Tag Archives: Search engine optimization

Traffic – 6 Recommendations (Improve Your Website, Part 3) … Plus Some Jokes

 

website design ideas

Your site has it all, so what do you get for the site that has it all? One-word answer: more. Let’s figure out how to improve your site beyond your wildest dreams, so that your new “wildest dreams” for the web can be, well, incredibly, unimaginably wild.

In this series, we are working on your site so that it is optimized from three different angles: design (Part 1), functionality or UX (Part 2), and traffic (today’s lesson, Part 3). Once we’ve done that, let’s all buy a yacht and forget where we live (or just start saying, “I live in the world – I can’t be confined to a state of mind, let alone a physical address”).

Today is traffic, so let’s talk about that, beyond the obvious importance of getting your users to respond to green lights, merge signs, and detour notices. Etsy and Quick Sprout provide expert commentary from a couple different sources, a crafts marketplace and a general Internet marketing informational site, the latter of which I’ve referenced previously in Superb’s blog (and check out owner Neil Patel’s contact infographic).

Both of these sources discuss SEO and content marketing heavily, so I will point out quickly that those are areas of expertise of ours at Superb as well. Also note that though we do still sell snow cones out the side window, we are no longer offering the tropical punch, because we have been unable to keep up with the insatiable demand for that flavor (although we swear it does not contain the world’s most sought-after, limited-edition, above-the-top-shelf rum).

Etsy focuses specifically on SEO, with especially strong points on the following subjects:

  • killer content
  • chain-linking the web
  • just a little patience.

Quick Sprout zones in on social media rather than SEO, so the two sources should pair well to drive in traffic from those two key spheres. Here are the most helpful tips to increase your “social significance”:

  • ask for it
  • court influence
  • brand toward sociability.

These seven tips will help your site from two completely different angles, one obtuse and one acute (or are they both right?). Note that optimizing for social and SEO can be performed simultaneously via Google Author, while optimizing for solitude and dejection can be accomplished via taking your shirt off at a family gathering and aggressively challenging your sister-in-law to a game of bloody knuckles.

We have much to discuss. However, it’s also absolutely necessary that we understand how web conversions have changed the world as we know it. That’s why we’re looking at the subject from a holistic perspective that respects it as the art-form that it is (continued from our discussion throughout this series). Another fun fact follows:

Fun Fact About Website Conversions #7: Did you know … that the easiest way to convert a visitor to your site is to shout at them through a bullhorn? Make sure when you use the bullhorn that you are in the immediate environment of the user, standing right next to them. Bullhorns don’t work nearly as well through the web. Get hands-on.

SEO Traffic & You, Lady

Per the Etsy commentary, SEO is not always easy to understand, and quality SEO is not as simple to implement as we would like. However, three primary points of focus can help us get our sites higher in the rankings:

  1. Killer content – You want all of the content on your site to be as search-friendly as possible. The most solid approach is to think at all times about the quality of what you have to say. Fill out your site with great informational articles. Also, make sure anything you present is specific rather than general, gearing toward long-tail keywords.
  2. Chain-linking the web – Link to others, and do whatever you can to get them to link to you. Link from all your social media to your website of course, but also find whatever sites might be interested in what you have your offer, your site’s area of expertise, or even your locale. Link within your site to other pages (internal linking), and submit guest posts to other sites.
  3. Just a little patience – Your site’s prominence will likely rise and fall over time, but don’t give up hope. SEO takes time. Try to keep the content on your pages solid rather than constantly reworking. Add new blog pages instead.

Fun Fact About Website Conversions #8: Did you know … that full website conversion can best be achieved by wearing a traditional, 28-pointed, misshapen, fully-interactive techno-helmet while stroking a long, flowing beard?

Social Traffic & You, Fella

OK, so what about the other side of the web, social media? Let’s look at three basic techniques from Quick Sprout that you can use to take advantage of social sharing and presence:

  1. Ask for it – As Neil mentions, in a study conducted by Dan Zarella, asking people to “please RT” on Twitter created 4 times the tweets. Make sure you ask, because people are much more likely to respond. Start the ball rolling on your site’s content by sharing it yourself and asking your friends to do the same.
  2. Court influence – Build relationships with the powerful. A few ways you can get the attention of these people include posting “best of” lists (of the greatest content you’ve seen during a certain time period or on a set topic) interviewing them, and repeatedly linking to their sites.
  3. Brand toward sociability – Make sure whatever you put on your site is of the highest possible caliber, according to the needs of your visitors. Be both informational and entertaining. Grow one social media piece at a time.

 

Fun Fact About Website Conversions #9: Did you know … that you can successfully convert two web users at once, if they are both using the same computer, with two windows open, and are taking turns using the mouse and keyboard?

