5 Reasons Adding a Number to Your Blog Post Titles Increases Page Views

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You should add a number to at least half of your blog posts according to a successful small business marketing blogger. What he really means is that list formatted posts, such as 4 Best Ways to Make Money Blogging, 10 Incredible Gmail Tricks and Tips or 4 Best Ways to Make Money Blogging… are extremely effective in driving social sharing which also leads to linking which is great for search ranking.

“Over the past three years, I’ve crafted titles for over 5,000 blog posts and have received over 58 million unique visitors to date,” said Brandon Gaille in a guest post on Google’s Inside AdSense blog. “With that many titles and that much traffic, it’s allowed me to identify what types of titles get the most traffic.”

Gaille has been on a tear over the past 3 years, founding business advice site BrandonGaille.com which now has over 2 million monthly visitors. Galille has since parlayed that success into offering a course called The Blog Millionaire for others to learn how to make millions too. “The overwhelming success of his blog system led Brandon to create an online course to guide bloggers and businesses down the same proven path of success that his clients pay him up to $100,000/year for,” said Galille on LinkedIn. There is currently a waiting list to join the course!

5 Reasons Adding a Number to Your Article Titles Increase Traffic

1. Placing a Number Gives Users What They Are Used To!

Call it the BuzzFeed effect, but lists drive traffic and a number in the title signifies a list. It’s really that simple.

“Titles that begin with numbers are proving to drive traffic,” says Gaille. “This is largely due to the increased consumption of users reading list posts more than any other type of blog post. A list post typically has anywhere from seven to forty key points, which are listed out numerically.”

2. List Posts Are Shared the Most on Social

People love to share List Posts on social media like Facebook and sharing can supercharge your traffic. Why not play into the social media game and give them what they want, short, easy to digest sharable content.

3. Odd Numbers in Titles Are 20% More Effective

“Although no one has figured out exactly why this happens, the odd numbered titles get more clicks than the even numbered titles,” said Gaille.

I think it’s probably because it sounds more legit, not made up. For instance, if somebody posts the 10 best ways to drive traffic, people will inherently think that the writer thought of 10 points and stopped thinking. However, if it was the 7 best, it sounds as if these are actually what the author thinks are truly best.

4. People Love to Link to Lists Which Makes for Great SEO

Search engine optimization is driven by links and what better way to get links than to get your content shared on social. So part of your SEO strategy should be to write content that people want to link to and then not only will they link in their own blogs but they will also get the word out by sharing your posts on Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and many other places.

5. Gaining a List Site Reputation Will Cause Repeat Traffic

Just like Brandon Gaille has discovered, writing lots of list style posts and including a number in the title gives you traction as a place people want to go. People like simple straight forward easy to read advice and that’s what Gaille delivers. Those who are looking for something to share on social or for inspiration on an article (like this one) find list sites a great destination source.

The post 5 Reasons Adding a Number to Your Blog Post Titles Increases Page Views appeared first on WebProNews.

December 6th 2016 Facebook, Google, Marketing, Search, SEO

You Are an Expert SEO, but How Do You Prove It?

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I’m not doubting that you are a qualified Expert SEO, but my question for you is, "How do you prove just how qualified you are, especially when attempting to solicit new clients?"

Now before you take the question personally (please don’t!), let’s step back and ask this in a more general, industry-centric way.  How does anyone prove that they are an expert SEO?  What are the qualifications or milestones and how does one prove that they have earned the title?

Years ago (many years ago!), it used to be that all one had to do is show the results in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and demonstrate to their future clients how quickly they could give them top rankings.  (It was also a lot easier back then to get a top ranking!).

However, now there are all of these rules.  (Are they really rules, or just a particular entity’s “opinion” and then again, that opinion does, uh, matter quite a bit if one is ranking on that “entity,” if you know what I mean.)

Before I talk in circles more than what I am already doing, let’s just say that results do not always prove capability and capability is not always demonstrated in results. 

So, let’s go back to our original question.  How can you prove you competence, and more importantly, your expertise in the area of search engine optimization?

Let me offer one way of proving yourself, or at least providing something tangible that your clients may be able to see with their own eyes.  That is, certification.

Certification Demonstrates Acquisition (Mastery) of Knowledge

Certification is not a new concept.  In fact, there are many different companies who offer certification and offer it for different knowledge areas. 

There are many different skill sets for which you can get certified out there in the real, as well as the virtual world.  For example, the ever-popular (but often expensive) case of investing in training and experience for the PMP certification is an example of certification on the higher end of the spectrum.  But, there are also other free certification programs (including HubSpot) available to whet your appetite and get you ready for bigger and better opportunities.  That is just a mention of two ends of the spectrum of training and certification available on the internet.

