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Writer By Day, Writer By Night: 6 Tips for Balancing Digital Marketing and Creative Writing

Tips For Balancing Digital Marketing And Creative Writing - Eminent SEO

During my undergraduate years at the University of Arizona, my writing professors constantly warned me and my classmates about the risk of writing as a day job.

They cautioned us against living a double life as a writer. They told us to stay wary of burnout and losing our way as artists, suggesting that this was a very real possibility if we planned to make our living on SEO and marketing content.

I was an insufferable suck-up in class, so I nodded vigorously in response to these ominous predictions. Internally, however, my gut response to these warnings was akin to the infamous shrug emoji.

I was even less interested in hearing this advice during graduate school, when I was living the double life in full swing. It was hard to nod as vigorously as I did during my undergraduate days: I was already balancing a full-time job producing marketing content during the day with attending class and drafting my memoir thesis in the evening.

Today, as a full-time marketing copywriter and content strategist, I am still tasked with finding the right balance between my life as a marketing content professional and my goals as a creative academic. Is it easy? Certainly not! Is it impossible? My answer is an equally vigorous: No way!

That being said, I can now see that the bleak scenarios described by my writing professors actually helped to shape the very strategies I now use to stay sane and productive. The following tips and strategies are meant to help those content writers who struggle to balance their daily copywriting duties with their passion projects.

1. Use Your Downtime

A common mistake that writers make when balancing a double life is trying to separate creative and content writing into separate mental silos. Anyone who attempts these mental gymnastics for long will find that the effort is worthy of Sisyphus.

That’s because we as writers only have so much control over the creative process. Ideas will come and go with no regard for your convenience. As a result, it’s important to make use of downtime at the office effectively when your creative brain flips on and starts generating good ideas.

Consider keeping a notebook handy during your work day. If you have an idea, jot it down quickly before it leaves your mind and then get back to work. Likewise, make use of your breaks and lunch time to review your notebook of drafts, edit a paragraph or simply brainstorm about your next creative project.

Every bit of creative writing you can sneak into your day goes a long way toward your achieving your goals, whether they revolve around publishing or expanding your audience as a blogger. You might even enjoy your work hours a bit more when you allow your creative brain to churn out creative thoughts throughout the day.

2. Flex Your Skills

As a writer, it’s very easy to see the SEO- and link-focused nature of website marketing content as a restraint on your creative process. I felt this way for years. By the time I was in graduate school, however, my horizons had expanded and I’d come to appreciate the idea of creative restraints.

Consider forms in poetry. The Elizabethan sonnet, with its strict rules concerning meter and rhyme, is a great example. Forms do constrain the writer’s choices but also encourages them to think outside of their own tried and true artistic strategies.

What if you thought about SEO keyword and header requirements the same way you might think about a writing prompt or a formal assignment? Imposing limitations on the creative process not only produces results in your own writing, but can also help encourage you to exceed expectations at the office by producing some truly sublime marketing content.

You also present yourself as a prime candidate for promotion. Take it from my experience: A little boost to your paycheck will go a long way toward making you feel more comfortable about your double life as a writer.

3. Leverage Your Research

The longer you’ve been a writer, the more likely you are to take your inspiration from unlikely sources. Openness to the unexpected muse is a critical skill for those balancing a content marketing job with craft development in their free time.

In order to generate a steady stream of high-level marketing content for the web, one must become a very effective researcher. Most writers have experience doing research from their academic days, but deadlines and large workloads force content producers to become even more efficient at scouring the web for information.

If you find yourself short on ideas when you sit down to write at home, try expanding your research process at the office. As you scan the web for data and sources, make sure to scan your results for interesting, newsworthy or inspiring stories. Bookmark these links, then browse them in greater detail after your work day has ended. Fitting in a bit of creative research into your daily workflow will also take pressure off of yourself to put in that time when you get home.

4. Find Your Fortress


Batman has his Bat Cave. Superman has his Fortress of Solitude. Just as a superhero needs a secluded headquarters to retreat to, a writer needs a place to think, reflect and appreciate the quiet.

Considering how much time you’ll spend writing for work, it’s more important than ever to stay productive during your free time. Otherwise, you risk falling into the uninspired rut my writing professors warned about. With this in mind, find a place where you can disconnect from the world, including the work assignments waiting on your desk for the next morning.

After moving back home to Phoenix, Arizona, I selected my old local library as my personal bastion of productivity. Free access to high-speed WiFi, limited noise pollution and a very low chance of bumping into anybody I knew from high school made my local branch an ideal spot to spend a few hours each day reading and writing.

5. Obey Your Schedule

Another piece of advice I heard constantly from my writing professors, especially at the graduate level, was the importance of having a schedule as a writer. No pithy rejoinders here. They were absolutely correct.

This maxim goes double for writers that balance a double life. The importance of meeting deadlines at work is a given for most, but few commit the same focus to the writing they do for themselves. Unfortunately, those who fail to work on their craft consistently are at the greatest risk for letting their work writing consume their lives.

I’m sorry to say that there aren’t any easy strategies for becoming a disciplined writer. It’s something we all have to work on every day. Thankfully, applying some of the other strategies I mentioned above can make this challenge a bit less daunting.

Start by assigning yourself some deadlines. Identify a few hours each day that can be dedicated to writing, whether they be early in the morning or after you get home from work. Do everything in your power to obey your schedule.

You probably won’t get it right all at once, but that’s OK. Just setting a schedule and paying closer attention to how you choose to spend your time (when you should be writing) are major steps in the right direction.

6. Honor Your Process


It’s easy to get discouraged as a writer. After all, we can be pretty sensitive. That’s why it’s important for you to make a habit of carrying your projects to completion. Denying yourself the internal encouragement that comes with finishing a poem or prose piece just makes it harder to stay motivated as a creative writer.

On the other hand, beating yourself up over how long it’s taken to finish a novel in your spare time is not an effective strategy. Your creative process is unpredictable, and it’s not typical for your free time and your feelings of inspiration to line up consistently. This is especially true when you are tasked with a full workload of blog posts, newsletters, email campaigns and content pages during the day.

Just as the style and voice of your work are unique, so too are the strategies you’ll employ to balance a double life as a marketing content professional and a creative writer. As long as you are able to secure a quiet place to work, set a reasonable schedule and stay disciplined, the specifics are up to you.

In short, the double life is one worth living. Just figure out what works for you, stick to it and keep your pen on the pad.

