Starting a new website or blog can be very exciting and fulfilling. The only downside is waiting for your site to get a decent Domain and Page Authority score, quality backlinks, and waiting on those rankings to increase. For some sites and brands, this is something that happens pretty quickly, while others anxiously and impatiently wait and wait and often end up with disappointing results.
What gives? Well, unless you really have a good grasp of SEO, then you’ll end up frustrated and want to give up. Don’t give up though because we’re about to give you some of the best tips to help improve your rankings more quickly and also boost your motivation. If you are completely new to the concept of SEO, you can follow these beginner tips, otherwise, keep on reading for the more advanced SEO best practices and working methods below.
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Research and Study the Competition
It’s good to know as much as possible about your competition as possible so that you can know who you’re up against and what you should strive for. For instance, you may want to start by finding out how many incoming links your competitors have. This way, you have a good idea of how many you need in order to pass them. Also take a look at where they rank in search engines, what keywords they’re using, and what’s in their meta tags. You can’t strive for the top spot unless you know what you’re competing for. So be sure to analyze your competition as an initial plan of action.
A perfect niche market to make an example of is the world of online surveys and ‘get paid to survey’ review sites. Just by going to Google, we can see a wide range of sites for the search term “get paid to take survey” — which is made up of a mix of businesses (actual survey company), list articles, and review sites. The main difference between those that are ranking higher than others are the Domain/Page Authority of the site, and it’s incoming backlinks. If you take a look at the list articles, you will also find that they are often 2,000+ words in length as well.
As you can imagine, the online survey market is heavily saturated due to the fact that it’s one of the best ways to make money online with affiliate marketing. If you were to take a look at any typical survey review site, you would likely find a list of the top survey sites to join, as well as individual reviews for each — which also helps with the long tail ranking of these review sites for individual survey name searches as well.
Analyze Your Keywords and Your Competitors
It’s one thing to optimize your website for keywords, but if you’re using keywords that are not even being searched for then it’s a huge waste of your time. There are plenty of free tools available on the Internet that can help you find the best keywords that are being searched for consistently. These are the keywords that you want to optimize your site for. Also think about using long tail keywords, which are keyword phrases that have 3-5 words in them. These are great for drawing in targeted, quality traffic. Lastly, be sure to use evergreen keywords which have longevity and will be relevant for years to come. This way you can always count on them to bring you traffic.
When it comes to SEO research and seeing what sites rank for what (and where), SEMRush is one of the best tools out there. All you need to do is plug in the URL of any site, and you will instantly see not only what keywords they are ranking for, but also their current position, it’s monthly search volume, a competition score, and the ranking URL on their site.
You can see an example of all of this in the screenshot below, which was done for Buzzfeed.com. This tool is great for keyword research and finding phrases that you would never have thought of otherwise. Who would have thought the longtail phrase of “fun games for when your bored” would get searched over 40,000 times per month!
Now that you’ve seen this concept in action, start plugging in some of your top competitor’s URLs into SEMRush and see what kind of unique and crazy search phrases they might be ranking for.
Write Better Content than the Competition
If you’re not writing quality content, you really don’t stand a chance at ranking very high. Your content needs to be useful and original. When you create content, keep in mind that you want something that will make others want to link to it and share it. Try to focus on How To, tutorials, and lists because these tend to generate the most traffic. If you can, add numerous supportive facts and references. Also be sure to link keywords within your content to other useful and relevant web pages. When others see that you’ve linked to them, it will encourage them to link to you which will in turn help boost your rankings. If you are having problems on what content, keywords or search phrases to focus on, there are plenty of useful SEO tools and references out there to help with this process. Images and visual examples like charts, videos, images, and screenshots are also very useful and add to the quality of your content.
Again, this will all come down to not only the type of content you are creating for your site, but also how you promote it. To see an example of this in motion, head over to Google and search for “how to boil an egg”. It’s a super generic term but has been written about thousands of times. You will also notice that many of the site names ranking for this term are well-known or very large sites (ie: Pillsbury, AllRecipes and Martha Stewart) — which can make analyzing the content on these sites even more exciting. Who has the best text content? Which brand created custom videos and tutorials? How is each of them getting quality backlinks to their sites?
