Latest from the Blog
We are often advocating the importance of great content on a website, and one of the first things we focus on with any new business is their on-page SEO. But, what does this actually mean, and how do we improve your own on-page SEO? Well, without giving too much away, we’ll share five favourite factors, which we consider to be the most important first steps to improving your website.
What Is On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO is the improvement and optimization of everything that is on a website. It is actually a large part of an SEO campaign and where the most gains can often be made. There are essentially two types of on-page content: that which a person will see, and that which a search engine will analyse. There is a lot of crossover between the two, and getting this balance right is often the key to a well optimised page. Here are our top tips for improving your on-site SEO:
1. Improve Your Content
On a website, content is literally everything. Your content needs to be of the best quality possible. Headlines need to be written in a way that is both engaging and informs; product descriptions need to be unique and useful. Ideally, every sentence on a website should serve the main objective to engage readers and encourage them to make an order! If not, it is a wasted opportunity.
2. Improve Titles
Page meta titles are what is first read by Google, and often what Google displays in the search results. This is important on two levels: Google ranks content based on the words within a title, and a good title will also encourage people to click through to your website.
Getting the right balance between a search engine optimised title and one that encourages readers to click can be challenging. People used to just stuff titles with the most important keywords to get them to rank, but since the infamous Penguin and Panda updates, this tends to have the opposite effect. So take time creating a well-crafted title.
3. Clean URLs
Google, and people, still like a clean URL. URLs should be short and contain keywords – ideally they should closely match your title and brand. Complex URLs do not look pretty in search, and it is still largely believed that keywords within a URL is a ranking factor – it is unlikely to have a large impact, but every little helps!
4. Use Your Headers!
HTML headers are the “tags” that are used to denote headlines on a page. Every well-optimised page should have a single H1 header – this is the main headline in a blog post or product description. Many content management systems, such as WordPress, will now automatically make and blog post title the H1, and also make this the meta title too.
A page should then be structured in a hierarchy of headers, using H2 to subdivide an article into sections. For example, “Use Your Headers!” is an H2. If you need to subdivide a section, you use H3 headers for each new headline, and then use H2 again to start the next section. So a page or post, should look something like:
Using headers in this manner has two benefits: it helps to split up your content into sections that can be quickly scanned by users, making the page easier to read, and it also helps Google to understand the content on a page. Good use of headers is good practice and will help your content rank.
5. Make It Look Appealing
Web pages need to look appealing to attract readers. Good quality images and videos go a long way to making a dull piece of content look exciting and interesting, and it also looks better when shared on social media. In fact, we have recently seen images from product pages appear in the Google search results, so optimising your images so that they look better than the rest may soon have a huge impact on your search click-thru rates.
There are many other factors that you need to take are of too. On-page optimisation also includes the use of mobile-friendly pages, internal and external links (co-citations is another important ranking factor that is often overlooked), Schema mark-up, Open Graph protocol, UGC (e.g. comments, reviews), image alt text, meta descriptions, content length, good navigation and intelligent site architecture, all affect search engine rankings.
If you would like some help in improving your on-page SEO, contact Freelance SEO Essex today.
Many business owners know that timely marketing can work wonders, but all too often work gets in the way and blogging, which is one of the most effective ways of conducting digital marketing on a small budget, becomes reactive, rather than proactive and forward thinking. A simple way to avoid this is to set a strict content marketing calendar and ensure that you are always publishing on set days. Let’s take a look at the basics of setting a content calendar.
Leave Time To Write, Review and Publish
One of the most common mistakes people make is trying to write about a major event as it is happening. As a general rule, you should aim to publish somewhere between a week and a month before something big happens. The bigger the event, the more time you need to plan and create your content, and the sooner you should publish. Many ecommerce businesses start their Christmas campaigns in July, with the aim of having their major Christmas keywords ranking well by November to also catch the Black Friday mayhem in the run up to Christmas.
Major Dates In The UK
As already mentioned, Christmas is the biggest date for many retail business, so in your content planner, set a date around midsummer to start planning your campaign. Take a look at emerging trends, analyse last year’s traffic reports and predict which products will be most popular in the coming festive period – these are the ones to focus on. Start writing blog posts to support these products and introduce festive keywords early.
