definition and Problem

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

(Reposted from Patrick Sexton, https://varvy.com)

Definition:

  • A redirect is a method of forwarding a user from one web address to another web address.  Under normal conditions, when a mobile device requests a certain document at a certain address, the server will normally just provide that document.  There are four common types of redirects which will be covered over the course of this series.  They include: Initial redirect (canonical), secure pages redirect (SSL), redirect to mobile, and content-driven redirects.

 

When there is a redirect, the web server does not provide the document.  Instead, it provides a new address for the document. The mobile device receives the address and makes a new request for the document to the new address. Then and only then does it receive the document.

Why is this important?   Most importantly, the process can significantly decrease the performance of the website in question.  More specifically, a redirect can cause a mobile network to operate very slowly because each time any communication happens between the device and the web server, many things have to happen to facilitate that communication.

Redirects are very slow on mobile devices and should be avoided. If they have to happen, the amount of redirects should be as few as possible.

Redirects can be quite costly on mobile networks. Typically, with very redirect removed from your website, there will be a significant improvement in the speed in which your content is seen by users.

 

 

 

 

MarketHive

Become The Best Blogger

Become The Best Blogger.

Is it necessary to have a goal to become the best blogger in your niche? Is content marketing something that the public on the web is seeking? Many have asked that questions about the value of content marketing and wondered if it is limited to a few types of businesses. This article was printed in Hubspot in August 2014 titled, How To Become The Best Blogger In Your Niche. 

Back in 2012, Max Nisen wrote, “Content marketing is one of the biggest new trends.” He reported NewsCred’s CEO Shafqat Islam as saying, “Every Fortune 2000 company today is a candidate for content marketing. If they're not doing it, they will be.”

Two years later, Nisen and Islam’s prophecies have come to pass. We are in the age of content marketing — and it's showing no signs of going away. The content marketing arena is now so vast and so complex that people are starting to get lost. Don't believe me? Just take a look at this hodgepodge of an infographic from LUMA:

luma-content-marketing

In spite of the scary complexity, blogging is still the one of the most powerful weapons in the content marketer’s arsenal. And the better the blog, the better the content marketing efforts.

So here’s my thesis: If you are the best blogger in your niche, you can be the most successful in your niche. It’s only logical. If blogging is the core of content marketing, and content marketing is the path to success, then we must conclude that being a kickass blogger is the path to marketing success.

And here’s the really good news: You can become the best blogger in your niche. In the post that follows, I will provide three points that explain exactly how to gain that edge.

1) Know your audience.

Answer the most important question:  “Who is my audience?”

Too often, bloggers start with the wrong question. They ask things like:

  • How can I be interesting?
  • What can I write about?
  • What will make this post more engaging?

Those are great questions, but they are totally meaningless unless you first understand your audience.

I came across a line recently that stuck with me:

 

pngbase64c3c9af76173e7e56

When you blog for someone, you will have plenty of things to write about. What’s more, you’ll communicate in the right way — you'll be more "human" and familiar if you treat your audience like real people.

As you ask the big question, “who is my audience,” keep in mind these additional questions that will help you develop a deeper knowledge (From University of Maryland's Writing Resources):

 

  • What is the relationship between the writer and the reader?
  • How much does the reader know
  • Is the audience likely to agree or disagree with you?
  • What will the reader do with the information?

The clearer your view of your audience, the better your writing will be.

Your audience is smaller than you think.

Keep in mind that your audience is probably smaller than you think. Traffic metrics do not reflect an accurate count of your engaged audience. A better way to understand your audience is through engagement metrics.

In a study conducted by Chartbeat on Slate readership, they discovered that the most engaged readers were those who scrolled below the fold. A full 86% of engagement took place when readers scrolled to read an article.

 

chartbeat

Also, share metrics tend to skew the perception of an engaged audience. The people who share your articles don’t always read the whole thing, as an Upworthy study showed. This chart below indicates how long users stayed on a page compared to the point at which they shared the article.

attention_minutes

Your true readership is made of those who are engaged — the users who read your entire article and absorb the material.

You can build your audience.

Even though it is smaller than you think, you can also build your audience. Great bloggers grow in size and reputation. That’s what this article will tell you how to do.

The more you blog, the better knowledge you’ll have of your audience. You discover what they love, what they don’t love, what makes them click, and what makes them convert. In my Complete Guide to Building Your Blog Audience, I wrote this:

"A great blog begins with the content you create, but to be successful, a blog also needs a strong community or audience."

So you should not only learn who your audience is, but also shape that audience, too. To a certain extent, you get to decide who your audience is, and what they want to hear.

Everything starts with audience. If you know your audience and speak directly to them, they’re going to love you.

2) Be consistent.

