Why Meta Descriptions are Still Important

meta description

There’s so much talk about meta-this and meta-that. But did you know that search engines don’t use this as a main criteria (if at all) in ranking your site? Meta descriptions are only one of many elements of search engine optimization elements. So why is it still important?

First of all, what are they? Meta descriptions are the short blurb that you’ll see summarizing a web page on search results pages. The purpose of meta descriptions aren’t so much for search engines, but for the actual users who are searching for your business and clicking through to your site.

Meta Description Do’s

An effective meta description should be concise and make use of your most relevant keywords. It should also be an accurate representation of the content on your website. Try to avoid being too long-winded, most search engines only display the first 160 characters of your meta description.

Meta Description Don’ts

Skipping out on a meta description, overstuffing it with keywords or displaying misleading content are all big no-nos. Each page of your website has a section for a unique description. So, the last thing you want to do is to copy and paste that little snippet over and over on each page.

Before you’re tempted to skimp out on those meta descriptions, think again!

The Truth about False SEO Claims

SEO is a powerful tool but that means that there’s a good and bad to it. The search marketing industry is often seen as untrustworthy or spammy because of claims like these. Let’s take a look at two typical claims and see what they really mean:

  • Claim #1: We guarantee your business a #1 ranking in search engine results!
  • Reality: If anyone approaches you with this claim, it’s time to think twice. Make it thrice. What are the keywords, who is searching and how much search volume do they expect? If these questions can’t be answered, it’s time to move on.
  • Additionally: Being #1 doesn’t mean that sales will come pouring in. Is your site well-organized and user-friendly? With the click of the mouse, you’ll be out of sight and out of mind. A #1 ranking means nothing if you can’t meet your customers’ needs.
  • Claim #2: Pay per click ads are expensive and social media is a waste of time. SEO can replace your entire online marketing efforts!
  • Reality: SEO tactics and content can create valuable assets in the long-term. But no matter how you spin it, there are some things that it just can’t do. PPC can help you expand your reach of customers and narrow down your target audience. Social media can help engage customers and create brand buzz.
  • Additionally: It’s difficult to think of a successful business in terms of just one of these marketing strategies. While I like to think of SEO as a starting point of your online marketing campaign, there is room to expand. When you’re successful with SEO, it makes it easier and more effective for other measures, such as PPC and social media, to follow.

Do you have any other SEO claims or myths you’d like to bust?

Keyword Trends on Yahoo! Search Clues

Yahoo! always seems be overshadowed by the giant that is Google, so it’s good to see something new from them.

Yahoo! Search Clues allows users to search keyword trends over time. You can also see demographics such as: age, gender, income and location. Pretty neat right? And it can definitely come in handy on your PPC or SEO campaigns.

I think the visual comparison between PPC and SEO is cool and probably accurate. Don’t you think? SEO is more of a consistent and long term tactic while paid search can fluctuate depending on different factors.

What will you use it for?

Google Instant and Long Tail Searches

Since Google Instant launched, there have been concerns that long tail searches won’t be as beneficial to SEO and PPC. Let’s take a look at what is affected and why:

What is ‘Long Tail’?
As this dino-graphic shows, generic keywords are more likely to yield a large volume of general search results. But if you get more descriptive with the keywords you’re searching for, you’re more likely to get specific results and find what you’re looking for. Example: searching “hair salon” versus “kids hair salon in los angeles”.

When you use broad, generic keywords, this means that you’ll have a lot of competition. In the SEO world, this means that it will take a lot of time and effort to be a viable competitor. When it comes to PPC, this means that you’ll have to bid more in order for your ads to show up at the top of corresponding search queries.

When you concentrate on your niche business with long tail keywords, it makes it easier to succeed. Or at least, that was the point until Google Instant came along and “killed” the long tail.

The Google Instant Connection
In addition to making things more complicated for SEO and PPC, some believe that Google Instant is also making searchers more lazy. But is there any substance to these claims? One thing is for sure, Google Instant is changing the impressions game. Did you know that if a user stops typing on a particular keyword and results are displayed for a minimum of 3 seconds, that counts as an impression even if they start to type again. Boo to slow typers!