Conclusion

Well, it’s a sad day, folks. We’ve successfully completed this series. Now what are we going to do? I guess it’s back to staring at the wall and moaning softly until we fall asleep in our own filth. Oh well. As a parting comment on traffic, remember, it does require patience. Keep at it.

Regarding general site improvements, the same principle applies. It’s all a work in progress, after all, which is also a great way to refer to your write-offs if you get audited.

by Kent Roberts

Design – 6 Recommendations (Improve Your Website, Part 1) … Plus Some Jokes

 

website ideas

Looking to improve your site? Is it boring, or possibly not as great as you want for user interaction? Are you not getting the number of visitors you want? Let’s figure out how to do that in this three-part series on design, functionality, and traffic.

To conduct this effort to improve your site, we will draw on the thoughts of a couple design experts. First we will look at simplicity. Here are three points we will cover to enhance the ease of your site, courtesy of Jane Friedman:

  • readability & conciseness
  • going easy on the eyes
  • limiting the possibilities.

Next we will consider how to make your site impressive. The advice for that section draws on three tips from Search Engine People. Not only will impressiveness help with conversions, but it will increase the amount of time people spend on your site and enhance your repeat visitor numbers. In that section, we will review the following five subjects:

  • layout
  • color scheme
  • calls to action.

Finally, we will examine fun facts about website conversions that you may not know. These facts will help you understand how to improve your site and have better things to talk about at cocktail parties and trade shows. The first one is directly below.

Fun Fact About Website Conversions #1: Did you know that every time a website makes a conversion, an angel gets one wing? Just one, which is a little awkward and embarrassing. That’s why it’s crucially important you get conversions in pairs. Otherwise, angel decision-makers and other angelic notables will grow increasingly resentful of you as they walk around lopsided.

Simplicity & Web Design

It may sound obvious, but preventing confusion should be your top consideration when you look at your site. Confusion is on a spectrum. Most sites leave us unable to find what we want from time to time, but best to minimize those moments. In fact, Jane Friedman suggests treating your site as a billboard. Here are her three recommendations for making your website as easy to use as possible:

  1. Readability & conciseness – When you are looking for something you need on the web, you probably don’t spend a huge amount of time poring through all the details when you first visit a site. If you are like most people, you scan your eyes and skim for the content you need. Keep it short.
  2. Easy on the eyes – White space (or “fuchsia space,” depending on your background color) is not the worst thing in the world. The home page especially must look clean and livable, like there’s room for visitors. Don’t stuff the homepage with everything you are positive everyone must see. Go easy on people when they walk in the door. Excessive content creates what Friedman calls “surf shock.”
  3. Limiting the possibilities – Beyond how the site looks, even if you space everything out visually, you can also err in asking visitors to do too many things at one time. Think of every link and button as a secondary call to action. Are there certain points of focus for your visitors? Deliver only those options. They will appreciate it.

Fun Fact About Website Conversions #2: Did you know that when you get a conversion on a website, it entitles you to one free carousel ride at the Bill Gates’ rainy and bleak Internetastic Dude Ranch in Republic, Washington? While there, you can also visit a real dude ranch, where the sun shines all the time and leprechauns tend to the horses. Gates’ is just a carousel in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by thunderclouds.

Impressive Web Design

OK, now let’s take a quick look at how to dress your site to impress. Here are three pointers from the folks at Search Engine People, who recommend primary focus on user experience (note that we also offer SEO, with a heavy focus on content marketing).

  1. Layout – Layout should pair with content, and your message should dictate the layout. The visitors’ eyes should easily and quickly move from one point of your overall message to the next: greeting statement & who you are; to supporting content (videos, testimonials, whatever); to your call to action.
  2. Color scheme – Make sure your site isn’t colored in too extreme a way, even if that’s true of your logo. The site shouldn’t look “harsh.” You want your background to be lightly colored. All calls to action should be the same color.
  3. Calls to action – Ask visitors to act above the fold (i.e., the page as it looks before you scroll down). Calls to action should be obvious: sizable and located in prime real estate on the page.

Fun Fact About Website Conversions #3: Did you know that website conversion was first invented in 1836 by Francis Pettit Smith, who drew up the plans and then immediately collapsed with the dropsy, perishing moments later. “He was ahead of his time,” says Guy Kawasaki of his hero before submitting to an extended panic attack.

