3 Easy-to-Fix SEO Mistakes Your Business Blog Makes

Does content still remain king?

Yes.

But any king who does their job well has numerous advisors helping them.

To do its job well, content still needs help from SEO. You don’t simply crank out some “good content” every month and get amazing rankings.

That helps you with SEO.

But you’re missing out on some nice gains if you don’t do these things:

  1. No Keyword Optimization

Yes, Google still needs keyword optimization in 2017. And it always will.

Google needs some way to identify where your content should rank. And it has no problem when you use keywords to help it understand that.

The big change between Google now and the Google of the past is how you do SEO.

Blog posts and web pages need the focus keyword in their title. It can’t be obvious.

That keyword, and variations of it, need to appear in your content 1-2x. You can possibly do it slightly more frequently than that.

That’s it. But, that can make a huge difference because you may have the ability to rank for a particular keyword and get more search traffic from that ranking.

Otherwise, Google may simply rank you how it wants. And possibly, you’ll never hit the top 5 for the keywords it chooses. That means less or no traffic. And a dent in sales.

  1. No Strategic Internal Linking

Besides helping your users navigate to areas of your website they’ll find useful, internal links also boost your SEO.

The “link juice” from external links points to your website’s pages. On each of your pages, you have a few links. They get some of that juice, and then they pass that juice on to the pages they link to.

You can do internal linking strategically to pass link juice to pages you want to rank high.

You’ll also want to optimize the anchor text of your internal links with various keywords you want to rank for.

  1. You Don’t Optimize Your Videos or Images

This still gets over looked. Images have “alt text.” This tag gives info on the image. It’s an appropriate place to put your keywords. These keywords display if the image fails to load for whatever reason. And they also improve your SEO too.

With videos, put them all in a single directory on your web server and create a site map. This makes it easy for search engines to find and index them.

Videos also have a “meta description,” where it’s natural to insert a keyword or two.

See?

None of these tips are hard. Or time-consuming.

With them in your arsenal, you’ll get better rankings for more phrases. And that leads to customers and sales.

3 Best Practices to Make Your Internal Links Your SEO Secret Weapon

Think of “SEO” for a second.

What comes to mind?

Keywords. Backlinks. Content…

Those are all extremely important. But the humble internal link, one from your own site to another page on your site, often gets overlooked.

Why?

Honestly, I don’t know.

But internal links undoubtedly have a huge effect on your search rankings too. Once they get juice from external links, their owner power is amplified to a massive degree.

How do you get the most from your internal links? That I do have the answers to. And they go like this: 

(1) Internal Links Always Focus on User Experience (UX) First

The best SEO gets your visitors to what they want fast. They want to learn more about a topic, or research your product or service for potential purchase.

Whatever your search listing’s title happens to be, the resource visitors arrive at must deliver on what your title promises.

Internal links can be used to answer further questions users have. They can also drive users to product or service pages that try to sell (if users originally land on a blog post or report, for example).

When users have good experiences on your website, they stay longer, come back, and link to you.

Internal links indirectly drive SEO value this way.

Compare that to an internal link that’s just present for SEO purposes. It shows up in the first paragraph of a blog post where users aren’t yet ready to buy or learn more.

They’re confused. Or annoyed. They don’t click on it.

Yeah, you get SEO value. But not as much as you would if you waited until the end of the post to promote your service.

(2) Use Internal Links to Drive SEO Value to Pages You Want to Rank Most

While user experience is your first concern, you can more directly drive SEO value by linking to pages you want to rank most.

You can do this easily, and naturally, from your blog.

Focus on that word “naturally.”

Why?

Because, say you link to your service page from every single blog post. That looks “unnatural” to your users and search engines.

You won’t get as many clicks or as much love from the search engines. But, link to your service pages from a few posts, where it makes sense, and you have a natural fit.

Users don’t notice anything unusual. And neither do search engines.

By controlling the SEO value flow in this way, you give exact website pages greater opportunity to rank high.

(3) Optimize Internal Links for Your Keywords

With external links, you should only optimize the anchor text on 1 in 100 links. And it’s fine if you do it 0 times.

Google just does not like it much at all.

But with internal links, Google doesn’t mind you doing this. So go ahead and do it to get a little more out of your internal links.

Internal links may not get the attention they deserve. But that’s no problem for you.

And now that you have this information…you’re a big problem for your competitors.

What You Need to Know about Google’s Mobile-First Update

It’s coming soon…

At least this time, Google told you.

