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Six Steps To Help Your Clients Enjoy Long-Term SEO Success

October 11th, 2013 5 comments

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Search engine optimization is a necessary part of increasing visibility for your client’s business online. With a delicate balance of link building, content creation and on-page optimization, a top SEO company can get their client’s site ranking highly for their desired keywords after a reasonable amount of time. But what happens after you get your client to the top? Where else is there to go?

SEO firms have to juggle a lot of variables – Panda updates, algorithm changes, market analysis, link building, etc. Gray-hat SEO techniques can change a lot over time and SEO companies need to see beyond three years to ensure a site isn’t penalized or declining in rankings.

Ultimately our goal as an online marketing company is to increase our clients’ businesses. In that way, our strategies must be specifically targeted to each client’s unique market for long-term growth. How do we create these successful long-term SEO strategies?

It’s simple in theory: create a great site and find the right market for the client to thrive. In reality, it takes dedication, flexibility, realistic expectations, trial and error, communication, creativity and sometimes a little bit of clairvoyance.

SEO companies have to look forward for their clients. They should focus on what will benefit their client in the long term – think three to five years down the road – not just a short term gain in rankings.

These six steps will get you started.

1. Make a Great Site
SEO companies should care about more than just keyword density, metadata, H1 tags and inbound links; they should also focus on creating a solid, well-built site. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, makes Google’s guidelines seem incredibly simple.

“Our guidelines have always been kind of steady – make a great site so that people want to link to it,” Cutts said at the annual Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Advanced conference this June.

OK, Matt. That sounds easy, but is it? Not so much. Creating great sites relies on a variety of factors. A great site certainly needs quality inbound links, original, well-written content and appropriate H1 tags, but it also needs a pulse.

Great sites are valuable and well designed. A really great site is pleasing to the eye and has a clear, concise design. A great website should also load quickly, look beautiful, have a memorable URL, include relevant information for your visitors and be cleanly coded.

Great sites are watched carefully and managed – they aren’t just built and left to collect dust. Great sites notice their “bugs” and work to fix them. Great sites generally involve good programmers, good designers and good copywriters.

To be successful with SEO in the long run, you must certainly optimize on-page text, but you also need to engage the audience with a refreshing, clean website. You must be the watchdogs of your clients’ sites and continually look for ways to improve the value of their sites.

2. Set Realistic Expectations
Just as a business should never trust an SEO company who claims to get their site to the top of Google overnight, they probably shouldn’t trust a company who says they can keep them at number one indefinitely. SEO changes, and sometimes a site will fluctuate for a while before reaching the top.

“We need to let the client know that each SEO project has an expiration date,” says Matt Zadeh, Sinai’s Digital Marketing Consultant. “Even the white-hat SEO projects. Nothing in the world of SEO is permanent because Google’s algorithm is not permanent. The best thing to do as an SEO firm is to be upfront with the client and prepare them that they need to start a new project every few years to always be ranking on the top.”

Make sure your client understands that SEO is a constantly changing field, and SEO companies are constantly refining their strategies to provide better and better service. Zadeh says a reevaluation should take place every 3-6 months. Your clients should understand that creating the best services takes time. Which brings us to our next tip.

3. Try to See the Future
You need to keep up with SEO changes so you know where the industry is headed. You have to read and analyze and gather data and analyze more data. There is always more to learn, and the more you learn, the more you know.

That sounds a little Dr. Seuss-like, but it’s true.

The goal of a good search engine is to anticipate human behavior. If you can understand what humans like about good websites, you can create websites that humans (and search engines) like.

As you keep reading and studying SEO, you see trends. You see what works and what doesn’t. This allows you to anticipate the future and prepare for it. Seeing the future of search, though, is only part of the battle. You must also look into the future for your client’s business.

Take time to learn your client’s market. Learn where your client’s customers are. Learn which social network they prefer, which blogs they read and what hobbies they have. This knowledge will open up new possibilities for your clients’ SEO strategies. Use logic to determine the best strategy for clients on a case-by-case basis.

4. Be Consistent, Then be Flexible
These two optimization tips may sound contradictory, but they aren’t at all. Once you’ve created a strategy to increase traffic and boost your client’s business, closely monitor the fruits of your efforts. You should see increases in your client’s traffic as a result of your consistent work.

If a strategy has been executed for months and months without any benefit, it’s time to let that strategy go and brainstorm a new one. The search engine optimizer who knows when to quit a technique shows his flexibility and dexterity in the field.

Not all SEO techniques strike gold, and there’s no use holding onto ones that aren’t working. We should objectively analyze our efforts with clients even if we’ve been improving their SEO for years.

5. Communicate
Businesses and SEO companies need to routinely discuss the trends they notice. Great ideas come from putting your head together with your client. You spend your time watching industry trends in the SEO and marketing world, and your clients spend their time differently.

For example, if you have a dental client, they can tip you off on an emerging dentistry trend that’s hot right now, and then you can help them ride the cusp of that trend through SEO. Both parties – the SEO firm and the client – should spend time discussing their expertise to find an individualized strategy for the client’s success.

Zadeh believes a strong rapport is one important key to a long-term client relationship.

“If you want to make a long-term client successful, you need to establish a friendship with the client and almost a partnership,” Zadeh says. “Be very honest and upfront, let them know the risks and success potentials, and always deliver what you said you would. If you promise rankings and can’t achieve them, give them a couple of months of work for free till you catch up. If you can’t achieve your promises, then let them know what the reason was and when it’s going to be fixed.”

