September 23, 2014

Topics Not Keywords = The Future of SEO

Over the last three years we have seen a shift in search engine optimization, especially with the release of Google Penguin in early 2012. Now and moving forward into the future of SEO, topics are the focus rather than keywords.

In essence this means that keywords are still here to stay, but as the future of SEO comes into clearer focus we can see that topics instead of keywords is the answer to Google’s push for more content. The new approach is no longer an emphasis on specific keywords, but the broader view that topics will provide. Keywords are limiting and topics provide a wealth of information!

Here’s why.

What Topics Mean For Search

The new Google algorithm is based upon the needs of users and what they are finding to be the most useful to them according to Search Engine Watch. The focus is to create the best possible experience online in the most efficient way possible.

Today’s content marketer must build credibility and establish themselves as an authority as a result of these changes. The best approach is to know what your target audience is seeking then delivering quality content to them as an expert resource. The is where topic become king over keywords.

What is “Theme-Based SEO?”

Theme-based SEO is about delivering topics for users instead of stuffing keywords into content. This strategy creates a “theme,” and optimization means using this approach rather than the old method of only focusing on the keywords.

Organic search is more important than ever, and Google has taken a firm stance against keyword stuffing and the over-use of optimization. This directly affects a website’s ranking, and could result in being removed from search results.

Instead of using too many keywords in your content, focus more on themes through keywords topics in order to create more natural results. This will be more favorable to Google as well.

Know Your Target Audience

Content marketing is all about knowing who your audience is which includes their needs, demographics, the latest trends, ect. This information will show what topics they are interested in, which makes your strategy much more effective than keyword-based SEO.

When the focus is just on keywords your strategy is restricted and will leave out what your audience wants the most. It’s vital to know what is relevant to them in a way that is informative, educational, and inviting. People no longer want a sales pitch, and a landing page can be quickly abandoned as a result leaving a very low ranking.

Topic-Based Content Is Key

Quality content begins with a natural approach that is desirable to your target audience and search engines. Think about this – stuffing a lot of keywords into your blog post is not only a turn-off for readers, but has a very low ROI. Your response is much greater when creating content based on a topic or theme instead.

How to Get Started

There are several strategies to use when creating memorable, organic content that your audience and search engines will love.

1. Research your niche

This might sound simple, and it can be when conducted the right way. When tapping into tools like Google Keyword Planner you will discover the main keywords that identify with a theme. This can include anywhere from 30 – 50 keywords, which can be spread out throughout your theme to create a more natural approach.

2. Create an optimization

The next important step is to focus on your core keywords, which includes long-tail keywords, and use several variations in your content. Don’t worry about being exact, just match these as closely as possible in order to appear less mechanical in your writing.

3. Go through an editing process

After writing your blog post it is a good idea to edit your work to make sure too many of the same keywords are not being used. Sometimes this process can be made easier by reading your article out loud. You will be surprised at how this can help refine and eliminate unnecessary keywords.

4. Focus on your tags

The meta description, H tags, description, and title are still important to SEO. The heading especially should begin in a natural flow without a sales pitch, and it is a good idea to keep your description to a maximum of 160 characters for Google search display.

5. Link building is still okay

Choose references that are relevant to your topic as well as credible. Google prefers anchor text of certain words and need to flow or make sense for your article.

Topics and themes are the next generation for content curation and SEO. This is an exciting time for blogs as we are no longer hindered by focusing on just keywords, but rather create new possibilities in audience reach through this new approach. Variety is the spice of the life, and allows for more creativity and an opportunity to build your brand or business as a leading authority in your niche.

How to Ruin Your Website and Ensure Your Customers Never Return

By Jamin Andrews

Professional Website Design Company | Website Development ServicesIt probably won’t surprise you to know that according to the stats specialists from Marketing Grader, a majority of websites are underperforming when it comes to overall design, content, performance and usability. Resulting in an unpopular, unloved and unvisited website.

There are a few things that can do wrong when creating and maintaining your website, below we mention a few things that you can do to ruin your website. But mostly importantly we focus on how to avoid or fix these.

