Turn Existing Relationships into Link Building Connections
If you’re a small business owner, you’re going to have to lean on existing relationships – personal, professional, etc. – to help get your business off the ground.
This rings true for launching your own website and trying to get it to rank on search engines. Links from other websites are going to be crucial to helping you achieve the rankings you desire, no matter how great of a writer you might be.
Have you thought about using your existing relationships to land coveted links from other sites? With closer relationships, it could be as easy as asking and receiving.
In other instances, you may have to nurture your relationship with that contact. You might even offer them something – such as a positive online review – ahead of asking for a link from their site.
No matter what, don’t overlook any relationships you already have when it comes to link building for your small biz website.
''Link building is all about establishing relationships, and if you already have a relationship with someone, then the first step is done.'' - Chris Weatherall, President of Eminent SEO @eminentseo #linkbuilding
As Google, Facebook and the other popular platforms continue to change the terms of their advertising services, many who have previously overlooked organic marketing are now asking, “Can I use SEO instead? How long does SEO take, and is it worth it?”
Let’s start by talking about what SEO is – and also, what it’s not.
What Is SEO?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of optimizing your content (website, social platforms and ads) for the search engines. We consider SEO an umbrella term for a number of different services and tactics. Primarily SEO is considered:
Keyword Research and Competitive Analysis
Before any target keywords are selected, research must be performed. If you are going to optimize your website and outrank your competition, you must understand them first. In-depth competitive and market analysis should drive the SEO strategy.
On-page SEO and Content Optimization
Each buyer type and stage of the buyer’s journey should be considered first when developing the website and content strategy. Keywords should then be incorporated into well-written content and metadata. That’s not all, though: On-page SEO is highly technical and includes everything from fast load times to internal linking.
Off-site SEO and Link Building
Link building or link earning, call it what you will, means SEO isn’t just limited to what you can control on your website. Off-site SEO is equally, if not more, important. The process of link building is very in-depth, but in a nutshell, the goal is to get other relevant and reputable websites to link to yours. Links act like votes, and how many, where and whom they come from matters.
Testing, Reporting and Analyzing
Because Google is always changing, so too is SEO. The fundamentals are the same, but the specific tactics, tools and applications are always changing.
Luckily, SEO is a data-driven marketing method, and almost every component can be tracked, tested and reported on. By analyzing the data, you can make changes based on user behavior as well as the search engines.
What Is NOT SEO?
Although SEO is a lot of things, it’s also NOT a substitute for:
High-quality website designs
Branded videos and images
Interesting content for the users
Products consumers want
Great customer service
A positive brand reputation
Trained sales professionals
All of these are needed to have a successful SEO campaign. It’s all connected.
How Long Does SEO Take to Start Working?
This is maybe the No. 1 question we have received over the last 13 years or so of doing SEO. And, the answer is always the same: It depends.
Not what you wanted to hear, right?
But, it does depend on a number of different factors, including:
Age of domain and website
Number of current pages indexed by Google
Existing website content and digital assets
Information architecture and blog categories
Indexed website backlinks
Social media channel following
Existing competition and their websites and digital marketing strategies
If you come to us with a new website, hardly any content indexed, very few rankings, an outdated design, no digital assets, a sloppy navigation, no blog optimization, low social channel followers and heavy competition, depending on your budget, I will tell you it’s going to take at least six months – maybe a year. SEO is a long-term strategy, and you have to put in the work. It takes time to gain authority with Google. You can’t fake that.
However, if you come to us with a decent website and some of the foundational work done, we can speed up the process and rank a site in as little as two to three months.
It all depends.
If you have very little competition, if your keywords are under-marketed, if your competition isn’t spending a lot on SEO – all of these variables work in your favor.
Real SEO Case Studies
Since it all depends, it’s best to look at some real-world examples to see what is possible.
SEO Case Study #1: Transitioning from Google Ads to an Organic SEO Strategy
In October of last year, an addiction treatment center came to us with a huge Google PPC ad budget and a cost per admit that was higher than the price of treatment. We switched them to an SEO strategy right before the big Google AdWords smackdown, and now look at the data.
This SEO traffic would have cost $200K. We saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars per month on paid ads, and their ongoing SEO campaign is a fraction of the cost with a higher conversion rate.
SEO Case Study #2: Big Gains in a Competitive Niche
This client has been with us for a few years now. He also had a Google ad budget running and wanted to slowly transition from paid ads to organic SEO. He knew SEO would take time, so he continued to run Google ads while our team worked on the website SEO.
By staying true to the course, his website now dominates for all of the top terms in his niche and he no longer has to spend any money on paid ads. His organic traffic is estimated to cost almost $100,000 dollars a month if he were still bidding on paid ads. The cost of SEO is a small fraction of what the paid ads would cost.
SEO Case Study #3: New Domain and Website and Small Budget
This client came to us as a new brand. Their goal was to get online and start producing results through digital marketing. They were open to paid ads, but their industry is very limited on what they can advertise on, driving up the cost of the terms you can bid on. Due to their budget constraints, we started with SEO only.
In only three short months of a small-scale SEO campaign, we have climbed to more than 1,000 ranking keywords, showing it is possible to get organic rankings on Google in a short period of time. Of course, the site is also beautifully designed, and we’ve implemented expert SEO.
Is SEO Worth Investing Into?
Let’s talk financial investment. All marketing costs money. The key to success is to be smart about the long-term strategy. If you simply throw all of your marketing dollars at short-term gains, you’ll miss out on an awesome opportunity to develop a marketing channel that will provide a substantially higher return on your investment in the long run.
