SEO

Go Confidently into the New Year with these 5 Marketing To-Dos

Every January I see posts on posts about future marketing trends: How will SEO change in the new year? What social media platforms do you need to be on to succeed? What crazy thing will Google do to make us finally want to throw in the towel!? It’s overwhelming and bound to change by February. I thought it would be more helpful to make a checklist of five things you can do now to start your 2015 marketing efforts off with confidence.

Deep Dive Into Your Data

At the end of each year, you typically have a historic spreadsheet of the most important metrics to prove your site gets traffic. But it’s also nice to take a closer look at the random stats you don’t generally focus on. For example, you might consistently report on organic search visits, bounce rate and new vs. returning visitors. Why not dive deeper into things like average time on site, pages per visit, referring domains, browsers used, devices used, etc. You might look at these periodically throughout the year when the questions arise, but it’s a great time to really take a closer look. Also, think about your filter settings and how your dashboards are set up. Are there opportunities to use enhanced features in your software, or if you use Google Analytics, have you ignored things like campaign tracking that you could integrate into your 2015 plans?

Give Your GWT Some TLC

You should be fixing broken links as you come across them, but if you have a laundry list of 404s in your Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), now is a good time to reevaluate them. Maybe you need to talk to your website developers about your site architecture, or you have missing 301 redirects to fix. Spend some time in your GWT looking at crawl reports and server errors, and make sure your sitemap is up to date, robots.txt is working as expected, and your 404 page and HTML sitemap are current.

New Years Marketing Tips

 

Read it Again

Pull a list of the top 20 pages of your website. Now, go page by page and review all the content. Check for spelling errors, outdated facts, broken links, and optimization opportunities. Make sure the page titles show up in search and the meta descriptions are rendering. Check the images and text in all browsers and on mobile devices and tablets, and check for any missing alt tags. These are your top pages; make sure they continue to be in 2015.

Make Some New Friends

There are tons of SEO, social, and monitoring tools out there; there’s also a lot of expertise. Do some heavy research and talk to other marketers about what tools they rely on most and what they’d recommend trying out in the new year. It’s hard to move away from a tool you are comfortable using; but there might be something out there that could change the game for you entirely if you just knew about it! Open your eyes and see the possibilities. You might not find anything, but it doesn’t hurt to shop around. Some game-changing tools we’ve discovered this year (and they are not necessarily new to the world, just to us): Moz, Screaming Frog, Canva, and Buffer App. Influencers we rely on: @MarketingProfs/@AnnHandley, @SocialSavvyGeek, and @RandFish.

 Clean Up Your Social Act

Don’t wait for spring cleaning; now’s a great time to clear out old followers, find new followers, and sign up for any new social sites that are relevant and growing. On Twitter, if you haven’t already, set up some Lists to organize your connections. Update your LinkedIn profile with your resume and check for any new recommendation opportunities. In conjunction, deactivate old accounts and most importantly, make sure you update your passwords and check privacy settings. If you’re not sure what social channels to be on, read our recent post on the subject.

Happy New Year!

– Rach

The First 5 Steps to Getting Started in SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be an overwhelming responsibility, especially when you consistently see articles announcing its impending death. Dramatic much? The term Search Engine Optimization might soon become outdated, because, not surprisingly, people want to be marketed to like people, not robots. It’s becoming increasingly important to write your content for human beings to read, and the days of practices like keyword stuffing, link farming, and throwing plain old shit content on a webpage are behind us. Google’s periodic algorithm updates exist for this exact purpose — to toss out the garbage. Unfortunately, sites with quality content can get caught in the crossfire when poorly set up and that’s why someone will always need to be optimizing content and sanity checking the technical aspects of web development. SEO will never “die.” It will simply evolve.

I manage SEO in house and it’s only a small portion of my job responsibilities; so, I’m learning as I go and time-saving tips are hugely valuable to me. Here are my 5 tips I suggest you do pronto when you’re entering the wacky and wonderful world of SEO.

