SEO

HTML5 SEO Round Up! schema.org and more!

I have been pretty backed up lately. I started a new gig helping a popular e-learning organization expand their SEO efforts.  I want to start out by saying how blessed I am to have been given this opportunity.  Through great friends, I have been able to accomplish a lot.  so thanks..

I briefly wanted to start sharing some links and information that has been playing a larger role in my recent efforts.  HTML5 is now on the forefront of all internet marketing chatter.  It’s effective and well organized.  More importantly, it is one of the few things that Google, Bing, and Yahoo all agree on.  I want everyone to start out by checking out schema.org.  These tags are going to pay a pivotal and important role in the future of websites and SEO.  By incorporating the best practices available on this site, you will have an advantage moving forward.  Furthermore, you will be able to provide authorship and in turn stewardship for your brand and goals.

I plan on talking about schema.org more in the near future.  But for now I wanted to offer a few quick links for everyone to check out. Hope you enjoy!

html5 Boilerplate this is a great template or starting point for building a framework for an html5 website.  They go out of their way to emphasize that they are not a framework.  I would honestly agree.  Take a few minutes to checkout this website.  After that, take a few more minutes and watch some videos. There is an amazing team behind this and I think they deserve some attention!  Then check out the next link…

Initializr its like the html5 boilerplate but better!  well.. its actually the same thing, with more customization.  I am loving and digging what they’re doing with this technology.  Check out the bootstrap template and figure out how you can use this on your own technology.

Completely different but similar is Bones an html5 wordpress base theme.  They took the boilerplate a step further and I am very impressed. I anticipate using this more when I have time to test it.  I also dig pirates.

Last but not least… 23 free templates based in html5   for free.

Check it out. Enjoy. I will be back soon with more detailed information on seo for schema and html5.

Rebranding – is it worth it?

rebranding any aspect of your company can be a tedious painful task.  Before undertaking the project of a rebrand, make sure the exercise is worth the investment – short term and long term.

There are many reasons a company would start to consider a rebranding initiative including but not limited to –

  • The product or company name could be weak within the vertical
  • The scope of the company product offering may have changed
  • The target customer base may have shifted
  • Merger & Acquisition activity could change business practices
  • Copyright, Regulatory, or Legal issues
Some of these reasons are vital and necessary for rebranding activity to take place, but before pursuing the large project make sure the end result will be a stronger unified product, brand, message, etc.
Often times, the idea of rebranding a product or project can sound exciting, but excitement is not always a license to change aspects of the business that can affect all aspects of the business.
Almost all rebrands will have an influence on:
  • Legal
  • Accounting
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Product / Engineering
  • Management
Rebranding typically is through a customer facing approach.  i.e. Customers will likely respond more favorably to our product or business if we have something new and fresh.  Remember that for the customer to see the rebranded copy all of the above organizations will need to have some input, as they will have to inevitably make changes within their ogranizations because of the activities.
  • Why are we rebranding the product or company?
  • How long do we expect the project to take?
  • What aspects of collateral, website, contract, advertising need to be updated during this process?
  • Is the investment it worth it?

At the end of the day the process of rebranding may or may not be right for your company at a given time.  The man hours, capital, and other investment to create a new brand, along with the investment lost on previous branding must be taken into account BEFORE your team starts spending time on the project.  Make sure you do thorough investigation on why you are rebranding and what the outcome can be.  If the culmination of your branding efforts result in a substandard new brand then the switch may be in vain.  and remember… The most important aspect of rebranding is insuring everyone in the organization is onboard.

Entrepreneur Spotlight – Sean Parker, Shervin, Pishevar, Alexia Tsotsis

This is an amazing video on the state of Startups, VC, and Entrepreneurial Talen.  It comes in at almost an hour but is definitely worth your time.  Sean Parker discusses music, his past, gowalla, and facebook.