For example, let’s say you have a set marketing budget. Over the first three to six months, you may see little monthly ROI. However, over the course of the full year, when you take your total sales and total marketing expenses, SEO generally produces anywhere from a 300 to 3,000 percent return on investment. That’s HUGE! Any investor’s dream!
The problem is, many new businesses didn’t plan for this, and when SEO doesn’t produce an immediate ROI, they become uneasy and turn to Google or Facebook for paid ads.
Google has been a powerful ad platform for many simply because it’s a search engine and buyers are asking for specific products or services – placing them much further along in the buyer’s journey. Problem is, some people can’t afford to pay the high cost per click, and some industries are even blocked from bidding on relevant terms unless they pass a difficult certification process.
Facebook, on the other hand, is at a higher point of the sales funnel. Prospects are simply scrolling through their social feed and minding their own business when an ad pops up. It doesn’t take an expert to guess that Facebook ads are harder to convert. They are definitely more affordable than Google ads, but unless you sell a product that has a social message, the click-to-website conversion rate can be less than desirable.
Then, there’s SEO. Just like with Google ads, the buyer is already searching for the product or service. But, unlike paid ads, when a user clicks your listing in the organic search results, it doesn’t cost you any more or less. Just one click on a paid ad can cost between $3 and $5, all the way up to $300 to $500, depending on what industry you are in. If that visitor doesn’t convert, you may have just wasted hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars!
The Long Play
SEO isn’t just about saving money on ads though. SEO is the foundation for years and years of brand visibility and website traffic. It’s the gift that keeps giving. Once you achieve a certain age and trust with Google, you can add new content to your site and rank it almost instantly.
And, another benefit? The leads are better. Just ask anyone who has run both SEO and paid campaigns which leads convert better, and they will tell you that SEO leads, every time.
When you really take the time to weigh the pros and cons, it’s pretty clear that SEO is a marketing channel worth investing into. Yes, it takes time…but honestly, all ad channels take time.
What sounds more strategic to you? Dumping thousands of dollars into paid ads that provide short-term gains with no residual return? Or, investing into SEO, which has proven to provide long-term value for companies through residual gains for years on end?
Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.
Fresh out of college with a public relations degree, I found myself stumbling into the world of search engine optimization – specifically, link building. I wondered how the two realms would overlap, if at all.
A quick refresher: Link building is an SEO tactic that refers to the method of increasing a webpage’s number of inbound links from external sources with the intention of boosting the visibility of that page in search engine results.
There are a handful of different avenues a link builder can take, but the end goal is the same: to get a certain page or website to rank higher in the search results than those belonging to similar competitors. High search engine visibility increases the likelihood of more traffic to a client’s website, which in turns leads to better brand awareness.
Coming to Eminent SEO, this process was new to me. While I understood the general theory behind search engine optimization, I was undoubtedly a rookie, in terms of actually putting the theories into practice.
Fret not. Little did I know then just how much the strategies I picked up from my background in public relations would supplement my new career as a link builder. Before I elaborate on the advantages of how initially entering the workforce as a “PR coordinator” eventually bolstered my link-building approach, I want to relay several key differences.
PR vs. SEO Link Building
In a public relations agency, you are typically promoting a brand or a company. Exposure does not necessarily lead to a link to your brand’s website, but for the most part, any exposure or mention in the press is good.
If your client sells products or services, you’ll want to research and pinpoint journalists or media outlets who would be interested in covering or testing the product out. If you are like me and work in food public relations (yum), you’ll want to send out food samples or coupons to these media outlets in exchange for a product review. Additionally, bloggers are going to be your best friends. (Hint: because bloggers like free stuff.)
Link building, on the other hand, is a completely different ballpark. You are promoting a brand, yes, but more specifically: a brand’s website. As a link builder, you want more than just free press. You want the webmaster or influencer to link back to your site.
In many ways, link-building strategy is much harder than public relations because you need your contact to go that extra step: to link back to you, pretty please? You’re asking somebody for more using less, with no free samples or products to offer as incentive.
This why your creative team needs to produce great content that’s promotable and will make your life as a link builder easier – but you already know that. Bloggers are your friends… sometimes.
Getting the Right Backlinks
On the other hand, if you’re in the SEO industry, you’ll quickly realize that not all links are equal, and certain blogs have more domain authority than others. Getting “exposure” from certain websites can hurt your rankings, and thousands of spammy links is a death sentence for a growing site.
Luckily, the skills I garnered from contacting media outlets for exposure as a public relations coordinator ended up helping my transition into the daunting (but rewarding) field of search engine optimization.
Building Relationships with the Media and Webmasters
Public relations people often carry the stigma of having ulterior motives, and, unfortunately, it’s often accurate. We want to get our clients exposure! However, people hate feeling manipulated, and if you’re begging them for free press every other week, more than likely they’re going to get annoyed.
Instead, what I used to do when I conducted my public relations outreach to various bloggers is begin with a friendly tweet or comment on past blog posts. I wanted to get their attention and have them recognize my name before asking for something outright.
Same goes with link building: In the end, you need something from someone (a link). Veer away from that mindset for a second and think long term. If we can befriend a webmaster, or at the very least give a good impression, they are much more likely to link to us in the future. Start up a conversation without asking for a link (yet).
This is counterintuitive because what I am essentially asking you is to not ask for a link – upfront, at least. It can be as simple as chatting them up about recent industry news, or letting them know you liked their latest blog post so much you passed it onto your coworkers. Once they’ve warmed up to you, you can start asking for shares, retweets and, best of all, links.
