Everyone who has ever managed their website’s SEO knows that it’s a complicated field with many nuances, rumours and changes, which makes it hard to define what really works. Some experiment months before they realize that SEO is not bringing the results they desire. Quite often, the reason is a deviation from basic SEO truths. Everything starts with learning, so let’s cover the most common optimization mistakes.
SEO mistake #1 – Non-crawlable website
Is your website indexable? Google Webspam team manager Matt Cutts commented on his recent video that the most common SEO mistake by volume is having a website that is not crawlable. When Google cannot find your website and define the content, how can your website show up in search results? For example, Google cannot index pages done in Flash. You can create awesome design that has the wow-effect, but what’s the benefit of having a super cool website if no one knows it exists?
SEO mistake #2 – Optimizing for keywords based on wrong indicators
It’s quite amazing how lightly the keywords are chosen for SEO. It’s completely intelligible that every business associates their products/services with certain terms used in internal circles. The question is whether a regular person uses those keywords in their search queries? Use Google Keyword Planner to figure that out. This free tool shows the keyword search volume by country and language, even suggests related keywords. Find out how your customers are searching and don’t underestimate keywords with low search volume as they are easy to optimize and bring more specific traffic to your page.
Another mistake is evaluating keywords by search traffic instead of conversion rate. It’s easy to generate traffic, but it’s a completely different thing to actually make them earn you profit. The traffic you get on your site may be completely irrelevant causing your site big bounce rate. So instead of giving credit to most popular keywords find out the ones that are really valuable for your business. Google Analytics is a great tool to analyze keyword efficiency.
SEO mistake #3 – Ignoring meta data
Several SEO communities have claimed that meta data has lost its SEO value. In reality meta data is still important. If not so much for the ranking factor, the usability remains as a substantial reason to still use meta data. Page title i.e. tag appears in search result as your site title and is an important signal for Google to determine ranking. Meta description appears as a search result description. This is the place where to stand out from competitors and snap the visitors from their nose.
SEO mistake #4 – Main focus on link building
Focusing on link building is a mistake made by many businesses. As Matt Cutts mentioned in the video, thinking about link building alone limits your mindset. It’s true that in the end of the 90s linking was as popular as Backstreet Boys. But now the game has changed. Linking is still one of the major ranking factors for Google but the circumstances have changed – quality instead of quantity.
Google algorithm changes fight against webspam and link schemes. Dare to use link farms and see what happens. Most likely your ratings will boost for a short-term and drop significantly when Google discovers the scam. Matt recommends focusing on other things like quality content and marketing to earn links. This way natural links are generated that improve your site value for Google. Meaning that linking is an extra bonus for creating compelling and quality content, not a goal of its own.
SEO mistake #5 – Ignoring Google guidelines
Google offers free resources for webmasters to improve their SEO, including Google Webmaster Guidelines. Webmaster Guidelines and Webmaster Tools should be a bible for every SEO specialist. Not knowing the basics may cause you a lot of time and resources. Webmaster Guidelines outline exactly what Google wants you to do to achieve better rankings. Webmaster Tools provide you with important data to help you better understand what’s going on with your site and how to solve common problems.
SEO mistake #6 – Using forbidden techniques
Google Webmaster Guidelines define some SEO tactics as dishonest methods to improve your site ranking. Those methods are considered low quality and are forbidden by Google. Using the prohibited methods may cost your good reputation and get you banned from Google if discovered. Low quality tactics include:
- Link farming
- Keyword stuffing
- Duplicated and/or irrelevant content
- Hidden texts and keywords
- Doorway pages
- Google bowling
Trying to outsmart Google is dangerous and will end with poor results. Why waste your time and money on suspicious methods instead of focusing on quality SEO? Think further ahead than one week and invest into long-term results instead of practicing low quality SEO and facing the dangers of dishonest optimization.
SEO mistake #7 – Doing SEO without professional help and never get it done
Not that you have to outsource the SEO service – doing it all by yourself is great, even amazing if you can handle SEO next to your main job. As we know SEO changes very quickly. It was just a few months ago when Google declared that they value the analytics data as a ranking factor, after Penguin 2.0 new winds started blowing and branding is on the limelight. Following all the changes and implementing them requires both time to learn and time to manage. Be honest, do you have enough time and persistence to deal with SEO by yourself?