Conclusion

So, that does it for design. To review, use simplicity (with readability & conciseness, going easy on the eyes, and limiting the possibilities) and impressiveness (with layout, color scheme, and calls to action). The future two pieces will be on functionality and traffic. Now go get that carousel ride. Watch out for lightning.

by Kent Roberts

SEO Basics, Part 3 of 3: 10 Tips to Understand Content Marketing … Plus Some Jokes

 

Google's Sam Sebastian Keynote at Content Mark...
Google's Sam Sebastian Keynote at Content Marketing World

This piece is the third and final installment in a series on search engine optimization (SEO). The first two parts of the series focused on optimizing toward specific geographical areas – local (Part 1) and international (Part 2). This final article will center on content marketing and why quality content is so important – because informative articles are much of what’s used these days to gain search engine prominence.

Our focus over the years has started to turn toward social media and its ability to aid “conversational marketing.” Content marketing and conversational marketing are in a sense one and the same. Quality content generates quality conversations. If people like the information and entertainment you are providing through your website and promoting through social media, they will be likely to share it with others and more likely to trust and engage with your company – resulting in higher sales.

Content is not just about conversation, though. It is also about getting the attention of search engines. The SEO packages we offer at Superb Internet (alongside web hosting, colocation, and other services) all include, as a core component, the production of quality content. This is because the search engines will give you higher prominence if you are adding strong, original copy to the Internet. “Content is king,” as they say, not just because it makes you more relevant on Facebook and Twitter, but also on Google, Yahoo!, Yandex, and other search engines.

Google Authorship will further integrate social and search by combining its search engine with author-specific tags tied to its social media arm, Google+. Essentially, the relevance of your content, the prominence of the writers or “authors” on your site, and the extent of the conversation your material generates through social media will form a trifecta that determines how high you rank various places online.

Marketing, like all aspects of interaction, is adapting to fit the new expectations of an audience that is increasingly surrounded by digital media and the ability to rapidly share ideas, information, and entertainment with friends and business associates. What has resulted is innovation, but also a sense of confusion about exactly how to meet the needs of new communication tools and sensibilities. Today, then, let’s explore what content marketing is all about and why so many businesses are implementing it.

Before I get into that, though (following up on the format I established in the first two parts of this series), I will present a couple more non-traditional approaches that can increase stickiness on your site. Below is the fifth such Attention Grabber to help you stand out online and give your site’s first-time visitors a great immediate impression.

Outside-the-Box Attention Grabber #5: Baby-Friendly Sounds & Swirling Colors

Have you considered making the landing pages to your website more baby-friendly? Babies now represent 28% of online traffic, and needless to say, they have difficulty understanding traditional sales pitches, preferring happy sounds and swirling colors. Be sure to incorporate these elements into baby-friendly pages:

  • A delicate balance between soft, cloudy pastels and bright, bold hues: babies are easily bored, so ensure visual diversity
  • Advisable sounds: laughter, rain, cat-purring, nonsensical doting grandmother noises; inadvisable sounds: screaming, cackling, explosions, and growling.
  • Always be closing: Make it clear in your terms and conditions on the landing pages that if the baby blinks twice and smiles, s/he owes you $39.95 per month, due in full when the baby turns 18 years old.

10 Tips to Understand Content Marketing

The following 10 tips can be helpful in your efforts to drive traffic to your site by generating quality content that gives you a lift on Google. My main objective here is to convey a broader understanding rather than a specific systematic approach.

