Tag Archives: SEO Tips

Your Guide to Keyword Research in 2016 Going into the New Year

Keyword Research In 2016 And 2017 - Eminent SEO

In the past, keywords were crucial to search engine optimization (SEO). Times are a-changing, and now keywords are only one of the many factor for rankings. While they are still relevant, keywords should be researched alongside a variety of other optimization factors.

To get a page of content noticed, understand that what’s behind the keywords is just as important as the keywords themselves: Think demographics, personas and intent. Consider keywords carefully, but also keep in mind who’s behind the keyboard. Understanding your user can help you not only bring traffic to your site, but it can also impact who is coming to your site.

Regardless of the type of business you own, you have a target audience. With careful research, you can accurately predict their searches – as long as you understand that keywords aren’t powerful enough to justify your entire focus.

The ‘Why’ Behind the Search

Consider user intent. It’s all about why a person is looking – the motive behind their search. The why impacts what keywords are used. Like a detective, you must divine a motive for the search before you can understand how to use keywords.

Google understands the intent behind a user’s search. Try Googling “hair dye” as an example. What comes up is an option for a beauty supply chain store. Google assumes that the intent of your search is to make a purchase. If a user gets more specific and types in “hair dye effects,” the search results offer information on the correlation between hair dye and cancer risks. So by adding a single word, user intent changed – and Google picked up on it.

Basically, specific words that users choose for a search reveal their intent. This is valuable information, and your goal is to make your product or service match the intent and be the answer they need. Understanding audience intent will help you choose the right keywords and phrases to generate traffic on your site and for your business.

The ‘Who’ Behind the Query

Search Queries Informational Transactional Navigational - Eminent SEOWho is searching matters. People have different motives when searching, and this is why demographics matter so much. Demographics and personas are the details about a group of people or a specific person, such as:

  • Who they are
  • Where they’re from
  • What their professions are
  • What their likes and dislikes are

Obviously, demographics matter. They can tell you whether you should be putting ads on Snapchat or Facebook (depending on age). They can give insight into who is making the purchase. For example, men’s shoes may be the purchase, but women may be the purchaser. Do your keyword research with demographics in mind. It’ll pay off.

Personas are even more helpful in determining who’s on the other side of the search engine. Maybe you want to target 20-year-olds who stay up late to read books, or 30-year-old men who eat spaghetti. A persona is different than a demographic, as it’s more specific. It’s the details that make people who they are, and thereby explains the why behind their search.

Beware of the specific demographics you’re trying to reach because, depending on your keywords, you could miss your target audience. For example, your target demographic might be women combating hair loss. If “hair loss” is your keyword, you might find that the demographic searching “hair loss” is primarily men, so you’d then have to adjust your strategy.

Why Search Queries Matter

Queries are another topic to consider. This is different than a keyword search: It’s “Mexican food” versus “where to find good Mexican food.” Queries tie back to intent. They carry a specific purpose – much more so than keywords do.

Queries are often used by people who know exactly what they want, and there are different kinds of queries with different intentions. Queries are generally categorized as:

  • Informational,
  • Transactional, and
  • Navigational

In other words, users are searching for one of the following: to find information, to make a purchase, or to find a specific website.

Understanding these different types of queries will assist you in navigating user intent and help lead you to a greater understanding of the demographics that are being led to your site.

Decide What Your Goals Are

Before you can understand demographics, personas and intent, you need to have a goal in mind. Increasing site traffic is probably one ambition, but what else?

What about sales? Gaining user awareness of your business? Multiplying ad clicks? These are all important goals to think about when establishing what you want to achieve through keyword research.

Your goals will inevitably assist you in deciding your course of action for keywords. Start putting your keywords in categories, and use them effectively. Perhaps your goal is sales and you want to use “money phrases.” Or maybe your goal is awareness, so you want to use specific phrases that your demographic is likely to use.

Money phrases matter, too. These are all about one thing: the sales funnel. An example of this is “shoe clearance.” Words that dictate selling (like “buy” and “sale”) are commonly used in money phrases.

Understanding the ‘Fully Meets’ Rating and SERPs

Your Website Meet Potential Customers Needs - Eminent SEOSearch engines judge and rate websites by how well they meet their user’s needs. This goes back to the importance of intent. Because websites are rated this way, it means keywords must be used correctly and with user intent in mind to gain more traffic from the right demographics. Aim for a “Fully Meets” rating, which is when a site fulfills all of the user’s needs. This means that the user doesn’t need to see any other site.

Search engine results pages (SERPs) are important. Review them on a regular basis to understand how your keywords are functioning: Who is searching those keywords and why. SERPs will be paramount in your keyword research. By reviewing SERPs regularly for keywords you’re considering, you’ll begin to recognize trends and more closely deliver what users are searching for.

Talk to Your Team About Intent and Keywords

You don’t have to always turn to the web to gain an understanding of user intent and how it affects keywords. Your teammates, particularly in sales, probably have valuable information about your users and what their intentions are. Use this information to form an understanding of user needs and to create appropriate keywords. Ask your team about the questions they’re frequently asked.

Creating a help center on your site can be useful as well. Such a location will give you valuable data about what questions people are asking: Essentially, what is user intent? Use this crucial information to guide your keywords.

Keyword Research Is Not a One-Time Occurrence

How Are Search Users Finding Your Website - Eminent SEOUnderstand that to be effective, keyword research isn’t something that you do once and never return to. It’s an ongoing field of research that’s always changing. You’ll need to consistently review your keywords and queries to see how they are stacking up in search engine results. Look for relevance to user intent and if your keywords are still hitting the mark.

Deciphering keyword research could be as simple as, well, Googling it. Use Google to gain an understanding of user intent. The search engine is excellent at understanding the intent behind words and phrases. The results produced by typing in specific keywords or queries can give you an idea of user intent. And since Google’s algorithms are what guide all other search engines, what the company is doing matters – a lot.

Based on your search results, think about whether your own keywords are describing your product(s) and service(s) correctly. Are they relevant? Do they present an honest representation of your business and what you have to offer?

Those are questions you should be asking yourself when conducting keyword research. Then consider who’s searching for your services exactly the way you’re describing them through keywords. This is paramount. Answering this will enlighten you about user intent.

The Takeaway on Keyword Research in 2016

Keyword research is only one factor among many when conducting research on SEO. You want to not only understand user intent to increase traffic to your site, but to also increase traffic among the right demographic. Otherwise, users are visiting your site without utilizing your products or services – and you’re accomplishing little.

By taking advantage of relevant tools, such as your team members, SERPs and even Google itself, you’re setting yourself up to gain a strong understanding of how users find your site and what steps they take next.

If the keyword-research process sounds too daunting or complex for what you can take on right now, expert help is always available. Click to find out about Eminent SEO’s Keyword Research Services or call 800.871.4130 today.

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Vol. 57: Eminent Team Photoshoot; Google Offers Final Word on 301 Redirects

Eminent SEO Photoshoot Group Shot Mesa AZ

Eminent SEO News: Team Photoshoot

The Eminent team recently did a professional photoshoot outside our Mesa, Arizona office so we could have some upgraded group and individual pictures to work with. And we’re happy to say the photos are in and ready to use! See one of the fruits of that photoshoot above.

We’re planning on refreshing our website over the next couple of months, so look out for more of these new images when the site relaunches.

More Eminent SEO News: July Birthdays and Work Anniversaries

Jason SanMarco New Headshot - Eminent SEOOur lone July birthday and work anniversary belonged to one individual: Jason SanMarco, our Senior User Experience Designer. Jason had his second work anniversary with Eminent on July 14, and then his birthday on the 23rd. Talk about a big month!

Happy birthday again, Jason, and thanks for all you do for the Eminent team!

What’s New in SEO: Google Says 301 and 302 Redirects No Longer Hurt Your Search Rankings

SEO experts and web developers know all about 301 redirects. It’s when a user clicks on or types in a URL and gets forwarded to another address, usually belonging to the same website.