With most updates, you have no clue they’re hitting. Then, all of a sudden, you realize your rankings have tanked.

What happened?

Usually a Google update.

But Google’s made no secret of this one. Its Mobile-First update will happen. And it’s going to be a big change.

What Will the Mobile-First Update Do?

Google’s ultimate goal is to have one search index based on how your site serves mobile users. However, these search results will be served to both mobile and desktop users.

People search more on their mobile devices than desktop or laptop. So from a logical standpoint, the update makes sense.

If You Have a Responsive Site, Are You Already Prepared?

Possibly. But maybe not.

Mobile users may like your website, but that doesn’t guarantee Google will too.

Your site may look good on mobile devices. But that’s not exactly what Google looks for.

For example, people may look at your website on a variety of screen sizes. Smartphones come with many screen sizes. Tablets have a variety of sizes. Then you have laptops and desktops too.

Smart corporations design a unique experience for their mobile users. The branding is similar so the site remains recognizable. However, it’s a different experience.

That’s what you do in an ideal world.

Make Your content Easy to Read

Paragraphs should have about 3 sentences in them at maximum.

One-sentence paragraphs are totally okay, and you should include them throughout your content.

Your content should still include images. However, they should be scaled down from their original size for two reasons:

  1. So they don’t eat up the whole screen on a mobile device
  2. They’ll load faster, which gives your users a better experience

Diversify Your Traffic Sources

Although Google’s much better at punishing and rewarding sites as they justly deserve, it’s not perfect. Sometimes, you can follow all the rules with perfect intent and still get whacked.

You don’t always know exactly what Google will want. And they can make changes faster than you can adjust.

Using other traffic sources, besides organic traffic, is just sound business. These could include:

  • Social media
  • PPC
  • Video marketing
  • In-person marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Online review sites

You have plenty of opportunity to win traffic and keep driving it from non-organic sources.

When you follow these tips, the mobile-first update doesn’t have to be a nerve-racking experience.

Why The SEO Data You See is Wrong

Data-driven?

Everyone is.

…But what data are you looking at?

That determines how well you do going forward.

And unfortunately, another problem is that even when you have a super-smart SEO on your side, they’re still working from flawed, imprecise data. Because, it’s impossible to pull accurate data in many cases.

For example, Google used to show you the exact keywords that referred traffic to your website. Today, over 90% of that data gets hidden behind a phrase called “(not provided).”

Smart SEOs know how to get around this. But only to a degree. You simply can’t get all the data that Google formerly provided for free.

Groupon Conducted a Test to See What “Direct Traffic” Means

Google has a traffic source in Google Analytics called “Direct” traffic. Theoretically, this was supposed to mean people who typed your URL into their browser and hit “enter.”

However, Groupon wasn’t convinced by this explanation from Google. So they did something rather shocking and de-indexed themselves from Google.

Of course, traffic sank. But surprisingly, they also noticed a big dip in traffic going to their Deal pages.

Why is that such a big deal?

Those pages had long URLs…the kind you wouldn’t remember off the top of your head and type in. They found up to 60% of “Direct” traffic actually originated from organic optimized search.

And for example, email open rates are difficult to figure out too. Yes, every email service provider gives you open rate data.

But it’s far from precise. Because, it relies on a small tracking image, called a “pixel.” If you send plain-text emails, which many marketers do to give a personal feel, you can’t insert a pixel to track opens. Or, if an email app blocks images by default, which many do, the pixel isn’t shown, and the open isn’t tracked.

So what in the heck is your email open rate anyway?

With Google Adwords, say one campaign drives twice the leads of the next. Is that the better campaign?

…Maybe not.

How many purchases did you get from each campaign? Which customers led to the highest lifetime value?

Have you tracked either?

Don’t Fret – Your SEO Has the Answers

The point with data is you must have experience in knowing what it really means. What you get on the surface, even from leading companies like Google, doesn’t necessarily give you the full picture.

So, when your SEO presents you data, ask them why they trust what their delivering to you.

Why one metric…and not another?

At the end of the day, go with the SEO you trust most. The one who has your best interests. Because even the best SEOs have a difficult time getting you the most accurate data.

What Your URL Structure Needs to Be For the Best Search Rankings

SEO can be an awfully detailed and nit-picky science from time-to-time. If you have an anal-retentive SEO, hold onto them with all your might. Because, just a few letters can sometimes be the difference between ranking highly…or somewhere on the second page.

