How to Master Every Aspect of Search Engine Optimization for Business Success
Search engines have become a core resource for individuals looking for a business, product, or service. Over the years, online search has reduced the need for traditional means of searching, such as yellow pages. Your business needs to adapt to the changes of the new consumer searching landscape. In the words of HubSpot CTO Dharmesh Shah, “Solve for the humans!” Businesses no longer need to spend thousands of dollars on advertising in directories and magazines. Every business with a website has the potential to get found by more customers online through search engine optimization (SEO) and inbound marketing.
Whether you have already invested in an SEO strategy or are just getting started, this ebook will help you gain a stronger understanding of all aspects in the SEO process. The ideas, best practices, and examples all come from top SEO experts.
Once upon a time, marketers focused on strategizing which keywords to place across their web presence in order to increase their rankings in a search engine results page (SERP). But the world of search engine optimization has been changing drastically — particularly with the constant changes google has been making to its search algorithm over the past year. And all that emphasis you put on keyword research and selection, in other words on-page SEO, is only worth 25% of what actually impacts your spot in SERP.
The only problem is, you can’t truly master the other 75% — off-page SEO discussed later in this guide — until you understand and master the basics.
Why Do Keywords Matter?
Keywords or key phrases are simply the search terms someone types into a search engine, such as google or Bing, when they are looking for certain information. people are constantly using keywords: whether they are in search for a specific product or just browsing to conduct personal research.
Go to google and type : “Where Can I Learn SEO from the Experts”
95% of the US Internet browsing population accesses search engines each month. furthermore, the US online population makes an average of 37 search engine visits per person per month. That’s a whole lot of time spent searching various keyword and key phrase combinations!
Determine Your Keywords
Keywords are at the heart of SEO, and selecting the right ones can make Or break your SEO strategy. Compile a list of about ten keywords associated with your product or services. plug these keywords into Google’s keyword Tool, and find variations that make sense for your business.
Use search volume and competition as a good measure for determining what you can easily attack. But never settle on a list of 10-15 keywords, as the old ways taught. Start with a small list, but continuously adapt and analyze your choices as your business grows and adapts.
Track Your Keyword Success
Now that you know what keywords to implement in your marketing strategy, be sure to follow their progress and ensure they’re returning the value you want from them. Let’s use HubSpot’skeyword toolto demonstrate how this process might look like. The software continuously analyzes your keyword performance to show you what keywords you’re ranking for, what the cost-per-click (CpC) for those keywords are — so you know how much you’re saving — and how many visits you’re sending to your website thanks to these keywords and/or key phrases.
Source : Anum Hussain
What is On-Page SEO?
In the history of search engine optimization, the rank of a piece of content in search engine results has typically come down to two key drivers: relevancy and authority built through content on your website. When optimizing your content, focus your copy on specific keywords that match what people are searching for online.
The first rule of on-page SEO is to think about what your target users might be searching for and make sure those keywords are on the page. This increases the likelihood of reaching those users as they go to google, Bing or other search engines.
That being said, on-page SEO is basically about two things:
- Picking the best keywords around which to base each of your pages.
- Making it clear to search engines that your page revolves around those keywords.
On-Page Optimization: The Old Way
Search engine algorithms rank web pages based on numerous factors. The basic premise is that a page will show up in search engine results because the website has a page that mentions the searched for terms. Of course, many websites use the same keywords on the same page.
Hundreds of tools are littered across the web that allow you to measure the keyword density of a page. Some of them teach that more is better. As a result, webmasters would crank out keyword-stuffed text that was not interesting and/or provided a horrible user experience. These keywords would be stuffed in various places, including:
- The URL
- The Page Title
- The Meta Description Tag
- The On-page Heading
- The Page Content
Such tactics even ended up stripping out important keyword variations — so the page wouldn’t rank as well, or at all, for the related keywords.
On-Page Optimization: The New Way
Marketers should still be using keywords. But rather than littering them throughout every aspect of your page, think about the value you want each page to provide, and which keywords match that value. And rather than repeating the same word over and over again, you should use a diverse set of related keywords to help you rank for a variety of long tail keywords.
