5 Reasons You Need a Constant Flow of Content

The content you post online tells a story about your brand. By leaving this digital footprint in the online marketplace, you build a web presence. Your company’s web presence is compiled of every piece of content related to it, including your blog, social media posts, videos, and even links or mentions by other websites.

All content improves your company’s visibility, but without consistency, it’s virtually ineffective. Much like a one-hit wonder, your website won’t make a lasting impression if you don’t continue to supply content to keep your audience interested. The age-old adage, “out of sight, out of mind,” has never been so true. If consumers don’t see you online, then you run the risk of falling behind the competition.

So why is consistency in digital marketing so important? Here are five reasons to keep your content flowing.

  1. Boosts SEO

Search engine optimization improves your result rank from Google and other engines. Although content isn’t the only indicator, it plays a big part. Consistent updates are important for SEO because it keeps content fresh and relevant, which Google has mentioned in its own blog. Nobody wants day-old bread, and nobody wants month-old news either.

Another reason up-to-date content benefits SEO is by ensuring Google knows your brand is still in business. Crawler bots investigating a site that hasn’t been updated in a while could report inactivity. If your site isn’t active, it loses out on a higher rank.

  1. Improves Brand Awareness

No matter which industry your company belongs to, it’s bound to have competition. To overcome competitors, you need consumers to recognize your brand. Brand awareness is built through a variety of methods, including content production.

Most of the information read about a product is written by the company that produced it, and 25% of internet users follow brands on social media when considering a purchase. That means your content could be the deciding factor in whether or not someone commits to a purchase. The more content available, the better consumers get to know and trust your company.

  1. Proves Your Brand is an Authority in the Industry

There’s a reason people say, “go to the source”; it’s because the source always knows the most on a subject. Therefore, if a competitor appears to know more about your industry, you risk losing the sale. For example, a law firm specializing in realty closing might not be trusted with an empty blog page. Instead, homeowners may seek the expertise of a firm whose blog is filled with helpful closing information.

Customers want to know they’re getting the best experience for their money. To be the best, you should show that you know the most. Your customers can’t tell what you know unless you share it with them.

  1. Builds Customer Trust and Brand Loyalty

Customer loyalty is what turns first-time buyers into return buyers. While much of this relates to the quality of service, it’s also defined by how much you share with your customers. Of site visitors, 82% report feeling happier about a brand after reading their custom content. Knowing your audience and posting information that they want or need makes them feel important.

Sharing information about promotions and upcoming news keeps a brand fresh in the minds of readers. The more people see your emails, social media updates, and blog posts, the quicker you become a regular part of their week. Regular posts make you appear reliable, which builds brand trust.

  1. Increases Chances for Customer Engagement

Finally, consistently posting information improves chances for customer interaction. According to recent research, 72% of advertisers rely on content for engagement. That is beneficial for all of the points mentioned above. For example, consumer comments do the following:

  • Boost SEO by increasing hits on your content
  • Promote brand awareness by bumping your posts in relevance on respective platforms
  • Offer plenty of opportunities to prove authority in your niche
  • Build customer trust by interacting with them one on one

The more content you publish, the more opportunity there is for readers to react, share, and comment. That provides an opening for you to respond in kind, which perpetuates further interaction.

Staying Consistent is Key

Ultimately, posting consistently improves SEO, visibility, authority, loyalty, and engagement, which in turn increases revenue. In fact, Forbes reports that brands that represent themselves equally and constantly across the internet increase revenue by 23%.

Contact W3 Affinity to learn more about the benefits of digital marketing. We’re happy to provide a free consultation to all new clients. So, start growing your brand’s web presence and watch it flourish online.

Why Clutch is an Important Resource for Businesses

When we finally put aside the time to do our own marketing (the toughest customer, ourselves!), we maximize our efforts to make the most impact. For us, going after specific keywords in Google is a fool’s errand. We compete with companies 10-1000x the size of our own with an agency worth of individuals marketing for themselves. Making it impossible for a boutique like us to compete for the “trophy” keywords.

We stick to the fringe by ranking for phrases and specialties that we’re known for, like eCommerce SEO & Local SEO, or even more niche by specific businesses in an industry, like law firm SEO & manufacturer SEO.

So when we spend time looking for partners to find more business for ourselves, we weigh them out.

As a top performing SEO agency, we’ve had the privilege to be featured in the biggest and best “top SEO” type websites. One that stands out to us, is Clutch.

