Posts by lancashireonline

  • You can submit URLs to Google in Google’s search results

     

    Google now lets you submit URLs to their index directly in the core Google search results page. All you need to do is search for [submit URL to Google], and Google will display a box at the top of the search results that enables you to submit a URL to Google’s index.

    Here is what it looks like:

    This mimics the functionality of the public submit URL form tool but places it directly as a smart interactive answer directly in the search results.

    With this tool, you can submit any URL you want to the Google index. Google will then review and see if they want to index the URL and show it in their search results. Of course, submitting a URL to Google for inclusion in their search index does not mean (a) it will be included in the index, and (b) it will be shown in their rankings.

     

     

     

     

  • Exoplanet discovery Google doodle salutes the 7 Earth-like planets found by NASA

    Always the fan of space-travel and astronomy, Google wasted no time designing a doodle to acknowledge NASA’s discovery of seven Earth-like planets orbiting a single star 235 trillion miles from our own solar system.

    Named the TRAPPIST-1 solar system, Google shared NASA’s report that three of the seven planets are located in what scientists refer to as the habitable zone: “… the distance from the star it orbits where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.”

    From the Google Doodle Blog:

    Though scientists have some serious studying to do before we can definitively say whether any of the new TRAPPIST-1 planets are habitable, the potential is very promising.

    Designed by doodler Nate Swinehart, the animated image is now being displayed on Google’s US home page and all of Google’s international home pages. On the US home page, the doodle links to a search for “exoplanet discovery.”

    Google previously showed its love for NASA when it posted a similarly-themed doodle after NASA discovered evidence of water flowing on Mars.

    There was also a doodle in July of last year marking when NASA’s Juno probe reached Jupiter after its five-year long journey from earth.


     

     

     

     

     

  • 5 Christmas eCommerce SEO Tips

     

    Each year Christmas presents new challenges and rewards in the retail calendar, as Google continues to change and consumers develop new patterns of purchase behaviour, retailers need to evolve and adapt to this in order to hit their targets.

    • Keeping seasonal pages on your site but removing them from the navigation until they are relevant again so you don’t have to build up authority from scratch
    • Analysing current rankings for Christmas keywords and targeting keywords where you already have some authority providing the best opportunities of ranking well
    • Thinking about clever ways to use Christmas keyword variations across different pages
    • Ensuring your pages aren’t competing against each other for the same target keywords
    • Optimising your site for mobile visitors so they can easily view and purchase products

    With these best practice titbits in the forefront of your mind, let’s take a look at some more strategies, that are becoming more necessary with changes in technology and consumer behaviour.

    1. Connect to your customers with mobile 

    Connect at Christmas

    Image source: Pixabay

    Last year I talked about the importance of having a mobile responsive site to ensure that consumers who are shopping on mobile devices, have a good experience on your site and can easily navigate and make a purchase. As the number of people who shop on mobile continues to grow, retailers can’t deny the need for a mobile site.

    Beyond having a mobile friendly and well optimised site enabling consumers to purchase, mobile also serves an important function for local shoppers at Christmas who are out and about looking where to shop.

    We can all relate to the frantic Christmas shopping experience, consumers can easily be going in-store, on mobile and back to desktop before they make their purchase. You need to make sure your brand is there at as many points as possible and that means when they have a mobile in their hand.

    2. Put your opening hours on Google My Business 

    Setting up your Google My Business listing is a no brainer no matter what time of year it is. Not only will it enable customers to find your physical stores but it will also build trust and ownership around your brand.

    At Christmas the stakes are raised for your Google My Business listing and you need to ensure this is set up correctly. An important part of optimising your Google My Business listing for Christmas is to update your holiday opening hours. What’s the point in keeping your doors open late if anyone with a smartphone can look up your shop and assume its closed?

    3. Integrate organic and paid

    In the past few months Google has made major changes to the way the search engine results pages (SERPs) look. Gone is the right hand bar of ads and in its place there are four paid ads, pushing organic listings further down the page than ever.

    2016 is going to be the first Christmas where this SERP layout is in effect and for eCommerce sites this makes the inclusion of paid media more important than ever. SEO and PPC work very well together and with the right keyword strategy you might achieve total search engine domination.

    SEO and PPC make friends

    Image source: Pixabay

    4. Be more descriptive

    Christmas is the time to be super specific with your product descriptions. Making sure that product descriptions, images and meta data are all optimised for the most relevant long tail keywords (3 – 4 or more words long) ensures that your products have the best chance of being found in search.

