Tag Archives: seo best practices

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Share17 Chicago: The key themes and trends

Digital marketers gathered in Chicago last week for Share17, an event hosted by SEO and content marketing platform BrightEdge.

Share17 provided a welcome opportunity to take stock of where the industry stands, discuss common challenges marketers are facing, and consider the upcoming trends we should all aim to capitalize on.

The agenda for the day reflected this, through a combination of guest speakers, customer panels, and plenty of revelations about search marketing trends. The below is a recap of the key themes and SEO tips we took away from the event.

The convergence of SEO and content marketing

The key theme for the day was the convergence of SEO and content marketing, although there were also discussions on how SEO impacts all areas of modern businesses.

97% of BrightEdge customers state that SEO and content marketing are either merging or have already done so. As a result, the focus shifts to the more pragmatic matters of how this plays out at companies both large and small. At a conceptual level, there is widespread understanding of the interplay between the disciplines, but at a practical level there is still some work to do.

Although content marketing has grown to become a $75 billion industry, each piece of content needs a lot of help if it is to cut through in such a crowded market. In fact, research from BrightEdge revealed:

  • 50% of B2B content draws some engagement from its intended audience. The other 50% receives no visits or shares.
  • The picture is bleaker still for B2C content, with only 20% engaging consumers. The vast majority of B2C content is simply never seen.

SEO can help here, of course, but it is clear that something is amiss at a broader scale. The content marketing industry has not aligned demand with supply if so much of its output fails to resonate with even a small audience.

Scott Mowery from Cleveland Clinic had some tips to help ensure that content is created with conviction. Without that dedication of attention and resources, it is highly likely that the audience will not engage when so many other options are available.

Scott used the acronym C.O.P.E. (Create Once, Promote Everywhere) to distil his team’s philosophy, and it is one that is reaping dividends so far.

The core idea here is to make sure that there is a clear purpose behind every piece of content created and that it is of the highest possible quality. Then it can be repurposed for different media formats and delivered to an audience through a focused amplification plan. With a projected 110 million visits in 2017, this plan seems to be working for Cleveland Clinic.

SEO is very closely aligned to business strategy

Throughout the day, there were nods to the prominent position SEO has assumed within businesses due to its ties with content marketing. This is due to the fact that content sits at the center of marketing plans, while marketing channels are ways of promoting this message and directing traffic towards content.

SEO is a fusion of medium and message, as it is simply impossible to rank in competitive industries without creating something of value that appeals to an audience.

Working in SEO in 2017 therefore requires a broad range of skill sets, from the technical through to the strategic and the interpersonal. Frankly, SEO fails if it exists in a vacuum and it requires input from across departments to reach its full potential.

Guest speaker John Hall had an interesting take on what this means for the career prospects of SEOs. He said that he sees more SEO professionals take up senior leadership positions than ever before, based on their ability to view business problems from a range of angles.

The changing nature of SEO has made it hard to pin down with concrete definitions, but that fluidity also creates marketers that are adept at managing the complexities of the modern business landscape.

SEO professionals need to have influence, both internally and externally, to get this message across.

John Hall shared some fascinating insights into the psychology of influencing people, whether within a company or when communicating with customers. His presentation revealed the importance of making a genuine emotional connection with people to stay top of mind in the long term. That brings with it a certain vulnerability, but it is imperative if we are to gain the trust of our audience.

Share17 Chicago: The key themes and trends

Some of this may feel very intuitive, so it is therefore worth asking why we fail to make these connections more frequently. A narrow focus on gaining short-term ROI restricts the potential for brands to make emotional connections over time, but the most profitable brands achieve exactly this aim.

Such campaigns have typically been the domain of brand marketers but as media spend continues to move online, there should be a seat at the table for SEO too.

Consumers are in control

In the age of cord-cutters and ad blockers, the message for brands is clear: consumers are in control. 28% of US Internet users used ad blockers this year, as the digital advertising industry struggles to balance monetization with user experience.

This dynamic is playing out with particular significance on mobile devices, where consumer expectations continue to heighten. BrightEdge research found that 79% of results for the same query differ across mobile and desktop devices.

Concurrently, the growth in queries containing the phrase ‘near me’ is slowing. This is driven by implicit intent; users are coming to expect that Google knows where they are and will tailor the results accordingly without direction.