The search phrase “how to boil an egg” is currently searched more than 200,000 times per month, and has a difficulty score of 89 (via SEMRush). With so much competition in this space, it really does come down to who has the best site content and how they are effectively promoting it.
Deep Linking to Other Pages on Your Site
Deep linking involves linking to other pages within your site (other than the homepage) from within your content. It’s important to link to internal pages with anchor text that contain at least 3 of the keywords for that page. This will not only help with rankings, but it also helps to keep people on your site longer – thus reducing the bounce rate.
Depending on how many pages and posts you have on your site, this might be easier or harder than you think. This is something you probably notice a lot on bigger sites that focus on covering every topic within their niche. If you are a reader of The Penny Hoarder, you will notice how well they interlink to other site content within their articles. Each of the arrows below is pointing to a link that goes to another article on their site, and that is only the first few paragraphs on this one article.
Deep linking on websites and blogs takes a lot of time, but it can definitely pay off in the long run. It’s definitely recommended to deep link more often to your best and evergreen content, as they will keep working for you no matter when someone comes across your content and improve the chances of those pages ranking in Google.
Optimize Everything! (Site Headings/Subheadings/Images)
Just like your meta tags, you also want to be sure to optimize your headings and subheadings. These are your H-tags (H1, H2, H3, etc) and they really play an important role in organizing the information on your web pages. You should have only one H1 tag (the largest header) on your page; this is usually the title of the page or the title of your article (i.e. if you have a blog). You can then break up sections into H2 tags and even further into H3 if needed.
Next, we have the title and alt tags that are used within images to describe what they pertain to. Again, these can be optimized with keywords to help you rank higher. Remember that most search engines now have image search capabilities. When users search for specific images, the search engines use the keywords within your title and alt tags to help them display relevant images. This is why it’s so important to use them and include your keywords so that people can also find your content through image searching.
Each of these heading tags should contain keywords that you want to rank for. Since search engines consider the headings to be more important than the actual content, it’s really important to get those keywords in there. To best explain the many factors and components of creating a perfectly optimized page, simply refer to the infographic below and this super detailed articled provided by Moz.
Just like we analyzed other websites and blogs in each of the examples above, the same should be done with checking out your competition as well. If a site is ranking on the first page of Google for a really good search term, it’s likely they have great ON-site and OFF-site SEO. Study your competition, learn as much as possible, and then be sure to implement these same methods into your own brand, business, or blog.
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How to Improve Local SEO Results When Using a Digital Marketing Agency
Running a business can be very rewarding and exciting, but there are also many challenges that you have to try to overcome. One of these barriers is the stiff level of competition you face, no matter what industry you are in. If you want to be able to compete effectively with rivals, you have to ensure you have a solid marketing strategy in place and that the solutions you use actually work.
Unfortunately, just ‘creating content’ is never going to get you there. To rank in Google, your site will need powerful backlinks to improve the Domain Authority and Page Authority rankings of your site. Without these in place, your site will likely be found in Google for a wide range of long tail keywords, but likely somewhere between pages 10 to 100 — which is pretty much useless.
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In order to effectively rank online and compete against already established sites, you will need to come up with a very creative and highly effective content creation and marketing plan. If you are a single person (or small) business, you will likely find that this task in itself could be a full time business, which is why many organizations outsource the process to a trustworthy digital marketing agency.
To help with the process of winning the war of online marketing and SEO, let’s cover some of the most important factors when trying to find a trustworthy digital marketing agency, and where/how you might want to focus your efforts and advertising dollars.
Local is Extremely Effective for Targeted Ads and SEO
When looking at the internet as a whole, there are more than a billion active sites online — which means they are all creating new content all the time, getting new social shares/backlinks, and ranking in Google. If you want to compete on this global scale, be ready for some massive competition.
At the same time, many smaller and local businesses don’t have the funds or resources to compete at these levels. For this reason, they should focus heavily on their local SEO rankings, paid advertising and demographic audience.
Neon Ambition, an SEO in Austin, has been working with companies for years now on how to improve their local reach and targeting, while also explaining the importance of how to find a positive ROI with SEO marketing, which can have a pretty much limitless ad spend cap.
