Are Your Business Blogs Too Boring?

boring contentBlogging is an important part of a content marketing strategy but sometimes, it’s hard to get around the fact that your business is “boring”. Whatever you do, don’t get into this train of thought! Remember, there’s always a way to give your content a boost. It just takes a little self-analysis and adjustment to see how you can make your blogs a little more interesting!

Things to Ditch

Information That’s Way Too General - Are your blogs just written to take up space? Content that’s too general isn’t very interesting or helpful to anyone. Spun content is also a red flag for spam, which can lead to penalties. Instead, you can focus a post on one specific topic or question. This gives you an example to showcase your expertise and will hold real staying power. This can lead to followup questions and related topics so you’ll never run out of things to write about.

Detailed, Jargo Filled Content – At the end of the spectrum, detailed content can be just too much for a reader to digest. It’s important for a business to remember to use terms and topics that are easy to understand. At the very list, make sure to explain confusing topics and not to assume that readers know as much as you do. Finding a balance between being too general and too detailed can be tricky, but this is what practice is for – and blogging is the best way to get there.

Long Blogs – Have you ever scrolled past a long blog post that failed to hold your attention? Some companies may feel that quantity means quality. Long content doesn’t necessarily mean that readers are taking something useful away from your blogs. Remember, you don’t have to cram content in a small post. Take some time to organize your thoughts in more concise bullet points. The goal of business blogging is to effectively and efficiently get your message across and length isn’t necessarily a requirement.

Cold, impersonal language – The appeal of blogs are that readers can find out more about the personality and culture behind a business. Every once in awhile, it helps to update about company news, employees, neighborhood events, to show the human side of your business. These blogs will stand out and your words won’t feel as clinical and emotionless.

These are just a few problems that business blogs can encounter. Feel free to share your pet peeves and make sure to stay tuned for our next post on what you can do to improve your business blogs.

What’s the Key to Keyword Density?

keyword density

Like many things in the world of SEO, keyword density is a highly debated topic – especially in the wake of these online Panda updates. With all the sites that have been hit with less traffic, people are scrambling for ways to better optimize their content.

The way I like to see it, keyword density is still an important part of copywriting but not in a way that it was say… 10 years ago. Instead of focusing on hitting an “ideal” percentage, keyword density should be a measure of how you shouldn’t over optimize your content. For example, if you have a 200 word blurb about dog shoes and the word “dog shoes” is mentioned 20 times… you’re going to have a problem with natural readability and you don’t need a percentage to tell you that.

SEObook’s free keyword density analyzer tool is a good place to start when looking at your own content, as well as your competitors’. You can view percentages for individual pages based on repeating keywords and even phrases up to 3 words long. But remember, even in Google’s own words, your keyword density percentage shouldn’t be a big deal if you’re doing what you should be doing in the first place – optimizing for the user.

Some common sense ways are to search and highlight keywords you’re optimizing for on a single page. If you feel there are too many highlights, you’re probably right. Depending on the length, you can cut back when necessary. If you have a good 5 paragraphs, is it really necessary to mention an exact match keyword more than 5 times? Are you stuffing with other keywords such as location terms? With effective writing for SEO content, variation and synonyms are more important than repeatedly matching the exact term on the same page (and throughout your site for that matter).

This is all about building a “natural” link profile, or at least what Google perceives to be natural. One thing is for sure though, when you are too focused on the technical aspects of your content, it will reflect in your writing. Customers can tell and search engines can also get a sense of this and your site will suffer. The key takeaway is to use keyword density as an informative tool, not as a guideline to measure or gauge your ranking success.

Are You Guilty of SEO Overkill?

Google PandaEven though it’s 2011, it’s amazing how many people still associate keyword stuffing with effective SEO. Sometimes, being too results-driven can cloud your thoughts and make you forget the most important thing – effective content is written for people not robots.

Optimization could involve brand new content or pages that already exist. Whatever the case, keyword research is always the first step. This will help you determine the keywords you want to use for meta descriptions, titles and tags. It’s also important to incorporate these chosen keywords into H1 tags. They key here is to do so sparingly. When you have natural and well-optimized content, your site will rank better and become more trustworthy to human readers as well as search engines.