SEO knowledge has long dictated that you shouldn’t want users to pass through a redirect before landing on any page on your site. It is occasionally necessary to create a 301 (or an entire table), due to a page or pages you want to get rid of or consolidate. In that case, you redirect the old URL to the new address or the most similar page of content on your site. Even so, if any other websites were linking to a page you’ve now deleted, you might have been inclined to make those individuals aware of the new, most-relevant URL, so that their users don’t pass through a redirect when clicking over to your site.

If many users were passing through a redirect to reach a certain page, then that page would be missing out on search-ranking “points,” so to speak, meaning it wouldn’t rank as high in Google Search as it should.

However, multiple Google authorities recently had the final word on 301, 302 (temporary) and other 300 redirects. In a tweet last month, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes confirmed that all 300-level redirects do not lose “PageRank” value any longer. This means that your website is no longer docked a few points if users are reaching it through redirects.
Simpsons Homer Woo Hoo 301 Redirects - ESEO
Search Engine Land notes that Google’s Matt Cutts said the same thing specifically about 301 redirects back in 2013, but that SEO experts weren’t sure if the same applied to all other 300-level redirects, until now. And, apparently, this has been the case for “a while,” according to Google’s John Mueller, as reported by Search Engine Land.

Now, that’s not to say you should start going in a redirecting all over the place, but this is very good news for those of us who manage websites. Search Engine Land reports that some SEO experts simply do not believe Google on this matter, but at the very least, we have several authorities within the company on the record saying that 300-level redirects no longer hurt your search engine rankings.

July Social Media Roundup

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been experimenting with an all-new image strategy for our clients, consisting of bright, beautiful and shareable photos. As for our own social channels, see the highlights of what we shared in July below.

Good Vibes Van On Beach - Eminent SEO
Google Processes 40000 Search Queries Every Second - Eminent SEO

July Blog Roundup

Did you miss any of the July posts on the Eminent SEO Blog? Looking for some website, social media and branding tips? Sure you are! Get caught up on our recent blog posts by reading the recaps below and clicking on the article(s) of your choice. Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog if you haven’t already!

Weighing in on Thin Content: Does Your Website Need to Fatten Up?

Have you heard of thin website content? It comes in various forms, and it hurts your search engine rankings. It could even get you penalized. Learn about several types of thin content here, and then how you can help your website “fatten up.”

10 Ways Social Media Can Help You Stand Out in the Job Search Process

What if somebody told you that they found their job through social media? Sound crazy? Well, it’s not all that far-fetched. Get 10 ideas here on how you can leverage social media to stand out from your competition while job hunting.

Fundamentals of Logo Design: 6 Questions to Ask When Designing a Company Logo

Time to design a brand new logo for your business? Or are you looking to see if your current logo measures up to your competition and reflects your mission statement? Then you need to ask yourself these six questions before, during and after the logo-design process.

Featured Service: Domain Registration

Ready to purchase the domain on which your company’s website will be built? Sometimes, it’s not so simple, though. What if the domain you have in mind is already claimed? After all, there are roughly 300 million domains registered worldwide.

Did you already register your company’s name with the state, too? Then you’re going to be in for quite a bumpy ride.

This is where Eminent SEO can come in. If your ideal domain is already taken, we’ll do some extensive research on other possible choices, and then we’ll decide on an address that makes sense with your brand and still lets customers find you easily.

Better yet, if you’re in the process of forming a company but you’ve haven’t locked in the business name yet, this is the perfect time to come to us too. We can help with developing your brand name. Market research and URL availability will be part of the mix before we give you our final recommendation.

Get premium brand and domain consulting when you go with Eminent SEO. To get started, visit our Domain Registration page or call 800.871.4130 today!

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Google’s Message Is Clear: Review and Clean Up Your Website’s Outbound Links

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Sweep Bad Outbound Links Under Rug - Eminent SEO

Earlier this month, several reports stated that Google started issuing a specific warning to various webmasters. The message hit at one miscue: “unnatural” outbound links.

Google reportedly first started sending this message out on Saturday, April 9, via email and Google Search Console. While it probably took some webmasters aback, others likely knew they had it coming.

In either scenario, the webmaster is going to have to make some clear changes before submitting a “reconsideration request” to Google in order to get his or her rankings back.

Let’s look further at the heart of the issue plus what the best practices are when it comes to outbound linking.

What the Outbound Link Warning Said

Google warned certain webmasters that it detected a “pattern” of outbound links that is “either unnatural or irrelevant,” violating the search engine’s Webmaster Guidelines. Therefore, the search engine applied a “manual spam action” to the website in question.

Google added that the unnatural links it detected appear to be trying to “artificially boost” other sites’ search engine rankings. Basically, to Google, it looked like the sites that were flagged were trying to pass so-called link juice to other websites, among other suspicious practices.

How Webmasters Were Directed to Fix It

Google’s stern warning about outbound links was essentially a penalty upon the sites that were flagged. Receiving a penalty either hurts a website’s search rankings or kills them altogether. The penalty won’t be lifted until Google does a manual review of the site.

For the websites that received this latest warning, the webmasters behind them were directed to either manually remove the links in question or add “nofollow” tags to each one. The piece of code for asking search engine crawlers to not follow a link, if you’re wondering, is rel=”nofollow”. Once the webmaster has sufficiently addressed the outbound linking issue, Google advised sending a reconsideration request.

What Is an Outbound Link?

Just to be clear about what an outbound link is, it’s any clickable link that takes the user to an external website, which is why it’s also called an external link.

In today’s SEO climate, it’s recommended to be very judicious about how frequently you include an outbound link on your website. Any link (internal or external) that you don’t add “nofollow” to will be taken into account by search engine crawlers, making it a “dofollow” link, effectively.

If you’re linking to a low-quality website, a dofollow link could actually hurt your SEO value. Also, too many links (whether internal or external) could lower the search rankings potential of that particular webpage. Therefore, it’s best to use nofollow tags every so often when you’ve got a webpage with an abundance of links and/or if you’re linking to sites with low domain authority.

When Google issues a manual spam action on a website, it can apply to either a site-wide match or a partial match. A site-wide match means Google detected an issue on every page of a website, likely in a sidebar, the header or the footer. A partial match means the issue applied to just a single webpage or a certain set of pages on the site in question.

How Certain Websites Ran into This Issue

For quite some time, a common website practice was to link to several other websites either through text or images placed on a sidebar or in the footer of a page. Granted, this was never an SEO best practice, but some webmasters did this either as a partnership with other websites or because they simply liked those sites and wanted to give a subtle shout-out to them.

These type of links could often be paid for as kind of a one-way means of drawing some SEO power from an authoritative website. In other cases, the two sites linked to each other in a type of affiliate marketing scheme.

Today, this practice is going by the wayside, and Google may have just delivered it its final blow with the recent penalization of sites with unnatural outbound links. For a good example, let’s look at the website behind the screenshot that seemingly every media site is featuring when reporting on Google’s outbound link warning: SammiTheBeautyBuff.com.

Sammi The Beauty Buff Homepage - ESEO

While nothing looks amiss when you first land on the homepage, if you scroll just a little ways down, you’ll see a right sidebar that features several logos that link to other websites – all under a section called “Memberships.” Inside each review, there are also several product links (or that may have been for undisclosed free samples – but more on that point later). At first glance, this area may be what earned the website a penalty from Google.

Sammi The Beauty Buff Membership Links - ESEO

The webmaster of this beauty products blog must have gotten the message, because if you dig into the source code of the homepage, these are all nofollow links. If they weren’t before, they are now.

Say Goodbye to Blogrolls

If you used WordPress to create a personal blog in the past, you were practically encouraged to add a blogroll to your site. Also known as a links menu, a blogroll is a way to list other blogs and sites you find valuable or that are relevant to your specific blog. The blogroll can be easily added using a widget in WordPress, and it will show up in the footer or sidebar of your blog or website, depending on the theme you use.