    Not only will optimising your products for more specific long-tail phrases like “Rudolph Christmas jumpers for men” help you compete against the big retail giants like Argos and Amazon, who will likely be targeting the generic high volume terms, but it also indicates that the person searching is in a buying frame of mind, whereas a general search like “mens jumpers” might be a consumer who’s at the research stage.

    5. Build links and they will come

    As you may know, SEO doesn’t happen overnight and can take 3-6 months and more (depending on where you’re starting from in terms of authority) to take effect. So if you want to be on page 1 by October/November in time for the Christmas stampede you should be starting in April ideally and July at the absolute latest! With a considerably big difference between the click-through rate of position 1 and 2 it really is a case of “you snooze, you lose”. So start building links from a mix of different types of websites now and make sure they are sprinkled across to all of your seasonal pages, as every page you want to be found organically for will need to build it’s own authority to outrank everyone else and be in the top 10.

    You snooze you lose

    Image source: Pixabay

    So get growing those blogger relationships, start producing that cool offsite content and think of your competitors blissfully unaware.

    Thanks for reading

     

     

  • 5 steps to optimizing your site for Google’s mobile-first index

    Google has started testing its mobile-first index. This new index will look first at the mobile version of your website for its ranking signals and fall back on the desktop version when there is no mobile version.

    Google has been slowly moving toward a mobile-first index for quite a while now. Google first hinted at their intentions of a mobile-first index about a year ago, but November 4 was the first time Google has posted details about the mobile-first index on their own blog.

    So if you have been slow in joining the mobile revolution, now is the time to take action. As mobile continues to dominate search, Google and the other search engines are going to place more and more emphasis on mobile.

    Here are five steps you can take to optimize your site for Google’s mobile-first index.

    1. Speed

    In Google’s Site Performance for Webmasters video (below), Developer Programs Tech Lead Maile Ohye, states that “two seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second.” Users have come to expect websites to load fast, and so does Google. Making sure your site loads fast is essential to ranking on mobile. Here are a few things to consider when optimizing your page speed.

    • Optimize images. Large images can slow down a site. Optimizing images to be the correct size is a great quick win.
    • Minify code. This is the process of removing all unnecessary characters from source code without changing its functionality.
    • Leverage browser caching. Browser caching stores web page resource files on a local computer when a user visits a web page.
    • Reduce redirects. Too many redirects can cause the site to have to reload and slows down the experience.

    2. Don’t block CSS, JavaScript or images

    In the early days of mobile design, blocking these elements was helpful. They often caused more issues and made the site drag. Today this is no longer true.

    Smartphones are, in many cases, more powerful than the computers owned by users. They can handle nearly anything we throw at them. The smartphone GoogleBot can also handle them and wants to be able to see and categorize the same content that users do. So make sure that you don’t hide them.

    3. Mobile design

    SEO has really transitioned from a technical skill to an art. Today’s SEO has to know and understand more than just code and ranking signals; they have to know how to use design to influence rankings.

    Mobile design is an art form in and of itself. In my opinion, responsive design is the best way to go, but no matter your process, here are some tips to optimize mobile site design for search.

    • Never use Flash. Apple killed Flash for mobile. Since many mobile users can’t view Flash elements on their phones, you need to remove them. It’s better to use HTML 5 or Java to add your extra cool elements.
    • Get rid of pop-ups. Lead generation is important, but if your mobile site is overloaded with pop-ups, you’re going to frustrate your users, and they will leave. This will guarantee a higher bounce rate and decreased rankings. So just dump your pop-ups on mobile.
    • Design for “the finger.” Since your mobile users have to navigate with their finger, make sure your design is “finger-friendly.” Accidental taps are annoying, so make sure they can scroll and tap with ease.

    4. On-page optimization

    When it comes to mobile SERPS (search engine results pages), you have less room to work with. So make sure that you keep your titles and descriptions concise and to the point.

    This will help the GoogleBot understand your page faster, as well as give the user a better understanding of who you are. This will lead to a higher click-through rate and improved rankings.

    5. Local optimization

    In September, Google released “Possum,” a massive update to the local search algorithm. Mobile search is crucial for businesses looking to drive foot traffic into their stores. Google’s research into local search behavior shows that local searchers are ready to take action.

