Monthly Archives: May 2017

Image SEO in the Visual Internet Era

By | SEO | No Comments

For all the talk surrounding virtual assistants and voice-enabled Internet search, online marketers and brand managers should not keep their eyes off search engine optimization for images.

There is no doubt that online searches conducted by the Google Assistant, Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana are bound to become more commonplace over the next few years, but the visual appeal of the internet should never be ignored. There was a time when online search was mostly dominated by text elements; this started to change a few years ago when Google developers noticed a certain trend among people who specifically crafted their search queries to look for images.

Let’s say a young woman in a romantic relationship meets her boyfriend’s parents, who happen to be from the Lastovo islands of Croatia. Intrigued, she launches a search from the Bing app on her smartphone; since Lastovo is a very scenic archipelago, she is likely to tap the image browsing tab and swipe through the various photos. This search and image browsing practice is very common; one third of all Google searches focus on images, and 12.5 of searchers will specifically browse an image collection.

Why Image SEO Matters These Days

Jaded online marketers and brand managers often complain that the current paradigm of image search is not conducive to SEO. This complaint is only valid insofar as searchers who simply browse images; in the example above, the young woman may simply enjoy great photos of Lastovo and may not bother to visit the websites that actually host the images.

What if the young woman’s relationship progresses to the point that she entertains the thought of a future seaside wedding and honeymoon in Lastovo? In this case, image SEO will be quite powerful if it is done properly. An image that shows a seaside chapel will certainly capture the attention of the young woman, but only if it was properly alt-tagged with keywords such as “Lastovo weddings” or “Lastovo honeymoon packages.”

Aside from alt attributes and tags, proper image SEO includes captions, page title, URL, surrounding text, and the file name. Of equal importance is the quality of the image and the engagement it has produced; to this effect, a Lastovo tour operator should take scenic pictures of wedding chapels against dramatic sunset backgrounds and post them to Instagram. The idea is to get likes, comments and shares that the search engine spider will consider; additionally, embedding popular Instagram photos is another effective SEO tactic.

The Bottom Line of Image SEO

Searchers who browse Google or Bing image galleries, and who click or tap on the button to visit the corresponding website, are sending strong signals about their intentions. In the case of the woman who dreams of getting married in Croatia, her click on a Lastovo image hosted on the site of a travel agency is a strong signal of her potential plans.

Image SEO must fit within overall SEO goals; it starts with an analysis of the opportunities that can be pursued and continues with decisions related to the image. For example, a Croatian travel agency can create a section for Lastovo tour packages, weddings and honeymoons; the goal here is to develop a nice mix of content with images that are complementary. There should be articles with bullet points and videos as well as maps, but it is important to include an image with every content piece. At this point, the images can be properly tagged and shared across social networks.

Creating A Blog That Connects With Your Market

By | Content Marketing, SEO | No Comments

Businesses today don’t just have clients and customers, they have a following. Marketing today isn’t as much about selling a product as it is creating connection with your customers. Creating a blog is a great way to stay in touch with your client or consumer base to maintain ongoing connection. What you put in your blog, however, is very important. Like almost every other aspect of marketing, blogs must be strategic to create maximum impact. Here are 5 steps to creating a great blog.

1. Establish your goals

Ultimately, it’s important to define what you want the outcome of your blog to be, because if you don’t know what the goal is, you won’t have any way of determining if you are achieving it or not. Your goal might be to simply create positive association with your brand, boost sales of a certain product, increase your profile in a certain region or even climb higher in search engine rankings. Sometimes, you can achieve several of these outcomes with a number of blogs, but ultimately, you want to identify one over-arching goal and stick with trying to achieve that.

2. Create your content

There are a wide variety of ways to create great content and no matter what your ultimate goal is, you should offer a wide variety of content. Some content should be for the purposes of educating and informing, but don’t be afraid to just entertain sometimes too. Most of all, your blog should contain viable, actionable information. Think of your blog as the best way of offering a “freebie” to your clients and consumers. BOGO specials are great, but the knowledge you have about your given field is probably far more valuable.

