“The beauty of SEO is that, instead of pushing a marketing message onto folks who don’t want to hear what you have to say, you can reverse-engineer the process to discover exactly what people are looking for, create the right content for it, and appear before them at exactly the moment they are looking for it.”
– Cyrus Shepard, founder of Fazillion Media
There’s still a long ways to go until retailers see the rainfall of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas once again, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t optimization to be done for the holidays.
When most people think about the holidays, images of eating turkey around the family table, presents under trees, and swarms of frenzied and frenetic shoppers (both online and offline) trying to take advantage of the best deals imaginable are all conjured up.
In the case of retailers, this is a fair train of thought considering that the Nation Retail Federation reports 2016 November and December retail sales ringing in at an astonishing $658.3 billion.
The “Christmas season,” however, is not the only time when retailers experience a spike in sales.
With holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Independence Day right around the corner, shoppers will be altering their search habits with the intent of making seasonal purchases. And if retailers want to get a piece of that action, a temporary SEO overhaul is in order.
Here is what you need to know to drive more traffic and sales for any holiday or season that inspires consumers to spend some cash.
Timing is Everything
Generating SEO results normally takes months; even years can sometimes pass before a company achieves its ultimate goal.
For that reason, retailers need to plan their campaigns well ahead of time in order to not miss out on the shopping madness.
BigCommerce, an eCommerce platform provider, released a study which notes that, “. . . if you want to participate in over 90 percent of the search traffic, you need to post your content to websites at least 45 days in advance.”
Content and inbound marketing director for 1-800-PetMeds, Vanessa Penagos-Pino, thinks that 45 days is not early enough and advocates businesses begin their planning two to four months in advance.
Do keep in mind, however, that these timeframes are not hard and fast rules, meaning that there will be variations from industry-to-industry and brand-to-brand.
In order to establish the correct timing for your business, study the trends taking place on various channels leading up to a holiday or seasonal event; begin studying keywords associated with the upcoming occasion and optimize pages on your website for these phrases while consolidating others that aim to rank for the same keywords; these only serve to diminish ranking potential.
To help you optimize for the holidays in the most prosperous way, let’s take a closer look at this blueprint.
Seasonal SEO Strategy
The first thing you need to do in preparing a holiday-driven SEO campaign is study which seasonal events are actually worth optimizing for.
This will be different for many industries so the best way to understand your company’s sweet spots is to study your brand’s data metrics to see which events drive the most sales and conversions year-over-year; these are the holidays you want to be a part of.
Next, begin analyzing Google Trends to establish emergent search trends congruent with those celebrations. Use this information to begin constructing a keyword list that will help you optimize your site and content for the upcoming event.
The ultimate goal here is to identify keywords and phrases that are relevant to the holiday itself and your company’s products or services. And remember, user intent is now much more important than keywords themselves so it is necessary to focus your efforts on the consumer intent around making a purchase.
With your keyword list in hand, begin crafting content that supports these keywords and targets the user intent of buying; post this to your site with optimized title tags, meta tags, and other SEO-focused elements.
Additionally, you will want to update some of your existing pages to infuse fresh copy, headers, title tags, etc.
This should go without saying, but be sure to share your newly crafted content across your social properties to begin driving traffic to those pages.
It’s also a good idea to leverage social media adverts, Google AdWords, and Yelp advertisements (if you have a brick and mortar location).
After setting your campaign into motion, be sure to monitor the results as they happen to verify that your content is producing the intended effect. Analyze underperforming pages to identify problem areas and optimize those further.
Measuring Seasonal Campaign Success
As with any marketing campaign, measuring performance is vital to achieving success. The main difference between an everyday SEO campaign and a seasonal one is that it must be measured in close to real-time as there is a very small window to achieve the desired results.
Study your site’s organic traffic for the timeframe the campaign will run, dating back three years. Compare organic page visits, bounce rates, time on site, and goal completions in Google Analytics to verify that your master plan is working.
From there, identify weak points on your site and optimize those accordingly.
When it comes to developing a seasonal SEO campaign, it’s not much different than launching a normal effort to rise in the SERPs. The main difference, and likely the biggest challenge, is getting the timing right so that your content gains enough traction to reach consumers at the appropriate time.
