Dont Forget The Basics

Sometimes we all forget the basics. This is especially true when it comes to SEO. Search engine optimization is such a volatile and ever changing landscape that even the pros sometimes forget, or over look the basics. We get wrapped up in dissecting the newest Algorithm change and adapting to them that we sometimes overlook the obvious.  Let’s touch base on a couple that we see happen often when business owners attempt SEO on their own.

Don't forget keywords for SEO

Keywords

Yes, keywords are still very important to on page and off page SEO. While Rank Brain is learning away, we do see that with some of our clients sites that they rank for words and terms that are NOT on their site, and are synonyms or LSI keywords. Still, it’s very important to have as many sprinkled throughout your content AND in your backlink profile, (use sparingly for backlinks).

Gabriel Shaoolian recently published an article on SiteProNews.com that touches on a few key elements of keywords:

Failing to do keyword research.

Nailing a keyword list is going to be the bread and butter for your site’s SEO. In fact, you can think of every keyword as a breadcrumb, trailing users to your site. But in order to create a successful list, you need to not only think of the most basic words to identify your brand. These are the words that consumers are going to be using to start their search. But you also need to consider your competitors.

If, for example, you’re a locally-based eCommerce site for specialty foods, such as gourmet cheese, the terms “specialty foods” and “gourmet cheese” are probably first going to come to mind. But how many other sites out there are already using these words? Probably millions. So, you need to take things one step further by creating a long tail keyword. This would be something along the lines of “best gourmet cheese in Denver.” And here’s where our third what-not-to-do comes into play.

Forgetting to localize.

In the above example, choosing to feature one of your specialty foods—cheese—was a smart move in narrowing down the search competition. But smarter yet was the choice to incorporate the name of your city. This step localizes your search terms, an extremely important SEO step, especially for retail brands with physical locations. In fact, 50 percent of Smartphone shoppers, who search locally on Google, end up visiting physical stores on the same day.

If your brand is failing to optimize itself for local searches, you are going to miss out on an entire pool of customers. Most importantly, given their close physical proximity to your brand, these customers are the ones you should be converting into brand loyalists. When creating your target keyword lists, be sure to include local search terms.

Finish Reading The Full Article Here

That’s good content from Gabriel, especially about not forgetting to add Geo modifiers to your keywords. Local is important for most businesses as they don’t serve the entire US but only their local city or county. As Google gets smarter it picks up on users location and will direct them to businesses that solves their search query. In fact, with most searches now when you search for something you will see in Google suggests the “near me” appended to your search term. So don’t forget to localize!

We recommend you check out Gabriel’s article because of his next point being speaking like a human, which kind of ties in with keywords and voice search.

Lack of proper URL structure will effect SEO and rankings

Website Structure

This can be a huge pain in the rear. If you get this wrong in the beginning and don’t address it, it will snow ball. This was covered in an article done by Pratik Dholakiya on MarketingLand.com:

Poor URL architecture

URL architecture can be a difficult thing to fix without breaking other aspects of your SEO, so we don’t recommend rushing into this, or you might do more harm than good.

That said, one of the most frequent issues I come across is a lack of solid URL architecture. In particular, folder organization is often spotty.

A few common issues:

  • Blog posts listed in multiple categories, resulting in blog posts listed in multiple folders, creating duplicate content issues as a result.
  • URLs with no folders other than the parent domain. While this is precisely the form your most important pages should take, pages further down the hierarchy should be listed in folders to categorize them.
  • URLs with folders that are, themselves, 404 pages. If a URL is listed under a folder, many users expect that folder to be an operational page. From an architecture perspective, it’s semantically confusing, and from an internal link perspective, it’s ideal to have links to these pages from a parent folder.
  • Junk URLs full of numbers and letters. These days, these are primarily reserved for search result pages and database queries that aren’t intended to be indexed and found in search engines. Your URLs should contain useful information intelligible to a human if you want them to contribute positively to your performance in the search engines.

In addressing these issues, there are two complications you want to avoid: creating 404 pages and losing existing link authority. When you change your URL architecture, you need to make sure that the old pages 301 to the new ones. Ideally, any internal links to the old pages should also be updated, since PageRank is reduced by the damping factor every time it passes through a link or 301.

As an exception, if blog posts are listed in multiple categories, a 301 isn’t always necessary, but in its place you should canonicalize to the preferable page.