3. Grow an audience

Creating a great blog doesn’t do you a whole lot of good if no one is reading it. Creating great content is the first step, but the second and most important step is letting people know it’s there. If you are not already active on social media channels, your first step is to establish a presence there, and then blast your blog through as many outlets and channels as possible.

4. RESPOND to your readers!

Regardless of what your specific goal is with creating a blog, ultimately will achieve it by creating connection with your audience. You can’t create connection if communication is a one-way street. If people are responding to your blog, that means they are reading it. If you want them to keep reading it, one of the best things you can do is respond to their comments, interact and engage with them.

5. Decide in advance how to deal with negatives

No matter who you are, what you do, create or put out into the world, you are always going to have detractors and nay-sayers. While it can be highly fulfilling to put an argumentative reader in their place, you want to do so carefully, with great caution and a great deal of humor if possible. In some cases, you may simply want to ignore negative comments (or simply delete them) but in many cases, it is important to actually respond – but to do so wisely, carefully and appropriately. Comments and responses on social media can quickly go viral and gain national attention. If or when that happens, you want to make sure the attention you are getting is for you and not against you.

How to Generate a Steady Flow of Visitors by Reaching out to Influencers

By | Marketing | No Comments

From creating quality content to experimenting with paid advertising platforms, you put a lot of work into getting targeted visitors to your website. Many marketers and business owners have trouble keeping enough traffic coming to their sites to justify their effort, leaving them with feelings of frustration and confusion. If you can relate to that problem, you are probably looking for a way to simplify the traffic generation process, and you can reach your goal with influencer marketing. You will reach out to the people in your industry who already have large audiences and offer to share your content. Each time someone accepts your offer, you will get a nice boost of targeted traffic.

Locate Influencers

When your goal is to generate a flood of traffic, finding the influencers who are in your field is the best place to start. If you have been in your market for a while, you will likely have a few in mind, but you will always want to keep an eye out for additional opportunities. You can search for them on Google, but joining social media groups related to the products and services you sell will also work wonders. Take some time to discover five to six bloggers, and you will be off to a good start.

Conduct Research
At this point, some people will instantly create content without taking the time to validate their ideas, and you must avoid that trap. Reading an influencer’s past blog posts is a great way to see the type of content that gets attention and inspires people to take action. Since Google places relevant search results on the first page, searching for keywords that your prospects are likely to use will provide you with even more ideas. As you review each page of content, ask yourself if you could do anything to improve the articles.

Content Creation and Outreach
When you have a clear picture of the type of content people enjoy, you can move forward with the process. If you have not already done so, create a few articles on your website that will capture people’s interest. You will then want to email the bloggers and let them know that you enjoy their content and think their audience would benefit from your material. You can create infographics and write guest posts for bloggers to place on their sites, and they will link to your content in exchange for your contribution.

Final Thoughts

Although you can try many things when your mission is to send as many people to your website as possible, influencer marketing is one of the most effective. Not only will you increase your traffic, but you will also build trust and credibility by getting respected bloggers to syndicate your content. Once you get an idea of how the process works, you will want to create a routine so that you can get a consistent supply of targeted visitors. As you gain experience, you will have an even better understanding of what works and what does not, taking your results to the next level.

The Offline Organic SEO Tactics Your Local Business Needs Right Now

By | SEO, SEO Strategies | No Comments

Onsite SEO is the foundation of your company’s online reputation, but a strong local customer base is what keeps business thriving. Merging organic SEO with offline tactics designed to draw local traffic powers up your marketing strategy and brings your brand to the attention of new customers.

Shifting SEO Landscapes
To jump-start offline promotions, you have to let go of outdated SEO practices. Keyword stuffing and lengthy meta tags worked in the past when search engine algorithms had a lot of loopholes. Today, the same approach is considered “black hat” SEO and is usually penalized. Smart business owners stick with “white hat” tactics, focusing on the customer experience instead of trying to trick search engines. Including keywords naturally, providing relevant links and maintaining a positive online reputation does more for organic search results than any amount of manipulation.