Use PR Tools to Your Link-Building Advantage
Sites like HARO give you direct access to media outlets and reporters looking for a source to quote. If you’re a journalist, you can sign up as a media contact and use the tool to get access to experts and quote them in your next article.
On the flip side, you can sign up as an industry expert and act as the highly knowledgeable source for these articles! This requires more out-of-the-box thinking because oftentimes reporters are covering topics that are only vaguely connected to your industry.
My advice? Don’t grasp for straws here. If it’s too much of a stretch and only kinda-sorta-maybe related to your client, leave it be. Every so often, however, you will strike gold and find a journalist who’s covering something extremely acutely specific to your client’s industry. The trick here is to be patient.
The biggest disadvantage is that you may have to mediate communication back and forth from the client to the media contact. So, after you’ve reached out to the reporter and confirmed their interest in your client, you’ll want to make sure the client is responsive and open to being cited as a resource or expert in their field. Once the client is included in the story, you can request that the journalist to link back to the client’s website upon publishing.
Of course, this strategy works optimally on media contacts who publish their articles or blog posts in reputable online publications.
Use Each Client’s Story or Mission to Enhance Your Outreach Efforts
Because you represent the client, you need to align yourself with their story. Keeping in mind the “soul” or “heart” of the client’s message will naturally give your outreach more of a voice – and therefore help you differentiate yourself from the rest of the leeches asking for favors.
In the world of public relations, we called them “pitches,” and it’s crucial for your pitch to be well-written and unique to the client. This can get tough when you’re in food PR and you have multiple gluten-free bread clients. How many different pitches can you really write about bread? If you study each client’s backstory and convey their enthusiasm effectively in your writing, the answer is very many.
Outreach as a link builder follows a similar concept. Many webmasters have their inboxes piled up with requests. To distinguish your outreach from others, abandon the boring, soulless email template and draw a clear distinction between your client and their competitors.
To Wrap It Up
While I am still quite new to search engine optimization, I was relieved to discover that what I learned in a public relations agency could be applied to link acquisition. A key variance was that I could no longer offer bloggers or journalists free stuff in exchange for a review (hello, high ROI) and easy exposure.
Instead, I had to rewire my thinking to view the website as the “free stuff.” What makes the website unique? How does it impact consumers? How can I create great resources for the website to draw organic traffic? What can my website offer that competitors cannot? Most importantly of all, what is the most effective way to promote this website and convince people to link to it?
Having to transition from promoting a tangible, material product (such as bread) to a website forced me to ask these questions before beginning any outreach.
Incorporating skills I’ve gained from both the search engine optimization and public relations fields has only strengthened my outreach methodology. A sound link-building strategy, when executed skillfully, will no doubt draw from many aspects of effective public relations.
Nicola grew up in San Ramon, CA and graduated from Boston University with a degree in public relations. As an Organic Marketing Strategist, Nicola focuses on developing and implementing outreach campaigns for Eminent SEO’s clients in order to generate organic traffic.
Ask any SEO specialist about anchor text, and you may unwittingly spark a lively debate. It’s often a source of both angst and confusion.
With the Google Penguin series of algorithm updates, knowing anchor text best practices is even more important. Here, let’s look into all about anchor text, its role in SEO, and how to make it work for you.
Anchor Text Defined
Anchor text is simply any text that is clickable on a webpage that links to another place on the web. For example, in the phrase, “Eminent SEO can help improve your email marketing strategy,” the anchor text (“Eminent SEO”) links back to our website.
If this link were featured on another website, then you have an example of a process called “link building,” and it’s good for SEO. However, the phrasing can either help your search engine rankings or harm it. The difference is in how you approach your own website’s anchor text, as well as that on other sites that link to yours.
Different Types of Anchor Text
Say we’re trying to rank for the keyword “marketing strategy.” There are several types of anchor text that other websites might use to link to ours:
An exact match only anchors the exact keyword we’re looking for:
Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.
A partial match (also known as a phrase match) anchors the keyword in a phrase:
Branded anchor text would link back to our company, Eminent SEO:
Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.
A naked URL has no unique anchor text, just a web address:
Example:Eminentseo.com can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.
Generic anchor text provides instructions, but does not include any branding or keywords.
Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy. Click here to go to their website.
How Anchor Text Influences Search Rankings
Search engines such as Google use anchor text as a factor in determining a page’s topic and how it should rank. In other words, using the anchor text “marketing strategy” should indicate to Google that the page on the other end of the link is a good fit for that search engine query.
In theory, the more times we score a backlink with the anchor “marketing strategy,” the higher we should rank for that query. But SEO is rarely that simple.
The Problem with Early Anchor Text
When Google’s search algorithm was less refined, the search engine relied heavily on anchor text, perhaps too much so. Around 2008, the company explained that it thought anchors provided more accurate descriptions of websites than the sites themselves. While the practice was sound in theory, it proved to be too easy to manipulate.
SEO specialists could easily cheat the system back then and tie certain adjectival phrases to a specific group or individual. Fair or not, two of the more famous “Google bombs” prior to 2010 were the association of the search phrase “miserable failure” to George W. Bush and “worst band in the world” to Creed.
Google’s Crackdown on Some Keyword-Rich Anchor Text
As a result, the search engine giant began to crack down on the way people could use anchor text for search engine optimization. The largest shift came in 2012, when the first Google Penguin algorithm update released. Its aim? Punishing low-quality and manipulative practices for link building.
Anchor text was one of Penguin’s primary targets, and companies who pursued exact match anchors aggressively saw their Google rankings plunge overnight. The Penguin update was a sort of Black Tuesday for SEO practitioners, who then had to come up with another way to put their websites at the top page of web results.