Here’s an example of a blogroll in somebody’s sidebar, without calling out the site that is using it:

Wordpress Blogroll Example - ESEO

WordPress itself still has a support page that talks all about the blogroll, but given the direction of Google’s search algorithm, it’s likely this feature is going to be de-emphasized or abandoned in the near future.

WordPress is far from the only content management system or website builder that features a blogroll option. But, no matter which content management system you use, a blogroll or links menu is a feature you’re going to want to ignore going forward – if you care at all about search rankings.

A More Recent Development: Penalties for Exchanging Links for Free Products

After Google started issuing outbound link warnings, the tech giant eventually clarified why it was handing out penalties. According to Search Engine Land, the penalty appeared to be targeting free product reviews. This is because companies that provide product reviewers free merchandise are often looking for a dofollow link from the reviewer’s website to theirs.

So, Google has effectively put the kibosh on this practice. Can product reviewers still receive free stuff and write about it on their blog or website? Certainly. Google just asks that they disclose when they receive free items and then nofollow any links to the company that provided the product. This explains why the aforementioned Sammi “The Beauty Buff” was called out by Google earlier this month.

If, in fact, only free product reviews were the target of Google’s recent penalties, then most of these penalties would likely be classified as partial matches. An individual product review is generally going to take up only one webpage, rather than resulting in a site-wide external link just for the free item(s) provided.

Did Google’s Recent Warning Apply to Inbound Links?

Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land reported that he only saw a “few inbound link notification penalties” on the weekend when Google started warning certain webmasters of unnatural outbound links.

So, for the most part, websites weren’t getting penalized for having another site link to them, no matter how spammy or irrelevant the backlink appears to be. Instead, the sites hosting such a suspicious link are the ones that primarily landed on Google’s radar.

What to Do About Your Outbound Links

Even if you’re not a product reviewer, now is as good a time as any to review your website’s outbound links, since Google will certainly continue to target suspicious linking practices.

If your website has a static, site-wide sidebar, are there any external links featured? You can ask the same about the footer. It’s time to nofollow those links or contemplate if they even need to be there in the first place.

Other than those areas, you can also go through some of the individual pages of the site and the blog to see if there’s any area where someone happened to link to a plethora of external sites. You need to go in and nofollow most of those links, if they aren’t already, and consider if each and every link is even helpful for the user in the first place. If not, remove as necessary.

If your website has a partnership with another in the form of a dofollow site-wide link to theirs, tell them that current SEO best practices call for you to get rid of the link. Or, perhaps, you can compromise with them and turn it into a nofollow link – and maybe decrease the number of pages it shows up on.

Are ‘Nofollow’ Links Still Helpful?

Perhaps your site has scored a link on an authoritative website, but their webmaster wants to remove it in light of recent SEO events. See if they can just nofollow the link to your site instead.

Yes, the link juice goes away when someone adds a nofollow tag, but that doesn’t mean the link can’t still have value in a different way. If the hosting site draws tons and tons of visitors, some of them are eventually going to see and click the link to your domain, resulting in increased traffic for you. The number of clicks on your link per visitor is probably going to be pretty small, but it’s still better to give them that option than to not have it there at all, right?

But What if I’m Linking Back and Forth Between Several Interconnected Sites?

If you have a main website and a few microsites, or just several “sister” sites, it doesn’t hurt to feature links to all related sites in the footer of each one of the properties. Google is pretty savvy at understanding when sites are related. You don’t even have to nofollow the links in this case.

However, if we’re talking about dozens of websites, no matter how well they go together, you should avoid interlinking them, even with nofollow tags. In a 2014 Search Engine Watch article, Google engineer and video personality Matt Cutts was quoted as recommending only up to five links in the footer to other related websites. He added that if you operate 50 to 100 related websites and are thinking about interlinking them all, don’t do it – or, at best, only link to the four or five most relevant sister sites.

Internal and External Linking Strategies with Eminent SEO

Need help with evaluating which links to remove from your site and then actually getting it done? Eminent SEO can clean up not only your outbound linking strategy, but we can optimize your site’s internal linking strategy as well. We also can remove and disavow spammy or low-quality links that lead to your site, as well as help you recover from any search engine penalties you may have suffered.

We have been helping clients with their internal and outbound linking strategies for more than 11 years, and we’ve been updating our processes with every step of Google’s evolution. To learn more about optimizing your website with proper linking practices, contact Eminent SEO today at 800.871.4130.

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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What Is Responsive Design and Why Your Website Should Have It in 2016

What Is Responsive Design - Eminent SEO

What Is Responsive Design?

C’mon, it’s 2016. Time to get with it already. If I land on your website from my smartphone and I have to “pinch to zoom” to read some of your text or see images in their entirety, I’m bouncing off the page.

Also, if the only suitable mobile representation of your company is an app or mobile-only website (such as m.website.com), I’m probably not going to be too happy either.

Robert Downey Eye Roll - Eminent SEO

This is because your website needs responsive design, an ability to deliberately adapt to screens large and small. Websites across the internet have been making the upgrade over the last few years, and just last year Google puts its final say on the matter by de-emphasizing sites that aren’t responsive.

Wait, doesn’t everybody have a responsive design? You’d be surprised. Take Reddit, for example. Other websites utilize responsive design but aren’t all too happy about it.

If your website is a little older and not optimized for mobile devices, 2016 is the year you should make the upgrade to responsive design. No more excuses. You owe it to your company and your website visitors to make your site responsive. While you’re at it, you might as well revamp the appearance of the site and its navigation, while also reviewing your current content and then cleaning it up and making it better.

Let’s dig a little deeper into what responsive design is and how you can go about implementing it in the near future.

‘Mobile-Friendly’ vs. ‘Responsive Design’?

The terms “responsive design” and “mobile-friendly” are close to being synonyms, and they’re often used interchangeably on blogs, web forums, social media, etc. Responsive design means the website can shrink or expand to fit all devices, whether a smartphone, tablet, monitor or even a TV screen.

A responsive website is mobile-friendly, but not all mobile-friendly sites are responsive. Some mobile-friendly sites simply shrink to fit your smartphone, appearing just as their desktop equivalents, only smaller. This isn’t true responsive design.

Responsive design also means that elements of the website will condense or disappear from the page as the device gets smaller and smaller, yet the layout and organization still makes sense to the user. The horizontal navigation on responsive websites usually gets condensed into a drop-down “hamburger”-style menu (although some designers are now advocating against the icon), as you can see with the green button below..

Mobile Eminent SEO Screenshot

Responsive design isn’t just about making a website look pretty no matter the device. It’s about fostering a great user experience no matter the device.

Many companies used to get around upgrading to a mobile-friendly website by building a separate phone app that looked and functioned very similarly to the desktop version of the site. Others created sub-domain sites with an “m” right before the website’s name, and these such sites featured either standalone mobile pages or stripped-down versions of the desktop equivalents.

Mobile IMDb Screenshot - Eminent SEO

You don’t have to go either route anymore. Some businesses still have legitimate reasons for creating a separate mobile app, but we don’t recommend doing this in lieu of making the main website mobile-friendly.

Google Rankings and Users’ Habits: The Importance of Responsive Design

SEO analysts disagree on the exact month when mobile search first began to overshadow that of desktop, but it looks like it happened somewhere between mid-2014 and early 2015. Smartphones are nearly ubiquitous now, and users are becoming more and more comfortable with turning to their phones first, rather than their desktop or laptop computers, to search the web, use apps, go on social media, etc. Mobile usage, including mobile search, is only going to continue to get more dominant in 2016.

Another game-changer that happened around the same time as mobile search’s rise to the crown was a Google algorithm update that began to accommodate mobile-friendly sites. This means that sites that weren’t responsive saw a dip in their search engine rankings. When you’re searching Google from a smartphone, you’ll even see the term “Mobile-friendly” show up before the meta descriptions of the applicable pages.

