Content Strategy…. What Should I Write About

If you’re an established SEO or if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll no doubt be aware that every website needs to satisfy the content freshness part of the Google algorithm. I say every site, but some business by their very nature already create reams of new content.

If you fall under this category, then congratulations! You’ll just need to make sure your new pages, products, video’s or documents are correctly indexed. The meta-data is up to specification and you’re not at the mercy of dynamic urls or pagination.

For the rest of us unlucky souls here at SEO Liverpool, we need to come up with ideas for a content strategy.

We hear this phrase rather a lot…

My business is so boring to most people outside our industry, no point in writing anything.

So what should you write about?

Firstly, stop thinking that people are going to read your content particularly your weekly blogs. The chances are, they won’t. At this stage you don’t need them too. What we’re saying is, you’re initially only trying to satisfy that part of the Google Algorithm.

Once you’ve an established readership, then you should worry more about what you’re writing.

Let your keywords do the talking.

e.g If your keyword research has thrown up the phrase ‘conveyor belting’ then you should write around that subject. It’s good for general SEO so you’ll be ticking more than one box.

This would seem like a difficult task, as surely everything that has ever been discussed, written or thought about could be placed on the 2 sheets of A4. This SEO agency Liverpool knows that you’d be wrong!

Firstly, their is nothing wrong with digging up bit’s of content that already contains the phrase. You can always re-write from a different perspective. You can always credit the original source. Why not write about certain machines that use the conveyor belts and their purpose.

Secondly,  Look for content that could become viral, or is at least important. Health and Safety laws, famous factory workers and top ten lists. These are generally your best bet for link-bait.

It’s important that you don’t devalue your brand, or say anything that is untrue or controversial but I encourage you to have fun with your blogs… you’ll get better traction.

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Three Classic Onsite Website SEO Mistakes

I’ve been contacted by a few companies in the last few months regarding our SEO basics posts. A common question we’ve heard centers around which SEO elements should they implement on-page (on the website)

It’s important to remember that you’re not trying to game the system. SEO and Google have the same goals. To get the top listings you just have to fulfill the criteria that Google uses to rank you… Google is very much customer focused. Build for the customers then you’ll build a site the search engines like.

Classic Website Mistakes

Number 1

Fresh content – I’ve stated this on many occasions but fresh content is a key-factor and a mainstay regarding the Google algorithm. This hasn’t changed and probably never will.

Why Google Likes It – The simplest indicator of a useful website is fresh content. Fresh content means the site and information is up to date and most importantly more than likely you’re still trading. This is done by the Google spiders revisiting the website.

e.g. You’re a HR company that has no fresh content or news on the website. Alternatively, you update the site with the latest HR information and proactively provide good content that adds to the readers experience.  Which version is Google going to want to refer? Google knows you’re still trading and most importantly you’re probably more relevant. The more the search engine spiders analyse a website, and you’ve added to it, the better you’ll rank.

Number 2

H1 Tags  – You should have a h1 tag on each page that gives a good description of the service you offer. Great for placing keywords but better for telling the customer what the page contains.

Why Google Likes It – Simply, it enables clear navigation and direction to customers. Search engine wise, it very clearly categorises each page and adds context to the meta data.

Number 3

Over optimisation of homepage text. You’ve seen those sites, lists of keywords that are hyper-linked to internal site pages. Their is no context to them. Most of the time, they’re not even written in constructive sentences, just placed in lists.

Why Google Hates It – Google not only looks at the keywords, and those that are linked, but it uses the text around to provide context. Lots of hyper-links and sitelinks is indicative of linkfarms and untrusted sites.

Personally, you shouldn’t optimise a homepage for more than three keywords.

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Google Updates & Help

Anybody involved in the SEO industry will know that the recent ever-present updates to the Google Algorithm have been thrown at us with ever increasing regularity.

Today we’re going to discuss two updates that I feel small white hat SEO’s may have had some trouble with.

