seo

Tag Your WordPress Posts, People!

I stress to clients that they have to tag and categorize their posts on WordPress. It’s one of the easiest ways to increase your organic traffic and discoverability in Google, but it also helps the web find you.

So tag your posts, people!

Also, good checklist here for setting up a WordPress website on a hosting platform…

If you’re not already on board, keep reading; a client of mine gets 100,000 unique visitors per month. More than 3% of those are referred to by tags listed in the SERPs.

Tag recommendations:

  • Limit your tagging to relevant topics you covered in the post.
  • Not every post needs to be tagged.
  • Keep tags short and sweet; no more than two words.
  • Delete overused and underused tags monthly.

SEO benefits:

  • Improved user experience.
  • Increased engagement.

Via Search Engine Journal: Don’t Launch a WordPress Site Before You Go Through This 17-Step Checklist

Don’t Look Over Instagram Reels for Your Marketing in 2021

I remember the first few times I saw a friend post a Reel on Instagram and thought “well, that’s a weird knock-off of Snapchat and Tik-Tok” and wondered how or if my clients should even know about (or bother) with it.

Then in November, we also got word from Instagram that major changes were coming to how they promoted content in a much search-friendlier way (without having to use hashtags!).

Those two combined together means that Instagram with its 2 billion active users and built-in affinity groups shouldn’t be overlooked in 2021.

Use Reels for whatever you’re marketing or trying to message about and don’t skip over the functionality there.

2021 is going to be the year of 15 second videos.

Engagement umbers are already through the roof with Reels and that’s only going to continue to increase.

To further help Instagram categorize your account, you want to consistently post content that’s relevant to your niche. To illustrate, if you run an Instagram account for your dog training business, you’ll want to focus on posting content about dog training and avoid content that strays into an unrelated category. Other ways to help you show up in search within your category include following other similar accounts and adding a relevant keyword to your name in your bio (i.e., Alexa | Dog Trainer).

To compete with the rise in popularity of TikTok, Instagram launched Reels, a new form of video content delivered in 15–30 seconds to create quick, attention-grabbing moments in a creative and entertaining way. Instagram’s new UI update, which put IG Reels front and center, should hint to marketers that Instagram Reels will be here to stay in 2021.

Source: Social Media Marketing Trends for 2021: Predictions From the Pros : Social Media Examiner

Google To Start Marking Sites Without HTTPS as Not Secure in July

If your nonprofit, church, or business website isn’t https:// with a reputable SSL certificate, Google’s Chrome browser update will start showing a warning message when visitors arrive. This will affect your site’s trustworthiness.

Get in touch if you need help or what to know more. You can also read a great take (and much needed insight) on this from blogging and podcasting visionary Dave Winer here.

For the past several years, we’ve moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating that sites adopt HTTPS encryption. And within the last year, we’ve also helped users understand that HTTP sites are not secure by gradually marking a larger subset of HTTP pages as “not secure”. Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”.

— Read on security.googleblog.com/2018/02/a-secure-web-is-here-to-stay.html

Ultimate guide to SEO for small businesses (and nonprofits)

There’s some really helpful advice here for small businesses, nonprofits, and / or churches looking to get a start on SEO basics. You can take a course on Lynda.com or watch some YouTube videos to learn more about what SEO can mean for your group, but the fundamentals here are pretty spot on:

SEO isn’t just for big business. As a small company or a local business, there is actually a lot you can do yourself to get good results from search. This ultimate guide for local and small business SEO will help you get the most out of search by finding your niche, optimizing your pages and using social media.

— Read on yoast.com/ultimate-guide-to-small-business-seo/

SEO for beginners free course

Here’s a free and good course on SEO basics. Whether you’re a business, church or nonprofit, you should have some basic understandings of what SEO means to your website and how just a few tweaks can really make a big difference.

I went through most of the course and there’s some good info here, especially for beginners:

– Get quick wins to make your site rank higher in Google, Bing or Yahoo
– Have a solid basic understanding of search engine optimization and how search engines work

— Read on yoast.com/academy/course/free-seo-course-seo-for-beginners/

What is Local SEO?