By the way, speaking of the PMP (Project Management) certification, Simplilearn offers their self-paced training for only $299 USD, compared to thousands of dollars charged by other companies/competitors.  And, speaking from my own personal experience, having spent too much money for a PMP training program from a presumably reputable company, that turned out to be riddled with errors, spending more money for the Simplilearn’s competitors does not mean that you receive the quality that should come along with that high price tag! 

Fortunately, Simplilearn, from what I have heard, delivers on that high quality! 

Read further down to hear about some of those favorable things that are said about Simplilearn, not just my words, but other learners who have taken the Simplilearn course(s)!

Whichever path you choose, there are quite a few options available when it comes to “getting certified” in your skill set (and new skill sets).

In this case, since we are talking about proving that you are an expert in the knowledge and application of search engine optimization skills and the skill set as a whole, we would be referencing a type of SEO certification.  And, I know just the place that offers the training that you need for SEO certification.  That place is Simplilearn.

Simplilearn’s Track Record of Excellent Ratings

Simplilearn, with their “Advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Certification Training” has done very well for themselves, with 1,318 learners and a near perfect star rating.  Almost fifteen hundred students can’t be wrong, can they?

Tip:  When you are looking for a training company and/or a certification company, be sure to see what others say about them.  You want to check out the testimonials, the reviews, the ratings.  In this case, Simplilearn has them.

Online Learning at its Best

Online learning has been around for a while.  Several universities offer it and have developed ways for learners to incorporate traditional methods of learning in virtual (privacy of their own homes) environments.

Simplilearn has done the same thing and offers it in a self-paced environment.  Years ago, before the internet, self-paced courses were offered through the mail and sometimes called “correspondence courses.”  Now, with the advent of the internet, it is much easier to go through a fulfilling training process, with access to instructors (who are experts themselves) and to pace through the program at a rate that is comfortable for you, and conducive to your busy schedule (as we all have these days!).

Simplilearn also offers training for certification in other programs, such as their Digital Marketing Certified Associate course.

What Are People Saying About the Simplilearn Training Experience?

Gail Gardner, proprietress of the popular GrowMap.com web site has only good things to say about her experience as a Simplilearn learner. 

In fact, she has written quite an extensive recommendation of the Simplilearn programs on her own site, at “Simplilearn Digital Marketing Training: Get Qualified Now for High Paying In-Demand Jobs.”

Need Some More Convincing?

 
If the provision of a way of proving that you are truly the expert SEO that you know that you are (and have been saying that you are) is not reason enough, there are plenty more reasons why this SEO training is something that is highly appealing to those interested in SEO.  (And, don’t forget about the other training opportunities that Simplilearn offers, even though we are talking about SEO here!).

Here is a broad list and I know that you can add to it!

  • Proof that you know your stuff;
  • No matter how much we know, we can always learn more, and here is your opportunity to learn more about SEO;
  • The opportunity to practice your skills while under the tutelage of the masters;
  • Becoming a “Master” yourself (maybe teaching someday?);
  • Getting up to speed on all of the new information; techniques; analytics; tips; strategies (need I list more?);
  • Interactive methods of learning, including workbooks, exercise, and quizzes that help to test your knowledge and give you a feel for where you are in the learning process;
  • The knowledge breadth of SEO topics >> start to finish;
  • A simulation exam for that practice run at it before the real thing;
  • And, bringing it full circle, that certificate of completion of your training.

In Conclusion…

It is very likely that when you have completed this SEO coursework and training (Advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Certification Training) that you may not even feel the need to actually “prove” yourself.  You will have gained so much confidence in what you have already been practicing (and have now enhanced beyond that beginning point) that you naturally exude the confidence and strength in what you are doing.

Your peers and your future clients will be able to sense this and naturally follow your lead.  They will likely be moved by your confidence and be drawn to you.  It wouldn’t surprise me (assuming you target the completion of your training) if those clients are flocking to YOU as that expert SEO!   Once that happens, consider yourself having proven that you know your stuff, and all thanks to taking that step toward SEO Certification and the Search Engine Optimization Training like that which is offered by Simplilearn.
 

The post You Are an Expert SEO, but How Do You Prove It? appeared first on SEO Chat.

November 30th 2016 SEO

6 Strategies for Small Businesses to Outrank National Competition in Search Engines

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by Jayson DeMers

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an effective and cost-efficient strategy, so long as you can get past the biggest obstacle to success: competition.

Even if you work tirelessly to rank for a valuable keyword, one strong competitor is all it takes to knock you out of the top position and compromise what you’ve built. Big national companies, which have spent years establishing massive domain authorities and solid positions in their respective industries, are some of the fiercest competitors there are, but there are strategies small businesses can use to remain competitive.