We’re not taking about the very recent Penguin #3 — October 5, 2012 or the Panda #20 — September 27, 2012. We feel these have been sufficiently covered by the majority of blogs.

Today at SEO Liverpool we’re discussing;

Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update — September 27, 2012

Officially this relates to ‘a change in the way it was handling exact-match domains (EMDs). This led to large-scale devaluation, reducing the presence of EMDs by over 10%. Official word is that this change impacted 0.6% of queries (by volume)‘.

So if you’re domain name is the same as the major keywords you’ve been trying to rank for.

e.g. if your domain is ‘www.low-cost-insurance.com‘ and you wish to rank for ‘low cost insurance’… then you’ll lose some value. Not a huge amount but enough to lose a position or two dependent on the keywords competition.

Should I panic

Absolutely not, all these algorithm changes are not set in stone, quite often Google tweaks the algorithm or even totally reverses it. So please don’t try and change your domain name. You’ll lose the value of domain age and possibly the value of incoming links if not properly managed.

I’ve seen this happen!

What Should I Do

The answer is nothing. Any attempt to change will, without doubt cause you more harm than good. It’s swings and roundabouts with updates. The next could catapult you back to your previous positions. The best course of action is to concentrate on the fundamentals – More unique content, more links (Good Value) and Social. Think of the Google Algorithm as a score next to each individual aspect related to a webpage. That devaluation will, more often than not be pushed to another aspect or shared out amongst a group of others.

If you concentrate you’re efforts in content, social and links, then you’ll claw it back. If you choose these particular aspects then it is unlikely you’ll receive any penalties or devaluation in the near future. As I’ve stated above, this change could be reversed and then your hard work will certainly pay off.

Page Layout #2 — October 9, 2012

If you have been penalised with this one then you’re in trouble… ‘Google announced an update to its original page layout algorithm change back in January, which targeted pages with too many ads above the fold. It’s unclear whether this was an algorithm change or a Panda-style data refresh.’

If you understand the implications then it’s easy to understand the solution.

Why Have I Been Penalised?

Google generates the majority of its revenue in search via Pay-Per-Click. In order to generate PPC monies it’s search needs to be trusted. If organically your website ranks high and doesn’t show a good amount of useful content above the fold or a even small area e.g. http://browsersize.googlelabs.com/ then you’re not that useful. This is irrespective of what your site is about. Importantly if any website has sponsored links or even worse Ad-sense all over the valuable real-estate above the fold on the website… from the search engines perspective, you’re not useful.

What Can I Do

Personally, and I can only answer this personally, you need a website update. Get rid of ad-sense… I mean unless you’ve got a serious amount of traffic you can only be making pennies! Reorganise the site so you’ve good content in the key areas and look sensibly from a UX point of view at your offer. You can still keep them but place them down the page or on separate pages.

I don’t think Google will reverse this one, so make the changes quickly. 100% of nothing is still nothing, so if you reduce your advertising by 50% and get those top positions back you’ll still generate revenue.

Hope this helps

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Old School SEO… The Sacrificial Website

At SEO Liverpool we try to look over old techniques for driving traffic to particular digital assets. Last week we started talking about the sacrificial site.

You’ve all seen full page adverts in magazines, at certain points it can be beneficial to move this offline advertising strategy to online.  Internet marketing and leveraging websites can help replicate this strategy for your business. A lifestyle magazine will generate ad revenue for a client in an almost totally unrelated field, just through sheer value of people using that site.

So if you’re looking to generate sales, either via affiliate links or to a product, then create two sites. One for the product and one for ads.

Important Point – The first point is ad sites are penalised depending on the amount and position of the adverts. We’ve found this particularly with Ad Sense.

Important Point  – The second point, it will be beneficial to host your domains on unique IPs, which can result in a big advantage for you in terms of search engine rankings and to help stop getting penalised.

How The Sacrificial Site Works

Let me explain… A good example would be a website in a competitive category, such as Travel . Advertise your digital camera site on it. The two are related as complimentary sites but one generates income for the other. You own both, and one site will advertise on the other.

E.g.