    In this report, they show that “50 percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day, and 34 percent who searched on a computer/tablet did the same.” Local businesses have much to gain from the mobile-first index.

    Here are a few things you should implement to increase your mobile visibility:

    • City and state in the title tag
    • City and state in the H1 heading
    • City and state in the URL
    • City and state in content
    • City and state in the alt tags
    • City and state in the meta description
    • Business Name, Phone and Address

    We still have a lot to learn as Google furthers their experiment with their mobile index. But by taking action now, you can help make the case for your site and improve your visibility in mobile search.

    Don’t wait until the switch to mobile-first indexing is “official.” Now is the time for action.

  • 15 Tips to Grow a Social-Media Audience for Your Startup

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    No matter what stage your startup is in, you'll want to start or continue to grow your social media audience. The more people you can reach on social media organically and through advertising, the better your launch and your on-going sales will be.

    Related: How to Craft Your Social Media Marketing Plan

    Here are 15 tips for growing your startup's audience on the three top social networks, starting withstrategies common to all of them:

    1. Create strong social profiles and pages.

    The starting point for growing your audience on any social network is strong profiles and pages for your social accounts. This requires including branded cover photos and profile photos. It also requires filling out all of your details. On Twitter, that's as simple as a 160-character bio, website link and location. Facebook wants a short description, website link, address and phone number. In short, fill out as many fields for your social profiles and pages as you can.

    Next, share a few updates (five to ten) before you start your quest to build an audience. This will give people who visit your social accounts a reason to follow you. If you don't know what to post, do the following:

     

    2. Share quality content.

    Even before your startup gets going fully, start building your audience on most networks by sharing content your target audience will enjoy. For example, if you have a startup for a Facebook marketing tool, start sharing content about Facebook. That could mean blog content, podcasts, videos, presentations, infographics, etc., created by you or by others.

    3. Use friend-finding features.

    Most networks have a way to connect you with people you know. Twitter allows you to search email contacts, Facebook allows you to search email contacts and utilize an advanced people search. Instagram guides you to your Facebook friends on Instagram in its app. LinkedIn allows you to search your email contacts and suggestscurrent and former classmates and work colleagues based on your profile information.

    4. Add links to your top social accounts on your website.

    You can do this by adding small square social network icons to your website's header, footer and sidebar. You can also add the official buttons for each network on your website. You can find the official brand assets, buttons, badges and widgets on Facebook (brand assets and button generator), TwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn. You can also look into social network icons on stock image sites like DepositPhotos.

    5. Add links to your top social accounts to your email signatures.

    Make sure that everyone you communicate with via email knows about your startup, by adding links to your top social accounts in your email signature. You can do this using small square social network icons or standard text links. You can also use services like WiseStamp to create professional signatures with your social links.

    6. Cross-promote your social accounts.

    Already have a large audience on one account? Ask its members to connect with you on another. That will be as simple as sending a tweet to your Twitter followers asking if they are on Pinterest, and if they are, they should follow you there, too.

    Also look for opportunities to link from one social account to another. Pinterest, for example, will allow you to link to Twitter and Facebook. Woobox, a Facebook app maker, has apps that allow you to add tabs to your Facebook page for Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for free.

    Now, here are tips specific to Twitter:

    7. Follow your target Twitter audience and engage with them.

    Twitter allows you to follow up to 5,000 people. You can follow more after people start to follow you. When you follow people on Twitter, they get a notification that they are being followed. In addition to following people, start chatting with them.

     

    Use Twitter Search to find people that match your target audience. Twitter will search keywords in people's bios as well as their tweets. When you see a tweet from someone that you can reply to, do it. If people like your reply, they just might follow you back.

    8. Use Twitter advertising.

    If you have an advertising budget, try Twitter advertising. Twitter will promote your account to your target audience members to encourage them to follow you.

    Here are tips specific to Facebook:

    9. Use your Facebook page to 'like' other pages.

    If you click on the drop-down arrow next to your photo at the top right of your Facebook dashboard, you have the option to use Facebook as your page by selecting it from the list. This will allow you to 'like' other Facebook pages as your page and comment on them. Find pages where your target audience are engaged and start communicating with them with your page.

    Related: Facebook Just Gave Small Businesses an Awesome New Video Tool

    10. Open your profile up to Facebook followers.

    Facebook has a setting that you can enable to allow others to follow your personal profile. Any public updates you share will be shared with your followers in the news feed without your having to accept them as a friend. This will help you grow an audience that you can promote your business to while keeping your private things private.

