8 Steps to Rank Organically High in Search Engines

June 13th, 2011 by Abby Terlecki

For online businesses, websites and bloggers alike, ranking high in the search engines is a must. Organic search results are relevant Web pages that appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) in response to keyword search terms. Results are non-biased and not generated based on paid advertising. When your site ranks high in major search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing, your site’s URL, title and description are visible on results pages. Obtaining a solid search engine position implies that your website is an authoritative and popular online source.

When you rank high in the search engines, your potential increases for:

  • Increased traffic
  • More page views
  • More customers, readers or followers
  • Better conversion rates and new leads (e.g., newsletter signups)
  • Increased business and ROI (e.g., new sales)

Want to increase your rankings? Follow these 8 SEO best practices:

1. Compelling copy: Google rewards websites with content that is frequently updated, unique, fresh and original. Search engines need to know what your Web page is about.

2. Diverse link building: Promoting and identifying your website through link exchanges with other reputable websites improves your positioning. Submit your content to directories.

3. Inbound links: Acquiring links from other sites that link to your site increases your credibility as a reliable source, thus driving your website higher in search engine results.

4. Internal links: Linking to your own landing pages is good SEO practice. This helps maximize the relevancy and ranking of a good internal Web page. Make sure to incorporate proper anchor text for keywords you want to rank for.

5. Social Media: Actively joining social media is an effective way to market your website and promote links to your content. Social media is a great avenue for businesses to spread the word about their company. Stay on top of popular online marketing trends!

6. Keywords: Make sure your keywords match what potential customers are typing into their search queries. If you want to rank for specific keywords, then create special landing pages. These landing pages reduce high bounce rates because visitors will be directed to individual Web pages that meet their specific search criteria.

7. Website usability: Design your website so that it is user friendly and easy to navigate to prevent visitors from leaving. Your Web pages should be organized so that keywords with the highest conversion rates are showcased.

8. Audit: Review your website and decide if it needs to be re-indexed. A thorough review includes checking old Web pages, outdated or duplicate content, broken links or irrelevant meta descriptions and HTML page titles. Updating your website may include a redesign and additional content.

Google Recipe View

May 10th, 2011 by Amanda Prince

For those who find the art of cooking slightly daunting, worry no more. One of Google’s latest search tools, Google Recipe View, makes finding the perfect recipe a cinch! Even aces in the kitchen will find it useful because it helps locate a variety of recipes—whether searching for a certain food, group of ingredients or particular holiday fare.

How to Use Google Recipe View

The process is just like any normal Google search, except this time you get to weed out what you don’t want and select exactly what you do.

  1. Start by clicking on “Recipes” on the left side of the Google search page.
  2. Type in what you’re looking for. For example: vegetable soup.
  3. Then the fun starts. Google will give you a list of ingredients that you can opt in or out of so you can decide whether or not you want them in your recipe.
  4. You also have the option of only searching for recipes that take less than 60, 30 or 15 minutes.
  5. On a diet? No biggie! This handy tool lets you narrow your search for recipes less than 500, 300 or 100 calories.

Get Creative

Remember, Google Recipe View is able to search for a wide variety of terms—more than just regular ingredients. If you’re having a get-together, type in ‘party food.’ Hosting for the holidays? Search for Thanksgiving turkey. You can even look up your favorite chef: Bobby Flay steaks tonight!

Thanks to Google Recipe View, cooking just got easier!

3 Easy SEO Tips for Images

May 5th, 2011 by Abby Terlecki

Images can dramatically enhance the layout of your website or blog post. An image grabs your attention and draws you into the text. Not only does a graphic add relevance and aesthetic value to your copy, but it can drive additional traffic through better search engine results.

Just as you optimize copy for the Web, optimize your images by using the following tips:

1. Don’t forget your keywords: Name image files with applicable keywords just as you would for URLs. Include keywords in the image’s caption. The filename and caption should not only describe the image, but it should also reflect what you want to be ranked for. Search engines will crawl these keyword-rich file names and captions to determine their relevancy. (Also, try to keep your images in one directory folder on your website and use common types of files; save photos as JPEGs and illustrations or graphics as GIFs.)

Example: daisy-flower-arrangement.jpg.

2. Take alt text seriously: Alt text (alternative text) is a description of your image that’s inserted into the alt attribute field in the HTML code. The description replaces the image if it doesn’t appear. Alt text increases image search results. Even descriptions as short as one sentence or phrase need to be unique and include keywords.