  1. How Content Brands Your Company: As Frank Strong of Copyblogger notes, we tend to think of a brand as the name of a product or service – but that isn’t really what it is. A brand is a perception of the product. The perception is, simply speaking, a combination of the image in statements made by the company (as developed by content marketing, TV and radio advertising, etc.) and user interaction (as developed by conversational marketing such as social media, user-generated content such as third-party blogs, reviews, word-of-mouth, etc.). Content marketing allows you to grow and change people’s perception.
  2. Contributing Value: In everything you do with content marketing, think about how the information might be useful and/or enjoyable to your audience. This article, for example, is intended to get across information while also occasionally being silly – so it aims for fun and functionality at the same time. Content marketing is, in a sense, one and the same as conversational marketing because you are attempting to strike a chord with your audience. That way, people want to discuss your business with their friends, and their experience is more memorable. “Content is currency – something we trade for our audience’s attention,” says Strong. Offer value to receive value.
  3. Non-Traditional Advertising: Reaching out to your audience through online content is an alternative to traditional advertising; according to Social Media Today, that’s a good thing. A 2012 Nielsen survey found that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends, and 70% trust online recommendations by strangers. Compare this to 47% trust in TV and magazine ads, and 46% trust in newspaper ads. Getting a conversation started online is a point of access where consumer trust is high.
  4. “Too Much Information”? Usage of smartphones has expanded rapidly, and this has made a major impact on how much users search for information. In 2010, about 1/3 of Internet users owned smartphones; at that time, the average person searched 5.3 online sources prior to buying a product. In 2012, that figure became more than 50%; the number of sources checked almost doubled to 10.4. Make sure you have plenty of content to meet that growing need. And always think in terms of customer needs, per Jay Baer’s concept of “Youtility” (you, not me) and how help wins out over hype online.
  5. Success with Consumers & Businesses: By the time a consumer gets to your website, s/he has made it about 70% of the way to a purchasing decision. Furthermore, per a survey by Roper Public Affairs, 80% of decision makers at businesses would rather read an article than view an advertisement to find out about a solution for their company.
  6. Bolstering of ROI: Content marketing does not disappear; rather, it is a business using the growth of its website to its advantage. Advertising campaigns – even online ones – are here again, gone tomorrow. Your own content, on the other hand, gradually builds and spreads your messages over time. You also get access to more people because of social media sharing. Additionally, per Social Media Today, a Kapost & ELOQUA study found that content marketing is three times more effective at lead-generation than is search engine marketing (SEM) such as Google AdWords, at 70% the cost of SEM.
  7. The Numbers Don’t Lie: Advertising Age conducted a survey of 600 marketing professionals. The results suggest that 12% of marketing dollars are now going to content marketing, with increases in those numbers during 2013. Perhaps part of the reason that number is not yet higher is because companies are confused about factors such as who should be in charge of content, exactly how to make it work, and how to measure its effectiveness.
  8. Difficult to Gauge Effectiveness: One thing to keep in mind about content marketing is that it is not always easy to figure out whether it is working. Of the marketers surveyed by Advertising Age, 8% said they were “very satisfied” with their understanding of the success (or lack thereof) of their content campaigns; 48% said they were “somewhat satisfied.” Keep in mind, that’s not as bad as it may at first appear: it just represents the general confusion as to how to measure whether content is working in a brand’s favor. The CMO of Target, Jeff Jones, says that the company’s webzine A Bull’s-Eye View is receiving over 100,000 unique visitors for each issue, which sounds great; however, “we don’t have a single metric yet, and we don’t have history to know its predictive nature.”
  9. Determining Who’s in Charge: One crucial component of quality content marketing is that it is consistent throughout the company. That means it’s necessary to have a single person who is responsible for the content as a whole. It’s also wise to have individuals, if possible, whose sole responsibility is to analyze possibilities, develop content, and determine whether campaigns are succeeding. Since best practices are still in their infancy throughout marketing as a whole, you need to create a strong infrastructure internally to ensure you are learning from your mistakes and getting better as you go.
  10. Strong Writing Backgrounds: Since the word “quality” is so vague, many folks don’t choose professionals to write articles for their companies. Larger companies are turning toward journalists in some cases – such as Coca-Cola, which according to Advertising Age has hired a former TV news reporter to assist with content creation for a stronger base in research and story-telling.

Outside-the-Box Attention Grabber #6: Middle of Nowhere WebCam

It’s always good to include a live feed from the middle of nowhere as a pop-up window on your website. New customers want to know that you are willing to go the extra mile to expose them to uninteresting as well as interesting content. Here are a few pointers:

  • Choose a location that is completely nondescript: no buildings, no plants, no human beings – just open space
  • Engage your visitors by popping up text – after 10 seconds – that asks, “Why have you not closed this window yet? There is nothing to see”
  • Pair the video with an audio track of yawning. This pairing has the power to make the visitor so bored and depressed that s/he is unable to leave your website.

Conclusion

Developing a strong content marketing campaign for your website is not a simple task. However, its effectiveness in building search engine rankings is obvious as Google, Yahoo!, and Bing gear their algorithms more and more to rewarding quality advice, information, and entertainment on sites. SEO is no longer just about link-building through directories. It’s about helping people find what they need online. If you make people’s lives a little easier, they will appreciate it and become more likely to want to do business with you.

That concludes my three-part series on search engine optimization (SEO). Check out Part 1 on local SEO and Part 2 on international SEO to get a better handle on the different ends of the spectrum for your business’s search efforts.

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

SEO Basics, Part 2 of 3: 6 Tips & 2 Mistakes in International SEO … Plus Some Jokes

Image of Google & Yahoo offices in Haifa. Both...

This piece is the second part of a three-part series on search engine optimization (SEO). The first part of this series was on local SEO (a.k.a. “search”), and the next and final part will focus on content marketing – which, alongside conversational marketing (which is really built into good content development anyway), is a major part of any search efforts.

SEO of various types is one of a number of different solutions we offer for website owners and administrators at Superb Internet – alongside hosting, co-location, etc. We offer it because often the people that run websites need help either attaining or sustaining high rankings on Google, Bing, Yandex, et al.

Furthermore, since search and “social” (a.k.a. social media optimization or SMO) are being integrated by Google – via incorporation of its social platform Google+ – businesses will no longer be able to rely simply on one or the other of those elements. Instead, Internet presence will rise or fall based on the success of both of them.

