Archive for the ‘Search Engine Optimization’ Category
This is an unusual post for me. I tend to stick to “how-to” articles because I realized a while back that no one really cares about my opinion.
But in an industry where words must be so carefully dissected and examined, we’ve gotten downright silly with some of our favorite jargon. And it’s my time to whine.
I know it sounds crazy to call this one out. I spend many hours every week studying users search queries to influence our clients’ content creation endeavors.
But does it not irk you that people call a 3 word phrase a “keyword”? So “just call it a key phrase fussypants,” you say.
Beyond nitpicking, the real problem is that all this obsession over “keyword research” and “keyword use” betrays the real goal of all that analysis – to figure out what content people you want on your site want to find. And that comes to down to more than the particular string of characters user types in the search box, which is unfortunately the connotation that comes with keyword.
How about geographic location? Am I necessarily looking for general plumber info when I search for “plumber?” Chances are my IP address let’s Google know that I probably want to see some Pittsburgh plumber in my search results page. (more…)
Like every industry, SEO has its own vernacular and acronyms that can be terribly confusing to outsiders. We use 301 as a verb, crave link juice, scoff at EMDs and worship non-branded organic. Even worse, these terms are here to stay. SEO has cemented itself as an essential online marketing function. An expanded digital audience depends on an expanded digital vocabulary.
What is a Non-Branded Organic Search Visit?
In order to answer that question, let’s start at the beginning, which is actually the end: a visit. Don’t be embarrassed if this is new territory. It was not long ago that even the most savvy Internet marketers focused on hits. But for most people that has changed. Now we talk about a broader metric called visits. In Google Analytics, a visit includes most things that a person does during their stay on your website because a broader perspective than simply pageviews provides more insight to user (and prospective client) behavior. If you would like to learn more about visits, particularly how they begin and end, click on the screenshot below.
Now we understand that a visit can include multiple pageviews and actions on our website. The first step is complete. Let’s continue working backwards. A search visit is any visit that comes from a search engine. A search visit can come from two places: paid search and organic search. Paid search refers to an advertisement in the search results. The ads are shown in the red boxes below. Everything in the green, the non-paid listings, is organic.
The roles and responsibilities of all marketers are expanding. Publicists are conducting keyword research. SEOs are guiding media outreach. These are crazy times.
This article is designed for professionals who wish to streamline their media outreach by creating many semi-personalized pitch letters in Excel using the concatenation function. If you are new to pitching and are simply searching for a way to get a pesky product launch off your plate as soon as possible, please review the Golden Rule below before moving on to the screenshots.
Pitch Letter Golden Rule
As (part-time) publicists, we should never send a form “Dear Reporter” pitch letter to every reporter on our list, even if this blog post makes it really easy to do that. It is not successful, it cheapens the brand and PR people will hate us for doing a disservice to their field. Instead, take time to personalize each pitch, even if there is just one line that speaks to the writer or publication.
The tactics discussed in this article might bend the boundaries of the golden rule but, as the Dalai Lama said, “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.” While I believe that is especially true with all writing, it is also a valid lesson in public relations. Liberties taken from a solid foundation create unique, engaging PR outreach. Liberties taken from ignorance are slop.
When Pitch Letter Concatenation Works
For most story pitches, publicists contact a short list of journalist who report on the particular topic and tailor each pitch to its recipient. A streamlining process like this one might not be necessary. Other times, we need a method for organizing letter writing and distribution.
An example might be an article that identifies the best in your industry. Since this is a SEO blog, our sample article title will be “Top 50 SEO Bloggers.” We will rank the bloggers by a series of quantitative and qualitative metrics, maybe open it up to voting to increase engagement. Once we have the finalists, it is time to contact each one to let them know they made the top 50. We have three options:
- 50 personalized emails
- “Congratulations Blogger” form email
- Semi-personalized letters in Excel
Creating Pitch Letters with Excel
Our semi-personalized email will have two elements: the subject line and the body. We don’t want to use a standard subject line like “Congratulations SEO Blogger” because open rate would suffer–I wouldn’t open it. Instead, let’s us each blogger’s first name.
A lot of folks come to us asking us to help them restore a decline in website traffic that occurred after a site migration or major update. Typically, most – if not all – of the traffic loss was preventable. There’s a lot of different update and migration scenarios and a lot of different things that can go wrong, but we keep seeing many of the same underlying issues.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll define a migration as anytime a large amount of pages or content move from old URLs to new URLs whether it be migrating an entire site to a new domain, a subdomain to a subdirectory, merging a small site into a bigger one, or what have you.
And I’ll assert that most potential problems with any migration can be prevented by following 7 fundamental pieces of advice so simple that even a CEO should understand.
- Understand the Stakes
- Make Sure No Content is Missing
- (Properly) Redirect Every URL
- You Need a (Cross-Functional) Migration Team
- You Need a Pre-Launch Plan
- You Need a Post-Launch Plan
- Use Tools (more…)
Interest in SEO training has soared over the past five years as optimizing for search climbs from the Desired Skills section to Required across marketing job boards. Dan Wilkerson recently created a graph on Indeed.com that illustrates employer demand for SEO and social media.
The marketing generalist is alive and well, but tool kits are expanding. Marketers must be able to drive traffic to websites and they need SEO to do it.
Enter SEO training. It’s a bridge that must be crossed so the only things left to consider are where to study, what to study and from whom to study.