The WSI Lifecycle™ is the process we use to get the best possible results for our clients. We know the Lifecycle inside and out, but it’s important that you – our clients – know it as well. Providing clients with the knowledge to understand what, how and why we’re recommending certain strategies is a big part of our success.There are many benefits to taking the time to educate clients, but here are the top three:
<p1. It will increase client buy-in
People are much more likely to agree to something if they understand it. We can tell clients how easy it would be to boost their organic search traffic by ranking for some low-hanging longtail keywords, but if they don’t understand what that means, we may as well be speaking gobbledigook. Would you pay for something without an understanding of how it helps you?
2. It makes it easier to see results
This ties in directly with #1, but by explaining to clients what we’re going to do and what is most likely to happen, they can be on the lookout for results. We might tell clients that our campaigns will increase their conversion rates, but if they don’t understand that we’re referring to them turning a higher percentage of their current websites visitors into paying customers, they aren’t going to be very impressed by our numbers.
3. It builds trust
We take the time to educate clients because it’s the right thing to do. Clients should know what and why we’re doing something so they can decide for themselves if it’s what they want. People are more likely to listen to a recommendation if they trust the person giving it.
At WSI, we’ve been honing our Lifecycle since 2002 and we think we’ve just about perfected it. The process gets results, and now we’re letting clients in on all the fun.
An Infographic For Your Troubles
Without further ado, here’s a peek at our WSI Lifecycle infographic. It was created to help outline the benefits of our Lifecycle process to clients, so they understand what goes on behind the scenes.
Are you ready!?
Now it’s time to break it all down and figure out exactly how our process goes to work for your business:
The Discovery phase is where we soak up any information we can find on your business. We’ll scour the Internet and determine what we think the business is about, then we’ll talk to you and your team to see how you actually want to be perceived.
The main functions of the Discovery phase are:
1. Understand your business goals
In order to run any kind of successful campaigns, we first need to understand what your business wants to accomplish, and then further, what you want to accomplish with digital marketing. If we work backwards from your goals we’ll be able to develop a strategy that aims to accomplish exactly what you’re looking for.
2. Define your target audience
Even the most successful companies in the world can’t possibly target every person on the planet. But they certainly do know whom they’re targeting, and you should too. Just like your business goals, if we consider the personas you want to reach before getting started, we’ll have a better understanding of which tactics are best-suited to capture your audience.
3. Determine opportunities
Once we understand a little more about your business, we can begin to determine the digital opportunities available to you. We’ll also take into account your industry, company size, and any other relevant details that might help us find unique opportunities for your business.
Internet Business Analysis™ (IBA)
The IBA phase is where we assess the quality of your current digital presence as well as look into how you stack up against your competitors. We’ll do lots of work and research to figure out what you’re doing right and what needs to be improved.
The main concerns of the IBA phase are to:
1. Analyze current campaigns
In some cases, you may not even be running any ‘campaigns’, but we’ll take a look at your digital efforts and try to decipher how you’re doing. This will give us a good idea of whether we need to start from scratch or work from the base you’ve already built.
If you didn’t think you had competitors, we show them to you. They’re out there and they’re trying to steal your customers. We’ll tell you who’s out there and what (if anything) they’re doing better than you.
3. Define strategy>
Now comes the fun part. We stop looking at once was and start imaging the future of your digital presence. The strategy or planning aspect of the Lifecycle is where we’ll determine the tactics and campaigns that are going to carry your business forward into the digital world.
This phase probably isn’t hard to figure out – it’s where we build the components of the strategy we just devised. We’ll determine who needs to do what by when and kick the project into high-gear.
The functions of the Build phase are:
1. Gather requirements
Whether it’s design, content, or technical details, there are going to be a ton of requirements for any given digital project. And it’s during this stage that we’ll gather all of them and put them into one large basket. Just kidding. But we will try to hash out the full scope of the project.
Ready, set, go! The project is now off and running, so here’s where we’ll get the creative juices flowing as we start to piece together all the parts of the digital marketing puzzle.
Just in case we didn’t get everything perfect the first time (hey, it could happen!) we’ll give you the chance to request revisions of anything we’ve built for your campaigns. We’ll ensure everything looks and reads just the way you like.
The Implement phase is where we’ll put everything we’ve built into its final place, whether it be on your site, social platform, or behind the scenes somewhere.
The Implement phase covers:
We’ll give you one last chance to request changes and then things are set in stone forever! Not really, but we aim to produce a final version of each requirement so we can keep the ball rolling.
Blast off! When everything is ready to go, there’s nothing left to do but launch and hope for the best. Don’t worry, it’ll go well – it always does with us.
Now that everything is in place, we’ll do live tests to ensure everything is working properly and looking good. Once the tests are complete, it’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!