- Link vs Links
- Build vs Building
- Strategy vs Strategies
- Also rank for verity of lateral keywords
- Lawyer vs Attorney
- Dentist vs Oral Surgeon
- Seo vs Inbound Marketing
Core Components of On-Page SEO
Meta tags are the official data tags for each web page that are found in- between the open and closing head tags in the HTMl code. The most popular Meta tags are the title tag, meta description, and keyword tag. These tags alert search engines with relevant information describing the content of the page, which helps the search engines decide if your website is an appropriate listing in response to a particular search query.
Title Tags & Meta Descriptions
Title tags and Meta descriptions are two of the most important tags when it comes to SEO and enticing potential visitors to click through to your website. A title tag is an HTMl tag which contains a sentence of text describing the contents of its associated webpage. These tags are the first aspect of your page that a search engine crawler – (crawlers are what search engines use to analyze the content of a site in response to a search to then present the best results) comes across when visiting your website, so it’s important to make a good first impression by optimizing them with your keywords and brand. Titles generally run about 77 characters, so make sure to easy each character wisely.
Meta descriptions are what appear on SERP describing the content of the page being linked to. while these descriptions are not used by the search engines to determine relevance, they are used by your visitors to determine said relevancy and entice them to click – think about when you search! you almost always read the description of each link before deciding to click, right? Or at least skim. Make sure you include your keywords and the main call-to-action right in this description.
On-page content is a critical component of on- page SEO. Content is what the search engine crawlers need to associate your page with a set of keywords and/or key phrases. without it, crawlers are left in the dark as to what your page is about.
When building your content, it’s important to remember to give the crawlers enough to bite into. A hundred words typically isn’t enough copy for these crawlers to read and understand what the content is about. And this content shouldn’t be stuffed with keywords either, as some search engines (as you’ll learn in later sections) punish websites for keyword stuffing.
Instead, you should write about your product or service or idea naturally, and let your keyword variations naturally fall into place. If that doesn’t happen, go back and spring in some variations into the content so that the same message gets across, just optimized!
Where appropriate, you should add localization. This is extremely important to businesses who offer products and services to a specific geographic region. If you are an attorney, you’ll want to have a page of content set up for each location you service. When building your content, you’ll want to include localized keywords so that the search engines know you have offices and operate in certain locations.
Quick Action Items for Local Businesses
If you are a local business, be sure to optimize your location easily and quickly with the following tools:
- Google Places
- Bing Local
- Yahoo Local Listings
Source : Greg Shuey, SEO.COM
What is Off-Page SEO?
Off-page SEO is all about building online authority – trust and reputation – for your website. Off-page SEO has long been defined by the quantity, quality, and relevance of links to your website that establishes your SEO authority and ultimately influences your search results ranking.
Authority historically was established as other websites linked to you; building your link portfolio. The problem, however, was that authority was almost entirely defined by just links. Essentially, off-page SEO used to be a fancy word for “getting more links,” but now it should focus on earning links through multiple channels instead. understandably, it will require a paradigm shift to stop thinking about off- page as just link “building” and instead as link “earning.”
Your site’s authority is only partly based on analysis of the sites that link to you. Off-page SEO is more than just link building (link building itself will be discussed more in the next chapter). The way you diversify authority for your website is through the conversations people are having about your brand and the references they make to it. A diversified link portfolio should look something like what I detail throughout this chapter.
Link building is essentially the practice of building inbound links to help give your website authority. The modern efforts of “earning” links are discussed more in the next chapter.
Yes, optimizing for off-page SEO is still about content marketing. After all, without content it’s hard to earn those links. The best way to earn relevant links from other sites to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity online, particularly with your target audience. The more useful, relevant and compelling your content is, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable and link to it.
Your content must align with your target audience – that persona that surmises your ideal customer. Content must also be authentic and unique, and ultimately solve a problem or answer a question. That content then also should be easily sharable which combined with solid on-page SEO best practices makes for awesome “link bait”.
