Filtering by Tag: search engines

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Transform and Roll Out!

While writing this post I couldn’t get the image of Megan Fox...err – scratch that – Optimus Prime out of my head.  The key word here is Optimize – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) isn’t about adding stuff that you don’t already have – it’s about making what you do have better.

In the same way that a gaudily colored truck can transform into a mobile battle station complete with Ion cannon – you too can transform your website into a highly ranking, customer catching cash funnel – all by following a few simple rules:

Take Care of the Tech

You’re not a website developer – you’re an attorney, a baker, a life coach, a marketer – whatever – it’s not your job to know how to set up your website correctly.  All you need to know is that there is a right way and a wrong way: HTML code should be structured correctly, page URLS should use real words and create hierarchies, H1 tags should be used, pages should have easily modified titles, descriptions, keywords and tags and content should be quickly distributed across different platforms and networks.

We recently ran across an agency that was going to charge a client $9,000 to ‘SEO” the very website that they themselves had built.  If I could have fallen off my chair I would – but I was already on the ground laughing over their definition of wireframes and site plans.  If you are having a new website built – all of this should be taken care of – if you’ve got questions – ask us – we’re always happy to give you an opinion.

Use the Right Words

You might refer to your business as an “Artisanal Horticultural Hideaway” – your customers however are typing the words “Flower Shop” into the search engines.  If you’re not already familiar with it – you must spend a little bit of time with Google’s Keyword Finder tool – it’s free, it’s easy and actually quite fascinating.

Write down all the words you think that describe your business – then go to the online tool and see how many people are searching for these terms.  Because the tool displays words that are used in similar searches you will often find that people use a different word for your business.  Find the most popular words that describe what it is you do and incorporate those words into your writing.

Use the Right Combination of Words

This is the whole “write like your customers speak” concept – often difficult for professions that use a lot of Jargon.  When you’re in the keyword finder you’ll see that Google shows not just single words but a series of phrases – these phrases are what people are typing into the search engine.

Studies have shown that people who arrive on your site from longer keyword phrases (3 to 5 with 4 being the optimum) convert better.  The thinking goes that the more detailed their search (i.e. the more words they use) the more serious they are about finding a solution – and if you can match their phrase then they will be more serious about you.

Get People to Link to Your Site

The more people that link to your site the better; get some heavyweight well established site to link to your content and your search rankings will increase dramatically.  But there’s only one way to ensure that people will link to you.

People don’t recommend crap to their friends – they recommend stuff that adds to their knowledge, that makes them laugh, that makes them feel good about passing it on.  There is absolutely no point in having some 3rd party firm writing generic content about your business – in the old days before everybody was a publisher this might have had merit - nowadays if you publish the same boring crap that everybody else is producing then people will learn to ignore you.

Transform and Roll Out

A new content strategy absolutely works if you are passionate about your business and can put that passion into words.  Read your content before you post – does it resonate, do you believe yourself, would you stand by the article in front of Megatron and fight for its authenticity?

As we’ve written before – times are changing and you need to change, adapt and transform to keep your business on top.  Fortunately this brave new world only wants to hear about why you love what it is you do and how you do it.  Forget the marketing speak, start writing, write from the heart, write with your customers words and phrasing, transform yourself and roll out!

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Content – Are You Sure You Can Handle It?

I WANT YOU to write blog posts! by Search INfluence on Flickr

You get it!

Adding quality content to your website is the best way of moving up through the search engines – whether it’s text, video, audio, images – whatever – so long as it is relevant and interesting – the more new content you add the more likely it is that people are going to talk about you.

So why do the vast majority of people find it so hard to actually follow through and do this?

Producing Quality Content Takes Time

The majority of our clients are small to medium size businesses – if you’ve got less than ten employees it’s unlikely that you have the budget for a dedicated online marketer – so – whose job is it to write the copy for the website?

We can guarantee that the person with Marketing in their title is rushed off their feet with traditional channels - the longer term ROI of online / social media marketing just doesn’t stack up in the short term; phone a client or write a blog post – guess which one loses?

Writing Quality Content is a Skill

We’ve written this before but it’s worth repeating: just because you watch House religiously doesn’t mean you can diagnose your own illness and a passion for the Practice doesn’t make you a lawyer. Sure you’ve been writing most of your life but it doesn’t mean you’re any good at it.

Writing for the web is different than writing a letter or an essay or even a marketing brochure – there is a structure and an underlying logic to writing a blog post – it isn’t hard to learn but like the professions above, you have to practice it to get good.

Setting Yourself Up to Fail

As a small business owner myself I think the reason people struggle with producing copy is that they don’t allocate a significant value to it. Because they’re smart and capable individuals they look at the act of producing web copy and assume that they can do it themselves - why pay someone for something that you’ve been doing since you were three?

Of course what happens next is that life gets busy, time gets short and if they do actually allocate time to write they suddenly find that it’s hard to convey what they want in an interesting way. Be honest – if you have ten things to do – which do you do first – the ones you know how to do or the ones you have to work at?