Unlike many of the websites that rank SEOs, web designers, PPC companies and the like, Clutch has an algorithm that determines who the best are based on EXPERIENCE. The way they rank businesses in their categories makes them the best place for a business owner to go and figure out who they want to hire for a task.

Between reviews from customers, media presence (What and how often we publish to blog, social media, PR, and more), and client type (are they big, startup, enterprise?) scores determine who ranks in the top of a leaders matrix. Not how much they spend on advertising.

Lately, we’ve been approached by many more places to be listed as top performers based on our scores at Clutch. This is amazing right? We’re proud and grateful to have this sort of presence! An issue arose though as we started talking to all these different agencies… Alright, we have a profile but to be in the top 10 it’ll cost you $$$… what? So you’re saying to be the best at eCommerce SEO I just have to give you money? It has nothing to do with the quality of our work, reviews our customers give, amount of time/expertise we have in the industry?

Unfortunately, this is true for MOST of the boards out there! This got us wanting to reach out to business owners. Use a ranking system that actually gets you experts. The companies buying a top 10 position on these boards are not necessarily experts, and hiring a company who can’t do the work will cost you more than hiring the right company.

So the next time you’re looking for a top-notch social media agency, mobile app developer, or someone like us, head to Clutch.co – they’ll serve up the best based on their merits, not pockets.

PS: No we didn’t write this because we’re #1, we’re #5. Each of us in the top 10 have worked hard to get here and we (W3) felt it was important to note there is a difference in the quality of each boards rankings. Get familiar.

Tips to Build Links

Still a major practice today is the act of Link Building. We have this on our strategy quarter after quarter and have so for over 16 years. Why? Because it is simply one of the most impactful ways to increase rankings across the board.

While it’s extremely impactful, it’s equally difficult to get links that match to workload. We put together a few tips to help you start your journey. This is a peek behind the scenes at how we do outreach for links. Not all links are created equal, and for the best ones for our clients, we reach deep.

Find Your Industry Leaders

This one is simple. Start doing Google Searches on topics that you cover with your products & services. For instance, if you own a Barbershop, then fashion magazines, bloggers, and forums are a great place to start. You want to find people who have a lot of followers in social, comments on blogs and articles going out regularly.

For many, a handful to several hundred bloggers are out there talking about your industry. Create a spreadsheet that has their URL, point of contact name, email address, and a few columns for when you are doing outreach, whether you were successful in connecting or not and what the outcome was.

Prepare Something Worth Sharing

Yes, it’ll be harder than just sending an email asking for a link. You’ll need to provide value to the industry expert. The bigger and more competitive the industry, the more unique and impressive your offer will need to be.

Whether it’s a free eBook download for their users on how to do x, a style guide for 2019, a budget calculator tool, or a graphic that will help their users, it needs to be unique, and valuable enough they’ll want to put their stamp of approval on it.

Make the Outreach Personal

Don’t start outreach with an email blast to everyone in your spreadsheet. This will hit spam, get deleted, or just plain be ignored. They get 1000s of these a week if they’re industry leaders. So you’ve got to stand out.

We typically start by sending an invite on LinkedIn explaining we have common ground in the industry and would love to connect. We follow this up by scheduling a 10 minute call with the to explain what we’d like to do, if they’re happy with what they hear, we typically keep talking or schedule a time to speak more on our subject.

Notice I didn’t say email them and personalize the email? It just doesn’t work anymore. Too noisy. We use this method if we cannot get them on LinkedIn, but it’s typically not answered and our spreadsheet for those contacts don’t move very quickly.

Get Started with Link Building

This is a very difficult process but there is no better time than now to get started. We have seen companies grow exponentially year over year and the primary source is content that is spread through the web by these industry experts.

W3 Affinity Achieves Excellence in eCommerce SEO Services!

W3 Affinity is proud to announce that we have been featured on Clutch.co as a SEO E-commerce leader. Clutch is a Washington D.C. based research and reviews firm that covers thousands of B2B firms in over 500 different industries. Clutch gives buyers the ability to compare similar service companies and identify the ideal partner that will best fulfill their goal within their budget.

Our team is composed of eager and creative people who have deep industry expertise and a customer first mindset. We offer a variety of different services – everything from web design to branding and of course, SEO services. Your site could have an eye-catching design and a cutting-edge logo, but without search engine optimization, your customer will never see it.