Companies, too, became twitchy about anchor text, some believing that only branded anchor text was allowed – and that all others would be punished by Google.
How Does Google Punish Anchor Text?
Does Google punish everything but branded anchor text? In a word: no. But there’s a right way and wrong way to include anchor text.
Over-optimization of anchor text, for example, is frowned upon. Search engines such as Google and Bing want backlinking to occur naturally. In other words, links should only be in your content if they make sense or if they lead to relevant content. If you have too many links, or if your links look contrived, the Penguin filter could demote the page.
While this sounds harsh, in reality, the original Google Penguin update only affected some 3 percent of websites. If own your content contains links in less than 50 percent of the copy, chances are you will not be affected by Penguin.
What About Link Quality?
Penguin also punishes links that don’t lead to authoritative websites. This discourages rank inflation. Quality backlinking to reliable information ensures your page is relevant. Don’t use anchor text just to grab a keyword. It looks unnatural to Google and will hurt your ranking.
Exact and Partial Anchor Text Still Wields Influence
So, does Penguin punish exact and partial keyword anchor text? A study by Ahrefs sought to find the answer. The study involved analyzing 51 keywords in competitive niches from finance to health, both exact matches and partial matches. Ahrefs found that both exact and partial keyword anchor text continue to have some influence on the top spots in Google searches.
The key here is density. For exact keyword matches, aim for it to be in no more than 1 to 2 percent of all anchor text. Partial matches are more forgiving: 30 percent of anchors containing a keyword phrase are safe from Google penalties.
Anchor Text Best Practices
The (not-so) final word on anchor text: It continues to influence the top spots in Google searches, especially in competitive niches. But … it’s not as heavily weighted as it used to be since Google now has more than 200 ranking factors.
Don’t be afraid to use keyword-rich anchor text in your own web content, though. If done well, it will help your search engine rankings. Observe some basic best practices:
Make Your Links Relevant
We talked a little bit about the importance of link relevancy in SEO, but it’s more easily understood with an example.
Say you own an aromatherapy store, and you love to blog about it. Ever eager to share your passion with others, you spend a little time each day reading about the newest in aromatherapy. You find an article about a study linking aromatherapy to increased levels of mood-boosting serotonin in the brain.
When you write a blog about this later, you could link back to the study in a couple of different ways:
“To read the study, click here.”
“A study outlines the effect of aromatherapy on the brain.”
SEO best practices dictate the second phrase (“effect of aromatherapy on the brain”) is more effective, because it is relevant to the topic at hand. Remember, search engines are interested in producing results that are beneficial to the user.
Vary Your Keywords
Google is wary of keywords and anchor text that appear over and over again. If your site’s backlinks all contain the same keyword-rich anchor text, it’s usually a sign those links weren’t acquired naturally.
Shoot for a variety of keyword anchor text, and don’t use the same one each time. This is where the statistics for partial match and exact match keywords come in. In general, try to earn only a few exact keyword matches. Partial keyword phrases are more forgiving, but variation helps in each phrase or term.
And when you’re linking internally or externally, don’t make your anchor phrases too long. Best practice dictates that they should be eight words or fewer for maximum benefit.
For example, if your aromatherapy store is the only store in Atlanta selling sustainable, ethically sourced essential oils, you might want others to link to your website with the keyword phrase “sustainable essential oils in Atlanta.” However, you want the keywords to be varied so you can avoid Google penalties. Similar phrases like these might help:
“Here’s a great site for sustainable essential oils.”
“Buy quality sustainable oils in Atlanta.”
Each anchor phrase carries pieces of the original keyword, yet they’re varied enough to pass the Google algorithm’s muster.
Bottom Line: Don’t Disregard the Power of Anchor Text
Although dwindling to a degree, anchor text continues to carry weight for current search engine algorithms. Early over-reliance on anchor text has led to a crackdown on the way we use anchor text for SEO purposes. Your mission is to keep earning relevant backlinks with varied keywords, which will help your site earn a place near the top of Google’s rankings.
Search engine optimization is essential for the success of your website. Eminent SEO can help optimize your content (including external links) as well as review your backlink profile. Just call 800.871.4130 if your company needs help with better content and earning stronger backlinks.
One month after our sixth anniversary, we signed a lease and got the keys to a bigger and better office space! We’re currently in the process of moving just few miles down the road, and Mesa, AZ will continue to be our home base. If you’re in Arizona, be on the lookout for an open house invite to our new office near Country Club Drive and Baseline Road.
In other Eminent SEO news, we hired a new member to our team: Steven Russo, Fulfillment Associate. As we upgrade our office space, we’re going to be looking to add a few new members to our staff. Keep an eye out for those announcements in the next couple of months. In the meantime, welcome, Steven!
Steven helps manage Eminent SEO’s inventory assets as well as clients’ website and marketing orders. He assists with on-page optimization, website content, link building and various other digital marketing tasks on behalf of Eminent SEO and its clients. Learn More About Steven
What’s New in SEO: Major Changes to Google+ and Google My Business Pages
The redesign of Google+ appears to have left local business pages as a casualty. According to multiple reports (and simple observation of current Google+ pages), Google’s social network no longer supports several features on businesses’ pages. The following features, among others, have disappeared:
Hours of operation
Some features, however, like reviews and hours, can still be seen if you come across a business in Google Search. A Marketing Land report speculates that Google appears to be giving up on encouraging small businesses to maintain a presence on Google+.