Just because everything is built and implemented doesn’t mean our job is done. Far from it. We won’t know whether what we’ve done is working until we measure and track the results, which is what we take care of during the Measure phase.
During the Measure phase we:
Whether it’s conversions or organic rankings, we’ll keep an eye on the metrics that we’re trying to improve, just to get an early read on how things are working. No jumping to conclusions, just a healthy dose monitoring.
Once we have enough data – and this usually takes three months or longer – we’ll determine how successful our campaigns were at achieving the goals we set out to accomplish. There’s always some level of uncertainty as to what’s going to work best, but you can never know for sure until you try!
Now that the numbers are in, we’ll need to decide what the numbers are telling us to do. The Manage Results phase is all about making campaigns more efficient by removing what isn’t working and expanding on the things that are driving results.
The main functions of the Manage Results phase are:
Instead of having you worry about it, we’ll set a reporting date beforehand, and then we’ll come in and give you the scoop. We’ll provide our insight on what’s happening and get your input on how you’d like us to proceed with managing your campaigns.
After we give you our report and get your input, we’ll get out the monkey wrench and start tweaking your campaigns. What we do will depend on the results, but it could be anything from targeting different keywords, changing the scope of content, or adjusting the design of a landing page.
And that’s it, that’s how the WSI Lifecycle™ helps your business grow. What comes next, you ask? Well, the Lifecycle comes next – it’s a cycle! You repeat the process (or most of the process) over and over, because your business is always changing and so is this place we call the Internet.
Google first introduced its social network, Google+, in June 2011. Just six months later it reportedly had 62 million users and is on track for 400 million users by the end of 2012. That will be half of Facebook’s total current user base in a fraction of the time, and double Twitter’s!
Just recently, Google announced Search, plus Your World, which is Google+ content appearing with traditional organic search results. This is proof that the lines between social networking, social media and SEO are indeed thinning and that social networking and social signals are becoming more important to the practice of SEO.
Google+ is a social networking force to be reckoned with and it is forcing marketers’ hands. I guarantee you that Google+ is not a fad. It is here to stay.
So why is it important to incorporate Google+ into your web presence, how do you do it, and how will it positively impact your organic search strategy?
With the introduction of Search, plus Your World, when your prospects search in Google for the keywords you want to be found for, relevant results will be returned in that searcher’s “Personal Results” from their “Google+ Circles”, as well as related “People and Pages from Google+”. Think about how this impacts your findability and the Page One search results for everything.
Here’s an example – when I was logged in to Google+ and searched for “community management tips”, the #8 ranking was a blog post by Acquisio because they are in my Google+ circles:
When I logged out of Google+, and all other Google properties, Acquisio did not appear in my top 50 Google search results for the same keyword phrase.
Moral of the story: start building your circles and sharing your business content via a Google+ Page.
Search, plus Your World makes a lot of sense. Let’s revisit three facts about organic search and Google search that support the concepts of Google+:
1.A lot of people use and trust Google’s search results. Really. The proof – according to comScore.com, in December 2011 there were 12 billion Google searches performed (up 3% over November 2011). Compare this to the second busiest search engine, Bing, with just 2.7 billion searches in December. #bigdifference
- Everybody looks at the organic side of search, and 80% to 90% of searchers will click on organic search results (the left-hand side) over paid search results (AdWords, PPC). Your web presence needs to be found on the organic side of search through your SEO efforts or you’re missing out on a lot of eye balls, prospects and business.
- Google is fanatical about search relevance. That is, fanatical about providing relevant search results to every searcher for every search. Since Google+ is a social network and social networks are about relationships it only makes sense that search results include relevant content from your relationships (your circles) in Google+.
6 Reasons to Add Google+ to Your Web Presence & SEO Strategy
1. Let them socialize.
Your prospects, customers and employees want to socialize with your organization. So let them – on the most visited search engine on the planet.
By embracing Google+ you have one more presence point to socialize your content, control your message for SEO and get found. It’s also one more presence point to initiate social engagement.
Since Google+ allows your content to be socialized with those who are interested in your brand, it helps prove relevance to Google and therefore impacts your organic search rank. As you grow your circles, social engagement with your organization will increase as well. This all leads to higher organic search results throughSearch, plus Your World.
So let the socializing and findability begin: Set up a Google+ Page for your business (http://www.google.com/+/business) and start publishing content, building circles, and getting +1 recommendations.
SEO Impact: The broader and stronger your web presence is, the better you will perform organically in the search engines. Adopting Google+ will broaden and strengthen your web presence.
