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SEO Tips to Dominate the Competition in Your Niche Market

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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.

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. 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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9 Questions You Must Ask When Hiring an SEO Expert in 2019

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Now is a great time to bring in an SEO consultant. In the past, you could maybe get away with DIY SEO, but that time is over. The field has now gotten so complex that SEO is a whole career path in itself.

Are you considering hiring a local SEO consultant? Here are some of the key questions you should ask.

1. Do They Have Years of Experience?

Ideally, when you employ a search engine marketing consultant, they should have years of experience in the industry. Some so-called SEO experts rely on outdated or inappropriate techniques that could actually harm your website’s ranking rather than help it.

A good SEO specialist can implement different kinds of strategies depending on the situation. SEO is not a “one-size-fits-all” line of work. You need to use pick appropriate strategies for certain kinds of businesses.

A good SEO specialist will have experience doing SEO for multiple industries. And they’ll be able to implement a strategy that’s tailor fit to your business. Read more about such expertise from a Harrisburg SEO marketing agency that has been working with local clients for years now.

2. Do They Have a Passion for Learning More?

The world of SEO is constantly in flux. This means a good SEO consultant should have a genuine interest and passion about learning more about the industry.

When you have a good knowledge of SEO trends, you can predict what’s going to happen. Then, you can use that knowledge to give your clients an edge over the competition.

A good SEO specialist should have so much knowledge about their field that they can come up with multiple methods to accomplish any one goal. Of course, this takes experience, but to truly have an edge, you need to have passion as well.

3. Do They Have Good Communication Skills?

It’s no use being the most passionate and experienced SEO consultant in the world if you don’t have the right communication skills. When you hire an SEO worker, don’t underestimate the importance of communication skills.

Many companies make the mistake of hiring the best “on paper” candidates, only to find they’re very poor at communicating. This can result in an SEO strategy that doesn’t really suit your needs.

4. Are They a Good Fit for Your Company?

Sometimes, being a good communicator isn’t enough. Your SEO specialist also needs to be a good fit for your company culture.

It’s sometimes better to work with the slightly less qualified candidate if it seems like their personality will mesh well with your company. If you hire someone who doesn’t fit in well with your company culture, it could result in a lot of problems in the future.

For example, they could end up leaving the company within a short frame of time. This is undesirable because you’ve wasted time, energy, and money training this person. Hiring someone who doesn’t fit into your company culture could also result in workplace arguments, leading to huge losses of productivity and motivation.

When you interview a candidate, you should always make sure they have the skills they’ll need to do the job. But you should also make sure they get on well with the people they’ll be working with during their time at the company.

5. What Tools Will They Use?

Do you have any specific pieces of tools in mind for your SEO specialist to use? In this case, then you should ensure they have experience using those specific tools. Or you should be prepared to give them the necessary time to learn how to use them.

If you aren’t sure what the top SEO experts and bloggers are using, all you need to do is take a few minutes and read through any of the top SEO blogs in the market today. Names like Neil Patel, Brian Dean, and others are always discussing the latest methods and tools they are using to achieve their results.

Examples of good SEO tools include programs like Ahrefs, Long Tail Pro, or Moz.

6. Do They Have an Understanding of Marketing?

Some SEO specialists are great when it comes to doing SEO, but have a poor grasp of marketing. Ideally, you want your SEO specialist to have a good knowledge of marketing theory and techniques. Understanding the psychological aspect of marketing is just as important as making sure your website contains all of the keywords you need.

SEO content not only needs to make your page show up on Google, but it also needs to keep readers’ attentions once they enter the page. A good SEO specialist can create a page that’s not only a hit on Google, but is also great from a marketing perspective.

7. Do They Have a Proven Track Record?

When hiring a search engine optimization specialist, you need to look for someone who has a proven track record for getting the job done.

What results have they gotten for their clients on previous jobs? Do they have a proven record for increasing sales? Or getting the page ranked higher on Google?

Whenever you do an interview, make sure you focus on previous results. SEO knowledge is easy to come by these days, but actually getting results is not easy to fake. Make sure you ask for references and also follow up on them.