Remy Albillar

As a content writer at Eminent SEO, I specialize in producing high-quality copy for a long list of digital mediums, including websites, emails, blogs and social media. I got my career started right out of college producing SEO-driven content for a marketing agency based in Tucson, AZ. I’ve since worked as a copywriter within numerous industries. I’ve written the first half of a personal memoir and earned my master’s in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

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10 Tips for Mindfulness in the Workplace

10 Tips Mindfulness In The Workplace - Eminent SEO

First, let’s start with a quick definition of mindfulness before we get all gung-ho about it:

Mindfulness Definition - ESEO
So, basically, it’s being in the moment, focused on the here and now. That is not an easy feat with deadlines looming over your shoulder like a fasting vampire breathing on your neck. Now that you have that visual in your mind, let’s get back to the topic at hand: mindfulness in the workplace.

Deadlines, emails, phone calls, meetings, more emails, presentations … no, don’t run from your desk! Keep reading!

You must be asking yourself how can you possibly consider applying the principles of mindfulness so that you feel less zombie-like and more alive, as well as becoming more productive. Here are a few ideas to get you started on your journey to being mindful at work:

1. Be Consciously Present

Mindfulness Goggles - Eminent SEO More than anything, mindfulness is about being fully aware and awake (yes, go get ANOTHER cup of coffee), rather than just working on autopilot. When you are consciously present at work, you become aware of two things in your moment-to-moment activities:

  1. You notice what’s going on around you.
  2. You notice what’s going on within you.

Being mindful at work means to be aware of, at all times, in that moment, what you are doing while you are doing it. It also involves managing your mental and emotional state. If you are creating a proposal or a report for the big cheese or the little guy, mindfulness requires that you give it your full attention.

Each time your mind wanders to things like that funny cat video you watched or what you read on Facebook about the Kardashians, acknowledge the thoughts and then bring your mind back to the task at hand.

Here are a few tips to change mindlessness into mindfulness and increase your productivity:

    • Make a clear decision at the beginning of your workday: Begin with a clear idea of what you wish to accomplish.
    • Slow and steady wins the race: While you become used to the practice of mindfulness, you may find you work a little slower at first, but it will pay off in the long run.
    • Remember WHY you are doing this: Keeping the why in mind helps motivate you to keep going.
    • Give your undivided attention to every task: Yes, even the mundane, everyday tasks such as opening the door, pouring that third cup of coffee, or even breathing while you wait for a meeting to start.

2. Make Use of Short, Mindful Exercises

Check Yes Or No - Eminent SEOOK, stop everything. We need 30 minutes of your time to go over some mindfulness exercises. What? No time? Yeah, me neither. But, that doesn’t mean we cannot be mindful, as these exercises can be as short as time allows. Even taking 1 minute to sit back, clear your mind and refocus your attention on your senses is technically a mindfulness exercise. That’s it? Yep, that’s it.

No closing your eyes, no sitting down: just 60 seconds realigning your thoughts. Be creative and find time throughout your day to do these exercises. Have a few more minutes? Fantastic!

Barely have time to breathe between calls? That’s fine, too. These short exercises are important. They help you rebalance your nervous system, reduce your fight-or-flight response, and reinvigorate the “wise” part of your brain so on the next call you will be calm, clear and focused on winning that new client.

3. One Thing at a Time

Pencil And Checklist - Eminent SEOOh, you think you are a master tasker. You can multitask like no other? Well, I hate to break it to you, but no one is really a multitasker. Our brains just aren’t made to do it, try as we might.

Multitasking is really just switching back and forth really fast, and in most cases, losing data in the process. Multitasking is inefficient, and yet we continue to do it. In fact, there are studies that have shown the more you multitask, the more addicted to it you become.

So let’s kick that habit and become a mindfulness bad ass. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Try a Time Journal

Track what you are accomplishing in a block of time, and note when you were single-tasking or multitasking. Add what you achieved in that time frame and how mindful you were.

Try Categorizing Tasks

Group together your tasks to accomplish in one block of time. Put emails, phone calls, errands and meetings together. Rather than jumping around, use the dedicated time.

Remove Distractions

Silence the phone, log off email, remove Facebook pop-ups, mute your work chat. Now, set a timer and work undistracted. At the end of that time, check what you need to – emails, chat, etc. Do what works for you to focus on the single task for the allotted time.

Remember Your Mindfulness Exercises

Between tasks, get up, stretch, take deep breaths, go for a walk or listen to a guided breathing exercise, such as this.

4. Use Reminders and Alerts

Bullhorn Notifications - Eminent SEOEver driven home and realized you don’t remember the trip? Your brain was on autopilot. This is a state of low energy, one which is almost dreamy – very unmindful. In fact, the word mindful means to remember. Unfortunately, most people who see the benefits of mindfulness and even practice it  forget to be mindful!

Autopilot means you are not 100 percent present in the moment, and that you are barely aware that the moment is in front of you. You can’t be creative, plan or respond properly if you are operating on low power. You just can’t do it, Captain. You don’t have the power!

So let’s give you back the power! Try these tips:

  • Use alarms on your phone: Do this even if your phone is on vibrate so that it’s not driving your coworkers crazy.
  • Use your calendar: Set appointments with yourself.
  • Add some art: Keep a small note or a picture on your desk to remind you to be mindful.

5. Slow Down to Speed Up

Desk Clock - Eminent SEOI’m sure you’ve see the movie “Cars.” Doc Hudson tells Lightning McQueen he has to turn left to go right. Well, I am going to tell you to slow down to speed up.

Here is another way to look at it: You can no longer sleep; you need to work, because sleeping isn’t working and there is too much to do. So, just stop sleeping. After a while, you just don’t function any more and you are no longer living in the moment, but in the hallucinations of your sleep-deprived mind.

So, you can see how you need sleep to work, and sleep is rest. Rest is good. Your brain needs breaks to regroup and become more efficient.

That panicky rush to hit a deadline leads to mistakes, poor decisions and wasted energy. So, stop. Breathe deeply. Now, focus on listening. Walk, don’t run. And take your time to be mindful.

6. Stress is Your Friend … Really!

Stressing Out Wired - Eminent SEOIf you don’t think it is, you’d better change your mind! Researchers found that individuals with high stress who believed that stress was good for them had some of the lowest mortality rates. This is opposed to their stressed-out counterparts who believed stress would be the death of them – who also had the highest chance of dying. It’s what you put out into the universe!

So, if you are part of the second group, you should be going, “Holy cow, I gotta change my ways!” Mindfulness can help you change your views. When you encounter a stressful situation at work, take a moment to reflect on your reaction, your heart rate, your blood pressure, your attitude.

Having your pulse increase increases the oxygen in your blood, and gears you up for the challenge ahead. Treat it more like getting ready for an Ironman Challenge rather than the Dread Pirate Roberts. You aren’t going to your death: You are rising to the challenge and you will come out on top.

This change of view can LITERALLY add years to your life and improve your productivity in the workplace.

7. Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

Businessman On The Clock - Eminent SEOHuman nature is not all unicorns and rainbows. We tend to dwell on the negative, the things going wrong. Repeatedly focusing on this will eventually cause you to develop a negative and unbalanced way of thinking.

To counter this, you must develop an attitude of gratitude. Find your silver lining, however small it may be. This will lead to more silver linings, which will give way to silver clouds and then blue skies. To get there, practicing mindfulness in all aspects of life and work helps improve your resilience to the downward spiral that is negativity.

Not happy at work? Find something to be thankful for – maybe your paycheck. It may not be the paycheck you would like, but it’s better than no check. And, I am sure you like at least one person there, one person who makes you smile. If nothing else, the job gives you insight into what you are looking for in a career – things you want and don’t want. So, be grateful for the experiences and lessons the job teaches.

8. More Humble, Less Grumble

Heart In Hand - Eminent SEOHumility comes from the Latin term humilis, meaning grounded. Please don’t go around tooting your own horn over and over. You did it, congratulations. People who make the most noise grabbing our attention is what society seems to live for, but in reality, a humble person is way more attractive.

Don’t confuse humility with meekness or timidity. They are in no way the same thing. To be humble doesn’t mean that you see yourself as inferior, but rather you are aware of your natural dependence and your equity in those around you.

Humility and mindfulness work very closely together. You can even say they are intimate. Mindfulness is accepting who you are and being open to listening and learning from those around you. You are grateful for them and the lessons they share. And someone who is grateful for others is also naturally humble.

Need a little humility in your life? Try these:

  • Practice your mindful exercises.
  • Spend a few minutes every day thanking those who have helped you – even if it is silent, in your heart or prayer.
  • Show appreciation: Say thank you!
  • Value other people’s opinions.

9. Like the Serenity Prayer, Accept What You Cannot Change

No Change - Eminent SEOThe core belief of mindfulness is to be present in the moment. If you cannot accept yourself as you are right now, then you have some work to do. Acceptance is the driving force behind mindfulness. It doesn’t mean resignation or giving up. You can change. Everything can change. But, right now, accept what is.

At work, if you missed a deadline, accept it. It came and went, and you weren’t ready. As soon as you accept that, you can come to a solution, talk to the team, learn from the mistake and move on. Acceptance leads to change.

Personal acceptance is infinitely more powerful. Embrace your shortcomings, weaknesses, strong points, aspects you do and don’t admire: They make you who you are. This acceptance will lead to confidence, clarity and joy. No longer will you be stuck with energy draining self-criticism, but you will have set the stage for greater peace of mind, productivity and mindful moments.

10. Think “Growth” in Everything

Rising Bar Chart - Eminent SEOA growth mindset changes the game from “this is all I got” to “I can do more.” People with a fixed mindset tend to believe that their intelligence and talents are stuck – never able to change. Meanwhile, people with a growth mindset believe that they can improve these qualities with effort. These people thrive on learning and trying new things, and they usually have success in the workplace because of this.

Mindfulness is about developing a growth mindset. It’s about giving full attention to the moment right now – with no judgments – and being open to new possibilities. Your new mindfulness outlook will make receiving negative reviews easier: You will see them as an opportunity to grow, instead of as an attack. You will be willing to take on new responsibilities and challenges because you will be curious to see how you can handle it all.

Mindfulness in the Workplace Can Bring About a New You

Through this mindfulness journey, you will discover new things about yourself, your work and your attitude. Take baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will you master mindfulness in one go.

Want to Learn More Tips on Boosting Productivity at Work Through Mindfulness?

Read Our Previous Blog Post on Mindfulness in the Workplace:
More Mindfulness Tips

How to Reduce Stress and Boost Productivity in the Workplace

Happy Employees Are Productive Employees

Stress in the workplace is unavoidable. However, you don’t have to let it get the best of you. Instead, take control of it and watch your productivity soar. Find ways to create peace of mind and focus before, during and after each work day. You will find that not only will your work day become more enjoyable, but the balance of your life outside of work will also reap the benefits.

How To Reduce Stress Boost Productivity At Work - Eminent SEO

Not Another Meeting

Before you go into another “meeting about meetings,” ask yourself two things:

  1. What do I want to get out of this meeting?
  2. What do I want to contribute to it?

Having clear goals for yourself will help you stay on track and guide your colleagues down the path of achieving the original goal of the meeting. This keeps them short and sweet, so they don’t take up time needed for other projects.

Don’t Get Stuck at Your Desk

We sit far too long from the ride to work, to our desk, back to the car, to the couch … maybe you’ve squeezed in a short walk or a trip to the gym. Therefore, it helps to set aside time for taking mindful walks every day that will increase brain functionality and spark creativity.

Try taking a walk for 10 minutes or turn it in to a “walk and talk” meeting. Keep the meeting to no more than three people. The change of scenery and fresh air will help the creative juices flow.

The best time to schedule these walks is around 2 or 3pm when everyone’s energy levels are dropping. This quick burst of activity will be the perfect pick-me-up to finish out your day.

Check Your Posture

Check Your PostureAt least three times a day, take notice of how you are sitting at your desk.  Are you slumped over your desk? Are both feet on the floor? Or do you tend to sit on one foot? Make adjustments to how you sit at your desk to reduce neck pain, eye strain and even backaches.

Try sitting on a ball or switch to a standing desk. At minimum, you should stand for five minutes for every hour you sit to boost your energy and productivity, as well as lower your risk for disorders like diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions.

Stay Organized

Before you leave write, down three “must-do’s” for the next day. I am sure your inbox is overflowing with things that need to be done yesterday – but narrow the field down to three items. When you come in next day, you will already know exactly what you need to focus on without having to stare blankly at the ever-growing count of unread emails in your inbox.

Clear Your Mind – Not Just Your Inbox

Clear Your Mind – Not Just Your Inbox

Take two minutes for some mindful meditation. Close your eyes, sit relaxed with both feet on the floor and focus on your breathing – in through your nose (notice how cool the air is) and out through your mouth – and remember: “At this moment, my job is to experience THIS moment as fully as I can. Everything else can wait.”

Yes, the client can wait for two minutes for that email response.

Lunch Break

Often times, we have our nose to the grindstone, so focused on work that we forget about essentials like food and water. Set a reminder or a timer to remind you to take those breaks and nourish your body and mind. Be mindful when you do eat: Rate your hunger level on a scale of 1-10 (1 = not hungry; 10 = ravenous). If you are over a 7, try drinking a glass of water. In many cases, our minds confuse hunger with thirst. When you have completed the meal, rate your hunger again and ask yourself:

  • Did I over do it?
  • Did I savor the meal?
  • Did the food get tastier with each bite?
  • Do I remember the taste?

