Beating the SEO Summer Slump

The beginning of summer often means a decrease in organic traffic. Depending on your industry, business might really slow down during the summer months. The cyclical nature of search doesn’t have to affect your website as much as it has in the past. Instead of bracing yourself for the worst, here are a few options that may help:

Paid Search: Pay per click marketing is a good way to dominate SERPs. Even if you rank well in organic search, PPC ads can help reassure searchers of your authority and relevance, as your site will also show up in the paid ad sections.

For broader terms or keywords that you aren’t doing so well for in organic, PPC is a good way to give your website more exposure. This way, you’re covering more of your bases than with just organic SEO alone.

Remarketing and RetargetingRemarketing is a way to reach visitors who have previously landed on your site via relevant ads when they visit other sites within Google’s Display Network.

Retargeting is focusing on engaging a visitor who has already visited your site. Think of it as a way to make a current/previous customer happy and have them wanting to come back for more.

Consistently Blog – Blogging is always encouraged as it can consistently have search engines crawl your site for new content. This means more chances of showing up in search results and more changes of clicks and conversions. Even though the immediate nature of blogs aren’t meant to last as long as page content, good blogs still show up and will help further boost your credibility in the field.

Increase Conversion – Customers want a good reason to buy, so give it to them! Summer is all about sales, savings and different selections. Ecommerce stores can definitely take advantage of coupons and sales. BOGO, get X% off, free shipping of orders of $X, red tag items, and more! There are so many variations that you can keep it going all summer!

Social media contests and hashtagginc pictures on Instagram are also another way to increase brand engagement during the summer. There are many different options and you can only complain about slow traffic if you’re not doing anything about it. What are some ways you’re looking at to bring in traffic to your website this summer? Let us know.

Stand Out with Schema Markup

There are so many types of schema.org markup to choose from, so it’s not surprising to see them pop up all over SERPs.

What’s the point?
Structured data markup schema (like schema.org or hreview) is supported by major search engines like Google and Bing. Code that is added because it helps search engines better crawl and understand the information on that specific page. If search engines can better understand that info, they can provide better search results that will benefit the user.

How hard is it to use?
Take a look at the full list of different markup you can use here. There are generators which make it as easy as 1) choosing the right type for your business 2) filling the fields on thoroughly 3) pasting onto the page 4) depending on the design of you’re site, it might require some CSS adjustments.

Let’s take a look at a few different types of markup data that you could also easily implement:

Google + Authorship

Want to claim your unique content, help increase click-through rates, establish your voice and more? Remember how we’ve talked about Author Rank? There isn’t a good reason NOT to claim authorship.

Review and Breadcrumbs

Check out this example for reviews and breadcrumbs. This is excellent for e-commerce sites as well as service oriented businesses.

Entertainment

IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes is an excellent example of how structured data can help make our lives a little bit better!

Events

As spring and summer approach, the demand for tickets to concerts and other entertainment events is going to increase. Although a giant like Ticketmaster uses structured data, you can see this example of how a smaller business can also take that advantage.

Recipes

Is it surprising to hear that the cooking industry is one of the most competitive when it comes to markup data? Check out pictures, recipes, calories, ingredients and servings all before clicking on a listing. It’s safe to say, if you’re a food blogger who’s not using markup, you don’t stand a chance!

Is Your Content Magnetic?

If you’re looking for a new outlook on creating quality content creation, you don’t have to look further than an everyday object for a little bit of inspiration – the magnet.

Magnetic content is content that’s so good that it can’t help but attract more readers. And like a magnet, the end result can rub off on other people so that they’ll engaged and want to share it. Magnetic content doesn’t have to be a flashy term reserved solely for something fancy like an infographic or book download. Besides, how often do you look for the latest news to see a simple blog, article , or tutorial? Also remember, magnets range in size and even the smallest ones can be powerful.

Here are a few examples of magnetic content that you can begin with today:
– top 10 list
– how-to video
– strongly opinionated editorial piece
– personal and revealing story
– non traditional interview
– even cute animal pictures!