6. Be Creative
In the end, each client you have as a search engine optimizer is different. Inventive solutions created specifically for each client is the way to approach long-term success in SEO. As SEO shifts and evolves, the companies who offer creative solutions and care about their clients’ successes will flourish.

When clients know you’re in for the long haul, they’ll trust that you’re trying to build something with them. And isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?

What tips do you have for enjoying SEO success past the three-year mark?

7 SEO Tips to Transform Your E-Commerce Business

September 27th, 2013 5 comments

EVERGREEN, COLORADO – The SEO of an e-commerce website is a lot more challenging than the SEO of a traditional or service-based website. If you are an online store owner, you know very well that an e-commerce website contains lots of product pages which usually lack high-quality content. That is why ranking an e-commerce website at the top of search engine results is often harder. But appropriate search optimization can quickly give your e-commerce website an edge over the competition, increase keyword traffic and bring in more customers.

The ever-increasing number of online shoppers is also a strong signal that you can’t ignore e-commerce SEO anymore. Panda and Penguin, the latest infamous search algorithms released by Google, are continuously prowling the web to weed out low-quality websites.

You may be at risk too!

Before a Google search penalty hits your e-commerce website for having scanty, low-quality or duplicate content, you need to act.

If you are ready, below are seven tips that you can use to improve the SEO of your e-commerce website quickly, make it penalty-proof and transform your online business for more (and more) profits.

#1. Fix Duplicate Content Issues
The basic structure of an e-commerce website itself leads to several duplicate content issues. In fact, duplicate content is the biggest challenge that online store owners have to face. Whether you are serious about it yet or not, Google is incredibly serious about duplicate content issues.

An e-commerce website may have duplicate issues due to –

  • Similar product pages
  • Faceted navigation
  • Catalogue search pages
  • Pagination
  • Session IDs

Rel = canonical tag is the most common solution to deal with such duplicate content issues on an e-commerce website. Pagination tags can be used to get rid of duplicate content due to pagination. In order to prevent duplicate pages from getting indexed, you can also disallow an entire directory in the robots.txt file. For dynamic pages, you can use Meta robots rules (no index, follow).

#2. Improve (or Rewrite) Low-Quality Content
It’s the post-Panda era of Google. Apart from fixing duplicate content issues, you also need to improve or rewrite shallow or low-quality content on your e-commerce website. Many people prefer to see e-commerce websites at the top of search results that offer high-quality content. In order to compel visitors to keep browsing your website, visual appeal is not enough. Therefore, you should evaluate the quality of content on your website and improve it to increase how long visitors stay on the site, generate links naturally and rank better.

#3. Say ‘No’ to Keyword Stuffing
If you focus on keywords too much, you are making a mistake. Many e-commerce website owners think the best way to rank for a specific keyword is by stuffing it into every component of a webpage – Meta title, Meta description, content, image alt tag and internal links.  Keyword stuffing will eventually lead your website to receive a Google search penalty.

In today’s SEO, keyword density has no meaning. Stuffing your web pages with keywords actually means you are writing for search engines, and not for people. If you want to rank for a specific keyword, all you need to do is ensure that the page you write is about that keyword.

#4. Build Penguin-Friendly Links
In order to improve the SEO of your e-commerce website, the way you build links should also change. Obsession over anchor text, acquiring links from unrelated sites, getting hundreds or thousands of links by mass-submitting to junk directories and buying links from high PR sites could easily get your into trouble. The recently released Penguin 2.0 is the new generation of Google’s Penguin algorithm. It’s more powerful, more robust and quicker at identifying backlink profiles that contain manipulative links.

Post-Penguin link building tips include –

  • Linking your inner pages
  • Diversifying your anchor text
  • Focusing on quality, not quantity
  • Sticking to your own niche
  • Making your content link worthy

As SEO evolves, link building does too. No matter how much effort you invest into improving your e-commerce website, a few link building mistakes will quickly lead you to a search rank penalty.

#5. Go Mobile
Mobile e-commerce is witnessing a big boom. More and more people are using their mobile devices to buy online. On the other hand, the sale of mobile devices is continuously on the rise. Tablet shoppers are about to set a new trend in the e-commerce industry. Therefore, it’s important to have an appropriately optimized mobile-friendly version of your e-commerce website.

Check these interesting stats -

  • 96 percent of all smartphone users use their phone for researching products.
  • 61 percent of customers who land on a website that’s not mobile-friendly head straight to a competitor’s website.
  • 62 percent of smartphone shoppers make a mobile purchase at least every month.
  • 10 percent of all retail e-commerce dollars are spent via mobile devices.

If you don’t have a mobile-friendly version of your e-commerce website yet, you should create one straight away. Sit with your web developer and discuss your specific requirements with him. Seek the help of an experienced SEO professional or agency for effective search optimization.

#6. Join Social Media
If you don’t know, social media plays a vital role in the search engine ranking of your e-commerce website. Over the last few years, SEO has expanded to include many other ranking factors, aside from links. In today’s era of Google, a strong social media presence is essential for top rankings.

“Though links are still an essential aspect of a website’s SEO, there’s a lot more that today’s search engine optimization includes. Lots of social signals are essential for top ranking position in SERPs. If you do some research, you’ll find that high ranking URLs have a high number of social shares too,” says Ali Husayni, CEO at Sinai Marketing.