Don’t forget to savor your drinks as well. Pick one drink a day to savor that isn’t water – maybe a soda or latte or an herbal tea. Then ask yourself:

  • Was it satisfying?
  • Did it taste good?
  • Did it leave me thirsty?
  • Am I now craving sugar?
  • Why did I chose that drink?

To Be or Not To Be: That is Your Question

To Be or Not To Be: That is Your Question

Start a “to-be” list. Focus on who you WANT to be: loving, present, calm, generous, creative, grateful, etc. Choose one quality a day to focus on and then ask yourself:

  • What is in my life that cultivates these qualities?
  • What activities bring me joy?
  • What makes me happy to be alive?

The activity doesn’t have to be work-related. It could be gardening, cooking or baking, playing sports or even listening to music. The goal is to identify what brings you joy and how to incorporate it more into your life both in and out of the workplace. Enjoy gardening? Add a plant to your desk. Enjoy cooking? Pack yourself an amazing lunch to look forward to.

Each morning, set an intention to focus on one quality from your list. Close your eyes and create the feeling of what that quality will feel like. How you will feel. How others will feel.

And make sure to dedicate at least 30 minutes a week to doing something that you love. Take a class. Create a group. Put it in your calendar. Just do it.

Create An Attitude Of Gratitude - Eminent SEO

Create an Attitude of Gratitude

Begin a gratitude journal: List three things every day that you are thankful for, that went well today or both. This will shift your outlook from, “Is today over yet?” to, “Thank you for today”. Changing your perspective will help you look forward to workday ahead of you. Thus, it will help you focus and increase your overall productivity.

Remember not to just focus on your own gratitude – but to be thankful of those around you. Get into the practice of “random acts of kindness” to your co-workers. If you are headed out for break, offer to pick something up for them or invite them along. And never underestimate the power of a simple “thank you.”

The Little Engine That Could

“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

In the story of the Little Engine, those words became, “I knew I could, I knew I could, I knew I could.”

Pick an affirmation every day that inspires you and repeat it three times throughout the day. Write it on a Post-it note, jot it on the napkin in your lunch box or set a reminder on your phone – however you can get that affirmation in front of your eyes again and again.

Spruce Up Your Space

Add items to your space that give you joy – pictures of family and friends, trinkets, postcards of travel experiences from the past and yet to be done. If you don’t like clutter on your desk, change out your desktop wallpaper and change your phone or tablet wallpaper too. Swap out your mouse pad or get pens that write in your favorite color. Keep your favorite mug at the office.

Life creates its own stress. The trick is learning how to redirect the bad stress into positive vibes and break through the roadblocks in our way.

Only I Will Remain Meditation Poem - Eminent SEO

Why You Shouldn’t Neglect to Optimize Your Website’s 404 Page

Neglecting To Optimize 404 Page - Eminent SEO

A 404 webpage is returned whenever a user mistypes a URL, follows an errant link, or lands on a page that has moved or been deleted.

This type of page is only returned in the event of an error, so there’s little point in putting effort into your website’s 404 offering, right? Won’t users just hit the back button if they see a 404 page, whether they were on your website immediately prior?

Well, the answers to those two questions are no and not necessarily.

Companies who take the time to fill out their website’s 404 page can demonstrate the three following characteristics:

  • Their personality
  • Their level of creativity
  • Attention to detail

Filling out your website’s 404 page signals to your existing and prospective customers that you’re thorough and that you care about your website’s user experience. There’s also some strategy involved in how you attempt to direct visitors from your 404 page. And ultimately, there’s SEO value in how you handle your 301 redirects and when the 404 page actually appears. If numbers like 404 and 301 don’t really ring a bell, learn about all of the HTTP response codes in this comprehensive list from Mozilla.

In this post, we’ll take a look at:

  • Why 404 pages appear
  • How to lay out your website’s 404 page
  • Some top examples of 404 pages across the internet
  • When to redirect 404s and when it’s OK to leave them be

Why 404 Errors Happen

Ideally, a user would never land on a 404 when trying to access any area or any file of your website. But it’s going to happen eventually. Your domain doesn’t cover every imaginable combination of letters, numbers and symbols past your .com (or whichever top-level domain extension you use), so 404s are bound to happen every once in a while, no matter how well you cover your bases with 301 redirects.

404 pages aren’t the end of the world. Someone either just flubbed a character or two in manually trying to reach a page on your site, or maybe another website or social media user tried to link to your site but errantly copied the URL. Anyone who tries to follow a faulty link will land on a 404 under your domain.

Thankfully, Google doesn’t penalize your site for returning a 404 page here or there. But if you have an inordinate amount of 404 errors on your hands, then you have a problem. Running a site-wide crawl and then 301 redirecting any broken links will fix that issue right up for you.

Besides deleting a page entirely or slightly tweaking an existing URL, 404s can also happen when you move your entire website to a new domain. You need to 301 redirect every single old URL to the equivalent version on the new site. Links to your old address will get broken if you don’t redirect them to the new domain. Think of it like forwarding your snail mail to a new address.

404 Page Optimization

While you don’t want the search engines to index your website’s 404 page, your objective here is to entice users toward another section of your site.

Besides some snappy graphics and language that makes it clear that there’s a problem with the URL, your 404 page should also maintain the same menu layout as the rest of your site. This includes an easily identifiable button (usually your logo) that takes the user to your homepage.

Here are those strategies in action, as seen on our 404 page:
Eminent SEO 404 Page Screenshot

Our error page also includes a search field so users can type in a term if they’ve deliberately landed on our website expecting to read about a certain topic.

Google itself has a few suggestions for creating 404 pages, including the idea of adding links to your most popular pages, blog posts, etc.

Adjusting URLs and Redirecting

And finally, when it comes to optimization, there are two steps you should take that don’t deal with the 404 on-page content itself, but instead concern URLs.

First, cover your bases by directing any logical misspellings of your site’s main URLs to the correct address. What this means is if you have a Services overview page, your URL will probably will look like “www.example.com/services/.” If somebody just types in “service” at the end of that string, you should have them redirected to your Services page, rather than returning a 404 for such an innocent mistake.

Another example is if your About page is structured as “www.example.com/about-us/,” make sure you have “www.example.com/about/” redirect to the correct URL. Take time to do this for every major page of your site, rather than leaving your 404 page as catch-all for common misspellings or variations of primary URLs.

Second, although your 404 page will show up for every errant URL related to your domain, make sure it actually shows up if a user searches for it directly, such as if they type in “www.example.com/404/.” You’d be surprised how many websites with even the best 404 pages have failed to get this right.

Speaking of the best 404 pages, let’s look at some shining examples across the web that may give you a little inspiration on how to flesh out your website’s error page.