I searched for “Flower Store Phoenix” on my smartphone, and here are my results:

Flower Store Phoenix Mobile Search

There actually are some slight variations between the results after searching for the same term on a mobile phone and a desktop computer. Here is my search for the same term, but this time from a desktop:

Flower Store Phoenix Google Search

What’s interesting to note is that tablets don’t count as mobile searches, according to Google. The mobile-friendly algorithm update of 2015 only impacted searches via smartphones, not on tablets, laptops or desktops. Even if having a non-mobile-friendly site doesn’t negatively impact your rankings in mobile search, you’re missing out on scores of additional visitors because smartphone use is so prevalent now.

If users can’t find your site in mobile search and smartphones are the No. 1 device for search now, how can you expect your website’s visitation to grow?

Responsive Websites are a Part of Branding, After All

Making a website mobile-friendly is actually a component of a strong brand strategy. How? If somebody happens to have visited your site from a desktop before, they might land on your site on mobile search one day and say, “Hey, I’ve been here before.” But, if you’ve built a mobile site that looks and operates much differently than your primary site, then you have a disconnect in your branding.

Also, those who have visited your website via desktop and are familiar with the breadth of your content and navigation should have no trouble accessing your site with their smartphone and finding their way around, even if the navigation gets condensed into a hamburger menu. Making your site adjust easily to all screen sizes is a good strategy for keeping your longtime visitors around, as well as inviting and retaining new ones.

How to Test for Responsive Design

Not sure if your website already has responsive design? Not to worry. There are several free online tools you can use to give you the answer.

First, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your homepage or any sub-page of your website is responsive. Just type in any URL from your site, and Google will analyze it and provide you with the answer.

Second, you can go to ResponsiveTest.net and play around with different dimensions of your website. Just type in your URL at the top of the page. If elements of the site rearrange themselves, grow, shrink, etc., then you’ll know you have responsive design.

Eminent SEO Responsive Test Screen Size

A way to test your site without visiting another website is to take your browser out of full screen. Hover your cursor over the bottom-right of your browser and then shrink the window slowly. Shrink and enlarge it as much as you want, and see if elements of your website rearrange, compress, disappear and reappear. If so, great! Your work is done (unless you notice that the website could look a little better at certain sizes).

Difference Between Responsive and Adaptive Web Design

You may have heard the term “adaptive web design” as well. This has to do with coding the website for pre-defined dimensions and deciding what to fit on the screen and what to leave out. For example, the developer would have to code the website differently for smartphone, tablet and desktop/laptop monitor sizes.

In short, adaptive design takes more work than responsive, and you end up spending more money because your developer will need more time to complete all of that work. It also could put you in a bind as new devices with unique screen sizes hit the market in the future.

Some say a responsive website takes a little longer to load than a site with adaptive design, but pretty much everybody is focusing on responsive design right now. In fact, some developers would argue that adaptive design is a component of the responsive process, since you still want to test the look of your website at some of the more common screen sizes, even though responsive allows the site to adjust to any device.

The aforementioned ResponsiveTest.net gives you options for viewing your website at the screen sizes of dozens of the most popular devices on the market. Just look to the upper-right corner of the page for these icons:

ResponsiveTest Screen Size Icons

How to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Now that you’re likely convinced to implement responsive design on your old, static website, let’s look at some ways you can make the upgrade.

If your website is coded by hand, this Google Webmaster Central Help Forum thread will give you a good start on how you (or your programmer) can make the site mobile-friendly. A high level of technical expertise is required if you want to go this route.

A more recommended direction is to migrate your site to a content management system (CMS), if you don’t utilize one already. WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are some of the most popular CMS’s on the market. If you do decide on this option, we’d highly recommend reworking and redesigning your website in general, since it’s likely outdated.

Redesigning Your Website While Making It Mobile-Friendly

Redesigning your site entails looking over your navigation and all of your content to see what needs to be included on the new site and what can be dropped for the best user experience. For example, if you have service pages that only have a couple of paragraphs of copy and nothing else, you’re probably either going to want to add much more content or just work that copy into a larger service overview page.

It’s going to take a few, long hours with your programmer and/or web developer, and even your content team, to decide on the final look and navigation of your new, responsive website, all controlled by the CMS of your choice. Brace yourself.

We Can Help

If upgrading your website with responsive design sounds daunting and you’re not sure if you have the team or resources to make it happen, outside help is always available. Eminent SEO can help you strategically build and design a new, responsive website, and we’ll set you up with an easy-to-use CMS if you don’t already use one. To learn more, see our wide range of Website Creation services.

If you’re ready to get started now on making your current website mobile-friendly, contact Eminent SEO at 800.871.4130.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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Looking Ahead to Google Penguin 4.0: How to Remain Penalty-Free in 2016

Google Penguin 4.0 - Eminent SEO

A major Google algorithm update was supposed to launch in late-2015, but we’re still waiting.

Over the second weekend of January, SEO experts noticed some drastic changes in traffic volumes across many websites. Some thought it might be the much-anticipated Google Penguin 4.0 algorithm update, but we now know it wasn’t. Google officials initially indicated this particular algorithm update would roll out before the end of 2015, so it looks like the search engine is still giving webmasters and marketers a grace period before prompting them to adjust their SEO strategy.

Looking over his weekend numbers, Cyrus Shepard of Moz.com tweeted that there was significant movement in Google’s algorithm:

SEO expert Christoph C. Cemper of LinkResearchTools.com was initially convinced that it was Penguin 4.0, adding that the weekend update was almost as wide-ranging as the “massive” Penguin 2.1 update of late-2013.

What Google Penguin 4.0 Algorithm Should Look Like

Anytime Google updates its algorithm, it impacts the organic search engine rankings of millions of websites. Here are the speculated attributes of the impending Google Penguin 4.0:

  • It’s anticipated to be larger than Penguin 3.0, meaning it will effect more websites, and traffic to those sites could rise or fall dramatically at the onset.
  • It’s supposed to roll out in real time, according to Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes of Google. The other prominent algorithm update, Panda, is known for rolling out very slowly upon each update.
  • It will likely focus heavily on low-quality backlinks to a website.
  • Like every Penguin update before it, Penguin 4.0 should bring “drastic changes,” according to Cemper.
  • It will effect websites originating from several different nations, such as the U.S., U.K. and Germany.

Cemper noted that Google’s search engine results pages had been fairly active in switching up the order of websites since the start of the new year, but that the phenomenon reached a high point over the weekend. He added that the update may have continued well beyond the weekend, or that what was happening was just a pre-test for something larger.

How to Avoid Penalties When Penguin 4.0 Hits

Receiving a penalty from Google will either bury your website in the search engine results or take it off the map entirely. Getting the penalty removed is possible, but painstaking, so it’s easier to just abide by best SEO practices in the first place.

With Google Penguin 4.0 on the horizon, it’s time to review all links related to your website: external, internal and, especially, backlinks. Failure to do so could not only keep your website suppressed in the search engine rankings, but could result in a penalty from Google, in some cases.

Here’s what you need to look out for:

Exact-Match Anchor Text

If you’re trying to rank for a certain keyword, it looks spammy to Google if other websites link to your site using that exact keyword phrase. If you’ve happened to secure a link from an authoritative site, make sure it doesn’t link to yours using your targeted keyword. Anchor text (also known as link text) that leads to your website needs to look organic and diverse.

Who cares what phrase others use to link to your site, as long as 1) the link is active, 2) the anchor text doesn’t denigrate your company, and 3) it’s coming from a high-quality website?

If there’s one way you shouldn’t mind being referred to in anchor text, it’s your brand name. If other websites are linking to yours using one of your keywords, reach out to them, thank them for the link (if you haven’t already) and then ask if they can mix up their anchor text.

Low-Quality or Spammy Backlinks

Backlinks usually give you a vote of confidence and help with search rankings, but getting linked to from a low-quality or spammy website can often have an adverse effect.