So, prepare to focus on getting a high number of shares, likes, tweets and +1s for your site’s content.

#7. Track Progress with Google Analytics
While you focus on all the SEO tips mentioned above, it’s important to keep track of your progress as well. Whether you have a small or big e-commerce website, Google Analytics allows you to track essential information like visits, page-views, traffic types, time on site, bounce rate etc. There are many other new features that Google Analytics has added recently. The best part about this tool is that it comes to you free of charge.

Please feel free to leave a comment.

References

_____________________________

http://www.globaldots.com/mobile-users-behavior/

https://twitter.com/iab/status/174225109165424640

http://www.symbio.com/insights/techblog/201301/why-any-business-should-invest-mobile

http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Blog/The_Imminent_Mobile_Commerce_Avalanche

11 Essential Tips for Travel Bloggers

July 30th, 2013 9 comments

EVERGREEN, COLORADO – At the beginning of my career as an SEO professional 10 years ago, I worked on plenty of travel websites and blogs. In fact, I had the opportunity to develop many sites from scratch. Working in this field gave me a fair idea about how the travel industry works and how to create quality, fresh content for travel websites and blogs.

Travel blogging is, of course, lots of fun and a great way to improve SEO for businesses in a specific niche. But it’s not as easy as many of you may think.Travel blogging

“Travel blogging is not easy. It is going to take up a lot of your time, and I mean every spare minute. Don’t even think about travel blogging if you aren’t passionate and prepared to spend many hours of the day and night committed to working this in order to rise to the top,” says Caz Makepeace, an avid traveler and the co-founder of TravelBlog.com.

If you have a penchant for travel and are ready to devote adequate time that travel blogging requires, travel blogging provides a great opportunity to share your unique experiences with readers. In order to obtain early success, however, you should know some key travel blogging tips.

Below I share 11 of my favorite tips:

#1. Start Traveling (More and More)
Travel is one of those blogging niches you can never excel at unless you are an avid traveler yourself. In order to establish a solid reader base, you must share unique travel experiences which are only possible, obviously, when you are a traveler yourself. Every traveler has their own personal views about states, cities, towns and tourist attractions and the people (belonging to different cultures) that they come across with while traveling.

Before becoming a travel blogger or starting a travel blog, you should first become a regular and passionate traveler.

#2. Keep Looking for Unusual Photo Opportunities
A lot of a travel blog’s success depends on photos that are interesting, unique and unusual. If you want more and more people to read (and share) your blog posts, you should strive to include attractive photos. In fact, as a travel blogger, always be on the lookout for unusual photo opportunities, which you are sure to come if you keep your senses sharp while traveling. Photos can boost your social media marketing since sites like Pinterest and Facebook encourage this kind of image sharing.

Go beyond becoming only a tourist photographer!

#3. Have a Travel Journal
A traveler should keep a travel journal wherever they go. Having a travel journal allows you to jot down your feelings, experiences and impressions while on the go.

While visiting a specific travel destination or tourist attraction, you’ll need more than a few photos to describe your experience. In fact, you should record as many physical details as possible. That’s why keeping a travel journal is indispensable.

#4. Shoot Videos
A blog post doesn’t always need to be an article of 500 or 600 words. A travel blog is an opportunity to share your experiences with readers in any way you can. Recording videos as you travel will keep you loaded with plenty of interesting content for your travel blog.

For example, you can interview the owner of a restaurant where you go to taste a popular delicacy. Or you can interview locals while visiting a tourist destination during your journey.

#5. Learn to Write Expressively
Do you know what makes a particular travel destination more unique? It’s the story. It’s your experience with that particular destination. It’s about how meaningfully you can write what you felt. Expressive writing is, therefore, the most powerful tool in a travel blogger’s toolkit.

“Expressive writing literally comes from our core. Expressive writing is personal and emotional writing without regard to form or other writing conventions. Expressive writing is not so much what happened as it is about how you feel about what happened or is happening,” says John F Evans, a writer, scholar and workshop facilitator.

#6. Invite Guest Travel Bloggers
I’m sure you have heard about the values of guest blogging. Though it’s your own travel blog, consider inviting guest travel authors to write for your blog from time to time. Guest articles are beneficial as long as they are relevant to your niche and resonate with the target audience.

Guest posts will keep your travel blog up and kicking when you are short on time to write articles of your own. It’s also one of the best tactics to network with other bloggers in your niche.

#7. Read More (and More)
To write about your travel experiences in a way that keeps the attention of your blog readers, you should continue to improve your writing skills. You’ll easily find a lot of travel literature, both online and offline. Read the popular travel magazines. Read travel books by well-known authors. Keep visiting those travel blogs that attract millions of visitor each month.

#8. Improve SEO
If you want to achieve early success with your travel blog and attract a good amount of traffic from major search engines like Google, you should pay careful attention to the SEO part as well. For WordPress bloggers, knowing the basic WordPress SEO tips is highly essential.

Not to worry, Sinai Marketing is a company that offers the best SEO services available which include both consulting and coaching. If you feel a little overwhelmed with all the SEO information out there, I suggest you connect with the SEO team at Sinai Marketing for help taking your rankings to the next level.

#9. Be Honest
Always remember to keep things real, as you experience them. Don’t make up fake travel stories, as today’s readers can easily see through them. If you lie or share details that aren’t genuine, you can ruin you and your blog’s reputation very quickly.