That said, you’d think finding an SEO provider that is reliable and trustworthy would be easier. However, too often than not, small businesses who are hands off and lack deep technical knowledge suffer the consequences of black hat SEO tactics. In fact, a Clutch survey found that 1 in 5 clients had a negative experience before they found the right SEO service provider. Given the nature of E-commerce, these clients, in particular, need a partner that is technically savvy, detail oriented, and truly dedicated to the success of their business. As a top SEO service for the e-commerce industry, W3 Affinity is always seeking ways to meet and exceed this standard.

In the relevant press release, a business analyst at Clutch noted the unique qualities of the companies featured:

“In an increasingly digital world, SEO and PPC are critical tools to elevate your brand’s online visibility and reach a wider target audience than traditional advertising permits,” said Sara Philibotte, business analyst at Clutch. “We compiled a carefully vetted list of top SEO and PPC agencies informed by market research and in-depth client reviews. If you’re searching for a partner to help you drive sales, we recommend selecting from these teams with demonstrated success and verified expertise.”

We’d like to give a big thanks to all our customers who have given us such positive reviews on Clutch.co and helped us receive top accolades in the ecommerce space both on Clutch, and their sister website, The Manifest. For business inquiries or questions, please contact us here.

The Second Step for SEO: On-Page Optimization, Part 2

Alright, you’re likely reading this because you’ve read part 1 of On-site SEO and are ready to keep getting deeper into the on-page SEO. We’ll cover Keyword Consistency, Linking internally, Sitemap.xml, and Robots.txt.

These items are necessary to both help the user and the search engine understand your website and how to crawl it. Let’s dig in.

Keyword Consistency

This is one that has vexed me for many years. I read experts saying you have to have the keyword you’re trying to rank for X%, not more, not less, on the page you’re trying to rank for to make that happen. Others are stuffing the keywords everywhere it doesn’t belong and some are arguing that as long as it’s in the URL/Title, you’re fine.

Ok, to clear the air on this one and put my foot into this battle for who is right, I recommend that you naturally insert your keyword where it makes sense (Read: Design for the User for why). Using the keywords naturally in your website copy will make users not abandon the page, which signals to Google that they’re getting what they need and that they should show this page to more people like them.

Always ensure your keyword is in these key areas:

  • URL (www.domain.com/category/my-service-name <- Keyword)
  • Page Title
  • H1 Tag
  • Image Alt Tag & Title Tag (and preferably Image Name)

When we start competing with other websites in SEO, whether it’s local or national competition, we often run into the competitor that uses keywords stuffing or the golden keyword ratio to hold on to a top position for a keyword we want. Where we end up beating them in the rankings isn’t because we out stuff them, or simply write more content so we’ll have more instances of the keyword due to the ratio, but by taking care of the user by clearly getting our message across. One primary item to remember here, SEO isn’t solely defined by one tactic that is well done, but by the sum of tactics used with quality.

SEO isn’t solely defined by one tactic that is well done, but by the sum of tactics used with quality.

Using common sense, along with writing out everything that the user truly needs to make an informed decision, and making sure to hit the key areas listed above will help you start showing up for a keyword in no time. The rankings increasing for that keyword will be a mixture of this work plus many on-site and off-site factors.

Linking Internally

Internal linking has a lot of value for the user and search engine. Good internal linking structures can help a user find a deep page that makes sense to their need, or show authority of one page over another for a search engine.

How it helps the User

Since I’m a user first SEO kinda guy, I’ll talk about how internal linking impacts the user. Let’s say a prospective lead is looking for haircare tips and through a search on Google, finds a blog you wrote. This is great, they found content that can help them and are reading all about the care tip they needed, however, you also wrote a killer blog on a tip that is an advanced technique related to this blog post. Now would be a good time to link over to the advanced technique so the user can get deeper into your website while furthering their knowledge on the subject. Alternatively, in the blog you could be talking about how they can come in for a consultation for haircare services and link to the haircare services page where you have a way to book an appointment. This also provides the user value in a sense that they read your blog, become overwhelmed and want the expert.

How it helps the Search Engine

Internal linking helps establish content and priority of the content on your website. For instance, if you have a blog category about a specific service, and each of those pages links back to the service page related to it, it creates a point of authority. This method will explain to the search engine that we know/do this service + this page is our primary page for said service. This helps that specific page rank when a user searches on Google to find someone who does the service they need, getting them to the right place faster.

