Category Archives: Copywriting

8 tips to lower your site load time

Speed is a necessity in today’s online world.

Outside of SEO optimization, speed is a critical component to driving sales. A research report from the Aberdeen Groupuncovered that a mere one-second delay in load times resulted in 11 percent less page views, a 16 percent decrease in customer satisfaction and seven percent fewer conversions.

Moreover, retail giant Amazon found that every 100 milliseconds  it takes its site to load resulted in a one percent decrease in revenue.

While both stats are fairly old, it’s safe to say that Internet users have not grown more tolerant of slow loading sites. No matter how you cut it, if your site isn’t fast, consumers will find one that is.

Because of the demands that customers put on today’s online businesses, brands must do everything in their power to drop load times and increase conversions.

If you’re afraid that your website load times are costing you cash, check out these eight ways to create a faster website that is more likely to convert.

1. Optimize Your Images

More than half of all Google searches are now conducted on mobile devices. Fifty-three percent of those users will abandon a site that doesn’t load within three seconds.

While images make your site look appealing, they can be hell on load times because these account for the largest portion of a page’s downloadable byte space.

This makes image optimization a downright necessity. The best way to optimize your images is to ensure proper sizing and format is applied. Your goal is to retain the quality of the image while minimizing its size as much as possible.

Webmasters can achieve this by leveraging WordPress plugins like Smush Image Compression and Optimization.

2. Minimize HTTP Requests

Yahoo once reported that nearly 80 percent of a site’s load time is spent downloading the page’s components; images, scripts, CCS files, stylesheets, and other features. Before each can be acquired, however, an HTTP request must be made.

Basically, this means that the more any given webpage has going on, the longer it will take to load.

You can help to boost your site’s speed by cutting down on the number of on-screen elements, and combining various stylesheets, JavaScript libraries, etc.; this will effectively reduce the number of HTTP requests that are made.

3. Commission Compression

Anytime a site employs lots of high-quality content, its file sizes are going to be rather large and will slow download times.

For this reason, compressing webpages through zip is a necessary means for reducing load times.

Optimizing your site via compression is an easy way to save on bandwidth and speed up your website.

4. Please Mind Your Plugins

Plugins are an extremely popular method for adding additional functionality to webpages. While there is no limit on the number of plugins you can leverage, using too many can harm your site’s speed.

Many bloggers leverage Facebook or Twitter plugins to highlight their social feed directly from their website. While this is great for increasing social followings, it’s rather unnecessary as the same thing can be accomplished via coding.

In fact, Facebook’s developer page provides this code for site owners to leverage; a hassle-free way to speed up your site.

5. Keep Coding Agile

While we are on the topic of coding, it is vital to keep your HTML, JavaScript, and CSS code base as light as possible by compacting it into as few files as you can. This goes back to the HTTP request issue.

For example, if your site has three JavaScript files, it is vital to consolidate these into one so that only one HTTP request will be made. This is a legitimately effective way to cut down load times.

6. Leverage Caching

Caching is a fantastic way to speed up your site. This method temporarily stores webpages to reduce bandwidth and boost your site’s performance.

Using this technique, when a returning consumer arrives on your site, they will be served a cached version of the webpage; unless it has been altered or updated since the last cache.

By allowing browser caching, repeat visitors will have a much faster (and more satisfying) experience.

7. Ditch Ads that Don’t Convert

Another element that often slows down websites is too much affiliate code or too many display ads.

Since the click-through rate for banner ads hangs at around 0.01 percent, these likely aren’t serving your site or its visitors. Go through your site’s promotional portals and eliminate any that are failing to garner attention or drive goals.

8. Check Out a CDN

A CDN – or Content Delivery Network – is a network of servers that can deliver your site’s files (CSS, images, and JavaScript) through Web servers that are physically closer to the end-user’s location. The closer the server, the faster the load time.

Business owners can employ various CDN services like CloudflareFastly, or a variety of others for a nice boost in load times.

The goal of your website is likely to drive revenue. To do that, you need a sizable amount of traffic. The slower your site is, the higher the bounce rate, the lower it sinks in the SERPs, and the less traffic you have.

Take your site’s load times seriously because it can be a major deterrent for today’s users. While certain features may seem like an appealing addition, if they slow your site, no one will ever see them.

Leverage the eight tactics outlined above and you are likely to have a lightning fast website capable of driving conversions.

Which of these tips surprised you the most? What other ways do you employ for speedier load times?

Meta Tags in 2018: Why they are important in SEO

If you are interested in knowing more about SEO, there is no better way to start than with Meta tags. According to Wordstream: Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page’s content; the meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, but only in the page’s code.

In short, Meta tags are key components for all search engines that appear in the HTML code of a website page and tell search engines what your page is about.

Meta tags are added in the <head> section of an HTML web page and they are the “Legally” Hide Words on Your Pages for Search Engines.

Every platform has a different solution for adding Meta tags. WordPress, for example, has FREE plugins  to choose from. I personally recommend All in One SEO Packand Yoast SEO. Both are popular and the most used WordPress plugins of all time and you can choose either according to your needs.

Do Meta Tags matter for SEO in 2018?