They recommended the following take place:
“Having worked with hundreds of clients on a local specific ad campaign, we understand not only how hard it can be for a local business to rank, but also for them to spend a limited budget and see results at the same time. We have found great success with building localized content then targeting and remarketing location audiences to come back to the site once again. By additional social media and occasionally backlinking to such articles and resources, we continue to see progressive SEO growth month after month, while not requiring small mom and pops to spend thousands of dollars per month in the process.”
When it comes to local SEO and handing your business off to a digital marketing agency, it’s also important to have some basic understanding of how SEO works for your own personal and business expertise. You will also want to look for the following badges and certifications, as they will give you a better indication on how efficient and trusted an ad agency might be.
A great article on this topic can be found on Forbes, which ranks the following three factors as key elements that should be used when trying to rank in Google, target audiences, and find a positive ROI with local online advertising.
A company’s rank in Google My Business (GMB) results can be boiled down to three distinct areas of focus:
How to Use Content and Social Networks to Improve Rankings
As previously mentioned, if you want to rank in Google, you need to have a powerful website and/or blog with established backlinks. If you don’t have this in place, it’s something you can build up over time. However, at the moment, not all is lost.
Thanks to the power of social media, you can rank Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and other social profile or local directories pretty fast and easy in Google. Since most of these sites are already trusted in the eyes of Google, it doesn’t take much to rank such inner profiles and pages on their site.
In that same Forbes article mentioned above, they highlight the following methods for relying on social media and local directories to improve site rankings and being found by your target audience.
- Select a high-volume keyword phrase that has location intent. Typically, for an attorney, this will be “practice area” plus “city name.” For example, “personal injury lawyer Philadelphia.”
- Create a page on your site targeting this phrase.
- Include the phrase in your page title, headings, page copy, meta description and image file names.
- Include your name, address and phone number on the page.
- Include the phrase in your page permalink as such: example.com/city-name/target-keyword-phrase/
By following these simple tips, there is no reason why your brand shouldn’t be able to rank for all ten listings on the main page of Google for your personal brand or business name. It’s something I’ve been able to do for my “Zac Johnson” name for quite a while now.
Social media is out there and it’s free to use. So take advantage of it!
Quick Ideas and Tips to Improve Local SEO on Your Own
There are many advantages to using a digital marketing agency when trying to rank and promote your local business, especially if you have no idea where to start. But there are also many things you can do on your own time to help promote your site and grow it’s site rankings and power over time.
Here are some quick ideas and tips to get started.
- Have a blog. This one is a no-brainer, as it will allow you to create content for your site and will also start ranking your site in Google for long tail keywords. Also remember to effectively promote each blog post, and don’t expect people to find them on their own.
- Create visuals and infographics for social media. This is a great idea, as everyone is already on social media and if you have a new recipe or service coming out, if you can make a quick infographic or animated video, it’s much more likely to be seen and shared.
- Contribute to expert round ups. Depending on your niche market and business, this one might work or it might not. Check out these expert roundup examples and you can learn more about this.
- Guest blogging on other industry/local blogs. Again, this comes down to the process of creating content for your sited within your industry, and then gaining exposure and getting backlinks as a way of compensation for your time, expertise and articles.
It’s likely that your digital marketing agency will be handling a lot of this, but there is no reason why you couldn’t start working on some of this at the same time. If you end up securing some nice placements and start to get a good feeling for how local SEO and audience targeting works, it might be something that you want to bring in-house as well.
Finding the Best Local Ad Agency for Your Business
When going with any local ad agency or digital marketing firm, make sure you always do all of the necessary research. Also, try to stay out of a super long term contract. Most SEO campaigns and work can take anywhere from 3-9 months before you start seeing real results.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to shoot me an email and I can help out with any questions you might have.
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5 Things Most Site Owners Do Wrong with Their SEO
For so many websites on the Internet, regardless of objective or industry, the biggest source of traffic is the search engine. Absolutely, you should invest resources into cultivating other traffic sources, but it is undeniable that ranking well for your target keywords and keyword phrases on those search engine result pages (SERPs) will always work in your benefit.