#10. Say ‘No’ to Quitting
Most of those who fail are quitters. In the early stage of travel blogging, you may feel like quitting. Have realistic expectations and understand that results will take some time to develop. Til then, you must persevere.

#11. Memorize All the 10 Tips Above
Go through the above mentioned travel blogging tips once again. Memorize them and get ready to act!

If you are a travel blogger, you may want to add some more tips to the list. Please share your favorite tips in the comments.

Facebook vs. Google+: Knew vs. New

March 3rd, 2013 3 comments

TAMPA, FLORIDA– Is comparing Facebook to Google+ like comparing apples to oranges? I say it’s more like comparing apples to apples – different varieties of apples, of course.

Both are good for communicating with patients or clients, it’s just that Google+ is better for connecting with “new” ones and learning “new” things, while Facebook is a better tool for communicating with those you already “knew.”

“Facebook = People. Facebook is the way to learn what’s going on in the lives of people you already know. Google+ = passions. Google+ enables you to pursue your passions with people you don’t know,” said Guy Kawasaki, author of “What the Plus! Google Plus for the Rest of Us.”

Why is Google+ such a good tool for making New connections and learning New things?

Having (and using) a Google+ account helps increase your rank and click-through rate and gives users the opportunity to connect with others who share their passions. If your interest is in-house SEO, there’s a circle for that. If it’s ending underage drinking, there’s a circle for that. Learning black hat SEO tricks – there may be a circle for that, but we advise you not to join that one.

Circles are the heart of the Google+ experience, but Google Hangouts is another fine tool of Google, which we use often to connect with others who share Sinai Marketing’s SEO passion, like Bonnie Hixon and Rita Zamora, as you can see in our most recent video.

I see where Google+ is good for learning new things, but what about meeting new clients or patients, you say?

Let’s say you are an SEO company. There’s nothing that says one of the Google+ members in the SEO circle you just joined won’t be impressed by your activity in that circle or a recent Google+ Hangout, and ask you to do their company’s plastic surgery marketing because they’re tired of doing their own with subpar results. Watch the following video to see how Google+ Hangout can help you connect with current clients and share your expertise with others in your circle.

We all know how important being at the top of Google search results is when it comes to being found by potential clients. Google+ not only improves your click – through rate with an authorship image and additional links, but also has the ability to drastically improve your rank. Just check out this experiment where Google+ users were able to increase their rank from 16 to six using Google+ metrics alone.

Although you can increase your rank and gain new clients, connections and valuable information with Google+, Facebook is still as valuable as ever for connecting with people you know.

“Facebook is the connection between the practice, patients and community,” says our CEO Ali Husayni. “You could say it’s the human side of your business. It also doesn’t hurt that Facebook remains quite popular as a social networking site.”

Facebook allows a business to connect and interact with their patients and the friends of their patients on a personal level through sharing.

An example of Rita Zamora’s, which I feel displays this effect nicely, is when one of her clients hosted a movie night for their patients. In response to the event, patients posted things like “That was a great movie night. We loved it.” In the end, not only patients, but also friends of patients had commented on the Facebook page and created an important and lasting impression on the practice’s wall, according to Zamora.

Of course, for this to work, a business has to get their clients and patients to visit or like their page. Again, Zamora offers this great advice to business owners: “For example, if it’s at a dental practice, ask the patient as they’re leaving ‘how did we do today?’ When they say, ‘Everything was great. We love you guys’, it’s a great opportunity to tell them you have a Facebook page and it would really make their doctor’s/hygienist’s day if they left a comment for him or her there,” says Zamora.

This is a very important aspect of connecting with others as a business. Many of your patients or clients will not think to go beyond giving you a verbal compliment and conduct a Facebook search to leave you an additional comment without a nudge. I myself experienced this with the baker of my wedding cake. It was an amazing cake and I thanked and praised her work in person, but until I received a letter in the mail from her telling me what a pleasure it was to work with me and if I was happy with her work it would mean a great deal to have a comment from me on her page, the thought never crossed my mind to comment on her business’s Facebook page. I fulfilled her request that very day.

“If you are providing your clients with quality service, the odds are that they’ll be more than willing to sing your praises via a comment to your business’s Facebook page,” says Husayni.

What’s nice about these comments is that they create – like Zamora said – a lasting testament to the quality of service a business or practice provides that will be seen by all who visit the page.

As you can see, we aren’t quite ready to crown either network king in the realm of SEO, as we can’t deny the usefulness of both in the quest to gain rank, clients and connections. But if we change our minds, you’ll be the first to find out. We wish you the best in your content SEO ventures and as always, we’ll continue to keep you “in the know” when it comes to SEO.

Long Tail and Short Tail Keywords: Which is Better for SEO?

February 21st, 2013 28 comments

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Top SEOs understand that a high ranking on Google depends partly on how well you’ve optimized your website for certain keywords. We’ve devoted an entire post to conducting keyword research, and you may want to check it out while you’re compiling your desired keyword list. For this post we’ll examine the difference between short and long tail keywords and discuss how you can use them to increase your exposure through SEO.

Long and Short Tail Keywords Explained
Short tail keywords are one or two word phrases, such as “Nashville pet” or “German shepherds.” These are broad and commonly searched keywords. There’s more competition for short tail keywords since they are more commonly used.

Long-tail keywords are typically three words or more, and they are more of a phrase or question than a broad description. The long tail keyword from the previous examples might be “find Nashville pet for adoption” or “adopt a German shepherd in Nashville, Tennessee.”