Yes, they do, but not all  Meta tags can help you in 2018. In my experience, if you want to rank high in Google in 2018, then you also need to focus on high-quality content and user satisfaction. The main goal of this post is to explain which Meta tags are useful and which are unimportant. (See below: There are a few tags which we can call bad Meta tags and should simply be ignored).

“Meta Tags can affect the way that users see your site in the search results and whether or not they actually click through to your site.” John Mueller 2017

How to check meta tags on a site?

If you want to check the Meta tags for any page, just right-click anywhere on the page and select “View Page Source.” You can also use tools like SEMRush (specifically the SEMRush Audit Tool), and Screaming Frog to check the Meta tags on any site.

The Most Important Meta Tags For SEO in 2018

For any startup business or running website, I personally focus on the 8 major Meta tags which can improve the optimization of your site.

 I am sharing my opinions about them all below:

  1. Title tag
  2. Meta description
  3. Canonical Tag
  4. Alternative text (Alt) Tag
  5. Robots meta tag
  6. Social Media Meta Tags (Open Graph and Twitter Cards)
  7. Header tags  
  8. Responsive Design Meta Tag

Title tag

A title tag is the very first HTML element that specifies your web page for search engines and to visitors. The Title element is supported all browsers including Chrome, Firefox Safari etc. 

Add your title tag in the <head> section of your site.

<head>

<title>This is a Title Sample</title>

</head>

Optimal length for the Title tag: Google typically shows 55-64 characters (Keep it under 60 characters) in the Title tag.

Title tags are important for SEO and visitors and it shows up in the SERPs and in Browser Tabs.

Browser Tab Title Tag shown below for SEMrush post:

E.g. SERP Title Tag shown below:

According to MOZ: Title tags are the second most important on-page factor for SEO, after content

You cannot add more than one <title> element in your web page. w3schools

Key Points for writing a good title tag: 

  • Add “modifiers” to your title tag –
    How to |The current year | Review |Best | Tips | Top |Find | Buy | Easy
  • Embed Long Tail Keywords In Title Tags
  • Add numbers to your title –
    9 Important HTML tags for your website to improve your SEO
  • Start your title tag with your main targeted keyword
  • Don’t stuff your keywords
  • Every page should have a unique title tag.

Meta description 

A Meta Description is an HTML element that summarizes your webpage. Search engines typically show the Meta description in search results below your Title tag. 

Code sample

<head>

  <meta name=”description” content=”This is a meta description Sample. You can add up to 300 characters.”>

</head>

Google does not use the Meta description as a ranking signal but it still it has a massive effect on your page CTR, or clickthrough rate because it shows up in search results.

Optimal length for the Description tag: in December 2017, Google officially increases length of snippets in search results. Your Meta descriptions should be between 50–300 characters.

Google generated Description in Search Result

Key Points to writing a good Description tag:

  • Don’t overly focus on the number of characters because Google might pull description text from your content based on a user’s query.
  • Do not add duplicate Meta Descriptions
  • Add a clear Call-to-action (CTA) in your descriptions like Apply today, Check out, Contact us today etc. Check out  100 Call to Action Keywords for Marketing Campaigns.
  • Add targeted keywords in your descriptions
  • Strategically provide a solution to a problem 
  • Write for your users and encourage them to click with specific and relevant content 
  • Add any discounts or offers you have going on
  • Show empathy while writing your Meta Descriptions

 

Canonical Tag

The Canonical tag is an HTML link tag with the attribute “rel=canonical” and is used if you have a single page URL that has the same content as other multiple page URLS.

By implementing the Canonical tag in the code, we are telling search engines that this URL is the main page and to avoid indexing other duplicate page URLS.

A canonical tag Syntax:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/" />

Where should the canonical tag be used?

Multiple URLs: 

http://www.example.com 

https://www.example.com 

http://example.com 

http://example.com/index.php


To a search engine crawler the above URLs are considered to be 4 copies of the Home page. The canonical tag was created to fix this problem.

Session ID URLs

These are the automatic system generated URLS and commonly generated due to the tracking URLs, breadcrumb links and permalinks in CMS

http://example.com/properties/villa-331-luxury-rental?partnerID=18 

http://example.com/target.php?session_id=rj3ids98dhpa0mcf3jc89mq1t0 

Mobile URL – when using a special URL (m. example.com) for the mobile version of your website. 

SEMrush itself has 2 versions – one is a mobile version and the other a desktop version.
For the mobile and desktop versions SEMrush  is using the following canonical tag
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.semrush.com/” />

Alternative text (Alt) Tag  

Alt text is important for any images because search engines cannot read images, and you need to add proper Alt text to the images so that search engines can consider your images.

Syntax for Alt Text:

<img src=” http://example.com/xyz.jpg” alt=”xyz” />

In addition, the key points to consider while creating alt-tags for images:

  • Always use a proper description; never stuff your keywords in this tag.
  • All images should have informative filenames.
  • Alt text needs to be short, clear and to the point.
  • Always use the Original, Right type of image, as this is an essential step towards success.
  • Create an image sitemap
  • Use 50-55 characters (upto 16 words) in the alt text
  • Use an Optimal File Size without losing its quality for faster page loading speed

“Adding an alt tag is very easy to do and you should pretty much do it on all of your images. It helps your accessibility and it can help us understand what’s going on in your image.” Source

Robots Meta tag

The Robots Meta tag is an HTML tag that provides instructions to web crawlers either to index or not index web pages.

