Archive for September, 2011

Asheville SEO Pro Chuck’s 15 Step By Step SEO Tips For Writing Blog Posts

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

seo

As an Asheville Local SEO Pro I am often asked about my secrets for the great rankings I get on my blogs. I’m willing to give some of my tips out if you want them. Remember, it takes dedication and commitment to get your local SEO ranking just the way you want.

1. Choose a keyword or idea on one specific topic to write about. This possibly means researching a variety of terms.

It is important to consider the LSI or latent semantic indexing . LSI keywords are simply keywords that relate back to your main keyword. I use 2 or 3 of them in each post along with my main keyword phrase.

If you want maximum LSI and SEO value check the Google keyword to see what Google says are “additional keywords”.

writing blog posts 15 Step By Step SEO Tips For Writing Blog PostsWriting Blog Posts

Use the “Additional Keywords to Consider” on the Google Keyword Tool or the Google Wonder Wheel f which can be found  by opening the “show options” drop-down box on the Google search page.

These related keyword phrases CAN be used in your post if possible (Google doesn’t just look at a phrase but also related phrases).  If you pull a couple of the top related phrases this can benefit your post.

I chose the keyword “writing blog posts” and added the following LSI Keywords for this post:

  • blog writing tips
  • writing successful blog
  • SEO blog posts
  • writing seo blog posts
  • internet business blogging
  • internet business tips

2. Form a short link for any important keyword hyperlink that you need to track using pretty links pro or a similar keyword tracking service. This is optional but I like to track the progress of the keywords or links that are contained in my blog posts:

3. Remember, the title of the post is the most important on site element. So it is vital that the keyword phrase is in the title. In general If you use the word “How To” or a specific number of steps to achieve a desired goal it will go a long ways towards improving the chances that your blog post gets read.

4. Write the post with the idea that Content is King. I like to use lists to generate traffic. Some content Ideas for lists include:

  • how to lists
  • different ways to do things
  • Step-By-Step systems
  • the wrong way to do something
  • Links to other blogs or bloggers
  • And lastly, resources lists which is one of the common articles I write on this website since I provide internet business resources.

It’s also important to break up long paragraphs into shorter paragraphs to make it easier for your reader to scan or read the article.

5. Consider using video since it’s a great way to communicate “how to” subjects. You can either use Camtasia which is now available for Mac users also or try using their free service called Jing to make shorter screen-cast videos. You may also consider using a Flip Video to record yourself talking.

Once the video is finished then upload it to YouTube, Viddler, or DailyMotion using a service like Tubemogul.com. Also consider video sharing sites that include do-follow. A list of some of them can be found at  http://www.searchenginejournal.com/dofollow-video-sharing-sites/

6. Use Audio: If you don’t feel comfortable using video you may consider using audio. At the very least you may want to consider a wordpress plugin such as Odiogo to place a “Listen Now” button on your blog post which is especially good for podcasters.

3333485809 cc4918385f b 300x206 15 Step By Step SEO Tips For Writing Blog PostsBlog Writing Tip- Add alt tags to your images

7. Add pictures with relevant alt descriptions. The alternate descriptions of the images that you use can be very effective when writing blog posts with SEO considerations since search engines tend to place a high level of importance on the alt tags.

8. Think about tags and insert around 5-10 tags for your post. If you were searching for information, what keyword phrases would you use to find this article?

9. Choose categories for the post. Keep in mind the keywords that you are using and choose the appropriate category(s).

10. Publish the article. Review the article for errors and misspells. Preview it to make sure the layout and photos look OK and then publish the Article.

11. Send the article to your mailing list. I use aweber for my mailing list. The advantage of aweber is that, once you write an article, aweber can be set up to automatically broadcast it using their integrated RSS feed broadcaster. You can even set it up to broadcast to twitter.

12. Submit to social networks like twitter and facebook. I use ping.fm . It’s a free service and by placing a button in my tool-bar I simply ping the blog posts.