In honor of the recent Google Panda Updates here’s an example of a paragraph that has gone too far (hopefully, content like this doesn’t remind you of your own!):

Panda Toy Palace – the best online store for panda toys! As a panda toy store in Los Angeles, we offer the best in panda accessories, panda clothing, and panda supplies! If you can think of a panda-related product, we have it! We love panda toys and are happy to share our love of panda products with all our fans. Panda Toy Palace is the only Panda toy place that you’ll ever need!

We get it. If your key products are panda toys posting content like this is neither helpful or relevant. It’s just a really long and drawn out way to promote your products and Panda Instead, you can write about natural or “natural” panda toys. Maybe a post about panda toys to coincide with upcoming holidays like Halloween and Christmas? You can even highlight a few products and ask customers for their opinions. Your content needs a good reason to exist!

Panda Updates are cracking down on “spammy” content that is overstuffed with keywords. Many legitimate sites have had trouble because of these updates and it’s just a reminder for everyone else to be mindful of their optimization tactics. Remember to keep your eye out for signs of over optimization and overkill – the Panda is always watching!

Does Your Content Marketing Measure Up?

content marketingWhat is content marketing? In broad terms, it applies to all forms of marketing involving sharing engaging content that is meant to be useful for your target customers. When you hear this term used nowadays, it means more than just using words – like on a traditional blog or website.

Different Types of Content Marketing

Nowadays, content marketing applies across social media, video marketing, press releases, public appearances, and more. In the end, the goal is to tell a story about your brand and influence potential customers to convert. Without over-complicating things, it’s a content marketing is a simple strategy to make your products and services attractive to the right consumer base.

Counting Clicks and Shares

In terms of social media, people are always wanting to know how to accurately and effectively measure these metrics. Earlier this month, Twitter revealed that they are developing Twitter Web Analytics, which should be extremely helpful to small businesses.

But like other forms of content marketing, you can’t measure and analyze social media by just using one metric. Because your business may use social media in a different way, you have to consider different factors than just say “clicks”. While this is good place to start, you have to dig deeper than that. Looking at how many users are sharing your content and tools such as PostRank can help give you that insight.

As an e-commerce business, you might take the approach of tracking sales before and after advertising coupons or deals on social media networks. Whatever form of content marketing you choose for your next campaign, you can also check the progress you’ve made on certain keywords in search engine rankings.

Notice here, there is no magic way to give you the answers you need when it comes to analyzing the effectiveness of your content marketing. The concept of these metrics is simple, but when it boils down to it many people just don’t have the time or man power to track them. It all comes down to putting in consistent work and constant monitoring of results to see what needs to be changed. As a business, this might sound like a lot of work – because it is. Remember, our Los Angeles SEO consultants are always here if you have any questions or need any help!

Why is Keyword Research Important for SEO?

keyword researchThe secret to effective keyword advertising is thorough keyword research. If the thought of that sends shivers down your spine (in a bad way), here’s an easier way to digest this topic:

Why Research is Necessary

A recent study showed that college students don’t really know how Google works OR how to properly use it to look for the information they need. Interesting. This means that as a small business, you have your work cut out for you when it comes to choosing the right keywords by understanding user search intent.

Criteria for Choosing the Right Keywords
Here are a list of a few factors that should be taken into consideration when you choose keywords for your online marketing campaigns:

  1. Relevance and related terms – Is the selling point of your product price? If so, you’ll want to include terms such as: cheap, discount, affordable, low cost, economy, and inexpensive. If you sell products like grills or printers, you’ll also want to target accessory terms
  2. Search volume – Now that you have a list of organic, related terms that you’d like to use, it’s time to see just HOW many people search for these terms per month. Keywords with large search volumes tend to be incredibly competitive so you can narrow it down by adding more detailed keywords or a geographical region. So, which terms should your business go with? Low search volume, high search volume or somewhere in between. Having a good mix of goals is always a good idea in the short and long run of your business.
  3. Geographical target – Location is a very important decision. As a business in Los Angeles, you might want to target the entire LA area but what’s more realistic? For example, if you own a restaurant, you can even narrow it down to neighborhood. Instead of the vast, general area of Los Angeles, you can break it down to Eagle Rock, Echo Park, Silverlake etc.
  4. Intent – One word or phrase can have different meanings in the mind of a searcher. If someone types “kitchen cabinets”, they could be looking to buy new kitchen cabinets. They could also be looking for kitchen cabinet repair services or do-it-yourself guides. By tackling these topics with a wide array of keywords, you can gain more insight to different intentions that your customers may have.