Start getting your plan together early, and you are far more likely to capture more of those sweet holiday dollars all throughout the year.
Need help with Search Engine Optimization? Contact us, we’ll do it for you!
“Search engine marketing and search engine optimization are critically important to online businesses. You can spend every penny you have on a website, but it will all be for nothing if nobody knows your site is there.”
– Marc Ostrofsky, New York Times bestselling author of Get Rich Click and Word of Mouse
Every business owner on the Web is trying to claw their way to the top of the SERPs in hopes of striking gold in terms of traffic, leads and sales. While everyone has the same goal, each uses their own set of methods and tactics.
Two of the most popular routes for attaining higher rankings are SEO and PPC advertising.
These two disciplines largely serve the same functions; drive visitors to your website in hopes of gaining a new customer and increasing search engine rankings.
Most small business owners, however, are not sure where to invest their limited funds to receive the most meaningful results.
In all honesty, that answer depends on your company’s goals.
To help you establish which modality will be more beneficial for you, we are going to compare the two strategies so as to identify their strengths and weaknesses.
SEO vs. PPC
Before we dive in to the details, let’s take a moment to define each of these practices.
Search engine optimization is the process of using keywords and other applicable components to increase a website’s relevancy in the search engine results pages (SERPs) as a way to drive traffic to webpages that address the user’s query. People who visit these pages from search engines are referred to as “organic traffic.”
SEO, however, is not just about optimizing your website and content to rank for specific keywords; it is about becoming an authority within a niche and turning your website into a trusted resource for users to gain information and useful products and services.
Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) is the process of creating adverts to be served to users based on the keywords the ad creator has bid on; these phrases are used to target relevant traffic. Dependent on the money you are free to bid, advertisers can acquire the very top spot on search pages.
Each time a user clicks on one of your adverts, you will be charged the bid amount whether the user converts or not. These individuals are referred to as “paid traffic.”
Despite PPC existing as its own discipline with its own set of best practices, there is still a sizable amount of SEO tenants that apply to creating an optimized ad campaign.
The Benefits of SEO
SEO is one of the single most powerful marketing strategies available to business owners. In fact, 66 percent of marketers claim that improving their search rankings is their top inbound marketing priority.
This is quite understandable when you consider that 60 percent of all organic traffic is claimed by the top three search results.
The biggest advantage that SEO gives to businesses is that it drives tons of high-quality traffic. Part of the reason for that is visitors who click on your site organically are far more inclined to trust your business and its offerings. Any business that ranks high in the SERPs is clearly a credible source in Google’s eyes, and, therefore, can be trusted by the consumer.
Make no mistakes, however; SEO is a long-term strategy that does not deliver immediate results. This practice takes a heaping dose of time and commitment; and any SEO results likely won’t come for months. This shouldn’t discourage you, of course, but realistic expectations are important.
PPC’s Place in the Ecosystem
While SEO clearly is a dominant force in the marketing landscape, PPC campaigns should not be discounted; this modality does tout some advantages over SEO’s slow development cycle.
When optimized correctly, PPC campaigns can deliver businesses with an immediate influx of paid traffic, downloads, sales, or whatever other goal you are seeking to achieve. This statement is supported by the fact that more than 64 percent of consumers looking to buy an item end up clicking on Google ads.
PPC ads can also be placed on websites outside of search engines that boast a significant amount of traffic that fits with your buyer personas. This means that you potentially have a second chance to recapture individuals who didn’t click on your search engine advert.
The key to excelling with PPC advertisements is relevance to user queries. Since search engines are constantly aiming to produce the best results for users, you need to do a fair bit of keyword research to understand the phrases consumers are using to find products and services similar to yours.
The Bottom Line
Whether you opt to leverage SEO or PPC depends on your company’s goals and how long you have to achieve them.
A premier SEO strategy can deliver long-term results as far as traffic and sales are concerned. But in order to receive these perks, SEO requires constant attention and effort. Google is always changing its algorithms and competitors are likewise seeking to top any site above their own. This means that you will be fighting a never ending battle; albeit, one that has massive benefits for the top contenders.