Simply put, the Web is evolving. There is much debate online about what phase of the Internet we are currently operating within. As social sharing became a more prominent aspect of the Internet, the notion of Web 2.0 took hold. There is a good argument that as we transition into stronger interconnection between search and social, and as page rank starts to slip away in favor of author rank (led by Google Author tags identifying individual people responsible for online content), Web 3.0 will be born.

Let’s talk a little bit about how to handle international SEO efforts, taking a look at the other end of the spectrum from the local approach. Many of the same principles apply of course, but different strategies will be helpful if you’re looking for more of a worldwide presence. Keep in mind: English only represents 25% of the Web, and users in non-English countries have higher degrees of trust for content written in their own languages.

In addition to discussing our main topic, I will also continue (from Part 1 of this series) to provide valuable non-traditional ways in which you can pull in the attention of visitors when they first arrive at your site. Here is the third of those Attention Grabbers; then we will get into the international strategies:

Outside-the-Box Attention Grabber #3: Shoplifting Videos

One thing I’ve found that people always like to see on a website, right when they first arrive, is a six-hour video of top executives of the website pocketing small objects from various convenience stores, pharmacies, and historical museum gift shops. Here are a few important things to include when creating this type of video:

  • It’s good to have an “apprentice” in the video – a small child who is learning the valuable life skill of petty theft from a seasoned shoplifting guru
  • Make sure it’s clear in the video that the star doesn’t need any of what s/he’s taking, and that there is no Robin Hood attitude or high-minded philosophy behind what s/he’s doing; instead, the individual should say repeatedly, “Everyone should do this: it’s exciting, and they have air conditioning in jail”
  • Close with footage of the perpetrator selling the shoplifted merchandise at a pawn shop, then spending the $17 that s/he made on a misguided bet at a greyhound racing track.

6 Tips to Building International SEO

Below are a number of techniques you can use to develop and refine the way that you target international markets. In some ways this is no more complicated than efforts to gain prominence for local searches; however, there are more and less intelligent ways to go about it.

  1. Understanding the Competition: First of all, be thoughtful about what you are trying to do – because the international space is a different sort of competition. You’re going up against established companies in the nation of your focus. Those companies understand the tone of their own culture and the particular needs of its people. It’s a tall order to overcome: not impossible, but familiarity is your primary challenge.
  2. Creation of Country-Specific Websites: A basic question is whether building additional sites is a good idea or not. Now, it could greatly increase your odds to create a new website for each country where you want to increase your business. This will both allow you to choose a country-code TLD (ccTLD) for the nation – such as .uk or .de – and to generate content tailored for that particular audience. You can also then tie those new sites to specific social media. However, managing and maintaining all of these sites is, obviously, a huge project. Typically you want to use the power of one site rather than spreading yourself too thin.
  3. Country-Specific Domains & Backlinks: Google will give you higher relevance for a nation if you tie to a ccTLD and get links from companies and people who use that country as their principal place of business. In essence, you want – as an example – Japanese links to the Japan subdomain or subfolder of your site. If you buy the .jp domain for your site, you can forward it to the Japanese section of your site as well. You can try tools such as Majestic SEO for automated filtering; but developing real strength will require targeted marketing for Japan.
  4. The Dangers of Broken Japanese: We all know how annoying it is to read an article that is difficult to understand because it is written in mangled English. The same is true anywhere. Be sure you have a copywriter who is either an expert native speaker or is extremely well-trained in it as a second language. Before you start to translate, conduct new keyword analysis. People in different countries (including other English-speaking ones) arrange words differently in their searches. Also be sure to add a meta-tag specific to the language being used on each page. Don’t worry too much about English-to-English (such as different usage between US/UK), but do make changes for currency and other usability concerns.
  5. Choose the Right Search Engines: You want to gear your efforts not just toward the correct languages and keywords, but toward the search engines that are most widely used by members of the target nation. Here are the top five worldwide search engines as of February 2013: 1. Google (US); 2. Baidu (China); 3. Yahoo! (US); 4. Yandex (Russia); and, 5. Bing (US). Also, keep in mind that these are general numbers. The top search engine in the Czech Republic is Seznam. The top in South Korea is Naver. Don’t obsess over Google when you’re trying to get customers in countries where Google is not as relevant as another search engine.
  6. Marketing Integration: Create synergy between what you’re already doing in your company and the international marketing campaign you are initiating. What you are essentially getting is leads. Make sure you are as ready as possible to handle those leads as wisely and carefully as possible. You need to think through the entire conversion process rather than just trying to get links and implementing other data-focused efforts: attraction is only the first step.