    11. Participate in Facebook groups.

    Another way to utilize your personal profile on Facebook is to engage in groups related to your niche. Find groups your target audience would be interested in, join them and start engaging in the discussions.

     

    12. Follow others on Twitter.

    As happens with Twitter, when you follow other people on Instagram, they will be notified. You can find your target audience by searching for hashtags they would likely use when they post on Instagram. Then follow people and engage with them by commenting on their photos and videos in the news feed.

    13. Use hashtags on Twitter.

    When you share photos and videos, be sure to use hashtags in your captions. Hashtags are utilized by Instagram users to find visual content on specific topics. As people come across your photos and videos in a hashtag stream, they will be able to click a button next to your name to follow you.

    Here are tips specific to LinkedIn. It can be tough to build an audience upon due to LinkedIn's goal of having people connect only with those they know well, but LinkedIn is great for B2B connections:

    14. Participate in LinkedIn groups.

    LinkedIn groups are great for engaging with other active LinkedIn members. Participate in the discussions and provide valuable answers to get people to want to connect with you.

    Related: The One Thing You're Doing Wrong on LinkedIn

    15. Comment on LinkedIn's blog posts.

    LinkedIn allows members to post blogs, and some of those members have thousands of followers. Find people in your niche with lots of followers, follow their latest posts and engage with your target audience in the comments of those posts.

    These are some of my top quick wins for growing your startup's social media audience. Do you have any extras to add? If so, please do in the comments!

     

     

  • The Google Sandbox

    The Google Sandbox

    One of the most common questions I get asked is ‘what is the Google sandbox?’ or ‘How can I get out of the sandbox?’, so in this guide I'll aim to dispel some of the myths about what the Sandbox is, why it’s there, and how you get out of it.

    What is the Google sandbox?

    To begin with I must say that the Google sandbox is a ‘theory’. Google has never confirmed its existence, so until they do, it will remain a theory. The Google sandbox theory is extremely simple. Around February of 2004 (yes I've been doing this for that long!) Webmasters of new websites started to notice that their websites were not ranking well in the Google results for their targeted keywords, but they were seeing good results in Yahoo! and MSN (or bing as it's now known), or they found that their site ranked well for a couple of weeks and were then dropped to the 8th page of the results.

    The reason for Google doing this is not known for sure, but there are a couple of theories: 

    The first theory is that Google may delay the inclusion of brand-new websites to encourage Webmasters to build quality, content-based websites instead of building poor quality sites providing information that is available on countless other websites. The delay might encourage webmasters to focus on the content of their main website instead of building useless mini sites. So in essence, rather than the search engines being full of poor quality but heavily SEOd (search engine optimized) websites, they would get a better quality of website prevailing for the more popular keywords. 

    The second, more cynical theory is that Google makes huge sums of money from from its AdWords listings, so if your site gets relegated to the 8th page of Google, then the only way you can get listed is by paying for a sponsored listing. Obviously if Google sandboxes every new website, and a company has a large advertising budget then they will have no qualms paying 20¢ to get people to access their website.

    Regardless of the actual reason behind the introduction of the sandbox, it has had advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is for the users of Google; they can now be assured that for any popular keywords they enter, they will be seeing quality websites, not just websites that are good at search engine optimization. The disadvantage is for the search engine optimizers and producers of new websites as it means all their efforts will not be rewarded for eight months.

    How do I know if I'm in the Sandbox?

    Perhaps the easiest way is simply by looking at the age of your site. Most websites come out of the sandbox after 8 months or so, so if you have a website that more than a year old that is fully optimized and has a lot of quality backlinks and you are still listed on the 8th page of the results, then chances are your website is receiving some kind of penalty.

     

    What can you do to get out of the sandbox?

    If you have a new website, then you can expect that it will be fully listed within 6-8 months in Google from the time when Google first indexed your website. While you are waiting, don't just sit a twiddle your thumbs, add content to your web site, get good incoming links and make sure that your web pages are optimized for Google. But be careful not to over-optimize or you could end up doing more harm than good. See the Avoid Getting Banned tutorial to check you aren't over optimizing your website.

    In order to reduce your waiting time in the Sandbox, as soon as you have registered your domain name create a few temporary pages and link to it from a couple of other website to make Google index your website. The 6-8 month delay seems to start with Google's first contact with your website. The sooner Google knows about your website, the sooner it will be listed.