Which types of keywords are best for SEO purposes? The answer depends a lot on your market and the competition of your keywords. You can find out how competitive your keywords are using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. They tell me “Nashville pet” averages 14,800 monthly searches; “Nashville pet adoption” averages 1,300 monthly searches.

Long and Short Tail Keywords Analyzed
Several studies have shown long tail keywords have higher conversion rates than short tail keywords. This makes sense when you think about it. A user who searches “adopt a German shepherd in Nashville, Tennessee” is probably closer to adopting a dog than one who types “Nashville pets.”

Search Engine Watch, an SEO marketing company, conducted a telling study of short and long tail keywords specifically analyzing them for impressions, clicks, conversions and profitability.

The study leaders categorized keywords by the number of characters to keep their research organized. Keywords were broken down in intervals of five characters. Keywords between 11 and 20 characters received the most impressions and clicks at nearly 60 percent. However, keywords between 31 and 35 characters converted the most customers.

A different study published at Calculate Marketing shows the conversion rate improves as the number of words increases.

“People who make longer, more specific searches have already done their research and know exactly what they want,” says study author Alan Mitchell. “They are further along in the buying cycle so are more likely to open their wallet.”

Using Long and Short Tail Keywords for SEO
One tip to help you create long tail keywords from short tail keywords is this: don’t hit enter. Go to your Google search bar and start typing a word. Google autocompletes your search queries as you type them. To test this theory, I typed “Nashville pet” into a Google search query and didn’t hit enter. Google showed me longer keywords beneath my search bar – “Nashville pet products,” “Nashville pet rescue” and “Nashville pet adoption.” This type of research will give you an idea of what other users are searching for on the Web, which can improve, strengthen and diversify your keywords.

Though studies show long tail keywords help you rank higher, short tail keywords are still effective. . For many of you, short tail keywords like “dentistry” or “plastic surgery” are highly desirable and are extremely relevant to your businesses. Match these keywords with a location or description to make them even more helpful. “Nashville dentistry” will help improve your Google maps SEO, and “Nashville cosmetic dentistry” can further distinguish your business. Your potential customer will also assume that you offer tooth whitening or porcelain veneers because you’ve specified yourself as a cosmetic dentist. Now here’s the warning: Don’t feel like you have to add a location every time you include the word “dentistry.” This will probably annoy your human reader, and it may even cause them to abandon your website. You may have seen content so cluttered with keywords that you lose the real meaning.

Keywords should feel natural when you read them in your content. If they stick out to you, odds are they’ll stick out to your readers. Always choose your readers’ experience over the itch to add multiple long tail keywords just for search engines. Provide clear, meaningful and well-researched content, and your potential customers will find you. In other words: build it, and they will come.

If you have questions, ask! We’re here to help you decipher the murky SEO waters. Sinai Marketing can also take care of your SEO hosting needs so you can focus on satisfying your customers.

Does Anchor Text Still Matter?

February 14th, 2013 12 comments

ORLANDO, FLORIDA-Rand Fishkin’s Whiteboard Friday episode about a potentially new ranking factor was published on Nov. 16, but two months, multiple re-readings and lots of additional research later, I’m still digesting all the information.

He originally predicted that anchor text is dying and co-citation will replace it, but later edited the title of the post to say the importance of anchor text in SEO is weakening while co-occurrence is becoming a more prominent factor in ranking well and may replace it.

Fishkin is the CEO of SEOmoz and a prominent figure in the online search marketing industry so a lot of ears perk up when he makes big predictions. This Whiteboard Friday episode became one of the most popular ones in 2012 for the Moz community. Here are a few quick definitions in case you’re not fluent in SEO speak:

Anchor text-the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink that influences the ranking that the page will receive by search engines. For example, Sinai Marketing shares search engine optimization tips , techniques and updates on its blog. The words in blue are anchor text, and they influence how the linked page ranks in search engine results.

Co-occurrence-the theory that search engines have become sophisticated enough to understand context and they rank a website well based partially on the factor that a website and certain keywords were mentioned together on another website, even though the keyword wasn’t actually hyperlinked. For example, we might mention a website about dental marketing in one of our blog posts without linking directly to the site. If co-occurrence is at work, the search engine spider would intuitively associate that website with the words we used in relation to it.

“Co-occurrence is search engines learning to think and process information the way a human would,” says Ali Husayni, an SEO expert and the founder and CEO of Sinai Marketing. “That has always been Google’s goal, and it’s why we’re constantly encouraging people to focus on creating content that is for humans too, not just search engines.”

Back to Fishkin’s Whiteboard video though. He believes we’ll start to see more co-occurrence of terms and links in search queries, in text content, and in links becoming more of a factor. This is not the complete death of anchor text, he says, but he shows that anchor text is actually diminishing as a signal and being replaced by something else.

Another blogger responded to Fishkin’s post with a lengthy and detailed article guest posted on iAcquire about what’s really going on in SERPs, find the article here.

“Rand appears to be suggesting that SEO and PR are going to converge in a way that devalues traditional anchor signals in favor of content based co-occurrence signals,” says Joshua Giardino. “Under this model, to rank well, brands will have to focus on nurturing co-occurring mentions of their brand across the Web on pages that are topically relevant to the terms for which they hope to rank.”

Giardino thinks if Fishkin is correct, that this change will represent a powerful, new content-based ranking factor, a whole new class of signals that veers away from traditional ranking factors.