Unless your business has gained measurable traction on the the platform, you may not have to worry about continuously posting to Google+ from now on. However, all we have is speculation at this point when it comes to the future of Google+. It IS clear, however, if you have a local business (a place of business with a physical address other than a P.O. box), then a properly optimized and managed Google My Business page is needed if you want to rank higher on the search engine result pages for local search queries.
In November, we paid homage to the month’s many big events, good and bad: Daylight Saving rollback, Veterans Day, Friday the 13th, Paris attacks, Thanksgiving and more. We also chimed in on Twitter’s switch from stars to hearts (aka “favorites” to “likes”) that left many users fuming. Check out the best of our November social media shares from our various accounts:
Looking for some marketing advice that will help boost your business, particularly in the areas of social media, marketing during the holidays, and developing your brand identity? We’ve got you covered! If you missed out on the November posts on our Eminent family of blogs, check out the “best of” below. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the Eminent SEO blog so you don’t miss out on upcoming offerings.
Get some ideas here on how to make your business stand out during the holidays and tap into the spending craze. But first, take a look back at the holiday numbers of 2014 to get some ideas on where to focus your efforts this year.
Is your business on YouTube? For one, it should be. Secondly, did you know there’s a process to help your videos show up higher in YouTube’s search tool (and even on Google)? Find out how to optimize each and every one of your videos in this article.
You’ve probably seen several infographics that claim to have the answer to the best time for your business to post to social media. The problem is many of the infographics contradict each other or, at least, the “best time to post” simply changes every few months. The solution for you is to only worry about what works best for your company. Find out what that entails.
Several companies, large and small, have “.com” in their official name, and many of the most recognizable brand names got their start by doing this. See the rationale behind including a domain extension in one’s brand identity, and then decide if your company is a candidate for such a rebranding tactic.
Featured Service: Organic Link Building
Even though Google has undergone several algorithm changes in recent years, the search engine still values backlinks, perhaps more than ever. However, there’s an increased focus on quality backlinks, and not the sheer quantity of backlinks.
What is a backlink? It’s when another website links to your website using a hyperlink within their content, making it easy for the user to hop from the hosting site to yours, if desired.
Why do you need backlinks? Google views links as votes, and when important sites link to you, it acts like a vote for your website. The more high-quality “votes” you have, the more of an authority you become with search engines.
Organic link building is one of Eminent SEO’s longest-running services. We have a team of experts with many years of experience in custom link acquisition, social link bait, business citations and other related link building tactics.
We don’t market your website from link farms and other low-quality domains. Instead, our team works swiftly and diligently to secure natural links from authoritative websites on behalf of our clients, which helps their sites, in turn, build authority in Google’s eyes.
Search is an ever-changing landscape of different variables that quantify what makes a website strong enough to rank. As we approach the end of 2015, some of us may be wondering what to expect in 2016 for SEO. My team had the opportunity to attend the Pubcon event in Vegas recently, and I’m happy to share what we learned in terms of the future of SEO.
A lot of businesses owners are still behind the times and are really going to feel it this coming year. If your business has yet to implement a responsive design, semantic markup, and a website that speaks to users, now is the time to implement those things. Otherwise, wait and fail because the future of search isn’t about the older demographic, but millennials and how they’re buying.
Focus on Mobile or Fail
We need to start looking at mobile optimization first since mobile search has finally reached a tipping point and has surpassed desktop search. Because of that, there are now mobile-specified algorithms that focus on mobile location and providing fewer results to the mobile user, but more qualified results than ever before.
As business owners and marketers, mobile optimization strategies need to speak to the mobile audience. This encompasses mobile voice search, mobile website design, mobile apps, and mobile website usability.
Optimizing for Mobile Voice Search
Traditionally, websites have been optimized for important key phrases because that’s how users would use a search engine. Now, with mobile voice search services such as Siri and Google Voice, users are approaching search in a different way. Google’s Hummingbird update directly speaks to voice search users, which allows the search engines to interpret full questions.
Instead of only optimizing websites with important keywords, start thinking about your audience and what questions they may be asking when your product or service will provide the solution. Simply adding a FAQs section to your website that answers these questions with well-researched answers would help optimize the site for voice search.
Optimizing Mobile App Traffic Sources
Since millennials are using their phones for more than just texting and searching Google, we need to be forward thinking when it comes to how they are searching within other apps. Social apps alone are a huge data source for search. Think about Pinterest. Have you searched for recipes on Pinterest? It has become its very own search engine. Therefore, businesses need to be optimized on social apps as well.
Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Users
When designing and optimizing a website, mobile design needs to be the first thought, since it’s where the majority of your traffic is going to come from. If it hasn’t happened already, it inevitably will happen soon. Optimizing the following website considerations will help provide a better mobile user experience:
Optimize website speed times.
Use Schema.org structured data to enhance the rich snippets for mobile.
Prevent the usage of pop-ups.
DO NOT use any Flash, since mobile devices cannot read Flash.
Make sure buttons and navigation are designed for big, fat fingers.
Localize your footer with the correct Name, Address, and Phone Number for local search.
Make sure the content reads well on mobile by optimizing headers and calls to action.
Use Responsive Design
Responsive design allows your website to scale to fit all devices seamlessly. There are still certain tweaks that need to be made to make sure the content is optimized correctly for mobile, but the website is pretty much the same on mobile as desktop, whereas mobile-specific sites may only show mobile users selected areas of your website, not the entirety of the site.
Include Schema Markup in Your On-Page SEO Strategy
Schema markup can enhance your presence in the search engine results by telling search engines exactly what your data means. When search engines understand what the data means, they can provide valuable rich snippets of your content right in the SERPs.
