HOW TO WRITE FOR SEO

HOW TO WRITE FOR SEO

HOW TO WRITE FOR SEO

by  Content MarketingSEO 

Remember the good old days of SEO, when all that you really needed to have “valid SEO content” was a certain number of words crossed with a certain percentage targeted keywords and punctuated by a few words linking to targeted pages?

It was simple, and easy, and generally worthless in the long run.

Those days are long gone, and writing for SEO is about much more than simple formulas.

There are, however, a few rules that will help you create content that works for the search engines and your actual customers.

And it all starts by:

Changing Your Perspective

We get it. You have an awesome business and you want to tell the world about it.

But you need to change your perspective when you write for SEO.

You need to see things from your customers’ point of view and, more importantly, you need to write the things that appeal to their viewpoint.

It’s not about showing your customers what you can do, it’s about showing them what they get from you.

Marketing Experiments often write a lot on this subject, and, just to prove their point, they showed how the inclusion of one simple, three-letter word could make a big difference.

And what was that word?

Get.

This simple word shifts the perspective from what you expect customers to do to what value your customers will receive.

Keywords vs. Topics vs. Relationships

There was a time when “keyword density” meant something for SEO content.

You might say that this was considered the “key” to SEO success. (I’ll be leaving now.)

There was a lot of focus on what keywords would be the most lucrative, how often they appeared on a page, where they appeared on the page, and the exact words included in the link.

I’m not saying those things don’t have an impact, because they kinda do.

It’s just that they shouldn’t be your first priority.

Keywords may not mean the same thing they used to. Yes, they’re important, but the formula isn’t one that is clearly defined.

In fact, the most effective use of keywords, now, is to simply guide the topics you write about.

(See how this shift to topics helped increase our own blog traffic by more than 200%.)

Some guidelines are still worth noting. You ought to use the keyword in the title, at least one subtitle and once or twice in the body.

But the thing is: Google can recognize that this is exactly what you’re doing. You’re putting keywords in certain places just because you’re “supposed to.”

It’s not going to penalize you for it, but it’s not going to be all that impressed either.

Instead, when you think of your keywords as a guide to the topic in question, you may see a few more benefits.

How?

Google is looking at more than keyword usage. They’re looking at keyword support, too.

You can see this in the results displayed for many common searches.

Let’s say, for example, you searched for the term “Mexican food.”

You’d get a map for the local Mexican restaurants, a side box that is titled “Mexican cuisine,” and several results that list a number of the “Best Mexican Restaurants” in the area.

Then again, you may also see something that looks like this:

Notice all the words in the description that Google chose to put in bold? Chicken Tostadas. Chicken Quesadillas. Tacos. Chicken Enchiladas. Even Salad and Rice get bold treatment.

Previously, the only words Google bolded in the description was the one that was specifically searched for.

Now, Google bolds these other words because it recognizes the relationship between them and your search.

So, don’t stress about using every potential form of your target keyword somewhere in your content.

Instead, focus on creating content that effectively covers the topic by using the best support words.

Keeping Readers on the Page

The time a visitor spends on a given page can have an impact on how well it ranks in the search engines.

More importantly, this means your readers are far more likely to take the next step and become a paying customer.

You need to keep them reading.

Lists, subheadings, bullet points have been the standard for a long time, and they’re still definitely helpful.

But there is more you can do.

There’s a good article on Backlinko that recommends using something he calls “Bucket Brigades.”

He describes these as “an old school copywriting tactic that was originally designed to keep people reading sales letters.”

I, however, would interpret them as a form of writing that is closer to: “But wait! There’s more!”

Basically, they are lead-in sentences or questions that are supposed to keep you reading. They’re usually followed by a colon. Some of the “classics” he recommends include: Here’s the deal: This is crazy: Want to know the best part?

(I’ve been using this principle throughout this blog, but, on a personal note, I really don’t care for that kind of writing. It feels like a commercial – more like an infomercial, really. And you didn’t come here to be sold something. I know I don’t want to be sold on the internet. I want to look at something and determine for myself whether this is something I want.)

But there are more ways to keep people on your website, including:

Supplemental Content

This is something you don’t hear talked about all that often, though Google recognizes that it can contribute to good user experience, making it an integral part of a “high-quality page.”

And quality pages are what it wants to rank.

What do we mean by supplemental content?

Basically, this is any feature that is designed to help users find their way to other parts of your website, whether that’s another blog, another downloadable, or any of your products.

This isn’t just about linking to other articles, though.

Helpful supplemental content should be relevant to the content and purpose of the page, and offer the user something meaningful.

You can take YouTube as the guiding principle here. Every page on that platform is 90% supplemental content.

Users rely on it to discover their next video, and it keeps them on the site, exploring everything they can.