Learn More About Where to Start
Keyword research requires a lot of time and patience but the payoff is well worth it. Are you ready to choose an effective list that will work for your business? Here’s a helpful article with some resources to help you learn more. And you can also check out our other blog posts on keyword research.

Are You Using Link Bait to Attract Readers?

Sometimes, I think the term link bait has a connotation because you’re using it to “trick” others to link to your article. With that said, there are legitimate ways to link bait properly, especially if you have useful content to back it up. Link baiting is a great way to attract readers and bloggers who are willing to share your content. Here are some techniques you can apply to different content (blogs, articles, on site content and even social media posts)

The Shock Factor – Remember all those crazy Jerry Springer episodes? ” Something ridiculous like I Married a Horse” comes to mind. Having a shock factor can come from many ways: rants, critical reviews and debates are many ways you could bring people to your post. But remember, these extreme techniques can threaten your online reputation, so use with caution! There are also ways to use the shock factor without being over the top, such as building on surprising factor of interesting statistics that others can relate to.

Industry News – When there’s a breaking story, it’s crucial to post it and put your take on things as soon as possible. This way, you’re establishing yourself as being a reputable source by showing that you’re aware of the changing industry. For example in the legal industry, you’ll want to keep readers informed on the latest product recalls and dangerous products. In the fitness industry, you may want to comment on the latest diet and exercise trends.

Contests – Ideally, you won’t just give away a random product in order to have people link to your site or fan page. Instead, you can build customer loyalty by having customers participate in some way – even if it’s small. It can start with taking a photo or sharing a story or build to something big like having a logo contest. Have I mentioned that Facebook has changed things up for Pages? If fans don’t engage with your Page, your posts will no longer appear in their default News Feed! But that’s a topic for another time… The more fans invest into your contest, the more interested they will be in your brand in the long run.

Guides and How to Guides – Wiki, forums and Q&A sites are so popular because people always have a problem that they’re trying to solve. Creating step by step guides on a topic that you’re well-versed in will help establish your business as an authority figure. If you’re worried about giving too much away, you can start with a popular general topic. For example, if you look up a fettuccine alfredo recipe, there are SO many ways to make the same thing. It’s important to put your special take on the topic. You can do so by also adding helpful pictures, video and other forms of media content.

Creating quality link bait that’s also effective is NOT an easy thing. Not to mention that most successful methods require a creative spin. Every once in awhile, it doesn’t hurt to break out of the cycle and create something innovative within your SEO content. What’s your take on link bait and techniques that really work?

Is It Possible to Have Too Much Content?

Believe it or not, there IS such a thing as having too much content (and we’re talking about onsite content here). Effective SEO strategies are linked with quality content but people may often mistake that for just adding more content. Notice how quality gets left behind?

This is becoming more clear as Google Panda updates are rolling out. The goal is to weed out pages that are not helpful to consumers. So, how do you explain this to a client who wants 50 pages of content put up simultaneously?

Content, Search Engines and Customers

Dumping a ton of content in a single move looks suspicious to search engines because they are aware of many things: the quality of your content, the potential of its usefulness and in the end, it helps them uncover your motive (black hat or white hat SEO). I think that making this move gives off a hint that this is a one time thing and that your site won’t be updated frequently.

There’s only so much content that customers can digest without being completely bored or disinterested. As a consumer, when was the last time you sat down and made time to read more than a handful of pages on a website?

Consistency and Quality over Quantity

The next time someone urges you to add massive amounts of content at once, it’s important to let them know why it’s not a good idea. (And no, it’s not because you’re looking for an excuse to not do work!) SEO content strategy requires a consistent schedule and more does not mean that you will rank any better. If anything, posting too much content that is not useful to users can actually hurt your rankings nowadays.

Is Your SEO Content Hot or Not?

SEO hot or not

Summer’s finally here, even though the June gloom in Los Angeles says otherwise! Is there anything that says ‘summer’ more than hitting the beach? Take a look at the photos above: if you were to compare your website content to a beach body, would you say that it’s HOT (left) or NOT (right)? Not quite ready for the hot category? Here are 3 easy tips that will help you be more self aware of your onsite content:

Making a Commitment – Just like your health routine and physique, SEO content is something that requires care all year round. Not just when summer (or any another peak season) happens to roll around. After all, do you really expect to hit the beach after a few weeks of preparation?! I think not! It’s never too late to better your SEO efforts by having a consistent plan for maintenance, review and improvement.

