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Archive for the ‘Google’ Category

SEO Resolutions for the New Year

By now you’ve had the week to recover from ringing in the New Year. Regardless of how you felt about 2013, you’re probably eager to make 2014 your best year yet. Maybe you want to improve your physical health, or try new things, or be better at staying in touch with old friends. If you are running a business, there may be a goal you’ve overlooked in the past. This year, you should resolve to improve your presence on the web.

If you’ve got a business, you’ve got to make sure customers can find you online. Ranking well in search results is as important to your business as staying healthy and happy is to your life. If you’re not diligent in achieving your goal of having a good online presence, it’s easy to slip and slide down the SERPs. Therefore, we’ve put together this list of 4 simple resolutions you can commit to this year to help customers find your business on the internet.

It’s a New Year and a New Google

In 2013, Google updated it’s algorithm to make it easier for searchers to find what they are looking for through conversational search. This means Google is getting more queries in the form of phrases and questions than in the past, due in part to the use of mobile phones in search. I’m not saying your most valuable keywords have lost value, far from it.  The process of optimizing your site and web presence is in fact, more organic now than ever before. The context around keywords matter, and search engine bots are getting better at seeing through content without substance, link building for links sake, and more. Every time there is an update, another bunch of black hat tactics is laid to rest for good. So is the idea of tactics and strategies and plans. The goal in 2014? Have a better website. Have the type of website your customers want to see and engage with. Not sure where to start? Evolving Interactive offers a free consultation for your site, and we will let you know all of the ways you can improve in the rankings and grow your business presence online.

Name, Address, Phone Number (NAP) Consistency

You need to make sure your NAP appears consistently everywhere it is listed on the web. When all of you listings match, you should see an increase in your search rankings, especially if you are a local business vying for real estate in the coveted “7-pack” on the first page of the search results. You’ll need to go to every website that lists your business and double-check that the NAP is correct. On almost every site for local businesses, there is a way to claim and manage your page, adding more information to enhance the listing.

Content Creation

Content is your most important concern going forward. This includes the basic information you provide to customers. Are you a restaurant? Include your menu on your website. Are you a plumber who provides 24-hour emergency services? Display that prominently on your homepage. Beyond the basics, you’ll also want to regularly generate content. Every time search engines index your site, they take note of how often your site is being updated with valuable information. Your positioning in the index will be impacted if you are adding great content to the site regularly.

Regular updates to your site looks good to search engines, but more importantly it is good for customers. If you are regularly providing new and valuable content, customers will become regular visitors to your page and would likely share any useful or interesting information with others. You can set a low, attainable goal for yourself to get in the habit of updating your site. Start with a goal of writing 1 new post a week. After a month, see if you can increase it to 2 posts a week, then 3, and so on.

Relationship Building

Notice I didn’t say “link building.” Trying to simply get links is not very helpful in the post-Penguin SEO world, but building good relationships within your industry will always be valuable. If you meet or exceed your content creation goal, you might end up with more blog posts than you necessarily need for your own page. This is a great problem to have, and you can try to get your post on another relevant site. This will allow you to communicate with even more customers to help your business grow.

Competitor Research

It’s good to know what your competitors are doing to reach customers. There might be some methods you’ve overlooked, or you could be inspired to try a whole new idea based on what you see working for others in your industry. Doing competitor research can be a little tricky, but there are tools out there to help you, and SEO specialists that can help you. Whatever you need to do to give your business a boost in this area can only benefit you in the next year.

These simple steps are crucial to helping your online rankings and will help place you in front of customers looking for your services. It’s possible that you don’t have the time or manpower to keep up on all of these concerns month-to-month. If that’s the case, there are agencies, such as Evolving Interactive, who are there to help you meet your SEO needs. If you’re a small- to medium-size business owner, it can’t hurt to contact us to learn more about improving your search engine rankings can help you succeed in 2014.

The Difference in SEO in 2014

You know what will be the biggest SEO trend in 2014?

Integrity.

At this point, it’s unavoidable. If you want your site to rank well, you’ll need integrity.

Recent changes to Google’s algorithm like Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird have put a premium on providing useful content to users in honest ways. You can no longer sneak a useless site to the top of the SERPs with keyword stuffing and link schemes. Gone are the days of black-hat SEO, and it’s about time.

