What follows is the simplest, most jargon-free explanation of search engine optimization.
Step #1. How do Search Engines Work?
The primary job of a search engine is to constantly find new web pages and organizing them. That’s pretty much it!
Then when people use search engines, they retrieve and display those pages based roughly on a few major characteristics:
Relevance: How closely related is this information to what someone’s looking for?
Authority: Does this page (and entire site) appear to be credible on this topic?
Popularity: Do other people find this source helpful, and would they recommend it?
Step #2. So What is SEO?
SEO is simply a way of improving your odds of showing up when people look for information related to you.
For example, if your site sells hats that look like animals, then you want optimize your site to show up when someone searches for terms like:
Hat that looks like a duck
Whatever your business name is
You probably DON’T want your site to come up when somebody searches things like:
Shoes that look like animals
It’s absolutely critical to understand how people might be looking for your products or services (i.e. what specific phrasing or topics are they looking for), so that you can determine (a) the popularity of these terms and compare that with (b) how competitive they might be (i.e. the pages and websites already showing up for these topics).
Step #3. The Importance of Pages
Once you know how to properly describe what you do (based on how people might be looking for it), then you want to lead these people to a specific page.
For example, if somebody specifically searches for a hat that looks like a duck, the page they land on should feature your duck hat!
On the other hand, if their search is more general (e.g. “Animal hats”) then you can show them a page that has an overview of all of your hats.
The key objective of SEO is to give people easy access to what they want to see (and having many different landing pages make this possible).
Step #4. Optimize!
The next big step is optimizing the website itself. Your site needs to be easy for search engines (and people!) to understand.
That means being as descriptive as possible with your content on each page, creating a better user experience by making the website load quickly, and making your website easy to navigate with little-to-no “dead ends” when people are clicking around.
SEO is an eclectic combination of tactics, tweaks, and best practices. Some of these are pretty quick and easy to implement while some can take a long time.
The best advice – regardless of whether you’re trying to do it yourself or hire someone else – is to become as knowledgeable as possible and stay up-to-date. Because what worked just a few years ago, might get you in trouble today.
Step #5. Think Big Picture
Despite the popularity and effectiveness of SEO, it’s important to keep perspective.
For example, how are your optimization efforts and tactics going to align with your overall marketing strategy? Because SEO is just one part of a complete digital marketing strategy.
So it’s critical that you understand your buyer’s journey (how they’re going to find and buy from you), analyze your entire website’s strengths and weaknesses, and ensure that enough visitors are turning into leads.
The biggest SEO mistakes occur when you treat it as some separate “thing”, and don’t integrate it with the rest of your marketing plan.
Notice the difference in the ‘after’ web design? It uses real staff photos instead of dated stock images. There’s a call to action above the fold and solid reasons to choose Gordon Vet Hospital. And there’s a visual tour of the hospital facilities and staff, which encourages great impressions of a well-functioning medical centre.
Mistake 2: The site doesn’t appeal to the target Audience
Who is your target audience?
Do you sell to consultants, academics or truck drivers?
Now examine your website.
Does it speak to your demographic? Has it been translated into the same vernacular they use? Is it comfortably within their education level? Will the design, images and content appeal to them?
It’s unlikely that a truck driver will willingly read the Financial Review, or an MBA-graduate read a trucking magazine, so don’t try to make them.
Have you ever scrolled to the bottom of a web page to where a copyright date is listed, and found that it’s outdated by a year, or two? It doesn’t offer much confidence that the company who owns the site is doing any recent business.
A website that’s outdated, or looks that way because of an outdated design is an instant turn off to clients. Ensure that your website is current by implementing the latest technology, refreshing existing copy regularly, and adding new, quality copy every week.
The ideal length of a blog post is claimed to be 7 minutes or 1,600 words according to research from Medium. However, this assumes it contains interesting, informative material.
Long stories or page content with rambling copy about how great you are without any proof or examples to back up your claims, tends to have the shelf-life appeal of a month-old cooked prawn left in the sun.
Mistake 4: Under-estimating the importance of the ‘About Us’ and ‘Contact Us’ pages
You’d be surprised at how many users check out your ‘About Us’ page. I used heatmaps to track users’ behaviours on our websites across 10 different industries and found that ‘About Us’ is one of the most visited pages on the website.
The ‘Contact Us’ page ranks almost on the same scale. Even if you run business from home, your website should have a phone number and email address for users to see and call or email. Having a simple web form without any basic contact information looks transient and suspicious.