Now’s the time to do a backlink audit and make sure all sites linking to yours are helping you, not hurting. This entails contacting some website owners and asking them to manually remove their link to your site.

Many times, it will be hard to reach anyone associated with such spammy or low-quality sites. If this is the case, you may have to contact Google to disavow the links – in other words, saying you want nothing to do with them and can’t get them removed. Here’s how to start the process of disavowing links.

Poor Internal Linking

Getting ready for Penguin 4.0 means you should review your internal links as well. The internal linking practices of many websites leave much to be desired.

Links from one page of your website to another shouldn’t be too frequent, and they shouldn’t use exact-match keywords. For example, if you have one internal link per paragraph of a blog post or service page, you’re overdoing it.

Only link to another page on your site when it makes total sense to do so, such as when the copy heavily alludes to or leads right into a different section of the website. Remember, search engines’ web crawlers follow all hyperlinks you feature on a page, so if you have too many links, Google will be confused about the content on the page and thus where to rank it.

Unusual Increases in Backlinks

While everybody aims to increase the number of backlinks to their own website, seeing the sheer number of referring pages suddenly and inexplicably spike can be a cause for concern.

In preparing for Penguin 4.0, you should monitor the 1) total referring domains and the 2) total referring pages to your site over the last several months. A dramatic rise over a short time period in either category will look iffy in Google’s eyes, especially when it comes to total pages.

Perhaps some website has added a link to yours on every page of their domain, known as a site-wide link. This looks like a spammy tactic to Google, so you should go about the link removal or disavowal process if it happens to your website.

Tools to Help You with Your Own Backlinks

If you don’t want to spend weeks looking over all of your backlinks and internal links to make sure you’re OK in Penguin’s book, you have a variety of online tools at your fingertips to speed up the process:

  • Screaming Frog: This tool crawls your whole site and analyzes the SEO data as Google would, helping you analyze your internal link data. Free and paid versions are available.
  • Ahrefs: This is perhaps the quickest way to look at your backlink profile and see if your site has experienced any of those previously mentioned spikes. You can use the tool for a 14-day trial before deciding if you want to upgrade to the paid version.
  • Majestic: This company features more than a dozen SEO tools, but its Site Explorer is the one that applies here. This tool is easy to use and will help you analyze the trust flow and citation flow of your backlinks to see if they are considered high-quality. The buy-in here is about $50 a month for the starter package, but you can do a test run first.
  • Check My Links: A Google Chrome extension that quickly scans any page on your site for broken links. This one is free and easy to use.
  • LinkResearchTools: We mentioned LinkResearchTools earlier, but its featured tool will let you see any spikes in your backlinks, as well as help you identify spammy links to your site. You can also see how your competitors are doing. You’re probably only going to want to use this one if you’re a medium- or large-sized business, as even the starter plan exceeds $100 per month, with the premium plan topping $1,700.

Get Backlink Help with Eminent SEO

If you need help with reviewing your backlinks – such as what to look for or simply the time it takes to do it – turn the task over to Eminent SEO. Besides our years of experience, we already have auditing tools at our disposal, so you won’t have to purchase any additionally monthly subscriptions when you enlist us.

Perhaps you’ve received a penalty from Google and don’t even know it. We can audit your backlinks and make sure your site is abiding by best SEO practices. We’ll help you get any spammy backlinks removed or disavowed, if present, and we’ll work on your behalf to make any penalties go away. Click here for more on our Website Audit Services.

Get your website in shape for Penguin 4.0 by calling Eminent SEO at 800.871.4130!

UPDATE:

Google announced later in January that its Panda series of updates has been added to the core search algorithm. This wasn’t what officially caused all of the commotion over the second weekend of the month. Google would only confirm that it did a general core algorithm update. It definitely was not Penguin 4.0, although that update is still slated to happen in the near future.

Panda, if you don’t know, targets and either penalizes or de-ranks low-quality content. This means thin content, heavy duplicate content, spam and ad-heavy pages will get identified and moved down or out of the search engine rankings. Panda’s inclusion in the core algorithm means it will now be a part of Google’s core ranking signals when evaluating a website.

Note: This post was originally written under the assumption that the Google Penguin 4.0 update had been launched. Parts of the copy have been changed to reflect what we now know about Google’s algorithm tweaks in January.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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How and Why to Go Beyond Basic Keyword Research When Optimizing Content

Beyond Basic Keyword Research - ESEO

When we talk about keyword research, it starts with opening up Google Adwords Keyword Planner or a similar online tool. From there, we’ll type in a prospective phrase and perhaps pick a geo-location before seeing a page of results, identifying the most appropriate keyword and then calling it a day.

OK, maybe we don’t really “call it a day” at that point. In fact, our work is often just getting started at this phase in the game. We still have to either create a new page of content or update an existing page by implementing the keyword and supporting terms.

If you think the new or updated page will automatically show up on the first page of the search engine results within a couple of months, think again. Going beyond basic keyword research is just the first step in propelling a landing page or other piece of content to page one of the results. Keep reading to find out what you need to do.

To Basic Keyword Research and Beyond!

Part of the battle in optimizing online content is being able to distinguish user intent. There’s a huge difference between search terms that are meant to learn more about an item or concept and search terms that are meant to research products or find an item to purchase.

3 Types of User Intent in Search

SEO experts generally recognize three types of user intent when it comes to search queries:

  1. Navigational
  2. Informational
  3. Transactional

Navigational searches happen when the user already has the name of a website in mind and is just trying to find the official domain. In most cases, there is only one right answer when the user is conducting this type of search.

Informational searches try to answer the user’s question or help him or her learn more about a specific topic. Relevant information can often come from several different web pages, and the user in this situation generally is agnostic to which source provides the answer.

Transactional searches mean a purchase is about to take place – or, at the very least, the user is researching a product or service that will lead to money changing hands at a later date. Like informational searches, transactional searches are often conducted without a specific website in mind. The best product and/or the best price often win out during these types of searches.

Understanding the Different User Intent Types

In Keyword Planner, you’ll often get a mix of informational and transactional search terms in your results list. The key is not optimizing for an informational keyword if you’re hoping to get search users to buy from you. The inverse is also true: You don’t want to have an informational content piece optimized for a transactional keyword, because then your content is misleading search users.

Therefore, you need to go line by line in your Keyword Planner results and be able to distinguish which keywords are informational and which ones are transactional. Make sure the type of keyword you choose lines up with the intent of the page you’re optimizing.

Do you want search users to buy a product or service from you? Go with a transactional keyword.

Do you want to lead users to and keep them on your website by providing high-quality, relevant information? Then make sure you optimize for an informational keyword.

Checking out the Competition

Many SEOs forget to check out the existing results for a desired keyword before they embark on optimizing a piece of content. They’re missing out on critical guidance in helping their content reach the first page of the results.

All you’ve got to do is take your targeted keyword and type it into Google. From there, you’ve got to click through to the results on the first and even second page. Review these individual pages for their length and presentation, including how they address the given search query.

At this point, your goal is to concoct content that you feel is much, much better than your competition, whether you’re creating something from scratch or giving an existing page a facelift. Can you go more in depth on the subject? Can you provide additional relevant information that your competitors are leaving out? Can you make the piece more visually appealing than what you’re seeing in the search results under that keyword?

If the content you’re optimizing is more informational in nature, keep in mind that long-form content does well on Google – not to mention on social media and in other arenas, too. If you’re trying to sell a specific product, especially if it’s one that other ecommerce sites carry, refer to these 10 tips for maximizing organic traffic to the desired page.

Don’t Forget to Focus on Backlinks

As you are going beyond basic keyword research and assessing your competition for a certain search phrase, you should also take a look at what kind of backlinks each of the competing pieces of content has. This is easy to do through the Moz toolbar or Majestic. These tools will show you how many other sites are linking to a page you’re currently visiting.