Here’s a good read on the thinking behind “local SEO” and how to implement some of the strategies on your website. We do this for a number of clients when we build or revise their sites, particularly churches and nonprofits (and small businesses) who really depend on local search traffic in fundraising or awareness campaigns.

Local SEO is about how to optimize your website to rank better for a local audience. A website gives you the opportunity to target the entire (online) world. But if the target audience for your business is actually located in or near the city you have your office or shop, you’ll need to practice at least some local SEO as well. You need to optimize for your city name, optimize your address details. In short: you need to optimize so people know where you are located and are able to find you offline (if required). In this post, we will try to explain what local SEO is, so you can optimize your local site as well!

Source: What is local SEO? • SEO for beginners • Yoast

Moving beyond links

I’ve long argued that “links are dead” (going on a decade now). Some of that was hyperbolic to discuss the need for a better mechanism to derive value or information from one site to the next or from a marketing campaign.

It looks like Google might be moving beyond links as well and towards more of an “entity database” where the connections and relationships between search terms are prioritized. I can get behind that.

The idea that we can push our rankings forward through entity associations, and not just links, is incredibly powerful and versatile. Links have tried to serve this function and have done a great job, but there are a LOT of advantages for Google to move toward the entity model for weighting as well as a variety of other internal needs.

Source: Google patent on related entities and what it means for SEO – Search Engine Land

Google Rolls Out “Mobile First” Indexing Today

Facebook is undergoing serious challenges to its place as a web hub between the public PR crisis involving its role in the mis/use of data related to Cambridge Analytica and the 2016 election as well as its ongoing tweaks to algorithms which now demote business and group pages in preference to users seeing more content from friends and family.

In the midst of that, there’s been a real uptick in the amount of attention that Google search results receive and topics such as SEO and page loading speed as more and more companies begin to reconsider their social media ad spends on Facebook and Twitter. Companies of all sizes are either pulling their Facebook ad buys altogether or crunching numbers to determine the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Suddenly, Google search results and SEO are becoming the new darlings of the marketing and advertising world again. So, it’s important that starting today, Google is rolling out its “mobile first” indexing scheme.

Whether you’re a big company or a small church or a medium-sized nonprofit, it’s important that you take into consideration elements such as how quickly and how well your website loads on mobile devices (if you want to rank well, at least):

To recap, our crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have typically used the desktop version of a page’s content, which may cause issues for mobile searchers when that version is vastly different from the mobile version. Mobile-first indexing means that we’ll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile – users find what they’re looking for.

We continue to have one single index that we use for serving search results. We do not have a “mobile-first index” that’s separate from our main index. Historically, the desktop version was indexed, but increasingly, we will be using the mobile versions of content.

Source: Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Rolling out mobile-first indexing

Why Some Services Cost More Than Others (Education)

“Holistic local SEO campaigns are the best for providing long-term value because the results won’t disappear immediately if you stop working with the agency. They also offer an element of education that you could argue is the most valuable of all.

While these services can seem a bit costly, they’re worth their price in every aspect. They’re highly targeted campaigns run by thoughtful local SEO technicians who know how to focus on getting results. The investment into these campaigns typically ranges from $899 to $ 1,999 per month depending on the company, their specific offerings and the business’s overall goals.”

Source: Why costs for local SEO campaigns vary

We work with a number of businesses, organizations, and even churches on what can be defined as “holistic” SEO programs to increase their site’s effectiveness at reaching desired potential customers or interactions at the local level.

There are some great “automated” services where you can “set it and forget it” and pay a monthly fee to do your search optimization as the article points out (Moz Local, Synup, Yext etc). We’ve steered a few of our clients in that direction given their budget, goals, or scope of demographics. The same goes with building a site… there are great solutions such as Squarespace or even WordPress.com for building your own website on the cheap, and sometimes that’s a better solution (I’d stay away from Wix or Weebly because of the way those site generators perform in Google searches, but that’s just me).