Remember how obnoxious it was to see a site rank higher than yours because someone used black-hat techniques? Ever get annoyed when someone disparaged the SEO industry as a whole because of a few bad apples? Thanks to the recent algorithm changes, there are new restrictions to prevent shady tactics.

Some view the restrictions negatively. The many changes have made some of the easy (black-hat) techniques not only ineffectual but damaging to SERP rankings. But there’s a positive way to look at it. With shady tactics now proving harmful to search rankings, there is no reason to spend your time and energy employing them. And having that extra time and energy is good, because ranking higher in SERPs now requires more work and thoughtfulness than ever before.

As search engines get better at delivering what customers want, websites will have to get better at providing the valuable content that gets delivered. This means you can’t get away with keyword stuffing or link schemes to artificially boost your site’s rankings. Now that cheap tricks won’t help rankings, the true cream will rise to the top. And if you want to be at the top, you need to provide valuable content that customers want. It’s that simple.

There are no more tricks, and for that we should be grateful. With such frivolous distractions eliminated by Google’s updates, we can now focus on the hard work of providing quality content to our customers.

Having reflected on and reacted to the major industry updates of the past years, let’s look forward to 2014: when hard work and integrity will yield superior results.

Updating SEO for Google Hummingbird

Another shake-up in the SEO world. Google recently released a new search engine algorithm called Hummingbird. This update has affected 90% of searches and focuses on conversational queries rather than keyword based queries. Hummingbird indexes websites based on how thoroughly they answer the searcher’s intent. Because of technologies like Siri and voice command, conversational search has become much more commonplace. For example, searches like “Mona Lisa location” and “Mexican restaurant Chicago” are being replaced by searches like “Where can I find the Mona Lisa?” and “Where is there a Mexican restaurant close to me?”

There are a few ways websites can update with Hummingbird in mind.

Optimize for Conversational Queries – Hummingbird reads searches and displays results based on the main intent of the query

  1. Throughout pages in the website, use conversational language when it is natural
  2. Use keywords that sum up longer search terms
  3. Create a variety of pages to optimize for different query types
    • informational page with informal language
    • A navigational page with keyword-rich messages
    • FAQ or Question and Answer Page with important terms or phrases used in questions.

Optimize for Synonyms – Hummingbird looks for not only keywords but also their synonyms found on the page

  1. Add additional keywords that often occur in similar contexts as the information on your page
  2. Look at the suggestions on Google Webmaster Tools for additional keyword and synonym ideas
  3. Go on to Google’s search engine bar and take note of the suggested queries
  4. Become an Expert in Your Niche
    • Apply for business list rankings on sites like “The Best of…”, “Top 20….”
    • Do competitor research to see which sites your competitors are listed on and then reach out to those editors
    • Examine your competitor’s backlink profiles to find more citation sources.
  5. Update Your Anchor Text Strategy
    • Go through each of your pages anchor texts
    • Change all of the keyword-driven anchor texts to meaningful and significant phrases

Like pictures? We found this infographic from our friends at Search Engine Journal.

Evolving Interactive Guest Blog Post: SEO and Social Media: Working Together, Working For You

Social media has become an important part of pretty much all businesses, including traditional brick and mortar businesses and online businesses. However, social media has become increasingly important for people that work in SEO, since social media is being used differently by many companies to find their target audience.

Individuals that work in SEO have also seen major changes that have likely affected the way that they work, giving them even more incentive to utilize social media as an outlet for creating and getting work.

Google Algorithm Updates

Google Panda and subsequent updates have had a major impact on people that work in SEO. Recent changes to Google Penguin and Panda have been put in place to penalize companies and individuals that produce fast, low-quality content just to fit in keywords that are popular in searches and on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Many major sites labeled as content mills – sites that employed writers to write on a variety of topics based on a particular keyword – were penalized the most. However, these algorithm updates also affected bloggers and people that make their living doing SEO work for private companies.

Local SEO

Local SEO has become more and more important since Google changed its algorithm, and it has become very popular with many businesses because it allows them to find only clients or customers in their area that fit their criteria. That means more focused marketing, which can result in more business at a reduced cost for many businesses. Many businesses use SEO writers to create local content for their Facebook, Twitter or Google+ pages to help them attract clients.