Awesome 404 Page Examples

You can tell that many companies and individual website owners have fun with their 404 pages. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a chance to show off your creativity and even the personality of your business. It’s also just one more place where you can reiterate your brand strategy, as you can see in our 404 example above.

While no 404 page category has been created yet for either The Webby Awards or the American Advertising Awards (fka the ADDYs), there seems to be a healthy competition on the internet for who can serve up the greatest 404.

Beware that if you try to use copyrighted material on your 404 page, you may get sued or at least asked to remove the content in question. Two sites on this TIME “Web’s Best Error Pages” list from 2014 have found out the hard way, as you’ll no longer see images from “Dumb and Dumber” and “Jurassic Park” if you click on the links provided in the TIME article.

Here are some exemplary static and interactive 404 pages that you can find across the internet currently:

Stellar Static 404 Pages

Heinz Error Page Ketchup BottleUniversally recognized ketchup-maker Heinz could probably use an update of its website, but its error page has been catching eyeballs for years, and is still top of the line. Not only does Heinz feature its iconic ketchup bottle in a metaphorical way, but the page is optimized in a manner that lets visitors easily navigate toward other parts of the overall site.


eHarmony 404 Page Screenshot
When you land on this page, it’s readily apparent which site it belongs to. The broken heart image easily ties into eHarmony’s overall brand. The page also gives you clear options on where to go next.


Mashable 404 Page Screenshot
Awesome. Mashable’s toe-ripping-through-a-sock image on its 404 page is unforgettable. A search field is also provided and the main navigation is right at the top. This media company certainly put much more effort into its 404 page than most other national news-related sites have cared to.


CSS-Tricks 404 Page Rip
CSS-Tricks is an online community for web developers, and its 404 page plays right into its audience. The only problem here is the page offers no links to the rest of the site, or anywhere else, for that matter. Great image, though. If you look at the meta title, it explains the concept of this 404 page: “You’ve ripped a hole in the fabric of the internet. Love, Chris from CSS-Tricks.”


Impressive Interactive and Non-Static Pages

Blue Daniel 404 Page Screenshot
There’s a lot to see but not a lot to do on BlueDaniel.com, home of Daniel Karcher Film Design Studios. The homepage is just one full-browser video with audio and no clickable buttons or text. The 404 page, however, is as great as any you’ll find. It takes place in a subway station and has a moving passenger train. The motion image features posters for the TV series “LOST” and film “The Missing,” and a subway sign that reads, “Please proceed to the main level.”


Tripomatic Desert 404 Page Screenshot
Online itinerary maker Tripomatic can also make a case for best 404 page on the web. This page features a full-browser scene of a sun and moon setting over a desert landscape. The scene goes from dawn to twilight to dusk, and it loops endlessly. The website’s navigation is not featured, but there is a large button to go to the homepage.


Blue Fountain Media Pacman 404
Can’t find a page on BlueFountainMedia.com (a digital marketing agency)? No problem. Just play “Pacman” instead, as featured on the website’s popular error page. The average time on page must be insane for this creative offering.


Hot Dot 404 Page Screenshot
Hot Dot Productions, a digital artistry firm, offers an error page that features a large “404” made out of tiny, pulsating dots. The page interacts with your browser as well, changing your vantage point of the manic dots.


MailChimp 404 Page Screenshot
Email service provider MailChimp serves up a 404 page that features its recognizable mascot in an eerie forest setting. Fog slowly creeps across the frame, adding to the uneasiness. If this scene creeps you out too much, you can easily access MailChimp’s navigation at the top or search the site using the field right above the green-looking monkey.


Tinsanity 404 Page Screenshot
This error page is currently the best thing about Tinsanity.net, which has no content at the moment and a homepage that only links to two other sites. This 404 page features a panicked cup-and-straw beverage that skips frantically across the screen. There’s also some (very loud) audio to go with it.


When to Redirect 404s

Some websites are coded in a way that any time a visitor prompts a 404 error code, he or she is redirected to the homepage. This is known as a global 404 redirect. Although this seems like a viable way to keep visitors on your site when a 404 is served, it actually frustrates many users. They might think it’s a glitch, or because they came to your website looking for specific information, showing your homepage instead does nothing for them.

Instead of employing a global redirect, just take the time to spruce up your 404 page and run a site crawl to help you mitigate how many times users are receiving this error code. If some of the 404s keep coming from in house (meaning you have a navigational or other internal link that is broken), make sure you fix the error right away.

But What if I Have Backlinks to a 404 Page?

A backlink audit will tell you if other websites are still linking to a deleted or moved page within your domain. For a refresher on backlinks and to see which tools you can use to run this type of audit, click here.

If any external sites are linking to what is now a 404 page on yours, you should be choosy about which links you want to keep. If the page has simply been moved, you can 301 redirect the broken link to the new address, but it’s actually better to contact someone affiliated with the site linking to you and provide them with the new URL for the link. Links that pass through a 301 in order to reach their destination lose a little bit of power in Google’s eyes.

The above tactic should only apply if it’s a link you want to keep. If a low-quality site is linking to what is now a 404 page on your site, it’s actually not detrimental to your SEO to let the link stay as is. Backlinks from highly authoritative sites are the ones you want to uphold. Low-quality inbound links that produce a 404 error can remain in limbo.

If you’ve deleted a page that still has a link you’d like to keep, try to find the most relevant content on your site to redirect it to, or you may even want to create a new page that features the information that inspired the link in the first place. From there, you’ll either 301 redirect the link to the new page you’ve created, or you’ll reach out to the webmaster of the other site to give them the URL for your new content.

Have Fun with It

Spend some time and have a little fun with fleshing out your 404 page. Granted, you don’t want your site to return a 404 response too often, but it’s not catastrophic to have it show up once in a while. Plus, some users might get a kick out of how much creativity you put into it.

If you’d like a custom 404 page built for your website or if you need help with redirecting 404s and seeing how often they’re showing up for your visitors, contact the digital marketing and design experts at Eminent SEO today by calling 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 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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8 Tips for Effective PPC Landing Pages

8 Tips for Effective Landing Pages

OK, so you have a Pay-Per-Click campaign running, but you think it could be better. You are probably right. Consider where you are sending your potential clients… what is on that landing page. Does it do your product/service justice? Or is it more “ho-hum, seen it before”?

The most effective campaigns will have a dedicated landing page properly optimized for a specific product or service with a clear call-to-action. Do you want them to buy right there? Do you want them to fill out a form? Or would you rather get them on the phone right now? These are some questions to ask yourself when designing your landing page.

In order to have a PPC campaign that produces a high amount of conversions, leads, and sales, you need to have dedicated PPC landing pages that are optimized.