    Remember, Google isn’t the only search engine on the Internet, Yahoo! and Bing don't have this sandbox so don't focus all your efforts on Google alone, but also optimize your web pages for these search engines.

     

    Can you speed up the whole process?

    It seems that there's nothing or very little that can be done to speed up the sandbox process. Some webmasters advocate that getting inbound links that point to different web pages of your website (not just to your homepage) can speed your your time spent in the Sandbox. Others suggest trying to get links from authority websites in the same category as your own website.

    The sandbox is Google's attempt to prevent spammers from creating web sites that are just after quick gains. Google aims to return high quality web sites with good content in its result pages. So while you're waiting for your site to emerge you might as well spend your time productively; write good content for your website, and try to get good quality, one-way backlinks, and before you know it the 6-8months will be up.

     

  • How To Avoid Getting Banned or Penalized

    How To Avoid Getting Banned or Penalized

    I get many people contacting me asking, “Why is my site not listed in Google?” or “Why am I ranked 387th in Google for my most popular search term when I've been optimizing my site relentlessly?”. More often than not the reason is because the website in question is suffering a penalty of some sort.

    Search Engines Don’t Like SEO

    It’s no secret that search engine operators don’t like people manipulating the results through optimization, but this is exactly what search engine optimizers (SEO’s) do. So if you make it blatantly obvious that you are performing SEO on your website then the search engines are going to penalize your website. Therefore when performing SEO for your website you must always make sure what you're doing is not frowned upon by the search engines. 

    If your website gets banned by the search engines then it means you've probably done something drastically bad to the extent where they don’t want to list your website at all. 

    So how do you know if your website is banned?

    So how can you check whether your website is banned by a search engine? 

    Check the search results

    If you go to Google and simply type the URL of your website you should be presented with something similar to below: -

    avoiding search engine penalization

     

    If you enter your domain and you get a message saying “Sorry, no information is available for the URL: xyz” then chances are your site is banned. 

    search engine penalization

    The only other time you may receive this message is if your website is brand new and hasn't been crawled by the search engines yet.

     

    Check the PageRank Bar

    Checking Google PageRank

    If you download the Google Toolbar (http://toolbar.google.com) then you can view the PageRank of every website you visit. If you navigate to your website and you see a gray bar where your PageRank would normally be displayed (as the graph above displays), then this is a very strong indication that your website has been banned.

     

    Check Google Webmaster Tools 

    Google provides Webmaster Tools,which is a free service that enables you to check for potential problems with your website. It details the number of errors it encountered while crawling your website, and also any on-page problems, such a duplicated page title and descriptions that are defined in the <head></head> section of your webpages.

    You can also upload sitemaps of your website to ensure that Google knows about, and spiders all of the pages of your website.

     

     

    How to Avoid Being Banned or Penalized 

    When you optimize your website you should always think about how your website will appear from the point of view of your visitors and the search engines. There are six common pitfalls that people fall into when optimizing their websites, and will usually account for 99% of all problems:

    No diversity in Anchor Text

    Search Engines like natural linking, that is where a website links to another out of choice, so if a website has 100 inbound links that all have exactly the same anchor text, is that natural? No, quite the opposite, it’s highly unnatural. In order to avoid this pitfall, you should vary your link anchor text for each link partnership you set-up, or each time you submit to a web directory. If you’re smart about your link anchor text then there is no way your linking strategy will look unnatural

    Getting Backlinks Too Quickly

    If you operate a new website and you get backlinks too quickly then this is often a clear sign of optimization tactics. Even worse, is the situation where all of these backlinks contain exactly the same anchor text (as previously mentioned). If you operate a new website you should build links slowly. As I've mentioned already, the search engines like to see natural linking, if your website is only a week old and already has 200 backlinks, is that natural? Link building should be a gradual process, and you should resist the urge to try to get thousands of links as soon as you launch your site. Although your intentions may be well intended, you may actually be doing more harm than good.

    Keyword Stuffing

    Another important step to prevent being your website being penalized is to ensure you don’t over-optimize your website. That is to say don’t ‘keyword stuff’. Keyword stuffing is a form of spamming where you use your keyword or keyphrase over-and-over again in your web page in order to increase the keyword’s weighting in the body text. The search engines can spot deliberate spamming quite easily, and as a result, should be avoided. 