Outsource the Writing of Content

We’re working with a couple of different clients who have some copy for their sites but need it optimized for SEO – keyword phrases researched, text tweaked, re-presented and organized. Good copywriters can charge anywhere from $35 an hour up to the $100+ - we tend to work with people in the $50 to $75 an hour range and are delighted with the quality we receive.

If you can establish a relationship with a writer who over time gets to know your business – where you can have a 15 minute Skype conversation with them where you relate the idea of what you want to get across – maybe provide a couple of links to sites – have them produce the copy, tag it and then post it to your site – how much is that worth to you?

This of course has sparked the idea for the next post – which will talk about online marketing spends shifting – I wonder what companies are doing with the hundreds of dollars a month they were spending on “SEO” – link building, multiple sites, etc – do you think they’re now spending it on copywriting?

Image Credit: I WANT YOU to write blog posts! by Search INfluence on Flickr

New Content Consulting – Part 1

So what’s this “New Content” approach all about?  Why is everyone buzzing about needing a “Content  Strategy” and should you have one too?  We  will break these questions down over the next few posts, but for now, let’s  have a look at why content is becoming more and more important. Content is Zarg

Yes we’re all aware of the expression “Content is King,” but  it seems that content is turning into Emperor and Galactic overlord as well....  If you’ve been reading Kilted Chaos over the years  and have kept even a tiny bit of an eye on SEO trends, you will know that the  number one way to move up through the search engines is to add new content to  your website.   And we’re not talking  about hiring an off-shore firm to produce ten 300 word articles a week; that  worked for a while a few years back, but now the content has to be real,  relevant and compelling.

Fool Me once…

One of the major reasons we think that the focus is turning  back to content is that people are getting used to how the Internet, and in  particular search works.  They may not  have a clue about the underlying algorithms but they have built up a huge personal  store of information based on their own experiences.

We have been marketed to for years, decades, centuries; no  matter how cool Jon Hamm makes advertising seem, most people would much rather  not be sold to.  Years of clicking on  paid links that lead to horribly designed sites that don’t actually offer the  best price, have taught people that the left hand side of Google is far more  likely to yield a better result than the right.

Customers as  Publishers

With the left hand side of Google being driven by community  derived importance (and yes I know that’s loose but I’m not going to sum up Google’s  search algorithm in a sentence) i.e. – how many links are coming into a page,  it’s interesting to consider just how large the “community” has grown in the  last few years.

In the old days you used to run around, submitting your  website to search engines, hoping to get into the Dmoz registry and  establishing link exchanges.  The thing  was – you were dealing with people just like you – other businesses who had  something to sell.  Most “normal” people  didn’t have a website, most links didn’t come from the actual customer and hell  – over half the population wasn’t even online.   Check out this graphic:

http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

While you’re sitting there gob smacked by the figures, let’s  throw a few more at you:

- Number of US Facebook users in July 2008 – 27.8 million - Number of US Facebook users in July 2010 – 125.9 million - Estimated # of Blogs at start of 2009 – 200 million - Estimated # of blogs now – 400 million

Here’s the thing; it isn’t just that there are a lot more  people online; it is that these people have their own pages, their own websites  – they are their own publishers and they can publish your link.

Write For Yourself

With so much content being published from so many different  sources, it makes sense that only the good quality content is going to rise to  the top.  It is no longer automated bots  and other businesses that are sharing links and driving traffic – it is your  customers.  Customers don’t speak SEO –  they don’t like to read paragraphs stuffed with keywords – they’re just like  you and me – they want to read well thought out articles that add something of  value – that gives them knowledge and insight that they didn‘t have  before.  And if the content is really  compelling, they may well forward it, tweet it, share it and even write about  it – and that is where the SEO juice really starts to kick in.

Yes you should absolutely write with SEO and targeted  keywords in mind – of course they should be featured and highlighted within  your text but, write for yourself first.   Write as if you were talking to a colleague in a bar, write as if you  were telling your mother about how your business works – start there and then  tweak it until you have your target words in the text.

Bottom line – someone may find you because they stumbled  upon a keyword heavy article, however, unless it reads well, they aren’t going  to forward it.

Twitter is a Broadcast Medium

You run a small business; you want new customers to find you and you want existing customers to come back. You’ve heard that Twitter is some kind of social network that helps you “have a conversation” with customers, but you can’t see how it could add value to your business.

STOP!

Stop thinking of Twitter as some kind of newfangled social media / social networking tool and start thinking of it as a broadcast medium.

Here’s a quote from a pretty successful CEO talking about how he uses Twitter:

I use it to spread the word when we announce a new Alltop site. Twitter for me is a broadcasting tool. It's not a "social medium" at all.Guy Kawasaki, Alltop CEO

This is how we think small business owners should be approaching Twitter. The social element absolutely exists, but it only happens as a result of your initial broadcast – it happens when somebody, a potential customer perhaps, finds and reacts to your message.

Your tweets are not only accessible to people on Twitter - your tweets are indexed by the search engines and therefore available to the 300 million searches that happen on Google every day.  At Kilted Chaos we say that "It's easy to be found" and we truly believe that.  It is easy to take 2 minutes in your day and write a tweet from your phone or your computer saying what you are doing - it is - it is easy!  We will show the tools to use and how to go about it - it is not rocket science and you don't need to read a manual.

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