Outside-the-Box Attention Grabber #4: Timer Counting Down to “Internet Armageddon”

It is always good to let visitors to your site know that they can always come back for valuable information, such as exactly how much time is left on the Web before Internet Armageddon (IA or Y3K) arrives (in the year 3000) and decimates all websites on the planet. Here are several factors to consider when creating and implementing your timer:

  • It should be at the top of your page: certainly what is currently at the top of your page is not more important than the end of the digital age
  • When visitors click on the timer, they should enter into a video tour of your website’s “Y3K e-bomb shelter”; the shelter should be a virtual reality that is vast, deep, and poorly lit – completely prepared 987 years in advance of IA
  • Include PDFs of pages removed from a post-Internet tract you discovered during your illegal wanderings through the sub-basements of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, provided you took such a journey (no fibbing).

2 Mistakes in Building International SEO

Finally, here are 2 pieces of advice on what NOT to do so you’re less likely to repeat mistakes other businesses have made when attempting to gain international traction.

  1. Nativity Does Not Translate to Skill: Make sure you do not make the mistake of hiring or designating a person to be in charge of an international campaign just because they are from a certain country or are familiar with its culture. Remember that SEO is an expertise in and of itself; excellence in the field generates salaries well into six figures. Don’t expect great results without a reasonable investment in a service such as ours at Superb Internet.
  2. Focus on the Dominant National Language: When you enter a new market, you need to consider which speakers of a language within that country or region are most likely to become your customers. You may also find cases where a nation’s official language is not what’s used most often in the search engines – at least by certain subgroups. Even in the United States, as of 2007, 24 million people speak Spanish “well” or “very well.” India is an international example that’s linguistically complicated. Over 300 languages are still alive throughout the nation, with only 22 of them officially recognized. English is typically used as a language for SEO in India. However, there’ll be less competition targeting to a specific language; just make sure it represents a reasonable target demographic for your business.

Conclusion

In review, there are a number of tested and dependable tactics that can help you succeed in international SEO campaigns. First, understand your competition, and consider the culture and language you are targeting. Build a system of domains and backlinks that are specific to each nation or geographic area you are entering. Speak the language well, use the most popular search engines for the specific country, and build your worldwide marketing efforts into your business as a whole.

Finally, don’t make errors in judgment that could be costly and frustrating. Make sure you don’t hire someone just based on their cultural familiarity or language skills; rather, focus on search engine expertise. Also, don’t oversimplify your approach to countries where multiple languages are spoken.

This piece is the follow-up to my discussion of Local Marketing (Part 1). Next up: A general discussion of Content Marketing (Part 3).

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

SEO Basics, Part 1 of 3: 10 Tips for Local SEO … Plus Some Jokes

 

Google Appliance as shown at RSA Expo 2008 in ...

At Superb Internet we offer – along with hosting, colocation, and various other services – several different Search Engine Optimization (SEO) packages. SEO, like many other Internet presence services, has been much maligned due to the number of shoddy packages offered by individuals who might not even know all that much about the service they are selling. Like anything, it’s sometimes hard to determine the quality of a package when we ourselves aren’t rudimentarily educated on the topic.

Furthermore, SEO is becoming more and more complicated as Google changes its algorithms and as quality content has become so crucially important to determining your prominence online. You might be at the top for certain keywords for a period of time. Then Google releases a new modification of its algorithm, and suddenly your pages have become irrelevant. High levels of expertise and attention to developing trends in SEO are required to get your site high rankings on the most crucial keywords searched by your potential customers.

The good news is that SEO is heavily dependent on content – such as articles, photos, and videos – which can then be promoted to your social media fans and email newsletter recipients as well. Quality content is as simple as blog posts and as complicated as posts that will get broad attention from a large web audience that fits your target demo. If constructed meaningfully, it builds your site and your credibility; and it keeps people engaged with your business. It’s a matter of you showing off what’s great about your business and drawing on needs that customers have, with content geared to inform and/or entertain.

This three-part series on SEO intends to give you a basic education so you can make a wise decision about how to invest your SEO dollars. We’ll talk about local SEO first – part 1 of the series. Part 2 will cover international SEO. Finally, we’ll get into what content marketing is, and why having a large quantity of useful and articulate content on your site can help you rise to the top and stay there. You want “stickiness” – getting visitors to stay on your site rather than stay on it for a couple seconds and bounce away.