Just like anything else, though, you need to be careful about how you use it. Too much supplemental content and you pass right over “useful” and land right in the middle of “distracting.” And that’s not something Google wants to promote.

Writing to a Specific Reading Level

One of the most common recommendations you’ll hear about reading levels is that you should write content that is around an 8th-grade level.

Readability is certainly important, but, despite things like the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level or the Gunning-Fog Score and SMOG index, it’s kind of subjective.

These are good tools, and can help your writing read more smoothly, but here’s the thing:

If you think all of your writing must adhere to this guideline, then you’re once again looking for formulas to magically solve all your problems.

Let’s say, for example, that your industry creates and delivers extremely complex software solutions to other companies who develop even more complicated tools.

It’s safe to say the people who make the decisions in that company are going to have a much higher level of reading comprehension.

So, even if Google counts readability at an 8th-grade level a significant ranking factor, it may not help you convert your customers if the writing style feels far too simplistic.

So this, like many other elements of SEO, must consider both the customer and the search engine (and then give priority to the customer).

Ask and Answer Important Questions

You may think you know what questions your customers are asking, but it may just be that you only know the questions you want them to ask.

Why does SEO take So LongWhy Does SEO Need So Much ContentDoes Your Domain Name Affect Your SEOWhat is an SEO Specialist?

These turned out to be the kinds of questions that our readers want answers to. We can tell, because of how well they’ve performed.

On the other hand, “How do You Start an Email Marketing Campaign that Actually Works?” definitely fell into the category of what we wanted others to ask us. But, overall, it doesn’t seem that a lot of people are asking that on a daily basis.

(Well, it is a question that some people ask, but only at very certain times. So, if you choose to write content like this, be sure that it provides the exact answer they’re looking for – and make sure it gives them a reason to take the next step. Otherwise, it may be a lot of wasted effort.)

SEO Writing is Not Just About Using Words to Get Rankings

Producing content that ranks well is clearly an important part of writing for SEO. But it’s also about turning those visitors into paying customers.

Remember, there’s a little SEO in everything, whether you’re talking about content or conversion.

The time on site (which you can optimize for) and the number of click-throughs (which you can optimize for) and the level of engagement (which you can optimize for) and the conversions (which you BETTER optimize for) can all impact your rankings.

And that is all something you can target when writing for SEO.

THE POSITIVE IMPACTS OF SEMANTIC SEARCH FOR SEO

THE POSITIVE IMPACTS OF SEMANTIC SEARCH FOR SEO

THE POSITIVE IMPACTS OF SEMANTIC SEARCH FOR SEO

by Content MarketingKeyword ResearchSEO 

Most businesses seem to know that SEO is integral to their online efforts, even if they don’t fully understand how it works, or how it’s changing.

SEO has been around for decades, but only since the early 2000s has the search engine giant, Google, taken measures to make SEO more about the web user’s experience than following specific formulas to make one’s website rank high in search results.

To that end, Google has focused on providing quick responsiveness to online search queries, so it will yield accurate results, even with misspelled words, incomplete phrases, or poorly worded phrases.

As a passive web user, you may not fully see the deep-down impact on SEO practices – you’re just glad to have a better search experience.

SEO of the past was based on a rigid framework of keywords.

As a result, webmasters and SEOers conducted extensive keyword research and did all they possibly could to cram their targeted keywords into every corner of their websites. Writing for SEO often used and implemented keywords or phrases in odd and unnatural places, making the content hard to read.

Sometimes the content didn’t have anything to do with the keywords.

As a result, SEOers wrote only for Google, and the users were often frustrated with the irrelevant search results of their queries.

Things were about to change, though, and we’ve changed from the literal to the semantic (so to speak).

Google’s Algorithm Updates

Starting in 2002, Google began implementing the first in a series of algorithm updates and requirements to sort and rank websites. Webmasters now couldn’t do excessive link baiting and keyword stuffing. Instead, they had to create relevant content useful to the user if they wanted their websites to rank higher in search results.

The emphasis toward user-friendly content continued in 2013 when Google came out with its Hummingbird algorithm update.

The Hummingbird algorithm changed how Google interpreted web user search queries. Instead of looking for identical words and verbatim phrases, Google began to put emphasis on the intent behind the search query.

No longer did the words or phrases have to match exactly, but Google now searched websites for the same idea as the search query. Words didn’t even have to be spelled the same and the word order and structure of query phrases didn’t have to match exactly.

This Hummingbird update was the result of the realization that in today’s fast-paced society, where web users don’t want to type long, properly worded search queries, still expect instant, relevant results.

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A major component of Google’s Hummingbird update is called RankBrain. RankBrain is the artificial intelligence (AI) that allows Google’s search algorithm machines to better interpret complex searches and the users’ intent behind their searches.