Here are some PPC landing page tips to getting the best bang for your buck with your campaign:

1. Make Customer Testimonials Stand Out

Is this the right product/service for me? What do other people think of this? Am I making the right choice? A real customer testimonial can answer all of these questions and seal the deal. Make it prominent, give it a unique design element. You can even make it a video. This creates trust between you and your readers.

2. List the Benefits. How is Your Product/Service Better?

They are there because of what you are selling – you need to convince them why yours is better. Make sure your key benefits are listed out clearly, in a bullet list. This helps your potential buyer quickly determine whether or not they landed where they need to be… and whether or not your product or service is worth the time to buy or call.

3. POW! Catch Them with a Knock-out Headline

Take time to come up with an amazing headline – you have 3 seconds to capture your readers attention, tell them why they are here, and that you have EXACTLY what they are looking for. Use headline tools to test the effectiveness of your headline. (Have more than one killer headline? See Step 8.)

4. Keep it Simple, Silly!

This is a landing page – not your whole website squished into a page. Focus on the key points – this is to turn this prospect into a qualified lead – not to tell them everything that you are or what you offer. Keep the layout and content simple:

  • Headline – strong and clear (remember, 3 seconds!)
  • Sub-headline – support your headline with a compelling thought
  • Pictures – these should show the benefits of why they are there
  • CTA Buttons – strong and compelling
  • Break up your content with Large Font Headlines
  • Bullet Points – get to the point right away, list the benefits of your service/product
  • Short Paragraphs – under 10 sentences, use simple words and thoughts that are easy to understand. Don’t use 10 dollar words where 2 dollar ones explain just as well.
  • Image Captions – don’t forget to explain the pictures (not just for Google, but for your readers, too)

5. Be Yourself

Write as if you are talking to your reader face to face. Sound human. Your readers don’t want a robot, even on ‘paper’. Add some humor, too.

6. Get Your Facts!

Be real. Nobody believes “Your conversions will increase greatly” – but “Our clients have seen increases in conversions up to 30%!” Write compelling facts that mean something to your clients. Hard facts are the real deal.

7. Don’t Be Bossy

No one likes to be told what to do. So ASK your readers to act. Use a 2 line method: 1 line to ask, 1 line to reassure it’s the right choice.

For Example:

We create beautiful websites and unique marketing strategies that drive targeted traffic and high conversions.
Get Started Now!

Let us create a custom website and marketing campaign for you so you can get back to what you do best – running your business.
Call us now.

8. A/B Test

Come on, you think you hit a homerun right off the bat? Possibly. But to be sure, you should test it. Compare your headlines (Remember step 3? This is how you choose!). Compare your sub-headlines, your CTA copy, or even change up your benefits – which ones really matter to your readers?

Did you catch all of that? It’s a lot to remember, and it’s not easy to come up with the right formula to get the results you are looking for. However, these are the key elements to look at if you are trying to beef up your PPC campaign.

Want a hand? Give us a call: 800-871-4130 or fill out a form today.

How to Master Pinterest for SEO

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

pinterest seo47% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on recommendations from Pinterest. (source)

Pinterest has been used for marketing since day one, basically. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of this as a marketer or business owner? It opens up so many more opportunities for your website to be visible to new consumers, and potentially influence consumers in your niche.

In this segment, we want to talk about how you can use Pinterest specifically to boost your traffic and SEO. Utilizing these tips will help increase the amount of natural links pointing to your site and help your business Pinterest boards get more visibility.

Think of Pinterest as a Search Engine

With 70 million users, Pinterest is thought of as another search engine for those looking for inspiration and ideas. Don’t be blind to the opportunities that this can potentially bring your business. Users would rather search on Pinterest’s search engine for items such as: DIY, recipes, travel, etc. versus Google because they are looking for that visual inspiration. And what better catches someone’s eye than visuals? See for yourself:

Searching “places to see in Italy” on Google:

google search

You see there’s a lot going on here and you get a little bit of everything. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but check out what you get from Pinterest.

Searching “places to see in Italy” on Pinterest:

pinterest search

It really gives you that beautiful, inspiring photos that are attention grabbing.

Needless to say, users are using Pinterest to search for all kinds of inspiration and ideas, not just travel and recipes. Users trust Pinterest as a source for when they are purchasing products and services. When you think of Pinterest as another search engine to optimize for, it can really enhance your SEO because repins are qualified as natural backlinks to your website.

Make Sure Your Pinterest Business Profile is Optimized for Search Engines

Optimization is important because it lets search engines, such as Google, know that you’re business is directly verified with your Pinterest account. If your Pinterest account takes off, you want it to show in the search results when people search for your brand and related brand keywords, right?

Make Sure Your Profile is Verified

First thing you need to do to optimize is you need to make sure your website is verified with your Pinterest profile. Here’s the steps on how to verify your business account and website.

Make Your Boards Visible to Search Engines

There’s a setting where you can either hide or make your Pinterest boards visible in the search results. You want to make sure your boards are visible. This will open up opportunities for your boards to show up in the search results when they are related to specific key phrases in your niche. You can find this in the settings and make sure it’s set to No.pinterest search privacy

Optimized About Description

Just like most other social networks, Pinterest allows you to have a small description of what your business is what who you are. This has a 200 character limit, so make sure you utilize this section to include focus keywords that represent your business. Also, make sure this information is always accurate.

Create Boards & Pins That Are Keyword-Friendly

Board names, pins, and board descriptions should contain focus keywords. Don’t stuff your keywords if it doesn’t make sense that would look spammy. In my opinion, the more simple, the better. People don’t read, they’re looking for keywords on Pinterest. Make it easy for end user to scan and find what they want.

Board Names Contain Focus Keywords

When creating Pinterest boards, you want to make sure the names are closely related to focus keywords you are also targeting for SEO. You don’t want to limit your boards to ONLY keywords, I’m just saying you need to include your keywords within your boards along with other related topics. Check out Mashable’s Pinterest:

Pinterest boards

They keep it straight to the point with the names of their boards, which are also focus keywords related to what they represent as a brand.

Board Descriptions Contain Focus Keywords

Each board allows you space for a brief description of what that board includes. In your description, include your focus keyword for that board in the description. Think like your consumer and how they would be searching for items or services related to your board. Include that in your description.

Pins Should Contain Keywords and Hashtags

Each individual pin should represent something related to your business. This opens up opportunity to use your keywords in the descriptions. Especially when directly pinning your blog posts and other web pages, you want to make sure you utilize the description to have focus keywords. Don’t neglect the use of hashtags either, this will give your pin more opportunities to show in the Pinterest search results when users are searching that keyword.

Pin Your Website Content

This may seem pretty obvious, but so many forget to pin their blog posts and landing pages. Pinterest is full of blog posts and people are using it as a resource to gain knowledge and educate themselves in different niches.