Meta robots tags have four main values for search engine crawlers:

FOLLOW –The search engine crawler will follow all the links in that webpage

INDEX –The search engine crawler will index the whole webpage

NOFOLLOW – The search engine crawler will NOT follow the page or any links on that webpage

NOINDEX – The search engine crawler will NOT index that webpage

Syntax

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,nofollow”>  Means not to index or not to follow this webpage.

<meta name=”robots” content=”index,follow”> Means index and follow this webpage.


Note: The robots Meta tag should be placed in the <head> section of your webpage.

Social Media Meta Tags (Open Graph and Twitter Cards)

Open Graph Tags:
Open Graph Meta tags are designed to promote integration between Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and your website URLS that you shared on these platforms. 

Here is a sample of how Open Graph tags look like in standard HTML:

<meta property="og:type" content="article" /> 

<meta property=”og:title” content=”TITLE OF YOUR POST OR PAGE” />

<meta property=”og:description” content=”DESCRIPTION OF PAGE CONTENT” />

<meta property=”og:image” content=”LINK TO THE IMAGE FILE” />

<meta property=”og:url” content=”PERMALINK” />

<meta property="og:site_name" content="SITE NAME" />

Twitter Cards: 

Twitter cards work in a similar way to Open Graph except you add these special Meta tags only for Twitter. Twitter will use these tags to enhance the display of your page when shared on their platform. 

Here is a sample of How Twitter card look like in standard HTML:

<meta name="twitter:title" content="TITLE OF POST OR PAGE">

<meta name=”twitter:description” content=”DESCRIPTION OF PAGE CONTENT”>

<meta name=”twitter:image” content=”LINK TO IMAGE”>

<meta name=”twitter:site” content=”@USERNAME”>

<meta name="twitter:creator" content="@USERNAME">


Both these Social Media Meta Tags look like:

Head over to this post if you want to know everything about these tags

Header tags


Header tags are used for headings creation i.e. by using these we can apply font changes.

The heading elements are H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 with H1 being the highest (or most important) level and H6 the least.

Here is an example of how we can use header tags taken from https://www.semrush.com/blog/9-tips-for-boosting-the-speed-of-your-shopify-website/ 

<h1> 9 Tips for Boosting the Speed of your Shopify Website </h1>

<p>Paragraph of content</p>

<p>another paragraph of content</p>

<h2>Performance Analysis</h2> 

<p>Paragraph of content</p>

<h3>Analyzes the Mobile and Desktop Performance with PageSpeed Insights</h3> 

Important Point to consider: Use as Many H1 Tags as You Want source

Responsive Design Meta Tag

The final important Meta tag is the responsive design Meta tag, which we call “Viewport Meta Element”. By using the viewport meta tag you can turn your web pages into responsive web pages on mobile browsers.

This viewport element is included in the head section of your web page.

Syntax

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width,initial-scale=1">

If you want to learn more about responsive design Meta tags, head over to this nicely written post here

Note: Do not use this responsive Meta tag if your website pages are not designed to be responsive, as it will make the user experience worse.

There are few tags that we can call bad Meta tags and should simply be ignored:

  • Keywords tag- Google does not use the keywords Meta tag in web ranking Source
  • Revisit after – This HTML tag is a command to the robots to return to a page after a specific period. This tag is not followed by any major search engine and has no value in SEO. It isbetter to avoid this tag and leave it to the search engines to decide how to crawl your website. Syntax: <meta name=”revisit-after” content=”7 days” />
  • Expiration/date – This tag defines the expiration date of your page. Personally I would not recommend this. Just remove it.  Syntax: <meta http-equiv=”Expires” content=”Fri, 28 April 2018 23:59:59 GMT”>
  • Site verification- Just Ignore this. You can verify your site using Google search console and the Bing webmaster tool.
  • Copyright- Every site puts the copyright in their web page footer so why would you need a separate tag. A big No for this tag.
  • Distribution – The “distribution” value is supposedly used to control who can access the document, typically set to “global.” It’s inherently implied that if the page is open (not password-protected, like on an intranet) that it’s meant for the world. Go with it, and leave the tag off the page. Source
  • Generator – useless tag.
  • Cache control –This Tag allows web publishers to define how often a page is cached. Generally, these are not required; we can simply use the HTTP header instead of this HTML tag.
  • The ODP Robots Meta Tag – Google no longer follows this Meta tag. 


Google Stops Support for NOODP Robots Directive & Taking DMOZ Description –Source

  • Geo Meta Tags- Google does not use Geo Meta Tags to Rank Pages.


We don’t use geo meta tags at all for search, probably never have. Use hreflang + normal geotargeting – Source

So, these are the few HTML tags which we should consider or simply ignore. Now you can easily use the relevant HTML Meta tags intelligently. Don’t forget to comment below and share your views on HTML Tags. Thanks for reading.

How to choose keywords that really matter

Unlike PPC ads, organic traffic is the gift that keeps on giving. When you diminish your PPC budget, your traffic goes away. When it comes to SEO and content marketing, though, things are much better.

Sure, a website that’s updated infrequently won’t get you too far. But once you’ve gained a solid domain authority and created an editorial calendar that you stick to, the traffic is yours to have and to hold.