If you have the time to explore different keyword results, monitor website traffic, A/B test various site components, create optimized content and continually refine your blueprint, SEO is definitely the way to go.
A well-organized PPC campaign is capable of providing you with an instantaneous boost in visibility, traffic and, potentially, sales. And keep in mind, the more competitive your bids are, the more likely you will attain higher levels of visibility.
The problem here, however, is that you will pay for the clicks you generate even if you don’t gain a lead or sale. But if you simply don’t have the time or know-how to craft a powerful SEO strategy, then PPC campaigns can provide you with a quick bump in traffic. Just do be aware that as soon as your campaign ends, you are likely to see this dip back down because it is not a viable long-term option.
The most effective thing you can do is combine these two modalities to create a synergistic relationship to drive traffic from multiple avenues. Combine these practices into a single, cohesive unit and you are far more likely to achieve more meaningful results than merely using one or the other.
Need help with Search Engine Optimization? Contact us, we’ll do it for you!
by Mark Maunder
This is a public service announcement from Wordfence. We are sending this notice to the WordPress community due to the widespread nature and potential severity of this security issue. It has a high likelihood of impacting some of our readers and requires immediate action on their part.
Single sign-on provider OneLogin has experienced a breach. If you or your company uses OneLogin to sign in to applications, or if you use any of their other services, you need to be aware of this and may need to take several actions immediately.
In the past 24 hours, OneLogin sent out the following notice about a security incident:
“On Wednesday, May 31, 2017, we detected that there was unauthorized access to OneLogin data in our US data region. All customers served by our US data center are affected; customer data was compromised, including the ability to decrypt encrypted data. We have since blocked this unauthorized access, reported the matter to law enforcement, and are working with an independent security firm to assess how the unauthorized access happened and to verify the extent of the impact. We want our customers to know that the trust they have placed in us is paramount, and we have therefore created a set of required actions.”
Emphasis ours; we have bolded the section that says attackers managed to decrypt encrypted data because this could be particularly damaging to OneLogin customers. You can view the full notice in this screenshot, including the necessary actions that OneLogin suggests.
This is not the first time OneLogin has experienced a breach. Their ‘secure notes’ feature was breached in August of last year.
The long list of actions OneLogin suggests users take are as follows:
- If you replicate your directory password to provisioned applications, force a OneLogin directory password reset for your users.
- Generate new certificates for your apps that use SAML SSO.
- Generate new API credentials and OAuth tokens.
- Generate and apply new directory tokens for Active Directory Connectors and LDAP Directory Connectors.
- Update the API or OAuth credentials you use to authenticate to third-party directories like G Suite, Workday, Namely and UltiPro.
- Generate and apply new Desktop SSO tokens.
- Recycle any secrets stored in Secure Notes.
- Update the credentials you use to authenticate to third party apps for provisioning.
- Update the admin-configured login credentials for apps that use form-based authentication.
- Have your end users update their passwords for the form-based authentication apps that they can edit, including personal apps.
- Replace your RADIUS shared secrets.
If you use OneLogin, you should have received an email from them with a link to an article that contains the above guidance with additional detail. The article unfortunately requires you to sign in using OneLogin to access it. Screenshot here.
OneLogin has also published a brief blog post about the incident without any additional detail.
Please share this with the community so that any users of OneLogin are made aware and can take immediate action to mitigate any damage.
On March 14 of this year, Search Engine Land reported that an unconfirmed Google ranking had hit the scene. It was called Fred, and, while Google didn’t initially have much to say about it (the update wasn’t confirmed by the search engine until March 23), the evidence supporting its existence has been compelling from the get-go.
Digging deeper, SEJ spent a weekend collecting sample URLs from sites that believed they had been affected. With few exceptions, the sites were low-value content sites aimed at driving revenue rather than assisting users.
The verdict? An algorithm update did hit and it’s after low-value sites.
Here’s what you need to know.
Who Does Fred Effect?