Top Strategies for Success

These are some of the most effective ways to remain competitive on a national scale, even with a limited budget:

1. Highlight your brand’s unique advantages.

As Elorus notes, one of the best ways for small brands to remain competitive with bigger brands is to show off what makes them unique; for example, a small business may get the edge on a national competitor by showing off personalized customer service (such as with a dedicated account representative). You can do this in SEO too; the trick is to select keywords and phrases that reflect those unique advantages. Write pages of content on your site that fully explain and detail those advantages, and optimize accordingly.

2. Target niche keywords.

Along similar lines, you can differentiate yourself by choosing more niche target keywords. Instead of optimizing for basic keywords relevant to the entirety of your industry, choose keywords that are only relevant to your specific demographics. For example, you could choose keywords that appeal to an audience segment that you seek, but your national competitors wouldn’t. It’s a way of taking advantage of audience members that nobody else is pursuing.

3. Use more long-tail keywords.

As explained by Moz, another good strategy is to optimize for more long-tail keywords. “Head” keywords are generally short, topic-based keywords like “taco restaurant.” These keywords are high in search volume, which makes them generate lots of traffic, but they’re also highly competitive. The opposite is to choose long-tail keywords, which contain more words and longer phrases, usually representing longer, more conversational queries, like “where are the spiciest tacos in California.” These won’t see as much search volume, which gives them less total potential, but at the same time, they’ll be far easier to rank for.

4. Consider local optimization.

Quick Sprout offers another strategy in the form of pursuing local optimization (local SEO) specifically. Google actually uses two separate algorithms for national search results and local results. For local results, it displays the top three relevant results in a “local 3-pack,” where each company’s name is presented next to links to a website, phone number, and directions. Optimizing for this isn’t much different from national optimization, but will maximize your audience’s relevance and weed out some competition. You’ll need to optimize for more local-specific keyword terms and phrases and get yourself listed in local directories like Yelp or TripAdvisor.

5. Rely on third-party references.

Many SEO strategies have benefits in addition to their ability to increase your search engine rankings, especially when they involve third-party sources. For example, getting guest posts published on external publishers will earn you more inbound traffic from referral links and boost your brand’s reputation. The same is true for any local citations you earn with third-party sources. To get an edge over the competition, focus less on the primary goal of earning higher rankings, and diversify your strategy by earning traffic, visibility, and a better reputation with these third-party references.

6. Seek alternative modes of visibility.

Finally, remember what the core value of your SEO campaign is in the first place; the quality of your content. If you write great content, you’ll be rewarded with higher search rankings, but the power of your content is independently rewarding. Consider using your content to generate alternative modes of visibility; for example, you can promote it more heavily on social media to produce traffic from those channels, or you could specifically produce it to help your current customers with FAQs or tutorials to improve customer retention and visibility among your most loyal users.

Hedging Your Bets

For the most part, small businesses can be competitive on a national scale, even with a limited budget. However, some niches are especially tough and some situations make it difficult to see a positive ROI.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to hedge your bets when it comes to online visibility and marketing your business. SEO works best when working in conjunction with other strategies, especially as your reputation grows. Keep a close eye on how your strategies develop and don’t be afraid to make cuts and adjustments as necessary.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

6 Ways to Make Seasonal Content Effective in SEO

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by Jayson DeMers

In the SEO world, most people pay significant attention to “evergreen” content, which is content that remains relevant no matter what time of the year it is, or even what year it is. It can be repurposed, reposted, re-syndicated, and re-read at any time, and it still retains its value, so most people see it athe smart, long-term investment.

While this is mostly true, you shouldn’t neglect the potential power of its counterpart–seasonal content. Seasonal content is content that’s only valuable or relevant during certain times of the year or during certain events; for example, it could be tied to a literal season, a holiday, or a particularly busy time of the year for your business.

For example, you might write about how to protect your plants from the winter cold, or about your favorite Halloween recipes, or even how to address a boom in real estate spending. But how can you implement this seasonal content effectively?

Key Considerations

These are some of the most important things to keep in mind:

1. Remember the advantages.

Seasonal content isn’t inherently better or worse than evergreen content; instead, it has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, even though it’s only effective for part of the year, it also comes with less competition, so you can use it as a way to build a more specific niche readership. It’s also useful for targeting specific keywords related to your chosen season and it can build your brand’s expertise in that area. Play to those advantages when developing your content.

2. Headlines are everything.

The headlines of your articles are the most important feature–with seasonal content as well as evergreen. The headline is the first thing your readers are going to see, and the most important piece to optimize for SEO, so put ample time and energy into creating your seasonal content headlines. Make sure you explicitly include keywords relevant to that season, or your readers may be disappointed when they read it.