These are just a few generic examples, but you’ll need to ask yourself:

Is it relevant? Think about the relevancy of your content in terms of your: customers, competitors, industry and even your own business objective. If all these aren’t checked off on your list, chances are, it’s not as magnetic as you think it is.

This can be a tedious step that involves research, listening and being tuned in yourself. Being active on social media and the latest news helps!

Is it significant? Creating significant content with a purpose means being current and aware of popular trends. This can involve: current events, important local news, seasonal trends, pop culture events, and other trending topics. Be in the now and explore Google Trends for more writing inspiration.

Is it shareable? This is where your networking skills on social media sites matters the most. Having social media sharing buttons on your site is crucial, and it’s important to understand where most of your readership lies. Don’t overwhelm readers with a flurry of share buttons but showcase ones that are most useful for you and your readers. Infographics make it easy with an embed code. Slideshows are popular and you can easily add a shorted URL that you can use to track (bit.ly or goo.gl)

Does it inspire?The main idea behind magnetic content is that you want to share a compelling story. You want readers to have a reason for reading, sharing and feel inspired to do something. This can be a conversation starter and fuel social engagement that is important and relevant to your brand.

Removing Bad Links Isn’t Enough

Link removal and link pruning. Whatever you’d like to call it, it’s important to remember that removing bad links isn’t enough to bring your site back to the level it once was at in terms of rankings, traffic, search queries and impressions.

Here are some reasons why it isn’t enough to just remove bad neighborhood links, sit back and wait for a penalty to be lifted:

  • Sending a link removal request to a webmaster doesn’t mean that they’ll remove it. Some contact information could be dead or webmasters might even charge a fee to remove these old links.
  • It might take time for Google to crawl these low-quality pages and recognize that the links to your site are removed.
  • If you use the disavow tool, it could take weeks for Google to address the links you want disavowed. (It’s helpful to get things straightened out and to send a Google reconsideration request and disavow request at the same time with accurate details about what you’ve tried to remove.)
  • Removing links means that the credible link juice to your site must be replaced. Of course, if you’ve removed dozens or even hundreds of links, it will take awhile to replace those bad links with natural and relevant links. As bad as it sounds, think about it as having your site earn Google’s trust again.
  • There are 200+ factors that Google’s search algorithm relies on to rank websites. Doing one thing isn’t necessarily going to be a cure-all for your site.

This sounds fine on paper but execution and the waiting for results is the difficult part. For the DIYers, you can check out and participate Google’s Help Forum to see what other website owners are dealing with and see what you can learn from their experienced. This forum is often frequented by Google employees and if you’re lucky, they might even respond.

Remember to contact your SEO as soon as you suspect your rankings have been dropping to discuss the best plan of action. Feel free to also contact us for a free consultation about your site’s specific scenario.

The Pros and Cons of On-Site and Off-Site Blogs

Should I have an on-site or off-site blog?

This age old question has been revisited, dissected and criticized! Let’s take a look and the positive benefits and potentially negative effects of having an on-site versus an off-site blog:

ON-SITE BLOGS
+ Update new, relevant content. On-site blogs are an efficient way of adding fresh content to an otherwise static site. Google will crawl your site more often because blogs are crawled more frequently than regular web pages. (Google Freshness update, anyone?)
+ Benefit from social media signals. If you have Facebook, Twitter or even Share functions on your blog, your site will get to benefit as a whole every time a reader interacts.
+ Attract relevant traffic and bring clicks to your site. More traffic and time spent on site means more clicks and that will hopefully translate into more conversions. The argument here is why would you want to take that away by diverting that traffic off-site?
+ Talk about your business. Hopefully, you’ll talk about more than just yourself on your on-site business blog but this is the perfect platform to link to your content, social media profiles, awards, new videos/commercials and anything else that’s relevant to your company. If this is your plan on an off-site blog, it could be perceived as suspicious to visitors, as well as search engines. If you’re blogging about something relevant to your site, why is it hosted on another site and not the same one?
More content to manage. Depending on how often you update, your website could grow at an alarming rate. Remember that quality matters over quantity and old or over-optimized linking practices on an on-site blog can come back to haunt you.
Writer’s block. Writing for your on-site blog might be hard if you run out of relevant things to write about. It can be difficult to maintain a professional tone if you start posting about off-topic subjects. Of course this depends on your your industry but if you want to post about personal topics, an on-site blog might not be the place for it.