And it’s this notion of intent that is the foundation for what we call “semantic search.”

Voice-to-Text

A number of technological innovations have helped spur this trend. The most notable is the sophistication of smartphones and their speech-to-text search functionality.

With speech-to-text, the web user can speak a keyword or search phrase into the Google search bar on their smartphone and the mobile Google platform will translate the spoken words of the user into typed text.

As a result, more and more web users are searching in a more complex and sophisticated way. In fact, they are now using terminology and phrases they use in verbal conversation.

People tend to talk differently than how they type and Google has recognized this.

The Hummingbird algorithm update has shifted the web user’s experience from a rigid, mechanical process to something more semantic.

Positive Benefits of Semantic SEO Searches

What positive impacts have come from this shift in how people search and how search results are ranked?

1. An Easier, More Intuitive Search

With all the changes that have been happening in the background, web users have become accustomed to a fast, intuitive search experience that produces relevant results.

In the past, users had to try several different search variations if their initial results didn’t quite deliver what they had hoped for. At the same time, SEOs had to determine exactly what phrases customers might use and write website content that included those phrases (no matter how strange they fit in).

A disconnect was created between the web users’ search intent and the search results that appeared.

Semantic search changed this by focusing less on the specific words or phrasing and more on the user’s intent behind the search. And SEOs have to change their strategies to account for these types of search results.

2. Better Content

The goal of every algorithm update is to improve the web user’s search experience. With the Hummingbird update, search results came up that were deemed the most relevant based on the untyped intent of the user.

People now enter search queries similar to how they talk. Google has utilized AI (artificial intelligence) to search websites based on this new search query syntax.

With less emphasis on specific keywords and formal phrase structure, the content on websites – now more than ever – has to be high quality. Oddly placed keywords or awkward keyword phrases or keyword stuffing in the content of a website will no longer appease Google or web users.

In order to produce the now-expected, high-quality content, content writers must conduct more thorough research on topics and write in a way that the content is easily readable, attention-grabbing and offers value.

3. Quality Results

With semantic SEO, search results pages are (or at least should be) filled with high-quality content that accurately answers the original query.

A big part of making this happen is the use of “rich answers.” These search query answers are gathered by Google and are displayed on search results pages (SERPs) in a way that the web user doesn’t have to click on a website URL to see the content. The user is presented with short snippets of the relevant content of a website.

While snippets are the most commonly displayed form of “rich answers,” charts, tables, sliders, maps and forms displaying appropriate, relevant information can also appear on SERPs.

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When web users get the answers they are looking for and they get them nearly instantaneously, the better search experience they will have. (This, in turn, will convince them to continue to use Google for their web searches.)

4. Better User Value Optimization

With semantic SEO, the goal is to create the most value for web users and address their real concerns. SEOers now must spend more time optimizing their website content so that it is valuable to web users.

This is something people have been talking about for years, of course, but now you have to think more about how those users are asking their questions – not just the keywords they might be using.

As keywords are not as highly stressed, it is more difficult for SEOs to determine the intent behind a user’s search. This is something that is fairly unpredictable, though, so SEOs are safe, and better off producing great content that adds value to a larger, broader audience.

5. Less Emphasis on Keywords

As you now know, semantic SEO places less emphasis on keywords. Keyword research is still important to gauge the popularity of certain keywords. However, the keywords you choose to target are no longer the end-all of your SEO strategy.

Gone are the days where websites need exact-match keywords and each page of the website needs to have a certain ratio of keywords. Now, those keywords help guide our focus on certain topics and discussions, but our content has to focus on what the user actually wants.

6. More Flexibility

The move away from exact-match keyword phrases offers SEOs a lot more flexibility in their content. With alternative wordings and word synonyms coming up as search results of a query, website content can be more creative, unique, genuine, and, ultimately, useful.

Content writers are now no longer bound to constructing content merely to push certain keywords.

The new semantic approach to SEO benefits both web users and the SEOs who optimized and write content for websites. The two are brought to a closer understanding of each other which has bettered the overall internet browsing experience.

Is your website optimized for semantic search? If not, chances are your website hasn’t or soon won’t be appearing towards the top of search results for your target keywords or phrases.

Google is putting more emphasis on the experience of the web user and if you’re still doing “old school” SEO, your website isn’t getting much attention by Google or web users.

Optimizing a website and staying up to date on the many Google algorithms takes time, patience and effort. It also requires top-notch SEO knowledge to pull all your content together into a cohesive marketing strategy.