Also, we will talk about several nontraditional ways to immediately grab people’s attention when they first get to your site. Here is the first of these outside-the-box solutions:

Outside-the-Box Attention Grabber #1: GIF of a Cartoon Cat Drinking a Cocktail and Burp-Singing

It’s beyond me why more websites do not utilize a looping GIF of a cat drinking a mai tai and burp-singing the Swedish national anthem. This type of content works on several different levels:

  • Draw in the international community by use of a Californian mixed drink based on the Tahitian word for “good.”
  • Get a larger Swedish audience by presenting their beloved, folk-tune inspired anthem “Du Gamla, Du Fria” (“Thou Ancient, Thou Freeborn”) in a context they’ve never seen it before.
  • Give yourself a chance to work with the feline community, the real overlords of the Internet. And this goes without saying, but be very polite to the cat, or all your work will be in vain. Cats live in a tight-knit community, and once the cats have turned against you, you’re through.

10 Tips to Building Local SEO

Here are 10 tips to improve your local SEO. Note that steps 5 through 9 are vaguer than the others. Each of those items is from advice for local search companies themselves; they’re included because it perhaps offers broader, more prescient insights.

  1. Check Your Keywords: Do your keywords show up on Google local search results (also called a 7 Pack because it contains 7 results)? These results, tied to Google Maps, will show up automatically when you search for a type of business combined with a city — “auto mechanic San Diego,” for example. If it’s not showing up, keep conducting keyword research. A large part of the SEO process is trial and error; the research and analysis component is huge.
  2. What is Your “City”? You may have a much easier time ranking for your suburb or neighborhood than for your entire metropolitan area. Google gives the highest preference to businesses that are closest to the GPS coordinates that represent the center of a city. If that’s not you, it’ll be tough. Consider a more specific local focus.
  3. Look at the Competition: Take a look at the first business in the 7 Pack. Copy the business’s NAP (name, address, & phone – or even just the latter two) into a Google search, and place quotation marks around it. How many results show up? That’s a ballpark (alongside quality of backlinks, Google reviews, etc.) of the number of citations and directories where you’ll need to be listed to have the top ranking.
  4. Directory Work: Get listed in as many directories as you can: Yelp, Google Places, your Chamber of Commerce, etc. Truly local sites such as that last one are important because they give your own site additional local relevance. A link is great, but at least get your contact details listed as many places as you can.
  5. Consistency: You need to make sure you are consistent with your NAP details in each of the directories – and it should mirror what’s on your own site. Many businesses vary NAP details. Don’t. Remember that Google is simply processing data when it determines your rankings. Though that process is complicated, you never want a directory listing to appear to be a second business.
  6. Mobile Sophistication: Think about strategies to specifically address the needs of mobile users. Access of local directories on mobile devices is rapidly increasing, up from 6% to 27% year-over-year between December 2011 and December 2012. Compare that to a rise from 7% to 15% for the Web as a whole. For local, then, mobile is incredibly important.
  7. Improve SEO by Looking Offline: Great SEO is not just about rankings. It’s about looking at offline behavior of your customers. Think of ways to measure offline behavior by people who found you on the Web through your SEO efforts. Regarding online behavior, what do your customers do after the click-through?
  8. Who is Visiting, & When? When assessing your SEO campaigns, look not just at how many people are visiting your site, but what their locations are and what time periods experience the heaviest traffic. This research will allow you to integrate your SEO into a general online marketing strategy. Consider adaptations to frame your SEO strategy within the context of site visitors. If the visitors are not from the locations or timeframes best for your business, adjust your strategy.
  9. Social Media’s Influence on Local Presence: Consider Facebook’s stats on local businesses and how important they are for your online presence: 645 local business Facebook page views each week, with 70% of people liking one or more local business(es). Per Facebook’s Dan Levy, think of social as an extension of your offline efforts. Make social “word-of-mouth” as easy as possible.
  10. Start a Conversation: 1999’s The Cluetrain Manifesto discusses how the business world changed from conversation (as it had been historically) to more of a one-way soapbox for most of the twentieth century. Now with the Web, it’s changed back to a two-way discussion. Focusing on this mutual exchange with customers is called “conversational marketing.” The following tactics can help to start a conversation with your audience to promote engagement through your online presence:
  • Make sure that your business has a strong, quality presence on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+; also consider LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, and Instagram. Monitor your profiles and pages closely. You may want to implement a social media policy for your employees that delineates what’s acceptable and what’s not regarding discussing their jobs.
  • Blog regularly. It’s not just a voice-box but a great central hub to tie together the content on your social media as well.
  • Use the social media as more than simply as a promotional platform. Filter for any mentions of your brand. Discuss topics that draw in interaction, such as questions and polls. Don’t just advertise.
  • Use tools such as Klout and Kred, and study your analytics – not just your general social presence but how much social traffic is hitting your site.
  • Young does not mean wise when it comes to social. Don’t entrust your social image to a college intern. Social media has serious potential. Don’t let it be sloppy or careless. Have similar policies in place for social as you do for you website and business in general. As you train your social manager, focus specifically on the importance of public relations, not just on the functionality of social sites.
  • Though the term “social media expert” is often viewed as silly, make sure that whoever is handling your social knows what they are doing. It’s like everything: familiarity and expertise can enhance your business’s image.