OFF-SITE BLOGS
+ Leaves from for off-topic posts. An off-site blog means that you’re not expected to talk about just one certain topic or business all the time. You have more creative freedom and can use it to leverage the content on your main site.
+ Diversify search results. Since search engines are more interested in providing a variety of results, an off-site blog can help you target the same keywords/phrases while not coming from the same domain.
+/ Linking opportunities to your main site. Remember, this is a benefit but it can quickly diminish. Incoming links from off-site blogs can look suspicious or spammy if your posts are over optimized and always link to the same exact match anchor text. This is also the case if your off-site blogs are the only place that your main site is getting back links.
Divert traffics from main site. Like we mentioned above, blogs are a great way to attract attention but it’s no good if that traffic isn’t harnessed to your main page.
Reputation management. Even though off-site blogs aren’t directly affiliated with your main site, it’s important to be in control and aware of how your professional image is portrayed. This isn’t the place to go way astray and post pictures of hot girls in bikinis just because you want to.

Either way you choose to do things, blogging is a great strategy for a small business. There’s great potential to grow your brand while increasing SEO visibility. Let us know your take on on-site vs off-site blogs.

SEO Factors to Check after a Website Redesign

check list

Ideally, you would keep track of important SEO factors during a website redesign. But that isn’t always the case and websites can always be re-optimized. Although it’s better to have a SEO web design checklist to work off of during the redesign process, it still helps to evaluate your site after a major change. Although the list can be endless, here are a few things to take note of before things get out of hand.

Duplicate content – Have you ever seen a site with hundreds of duplicate pages? You’d be surprised. Make sure to check for duplicate content when you go through your sitemap and cut down any low/no ranking pages with low content. The goal is to funnel down the most helpful information and help it rank even better. There are many helpful tools like Copyscape and Simple Page Checker.

URL changes – If possible, always try to keep your original URLs. This isn’t always possible, especially if you switch over to a content management system or vice versa. If this is the case, make sure to 301 redirect and direct internal links to the right pages. Tools like LinkSleuth should come in very handy for that.

robots.txt file – This text file is a crucial part of any well-optimized website. It tells search engines what pages to ignore and where to look for things on your site. One mistake could prevent your website from being crawled or blocked from Google bot. Not good!

Website analytics – If possible, it’s helpful to check analytics at least once a month. This includes Google Webmaster Tools and anything else you use for checking keyword rankings and search results. Using these tools regularly will help you gauge the success of your website and help you diagnose problems such as a decrease in website traffic and a fall in rankings.

Search engine marketing news – Sites like SEOmoz and Search Engine Roundtable always break the latest SEM news. Articles and comments can help give you a heads up on Penguin and Panda updates and what to look out for. Google’s search algorithm is constantly changing so things that were important, say 3 years ago, can be quickly outdated.

Many things can change and be lost during a website redesign. If you’re handing off your website to a new internet marketing firm, it’s important to know that they’re committed to continuously optimizing your website and not just doing it once and leaving it stagnant for months or years. This checklist can help serve as a starting point for something that can be done on a regular basis to ensure that your website is in good health.

Why Your Content Marketing Strategy Needs SEO

Google’s Penguin update may have left you feeling down and out, but now isn’t the time to completely give up on SEO.

Penguin Penalties
If you’ve been dabbling in black hat tactics, or even gray hat, that is obviously a big problem. But there are many marketers who have been “punished” by the algorithm updates, even if they have played it safe. Some sites have dropped a few spots, while others have felt  a full on penalty by dropping 10+ pages. What does that mean for the future of SEO? Regardless of what you’ve read, search engine optimization isn’t “dead” as much as it has drastically evolved. It’s a matter of which businesses can hang on during this ever changing environment.