13. Submit your article to Social BookMarking Sites

Social bookmarking sites can include many media services such as Digg, Technorati,  Google Bookmarks, StumbleUpon and even Facebook and Twitter which I’ve already mentioned. Consider using the following tools:

I use onlywire.com because it’s the fastest way to submit to Social Bookmarking sites since it is almost fully automated. They will give you the service for free if you place their “onlywire” button on your website

Try socialmarker.com- Be sure to take advantage of the sites that give you a Do-Follow link by clicking on the text that says “Select the social bookmarking sites you want to Submit to” located on the right hand side of the page.

14. Submit to Blog Carnivals- shoot for 20-30 Carnivals. Go to http://blogcarnival.com/bc/ and follow the easy steps to submitting to blog carnivals

15. Article Submissions

Rewrite your Article and Submit it. You may consider manually submitting to EzineArticles.com, goarticles.com, and articledashboard.com.

Another idea is to use a service like ISnare.com. They charge $10 to submit your article to several thousand sites.

Since it is important to rewrite your article to make sure that you don’t have duplicate content all over the web you may try a program called Magic Article submitter because the  2 package tool-set includes an article rewriter and article submission service. I also use this service which is located at Free Traffic System.com.

If you need more tips on these SEO steps contact me at SEO Pro Asheville.

Optimize your site for the latest Google changes

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

google updatesGoogle’s recent changes have had all local SEO pros backing away and rechecking what they are doing and why. The changes are not that complex, but you need to be aware of them and what actions you need to take to make sure your sites remain SEO friendly.

So, what do you do if you were impacted by Google’s moves or what can you learn from this to make sure you are in good shape going forward even if you escaped with rankings in tact on this one?

First step is to get a professional marketing review of your site. You can do this by contacting me, Chuck Taft, local Asheville SEO Pro. I can do free quick reviews for businesses anywhere, but can especially help you if you are in the Asheville area.

From what we know now, we can surmise the following:

Sites that have a high percentage of duplicate content are going to be considered low quality.

Develop new, unique content and grow your site.

Let’s look at this scenario: If you have a page here and there that has duplicate content but the rest of the site has unique content, those pages with the dupe content may not fare well but your site as a whole should still do OK.

But when going page by page, if the engines are hard pressed to find quality, unique content then it will end up impacting your site as a whole.  Google’s official take on this: low quality content on part of a site can impact a site’s ranking as a whole. So be careful!

Those that repost content and then add a line or two with their opinion on the content, and feel that is enough unique content to satisfy the engines are going to find it  problematic heading forward.  If lots of pages have only a small percentage of the page’s content being unique, those pages won’t fare well either.

Google also seems to be looking for pages that have a high volume of ads that aren’t relevant to the content of the page (especially if the ads are higher up on the page).  These pages will not fare well in today’s Google.

Be sure to review your site and get rid of ads that are irrelevant.  Also be sure your site isn’t too cluttered with ads.

If your site happened to rank well for a phrase but the phrase is not really present in the Title tag or the body content, the page isn’t going to continue to do well going forward.

Review your site and make sure each page has unique Title Tags that use keywords that are also present in the body content.

Keywords being repeated over and over and over and over will trigger the new algorithm to devalue the page.  Keywords should be used appropriately.

Review your content, tone down your keyword density of you need to.  Be sure it reads well. One test many copywriters share is reading your content out loud, your brain processed it differently when it hears the text out loud and you’ll know if there are too many keywords stuffed in there.

The next one is something a lot of people struggle with:

High bounce rates and low time spent on the site can impact rankings.  This will force people to really look at the quality on their site and improve things so they entice visitors to not bounce and to stay longer.  It means strong marketing principals and good copy are going to be more important than ever.

Improve headlines, calls to action and general usability of the site.  CTR (clickthrough rate) from the SERPs (search engine results pages) will also impact rankings.  If your site comes up a lot but no one is clicking, you can be sure it’ll impact things.

asheville local seoReview your Title tags:

Pay attention to the length of your Title tags and be sure your descriptions on the SERPs aren’t being truncated before you reveal the most important info. This is key!  People need to be able to see what you offer and how it’s relevant to their query.  So also get your keyword in there early.  In other words, look at where Google is pulling the data from that they display in the SERPs (usually your Title tag is what they use to create the main headline for the listing) and make sure that area of text is compelling, and that is explains exactly what the page has to offer, it’s also helpful if it includes a keyword phrase.