Following Christmas, some of the most important dates revolve around the school calendar – Easter, Summer Holidays and the three half-terms in February, May and October.
There is now a national day for just about everything, so jump aboard the bandwagon and celebrate the day associated with your business. This can be a good opportunity to share some personalised work images on social media. You don’t have to wait for something relevant to your business either – last year we celebrated National Pizza Day!
The Tax Year
Many businesses plan their purchases around the tax year – some have budgets to fulfil before the accounting year ends, and others wish to reinvest some profits into the company.
Not all content is date specific, but it still needs to be planned. One of the best ways to come up with new content ideas is to brainstorm content. Different departments will come up with fresh new ideas that can be used to create blog posts. Ensure all the best ideas are added to the content calendar – even if it takes 6 months to work through them all, it is better to plan well ahead than to simply forget half the great ideas that come out of a brainstorming session.
An Example Of Strategic Content Planning
An example of content planning is some work done for a health a fitness blog. The fitness industry will always see a surge in traffic in the New Year when millions of people start to look for new ways to get fit and lose weight to fulfil yet another New Year resolution. In December 2013, it was time to look for the perfect article that would attract readers, searchers and hopefully win some links.
Our content manager saw that Gary Barlow was hosting his own show, “Gary Barlow’s Big Ben Bash”, on the BBC to see in the New Year; this seemed like a perfect opportunity. So, the final task of the year was to blog about Gary Barlow. Fortunately, a bit a research revealed that he had lost a lot of weight thanks to a sugar-free diet. While this content did not attract any immediate attention in search, it did win a link from The Guardian two weeks later, in an article about cutting sugar. The referrals from that link alone kept the site busy for many months to come, and the link helped in the long-term SEO campaign.
The trick is to consider what the media will be writing about, and create content that they will find useful when doing their research, while also thinking about what your customers want. The health and fitness site could have written a New Year Resolution article just like every other blog on the web, but taking a more forward thinking approach won a link from TheGuardian – and almost three years later, that Guardian page still sends new referrals daily.
How To Implement
Don’t get caught up on using tech to manage your content planner. While using a shared Google Sheet provides an easy way for everybody to access and add to a planner, if it works better for you to stick post-it notes on a wall planner or make a note in a desk diary, use that method. Post-it notes they are actually very effective and provide a constant visual reminder of what needs to be done. If a tech solution is a must, there are several software options available, such as Kapost, WordPress Editorial Calendar and Trello, to name but a few. We prefer to use a shared Google spreadsheet that can be accessed from anywhere and viewed by the whole team.
For more ideas on what to blog about, watch what your competitors are doing. If you discover some that are writing specific topics throughout the year, there is a good chance they have already made a content plan – there is no reason why you cannot take some ideas from them! How much you blog is up to you, but try to do at least a fortnightly blog post to keep the content on your website fresh, and share it across your social media platforms.
For more advice on planning your business blog content, contact Freelance SEO Essex today – we can help you plan, write and publish your business blog, manage your social media pages and implement paid promotions via AdWords, Facebook and other platforms, all of which will help drive more visitors to your website.
If you are unsure whether or not the latest piece of digital marketing advice is really going to give you an edge over your competitors, and not just another piece of SEO sales talk, take a look at what is being said in the mainstream media. This rule certainly holds true for local SEO, as this week, The Drum ran a piece on this very topic – a sure sign that local SEO deserves your attention.
Local SEO is an often overlooked marketing task by many small businesses. It is sometimes considered less important than organic SEO, PPC or even, in some industries at least, Social Media. However, local SEO really has come a long was in the last few years, with a wide range of new services and platforms to market on. What is really good news for businesses is that it is relatively easy to optimise and rank a website for some local SEO terms, especially if you do your keyword research and understand how links, citations and paid advertising all come together to provide a perfect way to build your brand.
The Rise of Mobile
It is almost a year since Google reported that mobile searches had overtaken desktop searches. This trend has continued, and we predict that over the next decade, desktop searches will decline considerably and make up a small percentage of all search traffic. As mobile phones and tablets become more powerful, desktop PCs are becoming obsolete for the average computer user. Last year, Pew Research Center reported that 73% of all teenagers had access to a smartphone. Desktop computers are still owned by around 72% of households, but their use is certainly dwindling, and it is predicted that today’s teenagers are unlikely to invest in a desktop PC when they leave the family home, unless they have specific needs, such as study or work requirements. How does all this affect local search?