Fishkin must be confident about his prediction because he also included co-occurrence in his annual list of predictions for inbound marketing and SEO for the coming year. He says co-occurrence of brands and websites combined with keyword terms and phrases will be proved to have an impact on search engine rankings through correlation data, specific experiments or a combination of both.

“All over the Web we are seeing strong evidence to suggest it is already being used by Google’s super-intelligent algorithms,” Steve Davies says on his digital marketing and SEO blog, Spotted Panda. “I certainly predict it to expand to search engines actually learning to read all blog posts, news articles, information pages and social media the same as you or I would.” Know more about this article.

Husayni says he thinks co-occurrence will eventually become an important factor but says businesses need to focus on SEO basics and building content that is relevant to their consumers right now.

“You don’t need to worry about anchor text going away any time soon,” says Husayni. “For now, it’s here to stay, but we’ll be sure to let our readers know about impending changes. For now, focus on publishing regularly on your blog about interesting, useful topics for your readers.”

Want More? If you’re interested in jumping into the diminishing anchor text, increasing co-occurrence conversation from the beginning, start by watching Rand Fishkin’s original Whiteboard Friday video, then read Bill Slawski’s response to the topic: Not All Anchor Text is Equal And Other Co-Citation Observations. His article is a great read, but be prepared for a very technical article. The comments section on the article can help you get a better grasp on some of the ideas since Slawski seems to break down concepts into more basic terms. Joshua Giardino published a lengthy piece responding to both, and it’s chock full of research; just as technical but a bit easier to read: It’s Not Co-Citation, But It’s Still Awesome.

WordPress SEO Tips: Should I Use Categories Or Tags?

February 11th, 2013 17 comments

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Adding quality content to your blog is one of the best ways to reach the first page of Google. Our CEO Ali Husayni explains why.

“Let’s start with the basics of why search engines were built: because text existed on the Internet in an unorganized fashion,” Husayni says. “Search engine spiders indexed, organized and provided the text in an easy-to-use format for their users.”wordpress tips

Our Web SEO company uses WordPress for many of our clients because it has built in features made for search engine optimization. Today I want to discuss the difference between two common WordPress features – categories and tags – and how you use them effectively.

When you create a post in WordPress, you should see several boxes to the right of the text box where you enter the text and media of your new post. The boxes on the right are titled “Publish,” “Tags” and “Categories.”

Categories and tags both help search engines and users sort the content on your site, but categories apply to broader themes and tags describe more detailed keywords relating to specific posts.

WordPress Categories
Bloggers can use a hierarchy of categories and nest children categories beneath the parent categories. For instance, if your blog is about dentistry and orthodontics, you may want the category of your new post to be “dentistry.” But there are several types of dentistry, including cosmetic dentistry, preventive dentistry, neuromuscular dentistry and restorative dentistry. These could be nested under the “dentistry” category to further define a post.

You can even go to the category widget and describe what each category is about. You can find this from your dashboard. On the left side of your dashboard you should see headings like “Dashboard,” “Store,” “Posts” and “Media.” Click “Post,” and you should see “Categories” beneath that tab. This lets you manage your categories, add new or delete existing categories, change the hierarchy and add category descriptions. Any time you have a chance to define or describe your pages you should do it. These descriptions should be relevant, clear, concise and rich with your highest desired keywords.

Many people ask how many categories a good site needs, and the answer isn’t cut and dry. As you add more content to your site, the diversity of your content will likely grow. Add and manage your categories as needed. At first you may only need “dentistry,” but in a few weeks you may need to add nested categories beneath it to differentiate the posts. You don’t need 30 categories if you only have three posts live on your site. Make your site structure clear and simple.

Finally, categories are mandatory, and tags are optional.

WordPress Tags
The theme you’ve chosen for your blog likely decides where your tags are listed for each post. Some blogs contain tag clouds on the sidebar that show users an array of tags used for your blog. The visitor can click on any tag in the tag cloud to see posts tagged with that keyword.

Adding tags to your new post is simple. Just type keywords into the tag bar and separate them with commas. Tags can be any length and any keyword you choose, but to work best they should be descriptive and relevant. For instance, if Dr. Frank P. Dentist adds a new post to his site about tooth whitening, he should choose the parent category “dentistry” and the nested category “cosmetic dentistry.” The tags might be: tooth whitening, professional whitening, Zoom! whitening, in-office whitening and whiter smile. You can use as few or as many keywords as you like.

You can also add descriptions to your tags. Look beneath the “Posts” tab on the left side of your dashboard. For the tag “Zoom! whitening,” our dentist may add a short description of that procedure.

Categories and Tags
When used correctly, categories and tags work together to give search engines and users detailed information about your blog and individual posts. It’s also important to note the categories and tags don’t replace metadata within your post.

Our SEO services in the USA include content creation and WordPress content distribution. We understand how to best use the category and tag fields to optimize your blog.

At Sinai Marketing we’ve helped a variety of companies succeed in improving their Google rankings. We’ve excelled in dental and orthodontic marketing, plastic surgery marketing and ecommerce marketing for various clients, and we are confident we can bring any business to the top of Google.

How do you use categories and tags on your WordPress blog? What other WordPress tips would you like to learn?

Pick Your Poison: The Pros and Cons of Content Protection

January 20th, 2013 8 comments

TAMPA, FLORIDA– A follower of our Sinai Marketing blog recently asked a great question that deserved a post to fully explain the answer.