Ex: A Must Have Comprehensive Guide: Learn How To Care For Your Pet Fish – not so good – the keyword phrase is pushed to the back of the phrase and will likely get truncated.

Ex: How To Care For Your Pet Fish – Must Have, Comprehensive Guide  – much better – they keyword phrase is at the start but you also still got the descriptive compelling content in there.

If you need your company name in your Title tag, put it at the end.

Think of your Title tag like an ad – be descriptive of what the page is about but be compelling so people want to click through.  Promise a benefit (as long as your content delivers on what you promise)

They don’t want to see boilerplate content (content that is the same and repeated on every page).

Review your site and look for blocks of content that you are reusing on multiple pages.  Tweak it, so it’s unique.

Sites that aren’t getting some social exposure (mentions and links from social media sites) won’t do well.

Yep we keep saying it, and it’s true – you need to be on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Need some help with that?  Email me with questions!

Even if you weren’t hit in the big update, if your site has many issues in the areas outlined above you can and will lose rankings over time.  Sites that excel in what Google is looking for will dominate.

Now is actually a GREAT time to optimize your site.  You can jump in there and show Google that your site is worthy of rankings.

Asheville Local SEO Expert: getting more and better quality online reviews

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Customer reviews are at the forefront of the news again, so it’s a good time to start thinking about how garnering more online reviews fits into your business.As an Asheville SEO Pro I find this is one of the most important parts of internet marketing.

In my experience, when it comes to reviews there are four types of businesses:

  • Businesses that get most of their business from referrals, don’t get any online reviews and could care less about them (perhaps the biggest chunk of businesses).
  • Businesses that get most of their business from referrals, get online reviews and think that nobody reads them or cares.
  • Businesses that think reviews are hugely important and work hard to get a lot of them.
  • Businesses that think reviews are hugely important and work hard to get them, but don’t get many, if any.

What the types that rely heavily on referrals and ignore reviews don’t realize is that some time in the next year or two someone is going to write something about them online and there’s a good chance it’s going to be negative.

If it gets around, which it usually does thanks to Google, their referrals are at risk of drying up. If the first thing that shows up in Google for your brand is a negative, you are potentially screwed.

For those that work hard at getting a lot of reviews, I would wager that most of them are leaving a lot of opportunity on the table.

While positive reviews are great, the real power is in the reviewer. A customer willing to spend the time to review you is a brand ambassador. Instead of just asking them for reviews, you should be thinking about how you can harness your relationship with these valuable people to help spread the word, both online and off.

Those that try but can’t seem to get traction with reviews should consider the following on how to build review generation into their business processes.

There are basically four ways to get an online customer review:

  • Via phone
  • Via email
  • Via a Website
  • Via transcription from a hand-written review

Which method is right for you depends on how you conduct your business.

Do you collect customer email addresses? Most of the businesses I work with know they should but rarely do, or rarely do it with any rigor.

Do you have more than 50% of your customers’ up-to-date email addresses? If so, then you can use email solicitations where you can ask them to provide a review via email or you can direct them to a website where they can leave a review.

If email doesn’t work for you, then you’ll need to consider how you typically interact with your customers. If most of your business is done in person then give them a comment card. If it’s over the phone, you may have to do it via mail. Try stapling a comment card with return postage to your invoice.

When figuring out your review acquisition strategy, take a good look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what your staff can realistically do every day.

Some tips for asking customer reviews:

  • Don’t offer incentives. A percentage of your customers will do it for free. If you offer to pay your top brand ambassadors, it’s possible they will get turned off, which could hurt your business by dampening the enthusiasm of these mavens.
  • Make it easy for customers. Don’t send them a link to review you on Google unless they have a Gmail address.
  • Don’t ask people for Yelp reviews. This almost always backfires. You may get a few positive reviews in the short term, but if your customers are not active Yelpers, Yelp’s SPAM filters will eventually toast their reviews. You’ll end up with no reviews and potentially some angry customers who wonder why their work of review art disappeared.
  • Do it promptly. Don’t wait. People are most likely to give you feedback right away.  The longer you go from the time of service to the time of request, the likelihood of getting reviews drops precipitously. According to Ted Paff, CEO of CustomerLobby, a review service, “Comment card reviews solicited at the time of service can see completion rates of 80-90%” vs. much lower rates for other forms of review solicitation.
  • If you have the customer’s email address, follow up your initial request three days later with a reminder email containing links of where to for review submissions. Reminder emails can account for a huge percentage of review conversions.