Before you can start working on all the things you should be doing right, you need to eliminate (or at least reduce) the things that you are doing wrong. The two really go hand-in-hand. And it is in that spirit that we present to you five critical mistakes that site owners do with respect to search engine optimization.
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1. Writing for the Search Engine
To be perfectly fair, search engine optimization has gotten progressively more complex and nuanced over the years. In the past, the “rules” of engagement were much more straightforward with much more clearly defined lines in the sand. You must have your keyword appear in the title and in the first 50 words. The exact keyword phrase must appear X number of times in the text.
These days, Google sees right through that. And the old practices of keyword stuffing and almost mechanical content production have only led to robotic, unnatural content that actual people don’t want to read. If you’re focusing all your efforts on “writing for the search engine” rather than addressing what readers actually want, you’re missing the point entirely.
Done correctly, it is perfectly possible to write for both humans and search engines at the same time. At the end of the day, the best SEO strategy is to provide what actual humans want to get out of your content.
2. Skipping the Competitive Analysis
A critical component to starting and running a successful business is formulating a successful business plan. This involves analyzing the market, for instance, to determine the anticipated level of customer demand. You take the time to formulate your unique selling proposition (USP), the key feature or benefit that differentiates you from the competition. Search engine optimization works in much the same way.
When putting together an SEO strategy for how and where you want to build backlinks, you must start with a competitive analysis. This involves identifying the competition, and reviewing it with a backlinks checker to see what they have (and the ones that you don’t), and analyzing the most important keywords that you want to target, the ones that represent the biggest and best opportunities for growth.
By skipping the competitive analysis, you’re almost going into your SEO efforts blind. You’d be starting with what you think might work, rather than what is already working for the competition. This establishes expected benchmarks and reveals how and where you may be able to achieve those benchmarks. Why re-invent the wheel?
3. Overlooking Dead Links
In all your efforts to optimize new content moving forward, it’s easy to overlook old content that can still be a great source of traffic. When you have a lot of old content that isn’t very good, that can actually weigh down your entire domain. This means that, in effect, Google is docking points on your new content because your old content is just bad. And the only thing worse than bad content is content that isn’t even there.
A practice overlooked by so many site owners is that they forget to find dead links and work to recapture them. This is true in two different contexts. First, you should check to see the URLs that are generating 404 errors for visitors. Determine how you can best redirect those visitors to relevant content instead. Second, you should check your own content to ensure you are not linking out to 404 errors too.
There are tools and tutorials available for both of these concerns, and they can largely automate the process. It’s a routine you should be doing at least every month or two.
4. Focusing Only on High Volume Keywords
Keyword research is a critical aspect of search engine optimization. What many site owners do wrong with SEO, in this respect, is that they’re devoting far more time (and resources) on the big, high level keywords. That’s where you’ll find the highest and most cutthroat competition, even if it’s also where you’ll find the highest search volume. Compete with sharks and you can only expect to get bitten.
Instead of focusing too much energy on getting the tiniest of slivers out of the bigger pie, it can be much more fruitful to find several smaller pies where you can carve out a much larger slice. High volume keywords are great, but they’re remarkably difficult to crack. Low and moderate volume keywords, however, have much less competition and you can reap the rewards of highly targeted, highly motivated search from users.
It takes time to identify these opportunities, to be sure. It’s also true that the riches are indeed in the niches.
5. Including Irrelevant Internal Links
A common SEO practice is to integrate a number of internal links in your own content. The idea is that this “helps” the search engines crawl through the rest of your content, and it helps to keep users on your site longer because it introduces them to content they may not otherwise seek out on their own. That’s partly true, but it only holds water if the internal links are actually relevant.
Just as you should avoid keyword stuffing for the sake of keyword stuffing itself, you should also avoid internal link stuffing purely for the sake of including internal links. Point your site visitors toward relevant, useful content that you have on your site, and even link to the same resource more than once if it’s something that’s really important; however, don’t just link to something just because you feel like you need to include an internal link there.
Just as linking to an irrelevant external site with little usefulness or authority hurts your site’s reputation, the same is true if Google detects that your internal links aren’t actually providing real value to users. Think first: will visitors actually benefit from this link?