    Usually if you write a well written, informative web page then there is no need to ‘optimize’ a web page, as you will have naturally mentioned your keyword/phrase in the text. The only thing you should consider optimizing is the Title tag, this should always contain your primary keyword or phrase.

    Title Tag, Meta Tag , Image Alt Tag Spamming

    In addition to over-optimization of your body text, you can also be penalized for spamming your tag attributes. For example if you create a title tag that looks like 

    <title>Doughnuts, DOUGHTNUTS, Doughnut, Doughnut flavors, doughnuts doughnuts doughnuts, Doughnuts, DOUGHTNUTS, Doughnut, Doughnut flavors, doughnuts doughnuts doughnuts</title>

    Then the search engines are likely to take a dislike to this and may penalize your website.

    Duplicating Content

    Search engines like unique content; they don’t like seeing the same information being duplicated across multiple websites. I have seen instances where websites have been dropped from the search engines for doing exactly this. If you must insist on duplicating content from other web pages then you should disallow access to it using your robots.txt file to avoid any potential problems. To do this create a file in the root of your website so that it can be access by going to http://www.mydomain.com/robots.txt

    In the robots.txt file your can disallow access to particular files on your website

    Disallow: myduplicatedpage.html

    Or you may also specify directories:

    Disallow: /mycontent/

    Hidden Text

    Hidden text is where you create text on your web page that is the same color as the background color, so it is in effect hidden. This allows you to enter your target keywords and phrases without the viewer of the website aware that the text is there.

    In this example I've gone to a website that has hidden text (I'll keep their identity secret)

    Hidden Text Example

    If I then select all of the text on the website by pressing ctrl-a I can see that the website has a lot of hidden text at the top of the page


    Viewing Hidden Text

     

    Drastically Changing Your File Structure

    By drastically changing the file structure or filenames of your website, you run the risk of damaging your search engine rankings. The reason you may get penalized for this is because it will leave a large number of 'bad' URLs in the search engine's index, and the search engines of course don't like referring their visitors to '404 Page Not Found' resources as it reflect badly on them.

    One way around this is to redirect your old pages to your new pages, in time the search engines will update their listings and you will not suffer any adverse affects. This is done using your .htaccess file, where you can issue a 301 permanent redirect, so when someone accesses that URL it will redirect the visitor to the new location. The search engines will also update their indexes with the new URLs.

  • How Your Brand Can Create an Enviable Customer Experience for Mobile Web Searchers

    We've all heard how mobile is transforming the web experience, reshaping the landscape for marketers, brands and consumers.

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    As marketers, we now have to account for how our content will be accessed and consumed on mobile devices, whether that's a phone, tablet or phablet. As brands, we realize our efforts will be judged not only on how well or high we show up in the SERPs, but also on much we can delight the on-the-go prospect who needs information that's (a) fast, (b) accurate and (c) available from any device.

    As prospects and consumers, we've come to know and value customer experience in large part because brands that use mobile to deliver what we need when we need it and in a way that's easily consumed, have earned our attention — and maybe even our dollars.

    But that's where the similarities seemingly end. Marketers and brands seem to get so wrapped up in the technology (responsive design, anyone?) they forget that, at the end of the day, prospects want what they want right now — in the easiest-to-access way possible.

    I've come to believe that, while marketers appreciate the overall value of mobile, they have yet to realize how, for customers, it's all about what it allows them to accomplish.

    At the customer/end-user level it's not about mobile-friendly or responsive design; it's about creating an enviable customer experience, one web searchers will reward you for with traffic, brand mentions and conversions.

    I was alerted to the prominence of mobile phone use by noticing how many people sit staring at their phones while out at dinner, even as family members and friends are seated all around them. "How rude," I thought. Then I realized it wasn't only the people at restaurants; it's people everywhere: walking down the street, driving (sadly and dangerously), sitting in movie theaters, at work, even texting while they talk on the phone.

  • Advanced Keyword Optimization – Utilizing Keyword Patterns

     

    Advanced Keyword Optimization – Utilizing Keyword Patterns

    When you're choosing the keywords your website will target you should always bear in mind the adage “less is more”. Sometimes selecting the keyword that will bring you the most traffic is not always the best option, in fact if you have a new website it could be a big mistake. Also, if you optimize your website for just one keyword, not only are you narrowing your market but you’re also waving a big flag to the search engines saying, “Please Penalize Me”. Remember, search engines don’t like SEO – they don’t like the idea of people manipulating the results. If you target only one keyword it will be very obvious that you are performing SEO on your website and chances are you'll be penalized as a result.