Evergreen content has, of course, the biggest ROI in terms of traffic, says this study. It turn out that only one-third of all the views a good blog post will get are generated in the first day (the publish date). The rest of them will come gradually, even over the course of more than one year.

So yes, we can get traffic with content marketing and SEO. But the most important question is not “how much traffic can we get?” It’s “what does this traffic bring us?”

If you’ve read my previous posts here, on Site Pro News, you already know that I advocate against vanity metrics. Who cares about having millions of page views if none of those visitors converts into a client?

For my agency, as well as for every client we work with on copywriting or strategy, we ignore such metrics and focus on what matters: revenue.

And, in SEO, there is no revenue without proper keyword research.

Let me explain:

One of the examples I’m most fond of is that of a client who contacted me after reading one of my articles here. The client needed SEO copywriting for a local business in a small town and wanted to optimize both content and blog posts for generic keywords (like ‘wedding dresses,’ for instance).

We quickly realized the client had little chance of competing with the big names in the industry (which is, obviously, not related to wedding dresses). So we proposed a locally-oriented strategy instead. We were to optimize for keywords like “ivory wedding dress Tampa,” “wedding dress boutique Tampa,” “custom-made wedding dresses Tampa” and so on.

The results appeared in a few short months. And by results I mean revenue, not just traffic.

Here are a few key lessons we can learn from this example:

User intent should be at the core of your keyword research

Before writing even a single word, you need to know to whom your copy should appeal. What type of customers are your targeting and in which phase of their buying cycle do you want to target them?

For instance, optimizing your content for ‘wedding dresses’ targets clients who still don’t know what they want. They might not even have a date set. But who doesn’t like looking at pretty dresses?

This strategy is excellent if you’re a big company in your field and you want to boost your brand awareness. If you already have enough sales and don’t need customers right now, then by all means, optimize for generic keywords.

On the other hand, a query like “ivory wedding dress Tampa” shows that the customers know what they want. They are very close to making a purchase; they are past the window shopping phase.

This type of keyword strategy is ideal if you want clients faster. You appeal to people that you no longer have to educate – they are savvy shoppers. All you have to do is convince them to choose you over your competitors.

Of course, highly targeted keywords won’t bring you as much traffic as generic ones. But they will bring you the right type of traffic.

This is why I always advise our clients to forget about search volume when choosing keywords. Our SEO writers are trained to look for business opportunities whenever they do keyword research for our clients. Fifty queries per month that you can easily direct to your website and convert into customers or (at least) leads are better than 1,000 queries that have no tangible ROI.

Know your competitors

Before you start writing copy for a certain keyword, you should consider more than the Yoast green light. Yes, your WordPress plugin may say your on-page SEO is done correctly, but this doesn’t really matter if you’re up against Internet giants.

At my agency, we rely heavily on tools like BuzzSumo and Moz Explorer to find out what it takes to rank for certain keywords. Your research can start on BuzzSumo to find out which pages rank highest for the keywords you have in mind. Repeat the search in Moz Explorer to double-check your findings. Moz Explorer will also tell you how hard it is to rank for any given keyword.

However, please note that the ranking difficulty is a generic metric. It’s not specific to your website.

This is where another Moz tool comes into place – the Open Site Explorer. Type your website address to check your domain and page authority. Then do the same for the websites you want to outrank.

Do they have higher authority than you?

Then you will have to work harder to outrank them. This means more content, long form blog posts, impeccable technical SEO and a lot of content promotion.

The best part about this is, once again, that it is an investment that will keep on giving. The more long form, well-optimized content you add, the better your page and domain authority will get in time. And, consequently, you will rank higher in SERPs.

Make revenue-oriented calculations

Login to your Google Search Console, navigate to ‘Search Analytics’ (you’ll find it under ‘Search Traffic’) and select the 90 days time frame. Filter your branded results. If your company name is ‘Executive Puppies,’ filter all those that contain it.

Next, export your search terms. You will have a complete overview of the terms you rank for, your CTR and your ranking for each of them.

And now, for the hard part: take a look at those who could rank better. How much effort would it be involved in adding more content to certain articles or pages to help them rank higher?

Most importantly, what ROI will this effort have? Sure, you’ll get more clicks, but will you actually get sales if you rank higher for certain terms?

Make sure to not spread yourself too thin and only invest in those terms that are congruent with the user intent you need, the one that supports your business goals i.e. boost brand awareness or generate sales or leads.

Conclusions

No one doubts that content marketing and SEO yield results. But we should always avoid falling for vanity metrics. Organic traffic is great, but it should be your end goal only if your blog runs AdSense (and you get paid for views, not clicks).

Otherwise, keep in mind that your SEO and content marketing strategies should always be designed to support your business goals. Always go back to your buyer persona template and ask yourself how can you match the type of query they would enter in the search bar.

3 powerfull ways to drive traffic from Reddit

If you have an Internet connection, you probably know what Reddit is.

For those who don’t know much about this edgy community, Reddit is a multilingual social news and entertainment platform that calls itself “the front page of the Internet.”

Reddit is the eighth most popular website in the world, according to Alexa, drives roughly 1.5 billion unique visits a month, and houses more than 250 million active members.