Sean Parker continuously discusses the talent you surround yourself with. He discusses Gowalla’s talent moving to facebook, surrounding himself with the wrong talent at napster and eventually leaerning how important surrounding yourself with good talent can be.

inspirational.

SEocial – SEO meets Social Media

Redundant blog post starts now! Social Media and SEO have been on a collision course for the last two or three years. The Major search engines include social media results in real time on their SERPs. With the recent release of Google Plus and the +1 button showing up in almost all of google products, social will continue to play a larger role in SEO. The social and seo industries have merged into one cohesive marketing segment. There is no longer a way to differentiate between an SEO and Social expert and businesses need to keep this in mind when search for online marketing support.

How is your business utilizing social? are you just updating news, current events, and specials? Do you engage customers and answer questions? Are you providing keyword rich replies with links to quantitative content? By incorporating the same best practices for SEO into social you will see high conversions in terms of sales and followers.

  • Engage Your Customers
  • Provide Relevant Keyword Rich Content
  • Cross Promote – Don’t Just Self Promote
  • Assist Your Fellow Social-ites
  • Link, Link, Link
  • Update frequently (3-5 times a week minimum)

By following these bullets you will start to see real results with your social strategies and in doing so you will directly assist your SEO.  Obviously this is very high level. You can be doing quite a bit more in terms of Video and other Social, but for a beginner these steps will definitely get you started on the right track.

SEO Questions to ask your clients

Being a fulltime SEO for a corporation, I find my side projects limited to helping one or two clients at a time.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to manage more clients to broaden my portfolio, but I think by engaging a limited number of companies at a time I can provide better service with stronger results.  I’ve recently come full circle and am helping a company I previously worked for in a different fashion with their search engine optimization.  I am very excited at the prospect of helping a company that helped me so much early in my career.

With this project, I plan on documenting certain steps that will hopefully help SMB’s who are trying to leverage SEO best practices for their own gain.  The first step on any search engine optimization project is to find out exactly what the company is trying to achieve with their SEO goals.  Below I have compiled a list of questions I frequently use before starting a new SEO project.  Feel free to review and use for your own purposes.

SEO / Social Questions

  • What type of customers / audiences are you trying to reach with search engine optimization?
  • What are the top keywords potential searchers would type to find your site?
  • What Keywords would you like to focus on?
  • What is your primary geography scope?  What are the main areas you’re currently targeting successfully?
  • What future areas do you plan on expanding to?
  • What tracking software do you have currently for monitoring visitors?
  • How difficult is it to make minor adjustments to code and content?
  • What are your growth expectations for the next 12-18 months?
  • What do you want to accomplish in terms of SEO in the next year?
  • Do you own any secondary domains that you’re not currently using?
  • What other forms of advertising are you currently participating in?
  • What is the current marketing strategy?
  • Who is your web host?
  • What platform is the website built on?
  • What company are you using to design your website currently?
  • What are some major roadblocks you’ve hit in the past with your SEO/ PPC / and Social campaigns?
  • How important are bing and yahoo to your organic traffic?

Social

  • How often are you updating your social media currently?
  • What would you like to focus on primarily?
  • Do you have a blog setup?
  • How often would you like to update social campaigns?
  • What do you want to convey through social media?
  • What type of image do you want to portray in terms of messaging, attitude, etc?

As I said before, this is just a small list for you to use to gauge your clients or your own needs.  Did I leave any important questions off?  let me know!

Video SEO – How did we get here?

I’d be late to the party if I were to say that “Video” is the next logical step in SEO strategy.  Industry experts and otherwise have been talking for over two years about the importance of video to drive traffic for websites.  As broadband speeds have increased at near exponential rates, media has become easily accessible at almost every level.  You can now watch netflix on your phone.  Think about that for a second.  10 years ago, if someone would tell me that i’d be watching HD quality tv shows and movies on device more powerful than the computer I was currently using that fits in my pocket I would have thought they were insane.

