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Evolving Interactive News

Blogging Beyond the Basics: What Makes Your Company Great?

Do you think your company doesn’t have enough to say to merit having a blog? That means you’re probably overlooking what makes your company unique. You should know the things that set you apart from competitors, and you should blog about them.

Let’s consider a hypothetical plumbing company. Conventional thinking may suggest that there isn’t much for a local plumber to regularly blog about. You, as the owner of this imaginary plumbing company, assume that after building a website highlighting your services, there’s nothing more to say. After all, how much can you write about snaking a shower drain or fixing a leaky kitchen faucet? It’s true, there might not be a need to regularly write about the services you offer, but you can share more about who you are as a company.

If you’re a local business serving customers in your immediate area, you should use your website to highlight what makes you a strong part of your community. Do you support a local charity? Or sponsor a little league team? If so, write about it! By sharing this information with customers, you give them a better sense of your company beyond the nuts and bolts of your basic services.

When a customer searches for a plumber, they’ll know what they need. They need someone who can fix a broken toilet, and it’s safe to assume that every plumber in their area is capable of handling this task. When they find ten local plumbers, how do they go about choosing which one to call?

They’d probably first consider price, but you’re hopefully already competitive in that regard. Next, they might look at customer reviews. You should ideally be set for this as well, displaying numerous positive reviews from previous customers. So assuming you’ve covered the basic minimum customer expectations of competitive prices and trusted quality, you’ll want something extra to set you apart from all of the other local plumbers who also meet those basic expectations. A great way to do that is to reveal your company’s personality beyond the basics.

Every blog post you write is an opportunity to show customers what makes your company great. Don’t overlook such any opportunity to set yourself apart from your competitors. Think about what makes your company more than the basic services you provide. Once you know what that is, share it with your customers.

Is Guest Blogging Dead?

There’s a lot of talk lately about guest blogging being a thing of the past. Rand Fishkin advised folks to make sure their guest blogging efforts were legitimate in a recent Whiteboard Friday. He warned of the slippery slope that can take guest blogging from building your network to spamming. Google’s SEO guru Matt Cutts went even further, saying “…stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy.”

Are these two correct that there is cause for concern? Absolutely. There is no shortage of examples of spammy link-building arrangements under the guise of guest blogging. Many websites out there charge you a fee to feature your guest blog post. Depending on the site, these posts can cost hundreds of dollars. Sometimes there isn’t a monetary price, but there is a required reciprocal link. This you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours strategy values page rank over the customer. If you’re really committed to improving your SERP ranking, you’ll want to stick with the old adage “content is king.” The main thing that can help your SEO strategy is to create and provide valuable content to users. Your content’s value is shown by how many people read it. So if your company has valuable blog posts that people want to read, you’ll be serving your company well. A great blog post will find readers. And there’s no reason your great blog post can’t be featured on another site.

Fishkin and Cutts both remark that there are high-quality, legitimate guest blog posts. It’s great to share useful information with an appropriate, interested audience. But guest blogging for the sake of getting links is no longer a good idea. Google will soon target black hat SEO link-building strategies like writing empty guest posts for spammy websites. Before long, links from such sites will begin hurting your rankings. Likewise, hosting valueless guest blog posts can also hurt you. When it comes to links, focus on quality not quantity.

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.

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