Jokes and funny t-shirts. The joke site itself, has very few jokes on it. It acts more like a directory leading to other joke sites. There are a total of 10 internal pages with different categories of jokes. On each category page, You would list 5-10 joke websites, with a quick two sentence review, taken from the headline of each destination site.

So what’s the purpose of my jokes site? It’s to sell or generate traffic referrals to t-shirt sites. To the visitor, it looks like a directory of the top 50 joke sites, with ads strategically placed on it. It’s really just a way to leverage the entire jokes site to advertise another product. If you find a popular category, you will make sales due to the amount of traffic you can generate. You’ll also generate a varied link profile as you leverage one web property to advertise another.

Evaluation

It can be a lot of work. It will cost you to set up. It will be a disater if not implemented correctly.  But… I do think in some situations it’s a valid strategy, and it is proven to generate income for certain businesses. Affiliate links will probably get the most value but those sites with affilate links to Amazon can generate serious revenues.

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Analytics, Testing and General Landing Page Tips

Here at SEO Liverpool we often hear ‘so how does this testing lark work’?

Well.. It’s really simple. Now that you have these reports, what should you do? I am a big fan of Google Analytics – because it’s free – and you get great stuff from it, and maybe you decide to pay for a product later on. Anyway, the basic concept is, let’s take all the traffic coming in to your page and split it among the different sections of the page. Take a script at the top of the page, track at the bottom of the page, and track your goal page.

Every single hyperlink out there is a contract between you and your visitor. Listen to this, it’s very important and the top seo companies should constantly reinforce this point “Different people might type in the same keyword but have a different intent”. Web Analytics measures these things. Some people will get rid of the keyword, say the keyword didn’t convert. But it’s not the keyword – you need to understand the intent behind that keyword.

Example
Take a look at big retailers and how they are selling digital cameras – by brand, megapixels, features. They have been selling cameras the same way for many years. What about by shuttle refresh rate? What people are actually frustrated about with the camera? No one mentions that a specific model is the fastest, takes 5 pictures in 5 seconds!

Tip
There is a great plugin for Firefox that pulls the reviews – but nowhere in the ad copy does it talk about the topics that people are mentioning in their reviews! If this is what matters, why aren’t retailers putting it up front… Do it!!!

How people gather information and how they make decisions: this is what it’s important to an online marketing company. For example an advert for automated strapping banding machine, which is more logical/methodical and which is more emotional. People act differently with your content! Some look straight at the image and leave. Others look at the content. You don’t need to be an expert in personality types to understand this. Jakob Nielsen says there are 4 types of eye tracking when people come to your site. Spontaneous, humanistic, methodological, competitive (people coming in quickly and leaving quickly if they don’t see what they want). So, now that you know that different people act differently, how can use it to optimise your page?

Start simple. The analytics may say that 90% of people who came to a page bounced. Let’s look at the personality types and think about what they would want to see on the page. You need to appeal to them. Every day that hole is not fixed in your site cost you money. Go through every page and make sure the pages appeal to all personality types.

Also look at reviews and see what people saying about the product: the way it looks and feels (emotional) vs. the functionality and practicality (methodological) and you can adjust the product copy accordingly. Use their voice to give back to them. Use the voice of customers and integrate into product descriptions.

Using product images – also applies to videos, not everyone will respond to videos – 24% of photos in a study did not allow the customer to enlarge a product image, and 65% did not offer multiple views of a product! That will have an impact on the consumer.

Some sites focus on the glamour, that they miss the basics.

Let’s talk about credibility issues: some examples – who are you? People care about the “About Us” page, it will establish some of the confidence. Contact information – have it! Put the contact info in various places, it will inspire more confidence and legitimise the site. Does your site look professional? Even if you are not a design person, you can tell. Other examples of breaking confidence: small font type in gray! Be conscious of these things.

What can you add in to build confidence? Point of action assurances: We value your privacy. How long it will take for a customer service rep to contact someone who fills out a form. Return policies, guarantees. Make sure it’s all there for the consumer.