Co-marketing defines the efforts of lots of cross promoting, networking and Community building. It’s a partnership between two or more companies in which both companies jointly market each other’s content, products or services.
The great thing about co-marketing is, like the idea with guest posting, that you have access to another company’s social networks, prospects, leads and/or customers, which ultimately increases your reach. And what better than to have one or more companies brag about the content that you are creating, especially since it benefits them too? It’s brilliant.
Social media hasn’t always been on the radar as part of off-page SEO. when it first came to surface it was often being used inappropriately (still is by some today). users or businesses thought to basically spam social networks and followers instead of putting real thought and work behind it. To them social media was just one more way to get links. Social media in some way is the new forums or blog commenting with an opportunity to have real conversations.
PR (Public Relation)
When you think of PR you may think of it as just an announcement that blasts multiple new sources. However, well planned and optimized PR can be awesome for your SEO efforts. PR should promote genuine and ethical dialogue driven content to improve a brand’s organic search engine results. Effective PR outreach should include more than the traditional publication channels. Your strategy should include outreach to bloggers, industry influencers, and social media leaders.
Source : Rebecca Churt
The Right Way to Build Links
Why Search Engines Care About Links
Search engine algorithms rank web pages based on numerous factors. The basic premise is that a page will show up in search engine results because the website had mentioned the terms that were being searched for on the website page. Of course, many websites use the same keywords on the same page. But in order for search engines to determine how these pages should be ranked, they take into consideration two major factors:
- The quantity of links that point to that page and site.
- The quality of links that point to that page and site.
The more trustworthy your page appears to be, the higher your page will rank in search engine results.
The Value of A Link
The value of a link serves two major benefits:
- Links increase the authority and trustworthiness of a page to search engines, which increases the overall authority of that website.
- Links help search engines connect the relevancy of a page with specific keywords — based on the keywords that are used in a link’s anchor text.
Anchor text is the clickable text on a hyperlink. for example, let’s say hypothetically a page was linked to in one of the following ways:
Bob’s Hardware Store vs Buy Power Tools at Bob’s Hardware Store
The second link with the targeted keyword “power tools” will likely rank higher in the search engines.
The Wrong Way to Build Links
The initial purpose of search engines counting the quantity and quality of links linking back to any webpage was to ensure that only those pages providing valuable and trustworthy content to their users would be ranked highly in the search engine results.
Unfortunately, this provided opportunities to game the system and find easier, quicker solutions to build massive quantities of links back to webpages in order to rank highly for different search results. To better understand the true power of link building, let’s review the sneaky and quick link-building tactics some sites employed, and how search engines developed algorithmic changes to combat it.
- The Problem with Directories : A good directory’s intent is to categorize the internet into different categories/subcategories, while providing links to good websites in those categories. Although there are legitimate directory websites, many were built solely for the purpose of building links back to webpages without consideration of link quality. This is the wrong way to build links.
- How the Search Engines Fixed It : Several studies have shown that in the past year, search engines (especially google) have started removing free directories from their index. This means that the links gained from those directories are no longer counted towards a website’s overall link quality/quantity count! This also implies that relying on directories to build links to a website is a short-term strategy — especially since google has started taking action on both directories and the websites that have relied on this tactic to rank highly in the search engine results.
- The Problem with Paid Links : Paid links are links garnered in exchange for payment. They may include a larger network of link buyers and sellers usually involving a link network or a group of low-quality sites that link to a specific webpage to increase the authority of a website. Other times, there may be a reciprocal linking program, where a group of websites link to one another. Paid links are like paying someone to be your wingman to impress a girl rather than having a genuine friend by your side who can vouch for how great you really are!
- How the Search Engines Fixed It : All the aforementioned methodologies go against search engine guidelines, specifically Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, and can result in severe consequences. Search engines are able to spot these types of link building activities by detecting website registration connections or finding websites that follow specific linking patterns.