Linking Organic and Local
Consumers find nearby businesses by using local keywords, often while searching on mobile devices. Being near the top of organic search results is key if you want to attract the attention of these hurried users. To ensure the maximum amount of visibility, make it a priority to claim listings on location-based directories, including sites like Yelp, Google and Facebook. A greater number of listings means more possible links in search results and more places where potential customers can interact with your company.

Being the Genuine Article
To populate your online listings with positive reviews and useful customer feedback, amazing service must be the hallmark of your physical location. If you advertise a special, stock enough inventory to make good on it, and have a backup plan in case the response is more overwhelming than you expected. Strive to create an inviting, friendly atmosphere in line with the “voice” of your online presence. When customers have consistently positive experiences across channels, it can generate good reviews and improve local organic search visibility for your business.

Grabbing Good Feedback
To ensure customers remember to say something about their great in-store experiences, include links to review platforms on receipts, business cards and promotional items. Ask if they’d like to be included in your mailing list, and send follow-up emails asking for feedback. Short surveys with the option to leave a review at the end not only gather comments but also provide ideas for how to improve service in the future.

Tracking Offline Results
Sending out email surveys or directing customers to online review sites helps you keep track of how people found your store. Monitor all channels to determine the most lucrative, and make these the focus of your SEO strategy. Pay attention to how many people from each channel leave reviews or take surveys, and note the balance of positive to negative feedback. Higher traffic means a better ROI and can help you maximize your advertising budget to continue improving offline SEO.

Following honest marketing practices when promoting your business online and off is the best thing you can do to improve rankings in local search results. The combination of smart onsite SEO and stellar offline customer service creates a dynamic designed to bring in good reviews and encourage first-timers to become repeat customers. Keep your local audience in mind as you refine your marketing strategy to maintain long-term connections and make the most of local organic SEO.

Five Title Tag Hacks Guaranteed to Boost SEO Rankings

By | SEO, SEO Strategies | No Comments

You may be thinking that title tags are too outdated to still be useful in today’s competitive world of search engine rankings. Though they have been around as long as the Internet itself, they are still one of the simplest, most useful search engine optimization, or SEO, tools in your arsenal.

The Benefits of a Great Title Tag

There have been plenty of studies conducted that prove there is a definite correlation between the right kind of title tag and a significant, measurable increase in site rankings.

In addition to this, it has also been proven that you can increase your click-through rate drastically with a great title tag. Click-through rates can ultimately boost your SEO ranking, so it’s worth taking the extra time for this.

Below you will find several strategies you can experiment with. While there are always certain SEO best practices, it is important to remember that much of your success will come through trial and error. Once you find what works for your site, you’ll be set.

1. Be Specific With Numbers and Dates

The human brain is trained to look for patterns, which means anything that breaks away from a pattern will automatically stand out. When scanning search engine results, your brain is desperately looking for something to latch onto. This is where numbers and dates come in handy.

This is why using numbers in your title tag is so useful. Numbers are specific and break that monotonous pattern of text, which causes the brain to perk up and grab onto it. This can increase your click-through rate.

2. Find the Appropriate Length

Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to tag title length, but the general consensus is to stay within the 50-60 character limit. The trick here is to be aware of what keywords are most likely to be searched when someone is looking for the product or service you provide. Fitting those keywords within that character limit will usually be a winning strategy.

3. Know Your Synonyms

You may think people will be searching one way, but then find out they’re actually searching a completely different way. This is why it’s important to know which variants of common keywords are most likely to be used and optimize accordingly.

Keyword tools are incredibly useful for this. Most, like Google Search Console or Keyword Explorer will point out popular variants of the keywords you input, which you can use to improve you title tag.

4. Engage the User

Action words and questions are extremely effective tools for crafting an attention-grabbing title tag. Action words give your page a little extra boost of excitement, and questions can create a curiosity gap that incentivizes searchers to click through.

5. Make That Connection

This is a bit advanced, but if you can match up your title tag with the exact keyword phrases that are most often used to find your site, it will give your site traffic a serious boost.

When people see a phrase in the search results that exactly matches their query, they are much more likely to click on that result. This may take a few tries, but it’s well worth it.