1. Hide from Google

Search engines can either be your best friend or worst enemy. By being in Google’s good books you will benefit from ranking higher than your competitors in search results for your keywords. The worst thing you can do for your website is completely ignore SEO.

Solution: You don’t always need to hire a SEO specialist to get ahead of the pack. Ensure your content is relevant to what you do, keep your keywords and keyword phrases top of mind when writing your content (don’t ‘stuff’ your page with keywords – you will be penalised for this), have clear headings on each webpage, tag each image and introduce new content on a regular basis (through a blog).

2. Don’t Have a Clear Purpose

We have all visited those websites that try so hard to be everything to everyone. Instead of focussing on a niche or target market they try a extremely broadened approach, where everyone is their target. By doing this you’re no longer viewed as a specialist or expert in a particular field that you’re probably good at.

Solution: Pick what it is you are promoting/selling and choose who your clients are. Target them, tell your story and forget the rest.

3. Annoy Your Visitors

No-one likes constant pop up ads while they’re trying to navigate their way through a website. Don’t work hard to bring people to your site just to irritate them.

Solution: Popups are never required, if you must promote something do so with a top or side banner ad. Avoid anything animated!

4. Don’t Measure Progress

How do you know how your website is going, compared to 6 months or a year ago? If you’re not setting goals and measuring them you’re in the dark about what’s working and what’s not.

Solution: Use a tool like Google Analytics, it’s free and will provide you indepth results on how your website is tracking including, visits, duration, bounce rate, most visited pages, acquisition and loads more.

5. Overload your homepage

When first creating your homepage it can be overwhelming with trying to flesh out exactly what it is you offer, and what you want your visitors to know. A sure way to ensure your visitors don’t stay on your page for long is by jam packing as much information as possible on your homepage.

Solution: Use a highly visible, easy to navigate menu to divide up your story and offerings. Let your customers pick what information they require by clearly titling each web page and keeping your homepage for the important things.
6. Use loads of fluffy, corporate talk

The easiest way to disengage your audience is by talking to them like a corporate robot. When you first write your content for your site, you must answer the question “what does my customer want?”

Solution: Avoid typical industry jargon and the overuse of fluffy marketing words. Talk to your customer as if they were sitting across from you. Answer the questions they have.

7. Outdated Content

Search engines thrive on new, relevant content. By regularly updating your content you’re not only keeping your visitors in the loop with the most relevant information, but you’re also giving search engines reason to visit more often.

Solution: No you don’t need to change the content on your homepage each month. Create a news, blog or support area on your website where new content can be added daily, weekly, fortnightly or monthly.

You don’t have to be a web professional or SEO whiz to create a standout website that encourages visitors to return. Always think like your customer, and create a website that answers the questions they have, not everything you want to tell them.

For SEO services contact CP Communications

B2B Websites and SEO – Common Mistakes are Costing You Leads!

When we talk about search engine optimization, we tend to think mostly about how it applies to B2C, or Business to Customer, websites.

This is, perhaps, only natural. After all, the internet is seen as a sort of public forum, offering easy access to information and e-commerce for anyone with access to a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

So it can be easy to forget that the internet, and by default the search engine, is not only a direct conduit between businesses and potential customers, but also between businesses themselves.

B2B websites need an upwardly mobile web presence as much as their B2C counterparts. Unfortunately, with so much emphasis being placed on SEO for blogs and e-commerce websites, many B2B sites are lacking in fully realized optimization strategies.

At best, B2B sites may be under optimized for organic search to climb a few spots in rankings. At worst, they may be poorly optimized and off the map, costing valuable and potentially lucrative leads.

So lets look at some common missteps that plague B2B companies and their website optimization.

Industry Dependent Keywords

This is perhaps the biggest mistake made by B2B websites who have tried to optimize their websites for better online performance.

Industry specific jargon or nomenclature used as keywords in your anchor text, tags, and online content may make sense to you, but not necessarily to a potential vendor or business partner.

The language your company uses for a specific product of service may differ significantly from the search terms a buyer might use to find your website.

It is important to reevaluate your keyword strategy, and approach from the perspective of a potential vendor who might be unfamiliar with your specific industry terms.