If you look carefully at this example, you’ll see the tiny little yellow dots on each of the menu items of the Gordon Vet Hospital website. These are heatmaps that show the most visited option is ‘About Us’ and ‘Our Friendly Staff.’
Users do actually want to know more about you so showcase what you’ve got. If you have great staff, tell them. If you have high profile clientele, let them know.
This is a poor example of an ‘About Us’ page. It does not provide any ‘personable’ information. It doesn’t say who they are. It doesn’t say how they operate. If there was a heatmap indicating trust levels, and wouldn’t that be handy, this page would be colorless.
Mistake 5: The shopping cart doesn’t work properly
Have you ever personally bought something from your website?
How many steps were involved? If it was more than one, then it was too many.
In other words, your checkout should be a one pager. Requiring guests to sign up before they can check out, or even view the home page, is another turn-off. You need to facilitate a checkout option for guests.
See below an example of a better way to do this – one page checkout process. It’s a website that Result Driven SEO built for Bean Offroad Camping.
When users first land on your website, they don’t know you, they don’t trust you, they might not even like you, so how can you expect them to buy products from you?
Missing contact information, bad reviews, and a lack of social proof can damage a user’s confidence in your brand.
Prior to doing business with your company most clients will cast their eyes over online reviews from third-party sites such as Trip Advisors, Google Plus Local or other local directories. These independent reviews carry a lot of weight on the ‘trust’ scales. It’s important to generate them, and to ensure they are positive. Set up Google Alerts to monitor what other people are saying about your business and address their comments immediately to manage your online reputation.
According to research on Trust and Mistrust of Online Health Sites participants mistrusted websites because of these elements.
55% of respondents agreed, “A frustrating experience on a website hurts my opinion of the brand overall.”
So what, exactly, are consumers looking for in a website accessed from a mobile device?
Site speed—loading time of 5 seconds or less
Big, finger-friendly buttons
Limited scrolling and pinching
Quick access to business contact information
“Click to call” access to phone the business
One-direction scrolling, either horizontal or vertical, but not both.
In April this year Google’s MobileGeddon started penalising mobile-unfriendly websites. To examine if an individual page is mobile-friendly, go here or to check the status of your entire site, go here .
If your site’s pages aren’t mobile-friendly, Google warns there ‘may be’ (read ‘will be’) a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search. But once your site becomes mobile-friendly, it will automatically re-process (i.e., crawl and index) your pages.
Mistake 9: Not having video to illustrate products
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is said to be worth a thousand pictures, or a million words.
Either way, video is powerful and provides a quick and easy way to impart a lot of information effectively and in a digestible format.
If I’m seeking a sales report extension for a Magento website, I am more likely to consider a provider offering a video that demonstrates how the extension works. See this blue ribbon example of an aheadWorks landing page for their Sales Report Extension. It offers video, demonstrations and plenty of reviews.
This landing page itself appeals to small-business owners by highlighting the benefits of using their product, namely being able to accept credit cards for transactions – something that was previously out of reach for many merchants before Square came along.
The call to action itself uses simple language that can be successful for many types of business. The word “get” is often highly motivating. The fact that Square doesn’t charge for its product is likely to be genuinely surprising to many prospects, which reinforces the value of the offer and makes it more tempting.
Between the minimal form (just three fields), the strong indicator of potential benefit (“Start accepting credit cards today”) and the great offer (the free Square card reader), this landing page/call to action combo is a winner.
We all curate our Facebook and LinkedIn feeds to reflect the way that we’d like the world to see and understand us. It would be silly to think that brand identity should work differently. Social media has re-shaped how we approach marketing and customer relationships. relations, so how your company uses these tools can speak volumes. Your online presence and perceived approachability matter more than ever. A customer service mistake may mean it’s your turn as this week’s unfortunate trending hashtag. No one wants to commit a high-profile misstep in the vein of Amy’s Baking Company. Social media can be a powerful tool to connect with customers and prospects, build loyalty and gain exposure. The infographic below describes the 8 most common mistakes companies in social media marketing.
Social Media Strategy
A social media strategy should include your distinctive brand voice and an effective policy. Measurable goals and scheduled content updates are smart ways to ensure you stay focused. Many companies fall into the trap of registering on too many different platforms at once. This means they can’t provide relevant or timely content to their community. On the other hand, some companies abandon an account after a month or post few updates which make them appear disengaged or disorganized. It’s smarter to focus on the one or two social media platforms that give you the best chance of reaching your intended audience — you can always expand later on. The focus should be on building real relationships rather than inflate your community with disengaged followers.