16 WAYS TO USE LINKEDIN EFFECTIVELY

16 WAYS TO USE LINKEDIN EFFECTIVELY

16 WAYS TO USE LINKEDIN EFFECTIVELY

by Social Media

LinkedIn can be a valuable professional online networking tool that has many uses including finding jobs, finding opportunities to advance in one’s career, hiring employees, locating leads and business partners, and meeting and discussing professional topics with other professionals to build online relationships and get your name and brand out there.

From a business standpoint, it’s also a great way to get attention for your content and drive more traffic to your website.

The effectiveness of LinkedIn for your business will be largely determined by your industry, and while this is technically a social network, the strategies that you use may be different from other types of social media marketing. The audience on this network is here for very different reasons.

So, how do you know if you’re getting the most out of this professional social media platform?

Here are some ways you can utilize LinkedIn more effectively to build your personal profile, get involved with a network of professionals, and promote your business.

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LinkedIn Profile Tips

The most basic element of LinkedIn is the profile. If you’re a professional or an aspiring professional, you need to make sure your LinkedIn profile is fully completed.

1. Create a Profile Badge for your personal website or blog

Did you know that you can share your completed profile in other places, such as a personal website or blog?

If you have your own personal website or blog, you can promote your personal LinkedIn presence and help grow your professional network by adding a Profile Badge that links to your public LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has several different badge designs to choose from, so you can choose the one that matches your website’s style.

2. Optimize the anchor text for the blog/website links on your LinkedIn profile

Instead of using the default anchor text links in the Websites list within your LinkedIn profile’s Contact Info section, you can choose to modify the anchor text to make those links more appealing to people who view your profile. So, if you want to increase clicks on the website links you display there, change those links’ anchor text to something more attention-grabbing than the standard options LinkedIn provides.

3. Search engine optimize your LinkedIn profile

completed profile may not be enough to get it to stand out from the pack. This is where it’s beneficial to optimize your profile with keywords that are relevant to your profile. These keywords can be added to your profile headline and sprinkled throughout your profile summary.

4. Take advantage of Saved Searches

You’re likely sprucing up your profile for a career move or to start your career. In LinkedIn, users can save 10 job searches and three people searches. After you do a search, you can save it by clicking the “Save Search” button on the top right of the page. This will enable you to run the search later as well as get daily (for job searches only), weekly or monthly email reminders and alerts.

5. Get endorsed for your skills

What’s more impressive than a well-done LinkedIn profile that lists out your skills?

Having one’s skills endorsed by others.

People are good at bragging about how good they are at things. When other people speak highly of your skills and professionalism, it carries more weight. Your connections can make endorsements on the skills you’ve listed on your profile as well as make recommendations for skills you may not have included on your profile.

You’re also able to delete endorsements made by your connections that don’t accurately describe your strengths or endorsements that aren’t professional.

Using LinkedIn for Business Networking

6. Make your profile an Open Profile

With a premium LinkedIn account, an Open Profile allows you to message any LinkedIn member regardless of membership level or connection status if they accept Open Profile messages. This enables you to get into contact with members you would otherwise not be able to interact with.

An Open Profile message is sent like a regular InMail message.

7. Export connections

With LinkedIn, you can export all your connections into a contact management system via a.CSV or.VCF file. This can be a useful tool for tracking your contacts and getting an overall profile of your network.

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Using LinkedIn for Networking

8. Utilize LinkedIn Groups

With LinkedIn Groups, you’re able to send up to 15 messages per month to other group members. To do this, you need to have been a LinkedIn member for 30 days and a member of the group for 4 days. The 15 messages a month allotment doesn’t include replies and subsequent conversations stemming from the intimal message.

Besides messaging group members, you can also view the profiles of fellow group members.

If you don’t see a group that specifically fits your industry or expertise, you can create your own group. Being an administrator of a group will establish you as an industry thought leader, grow an advocate community, create additional blog content ideas, and generate leads.

9. Email your LinkedIn Group

As an administrator of a LinkedIn group, you can email every member up to once a week. These emails take the form of “announcements” that are sent directly to the member’s email inbox.

10. Share your LinkedIn status updates on Twitter

A good way to further showcase our company’s expertise is to share its LinkedIn status updates on Twitter. When you do so, your Twitter followers will also see your updates.

When publishing your LinkedIn updates to Twitter, you can maximize your reach even further by utilizing the @mentions Twitter feature. An @mention works like a tag on Facebook. Simply use the @ symbol followed by the individual’s or company’s LinkedIn profile name. The company that is mentioned will be notified that you have mentioned them and their Twitter followers will be also able to see the status update.

Using LinkedIn for Business & Marketing

LinkedIn is not only for individuals, but it can be a platform your company can shine on as well. Would-be business partners and potential employees will be using LinkedIn to check out your company’s profile.