Why you need a Sitemap file on your site

Sitemaps are important. This is one of those items that every website should have as recommended by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. You’ll find their strong recommendation to use a sitemap just after the “getting started” section, as it’s a very high priority. There is even a spot in Google Search Console that allows you to submit and manage your sitemaps, so familiarize yourself with how to develop a sitemap.

Sitemaps simply put, are an index of your website. They list out every page, how often/last time they were updated, and the priority of each of these pages on your website. This is one step we don’t recommend skipping over as this is one of the primary ways that the Search Engine is able to crawl through your website and index all of your pages.

Why you need a Robots.txt file on your site

This file, which lives on the server in the root directory, is essential to SEO in a way that it tells the search engine what NOT to crawl, vs what to crawl like a Sitemap. Proper use of a robots.txt file can be found in Google’s Guide alongside of the sitemap content as it is important in helping Google understand your site.

This file is used to prevent the search engine from indexing pages that you don’t want indexed, such as:

  • Pages that wouldn’t be helpful if a user landed on them from a search result
  • Search results on your page (Imaging going from Search Engine to Search Result… Confusing right?)
  • Login Pages and Administrative Pages
  • Pages used for internal information only

Having this properly configured helps ensure that the pages you want indexed get their time in the lime light over pages that you don’t.

Make way for Part 3 of On-Site SEO

Next up we’ll cover 3 of the biggest strategies used by us to increase rankings:

  • Mobile Friendliness
  • Page Speed
  • Site Security

We look forward to diving in with you!

[Step-by-Step Guide] to Local SEO

Get ready. If you own a local business or do marketing for one, then you need to read this guide. we’ll uncover the tactics used by our team here to deliver results on a month to month and year over year basis for our clients.

Who should read this?

Anyone who owns, operates or is marketing for a business that serves customers at a location or within a local area. If you have 1 or 1,000 locations, this work will help you rank higher in the search engine in key areas known to drive more traffic to websites and convert well once on the website itself!

Note, this is a guide to help you rank higher and be more visible in the digital world. This isn’t all that needs to happen to in order to convert more business once they make it onto your website. That’ll come with continual testing, great offers, and a genuine customer focused business in demand. Let’s get started!

On-Site Factors

On your website, you’ll want to capitalize on the items below. Make sure you have each of these polished and continue to improve upon them as you grow. These items signal to Google where you’re located and help it show you when people are searching generic terms within your area. For instance, a user searches “plumbing service” vs “plumbing service in New York”. You’d expect that companies from anywhere would show up, right? Wrong, Google is smart enough to know that you’re in need of a plumber near you, and they can guess where you are based on many factors, including your IP Address. Google then shows you plumbers in your area that are advertising, in a local map pack, and organically rankings. We want to make sure your signals on the website are shining brightly to ensure you’re one of those coming up at the right time.

Quicklist of On-Site Factors

 

Location Pages

Plain and simple, a location page should contain the details of your business. Name, Address, Phone Number, Email, and Area Serviced are great data points to ensure are located on the page. You’ll want to make sure this page is setup the way you want your Company’s name, address and phone number to show up on the web. It’s VERY IMPORTANT that you use the same format for your information (NAP or Name, Address, Phone Number) to allow Google to link up profiles.

 

Micro-Location Pages

Similar to the location pages, micro-location pages help the search engine understand where you work. They also have a direct impact on ranking in specific areas within your service area. For instance, your city may have several towns within it that your users are adding to a search when looking for your services. This could result in a search like “HVAC Repair in Aquia Harbor” instead of “HVAC Repair in Stafford”. Aquia Harbor is a large neighborhood within Stafford. We’d recommend building out pages for all the areas within your service area.

Making these pages unique is where the challenge comes in. We recommend you keep the user in mind on these pages and not just copy and paste some canned text from one page to the next. Talk about the area, give some insightful information while making sure the user knows that you’re able to service them should they need it.

 

Schema Markup

This is the magic that happens behind the scenes. Schema is a markup language that helps the crawlers at Google understand and file your data away more efficiently.

It’s recommended that you use Google Tag Manager for this step, so if you’re unfamiliar with this tool, keep an eye out for a blog coming about Google Tag Manager and why you need it.

We use a stellar tool from Technical SEO called the Schema Markup Generator. This tool greatly simplifies the process of coding schema. To develop your Local Schema, select Local Business from the drop down and begin filling out all the fields that appear. Look for an @type that matches closely to your business, then select a sub-type from the menu next to it.