Right now, it seems like Fred’s biggest targets are so-called “black hat” SEO sites. These sites feature some content, typically a blog, that is written to rank and has ads and affiliate links throughout the text. Industry experts don’t write these sites, and they tend to contain content on a wide assortment of topics and terms.
These pages have the following traits in common:
• A high concentration of keyword-based material that’s apparently targeting phrases for ranking;
• An unnatural or invasive level of affiliate links and ads throughout the content and the site at large;
• High concentration of text-based content in article form. These sites generally do not feature original video content or image content;
• Content geared toward generating revenue rather than solving a customer’s problems.
In these sites, the Fred update engendered a 50-90 percent decrease in traffic from Google’s organic search.
This indicates that Fred is a spam algorithm update dedicated to continuing Google’s insistence on content quality and expert writing. The update comes on the heels of a Feb. 7 algorithm update that also focused on content quality.
10 Tips to Avoid Fred’s Penalties
Right now, it seems like Fred is targeting affiliate and AdSense sites, which could spell disaster for hardworking SEOs and marketers. Concerned about Fred coming for you? Here are some smart tips to avoid penalties in the coming months.
1. Rein in Your Ad Ratio
Now is a smart time to look at your site’s ad rate. If your site looks like one huge ad at first glance, you’ve got to pare it back slightly. Since Fred is targeting ad-heavy sites, first and foremost, it’s essential to ensure yours isn’t setting off that trigger.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule for how many ads you should have on your site, experts recommend asking yourself if you can see more than a single ad as you read content, or if the advertisements present are distracting or invasive for the reader. If the answer to either of those questions is yes, you’ll need to revise your strategy.
Remember: all your ads should be helpful, relevant and exciting, not frustrating and intrusive.
2. Make Your Site Beautiful
While your site doesn’t have to be professionally designed to succeed, it should be visually appealing for people. Why, you ask? Because Google has gotten smart, and it knows that sites that are ugly and designed for search robots aren’t valuable or relevant for the human beings Google cares about. What’s more, these sites are difficult for real people to navigate.
With that in mind, revise the layout of your content if you need to. It should always be designed for people first and search engines second.
3. Get Rid of Tag Pages
Tag pages on blog-style sites should be removed. While this is a small update, it can help you improve and reclaim your site traffic if your URL has been hit by Fred.
4. Change up Your Content
One of the things Fred is looking for when it targets sites is content that addresses the same topic repeatedly. That’s because sites like this are typically fishing for ratings rather than promoting value. Instead of focusing exhaustively on certain topics, keep your topics fresh and relevant. Even if you’re not plagiarizing content or lifting content directly from other sources, keeping your material fresh, relevant, and tailored to users will help keep you out of Fred’s clutches.
5. Answer User Questions
One of the best things you can do to boost the value of your content is to focus your material on user issues. The more you can answer your users’ search queries, the better your content will perform not only with actual people but with search engines. If you’re stumped on where to find relevant questions to answer, head to Quora and look up questions in your niche, or use your website’s own Q&A to find topics your readers are hungry for.
6. Promote Value
The call since time immemorial in the world of SEO has been to promote value and offer relevant, exciting content. This will help keep you out of the clutches of Fred and prevent your site from being hit with damaging organic traffic decreases. Take heart, though – this doesn’t mean you can’t share affiliate links or ads – it just means that what you do share should be relevant and exciting to your users.
In other words, define a goal for your site. Instead of just dropping affiliate links into content, review products your users will love, help them find out what to buy, offer them deals, assist them in comparing prices, and collect reviews, so they don’t have to sift through the internet to do it on their own.
7. Make Your Keywords Second-Class Citizens
Too many people focus too intensely on keywords, at the expense of not only their users but the value of their content. Instead of falling victim to this, focus on catering to your readers, first, and checking keywords off your list, second. Not only does this improve the value of your content, but it also takes your site out of the low-quality affiliate bucket, and transforms it into something useful and helpful for your readers.
8. Branch Out into Other Content Types
As you’ll remember from the earlier part of this post, most of the sites hit by Fred featured only text-based content: no video or images. Differentiate yourself from the pack by branching out into other types of content, like videos, images, and more. Not only does this help you provide value to search bots and readers, but it also allows you to generate more traffic and more money, outside your standard affiliate links.