Consider the following tips:

  • When brainstorming new keywords, consider the buyer and how your product can answer their immediate needs. Ask your support staff or sales team to take note of common questions from vendor call-ins and use this data for new keyword ideas.
  • Conduct customer surveys to learn more about how your current customers found your website. Take inventory of keywords used to find your website for an opportunity to show up even higher for those keywords.
  • Use Google Analytics to track your current search traffic and note which search terms are bringing in leads. Setup up these filters and monitor for optimization opportunities or keyword ideas.
  • Use social media to look for the most popular keywords and phrases that may relate to your industry and products. You can also take a look at Google Trends and target those trending topics for your industry.

Employ these tips to create a fresh glossary of keywords that can be used to enhance your on-page SEO.

Creating Fresh and Engaging Content

Content is the fuel that drives the search engine. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, a steady stream of high quality content is the secret to getting noticed by both search engines and potential clients.

Blogging is the best way to market your products and services, and to reach customers through online searches, organic links, and social media shares.

However, a successful blog requires an ongoing supply of high quality content. In the wake of Google’s Hummingbird and Panda updates, simply turning out fluff pieces on your company isn’t good enough.

Consider your market, and create content that offers real solutions to their problems and concerns. It is better to have one solid, and authoritative, blog post per week than a daily puff piece.

Keep Your Content Crawlable

Following hot on the heals of creating valuable content, is ensuring that your content can be easily crawled and indexed by Google’s search bots (and other search engines). If the search bots cannot accurately crawl and index your website, they will conclude that there is little if any content to be referenced.

A lack of perceived content will inevitably cause your site to lose traction in organic searches. Use Google’s Webmaster Tools (GWT) to identify any crawling issues and make adjustments.

  • XML Sitemap – This is the first step. Make sure you create and submit your sitemap in GWT.
  • Broken Links – These should be repaired, eliminated, or properly redirected using a 301 or 302.
  • Robots – Make sure you’re not blocking any URLs on your site by visiting www.yourdomain.com/robots.txt and make sure this file is properly formatted.

While the first rule of creating online content is to make it easily accessible to your audience, it is just as important to ensure that it is properly optimized for the search engine bots. Pay special attention to your H1 tags, anchor text, and internal links.

B2C websites may get the lions share of attention when it comes to search engine optimization, but the rules apply equally to B2B companies.

If your website isn’t getting the online attention it deserves, or if you have seen it slipping in the search results, now is the time to reevaluate your SEO strategies and bring them in line with the latest best practices.

The “New” SEO After Google’s Penguins, Pandas and Hummingbirds

By Laura Donovan

We are often asked to help companies with SEO. Everyone would like to be on Page 1 of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). And while the exact algorithms used to rank websites are not published (and most of us wouldn’t understand them if they were) Google does give us some very important clues in their published “Webmaster Guidelines.” These Guidelines are updated periodically and help website developers understand what Google deems important when deciding which websites are displayed at the top of their Results Pages.

The guidelines seem to break down into three categories:

1. On-page optimization/Content. Search engines look for key words in several areas of the web page*

  • Page URL
  • Page Titles
  • Image “alt” tags
  • Image names
  • Heading Tags
  • Content
  • Internal links (anchor text)

*Figuring out what key words your potential clients will use to search for you is the most important part of this equation.

2. Technical Optimization. Sites should have:

  • Intuitive Navigation (Text links – no broken links)
  • Fast loading pages
  • XML sitemap
  • Clean code (HTML5, CSS3)
  • Helpful 404, 301 and 302 pages
  • “Responsive” Design  (Sites should be tested on various browsers and mobile devices.

3. Quality Content.  This is, by far, the most important feature of any Website. Most of the algorithm changes over the last few years have had to do with quality content.

  • Pages with “thin” content are being downgraded.
  • Grammar and spelling. (Google uses a spell check feature and downgrades sites with bad grammar or spelling errors.)
  • Duplicate content will be punished.
  • No keyword “stuffing.”

Google’s complete Guidelines can be found here.

