Posts Tagged ‘SEO’
Nice title hey? Well, you’re looking at it. When implemented correctly, no single addition to your website will develop more qualified traffic than an active blog. I know right? This isn’t some secret formula and it’s the first thing that I tell all of my clients who inquire about strategic approach towards boosting their brand awareness and web profile. But, considering that 99% of blogs are complete garbage, it’s no surprise that my repeated recommendations leave people frustrated knowing full well the level of commitment required for maintaining an active blog. So many people seem resistant to working hard for their customers with regards to content development. Well muffin, the truth can really hurt sometimes. Building a viable blog takes work, and lots of it.
Okay, Get on With it
So, I’m asked repeatedly how to generate more traffic. Because I’m the ‘SEO guy’, 99% of people that ask for advice are still under the impression that a few little on page updates will fix everything. The ‘magic button’ expectation is alive and well all around us. “Here, press this and you’ll be ‘Top of Google’, guaranteed”. To demonstrate how my conversations generally go, I’ve listed a few of the most common questions that I field, and bear in mind, the answers are very brief and each could generate many blog posts on their own.
- How can I get more traffic? – Write compelling content based on your niche, aka a blog.
- But what about keywords? – Write compelling content based on your niche, aka a blog.
- What if I don’t have time to write blog posts? – Come back when you’re interested in generating more traffic.
- What about Social Media? – Write compelling content based on your niche, aka a blog.
- What about content marketing? – Write compelling … (get the picture).
Oh Yea? Prove it!
Everything to do with Content Marketing starts and ends at the blog. To accentuate this point, I just read a fantastic article from SalesForce (they’re pretty big and stuff). This article statistically lists some compelling reasons to take a blog seriously. Here are a few of the stats that the author lists in her post:
- B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who don’t.
- 61% of consumers say they feel better about, and are more likely to buy from, a company that delivers custom content.
- Interesting content is a top 3 reason people follow brands on social media.
- 78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships.
- Blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages.
- Blog give websites 97% more indexed links.
- Interesting content is one of the top 3 reasons people connect with brands on social media.
- Social media sites and blogs reach 8 out of 10 of all U.S. Internet users.
- 90% of consumers find custom content useful.
- 37% of marketers say blogs are the most valuable type of content marketing.
- Companies with active blogs receive 97% more leads
- Content creation is ranked as the single most effective SEO technique
Convinced yet? If not please head over to the article that I linked to above and follow all of the ‘cite’ links. It’s scientific and factual.
Don’t cheap out on your blog. Make sure that your site build involved a fully functional and robust blog feature plugged in with social sharing, commenting and media management features. But most of all, make the time!
We love backtracking to fix things right? Ya, me to. On a website a backtrack can cost thousands and sometimes a renders a complete rewrite. Really though, it would have to be a monumental fail to require a full rebuild, but I’ve seen it happen with terrible planning and a ‘one man show’ trying to do everything and talk to no one. At any rate, here are a few things that you will absolutely need to do before your next new build.
1. Mobile Strategy
Mashable recently touted that 17.4% of global traffic is mobile based. North America showed an increase from 9.4% to 15.2% in 12 months. This isn’t a trend that can be ignored. The hot button phrase these days is Responsive Design or Responsive Web Design (RWD). Responsive, or Adaptive design is a framework that is built into the website structure BEFORE the design layer is applied. Here is a smart description of what’s all up in the RWD shizzle (prepare for some gratuitous scrolling) http://johnpolacek.github.io/scrolldeck.js/decks/responsive/. It is a planned strategy which is chiseled out very early in the process. If you’re even remotely attached to local search, hospitality, cuisine or any service, you must incorporate a mobile first philosophy into your site architecture. Further depending on your particular market, you would be much better suited to develop a mobile specific website since usage and patterns differ greatly from the desktop to the handheld. Reverse engineering a large CMS based website to handle a responsive framework is VERY expensive. Don’t make this brutal mistake.