Check out this search for “hair salon”. If I’m searched for a salon in LA, why would I type any further? I would simply click on the suggested term.

The argument for paid search is that people would stop bidding for long tail searches since they would benefit more from broad terms, such as this. This means high competition, high prices and more money for Google.

What do you think about Google Instant and how will it affect SEO, and long tail when it comes to paid search?

Google Debuts ‘Instant Previews’

If you ever wanted to preview a website before clicking on it, Google Instant Previews now gives you that option. Try it out for yourself. Just search for something in Google and click on the little magnifying glass icon. This will generate a preview of the site you’re thinking about clicking before you actually click on it. Check out the instant preview of Discover Los Angeles above.

Pretty cool, right? But some feel that the new Instant Previews is a double edged sword, as it can also mean “instant” rejection. Of course, you can avoid this by optimizing your website design for these new preview images. We’re talking about clean design and easy-to-read fonts.

What do you think about Google’s Instant Previews?

Halloween Edition: Scary SEO Mistakes That You Can Avoid

Let’s take a Halloween inspired look at how you can steer clear of some SEO mistakes:

1) Not targeting advertising keywords – If you offer funeral planning services, did you ever stop to think how many competitors you will have on a national and even global level? Yes, using “funeral planning” make sense but don’t forget to throw location specific terms in there. Los Angeles funeral planning and Kalamazoo funeral planning target an exact audience while also including the broad term. In other words, be like those psycho killers in the movies for once: know what you want and don’t stop until you get it!

2) Not tracking your efforts: Do follow analytics on a regular basis? If not, you’re missing out on a whole lot, including what terms users are searching for when clicking on your site and even how long they spend on the site. Nothing compares to numbers to track your SEO progress. You should also see how your rankings change on a monthly basis. Being on page 1 versus page 2 of a search engine results page makes a HUGE difference.

3) Lacking consistency: Unlike web design, SEO success is not something that you can achieve by just doing one thing and declaring it done. In order to gain and maintain your search engine rankings, your writing should be consistent. The best SEO efforts are those that are ongoing and where you create helpful and relevant content that is related to your keywords and customers.

4) Using duplicate content: There’s just something creepy about duplicate content that makes it as bad as twin children in horror movies! Whether it’s submitting to article directories, putting it on your site or another domain, duplicate content is a big no-no. Search engines don’t look favorably on duplicate content so stick to keeping things fresh! Not to mention that users certainly don’t appreciate seeing the same thing over and over again..

Have a Happy Halloween and keep these SEO tips in mind! Of course, I can’t leave you without one last scare… the creepy Snickers lady!

5 SEO Plugins for WordPress

Before you start blogging, you might want to consider some of these SEO plugins. They’ll help search engines find and crawl your content:

1) All-In-One SEO Pack – No blog should be complete without this tool. It’s a quick and simple way to enter all your keywords, tags, meta information, categories and more.

2) Google XML Sitemaps – This useful plugin will notify search engines every time a post is updated. This is the most efficient way for search engines to find and index all your blog content.

3) SEO Slugs – This plugin improves SEO visibility by automatically renaming the post’s file name . It will remove words that aren’t necessary in the eyes of search engines – words like “a”, “in”, and “if”. Optimized titles will help your blog get crawled more efficiently.

4) SEO Smart Links – If there’s one thing search engines like, it’s interlinking or self-linking within your own blog posts. This shows that your content is relevant and connected. This plugin automatically links keywords in your posts with other corresponding posts.

5) Simple Tags –  Simple Tags allows you to mass edit tags, suggest related tags, create tag clouds and more. It’s an easy tool to manage all your tags from one place.

What are some of your favorite WordPress plugins?