Outside-the-Box Attention Grabber #2: Cryptic Muttering Audio Track

It’s always helpful to build a sense of mystery into your site. A great way to build a sense of enigma is with disoriented, unintelligible muttering for the first 5 minutes a new visitor hits your site. The muttering track should not have anything to do with your business – or for that matter, with any element of reality. To disturb and bewilder is to build toward the sale. Here are three sample directions the muttering could go:

  • Free-verse poetry featuring 1970s hockey scores between teams that don’t exist
  • Snippets from the third chapter of Wuthering Heights read backwards
  • Rapid-fire political rants in which each word is from a different language.

Conclusion:

Succeeding with local SEO (and you could do that with Superb Internet) — is challenging, but it’s a step-by-step process like anything else: Consider the parameters of the 7 Pack and how to get your business into it; add yourself to directories, and be sure to always use the same details. Get specific about users, such as where they’re accessing your site and where they’re located. Cater to mobile visitors, and incorporate offline behavior into your understanding of your online presence. Get more sophisticated and integrated with your social approach, and do your best to start conversations. After all, you don’t have to do all the work!

Next up: International SEO (Part 2). Then we’ll discuss what content marketing is all about (Part 3).

by Kent Roberts and Richard Norwood

How an IP Address Works

Often hear the Acronym IP address thrown around? SEO people seem to use it (Search Engine Optimization) as though it’s a numeric stealth ID number to track you down. Well, it’s kinda like that. Here’s a few very recent, and very good takeaways on what an IP address is, and more importantly, how it affects you, or how you can use it to your advantage.

How Public WAN IP works

 
How Public WAN IP works | How to Grow Your Business Online | Scoop.it

From wirelessvictory.wordpress.com – 1 week ago

When you are connected to the Internet, you actually have two different IP addresses, a private LAN IP and a public WAN IP. In most home network applications the router connects your local group of devices…

Juliana Payson‘s insight:

The router usually assigns unique local IP addresses to all of the devices connected to it via a service known as DHCP. The addresses assigned by your router are private addresses and are not routable across the Internet. Whilst you may be confused or sick of reading yet more acronyms, this article by Wireless Victory is an important foundation of definitions in today’s consumption of all things wireless. Most people probably don’t even realize they have a LAN (Local area network) at home connected by their Wireless Router.  It’s likely that all your family phones are connected as devices, including your iPad, your Digital television, your Wireless Printer, and your Blu-Ray, or Set-top-box digital receiver…

Here’s how to take control of your privacy:

How to Change Your Router’s IP Address | Wireless Home Networking

 
How to Change Your Router’s IP Address | Wireless Home Networking | How to Grow Your Business Online | Scoop.it

From blog.laptopmag.com – 1 week ago

By changing your router’s IP address you can give your home network an added layer of Wi-Fi security.

Juliana Payson‘s insight:

You’ll want to change one or both of the last two numbers of the IP address in the LAN IP Address field. You can use any integer between 1 and 254, giving you 64,516 possible IP combinations and making it much more difficult for someone to guess your router’s IP address. Why is this important? Well you’ve often heard people hijacking your bandwidth from your ISP, or grabbing cookies that store your login information. By changing your router’s IP address from something that was allocated or generated, you’ve increased the hassle for someone to break through.

 

SafeIP Hides Your IP Address for Private Browsing, Blocked Media

 
SafeIP Hides Your IP Address for Private Browsing, Blocked Media | How to Grow Your Business Online | Scoop.it

From lifehacker.com – 7 hours ago

Windows: If you want access to streaming media restricted by your location, web sites that display differently depending on where you are, or just a little privacy, SafeIP can help.

Juliana Payson‘s insight:

SafeIP has IP addresses in ten locations, including multiple servers in the US and the UK, and a handful of locations in places like Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Canada, Austria, Poland, Italy, Germany, and France. Conversely where your IP address identifies your location, you may want to piggyback on a proxy server to cloak your location. Now this is not as nefarious as it sounds. Quite often if you are travelling and this will alert your banking logins to multiple locations, you might want to reduce chances of lockout by setting up expected default proxy locations for you to check in from.

Now, every device has an IP address, it so that we can have end points for sending data when we trigger requests. Your website has an IP address, because it’s located on one server. Your phones, and laptops will have a different class of IP address also.

I hope this collection of recent articles helped you tackle your understanding of IP addresses, let me know if you have more questions you want followed up on in the comments below. – Juliana