You’re not going to be a wildly successful blogger unless you’re consistent.

An article on NewIncite had this to say about consistency:

"Quality of content and consistency are the most important factors in setting up your schedule … Consistency will keep them engaged, build brand awareness, and — if done right — help convert them to buyers."

It’s easy to talk about consistency, but it’s hard to do consistency. Bruce Springsteen wasn’t exactly a content marketing professional, but he had a great line about consistency:

"Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose and of action over a long period of time."

What worked for The Boss works for content marketers, too. You want to be a blogging rockstar? Take it from a real rockstar: Consistency matters.

Being a rockstar blogger feels good. But waking up early every day, hitting the keyboard every day, and maxing out your mental resources every day doesn't always feel good. But that gritty pain is what consistency is made of.

How often should you blog?

So, what does consistency mean in real numbers? How often do you need to publish a blog post? To answer this question, I’m going to be all evasive and tell you to refer to point one — know your audience.

Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute wrote this on the topic of blogging frequency:

"As long as the blog post serves these two goals it’s worth doing a post: 1) Is a compelling and interesting story to your target audience (the reader), and 2) Serves the objective for your blog. If that means five posts per week, great.  If it’s one per week, that’s fine to. [sic] Focus on whether or not you have a story worth telling."

I can’t give you a hard and fast number. I can, however, recommend a minimum threshold — you should aim for at least one post a week.

Why? Frequent output — i.e. consistency — is positively correlated with greater traffic, as indicated by HubSpot’s research.

blog-slide-7-resized-600

In addition, HubSpot discovered that bloggers with higher output had better lead generation results:

blog-slide-10-resized-600

So consistency leads to accumulation of content, and the more content you have, the more results you’ll get.

3) Be totally transparent.

If you’re more transparent than anyone else in your niche, you’ll get more readers. People crave transparency.

Kevan Lee, Buffer’s blogger par excellence, writes this in his article, "The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post:"

"We aim for an element of storytelling in each of the posts we write, often starting a blog post with a personal anecdote or moment of transparency."

Transparency is a tricky thing. On the one hand, relationships are built on trust and transparency. But it’s hard to be transparent. Nan Russell, in Psychology Today, had some cogent insights about transparency:

"People want other people, not necessarily themselves, to be transparent … Some people find transparency threatening, especially at work, while others find it exhilarating. Some confuse transparency with authenticity, or think transparency means communicating everything or knowing everything they want to know."

Transparency is important in blogging, because you are building trust, developing relationships, and growing an audience. At the same time you must exercise your transparency in a thoughtful and intentional way. You’re not going to spill business secrets, gossip about others, or divulge information that puts you in a dangerous personal situation.

The best advice that I’ve read comes from the article I cited above, regarding the role of transparency in the workplace. These principles, as I’ve restated them and applied to blogging, will make you appropriately transparent:

 

  • Tell stories that demonstrate your openness and vulnerability.
  • Make sure you are respecting your boundaries of confidentiality and the confidentiality of others.
  • Use your transparency to help others, not simply for the sake of being transparent.

When we try to become transparent, we’re usually not as transparent as we think we are. But if we work hard to share personal stories — appropriate details included — we’ll get better at it.

Transparency engages readers and turns your blog into something that readers love. As I’ve studied many blogging niches, I’ve discovered that the bloggers with the greatest degree of personal disclosure are the most successful. So if you want to be a successful blogger, you’ve got to get personal and transparent.

Conclusion

Being the best blogger in your niche has very little to do with writing technique and flawless grammar. Those technical skills kowtow to some way more important things:

 

  1. Knowing your audience.
  2. Being consistent.
  3. Being totally transparent.

If you put these techniques into play, you’re on the path to blogging domination and content marketing success.

*How to Become the Best Blogger in Your NicheWritten by Neil Patel | @neilpatel

DR. Raymond Jewell, is a leading economist and Home Based Business Consultant. He is a Alpha Legacy member of Markethive and manages several blogs on the hive. Dr. Jewell is offering, for a limited time, FREE Markethive Systems just click and sign up and witness the power of the Hive first hand. 

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OK, Healthcare Entrepreneurs…Your Turn.  Let’s Resuscitate Your Professional Portfolio

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

In this era of inbound marketing, we are constantly discussing the importance of making sure that the traits and characteristics that are associated with our personal lives are congruent with those that define our professional lives.   Many would refer to this as our “brand,” or that ‘intersection’ of values, traits, & characteristics that are prevalent in both our personal and professional worlds.  

For most, it should be easy to determine another person’s character within a specific period of time of interacting with them.  Having this information combined with a decent understanding of that person’s professional background, would serve as a good starting point for understanding that individual’s brand.