From Google’s perspective, the core focus now is on speed. To keep consumers in the Google search ecosystem on mobile, it is essential to provide an app-like experience via search results pages.

We have seen this recently with developments like AMP and app indexation, but there is still a sense that marketers need to place more emphasis on providing a faster digital experience. 82% of smartphone users consult their phones while in a store deciding what to buy, so every second of extra load time can be costly.

In fact, as Eugene Feygin from Quill.com discussed, Amazon has calculated that an extra second of load time across their site would result in $1.6 billion in lost revenue per annum.

Share17 Chicago: The key themes and trends

This creates a multitude of moments of need or want throughout each day, with the average user now spending 2 hours per day on a mobile device. The approach of applying broad demographic groups or personas is no longer fit for purpose if we want to put consumers first.

A more accurate and profitable approach understands the importance of being in the right place when people need information. That consumer journey will differ by brand and by industry; the companies that prosper over the next few years will comprehend this and plan their content marketing accordingly.

Share17 Chicago: The key themes and trendsThis provides a robust structure to an SEO campaign, driven by genuine consumer demand. That structure needs to be populated with content that connects, however, and this is where we should recall the lessons learned from John Hall’s presentation. It is only by investing ourselves in our content that we will provide something of value that stands out in such a competitive landscape.

Throughout the day, there was a sense of this being an exciting moment for the SEO industry, but also one that requires a strategic mindset to comprehend and capitalize on so many diverse areas of activity.

Scott Mowery from Cleveland Clinic shared a helpful mantra that his team goes by to keep efforts focused in what is an increasingly complex market. If an initiative is not digital, mobile and measurable, don’t do it.

This seems an apt summary of the core themes from Share17 in Chicago, and sage advice for all search marketers.

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The SEO benefits of using WordPress to publish your content

Creating and launching a fully-fledged website is not enough to get your brand noticed by itself.

In order to improve your online visibility, you will need to carry out SEO (search engine optimization) practices.

If you want to achieve a higher ranking on Google and other search engines, you’ll need to get serious about search engine optimization. Luckily, if you use WordPress as your Content Management System (CMS), there are a number of in-built features that make optimizing your content for search significantly easier.

So what is it that makes WordPress such a strong platform for SEO? Let’s take a look.

1. Permalink Structure

Permalinks are the permanent URLs for your web pages, posts, categories and tag archives. It is the web address used to link to your individual blog post and web page. By default, permalinks look something like this:

http://mysite.com/p?=17

This structure makes it difficult for search engine crawlers to read and index your web pages and posts. That means you will need to make it more accessible for both search engines and we visitors.

Fortunately, WordPress allows you to customize your URL permalinks for each of your posts and pages, adding a clear description of your page’s content as well as any relevant keywords – this makes your URL structure search-engine friendly.

To change your default permalink URLs, you will need to go to Settings → Permalink. You can change it either using /post-name/, or /category/post-name. You can also set it using date and name, but I would prefer you to use “Post Name” to optimize your permalink structure for search engines. The custom permalink URL structure will look something like this:

http://mysite.com/%postname%/

Tip: After creating a custom permalink structure, make sure you save all the changes.

2. Easy to create SEO-friendly titles

The “title tags”, or the title of a blog post, is one of the crucial aspects when it comes to getting a better ranking on search engine result pages. The title tags not only tell search engines what your web page is all about, but also leave the first impression on the people who see your post title in the search results.

Since search engines focus more on the initial words of the titles, make sure you add your keywords at the start of your title tag – this will help you rank better. So, WordPress allows you to optimize your title tags for SEO using the All-in-One-SEO-Pack plugin:

After installing this plugin, you will need to access your WordPress admin panel → go to Settings → All in One SEO Pack and add the following:

  • Post Title: %post_title%
  • Page Title: %page_title%

This will help you create unique, engaging, relevant, and search engine friendly title tags for your site, which in turn increase your CTR as well as page views.

3. Creating unique Meta Descriptions for SEO

A meta description is a snippet of content that you can see under the page link within a Google search result page. It gives a brief summary of your blog post or a web page to both the search engine bots as well as web audiences. This will help you get better ranking on SERPs.

It means that creating unique, engaging and search engine friendly meta descriptions for all your posts and pages can improve your visibility across search engines, and can also help you get a higher click-through rate.