3. Build on your previous efforts.

Seasonal content may not be relevant for the entire year, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be reused or built upon. After all, winter comes around every 12 months (whether you like it or not). Instead of launching a new seasonal content strategy every year, or abandoning your efforts at the end of the season, reexamine your strategy to build on your previous year’s efforts and keep your momentum going.

4. Only syndicate your posts when appropriate.

Hopefully, you’ve already got a syndication strategy in place, promoting your older content marketing posts on social media and other publication channels on a regular basis. However, you’ll want to avoid promoting your seasonal content when it isn’t appropriate, or it could appear as though you aren’t organized. Instead, keep your evergreen content in regular rotation, and only syndicate your seasonal content when the time is right.

5. Pay attention to the competition.

Next, pay close attention to how your competition is using seasonal content. Not every industry benefits from using seasonal content, so think about what your contemporaries are doing. Beyond that, look for key competitive opportunities by considering types of content your competitors aren’t writing, and jump on them. If your competitors seem to have a lockdown on a given seasonal niche, it may not be worth the pursuit. One of the greatest advantages of seasonal content is its low competition, so if that advantage is made irrelevant, its power significantly wanes.

6. Target your keywords carefully.

Finally, do your keyword research well in advance of creating any content. Seasonal keywords spike in traffic for short periods of time, so it’s important to notice patterns in traffic and competition from year to year. Optimize your headlines and body content accordingly.

Keeping these considerations in mind and adjusting your strategy accordingly will help you develop better seasonal content and make it work better for your brand. Evergreen content, while cost-effective, doesn’t have a monopoly on the content marketing world, and doesn’t need to be your only developed content. Understand where your business fits in the scope of your industry and balance your content strategy accordingly.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

November 19th 2016 SEO

How Well Do You Understand the Google Mobile-First Index? Mobile SEO Quiz

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How Well Do You Understand the Google Mobile-First Index? Mobile SEO Quiz was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Google reaffirmed in a Nov. 4 post on the Webmaster Central Blog that a mobile-first index is coming.

I think many people have heard the news. I think many of those people are confused by it.

Are you clear on how a mobile-first index will impact your websites, clients and mobile SEO strategy?

bruce clay's mobile seo quiz

See how many of the questions on this eight-question quiz you get right. (Skip straight to our mobile-first checklists.)

1. True or false: Google has two search indexes: a mobile-first index and a separate index of desktop sites.

False. Google has said that they have only one index. There will not be two different indexes for mobile sites and desktop sites, despite the massive amount of confusion.

However, the algorithms are different for mobile and desktop search results.

Google has decided that mobile is the first priority in everything they do and represent.

More people are going to search on a mobile device, therefore all the results are going to be optimized for a mobile device. Hence, Google designs a separate mobile algorithm, but a single, mobile-prioritized index.

Google is going toward a mobile-first index because Google has decided that’s where the market is going.

But we should understand that for responsive sites, the page is the same on desktop and on mobile, thus the indexed content is the same.

I stress that this change is fundamentally around mobile algorithmic variables being weighted first.

2. True or false: Mobile-friendliness is pass or fail.

False. While the results of the Google Mobile-Friendly Test are binary — you’re either gruesome or awesome — I’d bet there’s a hidden scale in the Mobile-Friendly Test.

If you run your site in the Mobile-Friendly Test, you might get “awesome” but you may be only 71 percent of the way to being optimized for the mobile UX.

Don’t settle for an “awesome” result and assume you can’t get better. Google has a tendency to change the rules, and awesome today may not be good enough tomorrow.

awesome result of mobile-friendly test

3. True or false: An SEO strategy is constructed for the mobile ranking algorithm, not the mobile-first index.

True. It used to be the case that a responsive site, if not particularly mobile friendly, could still rank on a desktop, and that site could still show up on a mobile SERP.

Search engines have a different expectation for how the page and elements of the page perform on mobile, items tested by the Mobile-Friendly Test, for instance.

The Google opinion is that if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load a page, they’re not going to show that page in their search results.

They’re going to keep track of page performance, and slower pages will suffer in the rankings.

They expect everything to display in the initial screen above the fold in under a second.

Along with mobile-friendly optimizations, expect ranking-related AMP issues, and other things that have yet to be announced. These factors influence whether or not a mobile site is ready for prime time and ready for showing up in the Google search results.

StockSnap digital watch

4. True or false: A good desktop site that functions on mobile is better than a broken mobile site.

True again. There was a clear caveat in the Google announcement: if today you only have a desktop site, don’t rush out and publish a poor mobile site. From the Webmaster Central Blog announcement:

“If you are building a mobile version of your site, keep in mind that a functional desktop-oriented site can be better than a broken or incomplete mobile version of the site.”