2. Fresh content.
Fresh content is the key to dominating in organic search. This is true now more than ever before. Yes, the fundamentals of SEO are still valid – build a technically great website and have a strong backlinking strategy – but sharing excellent, fresh, consistent and optimized content via social networks is also key.
Google+ is just one more place to publish your press releases, blogs, testimonials, case studies and news. The difference with Google+ is that your content, if found, will be listed at the top of Google personal results mixed in with traditional search results (so long as it has been shared in the searcher’s circles).
Getting serious about producing fresh, optimized content and having it socialized in Google+ will really pay off.
SEO Impact: Publishing fresh content produces backlinks, social signals and authority. This increases the likelihood of being found. Google+ is just one more presence point to accomplish this.
3. Google+ produces social signals.
Social signals are now factored into Google’s organic search algorithm. A social signal can come from a Facebook Like, Share or a Google +1. Social signals prove that a piece of content is relevant. The more people who like, share or +1 it, the more relevant it is.
Now more than ever it’s important to integrate page-level social icons on your website, email marketing, press releases and blogs. Give any visitor to your web presence, at any time, the ability to provide your content with a social signal.
If you haven’t already done so, add the Google +1 button to all pages on your website.
SEO Impact: Social signals will continue to weigh into Google’s search algorithm. Social signals are like the “new age backlink.” Start building your social signals strategy today.
4. Your competitors.
If your competitors have not already rolled out a Google+ strategy then look at this as a stroke of good luck to capitalize on. This could be your chance to shine and dominate in organic search results.
But get moving and get paranoid about executing on a Google+ strategy. It will impact your organic search rankings, findability and traffic to your website.
SEO Impact: Just like you have an SEO backlink strategy to out-backlink your competitors, now you need to think about your social signals strategy to out-signal your competitors.
5. Google, Google+ and Search plus Your World aren’t going away.
My recommendation to marketers is to not ignore Google+. It isn’t going away any time soon and I predict traction throughout 2012.
According to Google, “We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships.” And, “[Google+] is a platform which allows us to bring social elements into all the services and products that we offer.” (Source: The Telegraph)
(Note: Google has changed its compensation system so that all Google employees think about Google+ opportunities every day.)
Google will continue to incorporate Google+ into more and more Google properties including their Android efforts. According to Google, “Most importantly, 700,000 Android devices are activated daily and this will become a very significant source of new users for Google+. That number will also grow next year.”
Think seriously about how your organization is going to incorporate Google+ into its web presence. It’s one more presence point through which your prospects are expecting to engage with you, and it provides your business with one more opportunity to produce and publish controlled content for your circles to consume.
SEO Impact: Google Search, plus Your World will be everywhere.
6. The Social Network War: Google versus Facebook.
Who will win? Up until now, Facebook has been the dominant force in terms of social networking and having marketers leverage social networking to reach prospects and customers. But what will transpire over the next 12 months? Will Facebook continue its dominance and keep marching along or will Google+ surpass their progress?
Which social network will dominate for business and marketing purposes?
Which social network will dominate for SEO?
The answer to all of these questions is, “no one knows.” Because of this, organizations should hedge their bets, fire bullets at both and grow their web presence to include both Google+ and Facebook.
If you have any questions on any of the strategies and topics covered, feel free to contact us, and will help you resolve all your issues.
Be Sociable, Share!
Just when you thought you had your social media strategyand web presence under control, yet another social networking site is becoming mainstream. Seven months ago it was Google+, now it’s Pinterest and it is gaining momentum in popularity as well as relevance in organic search.
Pinterest is a social photo sharing website that has also been described as an online pin board. Its more than 10 million registered users, over 2 million of whom log in every day, “pin” photos, graphics, and videos into categories they create based on their own personal interests. Pinterest users also share their pins on Facebook and Tweet them.
“Their own interests” may indeed include images that represent your brand. Pinning images is how your visitors, prospects, clients and fans want to visually socialize your organization.
The likes of GE and IBM are using Pinterest, proving that it is relevant to both B2C and B2B.
Here are eight SEO reasons to add Pinterest to your web presence and how to get started.
Pinterest content is being crawled and indexed by Google, therefore it will impact your SEO rankings. Think of it as an opportunity to outrank a competitor for a keyword. If you are pinning on behalf of your organization, take the time to optimize Pinterest photo comments with important keyword phrases. If you have control over image file names when originally published, take the time to optimize photo descriptions for keywords as well.
2. Backlinks & Referrals
Every image pinned to a Board has a link back to its original published source. These are valuable backlinks and can provide referral traffic as well. Capitalize on this. Posting your product and service images and videos is a great place to start. However, keep in mind that it’s important to avoid being blatantly self-promotional – remember to provide value to your audience by sharing quality content that is relevant to their interests and worth liking, commenting on, and re-pinning.