While writing for social media isn’t that much different than writing for a blog, understanding what works best on sites like Facebook and Twitter – which has a letter counter restriction – can help you do your best work.

Social Media Affects Ranking

After Google algorithm changes, social media rankings have become more and more important to businesses and writers that use SEO to drive traffic to their blog or website. This is because Google put more importance on organic links and mentions of a certain keyword or brand than on many other websites. The more people are talking about your product or business on social media sites like Google+ and Facebook, the higher your ranking will be. That’s why writing for social media sites has become so popular among SEO content producers.

Social media numbers should also be viewed in conjunction with more traditional page rankings and backlinks.

Apps Are Your Friend

Apps designed to help you create quality posts for social media sites like HootSuite also allow you to monitor how your post is doing and how many people are looking at and sharing your information.

HootSuite also allows you to publish your content across various networks in a safe, secure manner that is very user friendly for most SEO content creators.

Another app that’s popular among SEO content producers is BufferApp, which allows you to create posts in advance and share them on social media sites throughout the day. BufferApp also works with your email provider so that you can share updates through your e-mail system if you’re on the go. While there are certain restrictions with BufferApp about how many posts you can create in advance, most people won’t ever reach the limit, making it a very efficient tool.

Pingraphy works sort of like BufferApp, but it’s designed for both business and personal users of Pinterest. Pingraphy allows you to disperse your pins throughout the day so that you don’t bombard your followers all at once. Using Pingraphy also allows you to post during peak hours when you know your followers will be ready to look at the items that you’re posting.

If you’re doing SEO content work on social media sites, these useful apps can make it much easier to share what you want to share, when you want to share it. They can also help you to reach more of your target audience by allowing you to create more content. Using apps also means that you don’t have to sit at your desk all day updating Twitter and Facebook.

Today’s Guest Blog Post courtesy of Marcela De Vivo:

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area, specializing in articles about the best blog content, SEO, and moving blogs to WordPress.

 

2012: March of the Penguins (& Pandas)

Business owners keeping track of their website rankings in Google this year no doubt noticed some changes. For one, the Penguin update in April targeted websites considered spammy. Subsequent updates to Penguin and Panda targeted duplicate content, keyword stuffing, and links from untrusted or non-valuable sources.

While it’s become easy to blame the search engine for drops in rankings and traffic, it’s a good time for site owners to evaluate their on-page content and the off-page work they’ve done. Since the hits just keep on coming, here are a few tips on how to keep your site in tip-top shape against the march of algorithm updates.

Duplicate Content

Sites with duplicate content took a big hit this year. Even if you’ve combed your site making sure no two sentences are the same, there is still a chance that you’re being hit for duplicate content. One of our clients is meticulous about content and posts a few times a week. This much original content usually helps a website, but their site was heading the other direction in the rankings. After going through the clients Webmaster Tools, we found that the issue was in the blog. While the content was original to their site, some of the paragraphs were being taken from other areas of the web, which confuses search engines as to which content is the real source.  The solution was adding rel canonicals to the pages of the blog to alert the search engines to the source of the content. Since we were dealing with a WordPress site, there is a handy plugin called “Canonical Urls”, free to download, that we installed to fix the issue. Duplicate content is a target for these recent updates, so start with Webmaster Tools and see if your site is at risk for a hit, and take care of it before you get nailed.

Link Sources

A big part of traditional link building over the last few years has been finding the balance between strategic keywords and  the official business name in anchor text in links across the web. These updates have made this balance even more delicate. In fact, an excess of links with keyword anchor texts can actually harm the site now. Sites that have taken a hit are sites that have a ton of links pointed to their homepage exclusively, with link anchor texts containing the keywords they were trying to rank for. So if this was your strategy before, hopefully you’ve already adjusted it. It’s a better practice to have anchor texts read the business name, and as a rule, have links pointing to other pages of the site. Your website will benefit from stronger inner pages.

Of course, the Google algorithm is constantly changing. The SERP looks completely different today from how it looked a year ago. You can learn about each of these changes here. Evolving Interactive does our best to stay ahead of each change by following best SEO practices, which makes these changes less jarring when they happen. If your site needs an SEO makeover, contact an analyst today at 312-454-4550. And stay tuned for more news from the Evolving Interactive blog.

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