4 Common SEO Mistakes

Search engine optimization is considered to be an art to some and a science to others. I’d like to look at it as a mix of both. No matter what you believe, it’s important to avoid these common mistakes:

  1. Forgetting about keyword research – People often feel tempted to use the first words that come to mind. Remember, it’s not about the words YOU think are relevant to your business, but what customers think. Keyword research is important to see if anyone is actually looking for specific words/phrases.
  2. Feeling too attached to general keywords – Many times people aren’t too thrilled about niche keywords or phrases that include a location. They may have their mind set on “dog groomer” when what they really need is “Los Angeles dog groomer”, “gentle dog groomer” etc.
  3. Expecting too much – Clients can sometimes get frustrated with SEO as a service because it’s not tangible and it can take a while to see results. This means that you won’t instantaneously show up under relevant keywords, so don’t trust anyone that tells you otherwise! Patience will be your best friend as consistent SEO is a long-term investment.
  4. Linking with useless anchor text – Resist the urge to link with words like “Click Here”. Example:
    Bad: Click here to learn more about internet marketing design.
    Good
    : Learn more about internet marketing design today!

Is there anything else you’d like to add? Remember, the best way to avoid the pitfalls of SEO is to get educated or ask the experts for help.

internet marketing design

Appealing Ideas from Social Media Guides

Lately, I’ve been inundated with newsletters and downloads about a “definitive” guide to social media. Although these are helpful, there is a lot of repetitive info about getting the process started. They explain what Twitter and Facebook is and the different functions, but what about some realistic tips that is helpful for everyone who aren’t newbies? How do I grow? How can I branch out and attract people? Here are some interesting ideas that I’ve come across. I hope it’s more interesting than generic recommendations out there.

  • Presentation and document sharing. .docstoc is one of many document sharing websites that allow businesses and professionals to spread their know-how. If your content is helpful, others will be willing to link to you as a resource!
  • More commenting. Nowadays, a lot of sites and blogs enable comments by signing into your Twitter or Facebook account. I like this feature because you skip the hassle of filling out info fields. It also gets rid of spammers and others who don’t have relevant comments to share. It’s a good way to increase your brand awareness on high traffic blogs like Social Media Examiner.
  • Photosharing on Flickr. As Rohit’s article discusses, photo sharing can be a great way to engage customers. With the right content, this indirect method is exciting and will tie back to your site/blog/business in the end.

I’m always on the look out for interesting tips, so don’t be afraid to share. Feel free to also connect with us on Twitter and Facebook!

Band Websites: Improving Bad Website Design

Ok, so your favorite band doesn’t suck but what about their website? After browsing some sites, I found that many artists, bands, labels are missing the point when it comes to good search engine friendly website design. Besides being esthetically unappealing or having a loop of the same blaring songs, these bad band sites also share other similarities:

Overdoing the Flash
Super long to load on slower internet connections and it can be really annoying. Yes, we’re looking at you, The Strokes (and tons of other bands). Your site may be fancy and look really cool, but it’s 100% flash dependent. Flash sites aren’t indexed by Google and you can’t add any keywords in your content. More popular bands are just lucky that they don’t need to rely on this as they’re already getting traffic from fans.
Instead: A little flash here and there is fine. You want to concentrate on engaging and informative keyword rich content. You should also put a little time into your link building strategy and incoming links.

Just Too Much
As an artist, you want to accurately convey your image to your fans. Because of this, many artists go overboard with too many pictures, too much text, too many widgets and just way too much clutter. Lady Gaga’s bio is an eyesore with a page full of CAPITALIZED white text on a black/grey background. Surely, no one will really care to read this except for the super fans.
Instead: Have a section that is short and sweet. New fans want to get straight to the facts. You might want to include a more detailed bio page or even include a video to accompany the reduced text.

Ignoring Your Fans
Many band sites that aren’t updated frequently are static and dead. With Twitter, Myspace, and Facebook, band members are finding it easier to update on the social media platforms. Don’t forget about your site! Fans want to stay in touch and just small updates here and there will make them feel special. NIN is especially known for their fan interaction. Their website features a members area, an extensive photo gallery and even an area where you can mix your favorite songs.
Instead: Use Analytics to see where your fans are spending the bulk of their time. Are they interested in your lyrics, merch, or media? Now that you know, integrate a blog, photo blog, or even your social media profiles to appeal to those likes. Even a simple band Q&A once in awhile will help your website from dying out.

These are just some of my peeves, any other tips for bad band websites?