SEE ALSO: Responsive Design is not a Trend
2. Website Transition to protect Rankings and Web Traffic
A few years ago, it used to be commonplace to place a blanket redirect on the entire old website pointing to the homepage; maybe some suckers still do this. Anyone who does this now should be tickled to death by 500 baby chickens. Basically the premise is that migrating to a new CMS will rewrite your page names (URL’s). This will render all of your search engine ranked pages broken (except for the domain/homepage naturally). This will effectively turn off your traffic overnight and is generally frowned upon. The solution is developing a redirect map which points all of the meaningful pages to their new versions on the new website. This is done exclusively using 301 ‘Moved Permanently’ redirects. When done correctly, you will preserve your revenue generating traffic by redirecting people correctly. You will also protect your backlinks and bookmarks. Don’t screw this up!
3. Content Personalization
Success online right now is all about engagement. It’s about having a meaningful conversation with your target audience. We used to dictate everything to our visitors with terrible websites and endless, confusing internal linking structures. Links on the left, content on the right. Boring… The social media revolution or zombie apocalypse, depending on who you ask, has allowed us to engage directly with a very large audience as well as glean some very personal information from these networks in order to exploit their trust. By tapping into social ‘connect’ features, you can speak directly to visitors and display their friends right in your content! Content personalization is revolutionizing the way in which we deliver relevant and meaningful content. Don’t get left behind. Be sure to investigate whether your CMS system includes any content personalization features and how to get them running right away!
We’re pretty passionate about these issues and helping our clients get the most from their CMS platforms. All of our implementation projects feature each of these items above. We also take great pride in ensuring that our clients rip their CMS systems to pieces to ensure that they know exactly what the capabilities are. There are often hidden gems or perhaps an eye opening lack of features…
SEO IS DEAD!
Yea, that’s it. I’ve seen this so many times over the years and it’s really nothing more than link bait. Maybe it was a slow content day or the CEO demanded some traffic, what have you. Well, today I read another hilarious post with this exact title. I had a little giggle and then read the post. I’ve read a ton of ‘SEO is Dead’ posts but this one I felt was particularly weak. If you’re going to lay down the ‘SEO is Dead’ bomb, you’d better drop a ton of intelligent, supporting content instead of just “it’s dead and CMS killed it”. Convince me why… Instead this author decides that the only way to be successful at SEO is to ‘game the system’ and revert to Black Hat tactics. Sorry man, it ain’t so. Linking to a Matt Cutts video also doesn’t validate these statements. The post really has no substance and attempts to make grandiose, earth shattering commandments:
“Sure, developing a strategy to be ranked or improve your rankings helps. But here’s the big secret to it all, come in a bit closer, I’ll whisper it to you so no one else hears it….it’s about delivering content to the right people at the right time”. Let’s keep that between you and me, ok?.”
Really?? I think that statement may have been cited from the pages of “The Marketer’s most Obvious Marketing Strategies by Captain Obvious“. If you are an ‘SEO’ and you don’t already know that, stop now and rehearse the phrase “would you like fries with that?”.
Here’s another beauty:
“(when implementing a continuing SEO campaign) …you’ll eventually come to a fork in the road where the only thing left to do is to put on a Black Hat.” (he means cheat)
So, in other words, give up. Regarding this, I have some advice; come in a bit closer, I’ll whisper it to you so no one else hears it; this isn’t really good strategy when attempting to distinguish yourself as a smart online marketer.
Anyhow, my point is that no self respecting and informed SEO would ever write this sort of post because they would have already been developing multi-channel SEO and content marketing strategies for years. Besides, the whole motivation behind a successful ‘long term’ SEO campaign is based on Relevance and Context… This is NOT a new idea and is the basis for every Google update since its inception; How do we present the most contextually relevant content based on a given search phrases. I would wage that even the ‘great’ Matt Cutts would concur with that one.
Further, I’ve seen many CMS systems (granted they are improving) that are garbage for SEO unless the editor is acutely aware of specific nuances and can correct them along the way. Items like:
- Spaces in page names (meaning the CMS isn’t smart enough to insert dashes when building the URL for the newly created (and named) content items)
- Allowing illegal characters in page names (URL’s, as above)
- Globalization features that pump out reams of duplicate content (‘/en/products’ is identical to ‘/products’ and every page beneath)
- Even more brutal globalization features that serve up translated content under identical URL’s (I see this frequently)
- No options for canonical declaration (utterly critical for most eCommerce product solutions)
- 1000’s of lines of code served up before the body content
- No automated 301 redirecting of updated content names (this should be integral to ALL CMS!)