Make sure you’re serving visitors rather than checking boxes; make sure that the functionality is all there.

5. True or false: A responsive site is a good user experience.

False! Don’t mistake a responsive site for a good mobile UX. You might think that your site is responsive, pages are resizing – but consider the user experience.

Resizing is just one part of a responsive and mobile-friendly site. What is the user doing differently on a phone?

People search differently on mobile vs. desktop. What info is someone looking for on a mobile site and how easy is it for the user to find it?

6. True or false: User intent differs from mobile to desktop.

True. We used to think about user intent as “Do, Know, Go” – complete a transaction, get information, or navigate to a web or physical location.

Today we think of user intent in terms of “micro moments”; there are so many degrees of user intention that mobile web browsing affords.

  • 82 percent of smartphone users turn to their phone to influence a purchase decision while in the store.
  • 91 percent of smartphone users use their phone to get ideas while performing a task.
  • 90 percent of smartphone users get things done online toward a long-term goal or multi-step process while out and about.

Source: Think With Google Intro to Micro-moments

think with google micromoments

What sort of info is someone likely to be looking for on your mobile site, and how easy is it for someone to find that information?

How well are you catering to people visiting from a phone?

Are your links smart? Are your location and hours easy to find, and do you have markup on those?

How does your site search work?

For someone looking for your business location, are your directions marked up with structured data?

Do you have markup on pages? From the Google blog post: “Make sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version.”

7. True or false: People consume different content types on mobile.

True, of course. Catering to the mobile experience is much broader than sizing and formatting.

Have you thought about what people are doing on their phones?

Navigation, images and content that is easily digested is key to mobile success.

Unique to the mobile experience is performing voice searches and a higher demand for finding brick-and-mortar locations.

And then there’s the time spent on a mobile device viewing videos. That means mobile SEO includes optimizing for video search or optimizing for a YouTube search.

8. True or false: AMP could be a game changer, in more ways than we imagine.

I’m predicting this will be true.

We know AMP is a dominant algorithmic variable. Consider the SEO benefits of AMP on top of the mobile-first index, and AMP could be irresistible to highly competitive enterprise organizations.

In time, as AMP and mobile-friendliness factors get ratcheted up in the mobile algorithm, the definition of a top-ranked organic site may be that you bought into AMP and you got your organic listing by spending a ton of effort to optimize your site in AMP.


Mobile-First Index SEO Prep Checklists

We develop checklists around the technical processes we do for our clients. For our general SEO checklist, check out the Always Up-to-Date SEO Checklist.

To make sure our client sites are ready for the mobile-first index, we created these mobile-first checklist items to use along with our All-in-One Mobile SEO & Design Checklist.

Use this checklist to prep your sites with responsive design.

In general, no extra work needs to be done for a fully and properly configured responsive site because the same content exists for mobile and desktop, adjusting to the browser and size of either. However, confirm two things:

Use this checklist to prep separate mobile sites.

In addition to the above two points, here’s a check list of additional safeguards to take for clients with a separate mobile site:

  • Check the mobile site with Google’s robots.txt testing tool to ensure that Googlebot is not blocked.
  • Review the mobile site’s content depth to make sure it will merit the long-tail searches that the desktop site qualifies for.
  • Make sure any structured markup on the desktop site also exists on the mobile site (to protect featured snippets and other SERP elements).
  • Note: Canonical tags may be left in place (assuming they are implemented correctly on the mobile site).

Google has decided that being mobile-friendly and being fast is critical. The announcement isn’t news because Google has been discussing this at conferences for a long time.

Still there’s much to do in adapting to the fact that user intent, content consumption and varying form factors differ from mobile to desktop.


Let us help you drive and track traffic to your website with a mobile-first SEO strategy. BCI’s services are tailor-made to match your business goals and audience. Let’s talk more about growing revenue through digital marketing.

November 17th 2016 SEO

eBay Browse Pages Make it SEO Friendlier

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eBay announced last week that in order to make their Google links more SEO friendly they have created “browse pages.” They said that in the past, a click from a search result to eBay would often be to an eBay search result itself.

Those of us in the SEO world know Google hates search results going to more search results. Google killed directories in their results and those kinds of results are similar.

With eBay’s new browse pages, they have organized the results to be more what a consumer would expect to see when clicking a search result. The pages include pictures of various similar items broken down by brand, type and price and include summary descriptions.

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eBay Says This Move Was Prompted by Millennials

“We’ve noticed something lately,” said eBay in a blog post. “New online shopping patterns have emerged, especially with Millennial buyers. Instead of visiting specific online retailers for a single-purchase transaction, shoppers are using search engines to turn up results based on keywords.”