The Big Problem with No SEO
While this may lead to a focus on cranking out content without any optimization, there is a huge problem with that. The main problem with thinking about online marketing without SEO is that your content needs to be found and seen by search engines in order to be indexed and eventually ranked. Just think of it as if you have the greatest thing to share BUT no one will ever come across it because you’ve done no marketing or planning to bring the content to the people. A failure to plan for effective SEO may also affect other aspects of online marketing like social media marketing… things that’ can’t be found cannot be shared!

Lessons Learned
The best advice is to stay up to date on upcoming updates and to see how they are affecting your peers and industry. Gone are the days of building hundreds of links, pages, articles for a quick fix. As Google puts it, the face of SEO today yearns to reward high-quality content without unnatural links or methods that may seem to be created solely for the purpose of manipulating search results. If these updates teach you anything, it should be that you should have a balance in optimization tactics: content creation, inbound/outbound links, on and off page optimization. In other words, simple is better and less is more.

Helpful articles:
Reconsideration Request Tips From Google
SEOs Share Google Penguin Recovery Tips
Google Penguin Update Recovery Tips & Advice
Whiteboard+ on Google’s Penguin Update

How Do Google Freshness Updates Affect SEO?

What Is It?
Since the end of last year, Google’s Freshness updates have been been affecting about 35% of searches. To get a better idea of how this works, take a look at Bruce Clay’s in depth illustration of exactly how freshness affects SERPs. Basically, as Google crawls pages to index them, it will also search for “fresh attributes” and assign them a score. This value is a contributing factor when search results are displayed. The general idea is that fresh content is more useful than old, stale content.

How to Optimize
Not surprisingly, Google has a variety of ways of determining the value of freshness including time spent on page, popular topics and changes in anchor text. In many ways, this algorithm update has changed online marketing priorities. Instead of pushing for addition of more content and more keywords, the focus should be on consistently updating the same relevant web pages with useful information. Since all these factors are available online, it’s best to review them regularly to see how you can utilize them when updating your web pages.

Why Freshness?
In the end, Google aims to improve the user experience. As internet marketing firms work with businesses to improve their strategies, users will surely benefit. These updates will help display more relevant and recent search results that will make for better searching!

5 Common SEO Myths

seo mythsOld SEO myths never seem to really die and it doesn’t help that new ones are being created. Let’s take a look at 5 common myths about search engine optimization:

1) SEO is a set it and forget it processAre we done yet? Many online marketing services have a completion end date or end goal – web design project, PPC campaigns etc. But what about SEO? An effective SEO campaign is an on going process that never really ends. It helps to think of web copywriting and content creation as a regular process, like a more traditional marketing campaign that changes with the seasons and consumer trends.

2) More keywords will get you a higher ranking – More is NOT always better and this is exactly the case when it comes to optimizing content. You can’t just throw in random keywords because you want to cover as many areas related to your business as possible. Keyword stuffing isn’t going to impress people or search engines – not to mention that it’s a dead giveaway that your site is spammy page that’s not helpful.

3) Search engine rankings can be guaranteed – Have you ever had an SEO company guarantee you #1 positions? Talk about shady… As frustrating as it may be, there’s no such thing as a 100% guarantee when it comes to SEO. Rather than focusing on the top spot, a reputable SEO company will give you a detailed plan about how to achieve top rankings within a realistic time frame using white hat methods.

4) Once you reach the top, you’ll stay there – Search engine algorithms are changing all the time and you can bet that your other businesses are making changes to keep up. Success is possible but staying in the top ranks is a constant and time consuming process. Related to Myth #1, we recommend a consistent SEO plan so that you can stay in the top rankings once you’re there. If you stop your efforts after reaching the top, it will be a waste because your rankings could easily slide and your competitors will surely be thankful!

5) Linking Out to Other Sites Will Help Your Rankings: I’ve heard this more than a handful of times so it must be a common misconception! Some people believe that linking out to well-known sites and brands will help their rankings. Not sure where this idea came from but it’s definitely not true. Incoming links from relevant and trustworthy sites will give your site the link juice that you’re looking for, not the other way around.

Do you have any other myths about organic optimization that you’d like to share or debunk?