Getting Existing Sites to Page 1

On-page and technical optimization is more efficiently and economically done when the website is being developed. Existing sites can be retrofitted to a point, but there are some things that can’t be done (or are more difficult) after the site is published. (For example, websites that do not employ a “Responsive” design may not display well on mobile devices. Since mobile devices have become more popular than computers for people who access websites, companies should consider redesigning their websites to incorporate this mobile-friendly design.)

Companies that are not ready for a complete website redesign might consider reworking existing pages to include fresh, well-written text and adding optimized images.

Blogs : Content on Steroids

One very powerful way to increase visibility on search engines is by adding a blog to the website and posting to it often. Each blog post actually becomes a web page, which is indexed by Google. Each post can be optimized with good URL’s, titles, headings and internal links. Images can be added that use relevant key words in “alt” tags and titles. Blog posts often appear higher on search engines than website home pages for specific key words.

If you are not able to add a blog to your existing website, consider a “stand-alone” blog. Using WordPress (or other blogging software) you can add a blog that will display well on mobile devices and computers. While linking a blog to an antiquated website may not be the best option, it may be an economical alternative to a complete website redesign.

Get Social

Once you have your blog up and running, add all of your posts to your Social Sites. Google has admitted that “Social Signals” play a part in getting top rank for organic searches.

  • Add “social sharing buttons” to the site so people can share your content.
  • Add “social buttons” to allow people to follow you on social sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest)
  • Like, Share and Comment on other people’s social posts, blogs and articles (using your website’s URL).

Finally, if you don’t already have one, sign up for a Google Plus Page. This is arguably the most powerful tool in your SEO toolbox. From your Google Plus Page, you can sign up for Google Places for business, which will get you on the Google Map. Also, we find that content posted to Google Plus is more likely to find its way to the top of Google Search results.

SEO isn’t dead. It has simply “morphed” into something that gives quality websites a chance to shine.

A Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools

Professional Website Design Company | Website Development ServicesYour website is like a high-performance car. Similar to a Porsche, your website should grab attention, navigate easily and hit max speeds. To keep a

fancy sports car in tip-top shape, you use a specialized mechanic. To keep your website in tip-top shape, you should use Google Webmaster Tools (GWMT).

Think of this Google feature like a toolbox full of fine-tuning agents that can help you improve your website. GWMT isn’t just about performance either; you can learn how customers find your site and use this information to tweak certain pages and boost website traffic.

“Google Webmaster Tools is a free resource that gives you a ton of useful information,” says Chipper Nicodemus, our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Manager. “You don’t need to understand Google’s algorithms or have a vast Internet background to use it, either. It’s a user-friendly tool that business owners should dive into.”

At VerticalResponse, we want you to get the most out of your website. So, let’s follow Nicodemus’ advice and dive right in. We’ve created a guide to walk you through all that GWMT has to offer.

Set up and verification

First, you need to sign in to GWMT. If you have a Gmail account, you’ll need your Gmail password. From there, you’ll enter the URL of your website. You’ll also need to verify that you’re the owner of the site. There are a couple of ways to do this, and it varies depending on things like where you created your site. To figure out which process is right for your site, check out this link to the GWMT verification methods.

Familiarize yourself with the dashboard

Once you’ve set up and verified your account, you’ll be able to access the GWMT from one dashboard. Our guide will go through each one of the tabs on the left. We’ll explain what each feature does and tell you what you can learn from it.

Site messages

If Google wants to communicate with you, this is where they do it. For instance, Google will send you a message if there have been any attempts to hack your site, or if a new version of software is needed. It’s just like an inbox; you want to keep an eye on incoming messages.

Search appearance

Structured data

  • When you do a search, you’re presented with a list of relative links. Each link has a brief description under it, which helps users decide which link is best suited for their needs. For example, when you Google “Best Italian restaurant in Miami,” you get these results with snippets under each link.
  • Wouldn’t it be nice if you could control what those snippets say about your business? You can do that by creating structured data, which is what Google uses to create your snippet.
  • To create this data requires some HTML knowledge. It does get a little technical, so if you’re a beginner, we suggest you check out the next option on the list, data highlighter, which is an easier tool to use that achieves similar results. However, if you’re up for a little challenge, GWMT has a step-by-step process on its website to help you create the snippet that appears in a web search.