Fill out all the details and you’re ready to click the G-Validate button in blue. This will validate your code. If it comes back with no warnings or errors, then you’ll want to copy & paste this code into a tag in Google Tag Manager.

The next step is key, this code cannot be run on a page that doesn’t also contain the local business information that you’re displaying in the markup. It’s recommended this only displays on the contact page, so setup your schema accordingly. Alternatively, you could run it on every page in your site if you’re able to insert the content into an area of your site that is everywhere, such as, your footer or header.

 

Portfolio Updates

Keeping your portfolio up to date does a multitude of jobs for Local SEO. It keeps your website fresh, which is a signal to the search engine that you’re still in business and looking for more, it shows the customer what kind of work you’re good at, and it can be used to bring keywords onto your website that are more niche or long tail in nature.

Keeping your website fresh is a tough business as time goes on. Writing a new blog on a new topic when you’ve done that for years can be difficult. This is where the portfolio can really shine. You’re always doing new work, so taking pictures, videos or even virtual tours of your work and then writing about what you did for that particular customer is a great way to keep the new and fresh content coming on to the website.

Use the portfolio as a showcase for your prospective customers! They’ll see that you’re really good at that specific thing that they’re looking for and want to hire you right away. Add content that explains what the customer’s issue was and how you solved it. Finally, be sure to include calls to action on these pages that are relevant to the service rendered. You’ll be sure to capture business with a stellar portfolio.

Use keywords for the portfolio that are very specific or “niche” about your services. For instance, if you do electrical work, your website says that 100+ times throughout it and your brand screams that you’re an electrician. On the project, you installed recessed lighting outside in a porch, that’s very awesome and most likely others are out there searching for that exact service as well, but not by “electrician in [city, state]”. They may hit the search engine and Google “Recessed Light Installer” and boom, you’re the guy for the job because your portfolio has those keywords and an example of the work.

 

Trust Signals

You’ve seen these along your journey of buying online or looking for a technician to come out and help you. You want to feel like before you make the phone call, you can trust these people will do good work or are selling a reputable product.

Trust signals come in various forms:

  • Reviews from customers
  • Case studies of how your product or service helped solve a problem
  • Badges or Certifications from governing bodies
  • BBB Rating
  • and so on…

These little clues that you’re a good business to work with start to help a potential customer know that they’re in the right place. They also let the search engine know you mean business. It’s important to not only do good work, but to get proof of that good work visible to everyone who needs to know.

Off-Site Factors

These items, when done right & the ethical way, pave the way for success for years to come. Done wrong can land you in an area of Google that the black hat SEO’s get their customers time and time again, banned. You’ll want to refer to Google Webmaster Tools Guidelines for the latest in white hat strategy, below is the quick summary of what you should be doing in order to grow your local business off-site.

 

Local Listing Citations

Here is the fun part… There are hundreds of websites out there ready to accept your business into their directory and be a “vote” that your business is who you say it is and located where you say it is. The big ones are Google My Business, Bing Local, Yelp, and so on. They’re free to setup and generate traffic when managed appropriately. To rank in the local market, volume is the key. For once in the game, it’s quantity over quality here, as each of the places you can get listed are pretty equal in value.

We generally get several hundred citations setup in the first year, which attributes to higher rankings in the local map pack.

Identify these places by looking for a business, such as a plumber, and start looking at all the directory type listings that list them as a business and see if you can get yourself entered in there.

Look for local specific directories, these will have the highest relevancy to your business. If you can find a directory that is geared towards your town/state, that’d be the best case scenario.

 

Review Building

When you’re looking online to figure out who/what to buy, one of the biggest items, when it comes down to decision making, is how well it’s reviewed. If you’re Googling your business right now and going, “oh my, I have 0 reviews!” or “Yikes! I have a 1-star rating!”, don’t worry. It’s most likely because you haven’t begun the work needed in this area.

Gaining reviews and/or fixing bad scores don’t need to be difficult and you can help get more customers to the website and convert more of them by doing these simple tasks.

  • Solicit reviews at the end of your service with a customer.
    Share with them how they can go to Google and leave a review for your business. Usually, if you just delivered a stellar experience, they’ll be happy to do so!
  • Follow up with an email and a link to your business where they can review
    We have a nifty tool that can help make this easy – Grade.us Google Review Link Generator
  • Incentive helps!
    Give an offer to leave a review, but do it right! Leaving a review should be natural, but if you do make an offer to a customer to leave you a review, just make sure if they give you a 1 you’re willing to offer the same deal. Also, don’t make the offer “leave us 5 stars and we’ll give you something”
  • Do it right
    Slow and steady growth in reviews is a sure fire way to grow your business online. Don’t go pay services that leave phony reviews and hope to make a difference. Google is trained to spot fakes and it’ll only result in penalties or banishment if abused.

