The Evolution of Blogging and SEO

The History of Blogging
Web + log = Blog. According to Wikipedia, early-blogging dates back to around 1983. What evolved from a personal online diary has become a helpful tool that can be as powerful (or more powerful) than a website. Let’s take a quick look at some interesting tidbits:

  • Cameron Barrett compiled the first of blog sites in 1998
  • Peter Merholz coined the term “blog” in 1999
  • Pyra creates Blogger in 1999
  • Twitter introduces the world to microblogging in 2006

What’s Changed?
LiveJournal, Open Diary, Xanga, Blogger. The dot-com bubble paved the way for companies and individuals who wanted to make a name for themselves via blogging. Nowadays, blogggers are more dynamic and it’s more than just detailing the mundane facts of your everyday life. From online marketers to large corporations, blogs are now considered to be a serious for of entertainment, news, and information.

Business Blogging Webinar

This morning’s webinar with Chris Baggot and Duane Forrester was about business blogging and how to apply SEO. They distinguish the difference between how personal blogging has evolved into a more sophisticated form of corporate blogging. Chris shared insight about organizing several different blogs dedicated to specific topics, while Duane talk about the importance of tracking your success. Here are some things to keep in mind as you establish your own blogging strategy and best practices:

  • 66% of blog traffic comes from search engines
  • Companies that utilize blogs generally get more traffic
  • Frequent and recent – successful blogs are updated regularly and contain relevant information

Effective Copywriting for Web 2.0

I recently read a magazine article describing the profession of copywriting as “sexy.” After giggling for half a second, it dawned on me that “sexy” was just the right word to use. Copywriters, through the power of the written word, are responsible for “seducing” their audience. They have the fun, yet daunting, task of generating interest and then developing that interest to lead to some sort of fruitful relationship, not unlike the dating world. And, just like the dating game, the rules have changed.

The more information that technology makes readily available to consumers, the less time these consumers have to spend on any one particular product, service or idea. The attention span of the average web user has steadily decreased as the barrage of online information continues to overwhelm human senses. With this in mind, the web copywriter must truly embrace the concept of “less is more.” Relevance and credibility are still important principles to keep in mind when writing content, but Web 2.0 consumers now want relevance and credibility…in cliff notes format. A great example of this trend is the micro-blogging phenom, Twitter. Twitter’s popularity and success is a smack-in-the-face realization that web users’ tolerance for information has been Mini-Me-ed down to 140 characters!

With that said, here are some key guidelines for downsizing a seven-course meal of content into a snack-size bar without losing the essentials:

1. Listen to data: Conduct A/B testing on different versions of headlines to determine which works best.
2. Waste not, fluff not: Don’t make claims you can’t support. Consumers can smell a phony sales pitch a mile away!
3. Forget “short and sweet”: Just keep it short. Jargon, hype, gimmicks are all unnecessary sugar-coating. Give them what they want to know.
4. Know your audience: This one seems obvious, but is worth repeating. Write copy that speaks in a voice that your target market, not only understands, but listens to.
5. Format for easy reading: Use headlines, sub headlines, short paragraphs, lists, and an eighth-grade reading level. Have your 13-year-old read the copy. If he/she doesn’t “get it” by the time their attention is lost to a new YouTube video, it’s time to rewrite!

One Keyword Per Page

It’s expensive to create and optimize pages for search, so why not try to jam as many keywords onto one page as possible? Unfortunately this scattershot approach won’t increase your ranking, instead only diluting your results. The best number of organic search keywords to target per page is one.

It is important to have one primary focus on the page, one concept that the page is about.
Now of course you can have more than one word on the page, or target two words that mean basically the same thing. For example optimizing the same page for “certified public accountant” and “CPA” makes perfect sense. However, you should resist the temptation to use the same page as the search landing page for “CPA”, “certified public accountant”, “tax accountant”, and “tax services”. Although all of these words are related, you won’t end up with a number one Google result this way.

The bad news is, this means lots of landing pages. Sure it’s more work, but doing something right usually is. The more concepts you try to cram on a page, the more you confuse the search engine, so keep it simple. Just start with pages for your best keywords, and add a few more every week. Over time you will see much better results for the effort.