When leveraged correctly, Reddit can be an incredibly powerful source for driving massive amounts of traffic to your website. For instance, Eddy Arza was able to increase his site’s daily visitors from 41 to 4,266 literally overnight. Similarly, Ryan Stewart was able to grow his traffic by 33 percent  by learning the ins and outs of the platform.

It is extremely necessary to become familiar with how Reddit works before you start trying to plug your brand because the community’s members (called Redditors) are sometimes known for ruthless behavior; particularly toward outsiders.

Part of why Reddit is such an effective tool for increasing blog readership, sales, and overall traffic, however, is that the site is essentially one massive aggregator.

For the most part, Redditors submit outbound links to various niche communities called subreddits. There are a seemingly infinite number of subreddits, so I’ll cover this more in a bit.

Before we dive into how to drive traffic from Reddit to your site, a quick public service announcement:

You Must Participate Before Plugging!

The first step to leveraging Reddit is the most vital and the most time-consuming: You must participate within communities – a lot – before posting anything about your brand or website.

Truthfully, Reddit hates marketing.

If you just create a new account and try to promote your site, prepare to be eaten alive. Redditors are notoriously suspicious of new accounts and they can sniff out an advertisement like digital bloodhounds.

To gain the trust of Redditors, you need to start off by posting relevant (non-promotional) materials and engaging in various discussions.

Here are three ways to leverage Reddit to drive tons of traffic to your website.

1. Engage the Right Subreddits

As stated earlier, Reddit has tons of niche communities called subreddits.

While not all will be relevant to your cause, you are likely to find dozens that are. Before you start targeting specific communities, however, ask yourself:

  • What is my target audience interested in?
  • What is my expertise?
  • What value can I provide potential followers?

The answers to these questions will help you develop a blueprint in selecting which communities to join. If you fail to conduct this short exercise, you’re more likely to join subreddits that don’t provide you much value to you, and vice versa.

While this may seem to conflict with the above paragraph, you may also want to consider some smaller, more overlooked communities as these folks tend to be highly engaged. This is the exact strategy that Gfycat used to build its audience and become the largest user-generated GIF platform in the world in a mere two years.

To find subreddits that will be valuable for your brand, search relevant keywords that your audience would use to find information about product or service like yours. For instance, if you run a gaming blog, you might join the r/Games subreddit whose goal is to, “. . . provide a place for informative and interesting gaming content and discussions.”

Depending on what your brand does, you might want to join subreddits that are a little more marketing-friendly such as r/dealswhere you can post discounts, coupon codes, and all sorts of other offerings for savvy consumers.

2. Use Reddit As a Source for Content Creation

Content is one of the top Google ranking factors. While creating a wealth of great content is necessary, it certainly isn’t easy.

Reddit provides content marketers with an endless pool of inspiration for great content. By engaging in conversations and mining comment threads for hot topics, pain points, curiosities, etc., business owners can gain an abundance of quality topics to write about and then post back to those same communities, effectively driving traffic to their site.

Additionally, there are often individuals within subreddits who share interesting insights or perspectives on certain topics. Depending on how informative the individual seems, you might want to consider reaching out to them for a podcast or interview that you later craft into a blog post.

Alternately, businesses can uncover some common themes of what users desire and run content within a subreddit, driving traffic to a dedicated landing page on their site. Prizes should be relevant to the community’s wants and needs. You could offer products or services from your business, Reddit Gold, or various other payoffs.

Before utilizing this tactic, however, be sure to reach out to the subreddit’s moderators and gain their approval. Otherwise, you could be banned from the community.

3. Host an AMA Session

This strategy should be saved for after you have developed something of a name for yourself within the subreddits you subscribe to so that users know who you are and that you have value to offer.

AMA stands for Ask Me Anything. AMA’s are essentially interviews where the whole of the reddit community can ask you, well, anything.

These are often a prime opportunity to share information about your business without coming off too promotional.

The key to these group conversations is to provide the community with lots of in-depth, valuable knowledge. Think about things like behind-the-scenes stories, struggles and solutions that most would never consider and other intimate details that only an industry insider would know.

For an Ask Me Anything session, you can target the dedicated AMA subreddit, or you can simply conduct it within one of the subreddits you subscribe to — most will allow for these types of conversations.

Holding the talk within a subreddit that is relevant to your audience might be the best option. This increases the likelihood that you’ll have an interested and engaged audience.

Reddit is a goldmine for generating awareness and traffic for your website. Familiarize yourself with the platform, its lingo, and interact with the right groups before promoting your brand. If you do this prior to leveraging the tactics listed above, you stand a far greater chance of achieving the outcome you desire.

What is your favorite method for driving traffic from Reddit? What subreddits have you found most engaging for your business?

5 tips for positive, large-scale SEO changes

Search engine optimization, at its core, is the process of optimizing webpages and content offerings to make it easily accessible for search engines and its users, in accordance with predetermined ranking factors. To implement successful alterations, webmasters enact specific changes to individual pages or to content management systems.

These alterations target areas of the site like URL structures, headings, various tags, and keyword density. The goal is to improve the relevance of each page for a set of words or phrases.

The process of achieving successful, large-scale SEO changes for a sizable website isn’t that much different than working with smaller destinations. The idea is the same: Update the backend to reflect current best practices, create unique and relevant content, and engender a better overall user experience.