With your URLs, they have a specific science to follow. It’s not like you can do everything else with SEO wrong, have a strong URL, and rank anyway. But when you have a URL appropriately structured for SEO, it can be just the edge you need to move up a position or two…and snag a flood of traffic (versus just a drip).

So here’s what your SEO should make sure your URLs do:

  • Gotta Have Your Keywords

You can’t argue this one at all. No, you don’t need to spam the crap out of 3-7 different keyword phrases. In fact, you shouldn’t do that.

But the most important keywords to you for that page must appear in the URL somewhere. Besides sending a signal to Google, having the keywords in your URL also gives searchers another clue that your web page is in fact about the topic they just Googled. The URLs for each page show up in green just below the big blue title in search.

  • Your URLs Must Have a Logical Structure

Again, this one makes both Google and your users happy. Say you run an e-commerce site, with several product categories, and thousands of products.

Your structure should be something like http://www.example.com/category/sub-category/product/

Seems obvious, doesn’t it? What happens is that if you have multiple employees and several teams, sometimes this gets confused and out of order.

Or, if you’ve had multiple SEOs work on your website over the years, and their work gets combined with some of your own.

  • Make Your URL as Short as Possible

Shorter URLs are easier for Google and your users to understand. Leading blogs may have a URL like http://www.example.com/article-topic

Yep…just 2 words after the domain name.

You may or may not be able to do that at your site. But you should do it wherever possible.

You don’t have to be grammatically correct. Your URL just has to be simple for your users to understand. Because if they can get it, so can Google.

  • Avoid Dynamically Generated URLs

When was the last time you saw a URL like this:
http://www.example.com/products/?cid=7078ckuenkeulknn

Google has no problem evaluating this. But no user would ever search on that in Google. They might find that link through your site’s own internal search engine.

So, you need to create clean and optimized URLs to make them more commonly found in search…and to keep your searchers happy.

This can be quite a project if your website has thousands of such pages.

You can get tools that help you create sensible, optimized URLs.

So, that’s URL structure 101. If you don’t have URLs like these, you’re missing out on a strong opportunity to rank higher in search, get more organic traffic, and increase your sales.

6 Top Questions and Answers about SMB SEO

SEO isn’t easy. Nope. Not at all. Especially today. And it’s not going to get any easier. 

Plus, it’s changed dramatically from what it used to be 5 years ago.

Take a look at some of the top questions and answers about SEO in 2017 below:

  1. Is SEO right for my SMB?

Maybe. Maybe not. Today, you need a significant budget to achieve any kind of rankings. If you’re in a competitive market, you may easily need several thousand dollars per month. And you may also need time…upwards of at least a year before you begin to see results.

In some cases you may be competing with large brands, and it may be difficult, and nearly impossible, to overtake them in search.

  1. How will my SEO company help me win in search?

SEO these days is quite open-ended. There’s no one path to the top. Yes, there’s good solid fundamentals that help you succeed (on-page optimization, fast page load times, rock-solid content etc…).

But what’s your specific strategy?

Ask your SEO about your site and competition to see how they’re going to help you win in search.

  1. How do you attract links to my site?

Links are the lifeblood of any website. But not just any old links. You want high-quality links from reputable websites.

Google likes some ways you get links (promoting your content). But it doesn’t care for other ways you might choose to get links (building them on forums or placing them on directories).

In fact, doing the latter could completely ruin your website rankings. It’s important to know precisely how your SEO company will attract links to your website.

  1. Can you share a case study of a similar company you helped succeed?

Local SMBs can vary markedly by industry. Your SEO company may not have worked with another SMB that’s in exactly the same industry.

But they should have a customer story or two featuring another company in a similar industry. And they should be able to share exactly what they did to help that company achieve search success – as well as the results they got.

  1. What metrics do you measure to track progress?

Small business SEO is tricky…even for SEO companies. Your SEO company should be able to show you keyword rankings, the total number of pages on your website receiving search traffic, and the total amount of organic search traffic you get monthly.

  1. Do you have a contract?

If you like a SEO company’s approach, but they don’t have an extensive and verifiable track record, sign a contract with an opt-out clause after 3 months. Don’t sign a long-term contract if you don’t have concrete measures of the company’s reputation. If they do have a reputation you can research and verify online, then you can feel more comfortable signing a one-year contract.

Those are some of the most common questions you may ask a SEO company. Keep them in mind in your search going forward.