9. Build up Your Facebook Following
If you’re a legitimate business, you’ll be working on building your following on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Google knows this, and Fred is less likely to touch sites that are earning organic likes and shares from their social profiles.
Share your content on your social profiles and nurture that following actively. This serves two purposes: in addition to helping ensure your content doesn’t hit a dead end should you run into algorithm problems, it also expands your organic reach and helps make your existing content more valuable.
10. Develop Content Without a Focus on Profit
Instead of writing all your content to drive revenue or earn affiliate funds, focus on developing some material that’s just meant to be helpful or useful. Some experts call this “non-profit” content. It does two things.
On the one hand, it ensures that your entire site isn’t just seen as a commercial enterprise, which could place it in Fred’s crosshairs. Secondly, it helps you grow your content assets and get your links and other materials shared.
In this way, it helps ensure you won’t be dinged by Fred or other such algorithm updates and makes sure that the commercial balance of your site is up to par.
5 Proactive Steps to Protect Your Pages
Fred is just the most recent algorithm update released by Google, but it’s certainly not the last. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to protect your site from future such updates:
1. Always Create High-Quality Content
No matter where you fall in the content universe, it’s essential to insist that any content you publish is high-quality. This is as true for affiliate content as it is for any standard blog post or white paper.
While many people assume affiliate content must be low-quality, it can be remarkably helpful for users. Ensure the material you’re putting out is helping your users rather than just targeting rankings. Do this by only linking to products you’ve tried and liked, being specific about the benefits of a product or ad, and consistently re-evaluating your strategy to ensure its meeting the needs of your users.
2. Minimize Your Advertising
If this sets you into a panic, stay calm. While lots of marketers rely on advertisements to monetize their sites, this approach could be putting your content at risk by making your site seem spammy or low-quality. Instead, take a clear and honest look at your advertising and ensure that anything you’re sharing is relevant and valuable to users. If it’s not, get rid of it.
Bonus points for branching outside of advertising and focusing on organic reach (Through content marketing). This is virtually immune from algorithm updates and will continue to be important and relevant for years to come.
3. Go Deeper
Fred is predominantly targeting shallow, ranking-focused material. Stay away from shallow content at all costs. The deeper, more informative, and more helpful you can get with your material, the better chance you’ll have of attracting the organic content you crave and staying out of the clutches of Fred and other such updates.
Having a hard time figuring out how to go deeper?
One of the keys is to start creating long-form content. In addition to ranking better, long-form content provides more value to users, and stands out in the SERPs. Beyond that, you’ll also want to place yourself in your readers’ shoes: what are they hungry for? How can your content help them? Which questions aren’t your competitors answering for them?
By digging into these topics, you can differentiate yourself from the low-quality content Fred is targeting.
4. Don’t Panic
When an update like Fred hits, people tend to panic. Do not do this. At the end of the day, taking actions like deleting pages suddenly or compulsively altering your URL structure will only make the problem worse. Instead, take a comprehensive and targeted approach to auditing your content and improving the parts that are weak, dated, or spammy. This will ultimately help your content more than simply knocking out large portions of it, and will benefit your site down the road.
Again, don’t panic. Take a deep breath, learn about the update, and take proactive steps to ensuring it won’t start (or continue) to damage your content.
5. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
One of the biggest risk factors for Fred is a large concentration of low-quality links. Instead of cramming your content full like a thanksgiving turkey, focus on including quality links rather than just demanding dozens of them in your materials.
This goes for all your content, only concentrate on the links that are hard to claim, and spend your time creating content that not everyone can. A good general rule is that, if everyone can do it, it might be low-quality.
Separate yourself from the herd for a better chance at ranking well.
Google’s Updates and the Introduction of Fred
Google is updating its algorithms all the time, and Fred is no exception. By bringing the change into the current SEO scene, Google has once more placed utmost importance on high-quality content written by industry experts.
Luckily, you can avoid the damaging effects of this and other algorithm updates by always focusing on quality, taking your time with your content, and being active about standing out as an expert in your field.
Need help with Search Engine Optimization? Contact us, we’ll do it for you!