If you aren’t sure how to make large-scale SEO changes successfully, use these five tips as your guidelines.

1. Create More Value

Adding more value to your site may sound simple, but in practice it may prove a bit more challenging.

Creating more value does not simply mean pumping out more content. To add more worth to your site, it is imperative that you intimately understand your audience.

Through the greater understanding of your audience’s likes, wants and needs, additional, optimized content can be developed.

Here are some simple ways to establish how to add more value to your site:

  • Analyze your content using tools like Buzzsumo to find the most popular topics.
  • Survey your fans and followers to uncover questions they need answered.
  • Expand your content offerings into peripheral categories that are still relevant to your audience’s needs.

2. Invest More Time in Your Content

As we have learned from algorithm changes like Penguin and Hummingbird, Google cares more about the effectiveness of your content and less about its optimization.

This means that you can do all the optimizing you want, but if your content is not appealing or doesn’t contain relevant answers to searched queries, your efforts will be in vain.

SEO has changed from targeting keywords to addressing user intent. Through this lens, webmasters must ensure their content is centered on what search engine users seek to uncover when searching your brand, or the terms that might be associated with it.

3. Optimize Your Site’s Visuals

Visual content, particularly video, is more popular than ever; which also means that it’s more important for brands to create or host than ever. Visual content is much more engaging for consumers and can serve to supplement or replace text in various places.

Visual content also can affect SEO in significant ways, assuming it is optimized properly. Many marketers and site owners forget or outright neglect optimizing visual content for search engines. Fortunately, however, the process is rather simple and only takes a few minutes.

The first thing you’ll want to do is add a relevant title that leverages an applicable keyword targeted for that page. Moreover, add applicable alt text, metadata, and other keywords.

It is important to pay attention to the file’s size as well because this can slow down your site’s load times and have an adverse impact on your rankings. If you are hosting videos on your website, add a transcript — it will likely be packed with keywords that can boost your site’s SEO.

4. Create a Stellar User Experience

Google is pretty much obsessed with creating the best user experience possible for its users and expects webmasters to do the same.

User experience (UX) is a critical component to SEO, thus continually testing various elements of your site’s experience should be a priority for your business; especially on large-scale sites where many things can go wrong.

When optimizing your website’s user experience be sure to:

  • Test all of your site’s links and fix any that appear to be broken. The Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool is excellent for such tasks.
  • Consider your content’s visual appeal and readability for users and search engine spiders.
  • Verify that all navigational elements work properly and are intuitive.
  • Test your site’s load times using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
  • Consider experimenting with Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages to possibly receive a boost in speed and rankings. This is likely to become more important with the mobile-first indexunderway.

5. Ensure the Entirety of Your Web Presence is Current

Many marketers and business owners tend to overlook how far beyond a dedicated website a brand’s online existence goes. For instance, many businesses will opt to try out a new social platform, only to realize that it isn’t fruitful for its goals and abandon its profile.

While not sticking with social media sites that don’t work for your brand is fine, you do need to keep them up-to-date with your business’ current information.

This means making sure your brand’s website, address, phone number, and other pertinent details are all current so that users don’t have any trouble interacting with your brand or finding your site.

Even after you have implemented all of the above advice, your job is not done. The truth is, it will never be. SEO is an ever-changing process that is constantly in flux. Outside of its fickle nature, you can always find further improvements to make on your site.

Commit to continually learning and evolving alongside SEO best practices, and your rankings will reflect your efforts in the long-term.

What are your biggest hurdles with large-scale SEO changes?

How to master copywriting for SEO

In 2018, you need to understand copywriting and SEO– and a whole lot more – to write content that will rank well and return a great ROI.

If you have a head for marketing, UX and research, too, you’ll be in a commanding position. As our discipline evolves in response to a changing search engine landscape, demarcation lines become blurred, and it’s been difficult not to venture into featured snippets, schema and other on-page aspects of SEO.

Instead, with proper focus, you’ll need to know about your audience and how they’ll read your content, what they will be looking for, the continuing role of high quality, in-depth content, where offline historic copywriting skills still live on today, why you should still be using key phrases, and why structure is important.

How will your audience read your content in 2018?

Google’s recent announcement of the first set of sites being migrated to mobile-first indexing reflects the fact that the majority of searches worldwide are carried out on mobile devices. My direct experience is that the move to mobile is very much in the B2C space; less so in B2B, where people are still at their desks with their laptops or desktops.

And then, we see the start of an explosion in voice search and devices – our smartphones and home devices from Google, Amazon and Apple – reading content to us.

Of course, we’re still seeing how voice pans out, and its implications for SEO copywriting, but I’d say if you stick to simple language and shorter sentences within a well-structured piece (think about making the main points right up front in case the listener’s attention wanders).

High-quality, in-depth content

However your audience interacts with your work, it needs to be excellent. Make your content unique, high quality and written to professional standards. Google will reward you. Buying 300-500 spun monstrosities, while never being a great thing, had better not even pass through your mind today. They’ll kill your SEO and content marketing ambitions stone dead.

While we’re thinking about copy lengths, one popular strategy recently has been to write a longer piece than those above you in the rankings. Theirs is 2,000 words? Then leapfrog them by writing 2,500!