- Not re-sizing images intelligently
- It won’t tell me when my Linking is bunk or the content isn’t silo’d efficiently
- Antiquated content editors that destroy code and persists with deprecated HTML elements
- Intense ‘ViewState’ sizes reaching into the 10,000′s of characters and beyond (although Kentico has a smart solution for this)
- And on and on…
So while I agree that a well featured CMS platform can assist with SEO, most are a fair ways off, and to say that SEO is Dead is just a bit uninformed.
Until the next time someone plies the interwebs for some easy traffic.
Or perhaps a more appropriate statement could be; Has the phrase ‘SEO’ become a ‘4 letter word’?
In the 7+ years that I have spent optimizing websites and businesses, I have seen the acronym ‘SEO’ become somewhat alienated in the online community specifically in the perceived value from owners. The marketing professionals understand the need for SEO, it is the individuals that need it the most which still greatly misunderstand what it is that we’re trying to accomplish. I think I can speak for many of the professional SEO’s out there that there is still rampant confusion about what we do and so we are often pushed to the periphery of critical marketing decisions.
Did you just say $EO?
Think of the feeling you get when a wobble from your steering wheel convinces you to utter the word ‘mechanic’. Do you start to bristle with anger as feelings of heavy monetary losses and visions of hundred dollar bills flutter helplessly out your car window while you wobble down the street? What does the common web user or site owner imagine when the phrase SEO is batted around? Scepticism and disbelief are most likely common perceptions for business people with a familiarity of the ‘word’ but might be fairly naive to the accurate and up to date definition.
Similar to how there exists a stereo type that ‘auto mechanics’ are somewhat less than honest, the SEO community has seen this stereo type affect their industry as well to some degree. These stereotypes can be accurate based on some negative experiences or from inaccurate or outdated SEO advice from ‘backyard SEO experts’ or even SEO firms who deploy tactics that are designed to ‘trick’ the search engines, known as Black Hat SEO. Self professed ‘SEO Experts’ are found in every website design firm across the country. I’ve even had Flash developers who build 100% Flash websites declare to me that their sites would be ‘more optimized’ than my HTML converted option. This sort of ‘couldn’t be farther from the truth’ advice is unknowingly flung at honest business people daily and will quickly sour their relationship with SEO due to the lack of results and sales. Bad SEO advice is so rampant and can cost companies 10’s of thousands of dollars.
Search Engine Optimization? Actually No.
SEO technically stands for Search Engine Optimization however when I attempt to explain what SEO is I find that I tend to contradict that statement while describing what modern SEO practices entail. In essence, forget about ‘search engines’ and ‘optimize’ the user experience. Only when you place the value of the visitors experience ahead of ‘search engines’ will you be rewarded with sustained, long term search engine traffic.
Ironically, the key to SEO success is to forget about search engines per se, and focus on the visitors experience on the website. Only when your visitors experience simple and logical navigation, appropriately displayed content using lead-in headings which funnel logically into text links to other pages, clearly identified ‘touch points’ or actions that you wish visitors to take and language that speaks ‘to’ the visitor, will the search engines start to reward your efforts (ignoring the back linking for the moment).
Is This Good for SEO?
It is for those precise reasons that I often frustrate people looking for a yes or no answer to questions that end with “Is that good for SEO?” My response is usually some rehashed version of “Does this item increase any aspect of the visitor’s ability to understand and interact with the website”.
When gauging whether an On Page strategy is good for SEO consider the following questions;
- Is the update visible to your web site visitors (include hover effect and accessibility concerns as is the case with Alt Attributes)?
- Does the update make it easier for visitors to understand the information and intent of the web page?
- Does the update clear a path to the next ‘phase’ in the navigation hierarchy (from Category to Product to Checkout (conversion))?
- Does the update use language which engage the Visitors
For instance Meta Keywords have long been ignored by search engines, however some SEO’s and Website Developers continue to waste valuable time populating them. Meta Keywords tags are not seen by visitors on the webpage, whether used in an HTML attribute or otherwise. They are also not used as signals on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s). You can also find Google explicitly supporting this in their help documents.