11. Optimize your LinkedIn Company Page

Make sure your company page is set up correctly using the latest layout and an intriguing and high-quality banner image. Since 2014, LinkedIn no longer features a Products & Services tab. Instead, you must create a Showcase Page.

12. Create targeted Showcase Pages

Showcase Pages are targeted, niche pages that are offshoots of the main Company Page. These Showcase Pages can be used to promotes specific products or services and cater to a specific persona. Showcase Pages are geared to give visitors to your Company Page a more personalized experience.

13. Regularly post company status updates

Posting regular status updates will make your company look more intriguing and attract a larger audience because you’ll be constantly producing new, fresh content.

If your company has already been posting regular company status updates, you can dabble with LinkedIn’s status targeting options. With these segmentation options, the administrator can target specific audiences based on industry, company size, location, language, job function, seniority and company employees. The only caveat to LinkedIn Targeting is that there need to be at least 100 LinkedIn users in the targeted audience.

14. Use LinkedIn Pulse

LinkedIn Pulse is LinkedIn’s publishing and news content production platform.

Companies can browse Pulse to find interesting, popular industry news. Pulse also helps companies discover influencer publishers and contributors. Companies can sign up for daily or weekly email notifications.

A company can boost its accolades and professional reputation by contributing to LinkedIn Pulse stories. Since 2014, all LinkedIn users can now write and publish articles on LinkedIn Pulse.

15. Explore LinkedIn’s Content Marketing Score

For those who are LinkedIn business solutions members, they can use the Content Marketing Score to measure user engagement with sponsored updates, influencer posts, LinkedIn group pages, company pages, and employee updates. The resulting score will offer recommendations for improvement on your page’s LinkedIn content pages.

16. Experiment with LinkedIn Ads and Sponsored Updates

LinkedIn has gotten on the PPC bandwagon by offering ads and sponsored updates. These LinkedIn advertising options come with the ability to target audiences based on job function, job title, company size, and company industry so your ads will get in front of the LinkedIn users who will most likely read and act on your ads.

LinkedIn is a powerful marketing and professional networking tool that can prove to be even more beneficial if done right.

Finding a balance between optimizing one’s LinkedIn profile and running a busy business can be intimidating and time-consuming at first, but when it’s done right, there is a lot of potential here.

WHEN SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING GOES WRONG – AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

WHEN SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING GOES WRONG – AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT

In today’s world, social media is critical. However, in the grand scheme of things, the technology, and the techniques are still relatively young. Consumers are using social media more than ever to find new products and services, even as it’s constantly evolving.

Unfortunately, for some companies, customers are adapting much quicker to social media changes than they are. As such, it’s easy to see how companies all over the world suffer from blunders and missteps with their social media marketing campaigns.

While a social media fail isn’t always the end of the world, it can have a profound impact on your bottom line in a world where everything goes viral the instant it’s posted online.

On the internet, everything lasts forever. The backlash to these incidents can be harsh, but the good news is that, for the most part, customers tend to forget blunders soon enough because the next big thing is already happening. Having said that, though, companies cannot forget about these blunders to avoid making the exact same mistakes.

Throughout the past decade, plenty of companies have experienced the unforgiving nature of social media. Take a look at some of their social media marketing fails and learn what you can do to avoid something similar from happening to you.

Do Your Research – American Apparel

Companies targeting the younger generation are always looking to find the next cool visual to use in their social marketing strategies. Everyone is attracted to good visuals, but for the incredibly fast-paced world of millennials, visuals reign supreme.

Around the 4th of July, 2014, the clothing brand American Apparel posted an image on their corporate Tumblr account that showed a dramatic plume of smoke shooting into the air with the hashtags #clouds and #smoke. Apparently unknown to the poster, this was a picture of the 1986 Challenger explosion, during which seven astronauts lost their lives on live television. The post was deleted soon after.

While it’s a possibility that the person posting the image wasn’t even born when this horrific incident happened, it goes to show that a little bit of research can go a long way in social media marketing. Always do your research when posting images, quotes or anything else that may be something other than what it appears to be.

Separate Personal and Corporate Accounts – Chrysler and KitchenAid

When you hire a social media specialist, you really want someone who loves to be on social media. It just comes with the territory. Unfortunately, hiring specialists who love to tweet and post a little too much could eventually lead to some crossed wires. As we can see in the cases of Chrysler and KitchenAid, sometimes personal posts make their way to corporate accounts.

In an ironic situation, the official Chrysler Twitter account posted a very denigrating and vulgar tweet about the driving ability of people in Detroit. The kicker? The tweet was posted after Chrysler began an ad campaign celebrating Detroit. Not very consistent with brand messaging. The person responsible for the tweet was fired, and the third-party company Chrysler had contracted for running their social media also lost its contract.