8. Can They Work Well With Your Web Developers?

A good SEO specialist will have full knowledge of all things SEO. They should be able to work very closely with your web developers to implement things like HTML tags.

Since your web developers will need to work with your chosen SEO specialist on a daily basis, you should be prepared to ask your web developers what they think of your chosen candidate. You might even want to include them in the interview process.

9. Do They Appreciate What You’re Trying to Achieve?

The ideal candidates need to understand exactly what it is your company is trying to achieve. SEO should be a central part of your digital marketing strategy and there should be very clear set goals.

For example, maybe the intention is to turn people who click on your website into paying customers. In this situation, it’s no good getting thousands of clicks if nobody is actually buying anything.

Take Your Time Hiring a Local SEO Consultant

Getting the right local SEO consultant can take time. It’s important you don’t rush into things too quickly.

Take the time to find the right candidate. You’re looking for someone who is not only skilled and knowledgeable about SEO, but also someone who’s a great fit for you and your company.

Need more tips on marketing? Then check out our marketing blog!

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Is There An App for That? The Top 5 SEO Tips for Mobile App Ranking

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In the world of Google and website traffic, you want to make sure all your work is as optimized as possible. Did you know that also pertains to your mobile app ranking?

Companies that sell and distribute retail benefit immensely from taking advantage of an app by creating a quick and easy way to browse their products and make purchases. The roadblock, however, is getting visitors to their website to download their mobile app.

You can actually boost the popularity of your app through search engine optimization (SEO). By combining the worlds of desktop and mobile, you can optimize your mobile app and increase your app download volume and quality ranking.

To learn how SEO affects mobile app ranking, get started with these top tips.

1. Make Sure the App Name is Branded

The name of your app can prove to earn you search engine rankings if it is named in line with your brand or named according to a keyword you are wanting to rank for. Getting the most popular mobile app marketplaces like the Android Market and the Google Play store will help drive more traffic to your mobile app site. Take advantage of these linking opportunities by using the anchor text wisely.

For example, if your company name is “We Heart Cats” and that is the branded keyword you’d like to rank for, then you should try and have the name of your app be the same.

2. Link Your App to Your Website and Profile Pages

Taking advantage of linking in the websites and pages that get the most traffic to your app is a great way to direct visitors to your mobile app. Consider taking advantage of some of your most important pages, such as your homepage or a services page, to make a link to your app download page as easily visible as possible.

You may even want to consider creating a landing page and an email campaign that is dedicated to highlighting your app. These pages may include a description of the app and its features, screenshots of your app in action, and reviews of your app. An out-of-the-box idea could include a tutorial on how to create an app that directs to your app at the end of the tutorial.

3. Use Anchor Text Strategically

Make sure you include the name of your brand in the anchor text that links to your mobile app. Many make the mistake of simply saying “Download iPhone App” without including the name of the app. You may notice that larger companies don’t use their branded names in the anchor text to the app, but do not follow this path!

While it may be visually pleasing to see a clean button that directs to the “App Store” to a varying degree, you are losing valuable link equity in not having any anchor text.

Instead, include your app name. For example, if you want to link your “We Heart Cats App” then you want to have “We Heart Cats App” in your anchor text. Try “Download the We Heart Cats App Today”.

4. Offer a QR Link on Your Desktop Landing Page

You want to make it as easy as possible to download your app. That’s where QR codes come in. A QR code can allow desktop visitors to easily access the app by simply scanning the QR code from there phone. This will trigger the download of the app automatically.

Make sure you compress the link before you put it on your page. If your URL exceeds 50 characters then it will fail to scan and upload your app. Use a link compression or QR platform that can also show you bot QR crawl requests.

5. Cross-Promote Your App for Mobile

Make sure there is a link to your mobile app wherever your audience is! You already have an audience that regularly visits your desktop and mobile website. Now that you have an app, take advantage of the audience already there as well.

The tried and true cross-promotion trifecta means to make sure you are promoting your website to mobile users, searchers, and bots. These three cross-promote methods will allow browsers to come to your site and notice the link to your mobile app on your pages and will both drive users to your app or allow bots to crawl the link to boost your organic search results.

Make sure you have a link to your app on top of all your pages, whether they visit your site on mobile or desktop. You can also take advantage of crawling apps and link your app using optimized anchor text.