Every time a blog post is written on your site, it should include an image that directly represents what the blog is about, then pinned on your company’s Pinterest board that’s related to the post. This opens up so many opportunities for your content to rank high and here’s why:

Repins Are Considered Natural Nofollow Backlinks

This is a great technique for SEO because again, repins = backlinks. Even though these backlinks are nofollow, Google will still consider them a natural backlink which is needed in your backlink profile. Every time your pin is repined onto other boards, it creates a separate link. Each link will point to your website because your content is the source.

Increased Social Signals

Another SEO benefit, is the fact that this will increase the amount of social signals for your content. Since search engines are using social signals to rank content higher, you want to make sure your content is maximizing this opportunity for going viral. The more repins and other social shares your content has, the higher it will show in search results because search engines feel that your content serves value to others.

Utilize Pinterest Analytics

Pinterest analytics

If you have a verified website on your Pinterest account, you will have access to view analytics. You want to closely watch these metrics to make adjustments to current content marketing efforts. The metrics Pinterest supplies you with are: pins from your website, repins from your website, website visitors, reach, most repined content, and most clicked content.

To analyze this data, look at the content that’s providing the most clicks to your website and most repins. This is a strong indication that this type of content, is providing your website with the most visibility. Customize your content marketing strategy to include more content that’s related. Track it. Did it provide you with the same range of results? If so, it should be included in your on-going content marketing campaign.

Closing Thoughts

Now that you understand what it takes to master Pinterest for SEO, start fulfilling! Pinterest and the content marketing side of SEO go hand in hand and should not be neglected in your overall SEO strategy. Follow this rule: Create, Test, Measure. Create your content, test it by sharing it on Pinterest, and measure the results with Pinterest analytics.

Do you need expert SEO advice? We can help. We provide results driven solutions for marketing and SEO. Give us a call today to speak with one of our specialists: (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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Content Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

content marketing tips

Content marketing has been the talk in terms of online marketing for quite some time now. It’s an important piece to your overall digital marketing presence. If done right, your company will have more traffic, increased conversion rates, and more leads! If you’re a marketer who’s struggling with content marketing and asking the question, “How do I do good content marketing for all my clients?” Stay tuned…

Don’t Constantly Sell Your Product or Service

Do you find it annoying when companies only talk about themselves? In terms of social media content, this can turn away a lot of followers. It’s okay to talk about your company but not 24/7.

Do Stay With the 50/50 Rule

The 50/50 rule is simple. Share industry related content such as news, interesting articles, funny memes, etc. 50% of the time. The other 50%, you can share what’s going on with your company such as completed projects, specials, and interesting facts about your product or service. Find what separates you from competitors and show it in your content here.

Don’t Wing It

When you have a new client or new industry that you’re writing for, don’t wing the content strategy! Not knowing the industry can create a lot of research on your behalf, which is fine, but to speed things up, have a plan in place.

Do Use Editorial Calendars for Social Media and Blogging

In your initial research stage for a new industry, you’re going to come across a lot of potential writing topics that you should keep in mind. Jot these topics down and then create an editorial calendar each month for blog topics. This way topics are still fresh in your mind by doing these monthly.

Start a social media editorial calendar for Facebook and Twitter so you have an idea what to post on certain days. This can really help speed up the process when you have ideas on what to research already in place. You can also send these editorial calendars to your client and get feedback on the topics you chose. This will open up the door to conversation which can lead to more topics! Still having trouble with content ideas? Here’s some tips on how to find blog ideas.

Don’t Be Too Broad With Website Landing Page Content

If you’re utilizing landing pages for lead generation, don’t be broad with your content. Your landing pages are your sales tools that should be clear and concise with the message you’re trying to portray. If the terminology isn’t clear on your landing pages, your conversion rates will be lower.

Do Test Landing Pages for Higher Conversion Rates

If you’re unclear on what terminology is going to work for specific pages, test them! A/B testing can really help you dial in that content on each page. Even if you’re only changing the layout or a few words, you can see which page produces higher conversion rates and make content changes as you’re tracking.

Do Use Clear Calls to Actions Throughout Your Website and Blog

This is extremely important because people need to be shown what to do next. After reading a blog post there should be a clear call to action telling the reader where they should go for more information or what to do next. Be relevant with these calls to actions. They should clearly state what your offer is; otherwise your bounce rate will go up if your call to action isn’t relevant to where the person lands next. Same goes for the website. Each page should provide a next step for the visitor and walk the visitor through your website.

Need content marketing help?

Don’t worry. We’re here to help you. Contact one of our content marketing specialists for more information or leave your feedback below! (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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The Lowdown on Google Hummingbird

Google Hummingbird

We find it ironic that Google has decided to take beautiful, friendly animals names and turn them into scary (sometimes devastating) algorithm updates….

*sigh*

With names like Panda, Penguin, and now Hummingbird, Google’s clearly showing a pattern. But, the pattern you should be more concerned about is that with each Google update, Google’s is drastically changing the way they serve up web results.

What’s Changed With Hummingbird?

To put it in perspective, Hummingbird is said to be the largest Google algorithm update in a decade.  It affects more than 90% of searches worldwide (according to Search Engine Journal), whereas Penguin affected only around 3%.

Some ways it affects search include:

  • Knowledge Graph is Improved – Knowledge Graph is a database of 570 million objects and 18 billion facts about various people, places, things and how they are connected. This system was designed to increase search relevancy and to give direct answers to searches at the same time.

Now, Knowledge Graph has been extended so that if you search on a query like “Tell me about impressionist artists,” you get to see a complete list of who they are and their famous works.

  • Better Semantic Understanding – “Semantic search” refers to the idea that Google attempts to understand the main concept behind a search query, not just find the exact words or variations thereof that a searcher typed in. Hummingbird is a leap forward in Google’s ability to understand what a searcher is really looking for.

Practically speaking, if you do a search on “the nearest restaurant in Los Angeles,” the Google of old would have returned results matching “restaurant” and “Los Angeles.”  However, the new Google knows that what you’re really looking for is a restaurant close by. So, instead, it’s going to return a result for a restaurant in Los Angeles that actually is nearby. And, it’s going to let you know exactly how far away that restaurant is.

Hummingbird Is Really All About Mobile Searching

In large part, Hummingbird is all about one current drastic change in search: the increase in mobile searches.

The mobile search page is now much simpler, optimized for touch navigation and results are now clustered on cards which makes it easier for mobile searchers to focus and click on them. It’s also no coincidence that when announcing these new updates, Google did so using mobile technology to illustrate their point.

Finally, mobile searchers are more likely to use voice search to ask questions, so it’s timely that Hummingbird focuses on understanding those questions and providing all the information necessary to answer the question.