Of course, it’s not as simple as that. Take a look at the webpages above you in the SERPs. How good are they? Are they well-written? Do they answer the questions customers are asking? Do they understand searcher intent and how to respond to it?

If the 2,000-worder in your sights fails on any or all of these factors, you may be able to kick the ball out of the park with a shorter, tighter, laser-targeted 1,500-worder.

Writing shorter pieces for mobile’s smaller screens may be tempting. Don’t, though. You’ll lose out to those more extensive pieces, written without such an artificial restriction. Instead, leave it to your UX people, designers and developers to get the presentation right.

Write for people

Now that Google can understand the words on a page, you have to raise your writing game. Get your grammar and stylistic chops up with the best and Google should reward you for it. But don’t forget your audience. Deliver them precisely what they’re looking for.

Before you start writing, ask yourself:

  • Who is your audience?
  • Where is their pain?

Put yourself in their mind; imagine how they will react to your content.

You may want to go the whole hog and spend time developing Personas. Personally, I’m happy to use them if there’s the budget and someone else to do most of the donkey work. Otherwise, I find I can usually visualize the target group more easily than the series of sometimes-unconvincing individuals that can come out of the Persona-building exercise.

Bridging the offline past with the online present

Let’s see how the long-established rules of copywriting work in today’s SEO copywriting environment.

  • Do your research: Advertising industry king, David Ogilvy, stressed the fundamental importance of research in producing great copy some 50 years ago – decades before the age of keyword research or the internet. Don’t you forget the keyword research, though – more on that later .
  • Write an attention-grabbing headline based on related key phrases from your research.
  • Involve the reader further with subheads – don’t skimp on them, either.
  • Make it easy for the reader: In addition to inserting subheads, write in short paragraphs and short sentences. And ensure you put spaces between paragraphs.
  • Calls to action: No matter how good your copy, you’ll need a CTA to see the full return on your investment, through sign-ups, purchases or other goal fulfilments.
  • Treat editing as separate from writing: Get some time between the two processes and see your work with new eyes. If you’re writing more than a couple of screens of copy, consider printing out your work. You’ll see it entirely differently.
  • Get someone else to read your work: They’ll notice your mistakes and pick out where you’re unclear.

Are keywords still relevant to SEO in 2018?

What a useless article! Anyone worth their salt in the SEO industry knows that a blinkered focus on keywords in 2018 is a recipe for disaster

.

Sure, I couldn’t agree with you more, but when you dive into the subject it uncovers some interesting issues.

If you work in the industry you will no doubt have had the conversation with someone who knows nothing about SEO, who subsequently says something along the lines of:

“SEO? That’s search engine optimization. It’s where you put your keywords on your website, right?”

Extended dramatic sigh. Potentially a hint of aloof eye rolling.

It is worth noting that when we mention ‘keywords’ we are referring to exact match keywords, usually of the short tail variety and often high-priority transactional keywords.

To set the scene, I thought it would be useful to sketch out a polarized situation:

Side one:
Include your target keyword as many times as possible in your content. Google loves the keywords*. Watch your website languish in mid table obscurity and scratch your head wondering why it ain’t working, it all seemed so simple.

(*not really)

Side two:
You understand that Google is smarter than just counting the amount of keywords that exactly match a search. So you write for the user…..creatively, with almost excessive flair. Your content is renowned for its cryptic and subconscious messaging.

It’s so subconscious that a machine doesn’t have a clue what you’re talking about. Replicate results for Side One. Cue similar head scratching.

Let’s start with side one. White Hat (and successful) SEO is not about ‘gaming’ Google, or other search engines for that matter. You have to give Doc Brown a call and hop in the DeLorean back to the early 2000s if that’s the environment you’re after.

Search engines are focused on providing the most relevant and valuable results for their users. As a by product they have, and are, actively shutting down opportunities for SEOs to manipulate the search results through underhanded tactics.

What are underhanded tactics? I define them by tactics that don’t provide value to the user; they are only employed to manipulate the search results.

Here’s why purely focusing on keywords is outdated
Simply put, Google’s search algorithm is more advanced than counting the amount of keyword matches on a page. They’re more advanced than assessing keyword density as well. Their voracious digital Panda was the first really famous update to highlight to the industry that they would not accept keyword stuffing.

Panda was the first, but certainly not the last. Since 2011 there have been multiple updates that have herded the industry away from the dark days of keyword stuffing to the concept of user-centric content.

I won’t go into heavy detail on each one, but have included links to more information if you so desire:

Hummingbird, Latent Semantic Indexing and Semantic Search
Google understands synonyms; that was relatively easy for them to do. They didn’t stop there, though. Hummingbird helps them to understand the real meaning behind a search term instead of the keywords or synonyms involved in the search.

RankBrain
Supposedly one of the three most important ranking factors for Google. RankBrain is machine learning that helps Google, once again, understand the true intent behind a search term.

All of the above factors have led to an industry that is focused more on the complete search term and satisfying the user intent behind the search term as opposed to focusing purely on the target keyword.

As a starting point, content should always be written for the user first. Focus on task completion for the user, or as Moz described in their White Board Friday ‘Search Task Accomplishment’. Keywords (or search terms) and associated phrases can be included later if necessary, more on this below.