Quality over Quantity – This means having a ‘less is more’ mindset. But less is definitely more when it comes to certain aspects of your online marketing efforts. Shorter, concise pages will help customers and draw their attention without leaving them bored. Having less keywords on a page is always better than keyword stuffing. If you can get your point across in 100 words, why would you do it in 1000? The truth is, your customers don’t have the time or interest to stay on your pages for that long.

Don’t Let Your Content Stand Alone – Who really wants to be alone at the beach when you can go with a good group of friends? If you publish content and think that’s it, your SEO efforts will truly suffer. Think of social media and networking like the other components that will make your beach party shine. We’ve also talked about different types of content that can be thrown into the mix, besides just standard text. Pictures, PDFs, videos and sound clips are all interesting complements to your content.

So, what do you think is on the hot or not list for SEO this summer?

Why Should Businesses Blog?

blog

For most people blogging can be seen as an enjoyable way to showcase your creativity. But what about businesses? Is there really a point in business blogging? The answer is, YES – of course!

Blogging is great for your business and you an also express your brand in an unlimited platform. Before all the fancy social media sites were available, blogging was it and nowadays, it’s still the foundation of social sharing. If you’re still  not convinced of the power of blogging, hopefully these reasons will help convince you otherwise!

  1. Attract local customers – If you have a small business, it’s important to be connected to the neighborhood, events and its people. If you’re part of your city/town’s Chamber of Commerce, you can extend your local efforts when blogging. Whether you’re focusing on promoting local business, participating in family events, volunteering for notable causes or just sharing fun company events, blogging  will help give your brand a personal touch. The upside is that you’ll be able to promote this content on multiple social networking sites so that the SEO power doesn’t stop just at your blog.
  2. Dominate the competition – As a small business, you can use blogging to set yourself apart from the competition. Relevant and regular blogging will help if your competitors aren’t blogging (or blogging consistently as you do). Use geographic key terms to get that edge and over time, this permanent asset can bring your site more traffic.
  3. Showcase your knowledge – Learning is a big part of blogging. When you write useful information that’s intended to help others, it also benefits your business. It can reinforce what you already know in your area of expertise, as well as learn more about other things and what your peers are doing.
  4. Serves as a reminder. Forcing yourself to blog can be a pain if you don’t have the time. Ultimately, blogging is a great way to remind customers that you’re still around and that you’re still relevant. Blogging keeps you on your toes and also serves a great self-reminder as to why you’re still in business!

If you can handle blogging in house, more power to you! There are also outside help that can assist with your SEO  efforts. Contact us if you’re interested in how blogging and keyword advertising can help your business grow.

Coming Up with a Plan for Organic SEO

Do you ever come across the label, “One size fits all”? Not only is it frustrating but most of the time, it doesn’t even hold true! Instead of opting for a generic plan for tackling SEO, why not take the time to see what will work best for you? The biggest problem that many have is not knowing where to start or what efforts are enough to help your success. Although a reputable SEO company can’t guarantee your success, your hard work and consistency will pay off in the end.

Investing in Keyword Research
This is an important starting place. Maybe you want to set aside 5, 10, or even 20 keywords that you’d like to concentrate on. Instead of going for a wide variety of words, it can be beneficial to focus on some top terms if there is not a lot of competition in your field. The opposite holds true if you want to get more aggressive with your efforts. Lisa Barone wrote an easy-to-follow article for beginning your keyword research. With free tools from Google and unlimited online resources, there’s no reason for you NOT to get started today.

Moving Onto SEO Content
Now that you know what keywords you want to optimize, it’s time to focus on SEO content. It may be difficult to deliver a steady stream of relevant content. Many companies find it more efficient to enlist the help of copywriters who are knowledgeable in the field. Whether it is keeping up with industry news, voicing your opinion, or plain FAQ’s, these textual gems will help link your site to the significant keywords that you want to be associated with. Marketing experts can’t stress this enough – content is king.

Let’s Get Technical
Search engine optimization works to help your site gain more visibility. This doesn’t happen out of happenstance and you should familiarize yourself with the more technical aspects of organic SEO. Don’t know the difference between title and meta tags? Forget to add relevant keywords to your headings? Did you know you can even add alt tags to make your pictures more search engine friendly? If you aren’t utilizing these fields, just think of all the potential visibility you’re missing out on!