Data highlighter

  • Think of the data highlighter as a tool to teach Google what’s important on your site. You don’t need any HTML experience, just go into your site, highlight certain types of data and categorize it. For instance, if a local hotel highlights text about its upcoming concert series and categorizes it under “event,” Google will showcase it in a search like this:
  • There are several kinds of data that you can highlight including: articles, events, local businesses, restaurants, products, software applications, movies, TV episodes and books.
  • Like the structured data tool, you’re telling Google what information should show up when your site is searched.

HTML improvements

  • If there is something you can do to make your user’s experience better, Google will let you know in the HTML improvement section. Here’s a look at what might appear:
  • You might see suggestions like “duplicate meta descriptions.” You’d fill out this field to describe a particular entry. For example, when you write a blog post, you’d put a brief description of the post in the Meta description field. You don’t want duplicates, so Google will warn you about something like that in the HTML improvement section.
  • You’ll also see title tag suggestions. These titles are what show up as links in the search. For example, when you search “VerticalResponse,” the purple text is the title tag and clickable link. These suggestions will help you fine tune your titles so searchers know what your site is all about.

Site links

  • You know those additional links that show up under the search results? They’re called site links. For instance, when you search “VerticalResponse” you not only get the link to the main page, you also get a series of other links, like the “Log In” and “Pricing” links that you see below. These are site links.
  • Right now, Google selects these links for you, but through this tab on GWMT, you can demote a link if you don’t want it to appear in your search results. Just put in the URL of that particular page and click “demote.”

Search Traffic

Search queries

  • This is probably the most beneficial tab on the GWMT. Here you’ll find out how people get to your website.
  • You’ll see a list of search terms that led people to your site, which is a valuable tool, says Nicodemus. “As a business owner you assume you know which words people are using to find your site, but this list can reveal terms that you weren’t even thinking of,” he says.
  • Learning these search terms might persuade you to make some product adjustments, Nicodemus says. For instance, if you’re selling coffee mugs online and a lot of people find your site by searching “brown coffee mugs” and you’re only selling black mugs, you might consider adding brown mugs to your product line. “It’s a great way to find missed opportunities,” Nicodemus says. “Business owners can use this information to add products, remove under-performing products, and create relevant blog content that uses these keywords.”
  • The search queries page will also show you a graph of impressions and clicks. Impressions are the number of times that your site showed up in search results. Clicks are the number of times people actually selected your website from the results, and the click through rate is the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click to your site.
  • How do you keep these stats high? One of the best ways is to keep your site updated regularly with high quality content.

Links to your site

  • This section tells you who links to your site and how. It’s organized in basic categories like “Who links the most” and “Your most linked content.” Why does this matter? The more quality sites that link to yours, the better your Google ranking. If you’re providing quality content, other sites will link to your content naturally.

Internal links

  • To improve navigation on your site, you’ll want to provide internal links. For instance, on this VerticalResponse page “Check it out” and “Apply now” are two internal links that take customers to another spot within the website.
  • Internal links make it easier for people to surf your site and tell Google the importance of a page. The more internal links that point to a page, the more Google assumes its significance.

Manual Actions

Google Index

Index status

  • This tab shows you the total number of URLs that Google has recognized and will appear in search results. Google finds these URLs with a ton of computers that “crawl” through the Internet to look for new and updated pages online. Once a new page or an update is found, the Googlebot scans it for important information and indexes it so it can be found during a search.
  • The index tab shows you the number of URLs the bot found. Why is this important information? You want to make sure that Google can find and index your site. A steady increase in the number of URLs is proof that Google can find your site and catalog the content on it.
  • If you see dramatic increases or decreases in the graph you might have a problem with your server, or something is blocking Google from crawling your site and you’ll want to investigate further. Again, a steady increase is all you really need to look for here.

Content Keywords

  • This is a list of the most significant keywords that are used throughout your site.