    If you have a new website then the chances are your website will be “sandboxed” for eight months for any popular keywords. So if you target your website solely for the most popular keyword then a) your website won’t even appear in Google’s search results (due to being sandboxed) and b) the competition for such a popular keyword will be very tough so getting a good ranking will be difficult. It is always better to have some traffic as supposed to no traffic.

    The key to successful keyword optimization is to optimize your pages for a relevant keyword pattern, not just a single keyphrase. So how do we decide upon these ‘Keyword Patterns’? Lets assume you want to rank highly for the terms “Debt” and “Consolidation Loan” – both of which are highly competitive terms as these keywords generate the most traffic. How would I combine these to maximize my success using a single pattern on a single page? Easy, I combine the unique patterns into one: “Debt Consolidation Loans Lender”.

    These important pattern words should be used in my title, in my description, in my keyword phrases, and in my body text. Using a combination of this phrase in some form within the title/meta tags is good because they are the most competitive for the industry I have chosen and require prominence in my site. 

    So I now have the potential to rank well for a wide variety of phrases such as Debt, Debt Lender, Consolidation Loan, Consolidation Loans, Consolidation Lender, Debt Loan, Debt Loan, Debt Loans Lender…. and any other combinations of these phrases that you (or people using the search engines) can string together.

    So now what we need to do is create page content and an internal linking structure that will compliment my keyword patterns. Remember, I'm not targeting the phrase “Debt Consolidation Loans Lender”, but different variations of the words that make up this phrase, so all I need to do is create pages that are optimized to contain these words. Because I'm not targeting one specific phrase there is no chance of the website appearing to be “spammy”. Instead, it will make my website appear to be entirely natural to the search engines without any blatant SEO taking place. To do this I must create pages that contain a mixture of these words in the Title, Meta keyword/description tags and the body of the page and also in the anchor text that I use in my internal linking. This will ensure my website is extremely well optimized for any combination of my keyword pattern. In many instances, simply having a good linking structure and well-written content will be enough to get a good ranking for some niche keywords that will bring traffic to your website.

    Keyword patterning should not only take place on-page, it should also be off-page as well, primarily in the anchor text of the links that point to your website. As I've already said, the search engines don’t like SEO, they want natural results, so if they see that 90% of all anchor text is exactly the same, e.g. “debt consolidation” then it’s pretty obvious SEO is taken place.

    So, just as you've done with the text on your pages, you need to vary the anchor text of your backlinks using different variations of your keyword pattern. So for example we could use these different anchor texts for our backlinks:

    Debt Lender, 
    Debt Management
    Consolidation Loan, 
    Consolidation Loans, 
    Consolidation Lender, 
    Debt Loan, 
    Debt Loan, 
    Debt Loans Lender
    … Etc. Etc.

    and we’d still be targeting our initial key phrases of “Debt” but also our secondary patterns of “lender”, “loans”, “debt lender”, “debt management”, “consolidation loans”, “debt loan”. These are natural patterns that you would expect a website to receive from natural linking and are extremely powerful for getting better search engine results. Ideally, try to create a different, unique anchor text variation for every link you create that will point to your website.

    By applying natural linking to your web pages you will avoid many of the pitfalls that websites often fall in to, such as, “why am I ranked 384th when I am 1st for allinanchor?”, the reason – unnatural linking, the solution: linking patterns. The reason why a particular website might rank at #1 for a variety of popular search terms is not just a fluke, it’s because they use keyword patterns extensively when optimizing their website.

  • How to Build Backlinks Using Your Competitors’ Broken Pages

    We all know building backlinks is one of the most important aspects of any successful SEO and digital marketing campaign. However, I believe there is an untapped resource out there for link building: finding your competitors' broken pages that have been linked to by external sources.

    Allow me to elaborate.

    Finding the perfect backlink often takes hours, and it can can take days, weeks, or even longer to acquire. That’s where the link building method I've outlined below comes in. I use it on a regular basis to build relevant backlinks from competitors' 404 pages.

    Please note: In this post, I will be using Search Engine Land as an example to make my points.

    Ready to dive in? Great, because I'm going to walk you through the entire link building process now.