There are different schema markup types available for different content types, including: local, restaurants, products, reviews, recipes, ratings, events, articles, apps, and more. Implementing schema markup will help increase your website CTR, which can lead to higher rankings. We’ll talk more about that later. Take advantage of Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to determine what schema to use for your site.
Optimize Content for Long Clicks
A valuable metric which I’m sure is overlooked by many is the average time on site and whether a user is bouncing off a specific page right away. Long clicks influence rankings, which was once a speculation but now is reality, per Rand Fishkin at Pubcon.
Answering Your Users’ Direct Questions
This can be done by having an interactive website with user-engaging content that walks visitors through the funnel, page by page. This also goes back to optimizing for voice search. Having a solution to a problem will help keep visitors on your site and engaged with your content longer. Directly speaking to your audience with your content is CRUCIAL!
Social Platform Sharing and Headline Optimization
How else can long clicks be established besides from the search results? Social signals can also be a huge advocate for creating long clicks on your blog posts and website content offers. For so long, we’ve been focused on the amount of shares, when in reality, it’s the amount of long clicks your content receives from social that will be the breadwinner in achieving higher rankings for that article you spent so much time on.
To do this, your headlines must match your content and be straight to the point. That way, users aren’t surprised when they click on your article to find that it is completely irrelevant to the title, causing them to bounce off.
Storytelling with Your Content
Instead of writing some plain, boring product description, use storytelling to explain that specific product and how it can relate to your consumer. Ask yourself this, if your content was removed from the web, would anyone miss it?
Scraping competitor backlinks, sorting out low quality sites and going after high quality sites.
Crawling competitor sites to find broken links. Now look at the links pointing to that page and outreach to those sites with your page that’s not broken.
Discovering new sites by utilizing Twitter and other social platforms in your niche.
Creating infographics that speak to your audience and share them until they go viral. Once your infographic goes viral, you will see the backlinks increase.
Creating content on your site that speaks directly to a site you would like a link from.
Data, Data, Data: You Gotta Have It
The final important SEO factor for the future and now is accumulating as much data as you possibly can. At Pubcon, we learned that “data is the new oil.” It’s that important.
So, what kind of data should you be collecting? All of it.
Data-driven marketing starts with understanding the consumer and audience. Collecting this information up front is crucial to the content strategy, since you’ll want to know whether to tailor content to a specific gender, age group, geographic area, etc. Develop your ideal buyer persona based on current audience data, which can be collected from social platforms and Google Analytics.
Identify Patterns in Data Sets
Patterns tell a story with the data. There are different types of data that can provide different patterns. For example, when running a crawl report on your website, look for patterns in page types. Start by collecting the page data via crawl, identify footprints, and then sort/filter/pivot by page type. Page types can include: blog posts, archive pages, static pages, paginated comments, attachment pages, etc.
Once filtered, what do you see as the majority page type? If there’s a huge amount of a certain page type over all the other page types, chances are something is off technically with the site. You probably wouldn’t know that existed without identifying the pattern.
Other SEO patterns to be keep a lookout for may include:
On-page link to content ratios
Footer links with exact match keywords
Off-site anchor text exact match percentages
Duplicate pages and content
Use Custom Dimensions in Google Analytics
Understanding your audience can be two-fold: the buyer and the learner. In order to understand their separate ways of navigating through your site, you must use custom dimensions in Google Analytics. Once you’ve tagged a visitor as a buyer or learner, you will be able to identify patterns in how each user follows the funnel. This data is extremely important because you can better optimize for each audience, which will help increase your conversions.
In order to keep up with SEO, you must have these big factors in play. SEO is NOT dead, nor will it ever be dead. It’s just gotten a lot more complex. Basically if your website isn’t mobile friendly, has minimal content for users, and you’re not tracking your success, you will eventually fail. You can’t have a SEO plan without any of these factors in play. We’ll leave it with this closing quote from Pubcon:
“SEO success is adaptation. Data is critical to growth.” – Duane Forrester from Bing
If you’re overwhelmed by what goes into SEO today, don’t be. We are here to help. Give us a call.
When it comes to growth, unless your business relies solely on word of mouth or printed collateral, you’re going to want to explore the huge potential that marketing in the digital realm offers.
More than likely, you already have a website established for your business, and perhaps you’ve already set up a few social media accounts. However, your business could be losing out on a huge stream of leads if your website is not showing up high in Google search rankings. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.
SEO is more than just plastering a certain keyword across a website page and earning (or buying) backlinks to your site. It’s now about overall user experience and whether Google considers your website an authority on a particular topic.
Improving your website’s search engine visibility is a multifaceted approach, and it’s often a tall order for just one person to handle. Let’s take a look at the benefits of hiring a full-fledged digital marketing agency to handle your SEO rather than hiring one person or an SEO-only firm.
Website Assessment: SEO Considerations
Certainly you can hire one individual within your company or a freelancer to look at each page on your site and optimize them one by one with keywords and headlines; however, the hired hand needs to consider the overall look and feel of the website – its design and the ease of navigation.
Getting the right keywords on a page should help your website rise in the search rankings, but even if you’re seeing any increase in clicks, you may not necessarily see a rise in sales or even incoming phone calls. If the website still has an outdated design and the copy is written awkwardly or blandly – even with the appropriate keywords – you will likely see a high bounce rate, which means potential customers have backtracked to their search results and are looking for the next company in your industry that’s going to catch their eye.
So when you hire somebody to boost your search rankings and conversion rate, that person (or team) needs to have the resources to improve aspects of your website from layout and design to even your company’s logo, should any of those items be problematic. If your website has a modern design and if the copy is written intelligibly and even authoritatively, you may start earning backlinks from other reputable sites, a concept which also boosts your visibility on Google. SEO is a dynamic and continually evolving process, and asking one person or even a small team to address every aspect of your website’s SEO is a tall task.