Other points: 59% of sites according to a recent Nielsen study did not provide shipping costs early in the check out process, and 35% have a checkout process with more than 4 steps! 41% do not provide assurance points in the checkout process. Many sites do not offer in stock availability. Make sure you offer estimated delivery date, etc.

Others credibility points to add to your site: certifications, awards, other review sites that look your site.

Testimonials can also be very effective, but also can have no impact on you. Look at different styles and see what works best for you.

What kind of financial impact can this have on you? You can double your sales just by adding policies.

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Viral Marketing with People of Influence

Today’s topic will be igniting viral marketing with people of influence. You know, the PR dudes and the customers, etc. Working in the seo sem industry, these points are vital.

With online marketing consulting It’s very important to define objectives. Most viral campaigns aren’t massive, just like real viruses. They can be small but have a massive impact! The goal might be as simple as to brand or promote a product launch.

People of influence are experts, journalists, or top bloggers – These people have the power to promote, and people tend to support things from people they trust. Most news organisations recycle news and it’s your job to take advantage of this.

The approach- You can launch and then contact these people of influence. Develop relationships ahead of time, this way they’re more likely to help you. Lets say you want to target a specific blogger. Why don’t you send them leads, tips, content – then down the road, bring them on board for consulting. They will be more likely to respond vs. a random email.

Cartoonists – You can hire a university student, don’t be afraid to outsource.

Bloggers – Have your blogger come up with something creative or hire a guest blogger with a following and give a financial incentive. It will cost you but may be well worth it. If you have a start-up it may put you on the map. Think… can get their followers to follow you?. Don’t look at just A list bloggers, every industry has their own.

Contests – You can have them regularly, and promote them internally. Or can recruit judges of influence (think free ipod touch).

Interviews – Make it easy as possible on the interviewer. Get a list of contacts to spread it. Really you want to find out who they know to promote them.

Research – If you are small on a tight budget – chambers of commerce, local business leaders and influential social groups.

Find brand advocates – Forums, blogs, social media, your own customer list, sales newsletters, blogs – create relationships. Get them behind your brand, give them an incentive. Discounts, upgrades, etc.

Recruiting influencers can be difficult – Approach this from a sales point of view. You must get past the gate keeper so attending a conference is a great way to establish face to face. Better than cold calling.

Want to target a blogger? – Buy advertising space, it’s much easier to get them on the phone.

Hire consultants! – Experts, bloggers, journalists, forum owners. This is the easiest way to use their names and gain media publicity.

Utilise customers to spread campaign. Look at emails, invoices, press releases. Talk to sales reps.

Brick and mortar – Do cross promotions, explain the benefits and find points of contact.

Many other ways to spread the buzz – Individualise, sponsorships, PPC, PR agencies, press releases, newspaper ads and even local fliers in the city centre!

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5 Tips for Driving Qualified Traffic With Online Marketing

Online marketing consulting firms often need to be creative when it comes to solving client web site traffic and sales problems. Inspiration from friends and family, movies, or even the smooth sounds of the local radio station can be useful.

Take this longstanding frustration: The efforts of a top SEO can sometimes produce an increase in website traffic that is not accompanied by a corresponding increase in conversions. While more traffic is almost always positive, it does little good if the majority of site visitors aren’t seriously interested in the products or services being promoted.

So how does one make sure the right traffic finds the right web site content? I recommend taking the advice of 80′s pop icon Lionel Richie by asking your site visitors the classic question, “Hello, is it me you’re looking for?”

While Mr. Richie may be directing his sentiments at a visually-impaired student (see the video if you don’t know what I’m talking about), this is a question whose answer is critical to every online marketer as well. In order to get conversions, you need to make sure the business you are promoting is being found by legitimate prospects. Ensure your site provides what visitors are looking for by following these five musically-themed guidelines:

* Know your audience – Should you be targeting a product’s end-users or distributors? What stage of the buying cycle are you targeting? A good online marketing team conducts the proper background research in order to fully understand who they are trying to reach, where they are in the buying cycle and plans content creation, optimisation and promotion accordingly.