Analysis of search data over the years has indicated that when people use a mobile phone they are often interested in local services. In fact, most Internet searchers are looking for something local. Whether it be a local tradesperson, a restaurant, hairdresser or financial adviser, people often want to deal with a local business. Interestingly, around half of all local searches result in a visit to, and purchase from, a physical store.
Voice Search Optimisation
Around half of all teenagers and 41 percent of adults use voice search every day to find some local information. Conversational search is growing faster than any other search segment.
What Are Near Me Searches?
The big question for business is, what are people searching for locally? One of the most common search phrases appended to the usual keyword phrase is “near me”. It is arguable if this phrase is still needed, as Google seems to have a pretty good idea of where we are searching from, but all the same, people type it into Google when searching for a “hairdressers near me”, or an “accountant near me”.
Other common phrases added to broader keywords include “closest” and “nearby”, along with phrases such as “shops open now”. Fortunately, since the Pigeon update, Google is very good at returning good local results without the need of these phrases – Google can often determine intent from a search, so if you search for a cafe, it will assume that you want to go to that cafe now.
Google has recently made some big changes to its own local search products. For example, in Google My Business, it is no longer possible to edit any business description. Google now provides more detailed information on how a customer can find the business, and also details such as opening hours and contact telephone numbers.
Expect More Calls
Something many businesses do not prepare themselves for is receiving more phone calls via their website, as opposed to email enquiries. Everybody wants more local customers, but few companies have the resources to handle all the calls that come in when a local SEO campaign is doing really well.
For so many years businesses assumed that email would always be the first method of communication when somebody landed on their business site, that some businesses became used to receiving email enquiries via their digital platform rather than telephone calls. Nowadays, people are more likely to call direct from their mobiles – this is especially when click-to-call code is used on all telephone numbers displayed on a website.
Google is Taking Local More Seriously
Google has been asking webmasters to make their sites mobile friendly for several years already, but these recent changes, along with the removal of the “mobile friendly” label in search, is a sure sign that Google now considers mobile search to be the most important form of Internet search.
There are many news ways to help a website rank well in the local search results. One is to use Schema markup, which allows Google, and other search engines, to extract vital details from a website to display in the search results.
We have already shared some ways to rank well on mobile search, but expect more changes and updates over the forthcoming months. Local SEO is one of the most rapidly evolving aspects of digital marketing today, and companies that can stay ahead of the innovation curve will certainly reap the benefits.
Google Is Getting More Personal
Google knows that personalised search results are more effective than generic ones, and geolocation data is one of the easiest and most reliable personal metrics that a search engine can obtain.
Many smartphones provide Google with location data, either from GPS, Wi-Fi, IP addresses or Near Field Communication (NFC), as well as people simply “checking in” or using Google Maps for navigation. This all helps Google to provide more relevant local search results. For example, if somebody is searching for a curry house, or a supermarket, Google can immediately display the nearest ones, along with review data sourced from Schema markup. This helps people to make a quick decision without even visiting a website.
While the thought of people not using your website may at first sound like a failure, if you can get more customers through the door, or picking up the phone, without even having to deal with them on online, that is actually a success. Do your local SEO well enough, and you can win new customers without needing a state-of-the-art website – a mobile optimised WordPress website, for instance, is all you need to improve your local listings.
Google is starting to develop new advertising formats for mobile search, yet another sign that mobile and local search is where we should all now be focused. If you have not yet started your local SEO campaign, you should need to speak to a search consultant today.
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is the fastest growing and most effective way to drive huge number of visitors to a website. PPC is also responsible largely for the Internet as we know it today. However, very few people understand how it works, or why it powers the Internet, so let’s take a quick crash course in PPC and explain how it can help some businesses.
What Is PPC?
If your website is more than a few years old, it is probably time it was replaced, or at least, updated. The web has changed considerably in the last few years and any site built pre-2012 is not going to perform well across all platforms, and this will not only put off customers, but also hinder your digital marketing attempts. (more…)