Page Titles, also known as Title Meta Tags (although they aren’t Meta Tags at all) are a different story. Title Tag content is used by search engines to populate the main heading link that is clicked on in the search engine results in order to visit each web page. On the webpage itself, the Title Tag is often populated dynamically using content from the page itself or hand written by the site owner. The Page Title is also used by the browser to label the browser window or tab and to build the Bookmark Title. These prominent signals are easily detected by visitors and so are used to identify the contextual topic of the web page. This strategy is definitely good for SEO.
If you have questions about how SEO can increase the performance of your website, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or call us directly.
Falcon-Software places heavy influence on the user experience with our campaigns, building a strong relationship with the client first in order to fully understand who the ideal visitor is before developing a long term plan for success.
This is a scenario that I’ve seen materialize far too often in my time as a search engine marketer. A client commits significant time and resources towards a large scale website redesign and development, only to see the inbound traffic to the new site virtually disappear on launch day.
Phones stop ringing, lead funnel shrinks to nearly nothing and everyone is left scratching their head after such a positive design and development phase.
The effect is instant and with the right planning and transition strategy, this ‘traffic tragedy’ can be averted.
Why Does Your Search Engine Traffic Disappear?
When a website undergoes a redevelopment, nine times out of ten the page names will change (fix this forever by using extentionless URL’s). A search engines’ inventory is made up of web pages, or more specifically, precise URL’s. Once you change those URL’s the page which Google has indexed will break resulting in a 404 Not Found error when clicked. All of the historical value and reputation built up over time is gone in an instant. The only constant is the domain name itself which does not change and so (as long as the content is preserved) will retain its pre launch traffic volume.
Identify Where the Website Value Is
The first step in protecting your historical traffic equity is to know how to identify it. This is accomplished by a combination of website traffic statistics (search engine traffic) and tools which identify inbound links from other websites also known as Back Links. If you don’t know how you are tracking your website, or know that you don’t have Google Analytics running, do it now! Really, stop reading and set that up!
Welcome back! The search engines themselves provide many free and useful tools which will provide most of this information. These tools are used to recover, among other things, the following key information:
- Which pages are receiving search engine traffic
- Which pages are linked to from other websites (back links)
- Do you have an RSS feed which is subscribed to?
- Also watch for traffic to Videos, PDF documents and other multi-media
Tell the Search Engines Where the New Pages Are
By using a series of precise redirects using a particular search engine friendly method (the 301 Redirect Savior) you will preserve the traffic and the majority of the value from the previous URL. This also transfers a marginal amount of reputation or PR built up from back links as well.
Transitioning a website is quite a time consuming process which includes building a list of high value pages which receive search engine and direct traffic as well as which pages are linked to from other websites, arguably the #1 search engine ranking factor. Further if you ignore the other Ranking signals such as content, titles, linking structure and page hierarchy you risk a longer term reduction in search engine traffic as Google realized the change in content and drops your rankings for certain pages. That last bit is a discussion for 10 more blog posts.
Rebuilding a Website? Ask the Right Questions
So if you find yourself in the middle of a website redevelopment, be sure to ask your developers if they have a Website Transition Plan in place and have them elaborate. Below are some key factors to consider:
- A redirect strategy which places a global redirect back to the Homepage is not an appropriate strategy. You will lose your rankings and value for your secondary web pages.
- Redirect pages on a 1 to 1 basis to maintain relevance, back links and bookmarks. Content between these pages should also be of the same topic.
- Do not rely on default website ‘stats’. Low level metrics such as Hits and Referrers from ‘log based’ analytics can often be skewed and inaccurate. Google analytics is a minimum starting point for researching your traffic accurately.
- Use the Search Engines’ webmaster tools interfaces to assist in further data collection.
More Information: http://www.falcon-software.com
About the Author
Jade Carter is Falcon-Software’s SEO Analyst. Over the last 7-years he has helped small to enterprise level clientele such as Encyclopedia Britannica, Birks Jewelers, and Safe Auto Insurance experience the full potential of their online presence by identifying exactly what it is that the client expects from their website and developing realistic and relevant traffic.