You can also visit the pages that link to your competitors and see the context of why they linked out in the first place. You might find that some of the results Google gave you for a search term might have been created years ago.

After Your Optimized Piece is Complete

Once your content page is finished, you may want to reach out to the sites linking to your competitor and tell them you have something that is more current and informative than the older results you found. All it takes is a cordial email or phone call. If you’re able to get a response, you may see some of those sites switch their link from your competitors to you, or they might just figure out a way to link to your site from the very same page.

As you’re checking out the links to competing content pieces, you may notice a few pages are lacking in high-quality backlinks, even though it is one of Google’s foremost ranking factors. Perhaps these competing content pages have links from low-quality sites, comment spam, etc. If this is the case, then it’s really time for you to start working on acquiring your own high-quality backlinks to your finished piece of content. Don’t be afraid to personally reach out to companies or websites that you think would find your content relevant. Use these tips if you’re unfamiliar with the process of organically reaching out for backlinks.

Getting to Page One

Understanding the different types of keywords and sizing up your competition will be crucial to crafting content that deserves to be on page one of the search engine results. Once you see what your competitors have done, you’ll get ideas on how to do it better.

Everyone behind the content that’s featured on page one has likely moved on to other affairs, such as other web pages that are targeting other keywords. Using the advice you just read will help your content ascend to page one of the search rankings while your competitors’ backs are turned, meaning more web traffic for you.

Eminent SEO can help when it comes to creating a new page or optimizing an existing page on your website. We conduct throughout keyword research and deliver high-quality content, as well as follow-up organic link-building efforts. To find out more about our Website Marketing Services, click here or call 1-800-871-4130.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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How to Earn Backlinks with Valuable Website Content

Earn Backlinks with Linkbait

In order for any website to obtain any sort of search engine rankings, high quality backlinks are still necessary. Back in the day before Google updated its algorithm to get rid of spammy, manipulative link building practices, website owners could easily place their site in low quality directories or participate in some sort of link scheme to gain high rankings on Google.

Today’s link building has to be much more strategic, and you have to have content that webmasters want to link to on your site. Otherwise, you’re just wasting their time and yours because they aren’t going to link to just any site. It needs to provide their readers with something valuable. In short, the strategy for gaining highly authoritative, .edu, or .gov backlinks is to create content that’s meaningful and considered “link bait.”

What is Link Bait?

Link bait can be characterized as creating content on your website that encourages web users to share or link to, also known as viral content. Since a lot of websites are competing for the top positions in search engines, many websites are beginning to see the importance of content marketing, even for the sole purpose of increasing rankings.

Examples of what link bait can entail:

  • Blog posts
  • Infographics
  • eBooks
  • Case studies
  • Videos
  • Memes
  • How to’s
  • Stories
  • FAQs
  • Landing pages
  • Apps
  • Interactive websites or features
  • Product giveaways
  • Lists
  • Visuals

How to Create Link Bait That Encourages Users to Link to You

Creating link bait can be simpler than you think. Don’t overthink the situation. What you must understand first is your target audience. Ask yourself these primary questions to help you understand your audience and how you can develop content that will speak to that audience:

  • What is their primary problem?
  • What is the solution to their problem?
  • How can you help nurture them to reach that solution?
  • What educational content can you develop to help them potentially solve their problem?
  • What statistics can you provide to help sell your customer into learning more?
  • What is your final offer?

Create Useful Content

Now that you have those questions answered, you should have a pretty clear understanding of what kind of content can be developed on your website that would speak to your ideal audience. It’s important to keep in mind that only useful content is going to gain any sort of visibility online. You have a lot of competition that has already been creating useful content.

If you’re still stuck on the type of content that’s going to attract the right users and be shareable for their networks, think about creating content that is educational and entertaining, such as ways you can add humor to it. Keep the content highly relevant to your industry, but non-promotional. The last thing users are going to want to share is a page on your website talking about your product or your company.

Valuable Content for Backlinks

Create a Plan of Action for Your Content

Once you’ve developed a list of ideas for content, there needs to be a plan in place to promote this content so that it can start to receive the visibility it deserves. For example, if your link bait piece is an eBook, there are several things that need to be thought out in order for the promotion to be successful. Here is some additional collateral that can go into eBook promotion:

  • Dedicated landing page with quality content and optimization. This will most likely be what your users will link to, so make sure this landing page is fully optimized and speaks to them.
  • Where the content will be promoted throughout the website. If the eBook is relevant to a specific service or product you offer, promote the eBook on those relevant pages with a CTA.
  • Create link bait with other forms of link bait. Think about other content that is going to promote this offer and where to promote it. If you’re a B2B business, think about B2B social networks that would find your eBook most valuable. Create a meme or statistic graphic to give users something enticing to click on and share when sharing the link to your eBook landing page. Consider other educational content that could be turned into a blog post, and, at the end of the blog post, have the eBook be the final CTA. Do you have email contacts stored that can be segmented into lists? Send an email to those contacts and show off your eBook.
  • Promote your content in the right places. If you’re strictly targeting other business owners, think about where those business owners would spend their time online. What social networks might they be part of? What big brands might they be following? Make sure you have link bait visible to your audience in the right places online.
  • Develop the right messaging for the eBook. You want people to link to your eBook, but you have to create the right message for users to want to link to you. What do you want people to take away from this eBook? This is where those statistics can be a big help with enticing users to share and learn more. Also, this is the perfect time to add a little humor to your message, because humor can really catch someone’s attention.
  • Outreach to the right websites. Develop a list of websites that are relevant, have high authority in Google, and have trusted backlinks. Don’t be generic with your outreach approach, because everyone else is doing the same thing as you: trying to get a link. Don’t be naive and think these websites are just going to link to you when you approach them with a generic email. Be creative with the approach and have some key talking points ready about their website and EXACTLY where you see a fit for your eBook to be promoted. Whether you think a guest post would suffice or if there’s already a blog post on their site relevant to your eBook messaging, have an idea of how you’d like to promote your content on THEIR website. Being thoughtful goes a long way.

Include a Call to Action as a Final Message in the Content

Since the content shouldn’t be about your product or service, you can lead to a final CTA in your content. Every piece of content on your website should have an end goal, which is your final CTA. Make that CTA clear and concise so users are not only sharing your awesome content, but know how to reach an industry expert if they need more help. This works together with your sales funnel, nurturing website users to become qualified leads. Boom.

Boom Backlinks

Creative Link Bait Campaign Examples

There are so many ways to create link bait on your website, and existing brands have already established pieces of content that have gone viral. Some examples of existing link bait from other brands include:

Moz’s Search Engine Ranking Factors

This content piece went viral because of the visual content developed by Moz’s team to showcase different Google algorithm ranking factors. This spiked the interest of many other SEO companies who have used this content in their own blog posts and articles as a valuable source for understanding Google’s ranking factors.

Moz Search Ranking Factors Backlink Analysis

By developing this valuable piece of content, Moz has boosted the Page Authority, increased social indicators, and increased the total inbound links. You can say this content was pretty successful.

RSS Tutorial

Every blog needs to have a RSS feed. The following How To tutorial walks you through how to set up a RSS feed and why these steps are so important for websites.

Rss Tutorial Link Bait Backlinks

The success of this content lead to 2,403 backlinks, increased social indicators, and a domain authority of 74/100.

Psychology of Color Infographic

Understanding color psychology is important for any website designer or digital marketer to understand in order for websites to convert at a higher rate. showcases different colors and how they can effect moods, emotions, and more in a nutshell.

This specific infographic did better socially by creating more than 2,100 likes, more than 2,300 tweets, and more than 780 Google+1s.

100+ Ways to Conserve Water Interactive Landing Page

This page shows more than 100 tips on how to conserve water usage to help educate the world about excess water consumption.

Water Conservation Link Bait Backlinks

By creating an interactive way to educate the audience, the page authority alone is a 76/100 with more than 4,500 natural backlinks. That doesn’t even count the number of social indicators happening here. There are more than 7,900 Facebook likes, 8,240 Twitter tweets, and more than 5,500 Facebook shares.