  1. Bookmark www.moz.com. Moz is probably my favorite resource right now. Follow their Twitter @moz (might as well follow some personal handles as well: Rand Fishkin, Erica McGillivray, Jennifer Sable Lopez, just to name a few.) Check out their blog for some great in-depth articles on topics ranging from content and user experience to analytics and security. I also recommend tuning in to their Whiteboard Friday webinars and reading their Beginner’s Guides. It was one of the first things I found when I was researching what the heck I should be doing. The company is full of knowledgeable, super helpful people at all levels in their careers and I really appreciate their approachable nature — a big plus for people who are unsure of their skills and need some guidance. Oh! And catch up on all the Google algorithm updates with their ridiculously comprehensive timeline. The resources never end here.
  2. Sign up for Google Adwords. I rely a lot on Google Adwords tools. There are others out there (Moz even has one) but Adwords is free and really easy to use — all you need is a Gmail account. I don’t currently do PPC, but the Keyword Planner tool is great for research. It’ll definitely come in handy once you’re ready to start diving into optimization and strategy. For now, just get familiar with it.
  3. Subscribe to Search Engine Land. I check this website out pretty much daily. In fact, I have their Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors pinned to my cubicle wall and I suggest you do, too.
  4. Attend a conference. I mentioned this in a previous article on general marketing tips, but I can’t emphasize enough that if you’re lucky enough to afford to get your behind to a SEO conference, then do it. There is nothing more valuable than meeting peers and sharing ideas. You’ll meet so many great resources (and live tweeting during presentations helps you know who to follow and also builds your own social following). Here is a good article from Search Engine Journal (another great resource to bookmark) on some options.
  5. Educate yourself on other areas, not just SEO. Like I mentioned earlier in this article, SEO is evolving. It’s important to know how social media, content marketing, email marketing, PPC, advertising, etc. all intersect with each other and how that relates to SEO. I work really closely with a social media manager, as well as keep up to date on email marketing tools, lead generation best practices, and innovations in web development — all important to my growth in the SEO space.

-Rach

SEO Update: Google Authorship Removes Photos and Circle Counts from SERPs

When Google news hits the wire the SEO community tends to erupt in two extremes on the emotional scale: the low notes (depression, frustration, fits of rage) or the high notes (happiness, excitement, intense hysteria). So when John Mueller announced on his Google+ that Google was removing the profile photos and circle count associated with Google Authorship from their search results I was more interested in the reaction from my fellow marketeers (because, really, people can be so hilarious and ridiculous). [Check out Moz’s take on the recent development.]

Some of my favorite reactions ranged from “authorship will cease to exist” to “I will miss my hot blurry selfie” to “Google+ will be next” to “IT’S THE END OF SEO AS WE KNOW IT!” OK, I made the last one up. OK, I made them all up.

Let’s wade through the emotional shit storm and look at the facts.

1. Remember the phrase “content is king”? Well, it’s still as true today as it was pre-announcement. Glamour shot, blurry photo or no photo, if your headlines and descriptions aren’t interesting, people won’t read your articles. This goes back to Google’s and Matt Cutt’s multiple claims that quality content is most important for the end-user experience. A photo might help prove you’re a real person, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an authority, and you may “steal” clicks from a more reputable source.

2. It was never guaranteed that the photo element of Google Authorship would work at all. Personally, it never worked for me. I’m all for removing what’s broken. And who knows, maybe a better solution will make an appearance in the future?

3. Google Authorship is not dependent on Google+ activity. According to Mueller, you can have Authorship without being active on Google+. And, also according to Mueller, they will continue to support Authorship markup. So, because of basic math, removing photos does not equal the end of Google Authorship. Or the end of Google+. There are plenty of people on Google+ that are not SEO professionals or authors who use the site only for Google Authorship. And if you’re a marketing expert NOT on Google+, you probably won’t be taken seriously. So don’t jump ship just yet.

4. The claim Mueller is making states that this is because of design/UI enhancements, particularly on mobile devices. That’s more important than your face on the SERPs, in my opinion.

5. Google isn’t the only search engine in the vast sea we call the Internet. Have you heard of Bing’s Snapshot tool? Bing is climbing as a go-to search engine, so don’t discount it. Turn your focus away from Google for a quick minute and make sure you’re optimizing your site for Bing and other search engines as well.

bing-snapshot

Bing Snapshot Search Results

I’m curious, like the rest of the SEO world, to see how this affects site traffic. But it never worked for me, so I’ll have to take your word for it.

 

This post was paired with pork loin in the crock pot with some herbs, lima beans, and apple sauce. I was feeling lazy on this Monday morning.