The default WordPress settings makes it easy for you to optimize your meta descriptions for Google and other search engines. Better yet, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin or All in One SEO Pack to automatically create SEO-friendly meta descriptions for your WordPress site.

4. It’s easy to generate an XML Sitemap in WordPress

WordPress allows you to create and submit an XML sitemap easily to search engine webmaster tools. An XML sitemap allows you to tell Google and other search engine bots about all your web pages and posts exist on your site. It simply allows search engine crawlers to read and index your site quickly and easily.

Luckily, WordPress offers a ton of plugins that can help you generate an XML sitemap for all your pages, posts, custom post types, categories, and tags. You can use Yoast SEO, or Google XML sitemap plugins to let search engines better index your WordPress site.

For an example: We are using Yoast SEO plugin to generate an XML sitemap for your WordPress site. After installing and activating the plugin, you will need to enable the XML Sitemaps. To do that, go to the SEO → XML Sitemaps and click on the checkbox to enable this functionality.

The SEO benefits of using WordPress to publish your content

Make sure you configure it and save the settings. This will generate the sitemap for your WordPress site.

5. Use of categories and tags

The main purpose of categories and tags are to help web visitors navigate your blogs quickly and easily, which in turn, help you get a better search ranking (if used properly). In a nutshell, categories are the table of contents for your blog, while tags are the index that helps a search engine to interpret your blog’s subject matter with ease.

Both the categories and tags help you create a better structure and allow Google to notice it while indexing the blog posts of your WordPress. So, make sure you have all the subcategories, and have a well-structured post to make it as easy as possible for search engine crawlers to “read” your content.

To add categories, you will need to go to the Posts → Categories and Tickets → Labels.

Ensure that you use the best tricks to optimize the categories and tags in WordPress for SEO.

6. Simple and clean code

The code behind WordPress is simple and clean, allowing search engine bots to index your site with ease. Since it is an open source platform, you will see constant modifications in terms of security, performance, and functionalities to let Google and other search engines to position your site higher up the SERP.

Although WordPress already performs well in this particular area, making sure that you install well-coded themes and plugins to ensure the high quality of your WordPress site.

7. Optimization of Images for SEO

If you want to drive more web traffic towards your site, then you can’t overlook image optimization. It is one of the crucial aspects of good SEO.

Image optimization is all about creating engaging, relevant image titles and alt text so that you will get better visibility on Google and other image search engines. WordPress makes it easy to add titles and alt text to your images when you upload them to its CMS, so that image optimization is simply a matter of filling in the right fields.

The SEO benefits of using WordPress to publish your content

8. Linking to related posts

Allow search engines to crawl your older posts quickly and easily using the related posts plugin. It is a great WordPress plugin that can help you add a link to related posts within your new content, thereby increasing your SEO capabilities with ease.

The plugin makes it incredibly simple to add related posts to your blog posts and pages, re-ordering related posts via drag and drop functionality, without generating a single piece of code.

Other key points on WordPress SEO:

(a) Since Google loves fast-loading websites, WordPress makes it easy for you to optimize the speed of your site by:

  • Compressing the CSS and JS files
  • Minimizing HTTP requires
  • Optimizing image file sizes
  • Using Caching
  • Use of CDN services
  • Upgrading the core WordPress, installed themes and plugins on a regular basis.

(b) WordPress enables you to create a new page with fresh, updated and improved content to help you get better ranking on SERPs.

(c) In case you forget to optimize the permalink of an existing/older blog post, then you can tweak the slug to a more relevant and search engine-friendly URL.

If you want to avoid a 404 error, then make sure you add a 301 permanent redirect to the older version of your post. This will redirect your web visitors and search engines to the new URL, which in turn will boost your pageviews.

Wrapping up

If you use WordPress as your Content Management System (CMS), these tips should hopefully help to you use it in the most effective way to boost your search ranking.

All you need to do is understand the out-of-the-box WordPress SEO functionalities and how get the most out from them, and you can drive quality traffic towards your website.

 

Lucy Barret is a Sr. WordPress Developer at HireWPGeeks, a WordPress Development Company, and a contributor to SEW.

Seo Is Not Dead: But It Just Might Kill Your Website

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SEO is not deadDespite persistent claims that SEO is dead, Google is a $360 billion dollar company (by market capitalization) and is now the second largest company in the United States behind Apple. Over 90% of Google’s revenues are derived from AdWords, and most AdWords pay-per-click revenues are a derivative of organic search. SEO is not dead. Far from it. The company, however, is getting better and better at closing the SEO loopholes that have enabled some SEO firms to game Google’s search engine over the years.

Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, in fact, have aggressively shut-down many of on-page and off-page SEO techniques. Unfortunately, many businesses that have made it through the first several rounds of major updates think that they are in the clear. This is not the case, as many more algorithm updates are on the horizon. As of this writing, the last major Penguin update (Penguin 2.1) was October 4th 2013.  We are long overdue for Penguin 2.x  or Penguin 3.0. Penguin updates in particular have been increasing in their potency, sending many top ranking websites into search engine abyss.

All businesses, large and small, need to take a more proactive role in their company’s SEO activities. Too many companies today buy SEO services like they are ordering a side a French fries – or they ignore it altogether. For example, in April Ryanair took a financial hit when they re-designed their corporate website with a complete disregard of SEO and their strong organic rankings tanked.  All CEOs should understand the SEO health and status of their website(s), including the backlink profile.  Google is much more than a search engine; it’s an integral part of our economy and the gateway for many B2C and B2B purchase transactions.

In 2014, here’s what you should and shouldn’t be doing, right now:

1. You Shouldn’t Hire An SEO Company To Do Volume Link Building.  You also can’t afford to hire an SEO company and not know what they are doing and how they are doing it. Even to this very day, there are SEO companies using the kind of offshore link building tactics that are explicitly prohibited. Your company cannot afford to do ANY type of low quality or volume based link building anymore.  he only links you want pointing to your site are ones that you earn and are proud of – namely links that are high quality, relevant to your business and from reputable, high authority websites.

2. You Shouldn’t Stop Doing SEO Either.  In 2012, there were 2 billion Internet searches made every day.  The volume and frequency of Google searches are increasing, just like the company’s stock price.   In this writer’s opinion, the ROI for effective SEO services is higher than any other form of marketing and probably offers the highest ROI in the history of capitalism.  The is why the SEO industry has become a victim of its own success, as greedy SEO agencies chased shortcuts to sell rankings based on risky techniques. The industry is in the early stages of a long and painful hangover. What does this mean for your business?  You need to hire an SEO firm as you would hire for a key employment position. You would never hire the cheapest employees and you shouldn’t price shop SEO for the same reasons. The best SEO firms never cold-call or send random email messages – you find the best ones by searching on Google the same way you and your customers search for products and services.

3. You Should Consider Google AdWords. AdWords is a great supplement for organic SEO. No matter how talented your in-house SEO or Internet marketing partners may be, there is no way they can get you rankings for all of your targeted keywords.  With pay-per-click advertising, your company can target low-volume, high converting long-tail keywords that would be difficult to obtain organically.

4. You Should Start Blogging. Now.  We know you’ve heard this before, but high quality blogging will always help for SEO. It not only helps establish your company as an authority, but it’s also proven to increase conversion rates. Blogging is the best way to add high quality, relevant content to your website, and Google loves fresh, high quality blog content. Much like link building, however, populating a blog with filler posts as way to game the system is just like volume-based link building.  In the long run it will kill your site. Do it, but invest in doing it the right way.

5. You Should Do Spring Cleaning On Your Backlink Profile.  Right Now.  Your website may be hours away from receiving in a devastating manual or algorithmic penalty from Google. Yet, you can easily take action before the next update negatively impacts your website.  Webmaster Tools (WMT) is a free Google toolset that enables you to see how Google views the overall SEO health of your website. Most importantly, WMT enables you to view the vast majority of links pointing to your website. With this information, your company can start the outreach process of asking webmasters to remove low quality or unwanted backlinks. At the end of this process, if you have inbound links that you cannot get taken down via outreach, within WMT there is a link disavow tool essentially allowing you to ask Google “not count” disavowed links when assessing your site.

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philsingletonPhil Singleton is the owner of Kansas City Web Design®, a web development firm specializing in SEO-friendly WordPress websites and custom website applications, and Kansas City SEO®, a full-service Internet marketing services company that provides organic search engine optimization and other online marketing services.  Contact Phil on his Google+ page.

Other resources on this topic:

Linking for SEO: Has Linking Lost Its Value?
Small Businesses and SEO: What You Need to Know
Why Social Media is a Critical Component of SEO

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