They say that this behavioral change is because buyers are looking for inspiration and guidance, and they’re more inclined to explore and discover to find what they want.

I could be wrong, but it sounds like it was more of an SEO play than a reaction to new Millennial behavior. But, whatever the reason, it’s definitely a better page for the Googler to land on than another set of search results.

Made Possible by Structured Data and RPIs

Earlier this year eBay announced to the consternation of some of their sellers that all products would be requiring Required Product Identifiers (RPIs). This structured data enabled eBay to make these new “browse pages” and helps them improve the shopping experience for buyers.

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eBay told their sellers: “The most amazing part? All of these improvements were made possible by you. By adding Structured Data and Required Product Identifiers (RPIs) information to your listings, you allowed us to better organize site inventory and create a new, more relevant shopping experience for eBay buyers.”

The post eBay Browse Pages Make it SEO Friendlier appeared first on WebProNews.

November 8th 2016 Google, Search, SEO

How to Use Competitors to Your Advantage in SEO

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by Jayson DeMers

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a powerful strategy, enabling you to get your website in front of thousands of monthly searchers–but it’s also a sensitive one. Because users often go with the first thing they see in search engine results pages (SERPs), all it takes is one competitor outranking you to completely stifle your potential.

But what if you could use your competitors to your advantage, rather than letting them climb over you?

Competitive Strategies

There are actually distinct strategies you can use to take advantage of the fact that your competition exists. Rather than serving as an obstacle or an annoyance, these strategies turn your competitors into boosts for your SEO campaign.

1. Optimize product reviews.

First, you can work on optimizing product reviews for SEO. Reviews affect SEO in a number of different ways. For example, getting better reviews for your business can help you rank higher in local search results. Earning detailed, positive customer reviews for products can help you rank for target keywords relating to those products. Reviews can even appear in SERPs directly if you use the correct microformatting. Take a look at how your competitors are using reviews in their current SEO campaigns; are there any opportunities for you to one-up them, with more or better reviews for your business or products? Work to outperform your competition here, and you’ll easily earn a higher slot.

2. Optimize for competitors’ brand names.

You could also write articles or optimize specifically for your competitors’ brand names, like how Printing Center USA recently wrote about Kinkos pricing. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to outrank your competitors for their own brand names, but you could earn a competing spot near the top of the search results. This gives you some degree of control over new users’ expectations for that brand. Don’t write attack pieces or your own reputation could come into question, but don’t be afraid to point out some of their shortcomings; it’s a valuable opportunity to improve your visibility and relative reputation.
 
3. Write comparison and industry articles.

You could also write an extended comparison guide or list of companies like yours, like how the Creative Ham publishes a list of advertising agencies. The idea here is to provide valuable information to users who might be looking for companies in your industry–and of course, you can throw your own name into the mix. Write up honest details about each brand, including pros and cons, and let your readers decide for themselves. You’ll get tons of new visibility in search engines, so there’s no need to be pushy about advertising your own services in the article–you might even turn people away if you do.

4. Monitor and mimic link building strategies.

You can also use a tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer to perform a detailed analysis of your competitors’ link building strategies. Pay attention to what links they’ve built, where they’ve built them, and how they’ve grown over time. You can adopt this strategy for yourself, mimicking their lines of development and earning similar growth in domain authority and reputation. It’s an easy way to catch up to a competitor ahead of you, and spot weaknesses that you can take advantage of with a simple twist to your existing tactics.

5. Track and differentiate niche keywords.

Keywords are another key area of SEO where you can easily gain an advantage. Pay attention to what niche keywords and long-tail phrases your competitors are optimizing for, then pick a group of keywords completely unrelated to them for your own strategy. Oftentimes, there’s an entire open field of subtopics and keyword phrases that are untapped by the competition. If you swoop in to pick them up, you’ll be in the clear to rank without contest.

6. Work with your competitors directly.

Finally, don’t discount the possibility of working with your competitors directly. In this scenario, you could work together to produce a piece of collaborative content, drawing on both your resources to create something you can both benefit from. Because you’ll have similar areas of expertise and a mutual desire to succeed, the power you can draw from this can be extremely beneficial to both of you.

Finding the Balance

These strategies can all help you get a competitive edge, outranking your competitors for valuable keywords, but don’t forget that your primary goal is to make your end users happy. It’s not worth writing a post about a competitor if it’s not going to matter to your target demographics, nor will outranking a competitor matter if your content is gimmicky and subpar. Prioritize your user experience first, then work on building a competitive advantage.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

How to Learn SEO When You Know Absolutely Nothing About It

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by Jayson DeMers

Search engine optimization (SEO) can be intimidating if you’re a newbie. Even the concept — making changes to your website to increase its visibility in search engines for specific keyword searches — sounds complicated, and once you dig into the technical details, it all seems even harder to grasp.