The question: “My website has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced. But it seems a lot of it is popping up all over the Internet without my agreement. Do you know any solutions to help protect against content from being stolen? I’d really appreciate it.”

You must do your part to safeguard your content while keeping the legitimate reader in mind, because as unjust as it seems, thieves will always find a way to steal content. However, be aware that there are pros and cons to safeguarding your content so, pick your poison wisely.

Here are a few Sinai Marketing approved ways you can protect your original content and best SEO strategies from being stolen:

  • Disable right click functions
  • Use a Tynt plugin
  • Switch to partial RSS feeds
  • Add a footer to your RSS feed
  • Watermark your images

One way sploggers- those who create spam blogs- steal your content is by copying and pasting it onto their site or into a splog. The following two practices may help deter them by making it difficult and less beneficial to steal your content.

Disable right click/text selection
Pros- Although a savvy copycat is capable of bypassing this inconvenience, it may slow them down or discourage them altogether. Most users won’t be able to simply copy and paste.

Cons- Neither will the good guys. The inability to copy and paste can also frustrate and inconvenience those who would typically share your content properly, and provide you with recognition and quality backlinks. Techy bloggers who often provide snippets such as codes or other information designed to be borrowed make it difficult for readers to use that helpful information when right click is disabled. Another problem is that Tynt plugins or programs can’t be used when right click features are disabled.

Use a Tynt plugin
Tynt is a tool that automatically creates a link back to your content whenever it’s copied and pasted. Tynt monitors backlinks created, page views, images copied, words copied, how many times content left your site and more.
Pros- You increase the traffic to your site by providing readers of your copied- legitimately or not- content with a link back your original post or site. Whenever readers use that link, voila- a new backlink. Plus, it’s free.
Cons- You have to enable right click/text selection for this technology to work.

One of the most common ways content gets stolen is by thieves who use scraping software, which targets and steals the content you provide on your RSS feed. The following two methods deter RSS feed scraping.

Switch from full to partial RSS feeds
You can do this in WordPress by switching your feed from “Full text” to “Summary” under the reading section of your settings, which is found on the dashboard.
Pros- You prevent scraping software from stealing your content or article in its entirety. Also, your “human” readers will have to visit your site and its blog to read the entire article, which means you’ll benefit from the time they spend on your site and hopefully, their participation in discussions.
Cons- Many active blog readers use RSS readers to avoid the inconvenience of having to read a summary, decide if it’s something interesting and then click through to read the full article. By requiring them to click through, you may lose them as a subscriber or participating reader because they aren’t interested in the hassle.

“Those who are interested in your content on their RSS feed will share or click through to comment if your content is compelling,” says Sinai CEO Ali Husayni, a Google search optimization expert who offers SEO consulting. “If they unsubscribe to your feed because it’s a hassle, there is no chance they will read, participate or share your content at all.”

Add a footer to your RSS feed
Here’s a yoast plugin for WordPress that will allow you to add a footer to your RSS feed, which will prove your authorship.
Pros- People reading your stolen content will know that it is being used without your permission.
Cons- It doesn’t prevent thieves or scrapers from stealing your content.

Text isn’t the only type of content that gets stolen; images can be just as vulnerable if you aren’t using the following tool.

Watermark your images
A watermark is a faint image that helps to identify the file’s authorship by containing copyright information.
Pros- If your image is illegally shared, it’s obvious to viewers who will either discredit the thief or report the stolen image to you, the owner/copyrighter.
Cons- Watermarks aren’t always impossible to remove and may cheapen your style by making you appear paranoid, especially if it’s an image that others will have no value in sharing. And since a good watermark needs to be in a visible area so it can’t easily be cropped out, the image may be useless as a visual aid because the watermark is too distracting and becomes the focal point.

While these tools may help deter copycats and their technology, you have to accept the fact that your content likely will get used without your permission at some point if it’s placed on the Internet.

Stick around because in the near future we will address some tools and procedures you can use to locate content that has been stolen, and retrieve it or receive proper recognition. If you can’t wait until then, you might consider taking advantage of our SEO consulting services.

Common SEO Mistakes You Can Make

January 15th, 2013 17 comments

EVERGREEN, COLORADO- Recently one of our clients started losing his #1 positions we helped him achieve. Slowly, his ranks dropped to #5, then #7, and so on until he was dropped to the second page. He constantly complained that our team was incompetent and we needed to do more to get his ranks back.

This phenomenon is rare in our company and we couldn’t figure out why this was happening. Finally, the truth was revealed: our client was “helping” with the SEO process by doing what he “read” on the Internet.

What he had read was outdated and now wrong. We quickly identified his SEO missteps and made the necessary to corrections to restore his rankings. However, during the two to three months our client was busy “helping” us, he was missing out on the opportunity to continue his reign at the top position of Google for his keywords.