Another example of mixing personal and corporate accounts comes from KitchenAid, the popular kitchen appliances company. It’s safe to say that every U.S. Presidential Election is tense and stressful. A KitchenAid employee added to those tensions during the 2012 Election when they tweeted an offensive joke about President Obama’s late grandmother from the corporate handle. The CEO of KitchenAid quickly took over the account to do damage control, which worked surprisingly well.

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It’s easy to mix up personal and corporate social media accounts. There are plenty of ways to avoid this, but one of the most common is separating accounts by the device. Give your social media specialists company-owned devices that are only allowed for corporate use, helping your employees leave personal accounts on personal devices.

If You Automate, Automate Well – Microsoft and the Patriots

There are many elements of social media that can be automated. Many programs help you manage to like, responding, commenting and posting. However, automating everything has some drawbacks. There’s probably a joke about robots taking over the world in here somewhere, but we’ll let the real-world examples speak for themselves.

In 2016, Microsoft unveiled Tay, a Twitter bot meant to create a “conversational understanding” between AI and humans. However, within a single day, people started tweeting racist and offensive things at the bot, which made it become racist and offensive itself. Microsoft shut the account down and no one has seen Tay since.

The New England Patriots experienced some of their own problems with automated Twitter bots back in 2014 during a campaign to be the first NFL Twitter account to reach one million followers. Twitter users could use the hashtag #1MillionPatriots and the team’s account would automatically create and tweet a jersey with the user’s Twitter handle on the back.

Of course, it wasn’t long before an incredibly racist username made it through and wreaked havoc. The Patriots deleted the tweet as quickly as possible, but the damage was already done.

Some social media automation can be incredibly helpful and convenient, especially during prolonged social media marketing campaigns. Just keep in mind that if you automate, you should have the appropriate filters and monitoring in place before the campaign starts.

Don’t Force Connections to Current Events – Cinnabon

Plenty of people use social media to keep up with current events and post their thoughts about those events. As such, there are plenty of companies trying to do the same as a way to connect with potential customers. Unsurprisingly, many of these attempts fall flat. Even worse, some of these attempts are downright offensive.

In 2016, after Star Wars star Carrie Fisher passed away, Cinnabon took to Twitter to post a “tribute” to the late icon. Their tweet included a picture of Fisher’s most iconic character, Princess Leia, drawn in cinnamon, with a Cinnabon cinnamon roll as the character’s classic side bun hairstyle. To top off the post, they used the caption: “RIP Carrie Fisher, you’ll always have the best buns in the galaxy.” The post was tacky and tasteless in the wake of such a tragic event. The worst part? Carrie Fisher regularly spoke about how much she hated the side bun look.

Connections to current events can be incredibly effective ways to connect with potential customers, but only if done right. If your brand has nothing to do with the event taking place, don’t try to force it.

Use Trending Hashtags Appropriately – DiGiorno

It’s pretty common knowledge that using trending hashtags is a great way to gain more exposure to the people monitoring those hashtags. They’re trending for a reason, and a good social media team knows how to properly capitalize on the trends. Of course, as you’ve seen above, there are also plenty of ways to mess it up.

Enter DiGiorno pizza in 2014. In the hours before the frozen pizza tweeted, a scandal involving the suspension of NFL player Ray Rice for domestic abuse became public knowledge. In response to the scandal, women around the world started using the hashtag #WhyIStayed to open up about the reasons they stayed in violent relationships.

In a quick attempt to take advantage of the trending hashtag, as is DiGiorno’s preferred method of posting, they posted this: “#WhyIStayed You had pizza.” Understandably, many people were upset about the tweet and DiGiorno quickly deleted the post and apologized, blaming a lack of research into the hashtag. To the social media specialist’s credit, they worked extra hard to respond personally to those who replied to the tweet.

This is why it’s crucial to research trending hashtags to make sure you can appropriately capitalize on them. If you don’t, you might offend a huge group of people and go down in social media to fail history.

Be Smart and Responsible

In the hands of a social-media-savvy employee, your social media accounts can be incredibly powerful. However, they can also be the cause of your downfall. As you create and run social media marketing campaigns, be smart and responsible. It’s okay to take longer to create a reliable campaign if it means you avoid social media fails. Remember, the internet always remembers, even if your customers don’t.

DOES YOUR COMPANY’S SIZE AFFECT YOUR SEO STRATEGY?

DOES YOUR COMPANY’S SIZE AFFECT YOUR SEO STRATEGY?

Maybe you’re that small mom and pop shop which started over 30 years ago or maybe you just launched your first entrepreneurial enterprise.