Example: Low calorie strawberry and banana smoothie recipe

3. Link with anchor text: Using the proper anchor text has a major impact on rankings. Make sure that the linked anchor text uses descriptive keywords that describe the image and copy. Search engines will give your image a better ranking if it’s linked with accurate anchor text.

Example: residential roofing services

3 Ways to Jump on the Blogging Bandwagon!

May 4th, 2011 by Amanda Prince

You can read a blog about pretty much anything on the Internet these days. Even a blog about blogging! With the popularity of Facebook and Twitter, blogs are another social media tool where businesses can reach the public in an open forum for an instant connection.

How do you maximize a blog to its fullest potential? You want to reach customers and offer them a rich source of information that keeps them coming back for more. Remember, people will only read your blog if they find value in it.

Use these 3 tips to enrich your company blog!

1. Express Yourself

The last thing you want to do is bore your reader. Blogs are supposed to be interesting. Pretend you’re having a conversation with your reader when you write. Don’t be careless, they still expect smart writing. Keep the flow natural, even paced and entertaining. Telling stories will keep your readers’ interest and offer reference for your material.

2. Personalize It

Don’t forget the human element. The blog wasn’t written by a robot. Engage your reader with interesting quips, tangible facts or short anecdotes about your company or the topic.

3. Write Smart

You are representing your company, so beef up the grammar and spelling. You may want to have someone proofread your blog entry before you post it. Careless mistakes can hurt your company’s reputation so take care in your writing.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to jump on the blogging bandwagon!

4 Persuasive Writing Tips to Boost Conversion

February 28th, 2011 by Allison Yagesh

Whether you’re writing content for your company’s website, email marketing or social media posts, the goal is to engage the reader and encourage action. You want to sell more of a product or service and in order to do that, it is essential to convince the audience that they need your business’ products or services. A common method utilizes compelling calls to action, though an important element that is often overlooked should be incorporated: persuasive writing. Use the following techniques to create compelling content and boost conversion:

Address Potential Objections

Engage the audience with transparency by directly addressing a few potential objections. Provoke curiosity to strengthen the call to action. By answering common objections openly, you will connect with readers. It is imperative to leave them wanting more!

Be Direct

Keep the message clear by directly addressing the matter at hand. Don’t leave the audience guessing. Communicate a succinct message using short sentences. A direct tone conveys importance and transparency that aid in inspiring action.

Empathize and Offer Solutions

Draw in the audience by empathizing with them about the situation that has garnered a need for your product or service. Offer solutions to the problem in simple, easy-to-understand terms. Use clear language to lead the audience to the best solution: choosing your business!

Clear Out Clutter

Remove any words that don’t add value. Adjectives, adverbs and prepositional phrases are often redundant and dull the message. Sharpen every sentence to ensure that your message is clear and concise.

Google Art Project

February 10th, 2011 by Jessica Runberg

Last week, Google unveiled its latest pet project: Google Art Project. It appears that the search-engine giant is not only documenting the world website by website and street by street (with Google Maps), but it’s now documenting the world’s best art.

So far, Google has extensively photographed 17 galleries around the world using Google Map’s Street View technology to give visitors a virtual tour of the most beloved art galleries. Google Art Project enables visitors to browse the galleries as if they were actually there—virtually strolling the museums’ wings. State-of-the-art technology enables people to zoom in on the works of art and experience a level of detail that can’t be appreciated in person. You can even step outside the museum and roam the surrounding area or create your own art collection to share with family and friends.

Whether you want to take a sneak peak at a museum you’re planning to visit soon (hello, Versailles) or want to stroll down memory lane and wander the halls of one of your all-time favorites, Google Art Project won’t disappoint.

What to Expect from Google Algorithm Changes

February 9th, 2011 by Allison Yagesh

Google has gotten a lot of flack about search spam lately from both search experts and everyday users. Whether you’ve noticed or not, you probably see some form of search spam every time you enter a query into Google, Bing or any other search engine.

What is Search Spam?

Search spam is the high-ranking query results that seem to match what you were looking for yet offer no real information. Typical methods of achieving this involve keyword stuffing and manipulating relevance in order to trick search engines like Google and Bing into indexing a page as relevant.

Examples of Search Spam

Last week, Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, confirmed changes made to Google’s algorithm that will specifically target content scraper sites and content farms. The former are low-quality sites without original content and the latter are websites designed purely to answer search queries, such as eHow.com and about.com.