Bonus Tip: always underpromise and over deliver. I have often heard that business owners can feel embarrassed when asking customers for reviews. If that sounds like you, my advice is to be totally candid with your customers.

Chuck Taft, Asheville Local SEO Pro

My view of google Panda as a local SEO pro

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

seoMuch has been written about Google’s Panda Update. As an Asheville Local SEO Pro clients have been asking me if the Panda Update is all it’s cracked up to be.

Panda is reportedly THE biggest leap in search technology since being granted a patent for PageRank in 2005 effectively making Google the dominant source of internet traffic for all company websites. Michael Martinez of SEO-Theory.com uses this phrase to describe it:

Like it or not, all companies are now in the internet marketing business – no other form of marketing has as dramatic an effect on a companies sales. Nearly every one of your potential customers makes searching on the internet where they begin to make a purchasing decision, effectively making Google.com is your companies home page.

Panda As The Farmer Update

Content Farms Are Bad or Content Farms Are Good, which is it?

Exploiting the PageRank algorithm by reverse engineering what the algo values and giving it what it wants has led Google to make changes. Once it was discovered that adding an article to certain types of websites, sometimes called Content Farms, would generate top ranking, a loophole was discovered:

Quantity Outperformed Quality In Terms of Generating Page Views

It was discovered throwing a ton of “junk articles” up on high page rank content farms would allow a company to dominate search results. It mattered little if the article was “good” or poorly written.

Many webmasters panicked when they found their web ranking and web traffic tanked, some hastily came to the conclusion that the algorithm “thinks we are a content farm.”

So how did all of this happen?

Google and Do No Evil

It’s been a long standing policy at big G to not allow it’s paid advertisers to influence the main body of search results, often called the organic search results. Project teams are said to work independent of one another.

The web spam department headed by Matt Cutts does not take orders from the paid advertising department or Adwords.  Google made billions off of content farms because those content farms served up Adsense ads from paying advertisers.

Adwords = you enter into a bidding war with your competitors to buy your way to the top of paid or sponsored links

Adsense = you publish those adwords ads or serve them on your website and big G shares a portion of it’s billions of dollars in Adwords revenue.

RSS feed Promotion and Scraper Sites

Blogs have a feature that static websites do not: RSS feeds. The ranking algorithm favors fresh content, it wants to show searchers “real time news”, a blog qualifies as a “news source” in a way that static conventional websites do not. Simply put a blog will beat a website in ranking in search results.

Some marketers discovered that by ”scraping” RSS feeds and simply republishing someone else’s article or blog post they could make a fast buck by serving up Adsense ads from a ”junk website”.

RSS feeds on eCommerce sites run into what is known as the “duplicate content penalty”. Imagine if you sold a dozen variants of a product, had a dozen different pages on your site and the only thing to differentiate each product was the color. Let’s say you sold decorative backing plates for light switches, and there were a dozen colors to choose from…. and all of those pages were published on your blog’s RSS feed. How is an algorithm going to decide if your internal pages are “newsworthy” when all it has to go by is the text (or lack thereof) on each page?

The SEO solution is to write text, craft a unique description of each “widget” you sell from your site, give the algorithm some help so it can differentiate one product from another.

Syndicating Our Content -  Good or Bad

Through RSS feeds our content (articles, blog posts, etc) to be syndicated. There are 2 very good reasons we want this:

  1. Maximize Our Exposure much like we want to cast as wide a net as possible while fishing for new customers, much like we want to have our company found on social media sites.
  2. Backlinks pointing to our sites. We want to write authoritative articles about our genre that qualify as Link Bait. An article so good other websites would want to republish it