Writing user-centric content pays homage to more than just the concept of ranking for keywords. For a lot of us, we want the user to complete an action, or at the very least return to our website in the future.

Even if keyword stuffing worked (it doesn’t), you might get more traffic but would struggle to convert your visitors due to the poor quality of your content.

So should we completely ignore keywords?
Well, no, and that’s not me backtracking. All of the above advice is legitimate. The problem is that it just isn’t that simple. The first point to make is that if your content is user centric, your keyword (and related phrases) will more than likely occur naturally.

You may have to play a bit of a balancing act to make sure that you don’t up on ‘Side Two’ mentioned at the beginning of this article. Google is a very clever algorithm, but in the end it is still a machine.

If your content is a bit too weird and wonderful, it can have a negative impact on your ability to attract the appropriate traffic due to the fact that it is simply too complex for Google to understand which search terms to rank your website for.

This balancing act can take time and experience. You don’t want to include keywords for the sake of it, but you don’t want to make Google’s life overly hard. Experiment, analyse, iterate.

Other considerations for this more ‘cryptic’ content is how it is applied to your page and its effect on user experience.

5 Powerful Tips For SEO On A Budget

 

In  my early days as a marketer, I used to dream about having an unlimited budget to implement all my ideas. OK, let me be honest: I still do that sometimes. I do it for my own digital marketing agency, Idunn, as well as for clients whose businesses I truly believe in.

But unlimited budgets are just that: a dream.

Even the biggest corporations in the world have a limited budget (albeit the limit is quite high).

So I snap out of it and work on coming up with the best strategies within the budget our clients or I have.

And you know what?

It’s actually quite rewarding!

I love looking back on how much we managed to achieve with so little. We work with a lot of bootstrapping startups, so we actually have a knack for making things work on a tight budget.

SEO on a budget is by far one of the most challenging and common issues of small and medium-sized companies. But it doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

5 tips for excellent SEO results on a budget

Let’s take a look on how we can maximize optimization even with budget constraints.

1. Take a close look at your keyword strategy

I wrote a lot about choosing the right keywords here, but let me summarize this for you: try to go for keywords that are both easy to rank for and relevant for your business.

Here’s an example: it’s hard to rank for “hotel in Paris”, but you can rank for “hotel near the Eiffel tower” much easier. This comes with the added bonus of sending you qualified leads aka the people who are most likely to book your hotel.

Granted, you will get less visitors than if you rank for “best hotel in Paris”. But the strategy above won’t cost you an arm and a leg. And, after all, why should you care about the visitors who don’t turn into customers anyway?

2. Make sure all your information is correct

This is vital for local businesses, but also very important for any type of company. Make sure that your address, phone number, email address, contact person and ZIP code are identical on every platform you use, from Yelp to Facebook and your own website.

Make a Google My Business listing for an added bonus. This way, when people near you search for your products or services, Google will return your page as a result.

3. Write for humans

Yes, keywords are important. But not as important as keeping your readers engaged. If you take a look at the 17 factors that impact ranking, you will see that most of them speak about a great user experience.

Bounce rate, source of traffic, time spent on page and many others indicate that an unnatural writing style will chase off your visitors.

This not 2010. Google bots now understand user intent. And, thanks to innovations like Alexa and Siri, search has become more conversational.

A user is more likely to search “how do I make a chocolate cake from scratch” than “chocolate cake” today. That’s because they also know that the latter search may send them to a bakery shop. If users get specific, you have no reason not to.

4. Outsource SEO tasks

I know what you’re thinking: outsourcing means paying. And we’re on a tight budget, remember?

Of course I do!

But the kind of writing that gets you on the good side of search engines isn’t embodied by 500-word blog posts anymore. You need to go long form and in-depth. This means tons of research and a lot of time spent putting together memorable and informative pieces of 1500+ words.

And time is money. If you get this done in house, you are still paying an employee for it.

Most of the copywriting clients we work with say the same thing: it’s much cheaper to outsource to a reliable agency than to pay a full-time employee for it. Plus, it’s more easily scalable. When your budget runs out, you can pull the plug or limit your investment in content – without firing anyone.

5. Optimize and link everything

It’s quite common to have a superbly optimized blog post and forget about the smaller things. Meta descriptions, alt tags, image tags and more are equally important.

They tell Google bots that your content is relevant for the keyword you chose more clearly than an extra paragraph in your copy.

The same goes for linking. If you’re on a budget and links from other domains are an issue, make sure you do a lot of inbound linking.

It’s perfectly free and incredibly powerful. Whenever you write a new blog post, link to some of your previous ones. Ideally, the anchor text should be the same as the keyword of the article in question.

This is how you signal to search engines that your article is relevant for a certain keyword. The more links to it, the better its ranking.

Conclusion

Great SEO is not something that happens overnight. It’s something that you have to work on continuously. Even if you had an unlimited budget, you’d still have to constantly add new texts and review your links.

The key here is being patient. It may take you a while to see tangible results, but they will come if your work is up to par.

Whatever you do, don’t try black-hat techniques. It may be appealing to hire someone who promises to help you rank on the first position for the most competitive of keywords for a measly $200. But you won’t be ranking high for more than a week! After that, Google will bury your website so deep that you’ll have to buy a new domain in order to get another chance at visibility

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