Blekko Takes the Spotlight

Time will tell if the algorithm changes make a difference in prevalence of spam in Google’s search results. An up-and-coming search engine called Blekko isn’t waiting around to find out. In light of the recent publicity surrounding Google’s webspam problem, Blekko has announced that they have banned the top 20 content farms from their index. This includes well-known websites such as eHow.com, encyclopedia.com and thefreedictionary.com.

Overall Impact

The end result of search engines efforts to curb search spam mean more relevant results for the user. It will also give smaller content-driven sites an opportunity to rank higher in search results that have previously been dominated by spam.

Good (SEO) Housekeeping

February 3rd, 2011 by Jessica Runberg

Is your SEO becoming stale? If you implemented SEO several months or years ago, but haven’t done anything since then, your site is probably in need of a little housekeeping. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just implement SEO and then expect to see a huge influx of traffic overnight. And you can’t count on “old” optimization to give you the same boost it did when you first implemented it.

Here are three simple housekeeping tasks that will give your SEO a boost!

  1. Fix broken links. Broken links happen. But they’re not only bad for SEO, they’re also bad for site visitors. Fixing, redirecting or omitting broken links will clean up your site and make it look like you’re on top of your business (to people and search engines!).
  2. Add fresh content. Search engines LOVE fresh content, which is why websites with frequently updated content tend to get high rakings. If your inventory doesn’t change over often or you don’t otherwise have a reason to add content on a regular basis, consider blogging. If you write it, they will come!
  3. Do your homework. If you’re not already tracking your analytics data through Google Analytics, now is the time to start! There’s a plethora of data just waiting to be mined that will give you clues about how you can improve your website. Harnessing this data will enable you to make adjustments to your optimization—both big and small—that will help you create a better site experience for visitors.

It’s time to get out the proverbial SEO housekeeping broom and get to work!

Evergreen Web Content

February 2nd, 2011 by Allison Yagesh

Need to add more content to your website? Unsure of what to write? Here are three content strategies to help you move past writer’s block and engage your audience with useful information.

1. Answer Common Questions

Create a frequently asked question section to answer common inquiries about your business. Remember, you are the pro, so this is your chance to answer all of the questions that you are repeatedly asked about your business. This is also the ideal arena to address any misconceptions about your company or industry.

2. Expert Advice

What problems do your customers have in common? Pinpoint three to five typical issues and write about the best solutions to each one. Keep it simple and don’t use jargon. Write the problems and solutions in a conversational style, as if you were giving advice to a friend.  Keep the tone honest and refrain from anything that sounds like you are trying to sell something. Transparency is key.

3. Transcriptions

If you post videos or podcasts on your website, add a transcription to the page. Some people prefer reading to watching a video or listening to a podcast, so a transcription accommodates a broader audience. Be sure edit transcriptions for any slang or filler phrases to ensure readability. While “um” and frequent use of “like” may not be jarring when spoken, they typically don’t make for easy reading. Added bonus: the additional on-page text will help boost search-engine rankings.

Social Media Guidelines

January 25th, 2011 by Jessica Runberg

For a word nerd like me, 2010 was a big year. It was the first time that the AP Stylebook officially included social media guidelines. What are social media guidelines? Basically, AP defined
what social media is and how journalists should use social media in their work—grammatically and otherwise.

Read on for a summary of the newest social media entries now officially recognized by the Associated Press.

app Short for application. A program that runs inside another service. Customers can download hundreds of applications on their iPhone. App is acceptable on second reference.

crowdsourcing The practice of asking a large collection of individuals online to help gather information or produce ideas. A journalist may use Twitter to crowdsource ideas for an article.

fan, follow, friend Actions by which users connect to other users on social networks. You friend people on Facebook, you like businesses on Facebook (until recently, you became a fan of businesses) and you follow people and businesses on Twitter. Acceptable as nouns and verbs.

Google, Gooling, Googled Google is a trademark for a Web search engine. Google, Gooling and Googled are used informally as a verb for searching for information on the Internet. Always capitalized.

microsite A tightly focused group of Web pages typically dedicated to a single topic, product or service.

retweet The practice, on Twitter, of forwarding a message or link from someone else to your followers. Spelled out in all references, though common usage on Twitter abbreviates to RT.

search engine optimization Any of a number of methodologies used to ensure that online content shows up in search engines such as Google, thus increasing traffic to the content. SEO is acceptable on second reference.

unfriend To remove someone from a list of friends, usually on Facebook. Also defriend, an acceptable but less common usage.

This is just a sampling of some of the latest social media entries. You have to love the AP Stylebook!