How to Rescue Bad Landing Pages

Landing pages are important for both organic and paid search. It’s a good thing that landing pages can be consistently analyzed, updated, and improved… because there are still horribly optimized and designed landing pages that exist out there. Here are a few things to look for to make sure that you’re making the most out of your landing pages.

bad landing pages

1) Bounce rate – If your bounce rates are high, it could be a clear indication that the page isn’t helpful to visitors. If this is the case, it’s time to revamp your content and research the keywords you’re targeting to better connect with what customers are looking for. The design could be off-putting or they might feel misdirected by clicking. This is a starting point where you can dive deeper into what is causing the high bounce rate.

2) SEO friendly web design – Are you using Flash? Is your navigation easy to navigate? Is there too much text? Do you have pop-ups? All these could be a factor in visitors not sticking to your landing page. Although it’s natural to want to share a whole lotta content, it’s good to refrain from adding more clutter than you need.

3) Objective – Clarify your main objective and ask yourself what exactly you want to accomplish with the landing page. It’s best to have 1 main objective per landing page and this overall view will help with content creation. Again, clearing out the unncessary clutter.

4) Call to action - What do you want visitors to do? Here are some things you could emphasize: Call a number, fill out a form, download a free e-book, signup for a newsletter, etc. Another thing… don’t forget to make it easy for them to do so!

5) Trust factor – Sometimes, the nature of landing pages can seem spammy and untrustworthy. This is where social networking can work to your advantage. You can display positive reviews, Tweets, number of Facebook likes and other small blurbs that help reassure visitors that they’re making the right choice by choosing your company.

Good, bad and ugly… landing pages have seen it all. Let us know what you think and if you have any good/bad examples. And make sure to read more about “Identifying and Fixing Your Worst Landing Pages” here.

SEO Content: How Much is Too Much?

Do you need to add more SEO content to your website? And how much and how often is it needed?

More, More, More

These are difficult questions to answer without knowing more details. The important thing to remember is that since Google’s Panda Updates, your site’s quality is becoming more important. That’s right, quality over quantity. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone with half a brain, but  you’d still be surprised at how many clients are firm in wanting to add 10+ pages/blogs per day!

Who Comes First in Optimization
Think about it… if you’re adding that much content a day, how much of it is actually good, useful and meant for actual human beings? All along, SEO consultants and other experts have told us to build sites for people first and then optimize for search engines.

This isn’t a new concept.

What to Do with New/Old Pages
Instead of focusing on adding more pages and looking at a set amount of pages per month, it’s time to shift your focus. Sure, this strategy is more time consuming and requires more critical thinking, but it is a move that will be well worth it in the end. By looking at your Google Analytics account, Page Rank, or whatever measurements you’d like to use, you can make a list of effective pages on your site. These pages will rank well for relevant terms and have strong staying power in search engine ranking reports.

As much as you don’t like to admit, there are some pages that aren’t receiving as much attention… or the attention that they deserve. Don’t delete these pages and feel like you have to start over. In fact, the age of these pages can work to your advantage once you rework the content and re optimize.

While continuously adding mountains of content may seem like an easy and logical thing to do, it’s better to take a break sometimes. Re optimization is a complex process and there’s no shame in asking for help. Contact us on any questions and find out how we can help!

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!

A Balanced Link Building Plan

link building balanceLinks, links, links. The more, the better… right? WRONG. This misconception started long ago and sadly, the myth still continues to this day. Your link building or keyword advertising campaign should consist of much more than just a one-dimensional view of obtaining links.

When it comes to link building, many people take a look at it from 2 main ways: internal links or external links. Whereas some people overload their web pages by interlinking, others go crazy by buying/submitting hundreds of links at once. In order to diversify and build quality links, you’ll consider a good mix of the following:

Comments, directory submissions, social networking, social bookmarks, infographics, widgets, videos, article submission sites, .edu/.gov links, blogs, press releases, and even paid links (in some rare cases).

That’s just some of many places where you can build links. What about how you link? Different types of anchor text include:

URL, company/brand name, exact match anchor text, partial match anchor text, and even your name.

Search engines love to see a variety of different links coming from a variety of different (and reputable sites). If your link building campaign consists of utilizing one or two method (multiplied by hundreds), this not only look unnatural, but it can also devalue those links that are pointing to your website.

Here’s a good example. If you’re selling handmade crafts, it would look unnatural to link a keyword like beautiful handmade gemstone jewelry hundreds of times. I mean really, who would use those exact words except for your own company? Instead, you should also use your brand name, variations of the keyword and even images. This is why many experts in the industry prefer to use partially matched anchor text because it’s more safe and stable in the long run.