When you start reading all about SEO, and all the different opinions out there about it, you might begin to sweat and feel a little uncertain. It’s hard to tell exactly how much your company should invest in this line of marketing. You’d like to have a full-blow SEO campaign so you can run with the “big guys,” but you’re concerned that you just can’t afford it or that you simply can’t dedicate the necessary resources to it.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for a search engine optimization strategy. Every company, whether large or small, needs to first set some specific business goals and objectives. From there, it’s possible to find your marketing opportunities and set a strategy that matches your current size and goals for growth.

Companies of every size can implement at least one aspect of internet marketing that can boost their SEO efforts and see better rankings and more traffic.

While your company may have a budget too small to implement a broad range of SEO services and strategies, investing in one or two things is a great start. It is certainly better than not investing at all in internet marketing.

Small Businesses

These are your small mom and pop stores, start-ups, and local businesses that have become the fixture of the town.

These businesses have the smallest budgets to work with, and, as a result, these companies often feel like they don’t have much of a chance to make a dent in the search engine rankings.

These companies – especially startups – have a very tight budget, which means they often must resort to doing their online marketing, including SEO, which takes up precious time.

Instead of spreading one’s online marketing strategy and budget too thin, small businesses will likely do better when they focus on one or two areas instead.

In a Search Engine Journal blog post, the author breaks down the appropriate SEO strategy for different types of small businesses.

Specifically, the author says there are two types of small organizations: brick and mortar businesses with an actual building and address and those that don’t have a physical store.

The small businesses with a physical place of business would do well to invest in local SEO, online public relations and branding, optimizing for mobile and experimenting with Google AdWords.

The goal of these businesses is to get people in the store, so they need to focus on getting listed in Google Local and on third-party review sites like Yelp.

Small companies that don’t have a building where they do business can benefit by implementing AdWords campaigns, initiating a content strategy, undertake social media marketing and exchanging links with other websites.

Medium-Sized Companies

With medium-sized companies, the budget is still an issue. These companies, however, will likely have larger websites on which technical SEO becomes more important.

comprehensive SEO audit of the website is a great starting point from which mid-sized companies can launch their SEO strategy.

Online public relations and social media marketing are also still beneficial for medium-sized companies. These companies can also begin their long-term content strategy.

In a medium-sized company, there should be at least one dedicated internet marketer who can handle editorial calendars, social media messaging and oversee the execution of the company’s SEO strategy. This person can be an in-house employee or outsourced specialist.

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Large Companies

These large companies have the budgets to afford the whole scope of an SEO campaign, and similar to small companies, there are two kinds of large companies: B2B and B2C.

For a business to business (B2B) organizations, the biggest areas to pay particular attention to our content marketing and technical SEO. An essential part of content marketing is pushing the content out on social media.

Large companies that conduct business with consumers tend to have the deepest pockets in terms of budgets. They, therefore, have the greatest opportunity to dabble in every aspect of internet marketing without needing to focus on just one aspect of it.

In addition to utilizing all the aforementioned internet marketing strategies for SEO, large companies working to get more customers to need to be diligent in protecting and managing the business’s brand online. PR and prompt social media responses and the monitoring of all content (blog, social posts, and page content) are vital in upholding a company’s reputation.

These large companies may often contract work out to multiple internet marketing agencies. This is because large companies know which agencies are better in the different aspects of internet marketing than others.

This might also be a great option when these large companies have a marketing team that is proficient in traditional marketing methods but may not have the necessary skills in the online real.

Finding the Right Strategy for Your Size

It doesn’t matter how big or small your company’s marketing budget is. There are internet marketing strategies that can optimize your website and online presence that are relatively inexpensive.

Your customers are online. If you let your limited budget keep you from being easily found online, you’ll lose out on business and customers. You may believe you can’t afford to do SEO, but the truth is you can’t afford to ignore SEO even more.

Whether you’re a one-man show or you’re in charge of a marketing team of 20+ people, SEO.com offers the technical and local SEO, social media marketing, content strategy, public relations, and mobile SEO your company specifically needs to up it internet marketing game.

WHY YOU SHOULD LOOK AT MORE THAN PRICE WHEN CHOOSING AN SEO COMPANY

WHY YOU SHOULD LOOK AT MORE THAN PRICE WHEN CHOOSING AN SEO COMPANY

WHY YOU SHOULD LOOK AT MORE THAN PRICE WHEN CHOOSING AN SEO COMPANY

by  Competitive Analysis, Content Marketing, Keyword Research, SE

The new iPhone 8 is rumored to have a substantial price increase on one of its models when it’s released later this fall. Historically, the iPhone pricing starts at around $650. That may still seem like a lot of money to some, but the new flagship phone by Apple is expected to run around $1,200!

So why the price jump? Well, simply put: that particular model is going to be more expensive to build and will have higher-end components.