With the copious amounts of broadband streaming across the world, video consumption is the logical choice, and with that, youtube has quietly become the second largest search engine in the world.   Want to learn how to play guitar? you could google it, or you could use youtube and find countless tutorials for all your favorite songs.  The same thing goes for cooking, drawing, fixing your car, computer, or air conditioner.  Youtube has quickly become one of the primary sources for instruction, entertainment, or anything else.

With this growth, Google has (along time ago) started including relevant video content in search results if a video would be helpful in the results.  Knowing this, a clever SEO could start properly tagging videos with relevant keywords and use the videos to boost their brand above the fold on the SERP without needing to have their webpage showing up organically.  If done properly, the video and landing page could work in tandem to garner amazing SEO results.  Video SEO is the next logical step in the ever changing algorithms.  By providing great quality content, through video, social, or organic, everyone will win.

Job Board SEO – some thoughts

A few years ago I had the pleasure of briefly working for an amazing startup “job board.”  They are a niche job posting site focusing on high-end analytics jobs.  I truly enjoyed my brief stint with the company. I joined this company with aspirations of expanding my skillset with a focus on sales.  While I was moderately successful in helping the company achieve their sales numbers, I found myself being more useful offering ideas on SEO and marketing.  After about half a year, I came to terms with the fact that I would never be truly comfortable cold-calling and smile and dialing and parted ways with the company.

Although my stint with this company was brief, I was and am lucky enough to call all the employees and owners my friends.  To this day, I still assist the founders from time to time with recommendations and strategy to help point them in the right direction.

That’s just a little back story to the real reason I am posting today.  My friend shot me a message with a unique issue that I honestly found very intriguing.  This board has hundreds of recruiters and business posting jobs on their board at a time.  After each position is filled, it must be taken down, and the page must be expired.  What is the best way to handle the pages once they expire? Do you take them down with a 404, 301, or a custom this job has been filled page?  I highly recommended avoiding the 404.  I think that is the worst way to handle the response.  I am also a little finicky about the 301 redirect, but this was my first thought.  The final thought was to create a new page saying something like “this job is filled, but please check out the following similar jobs” and post a table with current similar jobs on the site.

I am not sure how this current Lose Weight Exercise will play out, but I am still researching some other methods and plan to suggest some more A/B testing, but it is obvious that their rankings are hurting.  They also may have gotten a little grief from the google #panda / #farmer update.  Which is also unfortunate because they’re not scraping content, all jobs are posted by companies, recruiters, or representatives.  Needless to say, this is my first post with more questions than advice.  I will post again next month with results from these events.

Search Engine Optimization Consulting – Dallas, TX

Consulting for search engine optimization (SEO) can be a daunting task.  In order to be a good consultant in any industry, you must first properly set expectations.  It is going to be a much healthier relationship with potential and recurring clients if your goals are outlined and well described from the outlet.

About 8 months ago I left SEO consulting behind here in Dallas.  I Decided to focus my efforts full time working for a telco at the INFOMART.  I have to say that this has been a very pleasurable experience and I hope to continue my relationship with this company for a long time to come.  By taking a risk and leaving my consulting role, I have learned many new skills outside of Search Engine Marketing and Optimization and have a much wider marketing skillset that has expanded in to print and media buys.  I love the challenge of learning something new, but my number one joy is still seeing the pages I create or help optimize showing up on the first page of a google SERP.

Remember when choosing the right SEO for your website or company to work with someone  you trust and can relate to.  Avoid blackhat shops or anyone who makes guarantees or sets unrealistic timetables.  SEO and SEM are quantitative processes that don’t change over night.  Patience with SEO and all business is a virtue.

I am also working on a couple new and exciting projects that I hope to discuss more in the future on this blog.  I want to see if some new techniques in SEO are favorable to the Google Instant search while still implementing long-tail.