Is Your Website Mobile-Friendly?
Does your website adjust well to handheld devices like tablets and cellphones? No? Well, not only will it frustrate people who have found your website via one of those devices, but you’re also holding yourself back from a higher ranking on Google.
To make your website more responsive, you’re probably going to want to look for a web developer, one who not only has a high degree of programming skills but also can distinguish a good design from a poor one. In many cases, those are jobs for two different people, but if you can find one person who is experienced in both areas – not to mention copywriting and keyword research, among other skills – then more power to you. It’s not going to come cheap though, whether it’s somebody you hire on staff or if it’s short-term freelance work.
The Cost-Effectiveness of a Digital Marketing Agency
Let’s recap the primary areas in which you have to be skilled to improve and maintain the SEO of your company’s website:
Web design and content
Website traffic analysis
Monitoring backlinks and mentions of your business online
There are even other factors that play into your website’s search visibility, but we’ll leave it at these for now. As you can imagine, you’ll have to search long and hard for even one person that claims to boast all of these skills, and if you do find him or her, it’s not going to be very cost-effective for your business.
The best route to take is to search for a digital marketing agency that can juggle all of these tasks and do so with a commitment to helping your company put its best face forward in the digital world. You may find SEO-oriented micro-businesses or freelancers in your area who can look up the most-searched keywords in your industry and rewrite the copy of your web pages, but it’s not likely they will possess the skills or resources to upgrade the look and user experience of your website, especially if those are glaring deficiencies.
Instead, opt for a digital marketing agency that can address every SEO consideration of your company’s website and digital presence. And if the marketing firm offers to manage your social media accounts, it’s only a bonus. You should be able to find an agency that will cost you less per month than you’d pay one person who may (or may not) possess all of the skills needed to improve your website and its search visibility.
An Agency that can Handle ALL of Your SEO Needs
Since everything from website design to social media strategy has search engine optimization implications, Eminent SEO has the resources to bolster every aspect of a company’s digital presence. We can assess your website and your online marketing strategy and then recommend and execute the necessary improvements.
Does your website need a complete overhaul or do you need a new one from scratch? Eminent SEO can show you some options and turn your wish into reality.
But maybe you just need to optimize a handful of landing pages on your site: We can work with you on a month-to-month or long-term basis – on whatever the size of project that works with your budget.
Looking to Boost Your Website’s Traffic and Conversion Rates? Eminent SEO Has Solutions For You: 1.800.871.4130
Organic marketing is one of the most effective ways to market your website as a long term investment. With that being said, you want to be able to track how effective your efforts really are. So, what are the right metrics to track to showcase a campaign is successful?
Tracking the right analytics will help strengthen the marketing campaign as well as show off the work. Here are some top metrics you should be paying attention to:
In order to understand how people are engaging with your content, you need to know how long they are spending on your website. Make it a point to optimize each landing page and blog post with a call to action, so users are staying engaged with your content.
You wrote a great blog, now what? If you’ve already optimized each page with a call to action, but leads aren’t increasing, make sure your calls to action are relevant and worth taking for the user. Really understand your audience and what they would expect to do next.
Landing Page Traffic from Organic Search
Measuring landing page traffic, that is sourced from organic search, allows you to understand the top pages searchers are landing on when they search for a relevant query. You can look at this and know that the top landing pages by clicks are the top ranking pages of your site. You will be able to tell if the ranking pages are relevant to the query by digging into their individual bounce rates and session durations. If bounce rates are high and duration is low, you may want to think about re-optimizing the page with a better call to action or different keywords.
It is just as important to measure returning visitors as it is for new visitors. By having a steady growth in returning visits, it shows that your content is giving your followers something worth coming back for again and again. This is also prime data to understand if your leads are being nurtured with the right content or not.
Total Bounce Rate
When someone bounces off your website in under 3 seconds, it’s a good chance they didn’t find what they were looking for. You have about 3-5 seconds to capture your audience and your overall bounce rate will indicate if your content is relevant to their searches. Each industry is going to have different bounce rate averages, so look up the industry standard to know if your bounce is above average.
With organic marketing, a heavy focus is put into the creation of quality content with the goal of people sharing your content for more exposure. Keep track of which social channels are producing the most shares of your content. By understanding this source, you can spend more time engaging with your audience on that platform with more chances that the audience will grow and convert into leads. This is also helps build stronger social signals which builds organic rankings with Google.
Total Leads by Source
Tracking leads is one of the most important metrics to have in place in order to know if your efforts are meeting your end goal of growing your business. Track leads from organic search, social media, referrals, and email marketing to really dial in where visitors are converting from the most. If you’re putting less effort into email marketing, but your conversion rate is higher from this source, try putting more effort into it and measure the results.
Lead Close Rate
You know how many total leads your organic marketing is producing, but how many are actually converting? The lead close rate will reiterate the value of what you are offering to potential customers. It also indicates trust. If your lead close rate is below average, it can indicate that your website is not producing qualified leads. This means you need to invest more time in understanding your ideal customer and making sure your pitch is a good fit for that customer.
To prove your organic marketing efforts are producing a return on investment, you need to monitor the right metrics. The above suggestions are only a handful of what we would normally suggest, but it is a good start to really understand how well your campaign is performing. Organic marketing is an investment and should continue to show steady growth with time if you continually put effort put into it. If steady growth isn’t happening, you may need to develop a new organic website and marketing strategy.