* Book your prospect’s favorite venue – Once you feel you have actionable knowledge of your target audience, you can select appropriate places for reaching them. Research communities, influencers and behaviours of the target audience to establish a useful presence and content, be it on social networks, forums, blogs or the company web site.

* Give fans what they want – Make sure the offer and conversion opportunity are a good match for what the target audience is looking for. In some cases they will be looking to buy your product, but in others they may want more information like a white paper or a case study, or the opportunity to be contacted.

* Choose the right ‚”lyrics” – When selecting keywords to optimise your site content or pay-per-click campaign, keyword popularity is only a starting point. Choosing the most appropriate keywords to describe product or service offerings considering relevancy, context and intent are important. Research, consideration, evaluation and purchasing are different phases of the buyer’s search experience. Optimising the right content with the right keywords for each of these phases will help prospects find your site in a more relevant way.

* Sing it loud – The copy, images and overall design of your website and landing pages should be obvious cues to the type of product or service offered and consistent with search query that brought them there. Structure your site design and calls to action so that prospects immediately know that they’ve found what they are looking for. For example, sending PPC traffic from a specific product keyword to the company home page will alienate and confuse the searcher. Send specific traffic queries to specific landing pages. For SEO, optimise specific content for specific phrases to help searchers pull themselves to the right content for conversion.

Implementing these tactics can increase web site traffic specifically for people who are more likely to convert. When you pose Lionel Richie’s question to your visitors, more will respond with a resounding “Yes it is you I’m looking for!” And while you may not receive thanks in the form of a clay sculpture, the increase in your conversions should more than make up for it.

Please contact SEO Liverpool for more information about our SEO packages.

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More content… really?

Content. At SEO Liverpool we’ve noticed this buzzword in the SEO space has grown to astronomical levels. As I speak with companies on a regular basis, they constantly tell me that they’ve been advised by an online marketing company to write new and unique content by the boatload — no matter the Web site or space they’re in.

It’s time we review the advantages of content, and where it may be applicable. Let’s look at a few sites that will either need heavy amounts of content or little to no content.

These sites need content:

* Affiliate sites, which typically add little to no value by simply copying from others. These sites need a specific value-add, to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack.

* Sites with heavy amounts of graphics, Flash, video, or any other site that may be difficult for a user requiring a screen-reading program to view.

* E-commerce sites that use a set amount of content from a massive distributor, like Ingram Micro or Tech Data. Each merchant has access to the exact same data — what makes your site different from the rest?

These sites don’t need heavy amounts of SEO-specific content:

* Sites with a large community of content contributors who spend a good portion of their time writing about the topics surrounding the subject matter of each site.

* Sites that generate content on a regular basis, such as news sites or blogs.

Instead of trying to manipulate search engines, consider providing a way for your users, distributors and/or manufacturers to give you unique and well-written content. It’s likely that they have written marketing materials that won’t make it to their standard (and usually expensive) forms of distribution. This content could add a great deal of value to products and/or services that may be offered by many other online dealers with either the same or slightly different data.

When creating content to enhance search engine placement, keep in mind that it can come in multiple forms — services, contests, games, video, and even news . It’s critical that the content is interesting and compelling, so it has the chance of being linked to by a “fan.”

It’s very important that if you offer a special guarantee, such as a price match, you honor it to any possible level. By having complicated terms that make it nearly impossible to use… you’ll wind up upsetting your client base. While you may get links to your site, it will hurt your reputation.

It’s also extremely important to have a “yes we can help” customer service attitude. Your loyal customers can be solicited to come back and write about their experience. This most important feature has helped companies such as eBay and Amazon.

The retail sector, some stores have lost this attitude. In many cases, no matter how small the request, they just say no. You wind up spending an enormous amount of time arguing with them that you’re right.

However, if you buy the same product at a sites like ASOS, with their very friendly customer service attitude, you’ll be satisfied through the entire process and come back to buy more.

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