Make sure you keep your eye on a goal. Get your team involved and incentivize them to solicit more reviews. Tactics like $100 gift card to whoever can secure the most reviews in a month from close sales, will go a long way with your team and help you grow the business at the same time.

 

Link Building

This is quite possibly the most difficult, however, the most impactful tactic in Local SEO. The issue that is run into time and time again is lazy SEO’s or busy business owners begin to purchase links without regard to quality or relevance. This is a black-hat tactic that can result in banishment from Google. I repeat, DO NOT PURCHASE LINKS. 

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, how do you gain links? Simple, outreach!

Yes, outreach. I mean getting on the phone, reaching out on social media, emailing people and working within the community. Reaching out is the most effective way of gaining valuable links. A phone call to the right blogger about your service can result in a highly relevant link which will bring up the ranking of your entire website.

Forms of non-paid links include:

  • Directory listings from aggregate websites (Yelp, BBB, Foursquare)
  • Directory listing from local companies (Chamber of Commerce, Bloggers, event companies)
  • Forum Links (Yes, going out and answering questions can result in links to your website)
  • Blogger Mentions (Give advice to a blogger on your topic that they can quote you on, it’s a surefire way to make an impact)
  • Social Mentions (Help someone out and get help is at the heart of Social Media.)

Another form of links are the paid links. Wait, didn’t I just say don’t buy links? Yes, but this isn’t the same. For instance, when you purchase an advertisement from a highly relevant source, this isn’t considered the same way as when you buy 100s to 1000s of links from a reseller and are listed on websites that make no sense.

An example, a client of ours purchased advertising from Cleaner Magazine for their Pressure Washer business. It makes sense to the business as this is where their target market is located. So why not? They get traffic from the advertisement itself and Google shows all the links they’re getting from Cleaner as a positive impact. Win-Win!

Now go get started

Doing local SEO is a neverending journey. None of the tasks above are set it and forget it and/or overnight successes for any company. To get to the top and grow your business it’ll take doing them well and consistently well to catch up and beat any competition on the marketing front for Google Organic.

So strap on your shoes and get ready to grow your business in local search.

 

Did you know: We’re recognized as a top Search Engine Optimization Company on DesignRush

The Second Step for SEO: On-Page Optimization, Part 1

You’ve done as much research as you possibly can and now it’s time to do something with all the data you’ve collected. If you haven’t done the research, check out the first blog in this series: The First Step for SEO: Research. Let’s dig into the on-page factors we’ll work with based off your research, and other key components of your website that will needs adjusting and fixing up to get your on-page optimization helping your search engine ranking:

  • Meta Titles & Descriptions
  • Header Tags H1-H3
  • Images, and how to use Alt Tags in the code
  • Content on each page and it’s length, aka text to HTML Ratio
  • Keyword Consistency
  • Linking internally
  • Sitemap.xml
  • Robots.txt
  • Mobile Friendliness
  • Page Speed
  • Security

Whew, that list was exhausting! Wait until you read how to handle it all now! In this part one of a 3 part series, I’ll cover Meta Titles, Meta Descriptions, Header Tags, Images and Content. Let’s get started:

Meta Titles & Descriptions

Alright, we’ve been hearing about these guys since the dawn of search engine optimization, and everyone has had their opinion on them. So it’s my turn now! Titles and Descriptions are very important. Without the Title Tag you’ll have a hard time explaining to the viewer or search engine what your page is about, and without the description, you won’t be able to give them a reason to visit you over one of the hundred thousand other sites offering your service online. Titles are a vital portion of the ranking algorithm, lets dig into them first.

Meta Titles – Your First Impression

There are a few rules you should adhere to when it comes to writing your meta titles:

  • Titles should be roughly 50-60 characters in length. Anything above this range will get truncated in the results.
  • Titles should not only have keywords in them, they should grab attention.
  • Everyone has varying opinion on this one. I believe short and concise titles garner the best result between attention grabbing & keyword value.
  • Every title in your site should be unique and have a targeted keyword in mind.
  • Branding, if your company is about branding, then tag your brand name to the end of the result. My preferred method is as so: “SEO & Web Design | W3 Affinity” the “|” pipe character is just above the enter key on your keyboard and stands out well in results pages.