SEO and Link Building in 2019 and Beyond
Search engine optimization will always be a moving target, because the cryptic complexities of the search engine algorithms are in a constant state of flux. At the end of the day, great content is still great content, and your number one priority should always be to deliver what the end user actually wants. And to do that better than anyone else.
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12 Essential Digital Marketing Tools Guaranteed to Grow Your Business
A craftsperson is only as good as their tools. Companies deploying growth strategies using digital marketing tools need to make sure they are investing the right time and money.
But with the digital economy changing so fast it can be difficult to know where to invest your time and money. There are new companies and new tools springing up every day.
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Each one promises huge returns and low cost. Make sure you have the right investment or the competition could leave you behind.
You need these 10 tools today:
It isn’t enough to have great content. Your content strategy needs to be curated, scheduled, and tracked.
Feedly will help you curate your content calendar across platforms.
2. CRM Software
What is CRM Software? CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a must for companies that need to make use of valuable data across all departments.
This means you! Without CRM you aren’t able to target the right people, turn insights into conversions, or avoid redundancies.
Your bounce rate could be killing your SEO. Even worse, all those bounces could be symbols of your business going elsewhere.
Leadpages is the answer. You can test new landing pages and deploy for success with Leadpages.
If you aren’t using video content, you should be. And if you aren’t optimizing your video content for social media you are missing a huge opportunity.
Splice, from the makers of GoPro, is the tool for your video content.
5. Google Analytics
There is no replacement. You need this.
From within your Google Webmaster Account, you can manage all aspects of your site when it comes to SEO and making sure you are good in the eyes of Google.
Not sure if your site was affected by one of the latest penalties, or if it’s indexed in Google? All of this and more is tracked from Webmaster Tools.
If you are using WordPress and struggling with SEO, Yoast is the tool for you. Yoast comes in a free version and offers insight into your text.
Yoast will scan your content and rate all of it, traffic light style, for SEO.
Best of all, this tool is extremely easy to use, and free!
Customers want support in real time. Make sure you are on the cutting edge of user experience with LiveChat.
The next time you visit a website or ecommerce site and see a little chat popup window appear, this is exactly how LiveChat works.
There are plenty of alternatives out there, and many of them are powered with artificial intelligence.
Take a look at the different options available and how other brands are using these chatbots to grow their business — then think about how you could do the same.
8. WooCommerce of Shopify
If you want to start selling products online, you need to have a great ecommerce platform.
Two of the most popular and best solutions out there are WooCommerce and Shopify.
Discover how to boost ecommerce sales with either of these platforms, while also improving your SEO and revenue in the process.
9. Social Shark
With over 1 billion users worldwide, there’s never been a better time to make the most of Instagram. But for marketers new to the social media platform the results can be disappointing without the right tools.
Social Shark is the right tool to grow your Instagram presence.
10. Ahrefs and DA/PA Checkers
All those SEO hunters out there already know about Ahrefs. The tool will track your rankings as well as link-building campaigns.
The tool also helps you improve local SEO.
Another useful tool to add into this section, is TheHoth’s DA/PA checker.
It’s free to use and if you are looking up other solutions, be sure to run through this list of the best SEO tools reviews.
Email marketing represents the highest return on investment in terms of digital marketing. But if your company is only dabbling in the email marketing field you are missing out.
Email marketing needs to be targeted, managed and tracked to be effective. MailChimp is a great tool for small businesses.
Everyone is obsessed with social media and making sure they reach as many people as possible. This can clearly be seen by how much the top influencers are getting paid when posting content and showing brands and products within their updates.
While everyone starts at ZERO, there are ways to speed up this process.
Famoid is a social media marketing platform that allows people to grow their following fast — no matter if it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.
In addition to growing your follower, they also have options for increase shares, likes, and views as well.
Moving Beyond Digital Marketing Tools
Remember, digital marketing tools are only a means to an end. Many business owners and marketing professionals feel that once they have the right tools the rest will take care of itself.
Not so. You need to lead your company into growth.
Now that you have the 10 essential tools covered, make sure you are headed in the right direction.
Learn more now about the hacks that will make your company grow faster.
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