Takeaways

Creating viral link bait is not an easy process. It definitely takes a lot of creativity, optimization, content marketing, and strategy development in order to attract natural backlinks. Many times, there is a lot of trial and error that goes into developing the right piece of content in the right form that’s going to attract the right audience. Once you’ve established the type of content users are going to share naturally and webmasters are going to link to without any issues, you can develop out your content marketing strategy to include this type of content more on your website, which leads to more backlinks and higher search rankings. The key takeaway is to create valuable content that users are going to share and want to interact with.

Don’t have time to create a content link bait strategy? Our digital marketing experts can help by developing out a viral marketing campaign tailored to your audience.
Learn More About Our Expert Viral Marketing Services Here

Lacey Chic

Account Manager at Eminent SEO - Passionate About Digital Marketing. I love music, pitbulls, traveling, hiking, yoga, and learning.

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Top 10 Ecommerce SEO Tips to Maximize Organic Traffic and Sales

10 Ecommerce SEO Tips

Online stores need to have a strong organic presence in search engines, which are a vital marketing source for producing online sales, only if it is done properly. With these tips, your ecommerce website will start producing qualified organic traffic that will lead to more sales. Not interested in more sales? Don’t bother reading this full article.

Now that I have your attention, let’s start thinking about what ecommerce SEO really is. SEO is an umbrella term for hundreds of tiny details that need to be monitored, or optimized, for your website and marketing strategy. They all work together under the “SEO” umbrella to create a solid foundation for search engine crawlers and users.

So what is ecommerce SEO? Ecommerce websites are their own entity because they are an online store versus a service provider. The end goal is essentially the same for both business types. However, the online store is where your customers actually convert, versus a customer service rep answering the phone engaging with a customer. In both cases, the website is the online storefront. Wouldn’t you want to make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for?

These ecommerce on-page SEO tips will help:

  • Increase visitor behavior metrics
  • Increase organic traffic
  • Increase leads from organic traffic

Excited About Ecommerce SEO

1. Research Keywords and Develop a Plan

This part is easy right? You know what term you want to rank for. Just optimize the entire site with that one term, right? Wrong. Over-optimizing is irrelevant with today’s search engine algorithms. They’re a lot smarter than five years ago.

Run a crawl report of your website and compile all of your top level navigation pages, product category pages, and sub-category pages into a priority list, starting with the top level navigation first. From there, you want to identify a focus keyword that could be potentially optimized for each of these pages. This is where keyword research and strategy development come together.

A tip here is to think of terms that are going to actually convert if that page started ranking for that term. Is it long-tail enough? If not, consider trying out long-tail keywords, since they are going to provide fewer but more-qualified visitors to the page.

2. Optimize Each Page with Focus Keywords

Now that you’ve identified what the focus keywords are for each important landing page of the shopping cart, it’s time to optimize the page with that term. Some important areas of the page you could potentially place the term include: header tags, alt tags, meta title, meta description, website copy, and call to action.

If the page is lacking in content, consider beefing it up. Search engines will not understand what the page is about without a little snippet of content. Adding unique, high quality content to that category page could help tremendously.

3. Optimize the Website Architecture Structure

This is where a lot of ecommerce websites drop the ball. Website architecture tells the story of your website and how it’s supposed to be laid out.

To know if your website needs to be architected, take the crawl report that was organized by priority order. Do the URLs show exactly where in the site that product or category page lives? For example, when looking at a product category URL, it should be structured as follows: example.com/parent-category/sub-category/.

The URLs are your website’s breadcrumbs for search engines. If there is not a clear path laid out for the search engines, they will not see the value of a page, since all of the other pages on your site are weighted as the same value.

Certain shopping carts will have the option to structure the URLs so that when a product is added, it will automatically create the correct URL for the product. Talk to your shopping cart support team for more information about setting up a proper website navigation structure.

Not only are the URLs important to optimize, but also the navigation itself. What makes sense for users? What are your most important product categories that you would like to promote? Having an easy-to-navigate website will reduce confusion and help users easily find the top products that you’re looking to sell.

4. Write Unique Product Descriptions

Shocked Gif for Unique Content

Yes, UNIQUE. I know this can seem like a huge task to some, but it’s worth it. Having duplicate product descriptions from the manufacturer site will just devalue your product pages and even prevent them from obtaining higher rankings. Rewriting the product descriptions in your own words will help crawlers and users understand the item better. If anything, the product page is your sales page for the product. It needs to be well written and optimized for both users and search engines in order to get the sale, period.

5. Optimize Individual Product Pages

Product pages make up the majority of most ecommerce sites. It can take months to optimize each and every product page, but it should be an ongoing effort to optimize each individual page. If product pages don’t have any SEO, how are potential new users going to find your product? Optimize, test, and optimize more.

6. Encourage Customers to Review or Rate Your Products

Enabling the reviews feature on each individual product page will help entice customers to rate the product. Understandably, it can be difficult to rate a product that hasn’t been received by the customer yet. One way to lure your customers to rate the product is to utilize email marketing and send a follow-up email after they’ve received the shipment. Encourage them to rate the product with some sort of counter offer.

Rate Your Product Purchase within the Next 24 Hours and Receive 10% off Your Next Purchase!

Giving your customer a reason to rate your product will help increase product rankings because unique content is being added by others to that specific page. Also, positive rating stars can be great clickbait for your product when it shows up in the search results.

7. Include Product Installation Videos When Applicable

Selling a product that requires installation? More content is needed for these types of products. Videos are a great way to show your customers how to properly install or assemble the product when they receive it at home. Include these videos on your website or even the product page itself.

The more user engagement on your website, the more trusted your site will become in your industry.

8. Optimize the Mobile Shopping Experience

It was predicted a few years ago that mobile search would eventually exceed desktop. That prediction is now a reality. According to Smart Insights, so far in 2015, users are spending more time on their mobile device than their desktop. If your website is optimized for mobile with a responsive design, then your website will most likely provide a positive mobile experience. If it’s not, your organic traffic could suffer if your competition is already ahead in the game.

It’s important to test your website on a mobile device to make sure users can easily navigate from a product to the shopping cart checkout. Having a one-page checkout option would be a perfect way to optimize your website for a better mobile shopping experience. Users can easily become frustrated when they have to go through multiple pages just to purchase the product when they’re on their phone.

9. Internal Search Feature Optimization

There is more than one search engine you should be considering when optimizing your ecommerce site. The internal search functionality on your website is just as important because it allows users to engage with your site easily and find exactly what they’re looking for, which means more sales.

Your internal search must have a customizable algorithm that can handle misspellings and keyword variations and be able to sort through all of your products, among other functions. There are third party search companies that have built this feature already and can customize your website’s search functionality for your specific products.

10. Check for Website Errors Regularly

Ecommerce websites often have thousands of pages. Errors can easily be missed if the site is not properly managed. Run a crawl report monthly or quarterly to know if there are any 301 or 404 errors. You want to manage the 301 redirects since you don’t want internal links passing through a redirect, so your internal links need to be constantly updated to be relevant to the current site architecture. Monitoring the site’s health in Google Search Console and other third party tools is a great way to maintain a healthy website that search engine crawlers will index regularly.

Closing Thoughts

Ecommerce SEO is never going to be “complete.” Optimization can go on and on, especially with a larger product website. When an ecommerce website receives ongoing optimization and maintenance, it begins to shine in the search results.

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Lacey Chic

Account Manager at Eminent SEO - Passionate About Digital Marketing. I love music, pitbulls, traveling, hiking, yoga, and learning.

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How to Perform a Website SEO Audit in Ten Minutes or Less

This entry was posted in Audit and tagged , , on by .

seo auditIf you work for a SEO company or marketing agency, you know how cumbersome it can be when clients or leads ask you questions on the fly. You have to be able to answer their questions, not only in general terms, but by quickly looking at their website.