 

  • The keywords are listed in order of usage, with the most used keywords at the top. You can click on each word and see where it appears on your site. This information, along with the search queries information, can tell you how Google interprets your business site.
  • If you feel like the keywords that are listed aren’t accurately reflecting your site, it’s time to rethink your content strategy. You might consider making a list of keywords you want associated with your site, and add the keywords that people are using to find your site (found under the search queries tab) and create a master list of keywords. Use those keywords in your website content and blog topics.

Remove URLs

  • If Google has indexed a part of your website that contains confidential information, you can send a request to have that URL removed. This should only be used for emergency cases, like exposed confidential data.

Crawl

Crawl errors

  • As the Googlebot crawls through your site, it will list any errors it finds with your site. Here’s a look at a typical list of crawl errors.
  • The most common error is a 404, which means the page can’t be found. If you’ve redesigned your site, you might see this a lot if you didn’t redirect people to the right page. You’ll also see these error messages if you take down old content. If another website linked to that old content, you’ll get the 404 error message too. If that’s the case, send an email to the site manager and ask to have the link updated.

Crawl stats

  • This shows you how often Google is crawling your site. You’ll want to check this graph from time to time to make sure that Google is scanning through your content. If you think Google should be checking in more often, make sure you’re updating content regularly and you’ll keep the bot coming back for more.

Fetch as Google

  • This handy tool lets you see a webpage the way Google does. Just enter a URL and hit “Fetch.”
  • This option is particularly helpful if you’re trying to troubleshoot issues with your page. For instance, if you have crawl errors or HTML suggestions and you’re making attempts to fix those issues, you’ll be able to fetch the page and see if the problem is fixed in the eyes of Google.

       Blocked URLs

  • If you have content on your site that you’ve blocked from Google on purpose, you’ll see a list of those links here. Remember when we talked about confidential pages that you didn’t want Google to include in searches? You can keep track of them here.

       Sitemaps

  • A Sitemap is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a map that helps Google recognize all of the pages on your site. This isn’t something the Googlebot handles, you actually have to create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google. How do you do that? We suggest using XML-sitemaps.com. This site will walk you through the process and get the information to Google. It might sound techy, but it’s beneficial. If you can get Google to recognize all of the pages on your site, your searchability will increase.

       URL parameters

  • This section allows you dictate which URLs Google crawls, but unless you’re an Internet aficionado, you’ll probably want to stay away from this. If you enter the wrong URLs you can negatively affect your site. It’s best to leave this one to the pros.

        Malware

  • If your site has fallen victim to hackers, Google will let you know. You can also request a malware review from Google to make sure all infected areas are clear.

       Security issues

  • This tab is another way for Google to get in touch with you should there be any security concerns. It’s just another inbox-like feature that you should monitor.

Additional to ols

  • You’ll find some helpful resources in this section. We’ll go over the most important and easy-to-use tools.

Google Places

  • You want customers to be able to find your business, its location and contact information in a snap, right? Then you should check out Google Places. In a few simple steps you’ll get your business on the map – literally. A map with a pin showing your location will appear in search results. Other important information will also pop up in searches.

Google Merchant Center

  • When you Google “new shoes,” a list of relevant links come up along with several pictures of products.

Page Speed Insights

  • If a customer has to wait for your page to load, they might get impatient and go to a competitor’s site. To avoid this, use the Page Speed Insights tab to see just how fast your page loads on both a desktop computer and a mobile device. Check out the report below.

 

  • You’ll get a rating. In this case, the desktop rating is 81/100. To improve the speed, it gives you a list of things you can change to make your page load faster.

Labs

Author stats

  • If you’re writing content for your site or for others, you can see a list of your top ranked articles. Of course, you’ll need to associate your articles with your Google profile for the posts to show up. You can learn more about that through the Google Authorship site. It’s worth your time. It shows you what articles are getting read so you can adjust your topics accordingly.

Instant preview

  • This option is a lot like Fetch as Google, it shows you a page as Google would see it. It also tells you if there are any errors as the bot works to preview the page. Again, it’s another way to learn about bugs in your system.

Hopefully, we’ve helped you learn your way around GWMT. It’s a powerful tool for business owners who want to improve their website performance and traffic without spending a dime.