To boost your SEO rankings, try out these five title tag hacks and see what works for you.

How to Perform SEO for Images

By | SEO | No Comments

While applying Search Engine Optimization to a web page increases its prominence in the result pages of search engines like Google, SEO is usually thought in terms of creating outgoing links to external websites and using the same keywords repeatedly throughout the content text. However, at least one out of every three searches carried out on Google are image searches, and Google relies on SEO that has been applied onto images in order to determine which images should be displayed on the highest segments of relevant searches.

Because a search engine cannot visually parse an image the way human eyes can, Google may use any number of text elements surrounding the image in order to estimate whether it is a relevant image for searches. Besides the file name and the alt attribute, it appears that Google pays particular attention to the contents of the caption underneath the picture. The web page itself is also taken into consideration; the URL and the title element both help to establish for search engines whether there is further context to an image being on that page, and so does the other content text in the close vicinity of where on the page it is posted.

Apparently, if an image presented lower on a search result’s page gets enough clicks, it will be shifted into a higher position because of its proven popularity. This is a way in which a highly engaging image can be expected to take its place alongside other, equally engaging images in image searches even if it ranks low on search result pages at first.

Further factors that determine whether an image will quickly appear highly in search results include whether it does not have a lopsided width-to-height ratio and whether its overall dimensions are not overly small or large. One way that an image can directly benefit from being very large, however, is if it is intended to be searched by browsers looking for desktop wallpapers and the page the image is hosted on is clearly presenting itself as a wallpaper repository.

Finally, whether the website itself ranks highly in search engine results because of its own, traditional SEO seems to tell Google that the images hosted on it should be considered relevant among similar images that might be hosted by less prominent sites. Separately, if the image in question is embedded across multiple web pages separate from where it first appeared, that likely has a direct and positive impact on the picture’s perceived relevance.

All of the above factors are what a site owner hoping to get an image to appear near the top of search results needs to pay due consideration to by default. However, there is also the matter of being sure to associate only the proper keywords with images. There exist keyword research tools that allow the user to determine how likely an image will rank in a search for certain keywords in the context of specific markets. After determining that entering a specific keyword does cause similar images to appear in the search results, the site owner should repeat the process until he or she has anywhere between five and twelve keywords that all relate to the same image. Those keywords should then be incorporated into the text elements connected to and surrounding the image.

The Best Off-Page SEO Strategies for Building a Reputation Online

By | Marketing, SEO | No Comments

When people decide to go off-page with their SEO, they have to do so with some caution. This process is used for optimizing a brand’s footprint both online and offline. This tool can look at content, relationships, and links in order to make the best experience for prospecting customers in what they do in relation to search engine’s crawl bots. This process generally leads to an increase in brand mentions that are positive, and search rankings improve, which also makes the site gain more traffic.

It is important to note that this situation can be a little confusing. Most people believe taking care of online data is enough, so they do not see the point of doing the extra work to include offline data, too. However, it is like owning a great house that is well protected in a gated community that does not allow people to come in and visit. There is essentially a great part to just one, but having the best of both worlds makes SEO situations all the better.

What is Off-Page SEO?

Off-page SEO does not reserve as much recognition that it deserves. It is important to note that people talk about websites without being attached to them physically. People come to brands with comments from friends and family members that cannot be gathered without going off-page. At the same time, it cannot be done through link building. While this feature is important, it cannot act alone as the answer to SEO on its own. These links are a benefit, but they are not an end goal.

There are two things to think about this situation. First of all, the goal of off-page SEO is only to accumulate positive signals and interactions people might have with a given brand. The hope is to net a positive outcome instead of a negative one. On the other hand, the benefits are to garner more brand mentions, positive reviews, links, and so much more. Therefore, these links need to be viewed from a standpoint of context and they also need to be given priority over what factors do lead to SEO off-page in order to provide the best boost for a brand.