A quick website SEO audit can also be very beneficial if you’re trying to justify the reasoning behind your SEO strategy. With the right tools, you can easily perform a quick website SEO audit in under ten minutes. It may take you longer just to write up the verbiage, but the entire analysis should only take this amount of time. If not, you’ll get faster as you do it!

Below are some things to look at when performing a quick audit for a lead or client:

Website On-page SEO

We use a tool here called SEO Doctor Stats to get a quick feel of the current SEO quality score of a page. It basis the quality score off of a percentage system by crawling the on-page SEO structure. Look for things like:

  • Is there an H1 tag on the page and does it only display one H1?
  • Are there H2 tags on the page?
  • Are the title tag and meta descriptions the correct character length?
  • Is the page indexable?
  • How many seconds did it take the page to load?
  • Are the URLs SEO friendly?

When there are errors on any of these things, it could affect the SEO quality score of the page. Point out any errors you find with screen shots and explain why each item is important for search engine indexing and crawling. To keep this time sensitive, only focus on the primary landing pages of the site for now such as: home, about, and product/service pages.

Do the “5 Second Blink Test” to See If You Understand Their Offer

Since SEO is becoming more and more about user-experience, you should fully understand their offer when you hit the site in under five seconds. When you hit the home page, does it clearly define what the user should be doing next? Does it clearly define their brand and their unique selling proposition? If these things are not clearly defined when someone hits the website, they are going to lose potential leads right away. With a higher bounce rate, Google will not rank the site as high as others because it means the user isn’t finding what they are looking for.

Organic Traffic Growth

Using SEMRush, you can capture a snapshot of the overall traffic and organic traffic growth of the site. Is there consistent growth in the campaign or is it at a standstill? You can also view the keywords the site is ranking for currently and their search volume. If there are limited keyword rankings, that may be why the site hasn’t had much organic traffic growth.

Competitor Backlink Comparison

Using the focus keyword the client or lead wants to rank for, search Google and find the sites that are ranking high for this term. To keep it quick, pick two competitors to start. Put their root domain into Moz Open Site Explorer and compare the important SEO metrics each site has.

  • How many backlinks does their site have in comparison to their competitors?
  • What is their domain authority in comparison to the competition?
  • How many referring domains does their site have?
  • How many social indicators are there?

It can be really easy to justify the needs of a custom SEO strategy by simply taking a screenshot of what the competitors are doing. If their site doesn’t even come close to the amount of backlinks and the quality of those backlinks – their site won’t rank as high as their competitors.

Closing Thoughts

By doing a quick mini-SEO audit of a website, you can easily justify why your client or lead needs a custom SEO strategy to build their organic traffic. Not only do business owners value this information and education you’re giving them, but they will have a better understanding of all of the technical variables that go into SEO. These mini-audits are definitely worth the time to do because they can help turn your lead into a sale! If you need help with a website SEO audit, don’t hesitate to call us today: 800-871-4130.

Lacey Chic

Account Manager at Eminent SEO - Passionate About Digital Marketing. I love music, pitbulls, traveling, hiking, yoga, and learning.

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How to Become a SEO Winner in 2015

This entry was posted in SEO and tagged , , on by .

SEO winner

As we come to the end of 2014, many of us are putting our heads together and looking deep into our current content marketing and SEO strategies. Looking at the successes and failures throughout the year can help determine if your SEO strategy is outdated and possibly no longer effective since SEO is constantly changing. In this year alone, Google released 13 updates. There is a good chance your strategies need to be revisited if you haven’t looked at things closely in the last 30 days.

First, let’s describe what it is to be an “SEO winner”. In our opinion, an SEO winner is someone who creates an effective strategy that works toward a specific end goal. Whether that goal is to increase sales by 30% or increase the amount of leads; there should always be a specific goal in mind when building any strategy. Someone who meets that end goal or is on track to obtain that goal is considered a winner.

So, how will 2015 be different in terms of winning?

The good news is 2015 won’t be too much different than 2014 in terms of what Google’s looking for. Why? Because this year Google primarily focused on ranking sites that create a great user experience – and that is never going to change. Here are some ideas on how to dial in your SEO strategies to become winning SEO strategies:

SEO is More Than Rankings, It’s Marketing

Instead of having someone who only understands SEO in charge, it’s beneficial to have someone who understands SEO AND marketing in charge. There’s many different ways to look at SEO, which is why it’s a broad term. You can look at it from a technical standpoint where you’re re-architecting the website for a better user experience that also helps search engines. On the other hand, you can look at SEO as a form of marketing. Being creative with your content will help increase visibility and social shares. In return, your content will rank higher in the search results.

So for 2015, you want to make sure you’re looking at SEO as much more than rankings, but marketing as a whole. Developing a custom marketing strategy will fill the gap in your SEO. Make sure you have someone in charge who understands this. It will help keep the team working toward your bottom line.

Crappy Optimization is Out, Properly Optimized Web Pages Are In

To become an SEO winner next year, you may need to revisit your on-page optimization strategy. Spend more time on optimizing each landing page for not only the search engines, but your users as well. Here’s what each properly optimized web page should contain:

  • Focus keyword + supporting keywords within the content
  • High quality content on each page that’s well researched and written
  • Make sure the content flows with the eyes: headers, bullet points, images, buttons
  • The goal of the page is clear and concise (the user knows exactly what they’re supposed to do next)
  • Call to action strategically laid out on the page more than once
  • Strategically link to related pages within the content
  • Each page is mobile optimized
  • Each page loads quickly, no matter what device a user is on
  • Meta data contains the right amount of characters along with focus keyword
  • The design of each page is easy to follow and up to date
  • Multi-layered content: call to action to landing page to thank you page

Get ready to work harder on each individual landing page. This stuff takes time. Start by going through landing pages that have higher bounce rates and low conversion rates.

Related: Landing Page Optimization Checklist: Key Landing Page Must Have’s for Higher Conversion Rates

Work with Google, Not Against Google

Google’s primary focus is providing content that’s going to benefit the end user. When you’re working with Google, your focus should be the same thing. Creating high quality and relevant content that’s going to attract a user keeps them on your website longer. Other ways to work on a better user experience include:

  • A/B testing on landing pages to figure out which content, images and layout work best for your industry
  • Responsive website design
  • Earning backlinks with your content and social strategy
  • Building up a strong social presence
  • Consistent branding across all online platforms

When you don’t create the best possible user experience you can offer, you are really working against Google. What does this mean? You’re actually still doing negative SEO (keyword stuffing, low quality link building, thin content, etc.). This is going to catch up with you in a matter of time. It’s Google’s mission to get rid of all negative SEO, hence the constant algorithm updates.

Be Prepared to Fail – Accept It and Correct It

winning quote

Part of becoming a winner is failing a few times. It’s part of growing as long as you’re learning from your mistakes. Not every single SEO strategy is going to be effective from the get go. Not every single client is going to be happy with their results. Be prepared to face these realities. To overcome the failing attempts toward a strategy, you must understand why it’s failing. With SEO, we all know it can be a number of reasons. Figure out why, then create a solution for how it can be fixed because there’s always a solution. If you figured out an effective solution, make sure you keep this in the back of your mind when creating other strategies moving forward.

Takeaways

Instead of questioning your SEO strategy from 2014, expand on it. Dial it in even further. Your content is doing well, but could it be better? Your website has a fresh responsive design but is it converting visitors into leads? Focusing your efforts on SEO as a whole, meaning: marketing, branding, and design working together will help build a highly effective SEO strategy where you and the user win. They find what they’re looking for, and you get the credit for it.

Need a professional to help you become an SEO champ next year? We have experts standing by ready to help you, just give us a shout: 800.871.4130

Lacey Chic

Account Manager at Eminent SEO - Passionate About Digital Marketing. I love music, pitbulls, traveling, hiking, yoga, and learning.

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