Next Steps: How Will You Optimize Your App for SEO?

When search engines index, display and rank mobile apps, they are simultaneously creating hundreds of backlinks for all those app downloads to boost mobile app ranking. This will give you a huge leg up in organic search both for your mobile app, as well as your mobile and desktop websites.

With that, higher mobile app and website traffic creates more downloads, which creates more backlinks, and so on. This phenomenon can create massive profitability in those that take advantage of mobile app optimization.

When you’re ready to take these tips and implement them in your SEO strategy, be sure to take advantage of all the tips and tricks on ZacJohnson.com. We offer professional digital marketing guidance for any level.

Contact us today for more information or to use our services.

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Ditching DIY SEO: 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Your Own SEO Expert

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Since the digital revolution kicked off, three little letters have influenced every web-based marketing campaign: SEO. Indeed, search engine optimization is still the crux of any good campaign.

In fact, SEO is so significant that spending is fast-approaching $80 billion with no signs of slowing down!

So SEO is important. That much we understand. But you should also understand that you’re better off outsourcing your SEO services.

Here are five reasons why acting as your own SEO expert isn’t as good of an idea as you think.

1. A Barebones SEO Strategy Isn’t Enough

Perhaps you already have a basic understanding of all things SEO. You know how to research keywords, your site uses original content, and you’re already on Google.

Except you’re only the second page of Google. And as a result, you’re not seeing any traffic.

Knowing what SEO is and how to put in place a barebones strategy won’t get you anywhere.

Unless you’re one of the first three results on a search engine, you’re about as good as invisible. Together, the first three results make up 61.5% of all search traffic.

You have to be better than basic to generate the traffic you’re after.

2. Penalties Come With a Hefty Cost

Poor SEO implementation doesn’t only mean you’re missing out on search traffic. It could mean that your site gets removed from Google altogether.

Avoid common mistakes like:

  • Content scraping
  • Keyword spamming
  • Poor site optimization
  • Domain cloaking

An SEO misstep — whether intentional or not — can mean spending weeks trying to get your site visible to a search engine once again. Instead, consider contacting an SEO expert and crafting a proposal for SEO services. Even if you don’t end up going with the SEO company that writes up a proposal and plan of attack, you can still use it as a reference guide on the work required to hit their SEO and growth goals for your site.

3. Hiring an SEO Expert Can Save Time and Money

Even if you know the ins-and-outs of the SEO world, crafting a viable SEO strategy takes dozens of hours. That means spending precious time away from growing your business.

And each moment you take your eye off the prize is another moment where your competition can pull ahead.

SEO consulting is a wonderful investment because it lets you focus on doing what you do best. Let an SEO pro handle the research and details.

4. SEO Principles Change… A Lot

The scary thing about SEO is that what works today isn’t guaranteed to work tomorrow. In fact, what works today may still result in the de-indexing of your website!

Since 2003, there have been over 70 algorithmic changes.

What’s more, these changes aren’t going to slow down anytime soon. As the web begins to migrate toward a decidedly mobile market, you can expect changes to occur as often as consumers’ tastes.

5. SEO Requires a Multi-Platform, Multi-Faceted Strategy

Think you’re ready for the big leagues? Here are just a few of the things you’ll need to succeed:

  • On-site optimization
  • Off-site optimization
  • Social media marketing
  • Rich snippets
  • Knowledge of keyword bidding
  • Fresh, constant content
  • Optimized images
  • A mobile-friendly approach
  • Local and global approaches

Yikes. That’s quite an intimidating list. It’s far too much for most people to keep up with.

SEO is so much more than a few keywords here and there or a great click-through rate. Great SEO requires constant care and attention on a variety of platforms, with more coming all the time.

Leave It to the Pros: If You’re Not an Expert, Hire an SEO Expert

If you’re a small or medium-sized business, it’s understandable that you may want to save money by serving as your own SEO expert. But outsourcing your SEO consulting will benefit you in so many ways.

Have any SEO or marketing related questions? Maybe you want to see the benefits for yourself.

I’d love to hear from you! Get in touch today.

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Hi, I’m Zac Johnson

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