Three Prisms to Pick From

There are three methods through which these SEO options can be tightened for off-page to work properly. First and foremost, people need to look at the brand and how it is viewed in the eyes of others. Sometimes, a brand that does not stand well on its own will not benefit from SEO, even the off-page variety, for long. Therefore, the products that sell 10,000 or more of items will perform the best. At the same time, the other feature to work on is Customer service with this aspect because it can either put a positive experience in people’s minds, or it can put a sour taste in people’s mouths.

Audience is the next important thing to be concerned with because it pinpoints specific people who are likely to have had a negative experience with the brand. The best way to counteract these people, especially with things they may post on social media, is to have a response to their statements or concerns right away. The goal is to be cordial with them while offering to find solutions to what they are concerned about.

Conclusion

There are many things to consider when going off-page. It is only half of the equation to making the best out of SEO optimization. It should not be forgotten no more than on-page SEO needs to work by itself.

Implementing SEO Changes with Google’s Tag Manager

By | SEO | No Comments

It is important to know what type of SEO changes can and cannot be made to a website. Some changes cannot happen for a few reasons, and rigid CMSs are one of them. At the same time, development queues that are really long also do not help – some of them can be months or even years long. It is important to know that some implementations can be made, though, and some of them can be done through Google’s Tag Manager.

One of the ways to use this tactic is to make it one third of the solution to websites that cannot run through meta-CMS. The most commonly used Tag Manager is produced by Google. It accounts for 72.6 percent of the market share in its field. Some people only use things like Google Analytics or Facebook tracking, but there are other things that work with HTML snippets based on rules that can be defined.

It is important to note that tag managers make use of JavaScript to implement these tags, so it has not been a reliable way to make SEO changes in the past. There are ways to execute JavaScript in a way that does not crash the site or search engine, though. Google’s Tag Manager does not have any of these problems in and of itself, making it one of the best choices for this task.

Making Changes to HTML Using Google’s Tag Manager

There are plenty of changes that can make to a website with Google’s Tag Manager. Sometimes, it is easy as adding new elements to a page, amending content or features of the elements already in place, or removing elements from the page completely. Each of these situations means that people need to know about CSS selectors and HTML to know which elements on the page to change or to pull data from. JavaScript’s jQuery is especially needed for this task.

There are some things that can be added with ease. One of these things is a structured data feature on e-commerce sites. These features require some work, though, as they have to be told specifically what data to pull from the site. People who do not want to be as technical, though, do not have to worry about their lack of ability. There are plenty of instructions and tutorials available throughout the internet, and Google provides many of them directly.

How to Insert an Element

To start with, custom HTML tags in Google’s Tag Manager exist already for use. This tag can be copied and pasted over into an HTML prompt to indicate where the element belongs. This feature can be done either with or without jQuery. It can be amended as needed with different elements, too, so doing this task does not need a lot of technical knowhow.

Data can be extracted from pages just as they can be installed into pages. JQuery is needed for this process to happen, so the person inserting the tag needs to be familiar with this section of JavaScript. Everything from the products being sought to the number of people viewing a page can be monitored.

Conclusion

When it comes to using a tag manager for a website, the best choice is to go with Google’s Tag Manager. It is the best option for its field, and it is preferred by many companies over other options on the market.

Launching a New Website? Don’t Neglect These SEO Basics

By | Search Engine Watch, SEO, SEO Strategies | No Comments
You’re excited about building a new website and can’t wait to share it with the world, but how will people even know it’s there once you launch? Nobody will unless you plan a solid SEO strategy right from the start. Take a look at these essential steps for making your site stand out to visitors and search engines the moment it goes live.

Map Out Keywords
You should know by now keyword stuffing will only get your site ignored, but smart planning does just the opposite. Make a list of site pages, and choose one or two keywords to target for each. Use these phrases in the URLs, page titles, meta descriptions, and image ALT tags. Be natural when including keywords in content to maintain a consistent voice across the site.

Make Smart Connections
Users and search engines need to be able to move between the pages of your site in a logical manner. Create a link structure in which every connection is relevant and works to point visitors on the most direct route to the pages they want to visit. Use a tool like Google Search Console to perform a crawl before the site is live and confirm the links actually point where they should.