The key to titles tags in my opinion is that you experiment a little. Making sure to reindex your site within Webmaster Tools each time you make a change and see if your click through rates from the search engine increase on that pages as a result.

Meta Descriptions – Reel Them In

Descriptions are where it gets interesting. Here are the basic guidelines when it come to meta descriptions:

  • Currently labeled as “Not a ranking factor for Search Engine Results”.
  • Like meta titles, they’ll get truncated if over a certain character count. Stick to around 145-155 to be safe!
  • They show up under your title in the search engine result page, and are used to determine the value of a page from the customer point of view. Make it compelling!
  • Don’t use quotes, it’s been proven that a quote in the meta tag will cut off the rest of your text.
  • Make sure that each meta description is unique to your site and within your site, do not duplicate.

Meta descriptions should be compelling copy on how or why to visit your site, even consider using call to actions like: “Visit us to learn more about ____ and we’ll offer a free consultation on your ____” Using an opportunity to pop a few keywords in there for a little extra bold text in the search engine result page.

Heading Tags – Add Hierarchy

Heading tags, also known as <h1>, <h2>, <h3> and so on, are a way to apply priority, status, visual change and most importantly hierarchy to your website content. Just in viewing this blog, you’ll see I’m using various forms of the heading tags to note my sections and subsections. It helps the viewer understand what is going on throughout the content of a webpage. Here are a few ways that heading tags are used:

  • H1 Tags are used to resonate with the Meta Title. They are highly recommended for every page, to be unique and to continue the message of the title’s topic & keyword you’re targeting for that page. Oh, and you should stick to having only 1 of these per page.
  • H2 Tags are generally used to visually divide a section, they can be supportive to the keyword you’re trying to rank for and break up content in a way that makes sense. They are generally smaller than the H1 tag visually, but larger than our next fellow.
  • H3 Tags are great for sub sectioning content, I’ve done that in this blog to show Meta Titles & Meta Descriptions content without it all blending together. They are smaller than the previous two tags, but larger visually than the H4-H6 tags which are generally used for headings to footer section or sidebar sections.

Keyword consistency through the H1-H3 are great for building a topic out properly and creating Hierarchy within a page. Utilizing them in a way to pull your visitor through the content is an art form, so experiment, there is no RIGHT way to do it!

Images – More Than Just A Pretty Picture

Images are one of the most improperly used parts of a website. There is much more to an image than just putting it in the site. Images have their own code and ways to help your SEO too! Here are a few tips for images, and how they can benefit you:

  • Code your images in properly, here is an example: “<img src=”/img/on-page-seo.jpg” title=”on page seo” alt=”on page seo”>” You’ll see it is more than just popping an image into your website from the computer and moving it around to where you like it. I’ve shown you a few tricks here they are:
    • name the image for the page you’re working on
    • title tag it within the image source code
    • alt tag’s are used for browsers that don’t display images, leaving the alt tag contents on the page, they’re known to help in SEO as well
  • Compress your images before uploading, you should have the most optimized file size prior to using it on the website.
  • If it isn’t going into a gallery meant to zoom, or if you can make it link to a larger file elsewhere for your light box, then size your image for your content.

Images can sometimes be the part of a website that makes or breaks it’s quality. It is also one of the most neglected parts of SEO. Optimizing your images can have a huge impact on page load speed, content quality and more. So make sure everything is up to snuff with your images on your pages.

Content – Keep It Real

Content is the most crucial part of any SEO project. You can view a blog post I’ve done on designing your content for the user: Design For The User to learn more about this topic, for now I’ll hit the SEO points for you below:

  • Text to HTML Ratio: how much text you’ve placed on your site in comparison to the amount of code it took to get there is a factor in the quality of your page. Making sure to get above the 15% mark, but preferably above the 25% mark is crucial to making a difference. With so many pages out there today on the same topics, to stand out, you have to make sure your page beats their quality scores.
  • Making sure your content is UNIQUE is one of the best ways to get noticed. You can cover the same information that is out there, but keeping it from a  unique point of view or any other way of making it unique can help it stand out. Also, making sure you are not copy and pasting is essential for your quality score.
  • All of the tips above (meta titles/descriptions, image coding, heading tags) are crucial to making your content stand out and be valuable.
  • Write for the user, not the search engine. They’re smart enough to know if you’re stuffing the same keywords into a paragraph to rank for something.