But in reality, SEO is much simpler than it appears on the surface. Almost every tactic you need to increase your rankings can be learned in a matter of weeks … at least enough to get you going.

All it takes is the certainty that you can learn this, the dedication to follow through, and a good starting point. So I’ve come up with the following six steps to master SEO even if you know nothing at the start.

High-Level Basics

First, keep these key and high-level basics in mind:

  • The learning never stops. As with any entrepreneurial venture, you should recognize that you’ll never learn everything. As Sam Ovens comments, you need to commit to an ongoing learning process if you want to keep making progress. SEO changes all the time, thanks to new technologies and search algorithms, so you want to stay on your toes if you hope to prosper.
  • Scale your knowledge gradually. You aren’t going to learn everything overnight, no matter how hard you work. So instead of trying to cram as much information into your brain as possible, focus on a small segment of SEO at a time.
  • SEO is an ongoing experiment. Even if you had all the current knowledge in place, there’s no guarantee that you’ll succeed. You need to measure, analyze, and refine your efforts constantly to improve your approach on an ongoing basis.

Phases of Learning

With those precepts in mind, you can start to learn SEO over six key phases:

1. Get the 10,000-foot view.

Start with the basics. Before you tackle anything with regard to SEO tactics, you need to grasp the strategy: what it isn’t, how it’s used, and how it can benefit your firm. Even if you believe you have a good idea, it’s wise to check your assumptions: There are a number of misconceptions about SEO that might skew your approach if you start working under those premises. Moz has an excellent Beginner’s Guide to SEO that’s worth reading, even if you’re already familiar with how SEO works.

2. Learn how Google works.

Next, you’ll want to get a feel for how Google works as a search engine … but don’t worry: you don’t have to learn any programming. Instead, you’ll want to learn how Google’s algorithms evaluate the authority of domains and pages, how keyword contexts are determined, and the various Google updates that have altered the SEO game over the years. (High-level understanding is fine for most of these.) You can go straight to the source for this one: Google has a great interactive feature that explains the long and short of how Google search operates to index sites and calculate rankings.

3. Study keyword research and strategy.

After that, you should learn how keyword research is performed — as well as why it matters. Hummingbird has transformed the function of keywords within Google search over the past three years, but it’s still worthwhile to include target keywords as part of your strategy. Backlinko has a detailed guide on this topic if you’re completely unfamiliar with it, but try to experiment with lots of keyword research tools before you settle on the best one for your brand.

4. Understand how to measure and analyze your campaign.

Before you start experimenting with the tactics that are intended to help you rank higher in searches, you need to know what you’re looking for and how to gauge your success. In this phase, you’ll become acquainted with the tools that can help you measure your progress, understand your effectiveness, and ultimately improve your results. Google Analytics is a nearly perfect tool for beginners, and Google offers a fantastic help guide that can walk you through it.

5. Delve into on-site SEO.

Once those basics out of the way, you can start to work on the individual tactics and strategies that will make your site rank higher. First, you’ll want to look into on-site optimization: all the technical changes, modifications, and best practices that you can apply to your website to make it more visible, better targeted to your demographic pool, and more authoritative. Quick Sprout has a guide with most of the information you’ll need to start.

6. Learn off-site SEO tactics.

Finally, you’ll need to work on the off-site facet of SEO, which includes such tactics as link building and social media marketing. Even though this phase is our final one, it’s one of the most powerful phases to master, because of its potential impact on your rank and the risk of costly errors are huge. If you’re looking for a good place to start learning, Wordstream has a valuable guide on the subject.

Once you’re gone through these six steps, and learned as much as you can along the way, you should have all you need to start, strategize, and execute an effective SEO campaign.

Again, there’s never going to be an official end to the learning process, so keep reading SEO news sites and don’t allow yourself to get too comfortable with any one strategy. The more time you spend in the industry, the stronger grasp you’ll have on the ebb and flow of optimization.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

October 21st 2016 Google, Search Engine Optimization, SEO

Google Says “Don’t Worry About Links”

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Links are a topic on the mind of every webmaster, search marketer and entrepreneur, especially as it relates to ranking in Google search results. The funny thing is, Google really, really doesn’t want you to worry about links, because of course, that wouldn’t be natural.

I thought it interesting to raise up a few comments Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller made during his latest Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout, that illustrate how much Google doesn’t want us to worry about links.

One hangout participant stated that as a teacher he gets a lot of links from random places, some that might even be considered bad neighborhoods and asked; Are these kinds of links good for me or bad for me? Is Google giving me credit for them? Is Google penalizing me for them? Is Google discounting them? Should I disavow them? Should I not worry?