Ensure a Universal Experience
Choose a mobile-friendly responsive layout for your site, and test every page in all major browsers. Users on smartphones and tablets should have the same smooth experience as those on PCs, and visitors using Chrome, Firefox and Edge should see all pages without any errors in layout. Run your site through Google Speed Test to identify pages with sluggish load times so that you can improve the overall user experience.

Expand and Track Your Online Presence
If you don’t already have social profiles set up, create them using handles representative of your new site. Update existing profiles to include the new URL and reflect any rebranding associated with the site’s launch. Now is also the time to set up an SEO tracker, such as Moz or SEMRush, to monitor keyword performance and sign up for webmaster tools from Google and Bing to start collecting analytics data.

Enrich Content
If you can enhance any page with schema markup, star ratings or reviews, do so. These elements improve visibility by identifying page elements for search engines and highlighting popular content. Do everything you can to make your site easy to share, such as including OpenGraph information or creating Pinterest-friendly images.

Generate Buzz
Create a robust promotional campaign to let the world know your site is about to go live. Use your social profiles to talk up the impending launch. Reach out to friends, family members, clients, brand ambassadors and anyone else you know who might be willing to give you a shout-out. Influencers and bloggers in your niche may also be up to making a little noise on your behalf if you’ve developed connections through other projects.

Don’t wait until your site has languished for weeks without visitors to implement an SEO strategy. Build keywords, links and a stellar user experience into the design as the site comes together to create a final product with appeal for both people and search engines. Make every tactic work toward increasing visibility, and watch performance begin to increase.

3 Questions You Need to Be Asking About Your SEO Link Strategy

By | SEO, SEO Strategies | No Comments

Links have long been key players in SEO strategies. A strong network of inbound links is considered a vote for authority, quality and relevancy, three factors search engines take into account when determining page rank.

The importance of building a link network is based on the assumption this metric is a big part of their algorithms used by Google and other search engines. However, a closer look at the patterns of click-through rates and visibility in search results suggests there may be more going on.

What Does Google Think About Links?
All search engines use formulas to determine where sites appear in organic results, but Google is often considered to be the most influential. As of 2016, the search giant still considered links to be “valuable” sources for determining authority. Their Senior Search Quality Strategist placed links in the number two spot on their list of “greatest ranking factors.”

Inbound links drive organic traffic, and more traffic is a signal of increased popularity. A large number of authoritative links can also signal trustworthiness. The more links a site has, the more popular it’s considered to be, at least in theory. However, it’s always been difficult to tell exactly how search engines, including Google, calculate page rank, and some models show click-through rates may be influenced by rank independent of the number of inbound links.

Are Links Still Relevant for SEO?
In the past, link directories, link exchanges and link “farms” were reliable ways of getting your site noticed by users and search engines. However, these outdated forms of link building have been replaced by more natural, organic strategies:

• Contributing high-quality content to authority sites
• Leaving valuable comments on blogs or forums
• Maintaining an active presence on social media

These approaches not only create inbound links but also build brand awareness, and this can generate a greater number of links without additional effort. Google may also consider high search volume to be a signal of a site’s importance, so don’t neglect keyword research when working on SEO.

What Does a Real Link Strategy Look Like?
You don’t have to understand the hidden metrics of page ranking to execute a successful link strategy. Follow these best practices to increase placement in search results and make your site stand out:

• Create a strong internal link structure with a logical progression for easy navigation and indexing
• Include outbound links to relevant, authoritative sites
• Avoid linking to low-quality sites
• Use keywords sparingly in anchor text
• Focus on the user experience first

The goal of any link building tactic should be to make your site easy for users and search engines to navigate while setting yourself up as an authoritative source of the information visitors expect when clicking through from search results.

Whether links influence page ranking or the other way around, this aspect of SEO is still important to the visibility of your site. Continue to build a network of internal and external links as part of your search marketing strategy. Focus on both inbound and outbound quality, and monitor which sites bring in the most traffic. Don’t get discouraged if your page rank shifts when search engines change their algorithms. Consistency will help keep your site prominent in organic search and contribute to a steady stream of traffic.