Apple spends roughly $220 to manufacture the current iPhone 7, and approximately 20% of that cost is in the display. With this new model, they are expected to replace the current display with a bezel-less, OLED, screen from Samsung. The price of the OLED screen costs upwards of 60% more than the current iPhone 7 display.

Even with the higher price, Apple will still sell a TON of units.

Why?

Because people like quality and they understand that quality comes at a higher price.

So, what does this have to do with SEO?

Quality is something you need to consider when pricing out various SEO services.

When you shop around for a new SEO partner, you are going to receive a lot of different quotes. These quotes are going to vary in price, strategy, and deliverables.

The vetting process can be tedious and confusing at times, but it’s worth it to carefully weigh out all your options. If you choose wrong, your site’s traffic may suffer. That’s a heavy blow that you probably don’t want to deal with.

Fortunately, that’s something you can (eventually) recover from. The heavier blow comes when you consider the amount of money lost by choosing the wrong company.

If you decided on a company that has a higher price point, it will cost you much more upfront. However, just like the upcoming iPhone 8, high-quality, reliable results come at a higher cost. Of course, getting SEO isn’t like getting a better screen. In the case of online marketing, the higher the quality of your SEO services, the more likely you’ll see a substantial ROI and a healthier, more sustainable website.

[How is your website doing? Get a free website report and find out.]

Before moving on, I want to make it known that the last thing I want to do here is call out other agencies in the SEO industry. What I do want to share what I’ve seen in the eight years I’ve been at SEO.com.

If an agency submits a quote and it’s dramatically lower than some of the other quotes you’ve received, they are most likely outsourcing to the Philippines or India and/or automating much of the work. They may also assign you to a manager that is also managing 50+ accounts. This helps them keep costs down, and they pass those savings on to you.

It’s these same agencies that have the “burn em & churn em” mentality. They don’t expect their clients to stick around for longer than, let’s say, six-months. But they don’t lose sleep over that because they have a giant sales force that keeps bringing in new business. That’s perfect for them, but not so ideal for you.

The other way agencies can reduce costs is by creating cookie-cutter strategies. That way they don’t have to spend time performing research on your industry, competition, and current status online. They just provide ‘X’ number of deliverables each month and convince you that it’s going to have a lasting effect on your business.

You may see some increases at first, but I can tell you… you’ll be lucky if it lasts.

Chances are, an SEO firm that comes in at a bit higher price is going to spend more time on research and creating a strategy that will have a lasting effect. They are also going to spend time adjusting that strategy as the campaign progresses, which is what you want! Google updates their algorithms over 500 times a year. On top of that, your competition is implementing their marketing strategy, and new competition is popping up every other day. You have to be agile enough to react to these changes at the right time and in the right way.

A cookie-cutter, one-price-fits all strategy will not compensate for these changes.

You want an organic strategy. A strategy that evolves and adjusts with the latest trends, tactics, and guidelines. You want a plan that is custom-fitted for your business.

When you are allocating a good chunk of your marketing budget towards SEO, you want to make sure that you are getting your money’s worth. You will want to see evidence that work is being done and you want tangible evidence.

I get that.

It’s natural to want something immediately in exchange for the money we’ve invested. And even if your SEO manager has told you time and again that rankings take time, many companies still want to see a range of very specific deliverables.

They want to see a certain number of blogs written every month or a certain number of links built. Just keep in mind that when your agency doesn’t have a deliverable for you, or you don’t see any changes in rankings and traffic, SEO takes time. Even Google says so. And it may turn out that blogs and links may not be the best thing for your campaign at this time.

If you don’t receive a new deliverable with action items on it, I would guess that a lot of your budget for that month was spent on market research and identifying hurdles that may pop up.

This is still valuable work!

This is what you want to see from your team!

You can’t build a house without a strong foundation and you can’t succeed at SEO without a custom plan, a fully optimized website, and an understanding of your immediate competition.

Of course, just because your agency is charging a higher price point doesn’t guarantee they’re providing the quality work you need. And if your SEO team isn’t able to provide a list of the tasks they are working on, then you may want to start asking for proof of work. (They should provide this in their monthly report.)

This list of work may not include 3.5 blogs a month or whatever you may have heard you needed, but ask yourself this:

Are you working with an SEO agency because you want to buy some blogs, or because you want a marketing team that functions as a partner for your ongoing success?

A specific number of blogs versus sustainable online success?

Is that a question?

Understandably, a lot of people will balk at the thought of paying $1200 for the latest iPhone, while others will recognize the value of higher quality materials. The thought of paying the higher price may make you a little anxious, but I can assure you that if you ask the right questions during the sales process, work with your SEO team as a partnership, and maintain reasonable expectations, it’ll all be worth it in the end.