SMB SEO – Search Engine Optimization

SEO

Over the last decade, broadband speeds have allowed businesses and consumers to connect in new unimaginable ways. With a simple search on Google, customers have gained unparalleled access to any information they are seeking – both good and bad. This week, I will take a step back from discussing IP communications and focus on the ever-expanding industry of online marketing.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of tweaking and adjusting content to make your website more “search engine friendly.” This capability set has been around for quite some time but has recently grown in importance as companies realize the value of high search rankings for related keywords. Showing up on the first page of a Google, Bing, or Yahoo search provides your company prime real estate to connect with potential customers. Additionally, by leveraging SEO GEO targeting tactics, businesses can target customers locally or regionally based upon their business presence.

Years ago, people viewed SEO as a secretive and manipulative process where individuals could game the “system” and implement questionable tactics to maneuver websites to the top of the rankings. This was a false perspective. Google and the other search engines actually encourage companies to use SEO best practices in website design. By implementing certain techniques, businesses help increase usability and standardize web search, which creates a better experience for anyone searching for information. A quick example of this includes using an alt=”” tag when placing an image online. The alt text for images enables a company to describe the image, which is important for text-based browsers or browser readers for the blind. Without the alt description tag, there would be no way for the search engine to know what the image is.

Finally, in the arena of SEO, Google is very important. Globally, Google has an 84.8% market share and 65% in the US. Bing is on the rise, but your best bet at achieving strong SEO results is to focus your efforts on Google.

PPC Marketing vs Search Engine Optimization

I recently wrote a series of blogs for the company I work for.  I have changed it up a little but, but the general post follows –

Pay Per Click Marketing, unlike Search Engine Optimization, is a paid approach to search engine advertising.Companies pay the major search engines for placement in the sponsored links sections typically on the top and right hand side of the search engine results pages (SERPs.)The placement of a company’s sponsored ad depends on a Quality Score derived by the search engines based on the quality of content on the company website, the context of the ad, and the amount a company is willing to pay per position. For the most part, the business model works well for the search engines, advertisers, and potential customers.Unfortunately, there are a couple of glaring issues with search engine marketing.

The first issue with PPC is that there is a 95 character limit on ads for paid search.It is nearly impossible to offer product differentiation from company to company when confined to 95 characters.This makes ad copywriting a very creative and difficult task, as you need to find a way to provide relevant information as well as your value prop in a very confined space.To add a little perspective, twitter, which some view as restrictive, allows a tweet to be up to 140 characters.

The second issue with PPC is the persistent rise in cost per lead acquisition. Many companies are competing for the same piece of the proverbial pie and offer very similar products.This competition especially in paid search is continually driving the cost per click higher on the top industry keywords.Over the past year, we have seen as much as a 50% increase in cost per click for higher converting keywords.This directly increases the cost per acquisition across the industry and as each company tries to spend more to outbid the opposition for better positioning, costs continue to increase.Unfortunately, there is no short term solution for this cyclical increase in online advertising.Unless each of the company’s marketing managers and directors get together and put a cap on online spending (hint, hint), advertising spend will continue to increase until the cost per lead and cost per click reach equilibrium and the model implodes.

Obviously, Google loves this type of competition.If the statistics are correct and Google receives 90% of their revenue from Paid Search advertising, then it is absolutely no surprise why they have a market cap of nearly 150 billion and growing.I see no end in sight as long as this type of advertising continues to be beneficial to both Google and the advertisers who are using their AdWords platform.

Even though Google is the alpha dog and has a commanding lead in search traffic across the board, we have seen success in utilizing Bing and yahoo for paid search advertising.Both secondary search engines have a substantially lower cost per click and still drive a considerable amount of traffic to our website.

Although there are major issues with PPC, this advertising platform isn’t all bad.The company I manage PPC for sees quality leads come through our paid search campaigns on a daily basis.You, too, should work to gain market share with online advertising, and try out various PPC techniques to increase your quality score and gain competitive advantage.