Not everyone agrees with this strategy, and it is possible to get a number one rank for multiple keywords when they are less competitive, but in a competitive environment, it is important to specialize and be clear with your seo strategy. Keeping your target keywords as close to one as possible will keep you from spreading yourself too thin and losing out on valuable traffic.

Organic SEO vs. PPC

seo-vs-pccThe ongoing debate between organic SEO and PPC has continued to be a hot topic among many website creators.  The debate between using organic SEO or Pay Per Click continues to be hot with ups and downs to both of them.  Which one is best?  Some experts say that both organic and paid searches are important.  They are both important for the success of a website and business advertising on the web.  Organic SEO is accomplished by optimizing your webpage and using link popularity by acquiring links that direct people to your site and the optimization gives the site higher rankings based on your chosen keywords and popularity based on its links.

PPC advertising is when you actually buy clicks or visitors from a search engine.  PPC is a market place and you are buying clients and selling then a product at a profit that hopefully lets you dominate the marketplace .The keywords are bid for or you are buying them.  Anytime you are making money organically it is a good idea to try it on the PPC side.  One of the most important things to think about is the time in which the results are needed.  One of the downfalls of organic or natural marketing is that it takes time to see the impact of linking and other organic SEO techniques.  Every site would benefit from organic SEO and traffic is great from all businesses.  In terms of putting resources into organic SEO, the kind of sites that can benefit from this type of campaign are those who need a large audience and a larger body of traffic.  Organic SEO is seen as more trustworthy and be more sincere than PPC.

Professionals recommend that both organic optimization and PPC advertising be used together.  It is very important to know how to stay in front of the competition.  One good way to see if your SEO is working by looking at Google’s quality search ranking for how useful and good any particular website is.  Further, websites that rank high organically are also most likely to be less expensive for pay per click campaigns.

PPC is great if you are starting a new site and you believe in the product it is a faster way to get a greater audience as opposed to natural SEO.  In the meantime it would be wise to get the organic SEO campaign on track drawing from the data that the PPC advertising results have given you.  PPC search results are easier to predict in terms of ROI and can provide immediate results and traffic, and possibly revenue.  Paid placement search is also evolving.  Which sites does PPC or SEO work best for?  SEO works great for blogs while hardly anyone tries to use PPC on a blog.  Ecommerce stores, for instance probably spend 99% on PPC advertising.  Sites not necessarily focused on selling a product are probably better off sticking to SEO.  In conclusion both SEO and PPC offer great tools to webmasters looking to promote their sites.  Keep posted for more articles to come!

Advanced Business Blogging Webinar by Hubspot Review

bill gatesI attended a webinar today on advanced business blogging by Hubspot. Don’t let the advanced part in the title scare you away. Hubspot, an online marketing company similar to emarketed, does a great job on providing webinars. Today’s webinar focused on blogging and can be viewed here. A few notes about the actual webinar that really made this interesting. First they had a powerpoint of the webinar that can be accessed here through SlideShare and a live video feed of the presenter that was being pulled from Mogulus. You can view Hubspot’s channel here. Mogulus provides a free service and a paid version which removes the advertisements. There were no advertisements on the webinar but when I viewed the video on Mogulus there were advertisements. So I’m assuming that Hubspot is using the free version. They have over 800 viewers on the webinar today! You can view all of their shows on their Mogulus channel or here on their site. Hubspot also integrated their Twitter account into the presentation so you could ask questions through Twitter during the webinar. There were also links to Facebook and LinkedIn as well from the webinar page. These are all free tools that any one can use.  The use of these social media tools was very impressive and is definately something that we’re looking to integrate into our next version of our emarketed site. They were able to utlize these free services which can be used by anyone: Twitter, SlideShare, Facebook, & Mogulus

Ok, lets get into some of the key points from the webinar. A lot of the content which I’m proud to say has been discussed by emarketed in past blogs. Hubspot goes into why you should blog with 5 keys to a successful blogging:

1. Pick your target personas
2. Create a mix of posts
3. Write great posts
4. Sustain it
5. Spread it

One of the great take aways from this webinar is that your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts can start from your blog. You should write content that relates to your products and/or services. One thing to remember though is that SEO takes time and this is the same for writing blog posts. You will not see the direct results of your blog writing for several months. You also have to promote your blog once it’s up. It’s the same for your website which our clients are starting to understand. People will not just magically stumble across your blog when you write content. It must be promoted. Some of the methods Hubspot discussed were the following: post to twitter, comment on other blogs, post to facebook, start building a list of subscribers to your blog. They also had a great tip about using images through Flickr so I took their advice for this blog post. We do not always uses images in blog posts but I can see how it makes the blog easier to read with an image.

For more information regarding the webinar you’ll have to watch it at the following link.

New Google Keyword Tool

Google just released another tool to help you find keywords for your pay per click campaign and/or your overall search marketing campaign. First you’ll need to input your website and some of your target keywords and click submit to see the results. See below for a screen shot of the search results that I received when testing this out. I entered in emarketed.com and the following keywords: seo, ppc, web marketing, web design, website video marketing, cms, seo cms, organic cms, search engine optimization

google keyword tool
Google keyword tool

And it gave me 810 suggestions showing me monthly searches, competition level, and search trends. You can click the magnifying glass icon to see the search trends for a specific keyword. A new window will open with Google Insights for Search which provides some very interesting data. You can see how many searches are done wordwide and have it broken down by country, state, and city level. The below screen shot shows what I found when I drilled down on “web design” and then selected United States and California. I was able to see that San Francisco had the most searches for this keyword with Los Angeles coming in 4th. It also displayed “google web design” as a rising search term so this would be a good word for us to optmize. Please disregard this last statement if you’re an SEO and/or web design company. Wink Wink 😉

Google Insights for Search
Google Insights for Search
Google Insights for Search
Google Insights for Search

Search Engine Friendly Web Design Tips

We tend to get asked this question many times throughout the week:  What is search engine friendly web design? I’d like to clarify this for our readers.

So here’s a quick list of things you should be considering when creating search engine friendly web design:

1.) Loads quickly (no heavy flash loading files or quick time movies)

2.) Have clean code (programming on the back end – click view source in your browser to view the programming of a web page – some programs throw in a lot of code that slows your page down)

3.) Have a site map (at the bottom of every page should be a link to your site map that has all the pages of your site listed)

4.) Have proper headings (clearly name your pages and use sub headings as well to break up your content)

5.) Have good content that talks about your services and/or products (search engines love content – give the search engines relevant content)

6.) Make sure to name your images with the ALT tag (this is how you’ll label your images in the html – you can do this with text editors or with programs such as dreamweaver or frontpage)

7.) Make sure you have different title tags for each page on your site (the title tag in the html looks like this:
<title>Page Name Here</title>

8.) Lastly I’d spend some time going through the Google Webmaster Guidelines to get familiar with how the largest search engine out there wants to see your site.

Good luck!

Paid Directory Submission for SEO

Just thought we’d post some sites we recommend to our clients for paid directory submissions. We’ve found that these sites are worth the initial investment. Please let us know if you have any recommendations or had any bad experiences with any of these paid directories. When we perform setup on sites for SEO we submit to these paid directories to help improve the Google PR (page rank) and also to drive traffic from these sites.

We’ve also provided the link above directly to the submission page. Sometimes it’s tough to find where you’re suppose to submit your site. Good luck submitting your site! Make sure and find a relevant category for your site within those directories.

Matt Cutts SEO Tips On Blogging

Well if you’re reading this chances are you’ve heard of Matt Cutts but if you haven’t, he’s a rockstar in the search marketing space. He’s also know as the spam czar at Google. He heads the spam team at Google and speaks often about SEO and “whitehat” techniques. Whitehat is a term in the search marketing space that refers to tactics that are permitted by the search engines and blackhat refers to ways people try and trick the search engines. This video goes into ways you can do SEO through your blog with whitehat techniques. I’d recommend staying on top of Matt Cutts blog.

I’d love to hear some feedback on this video. Please feel free to comment.