Although there is no right way to build links, I sure think there is a wrong way – and that is utilizing too much of the same anchor text from a handful of domains. Diversify your anchor text, types of links and even look at no follow links as your friend (in moderation). All these techniques add up to a more natural link building profile that search engines definitely favor.

Optimization for a Lower Bounce Rate

bounce rate How high is your website’s bounce rate? Obviously, a lower bounce rate is desirable. But depending on your industry, the “norm” can greatly vary.

If you take a look inside your Google Analytics account, it’s important to remember to look not only at the OVERALL bounce rate, but the bounce rate of individual landing pages. This applies whether you’re reorganizing your website or setting up new pay per click landing pages. Let’s say that your overall average is around 40%, but if you take a look at your home page, you find that the bounce rate is 80%! This means that 80% of customers aren’t finding what they need and leaving very quickly.

As a starting point, here are a few things you can look at:

Page load time: Let’s face it, who likes sitting around waiting for a page to load? If your site is slow, you can make it more effective by optimizing photos, your layout and cutting down on unnecessary content.
Design – Do you have a search engine friendly web design? Sometimes, a more complex design might sound appealing to make your site stand out while squeezing in all the information you want customers to find. But this won’t help your website unless it’s something that your customers are responding to, and not what you’re personally partial to! Take a step back and do some testing between some more simpler designs to find out for sure.
Relevancy – Here’s one more reason not to use broad keyword terms all over your website. Although you may want to rank for a variety of different keywords, your customers will want to find exactly what they’re looking for. If a certain keyword brings them to your site and they find that it’s irrelevant, your site is not useful. The last thing you want to do is to mislead potential customers. The best solution is to optimize per page/section and use specific keywords that describe exactly what they can expect to find on that page.

In the end, remember that a bounce rate is only one of many factors you can use to gauge your progress. But it is an important one as optimizing for a lower bounce rate can also improve your content focus, site design and even SEO.

Are You Obsessed with Keyword Rankings?

obsessed with seo rankingsobsessed – past participle, past tense of ob·sess (Verb)
Verb: Preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent: “he was obsessed with thoughts of suicide”.

If this word best describes your relationship with your keywords, there’s a big problem. Whether you’re dealing with your own search rankings or clients’, it’s important to remember that an effective SEO campaign means more than just where you rank.

Instead of asking the most obvious questions like “How can I rank #1 and how long will it take?”, you should be taking a deeper look and asking “How can useful SEO content help me achieve higher rankings for keywords that my customers are actually looking for?” Search engine ranking algorithms, competitors, your past work being indexed – these are all things that make search rankings fluctuate on a daily basis. This is why you can be #1 for a term one day and #3 for the same term the next.

Although we would all like to capture that much coveted spot, the organic optimization game doesn’t quite work that way. And there are new factors emerging every day, some that we have little control over. Take Google’s new Social Search, for example. Now social media connections have a greater impact on how search results are personalized depending on your friends’ searches, interests and location. With all these varying factors, this means that search rankings can and will vary for each different person.

Ranking well is still an important part of SEO, but being overwhelmed with the details is something that can truly drive you insane. For now, it’s more about practicing patience and building up your site with credible and useful information so that you can keep visitors onsite. Working on these social aspects with a complementary plan will also build your business’ trustworthiness so that potential customers will keep your brand in mind for a time when they do need your product/service. As you can see, nowadays search engine optimization has emerged as something much more than just ranking #1 for some keyword terms. There is MUCH more too it!

Take a look at some of our free whitepapers to see if you can get any new ideas for your search campaigns.

Looking at Google’s Evil Ways

While “Don’t Be Evil” is Google’s official motto, there are many recent arguments that can be made showing how the internet giant is slowing descending into the realm of being not-so-good.

Earlier this week, Google got caught utilizing SEO spam to promote its Chrome browser. They hired a video marketing company and bought sponsored blog posts on questionable sites, which bloggers caught onto very quickly. Not to mention that the articles and content that was pushed out wasn’t well-written or relevant to the sites they were being featured on!