However, if you want the real trifecta of successful results, you have to hire an expert (which is what we do):

  1. Education from Expert Consultations (most important)
  2. Focus on Real Results for Long Term
  3. Customization for Your Specific Goals

You simply can’t get that with DIY programs.

I often see advertisements for website builders or newsletter delivery solutions or business card designers / makers that promise “ease of use” and “success” for small businesses or organizations working on shoestring budgets. It’s tempting to consider using those, especially when you are starting out or looking to make the jump to the next plateau. Sometimes, that’s a wise move. More often than not, you realize a few months into your endeavors that it would have been better to “hire an agency” or an expert to help you both clarify your goals as well as implement a site or newsletter or business card design that is both professional and custom to your needs.

Don’t discount the education component of marketing. I don’t expect my clients to run out and pass a Google Search Exam after a few months or years, but nothing makes me happier than when a client understands the value of their marketing investment and starts brainstorming with our team or even wants to learn more about how web design really works.

I’m a teacher at heart, I guess.

Google’s Matt Cutts on Link Building and Memorable Websites

Matt is right… create an experience and work towards the big picture rather than just make something for the moment…

Link Building Is Not Illegal (or Inherently Bad) with Matt Cutts: “Their goal should really be to make a fantastic website that people love and tell their friends about and link to and want to experience. As a result, your website starts to become stronger and stronger in the rankings.”

Go read the whole interview and pull your own conclusions from it. It’s not a short read, but it’s worth it.

Be unique and do your best work in all that you do.

Handy Google Spreadsheet Keyword Generator

I keep track of all our keyword bids, ideas, brainstorms and lists in Google Drive via Spreadsheets.

I had no idea this was possible but will be using the heck out of this feature now…

A Glimpse Into Google’s Brain, Hidden In A Spreadsheet App: “Yesterday TechCrunch reported that if you make a spreadsheet in Google Drive (Google Docs, formerly), enter and highlight the names of two beers, and pull down on the corner of the spreadsheet cell while holding Option or Control, the app will automatically fill the following cells with the names of other beers. The information is pulled, seemingly, from nowhere.”

And a few examples here.

And no, it’s not just for beer. I made a few quick tries with keyword lists for specific specialty clients and was impressed with the nature of the returns.

It’s not a replacement for keyword-specific tools, but a nice way to brainstorm from time to time.

Google Sets have been around for a while and I was always impressed with what was possible (and bewildered they “shut down” the service a few years back). Nice to see Sets having a long life ahead as a part of Google Drive.

On Page SEO: Online Marketing’s Building Blocks

On Page SEO: Online Marketing’s Building Blocks
2009 Update: Changes You Need To Know

Search engine optimization comes in many flavors, but marketers must think about more than on-page elements and old best practices. Good on-page SEO is only part of the solution you need to attract quality visitors to any type of site. Good SEO is the heart of online marketing. Poor on-page SEO will cause any site’s efforts to crumble in other areas.

Marketers should already know about page titles (aka title tags), alt image text and font decoration. An online marketer must be able to speak with absolute conviction about the characteristics of these and other influencers.

A wise soul described search engine optimization as a predator and prey game where the search engines show just enough about ranking factors to aid their mission, but not enough so that the results can be gamed. As search technology changes, marketers must also quickly change.

Consider these 2009 changes to on-page SEO so far:

Changes To Previous Best Practices: After an off-the-cuff (that’s how it seemed from the audience at SES San Jose 2007) remark about “no follow” links, Google announced in June that this type of “page rank sculpting” was unnecessary. And in October, Google pulled “PageRank” from its Webmaster Tools console. Why? Google says it’s a good indicator to use as a success metric any more.

Google also confirmed in September that meta keywords convey no search ranking attributes. A month later, Yahoo said the same, but then admitted a week later that it assigned a weak ranking signal for meta keywords.

To reduce duplicate content, all four major search engines agreed in February to support the “canonical” tag. Multiple ways to address the same page, including those resolved by rewrite rules or redirects can be winnowed to one “canonical” page, deemed to be the source and authoritative page.