3. The Pinterest Search Box
With millions of visitors to Pinterest every day, people are looking for brands via the Pinterest search box. Is your brand available? Does your Pinterest presence represent and reinforce your brand to a prospect who might be searching?
4. Web Presence
Pinterest is yet another web presence point. Simple as that. Just like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, Pinterest has gained enough momentum and significance that excluding it any longer may negatively impact your web presence compared to your competitors.
Pinterest is unique because it is the only social networking site focused solely on sharing images. You likely do not have to go far to find an inventory of photos, graphics and videos in your organization. For example, design and architecture firms have projects, real estate agents have listings, product companies have products, services companies such as vacation and leisure have snap shots of places, artists have art, sports-related companies have action shots, non-profits have people and places and event pictures, technology companies have conferences and infographics, and so on.
Get creative and start thinking about how to build your inventory of photos.
6. Social Signals
We know that social signals are factored into Google’s and Bing’s organic search algorithms. Pinterest provides yet another opportunity for your visitors, prospects and customers to generate social signals (Tweets, Likes, Shares, Google +1’s, and now Pins). Social signals indicate to Google that people want to socialize your content with people they have relationships with, which signals that your content is relevant.
Your competitors are likely using Pinterest already. This is a grand enough reason to get started. But better yet, if they are not, you can take advantage of the situation and start building out your Pinterest presence before they do.
8. Pinterest is not going away in the near future.
In December 2011, the site became one of the top 10 largest social networking sites, according to Hitwisedata, with 11 million total visits per week – this number increased to 21.5 million visits for the week ending January 28, 2012. According to Experian’s 2012 Digital Marketer: Benchmark and Trend Report,Pinterest is now the third most popular social network in the U.S. behind Facebook and Twitter, having surpassed LinkedIn. And the Pinterest team is serious about their business. Recently they raised an additional $100 million from some noteworthy investors.
Getting started is rather straight-forward:
- Request an account by going to http://pinterest.com/. If you know someone who already has an account, ask for an invitation.
- Set up a Pinterest account for your business and reserve your main brand name.
- Be sure to connect your business account with your Twitter and Facebook accounts so you can share content across the social sites. When you pin an image you can also tweet it and share it.
- Add the Pinterest social icon to all your corporate web pages and blog pages.
- Add a Board and get busy pinning!
Pinterest is one of many tools you can use to optimize your internet marketing plan. Get on the right path today by contacting a knowledgeableWSI Internet Consultant to assist with your strategy.
Email marketing can and should be at the centre of many businesses’ digital marketing strategies, but unfortunately, it’s not. This is usually due to companies misunderstanding (and therefore not realizing and appreciating) the power of email marketing. But email marketing works, and our webinar, “Confessions of an Email Marketer – The Science Behind Boosting Conversions“, is going to show you how and why.
Think what you want about email (and insert curse word regarding the current state of your inbox) but the fact is that people are constantly checking and engaging with their email. Whether on the move with a phone, at the office with a laptop, or somewhere in between with a tablet, your email inbox is never far from reach. Really think about that for a second – when not on vacation, how long have you gone without checking at least one of your email inboxes? Chances are not long.
Still not convinced that email marketing can do the trick for your business? That’s okay, we don’t mind convincing you. that’s why we do these free webinars, to show you that we know what we’re talking about.
Whether you’re actively looking to leverage email marketing in your overall digital strategy or simply trying to get a feel for how email can help, our email marketing webinar is a can’t-miss session! Don’t delay in signing up as we’re going to provide key strategies to ensuring that your email marketing efforts are effectively giving your brand a competitive edge. Here’s what our “Confessions of an Email Marketer – The Science Behind Boosting Conversions” webinar will cover:
- The 5 must-have aspects of email marketing you can’t afford to ignore
- Tips and tricks to creating effective drip campaigns to engage your customers
- Best practices for nurturing your email database
Here are the details:
DATE: Thursday, October 24, 2013
TIME: 11:00AM – 12:00PM (EDT)
REGISTER: Click here to reserve your spot now
Don’t miss this opportunity to join WSI’s Director of Marketing and Communications Cheryl Baldwin for her FREE webinar! Cheryl has leveraged email marketing for everything from lead generation, to customer retention, to customer engagement for a global brand. In this session she will explore the science behind using email to boost your business’ conversions. To get full access to her tips and tricks, sign up for the “Confessions of an Email Marketer – The Science Behind Boosting Conversions” webinar now!