What Should Businesses And SEOs Focus On With Hummingbird?

Now, more than ever and especially as search continues to evolve, it’s critical for businesses to identify their USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and build content focused on long-tail keywords that answers their customer’s primary questions and concerns.

Oh, and don’t forget about variations…. “restaurant” might be interpreted as “diner”, “café”, or “food” even.

If historically you have done well with a specific keyword, consider expanding your targets into similar variations. Just because your website is optimized for “restaurant” and that is your top keyword phrase that doesn’t mean that in the future you might lose out to competitors who have done a better job including “restaurant” keyword variations.

Get creative. Know your audience and expand your content and offers.

The sites that can implement this strategy now will end up with the best organic traffic in the future.

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and 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 love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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What You Need to Know About Keyword Research

Is keyword research still necessary?KeywordResearch_graphic

This has become an increasingly popular question over the last two years in the online marketing space. Google has made a lot of changes to their data displays and algorithms, making SEO’s and business owners wonder the same thing – “Is my keyword strategy still relevant?”

 

 

 

Here’s a breakdown of some of the changes that impact organic search and keyword data collecting:

1) (not provided) appears in Google Analytics, which Google did in order to “protect” users’ private search data from being viewed by businesses for marketing purposes.

300 Visits – Keyword NOT PROVIDED? WTF!?!

2) Increased focus on local search results – Search from a certain geographic location for a particular service, and you’ll get one set of results. Search from another, and you’ll get different results. Of course this is a sensible change – if you search for “water damage restoration,” you probably want a local company, not one 1,000 miles away.

My IP is in Mesa Arizona – Notice most of the results: paid, organic and local (maps) are all specific to my surrounding area.

3) Personalized search – If you’re signed in to a Google account and you search, results from people within your Google+ circles, or results from previous sessions, appear much higher in the search results.

Hey! I know these guys!

4) Social media now plays a much more important role in your search rankings. The more followers, and especially the more shares you get, the stronger your rankings in the search engines.

WHOA! No wonder they are ranking so well!

These 4 factors appear to make keyword research a bit less relevant to your overall strategy, but the right way to look at keyword research is that it’s less straightforward than it was a few years ago – but still just as critical to the success of your internet marketing campaigns!

“So, Why Do Keyword Research? Can’t I Just Pick My Important Terms?”

Google still uses keywords to serve up sites and ads, and organic search still accounts for the majority of traffic to a properly optimized website. Google has to incorporate keywords into their algorithms because that is what searchers use to find what they’re looking for.

Also, f you are trying to rank for a specific keyword and/or target a specific keyword in your organic or paid advertisements, you have to optimize your website for that keyword. Google looks at the page the link or the ad points to. If the keyword isn’t specific to the page it’s pointing to, you are likely not going to achieve a high quality score for that key term. So, clearly your keyword research and strategy is key for on-page optimization reasons (as well as off site SEO – such as content and link building).

Issues with Selecting Keywords

Problem 1: One problem we often encounter when determining the target keyword strategy for a client is that businesses call their products and services one thing, while searchers may call them another. (Hey, not everyone is as technical as you, okay?)

Solution 1: Allow an outside team to brainstorm and throw out their own personal ideas for search. People who aren’t already familiar with your product/service are great candidates for keyword discovery. Once you have developed a list of ideas – you can then expand on them to discover all of the various ways someone might search for your products/services. Of course once you decide on a strategy and implement it, you have to give it some time and test. If one strategy doesn’t work, you can always adjust from there – it does some times take a bit of trail and error to get the strategy just right.

Problem 2: Sometimes a business wants to sell a new product or service and there is very little to no search volume for the keywords that would be relevant to this new idea. Or, the terms relevant are very broad and would possibly drive targeted traffic, but then again, maybe not… (and who has the time and money to test that theory?).

Solution 2: This problem takes a lot of creativity in your research and possibly a branding campaign to raise awareness for the new product/service. You can always start with the closest keywords to your offer and then promote your specific product/service through paid ad campaigns, social channels and viral marketing pieces

Problem 3: Other clients may be in a highly competitive space and their desired keyword phrases are so difficult it seems impossible to rank for the terms. (I mean, who can really compete with Adobe or Nike for example).

Solution 3: This is also an obstacle we can overcome – it just takes some deep keyword discovery to identify the longer-tail keyword phrases that are lesser competitive. We realize that long tail keywords generally have lower search volumes which makes them less desirable – but our experience says that long tail actually usually means “low hanging fruit”! When someone is specific in their search they are generally more apt to convert. So, although the search volume is lower, you might have better success with a long tail strategy.

The Nutshell:

The solution to all of the issues mentioned above is expert keyword discovery and research. When we do keyword research, we help you find keywords related to your products or services that you can realistically rank for within your budget. We determine how competitive your space is and how realistic it is for you to compete for specific keyword phrases. And hey, if you can’t go after your “money” keywords at first due to budget restrictions or lack of authority with Google – then we start where we can, helping you meet your short term goals while still working towards your big keywords as a long term goal.

 

A Quick Look at How Keyword Research Works

Clients often come to us and want to rank for vague terms like “kids shoes” (just a pretend example).  If you go into Google Adwords and do some quick keyword research, the following information is revealed:

  • 33,100 searches and high competition

We can never promise how long it will take to rank for short-tail keywords, but with a term like this, you’re usually looking at 6 – 12 months or more (and a lot of money) before even have a chance to rank at the top of the Goolge search engine results.

However, for a long tail term, such as “best kids basketball shoes,” there are 110 monthly searches and medium competition. Generally, with a lower number of searches like this, that means there’s less organic competition (the high competition in Adwords refers to the number of advertisers paying to display PPC ads for that keyword), and therefore you have a much better chance of ranking high for that keyword in a shorter period of time.

Of course we don’t base our suggestions off of the Google AdWords difficulty numbers alone, this just helps us narrow the list. Once we have narrowed the list down we can take the exact keywords and use other tools to better determine their organic levels of difficulty.

As mentioned above, in addiction to being easier to rank for, long-tail keywords generally lead to better conversion rates. People who enter a string of keywords as a phrase have a better idea of what they’re looking for. If they type in “kids shoes,” they are likely just doing research and aren’t quite ready to buy yet.

How Long Will Keyword Research Remain Relevant? 

This is the real question. Although Google and the other search engines are clearly moving towards personalized results, the terms used to search will still be very valuable. Google makes their money by selling paid advertisements for business owners. Business owners bid and buy ad placement based off of the keyword data. If Google doesn’t provide search data – how will their advertisers know which keywords to bid on?

Keyword research might be changing, but it’s definitely not going to die as long as Google can make money from keyword based advertisements.

What do you think?

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and 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 love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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