Every Monday, I run through a checklist for each of my SEO clients. The goal is to discover issues that don’t warrant same-day response time, but should still be addressed in a timely manner. There’s slight variations from client to client, and I sometimes use paid tools, but below is the basic template, featuring my 3 favorite free SEO tools: Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Google Analytics.
SEO Health Checklist
- Google Webmaster Tools: Check Crawl Errors, Index Status, and Messages.
- Bing Webmaster Tools: Check Site Activity Screen, Crawl Information, and SEO Reports.
- Google Analytics Reports: Review Keywords, Landing Pages, Sources, SEO traffic numbers and engagement.
- Google Analytics Alerts: Review Custom Alerts and Automatic Alerts. Review other reports as needed.
A disclaimer: This checklist is best used in proper scope in conjunction with other intelligence-gathering methods. Other recommended methods include: Google Custom Alerts, Webmaster Tools notifications, and Daily peaks at Google Analytics Dashboard.
The main purpose of this checklist is to fill as much remaining insight as possible in fifteen minutes. It helps me catch SEO problems and opportunities earlier, and informs me on how I need to adjust weekly SEO workflow. It really makes my job easier.
It might take a bit of time to set things up and get used to finding everything, but once you have it down, and you know what your metrics should look like, you’ll soon be gettin’ her down to 10-15 minutes on average.
Below are details on each step. (more…)
It’s spring, the season of moving, cleaning and lightening our winter load. Search histories begin to include “donate used school supplies Pittsburgh” and “donate kids shoes Raleigh” and “old computer donation Cedar Rapids.” The searches lead to organizations that specialize in those items and everyone wins.
Or they don’t.
Connections are not always made because many organizations, both nonprofit and for, do not commit to a specific geo. There is a fear of casting a narrow net. If we service the all of Allegheny County or the North Carolina Triangle or Eastern Iowa, shouldn’t the website? For small organizations, the answer is often no.
Should my SEO target a city or broader region?
This article examines some local on-page optimization tips for SMBs and community organizations. Before addressing how, let’s review why. Ask yourself two qualifying questions.
Where are customers from? Look at organic search traffic and conversions by city in Google Analytics. If half or more of either visit from your city, you should not be afraid to position the website as a Pittsburgh or Raleigh or Cedar Rapids organization. Showing some hometown pride helps your neighbor find you. Plus, it is still possible to target a national (or even international) audience while targeting a particular city.
Which geo receives the most search traffic? Where your audience lives or works is only part of it. It’s our job as SEOs and online marketers to understand the terms they use in search engines. Here is a look at search volume (from Google Adwords Keyword Tool in “phrase match”) for each of the three geos.
People don’t always search with the phrases that best complement our service area. Sure, you provide legal counsel to personal injury plaintiffs from around the North Carolina Triangle, but do those in need of representation search for “triangle personal injury lawyer” or something else? For many industries, people tend to search by city instead of country or region. Is that true in your industry? (more…)
When Google first made the announcement that they’d be transitioning Google Places into Google+ Local, I was pretty darn excited. I’d dipped my big toe in the local water not long before, helping businesses verify their Places listings at an internship and then publishing a still applicable guide to Google Places. I couldn’t help but think that Google+ held new and exciting opportunities for business owners looking to communicate with existing and prospective customers. All in a beautiful new interface, too. That was the cherry on top.
It’s been a fair amount of time since the transition now, and I’m still a fan of the switch. Having recently gone through the process of updating LunaMetrics’ location information via the Places (or + Local?) Dashboard, though, I thought it an appropriate time to voice my concerns with the whole relocation process. Without any further ado, my three wishes: (more…)
PR and SEO share many qualities. Both strive to expand the reach of an organization by amplifying its voice. Both create campaigns to engage an audience through the dissemination of relevant information. They even use similar tools for digital traffic analysis, media relations and social media.
These blurring lines are being embraced. Publicists now provide keyword analysis with PR packages and SEO agencies include press release writing with search marketing projects. Service offerings have been expanded so everyone can be a one-stop shop for online marketing.
But more is not always merrier. (more…)
In SEO, sometimes you need to go out there and directly contact bloggers and webmasters and win links one-by-one. There are 6 steps in direct link building:
- Needs analysis. How much direct link building is needed (if any)? Which pages and keywords need supported?
- Figuring out where to look. Examples: Google searches for blogs in a specific area, a list of your Twitter followers that have websites, competitor link profiles, etc…
- Pulling prospect lists. Examples: performing the Google searches, retrieving Followerwonk data, retrieving Open Site Explorer link data, etc…
- Qualifying prospects
- Pitching. For example, emailing or calling qualified prospects.
This article pertains to qualifying prospects – that is, going through a list of websites and deciding which sites deserve the significant time required to try to obtain a link from them.
It’s one of the most time-consuming steps in the direct link-building process, and many full-time SEOs like myself have spent hundreds of hours of their life checking out thousands of sites. Thus, there is a need to do it as efficiently as possible, without missing quality link targets. Last week, I was scouring hundreds of sites in a Followerwonk download, and I realized 3 things:
- I was sick of doing this, and I wished could get an intern to do it.
- For that to happen, I’d have to figure out a simple, repeatable process that could be easily taught.
- There was indeed a simple framework, and the reason things had gotten so tedious for me that day is that I wasn’t following it.
Here’s the framework: (more…)