Link building has dramatically changed in the past couple years with all of the Google algorithm updates. With the changes a lot of people started thinking that content marketing is the new SEO. That isn’t true, but SEO has changed to include a lot more content in the strategies. Both are needed to build a strong organic marketing strategy.
Content marketing and link building work together, however, they are totally different techniques. Link building includes seeking out relevant websites and sources related to the primary keywords that the website should rank for. Content marketing is more of an inbound marketing technique used to attract target customers and guide them through the sales funnel through content..
How They Work Together in Your Organic Marketing Campaigns
Quality content can acquire natural backlinks, while quality backlinks can create conversation and more content. Same goes for each landing page on your website, the content needs to answer the end user’s problem in order to have a high conversion rate. Here are some more ways these two work together:
It All Begins with the Right Keyword Strategy and Website Content
Keyword research is is a must if you expect to attract the users who are looking for a solution your company can offer. Whenever we put together a custom strategy, we always include an initial research phase that helps set us develop the on-going organic marketing strategy and that phase includes keyword discovery and research.
After researching appropriate keywords and laying out a sold strategy, the keywords need to be implemented in the website content and on-page SEO.. Each page should have a primary root phrase along with supporting phrases that are integrated into the meta data and throughout the content so that it flows naturally.
Once the page of the website is optimized for the selected keywords, it is appropriate to write a blog post to promote that page and link to it internally, also using the same keyword strategy.
With today’s link building tactics, it looks unnatural to have only anchor text links pointing to a specific URL within a website. This is why the keyword strategy within the content of the website is so important. Links still need to point to the page for it to rank, but the content is how search engines are going to determine the keywords that page should ran for.
Users Naturally Share and Link to Quality Content
Another way you can get content and links work together is by producing quality content that users will link to. In-depth content pieces are typically linked to the most, which can include: infographics, eBooks, webinars, case studies and blog posts. If the content is suitable for the buyer persona you are targeting, this is also a great way to increase leads. Capture their information with a landing page form that is required in order for them to receive this beautiful piece of content. Encourage these users and leads to share and link to your content by having social sharing icons readily available on the content and landing page.
Leverage Social Media to Target Other Top Influencers
Content marketing isn’t only blog posts and eBooks, it’s also social media. Social indicators can help build exposure and rankings for a piece of content. For the in-depth content pieces, utilize Twitter and tweet it out to others in the industry. Don’t spam people, but target a few influencers who you know would be interested in your content piece specifically. More retweets and shares means more social indicators. Social indicators not only build exposure, but they help other linking look more natural to the search engines. You really have to have social presence and other links coming in regularly if you want your linking to appear organic. One type of linking only can look spammy.
Link to Your Content as a Primary Call to Action on Blog Posts
When there is a specific blog post that is ranking high in the SERPs from links and shares, you want to make sure you capture those users. A huge part of SEO is user behavior. You want users to stay on your website longer, so having a primary call to action at the end of each blog post will keep users interested and wanting to learn more. This tells search engines that your content is relevant and high quality. Adding a button at the end of your blog post that links to the landing page where your eBook is hosted will not only capture leads, but keep users on your site longer. Blog posts can attract users through high rankings from links, while the call to action will nurture them through the funnel and help turn them into a qualified lead. This is just another great example of how content and links work side by side.
Content and links work together to produce increased website viability. Search engines LOVE fresh content and so do users. When a piece of content is keyword-rich and has quality links and shares pointing to it, it not only increases your organic presence, but you can capture leads at the same time. The other perk is people will naturally link to and share content that is high in quality and useful for them which, in turn, helps build your organic presence naturally. And let’s face it, that is ultimately what the search engines want anyways.
Need help with content creation and organic marketing? Call today and we can help: 800-871-4130
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The search engines are looking at a LOT of things, but one primary way to ensure your site gains authority and ranks for the keywords people are searching for to find your site – is to build links. So, we thought we would give you a few Link Building Tips:
*Tip: Use longer tailed and geo targeted keywords in your link building for better conversions!
It’s important to understand your client base and what they are searching for, but it’s more important to target keywords that will CONVERT than those with just the highest search volumes. Many times the long tail keyword phrases (think: “bankruptcy lawyer in Phoenix Arizona”) are much better for conversions than the root term (ex: “bankruptcy lawyer”) even though they have lower search volumes. Also, long tail keywords are generally much less competitive and therefore much easier (and less costly) to rank for!
*Tip: Use variety in your keyword selection to avoid an artificial backlink portfolio! (Panda Update says so!)
It’s always been important to target multiple keyword phrases and pages within your website, but after the Panda update it’s become even more important. Google is sophisticated enough to detect a pattern in the keyword usage. So, if you want to rank for an important term, use it – but also use similar supporting terms in a variety of ways to ensure Google doesn’t flag your new links as potentially phony. Example: Want to rank for “Nike Shoes”? Build links using terms like: “Buy Nike Shoes”, “Buy Nike Shoes Online”, “Discount Nike Shoes”, “Mens Nike Shoes”, etc
*Tip: Your links should come from many different types of websites for a more natural looking portfolio!
Sure, there are high quality sites, strong in the key elements that make it an ideal site for hosting your link (think: higher Page Rank, Aged Domain, Strong in Relevancy, etc) but if every link pointing to your site uses the “perfect” criteria, it actually creates suspicion with Google. Not everyone that would naturally chose to link to you would come from high quality sites. Mix it up and make sure there is variety in your backlinks. The more diverse, the more natural the link building efforts appear.
Need links? Just call us! We are awesome at keyword discovery, research and link building: 800.871.4130