As healthcare professionals, many of us are guilty of what many may call outbound marketing strategies.  When we are applying for jobs or looking to advance our careers, we tend to update our CVs and then jump right into the “applying process” but then we forget to do all the other important things that matter.  These include having a completed LinkedIn profile with updated professional photo and publishing articles (or blogs) that further explain who we are & what we do. 

More specifically, we should consider:

*Establishing ourselves with our potential customer base (i.e., patients, hospitals/healthcare facilities, etc) by making sure we can be easily found online

*Making sure our online professional profiles (think LinkedIn) are congruent with who we are and what our mission (or company’s mission may be (i.e., branding).

*Making sure we have a current, professional photograph that clearly shows our face

*Ensuring that our certifications/credentials are highlighted and current

* Publishing blogs (articles) about our product(s) and how it relates to our potential customer base (i.e., areas of healthcare we practice, our target patient population, what services we offer, etc)

In summary, we must take the time to make ourselves more visible.  Gone are the days when patients and healthcare facilities would solely depend on our state’s medical board or sites like Healthgrades to conduct their due diligence.

They want to be able to do a quick Google search and find us along with our current professional photo, our certifications/qualifications, areas of practice, beliefs, etc so that they can make better choices as informed consumers and stakeholders in healthcare. 

Remember that healthcare, like many other sectors, is rapidly changing and will continue to become more like a “big business.”  This means familiarizing ourselves with inbound marketing strategies while ensuring that our online professional portfolio remains current.

Ultimately, the assumption is that we will build a loyal customer base (i.e., patients/healthcare facility/etc) and if our product (or services) is really great, then they will keep coming back for more and they will tell their friends, colleagues, etc about it. 

Because we took the time to establish credibility and online authority through implementation of the above, we will have accomplished two things:  

  1. positive word-of-mouth references from former patients/employers/healthcare facilities, etc (more subjective); and
  2.  a legitimate online “place” for those who do not yet know who we are (or our business) to easily find us to verify the information (more objective).

 

 

MarketHive

How Being Genuine Can Strengthen You, Your Business, and Your Company

Glenn E. Fleming, MD, MPH, Contributor, MarketHive

Recently, I came across an article written by Mamta Chhikara (http://hive.pe/eC), which goes on to list and describe specific qualities that a genuine person possesses:

*They don’t seek attention = Modest

*They’re not concerned with being liked = Confident and Authentic

*They can tell when others are full of it = Intuitive (a good judge of character)

*They are comfortable in their own skin = Self-assured and confident

*They do what they say and say what they mean = Integrity

*They don’t need a lot of stuff = Simplicity

*They’re not thin-skinned = Easy-going

*They’re not overly modest or boastful = Humble

*They’re consistent = Dependable

*They practice what they preach = Genuine, Honest

Always keep these traits in mind not only as business but also as an individual.   As entrepreneurs seeking to gain trust, authority, and a growing customer base, we should always be cognizant of the foundation of inbound marketing, which involves:

*Performing due diligence for you and your company

*Performing due diligence for your targeted audience/clients/potential customers

*Engaging with your targeted audience/clients/potential customers

During the process of engagement, we should always be aware of the above traits of genuineness.  Your future colleagues and customers will be looking for these traits and will likely have the following thoughts/concerns:

*They want to know if you are confident in your company and/or product.

*They will likely be more concerned about the content/effectiveness of your product and/or character more than shiny “bells and whistles.”

*You should be able to eliminate illegitimate leads or potential colleagues within minutes of engaging

*Your customers and your colleagues want to see that not only do you use the product in question, but also that you use the product well and are able to demonstrate the product’s effectiveness to your colleagues and potential customers

*Most of us can eventually “smell” an inferior product or individual within a short period of time.  A usual warning sign is too many “bells and whistles.”  Simplicity is the name of the game.  If it’s too complicated or if it feels like the product (or individual) is too flashy, then it may be perceived as ineffective or disingenuous.

*Your customers and colleagues want to know that they can reach you during tough times or emergent situations.  Are you easily accessible via multiple modalities of communication (i.e., phone, text, email, Skype, etc)?

Now, I am not one who typically needs validation in anything that pertains to who I am as a person but I felt markedly refreshed after reading this article.  Am I a genuine person?  Hell yes!  

Depending upon where you are or whom you are conversing with, we may describe a genuine person as either "the real deal" or "being real."  If you are a fan of Larry Wilmore on Comedy Central, then you are already familiar with his catch phrase "Keep It 100."  It's the same concept and I believe being genuine is parallel with having integrity as well as the other above traits.  

Not only does a genuine & authentic person display his authentic self at all times (obviously with some adjustment for discretionary purposes), but he also "says what he does and does what he says."  He is honest about who he is and his actions reflect his character regardless of the setting.  

 

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