- The Problem with Article Marketing : Article marketing involves writing one unique article, and then rearranging the words to transform that one article into multiple versions. This rearranged article will then be placed on different, usually low-quality article sites with highly optimized anchor text links. This tactic helped a website from being penalized by search engines for duplicate content (the exact same content across lots of different sites), and boosted both page strength and relevance.
- How the Search Engines Fixed It : The search engines now identify low quality content through user engagement, and by correlating website features. Networks of sites where you can place this kind of content are even easier for them to identify. As a marketer, the primary warning sign should be sites where you can post your content with no editorial oversight from the website owner.
Consequences of Low-Quality Link Building Tactics
There are signs that low-quality link building tactics, such as the three just mentioned, will remain a short-term strategy. It’s clear that search engines don’t like ranking websites that take actions purely for the purpose of ranking and not for benefit of the user’s experience. Or in Dharmesh Shah’s words, for the “humans.”
Over time, search engine algorithms have also become increasingly complex to fight what search engines view as spammy tactics that try to game their system.
SEO is not about optimizing for search engines, it’s about optimizing for humans
– Dharmesh Shah
Google’s Search Algorithm
Over the past two years, there have been advances to search engine algorithms that specifically target websites involved in these low-quality link building strategies. google has launched two major algorithmic changes.
panda was designed to target low-quality sites, such as article marketing sites. This update was significant because it affected approximately 12% of all search results and shifted the viability of low-quality content sites who had depended on these link building tactics as their business model.
Penguintargeted over-optimized websites, such those that had too much keyword-based anchor text — especially from low-quality sites. It also further targeted sites involved in link building schemes, such as the ones previously mentioned. Both penguin and panda are periodically refreshed. These major algorithmic changes force sites to focus on organic methods for garnering links.
The Right Way to Build Links
Modern link building focuses on high-quality, original content that provides value to users and incorporates an involved audience. Although this type of link building isn’t easy nor quick, it is the best safeguard against future search engine algorithms, as authoritative, well- managed websites are the type of sites that search engines want to see rank highly in their results.
High-quality, unique content on a website that builds links can come in many forms, such as:
- Company Blogs : Write appealing content that other people will want to link to.
- Visual Content : Powerful, unique, or even comical, images lead people to link to your website. This includes video content as well!
- Product Launches : Building anticipating around a product launch inspires people to talk about your business, which can lead to links to your site.
- Guest Blogging : Creating valuable content for other websites provides an easy to link back to your business — be sure to provide the guest site with beneficial content, and don’t bury the entire post in links.
link building can also come from building a targeted and involved community. The more regular visitors a site has, and the more passionate those fans are, the more likely webpages will be read, shared, and linked to. A perfect example is My Starbuck’s Idea, where users can pitch ideas about the next Starbuck’s offering.
Sources : Stephanie Chang, DISTIllED
How Social Media Influences SEO
How Social Media Influences SEO
In this guide, SEO has a lot to do with relevancy and authority. But recently, things have changed a bit. More and more, search engines have begun to incorporate social context into their search results. And it’s high time we dived into what role social context is playing in SEO, and how marketers can adjust their strategies to match the changing character of search. So without further ado, let’s get into the nitty gritty of what’s being called “social search” and learn how it affects marketers.
What is Social Share
“Social search” is an evolving term for the way in which search engines factor a user’s social network — also referred to as social graph — into how results are displayed after a search query. In social search, content that has a social connection to you in some way is prioritized. A social connection could mean someone you are linked to via Facebook, Twitter, or any other major social network. Alternately, some forms of social search prioritize content that has been shared by social media influencers, even if those experts aren’t directly tied to you.
Examples of Social Search
Google + Your Word
In early 2012, google unveiled google plus your world, a unique integration between google search results and the google plus social network that, when activated, prioritizes content that has been shared or received a +1 by your google network.
In addition to google plus your world, google social search results from multiple networks are now mixed throughout your results based on their relevance; and content with ties to your network are displayed with a higher relevance than their counterparts. Searchers only see social search results when they are logged into google and have their social networks connected.