Writing compelling copy is another art in this world. Getting someone to take the time to read all of your content, or just enough to buy, is a very difficult task these days. If it’s too much for you to even begin thinking about, consider hiring professional content writers and having a professional SEO come behind to make the magic happen.

Come Join Us for Part 2

In part 2 we’ll be covering Keyword Consitency, Linking internally, Sitemap.xml, Robots.txt. Be sure to come back to the blog and check out Part 2 coming soon!

The First Step for SEO: Research

Just like any task, preparation can make or break your strategy. Research is the first step to SEO to know how to build your effective SEO strategy. Effective SEO research includes the following:

  • On-Page Analysis of your own site
  • Keyword research
  • Competitor Research
  • Social Analysis
  • and Search Engine Saturation

So, now you know what to do, research. But HOW? All of this requires you to know coding languages, magic spells, and to have copious amounts of caffeine right? Not at all. The key to a successful SEO in the research phase is having the right tools. Here are just a few of the tools used at W3 Affinity for successful research. Most of these are free, I’ll make sure to label them for you with links if you click on them:

7 Tools for Effective SEO

  • Google Adwords Keyword Opportunity Tool (Free) – Use this tool to find out search volume on keywords that people are actually using on Google. This is a great way to discover content that you’ll want to create, how to write your copy on your website, and maybe even help you see that maybe people don’t search for your services by technical terms.
  • Moz Open Site Explorer (Limited Free) – A great link analysis tool for you and your competitors. This tool will help you understand where you stand.
  • Woo rank Page Analyzer (Free to try) – Covers a variety of on page ranking factors, this tool is very easy to use and understand. It has tool tips near all of it’s grading factors, with importance being noted next to the tips as well.
  • GTMetrix Speed Testing (Free) – Site speed is very important, GT Metrix combines YSlow & Google Page Speed checker into 1 unique tool that grades you based on your code quality & structure.
  • Hubspot Marketing Grader (Free) – A great tool to see how effective your site is online. I use this to get a broad understanding of a site.
  • Webmaster Tools for Bing & Google (Free & Free) – The cornerstone of effective SEO is knowing what the Search Engine thinks of your site, this tool has crawl errors, site analysis and keyword ranking all in one place.
  • SEMRush (Limited Free) – The best competitor research tool I’ve come in contact with. It’ll give you link analysis, keyword analysis and traffic estimates!

Ok so now you have a few tools under your belt, you’re starting to look like a super hero. Know that these tools above are just tools I prefer to use in my research of a website, the aren’t the only ones out there, nor are they the only ones that I have in my arsenal. There are many paid tools that are designed for programmers and techies alike that have large fees built for companies like W3 Affinity to manage and research multiple websites, and aren’t designed for the small business owner to operate. That’s ok though, you’ve got the key tools above now to get an effective plan together.

Time to Use Those Tools

Alright, with all these tools, what does an effective plan look like? You’ll want to gather a list of 10 or so keywords that you want to target using the Google Keyword Opportunity Tool. These should be longer tailed (multiple words) while broad and cover the variety of services you offer. This will help you align your content to build an effective website to cover these topics. Build out pages on your website in a way that makes sense, and using the keyword data you’ve found you should begin to make text that answers the question or issue of those keywords. Make sure each page sticks to one topic and make the content unique. Once you’ve put the content into your site, head over to the Hubspot Marketing Grader & Woorank tools and grade the pages one at a time and make recommended tweaks to improve your content’s value. Once your content is optimized, its time to speed everything up, head over to GTMetrix and start making the tweaks they recommend to improve your page speed, like optimizing images, alt tags, moving java script and various other tasks they’ll recommend. Put all of theses tasks into organized lists so that you can get them done in an orderly fashion.

The true key to an effective SEO plan is research, but the secret to that key is that you’re always researching. You’ll never be done looking at competitors, keyword opportunities, and making adjustments to your website. New technology will arise, new security risks, new ways to improve your speed, and the list goes on. So continue researching, stay ahead of your competition and succeed.

Take this with you…

My last piece of advice before starting in on your SEO journey. There is no “right way” to do SEO, or quick and guaranteed results out there. There are Webmaster Guidelines to follow in the Google Webmaster tools and beyond that, it’s experiment and analyze. So try different things, get social, test, analyze and re-test. Don’t take shortcuts, they’ll hurt you in the end.