“I like that last option,” said Mueller. “In general, if these are normal links, organic links, that are happening that are pointing at your content, then I would just let them be. That’s the way the internet works, people link to your content.”

He added, “If your students have blogs and they think, oh, this is actually a teacher that knows what he’s talking about, then that’s a good link. That’s not something you need to disavow just because maybe it’s a sitewide link or in the blog role. I wouldn’t worry about where people are linking from. If these are organic links that are at your site, that’s perfectly fine.”

The caller stated, “So in best case scenario, I get credit for them. In worst case scenario, Google will discount them. But nothing to worry about being paralyzed or anything like that?” Mueller answered, “Exactly.”

Another person asked, “Are you ever going to create an episode just for the discount of links? Like a hangout just for that kind of subject, because I still feel like it’s discounted. If you had, let’s say, five bad links, and that link– I think there was an example there from the “New York Times.” So that “New York Times” link will also be discounted by accident, or no, it won’t? It’s just still a gray area there with this whole discounted link thing going on.”

“Yeah, but in general, that’s not really something you need to worry that much about,” answered Mueller. “That’s kind of the way our algorithms are picking up these links and trying to figure out, how should we treat these links? And that’s something that we’ve been doing in the past as well. That’s even in the basis of PageRank, in the sense that not all links are the same, and we need to figure out how to value the individual links.”

“But that’s not something that as a webmaster you really need to worry about, because you can’t really control that,” he said. “From that point of view, it’s hard to say we could do a whole Hangout just on links, because ideally in the background, there is this big, big sign saying, you shouldn’t be playing with links. And if we’re talking the whole time about how to make links look natural, then that’s essentially contradicting the other one.”

The post Google Says “Don’t Worry About Links” appeared first on WebProNews.

October 21st 2016 Google, Search, SEO

Unwrapping New SEO Tools That Save You Money: SEOToolSet 6.1

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Unwrapping New SEO Tools That Save You Money: SEOToolSet 6.1 was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

We have a new set of tools that, once you use them, should make you a better SEO.

They save time, identify issues, help with ranking and more. And the subscription price is the real present …

Unwrapping the new SEOToolSet 6.1 tools

The SEOToolSet is highly developed, advanced SEO software

We’ve always built SEO tools.

From that day in 1996 when Bruce Clay programmed the first computerized deep page analysis tool, we’ve invested in tools that help SEOs analyze web pages faster and improve search engine rankings more effectively.

Last week our in-house development team polished its newest release: SEOToolSet 6.1.

Bruce Clay, Inc. 20th anniversary logo

Bruce Clay developed the first deep page analysis tool 20 years ago — the same year he founded the company.

It’s no coincidence that the same year we’re updating our sixth-generation SEO tools, we’re also celebrating our 20th anniversary as a company.

That’s because good SEO takes tools. Good tools. It just isn’t possible to analyze the boatloads of data required to run campaigns and optimize websites without effective tools.

Have tools already? You can use these also to validate and learn more than ever before!

The best-kept secret: The price

There are companies in the digital marketing industry that wholly focus on selling their tools. These tool providers have to:

  • Charge high fees to cover all their expenses,
  • Spend a lot of effort marketing their tools, and
  • Add more bells and whistles regularly just to stay competitive.

These same platforms may require year-long contracts, high monthly fees, and a menu of a la carte options for extra features you can add on for an additional fee.

Our tools are different.

Tool sales are not our bread and butter. We build our tools specifically to serve our own analysts’ needs. They use the SEOToolSet for analysis and reporting as they provide SEO results for our consulting clients.

That means any tools sales we make are gravy. We do not need to charge tools subscribers to cover the operation of the company, nor to subsidize an army of free subscriptions! That’s why the price of our SEO tool set can’t be beat.

Here’s the deal.

With SEOToolSet 6.1, pricing is as simple as can be. There’s just one subscription level. Just one low monthly fee. And no commitment needed.

A subscription costs only $24.95 per month, per project. You can cancel at any time. And if you decide within the first 30 days that SEOToolSet is not for you, you get your $24.95 back. And if you want to run our integrated Ranking Monitor, there is a minimal fee to cover that incremental cost.

We think you’ll improve your SEO using tools “made by SEOs, for SEOs” — and pay less at the same time!

With all the noise out there from competing vendors, it’s no wonder our tools are our best-kept secret. But we are choosing to share our competitive advantage and deep analysis tools with you. We’re thinking that SEOToolSet 6.1’s new pricing might just help the secret get out.

Why not try our SEO tools for yourself — with a risk-free 30-day full refund, how can you not?

Sign up for a risk-free subscription here or read about SEOToolSet features to learn more.

October 20th 2016 SEO, SEO Tools