Bing Social Search
In summer of 2012, Bing announced a new version of its search engine. It included an entirely new layout that closely integrates a searcher’s social network into the results displayed for a given search term. According to Bing, the social results — which include the ability to directly ask advice from your facebook network.
“complement the standard search results without compromising them, offering you the chance to start a conversation and get advice from your friends, experts and enthusiasts right within the search experience”.
Facebook Social Search
Facebook CEO Mark zuckerberg has indicated that he’s interested in launching a social search engine powered by facebook user activity. He explained, “Search engines are really evolving towards giving you a set of answers… like, I have a specific question, answer this question for me. And when you think about it from that perspective, facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer a lot of the questions that people have.”
According to zuckerberg, facebook handles close to 1 billion search queries per day already. Many of these searches are for individuals or company pages, but the potential exists for inquiries related to decision-making or reviews.
Social Search and Inbound Marketing
ven if the social search playing field hasn’t been completely defined yet, one of the key takeaways from the early actions of google, Bing, and facebook is that as marketers, we need to start seeing our search engine optimization strategy and our social media strategy as utterly intertwined. Here’s how you can do just that.
Make sure your social media tools are informed by your SEO tools
The best way to come out on top of social search is to have a fully integrated marketing platform where social media and SEO are fully linked.
Ha, of course we’d say that — we sell that platform.
Truly though, having a blog with built-in social sharing and as-you-type SEO recommendations definitely helps. With or without that kind of technology, however, there are some steps you can take to leverage the growing use of social search.
Audit your Existing Strengths : Take a look at your top ranking and most shared content. Is there overlap? If you’ve found a type of content that is simultaneously strong in search and frequently shared, it’s worth optimizing that content even further.
Update Company Profiles : If, as in the example above, I search Bing for “Inbound Marketing,” a few things will happen.
- Bing will give me traditional search results.
- Bing will show me friends who have written or shared “inbound marketing” content.
- Bing will bring in “people who know” who include the keyword “inbound marketing” in their profile or frequently shared content. For the latter circumstance, it doesn’t hurt to put your main keywords as part of your company’s profile online. The combination of that profile and the strength of your content and shares will add up.
Make your Top keywords Social : Make a list of the keywords for which you want to rank highly. Does the content you share on social media and your blog cover those keywords? Zero in on one or two of your most desirable keywords and find ways to make content under those keywords more shareable.
At a bare minimum, include social sharing buttons on your content. Beyond that you may want to experiment with encouraging social sharing through pay-by-tweet downloads or using easy share links throughout your posts.
Find and Encourage Your Social Media Influencers
The reason social is such a natural extension of search is that it adds both relevancy and authority. Think about this: According to Nielsen research 92% of consumers worldwide trust recommendations from friends and family more than any form of advertising. This is up from 74% in 2007. As recommendations from peers become more prominent online, the influence they levy will weigh more heavily into activity on search and social sites combined. for this reason, it’s wise to start thinking of your company or organization’s fans as extensions of your inbound marketing team.
Find Your Influencers : Spend some time to get to know the people who consistently share your content. Pull together a list of contacts with more than a thousand followers and a history of engagement in your content. Knowing your social media influencers will help you expand your reach online and ultimately increase the rate at which your content gets found online.
Nurture Your Influencers : Once you’ve discovered your evangelists, think about ways to nurture and encourage them. At the simplest (and possibly most meaningful) level, find a way to thank them for spreading the word about your company. As a second step, consider inviting them to a special open-house or providing them sneak peeks of upcoming news or announcements. The HubSpot software allows you to easily compile a smart list of social media influencers in order to nurture through email communication.
Watch for Changing Factors in Social Search
While there are a few core principles at work in social search, individual factors will continue to develop in the near future. As you’re considering the social channels you use, think about the role each plays in your search engine of choice.
Don’t rule Out google + : When Google+ first entered the social media space, many marketers wondered if it was really worth diverting marketing attention into yet another social network. forbes magazine’s paul Tassi even wrote it in a eulogylast year. But when the parent company of said social network is the biggest search engine in the world and starts to integrate its content into search results, it’s worth dipping a toe in the water. My advice? Take these quick steps to create and optimize your google+ page and then experiment with how content does on it.