Read Pratik’s full article here

His first point is one that we see all to often. A blog post that is listed in several categories resulting in duplicate content penalties. It’s important to note that in every test we have ever done on duplicate content, the only time it ever results in a penalty is when it is duplicate content on the SAME site.

His last point is also another one that can’t be overlooked, not properly setting permalink structure. We do run across this from time to time. We have seen that through updates that sometimes the permalink structure gets changed for whatever reason and must be reset.

Summing It Up

Don’t forget about the basics, they still work. Keywords in your content and backlinks as well as keyword rich titles and descriptions, H1 and H2 tags with LSI’s. Lastly, make sure your permalink structure is correct and hasn’t changed or been altered by mistake.

As always, if you need help with your Local SEO for your small business, visit us at MD Internet Marketing Solutions

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What We Learned in July 2017: The Digital Marketing Month in a Minute

July has been a month greater than the sum of its parts. While perhaps no one story has dominated the web, the long-term implications of many of this month’s stories should be given great consideration.

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What We Learned in July 2017: The Digital Marketing Month in a Minute was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Get Links Organically Without Asking for Them

It is a fact that a successful link building campaign starts with link outreach. However, link outreach has become much harder to enact because of the feeling of alienation content writers get whenever we give them unreasonable amounts of link requests. That is actually not the only reason why link outreach is harder to do now

Get Links Organically Without Asking for Them was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Optimizing Homepages: How a clear objective can increase conversion

In this Quick Win Clinic, Flint McGlaughlin looks at a homepage submitted by Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity that has no clear objective. Its visitors become lost somewhere in between the disjointed pictures, ads, video and phrases. Watch now to get ideas for clarifying a homepage’s objective to increase clicks and performance.

Optimizing Homepages: How a clear objective can increase conversion was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

8 Ways to Dominate Your Local SEO Rankings

Google’s update on their local listings made the competition for webmasters to be featured in the listings harder than ever. Sadly, there is no easy way to be featured – which means every business must depend on a great local SEO performance to obtain much better online visibility. Local search engine results pages (SERPs) are

8 Ways to Dominate Your Local SEO Rankings was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

How TO NOT Screw up Your Canonical Tags

The incorrect application of canonical tags might be ruining your past and current SEO efforts. This is because the use of canonical tags is a widely known advanced SEO technique/strategy for dealing with duplicate content or a page that is accessible through multiple URLs. So, if you do not know how to properly use a

How TO NOT Screw up Your Canonical Tags was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Google Data Studio: Using Google Sheets as a Data Source

Data Studio lets us visualize data from many sources. At Distilled, we’ve been using Google Sheets to do most of our reporting for years. It works well—but transitioning to Data Studio is so satisfying.

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Google Data Studio: Using Google Sheets as a Data Source was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

INFOGRAPH: 5 Steps to Create the Perfect Meta Description

Meta descriptions are essentially your way of showcasing what you want people to see – the high level of your page in search results. They matter because click-through rate matters, and if you write them well and follow a few simple principles you can increase your site traffic.   Step One: Start with an action

INFOGRAPH: 5 Steps to Create the Perfect Meta Description was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Getting Optimum Performance Out Of Your WordPress Site

Your website is ground zero for all of your online marketing. Whether you are using video, social media, adwords – you name it, everything points back to your website to convert visitors into customers. However, if your site isn’t performing at it’s peak, then you maybe losing sales. Here are some great tips to make sure you are getting the maximum potential out of your WordPress site.

How To Optimize Your WordPress Website

Optimizing Your WordPress Site

There are a lot of factors that come into play when optimizing your site not only for search engines, but customers as well. As search engines become smarter, it does get a little easier to combine your optimization efforts to please both.

If you have followed any of our posts on Web Design, you know that we have been mentioning for awhile that your site needs to load fast. If your site doesn’t load in just a couple of seconds, users will hit the back button to go to another site. Site load speed is also a ranking factor in search engines. So making sure your site loads fast is probably one of the biggest factors in getting the most out of your site. To learn more about how to make your site load faster, see our post “Speed Up Your Site For Better Rankings And UX“.

Website Hosting

The next thing that must be mentioned is hosting. If you have your site on subpar host, then your site will be lacking. In fact it can hurt not only your site load speed, but user engagement as well. “How” you may ask? Well this was just covered in an article by Chris Garret on CopyBlogger and his tenth point:

 

Hosting with a company that prevents or punishes your success

This last one will catch you by surprise at the worst moment.