And the fastest way for any site to be indexed, Yahoo’s Paid Inclusion program, will end in 2009.

New Partnerships: After chasing Yahoo! for a web eternity, Microsoft announced a search deal in July that would combine the #2 and #3 company’s search results. The deal is nowhere near final, but happened fast on the heels of Microsoft’s June launch of its rebranded Bing search engine in June. The new entity, quickly dubbed Microhoo, is expected to use Bing algorithms on Yahoo! properties.

New media darling Twitter cut its own deal with Microsoft and quickly announced a nearly identical deal with Google as both companies try to move into “real-time search”.

New Search Results: Google debuted six variants of search engine results pages (SERPs) in 2009, starting in January with a Timeline view that had previously only been seen in Google Labs. The largest search company followed with announcements in March of its “Vince” update that gives more weight to brands and branded terms. Google also previewed “Caffeine” in August – a jumble of traditional search results, news, video and even blog comments on the same page, but mixed together.

Google had already taken steps to assume searcher intent by starting to automatically display local results for service and product searches even if a geographical term wasn’t included in the search. Combined with the Vince/brand update, ranking nationally for generic words that brands traditionally use became extremely difficult using traditional methods.

Bing quickly countered with visual search in September, and as Google shortened its hotlist of trends to 40 terms, other companies including Twitter, Wikipedia and Bing quickly filled the void and reported on what terms were seeing the most search activity.

Title tags are important. But as an online marketer, you must stay abreast of monthly, sometimes weekly, changes in on-page SEO to enjoy continued success.

Guest Blog by Silver Beacon Marketing

Google Levels the Playing Field?

Robert Seidman guest-blogs on social media guru Louis Gray’s blog on the topic of how the Goog has made the playing field of web publishing much more accessible for anyone (rather than just an arena for A-Listers):

louisgray.com: Google Has Leveled the Internet Playing Field: ”
I know a lot in the tech blogging circles will opine on whether Google is good or evil. For now in my mind, Google is still good. It leveled the playing field for us. We have little in the way of expense overhead (almost $0, really) and sure, it may work out that I’ve made about eight cents per hour, but that’s the subject for another blog post. From my perspective, we are allowed to compete, and compete fairly without spending anything on marketing. It’s hard for me to find fault with a system that provides that sort of level playing field.

Organic Google search (including Google News) is our number one traffic source. This leads to a lot of referral traffic from other sites and a good bit of the direct traffic.”

The question of whether or not Google is “evil” or not is about as subjective as any subject you can imagine. For all of its occasional (or sustained) “big-brotherness,” Google does allow for a plethora of voices on topics. The key to ranking well in Google is not to rely too heavily on the mysticism of SEO, but to make good (and easily discoverable) content.

Buying Links: Good or Bad?

At the https://www.fusionquest.com/cgi-bin/main/hotlinks.cgi?aflt=afc1&client=affsumAffiliate Summit West this year, one of the most talked about moments was the back-and-forth between SEO expert Wil Reynolds and Jason Calacanis during Wil’s session.

Here’s Wil’s take:

Well the BIG topic – buying links to help boost your SEO rankings, let me say again…if you properly analyze your landscape you can determine if you may or may not need to buy links. If you do, you should buy ones that are actually on GOOD sites – while producing great content is the ideal, you may have to prime the pump a bit with a few strategic bought links. This is an advanced tactic, if you don’t understand what makes a good vs. bad link, don’t buy one!

As you can imagine, Jason was not too supportive of the link buying tactic and has called out Google and SEO’ers many times over the issue (and created a company to combat the problem he sees in search today).

And thanks to the power of the interwebs, you have the chance to see the throw down (not really) between Wil and Jason (or head over to YouTube to see the annotations that Wil has added to the video… they don’t carry over to embeds):

The video also shows why you should be going to the https://www.fusionquest.com/cgi-bin/main/hotlinks.cgi?aflt=afc1&client=affsumAffiliate Summit in Boston this August. Unlike many of the shows I go to, there is both real substance and real discussions that go on during the sessions. This is just a taste of that.

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