Don’t rule Out Bing : Not only did Bing account for 30% of all searches the springof 2012, Bing also has a more diverse social search offering than any other search engine. With facebook, Twitter, Quora, klout and foursquare tied in, Bing may give social active companies an edge.
Keep your facebook pages Active : While search is clearly not facebook’s primary purpose yet, facebook does have a team of engineers, including former google engineer lars rasmussen, working on an improved search engine for the site. futhermore, data from HubSpot’s social media scientist Dan zarrella even shows that there’s a relationship between facebook shares and link building — a major aspect of off-page SEO!
Remember the Golen Rule
Years ago, when HubSpot first started teaching people about search engine optimization, one rule was essential: Above all else, create good, useful content. The rest will follow. from panda to penguin, and everything else you’ve learned from the previous experts, search has changed quite a bit in the last few years, but that cardinal rule has held strong.
Even with the rapidly growing influence social sharing has on search results, the good news is if you’re creating good content, you’re already half-way there. useful content is by nature more search-friendly than sales- oriented content. It is also more likely to be shared. The increasingly formal relationship between search and social is really just a natural extension to what has always been true — content that is relevant and can be trusted as authoritative will continue to drive both your search and social media marketing.
Source : Dharmesh Shah
How to Increase Clicks In SERP
The Search Ranking Myth
Historically, traffic from search engines has been about a very singular pursuit — that of rankings. While you want to land on the first page, there’s much more to optimizing for SERP placement. Higher rankings lead to more clicks and visits from interested searchers, and that search traffic is uniquely valuable because of its high relevancy and timeliness — people search when they’re interested or ready to perform an action.
However, in the last few years, the relentless focus on rankings alone has ignored the reality of change in the world of search results, and the value of clickthrough rate (CTR)
The Value of Ranking CTR
Today, queries don’t just return a list of ten blue, ordered links. They return results with images, videos, profile pictures, and all manner of meta data that help searchers choose the best result. Ranking #1 years ago brought ~40% of the traffic to a particular query results page. Today, that figure is less than 20%. Meanwhile, rankings in lower positions have gained some of those clicks. Here’s a few reasons why:
Improve Rank CTR with Author Images
In order to see an author image appear in google search, you need to have “authorship.”
- Make sure your Google+ profile page has a profile photo that is a recognizable headshot.
- Make sure you have an email address (for example, email@example.com) on the same domain as your content (hubspot.com). If you don’t have an email address on the same domain, google has an alternative method for linking your content to your Google+ profile. learn how here.
- In the “About” section of your Google+ profile, add that emailaddress so it’s easier for google to associate your google+ account with your domain.
- In addition, make sure each article you publish on that domain has a clear byline identifying you as the author (for example, “By John Doe” or “Author: John Doe”).
- furthermore, make sure that byline name matches the name on your Google+ profile.
- Visit google’s Authorship page, and submit your email address to google. regardless of the number of articles you publish on this domain, you’ll only need to go through this process once.
- In the “About” section of your Google+ profile, make sure the profile discovery box, “Help others discover my profile in search,”is checked.
Once Google approves your authorship request, your Google+ profile will update with the domain on which you’re a content contributor in the “Contributor to” section of your Google+ profile. By default, it will also automatically make your email address visible to the public.
The Holistic View of Search Rankings
When optimizing for search traffic today, marketers can’t think just about rankings, they need to be holistic in their approach to the visibility and appearance of listings.
Google+ author profiles, as explained, can make headshots appear alongside descriptions. Video XML Sitemaps can be used to show a video capture image. Rich snippets protocols can be applied to e-commerce listings for pricing, availability, quantity and other consumer- friendly details. And these are only the tip of the iceberg. A marketer who dives deep on this topic can find dozens of opportunities to enhance their listing and earn more traffic. Because these days, it’s not enough to rank. Marketers need to earn their clicks.
Source : Rand Fishkin, SEOMOz