By Julia McCoy
Let’s face it: mastering content marketing can be tough. All too often, brands aren’t sure who to follow or what to emulate.
There seem to be dozens of examples of great content marketing out there, but it can be impossible to determine which brands are actually dominating the field and which are just putting on a good show. Luckily, some brands shine through just a little brighter than others.
By taking some lessons from these brands, you can start to master the universal best practices of content marketing, regardless of who your company is or who you serve.
5 Content Marketing Tips From World-Class Brands
When it comes to content marketing, you can learn a lot by following in a successful brand’s footsteps. If you’re new to the industry, these brands will help you learn where to start and what to avoid.
Even if you’re a seasoned content marketer, you can pick up new tips and tricks from watching how some of the best brands out there do it.
Here are five tricks some of the top companies are using today:
1. Provide Value Every Step of the Way
Today, the thing at the center of all great content marketing is value. If it doesn’t matter, people aren’t going to flock to it. And if people don’t flock to it, your content is never going to get anywhere. As such, providing value is one of the most important things you can master for your brand.
Unfortunately, lots of brands confuse the process of providing value with the process of selling themselves. Right now, it’s not uncommon to read a company’s website content and find that, while it’s valuable in places, mostly what the brand is doing is talking about itself. This is a big no-no in the world of content marketing.
Although it’s essential to provide value for customers, you have to do it without tooting your own horn. Instead of telling your customers how awesome you are, seek to educate uplift, and inspire them.
Consider how Thrive Market does this in its Instagram content:
While it can be tempting to “sell” yourself in your content, the trick is to write content that’s so good it sells your brand on its own.
2. Speak Directly To Your Target Audience
Your content marketing is only as effective as your audience research. As such, it pays to know who you’re speaking to. Brands like Lively do this beautifully, crafting a fresh, fun, hip voice that has earned them a cult following.
If you don’t know who your target audience is, you should start by crafting a target persona. From there, edit and update it according to your changing audience segments and demographics. The better you know your audiences, the more effectively you’ll be able to speak to them.
3. Know Which Channels Are Your Most Lucrative
Even if you have the best content in the world, it won’t get you very far unless you’re putting it out on the channels that your customers frequent.
As such, you need to know which ones are the most popular with your audience. Innocent Drinks, a juice brand based in the U.K., does this incredibly well.
While you can find the brand in several places around the Web, one of its most active channels is Twitter, where it routinely tweets and retweets its customers, creating “laugh-out-loud” worthy content that its customers love.
Not certain which platforms will be your most lucrative? The solution is simple: start with your most developed platform, or the one where you see the most engagement from your users. Build that platform out and focus on using it as your primary distribution method for content.
4. Don’t Oversell Your Features
This goes hand-in-hand with creating value without bragging about yourself. If you’ve got an online presence, people probably already know what you sell. As such, hard-selling the people that come to your social media profiles or website will only drive would be customers away.
Instead, take a softer approach to pitching your products.
Rather than beating people over the head with your products’ features, showcase how your products can help create a lifestyle that your customers want. Check out how Patagonia does this with its Instagram content:
The more customers see your brand illustrated as something that will enhance the quality or enjoyment of their lives, the more likely it is they’ll become brand evangelists without you having to pitch them.
5. Never Stop Experimenting
Content marketing is a rapidly changing field, and you can’t afford to stay in the same place for too long. While some things, like well-written blog posts and customer-centric content will always work, it pays to keep experimenting. Tim Ferriss has always done this well, going from being an author to a podcast host to playing with the idea of a traveling, live podcast tour:
Learning From the Pros
The more you can learn from the pros, the better your online content will become. Not only do these top brands know a thing or two about how to craft relevant, valuable content, but they’re also great sources for the top trends and developments in the industry. As such, following in their footsteps is a great way to stay up-to-date with the trends and ensure you’re on the cutting edge of your industry.
Today, great lessons in content marketing are everywhere. Even if you don’t take it from these brands, it’s easy to find a few of your own favorite brands to emulate.
Need help with Marketing? Contact us, we’ll do it for you!
By Julia McCoyOlder Posts »