This is the exact type of behavior that Google punishes, so what happens when they’re the ones violating this “golden rule”. As punishment, Google has penalized itself for its “mistake” so that Chrome doesn’t show up for browser-related terms (for the time being). Yeah, that will show them… but for how long? You have to admit that it is hypocritical for Google to get caught doing the same thing that they penalized J.C. Penney for doing early in 2011. And in some ways, this argument can be extended to the small scale – how Google is constantly adding more Panda updates to penalize content they deem as spammy or evil. These updates have greatly affected traffic for legitimate small business sites, so why do they just keep coming?

If the issue of spam weren’t so blatantly offensive to SEOs, it’s more frustrating to see that Google isn’t very transparent with their search algorithm and other ranking methods. As far as we can see, they change this as often as they please and leave reputable website marketing firms to guess what is going to happen next.

The more you look into it, the more you’ll discover of the dark side of Google and why so many people question their motives. Do you think Google made a honest mistake with this ad campaign are or they just sorry because they got caught in such a public manner? Maybe it’s time to retire that motto and think of a more fitting one…

What’s on Your SEO Wishlist?

Have you been a good SEO this year? There are always things we would like to help us with web copywriting and content optimization. Here are 3 things that are on our wishlist this year!

Good Links from Niche Sites – Diversified links from high ranking and relevant sites are still important. It would be nice to get some links from sites with PR of 5+, don’t you think? How about some .edu and .gov links while you’re at it?

A Reputable Back Link Analyzer – Since we faced the tragic loss of Yahoo! Site Explorer last month, it would be great to get a free & reliable alternative. (Here are a few, but they don’t feel quite the same!

A Magic Touch to Work out all the Problems with Local – Local and social marketing go hand in hand nowadays. But don’t even get me started on fixing problems with local listings! Updating existing listings can be a pain and it’s no fun trying to work with suspended pages.

An Online Organic Keyword Generator – Sometimes, I’d like to imagine access to a self-populating list of terms that people actually look for online. But that would make things too easy, wouldn’t it? It’s a good thing that we have a formulaic and proven method for keyword research! (But a tool like this would be helpful…)

Feel free to share your other wishes and wants with us. Big or small, we’d like to hear them all!

Pinterest Piquing Your Interest?

If you love pictures, Pinterest is the new social networking/bookmarking/photosharing community for you! The site went live in March of 2010 but it’s gaining more attention for its potential for SEO.

Looking at it for the first time, the site reminds me of Tumblr and Chictopia. Think of it as a virtual pinboard where you can add pictures as well as links. For now, the links from the images are not nofollow, which means that your site can benefit from getting link juice here! Many people speculate that this tag could be added in the near future, so it’s best to take advantage of it now!

People post pictures of everything including: food, inspirational quotes, celebrity crushes, scenic shots and more. Check out this image I found of an iPad cover. Now to the SEO part that can benefit your online marketing campaign! With every picture you post, there are three links you can add: 1) the picture itself 2) the link on the top right 3) a link in the description.

Businesses can benefit from pinning pictures but the purpose is to not be so self-serving. Instead, the things you post should be interesting and shareable. E-commerce stores can post pictures of their products and local businesses can contribute to categories related to their city or local neighborhood. All of these things help with your online reputation, while gaining momentum from linked pictures at the same time.

If you’ve used Pinterest, let us know what you think. As for now, I’m eagerly awaiting my own Pinterest invite!

Thinking of Search Engine Ranking Factors?

search engine ranking factors

Have you thought about how search engine ranking factors affect your website lately? SEOmoz recently released their findings on these factors using a large scale data analysis. Of course, Google (and other search engines) won’t reveal exactly how they determine rankings, which is why Check out the detailed report here.

Let’s take a look at a few factors that have strong potential in affect your rankings:

Social metrics: Social behavior is an important factor. What exactly do visitors do when they’re on your site? Twitter, Facebook and Google+ is obvious but social sharing also counts when someone shares a page via email or subscribes to your RSS feed. All these seemingly small factors lead to bigger picture.

Bounce rate: Does your site have a relatively high or low bounce rate? A high bounce rate can mean many different things. Most importantly, this is a crucial indication that your content isn’t helpful or that visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for. From a visual perspective, a messy site is unappealing to search engines as well as human visitors. This is where implementing a search engine friendly web design can help lower your high bounce rate.

Keyword usage: Keyword stuffing is sure to sink your search rankings. Keeping to a strict keyword density may seem like too much, but it’s an effective way to make your page more relevant and seem less spammy. Using similar keywords and diversifying your content will make your website more helpful to visitors who will stay on your site for a longer period of time.

Google has many factors in determining how a web site should be ranked. Isn’t it time you stayed caught up? What other important factors do you think small business owners should keep their eye on?