If you are hands-on with your site’s SEO or want to help your SEO company and make the process faster, you should be aware of what is good for SEO and what is bad. Beware of the following techniques and know that they WILL damage your rankings:

  1. Reciprocal Linking
    Links are the backbone of your site’s SEO success. Everyone knows that without back-links, your site cannot rank well on Google. There are dozens of ways to get links for your site, but you should be aware that reciprocal linking is a practice that has been looked down upon by Google for many years now.
  2. Buying back-links
    This is a big no-no. If you participate in any “scheme” to buy links for your site, including what are called “sponsor listings,” you will sign yourself up to be penalized by Google. Stay away from paying anyone to place a link to your site.
  3. Using your keywords as text-links
    We know that if you want to rank well on Google for a particular keyword, you need to have that keyword as text link from sites that link to yours. But overdoing this WILL PENALIZE your site for that particular keyword.
  4. Over-optimization
    Anything that looks unnatural to the human eye or to Google’s algorithm is bad SEO practice. There are many examples of over-optimization, but here are a few:
    • Keyword stuffing
    • Redundant blog tags
    • Redundant image tags
    • Same header and title tags
  5. Multiple Google profiles
    Having your Google profile is a must, but if you have multiple Google profiles or Google Places accounts, you will certainly damage your rankings on Google.
  6. Plagiarism
    We all learned in school that plagiarizing results in an “F.” But for some reason, we think copying someone else’s text and putting it on our site is OK. This is very true in the case of e-commerce sites. Most have products that use the same description as the manufacturer or another competitor’s site. After the Google Panda update(s), sites that are plagiarizing are no longer ranking well. So, hire a copywriter and re-write your site’s content, even if it has 10,000 different products. That’s the only way your SEO efforts will succeed.
These are the most common mistakes people make when trying their own SEO. But the story doesn’t end here. There are other things people could do wrong and possibly damage their rankings.
Share what you know could hurt a site’s rankings on Google.

 

 

Easy Steps to Put Your Link Building Campaign in Action

December 3rd, 2012 7 comments

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Building links to and from your site is a large part of search engine optimization. Googlebots, the computer programs that crawl and index websites, know what to crawl partly because of links.

There are two kinds of links – outbound and inbound. Outbound links are easy to control, as they go from your site to other sites on the Web. Inbound links, those that point from other sites to your site, are harder to achieve. Inbound links are also more important in Google’s ranking algorithm; more inbound links from respected sources means more trust built for your website.

A successful link building campaign is one of the most important search engine optimization services that SEO firms offer. Your SEO expert can help you design a link building campaign that meets your needs and your budget.

Creating Quality Content
The most organic way to gain quality inbound links is to create content worthy of sharing. Well-researched, well-written content will take you a long way. Google Webmaster Tools reveals the most effective way to gain inbound links, and in theory, it’s not difficult.

“The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community,” according to Webmaster Tools. “The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.”

Having good information to link to will make your link building campaign easy and natural. We’ve discussed ideas for quality content generation as well as guest blogging ventures, so check those out if you’re feeling the perils of writer’s block. Also remember that content isn’t restricted to typed text. You can generate relevant content in the form of video tutorials, photos or podcasts, but be diligent in tagging these forms of content correctly so Google can find and index them.

Action: Create a content creation schedule. Think outside the box, and post regularly. Commit to something you can handle; new content posted once a month might be good for the beginning, and then you could graduate to every-other-week, and then weekly.

Gaining Links
There are many ways to gain links that point to your website. First, you can submit your site to directories. Some are free and others charge a fee, but adding your site to directories is the first step to gaining inbound links. Other ways to gain links include sponsoring an event, guest blogging, holding contests or giveaways and sharing content across social networks. Reach out to other bloggers in your industry, comment on their posts thoughtfully and become part of a conversation. Let your content work for you by writing about timely subjects in your industry. You can also write about major news topics as long as you relate them to your business; you don’t want to get too far off topic and lose your customers’ trust.

We’ve discussed how to get links from .edu and .gov websites, though that isn’t an easy feat. It’s been debated as to whether Google gives higher credibility in their ranking algorithm for this type of link, but it’s certain that users find these sites more credible than a .net or a .com in many instances. Sites ending in .edu and .gov are educational, scientific or governmental websites.

But there are other sites outside of these that are deemed credible. A site with high traffic, such as a major news organization or a widely read blog, will help your link gain more credibility.

Action: Submit to directories. Make a list of relevant websites and blogs in your industry. Brainstorm ways to get a link from these trusted sites.

The Importance of Anchor Text
We’ve dedicated an entire article to anchor text before. Anchor text is the displayed text that is hyperlinked to another website. Sometimes you can’t control your anchor text, but other times you can. Make sure the word or phrase linked to your site is meaningful. This could be a keyword relevant to your business, such as “Nashville copywriter”, or it could be the name of your business. Anchor text that uses the phrase “click here” isn’t helping Google rank your website much. Anchor text that includes specific, keyword-oriented phrases will help Google understand what your website is about. But be aware that repeating your keywords could also hurt your rankings.

Action: Create a list of keywords relevant to your business. Brainstorm ways to create a link to your website using those keywords as anchor text.

Measuring Your Success
All of this link building and content creation work is to get you to the first page of Google. Now that you’ve implemented a link building campaign, it’s time to measure your success. You can use Google Analytics to track your traffic.

Master Google’s CEO Ali Husayni uses Open Site Explorer to determine which sites are linking to certain URLs and how they’re linking to them. Open Site Explorer even lets you see what anchor text is used to link to your site. Alexa and Bing also have tools for users to count and analyze backlinks. If you noticed an increase in traffic since you’ve implemented your campaign, it’s fair to say the work is paying off.

Action: Find a link-analysis site you like and learn its ins and outs. Measure your traffic sources with Google Analytics, or another analytics website. Revisit your link building campaign every month to see where you can make improvements.

Have you created a link building campaign for your company? How have your efforts paid off, and how did you measure your successes?