    First, you need to find your competitor(s). This is as easy as searching for the keyword you’re targeting on Google and selecting websites that are above you in the SERPs. Once you have a list of competitors, create a spreadsheet to put all of your competitors on, including their position in the rankings and the date you listed them.

    Next, download Screaming Frog SEO Spider [a freemium tool]. This software will allow you to crawl all of your competitors website, revealing all their 404 pages. To do this, simply enter your competitors' URLs in the search bar one at a time, like this:OOskptt.png

    Once the crawl is complete, click "Response Codes."

    e4LciHG.png

    Then, click on the dropdown arrow next to "filter" and select "Client Error 4xx."

    HYi6TWa.png

    Now you'll be able to see the brand's 404 pages.

    Once you've completed the step above, simply press the "Export" button to export all of their 404 pages into a file. Next, import this file into to a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Docs. On this part of the spreadsheet, create tabs called "Trust Flow," "Citation Flow," "Referring Domains," and "External Backlinks."

    Now that you’ve imported all of their 404 pages, you need to dissect the images and external links if there are any. A quick way to do this is to highlight the cell block by pressing on the specific cell at the top, then press "Filter" under the "Data" tab.H3YN9BG.pngLook for the drop-down arrow on the first cell of that block. Click the drop-down arrow, and underneath "Filter by values," you will see two links: "Select all" and "Clear."

    Press "Clear," like this:

    ZERYiSm.pngThis will clear all preset options. Now, type in the URL of the competitor's website in the search box and click "Select all."SKqXxQ2.png

    This will filter out all external links and just leave you with their 404 pages. Go through the whole list, highlighting the pages you think you can rewrite.

    Now that you have all of your relevant 404 pages in place, run them through Majestic [a paid tool] or Moz’s Open Site Explorer (OSE) [a freemium tool] to see if their 404 pages actually have any external links (which is what we're ultimately looking for). Add the details from Majestic or Moz to the spreadsheet. No matter which tool you use (I use OSE), hit "Request a CSV" for the backlink data. (Import the data into a new tab on your spreadsheet, or create a new spreadsheet altogether if you wish.)

    Find relevant backlinks linking to (X’s) website. Once you've found all of the relevant websites, you can either highlight them or remove the ones that aren’t from your spreadsheet.

    Please note: It's worth running each of the websites you're potentially going to be reaching out to through Majestic and Moz to find out their citation flow, trust flow, and domain authority (DA). You may only want to go for the highest DA; however, in my opinion, if it's relevant to your niche and will provide useful information, it's worth targeting.

    With the 404s and link opportunities in hand, focus on creating content that’s relevant for the brands you hope to earn a link from. Find the contact information for someone at the brand you want the link from. This will usually be clear on their website; but if not, you can use tools such as VoilaNorbert and Email Hunter to get the information you need. Once you have this information, you need to send them an email similar to this one:


    Hi [THEIR NAME],

    My name is [YOUR NAME], and I carry out the [INSERT JOB ROLE – i.e., MARKETING] at [YOUR COMPANY'S NAME or WEBSITE].

    I have just come across your blog post regarding [INSERT THEIR POST TITLE] and when I clicked on one of the links on that post, it happened to go to a 404 page. As you’re probably aware, this is bad for user experience, which is the reason I’m emailing you today.

    We recently published an in-depth article regarding the same subject of the broken link you have on your website: [INSERT YOUR POST TITLE]. 

    Here's the link to our article: [URL].

    I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind linking to our article instead of the 404 page you’re currently linking to, as our article will provide your readers with a better user experience.

    We will be updating this article so we can keep people provided with the very latest information as the industry evolves.

    Thank you for reading this email and I look forward to hearing from you.

    [YOUR NAME]


    Disclaimer: The email example above is just an example and should be tailored to your own style of writing.

    In closing, remember to keep detailed notes of the conversations you have with people during outreach, and always follow up with people you connect with.

    I hope this tactic helps your SEO efforts in the future. It's certainly helped me find new places to earn links. Not only that, but it gives me new content ideas on a regular basis.

    Do you use a similar process to build links? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

     

     

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    Were now working on making us one of the best free website directories around by now bringing you free website tools for your website. Including Speed tests for your website, Check the page rank and backlinks for your site and lots more to follow so keep checking back and give us a share. Please contact us with your suggestions aswell as we would love to hear them. 

     

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