You get your 15 minutes (or 15,000 visitors) of fame, only for your host to tell you … nope! Not on their watch.

They shut you down.

There it is, in the fine print of your hosting contract … you’re only allowed a certain number of visitors or so much bandwidth … which means all your new prospects land on a page that says your website is down.

It’s smart to keep your costs manageable when you’re starting out, but losing potential customers because of penny-pinching isn’t so smart.

If you currently have cheap “hobby” hosting, you need to ask yourself:

How many clients or customers can I afford to lose to a bad web experience?

Read Chris’ full article “10 Often Overlooked Website Mistakes that May Harm Your Business

It’s a great point from Chris. We like how he makes the connection between cheap hosting and “hobby” hosting. It’s true. You need to stop and ask yourself if it’s worth saving a few hundred dollars a year on hosting costs that could literally be costing your business tens of thousands of dollars in sales due to a slow loading site or not loading because of exceeding your monthly bandwidth. Are you running a business, or is it just a hobby??

Next we move onto more things on your WordPress site itself. We have covered about how important it is to keep your site’s themes and plugins updated. “Is Your Website At Risk Of Being Hacked” explains how important these updates are in keeping your site secure. Sometimes these updates can also lead to how well your site performs, or doesn’t.

But what about your site’s database and links? One of our favorite writers, Colin Newcomer, just made a post on WPKube that covers this:

Clean and Optimize Your Database

When you first install WordPress, your database starts off so clean and tiny. But as you start “living” in your site, your database starts picking up all kinds of junk. It’s like dust in your house. You didn’t do anything to “cause” the dust…but it still accumulates and makes everything look dirty.

Posts revisions, transients, table overhead, spam comments, and more do that to your database. Each individual database entry isn’t a big deal…but combined (like those specks of dust), they can make your site a big sluggish.

Thankfully, they’re easy to clean up. All you need to do is run a plugin like WP-Sweep. Nothing to configure – just install, head to Tools → Sweep and clean up your various tables:

You can also Sweep All at the bottom of the page – though I don’t recommend it because you might wipe out your drafts. It’s usually better to go through each category individually to ensure you don’t remove important information.

Check for Broken Internal and External Links

Broken links are bad for user experience and, to a lesser extent, SEO. They make it harder for humans to use your site and robots to crawl your site. They’re difficult to find manually…but with the right tool (Broken Link Checker), you can instantly sniff out every single broken link on your WordPress site.

While the plugin does have some advanced settings, for most sites, you can just install it and head to Tools → Broken Links:

You can hover over each link to quickly edit it or remove the link.

Because some people say that Broken Link Checker can slow down the wp-admin dashboard, I recommend only enabling the plugin specifically when you want to check for broken links.

Read Colin’s Full Article “9 WordPress Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Site Running Smoothly

Those are some really good tips. However, before adding any plugins to your site, make sure you back it up first as they may conflict with others and cause the dreaded “white screen of death”. We would also advise that with both of these plugins you deactivate them when not in use as Colin points out with Broken Link Checker. This brings us to our last point –

wordpress plugins

Plugins

One of the greatest things about WordPress are the plugins. There are thousands of them. What you must remember is that “the more the better” rule DOES NOT apply here. Too many plugins will slow down your site, while some plugins are hogs and can really slow things down. As a general rule, we try and stay away from “Swiss Army Knife” plugins that do “everything” for you as they tend to be the worst. Also, the more plugins you are running the greater your chances of having a conflict resulting in again the “white screen of death” or the site not functioning properly leading to poor user experience.

Try and use the minimum amount of plugins as possible to get your needs done. It’s a good idea to regularly check your plugins and if you are not using them, deactivate and uninstall to keep from slowing down your site and minimize the risk of plugin conflict.

Summing It Up

Getting optimum performance from your website really starts with your hosting. With a low cost hosting provider you may be saving a few bucks, but losing thousands in lost revenue due to customers leaving your site before they even see it. Try and use the plugins that Colin recommends to clean up your database and links. Cleaning your database will mostly only benefit your load times, but broken links can not only impact rankings, but user experience as well. Just these few things can have a real impact on how well your site performs.

If you need help with optimizing your website, need a website rebuild, or just need a web design service, visit us at MD Internet Marketing Solutions

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