Sometimes the best way to elevate your brand is to stop talking about it. As a change of pace, you can post content unrelated to your product or service. This provides variety and can promote sharing and likes. But ensure whatever you post is useful to your audience. , Be careful not to annoy your audience with overuse of hashtags or by posting too many items too quickly. Keep your content well-timed, interesting and make sure to proof-read.
The last basic mistake made in social media marketing is overlooking the fact that it is meant to be social! A skilled social media communicator is responsive, approachable, and helpful. Remember, a social media account is a customer-facing brand ambassador and building rapport should be a major goal. As the infographic says, by humanizing your brand, you allow your audience to feel more connected to you. And isn’t that what friending is all about?
Performing a social media cleanup has become an important part of the job search process. Whether you realize it or not, what you post online becomes part of your personal brand, and those pictures from that one summer camping trip you barely remember from your early 20s can come back to haunt you. Potential employers can and do check job candidates’ personal social media accounts, making social media etiquette an important factor to keep in mind. How you are portrayed online can affect an employer’s impression of you before you even meet face-to-face.
To begin a social media cleanup, run a Google search on yourself to see what a potential employer might find. It is likely that your various social media accounts will appear, which employers will look at to gain more insight into your personality, opinions, and lifestyle. This is where understanding how to present yourself professionally via personal branding and social media etiquette is important. Note: if you aren’t willing to change your online habits, consider changing your privacy settings to hide your activity.
What to remove
Everyone needs to rant sometimes, and Twitter has become an outlet for many peoples’ pet peeves, strong opinions, and personal views. A well-worded tweet reflecting on a trending news story is one thing, but if an employer finds a Twitter account filled with complaints about work and coworkers, or repeated tweets to other companies in attempts to get free stuff, it might make the employer second-guess whether you’re a fit with the company. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re presenting a good impression of yourself, and while the occasional cat meme is harmless enough, keep the vulgar language or pictures to a minimum.
How to remove a tweet
Sign in to Twitter.
Click on your profile.
Choose the tweet you wish to delete, and select the ellipsis (“…”) at the bottom of the tweet itself to view more options.
Select “Delete Tweet,” and confirm that you wish to delete it.
Personal branding on Twitter is easy because of the simplicity of the Twitter profile. Make sure you provide a professional profile picture that reflects you, your business, and your niche. For example, if you’re a hobby photographer, make sure your profile picture showcases your photography style. Your profile bio is limited to 160 characters, but you should remember to include the most relevant keywords associated with your personal brand or niche. Take your time writing your bio, and make it interesting by being authentic and true to your lifestyle. You can also include hashtags in your bio that directly connect to aspects of your brand. Be sure to include your website address or link to another social media account. If an employer finds a well-presented Twitter profile highlighting your accomplishments and talents, the employer is more likely to gain a good first impression of your value as an employee.
Facebook can be especially problematic because so many people have used the social network for years, and it is possible to be tagged in posts and pictures that you may not have written or posted. Social etiquette has changed over the years, depending on what stage of life you were in when you began using social media. For many millennials who opened their first Facebook account nearly a decade ago, this makes a social media cleanup essential. It may be a good idea to remove or hide any questionable pictures from your college or university days. (You know—the ones that feature beer bottles and questionable outfits.) It’s also a good idea to scan your status updates, shares, and posts to remove anything too extreme; you want to make sure your rant about ignorant people or that post including a video of half-naked Kim Kardashian selfies isn’t the first thing a potential employer sees. On Facebook, much of this information can also be hidden instead of deleted.
How to remove or hide pictures and posts
Log in to your Facebook account, and go to your profile.
Select the Photos tab.
Select the Albums tab.
You can make the photo album private from the Settings menu in the bottom right-hand corner of each album.
You can delete an album by clicking on the album and choosing to delete it from the Settings tab in the top right-hand corner.
Confirm that you want to delete the album.
Log in to your Facebook account, and go to your profile.
Select the Photos tab.
image: https://www.matricksdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Delete_Photo_FB_1.jpg.jpgYou can remove yourself from pictures in which others have tagged you by hovering over the photo and choosing the Remove Tag option from the Edit feature found in the top right-hand corner.
You can delete photos individually by going to the Photos tab (for all photos you have uploaded to an album or your timeline) or by searching for them in the Albums tab. To delete, hover over a photo, and select Delete This Photo from the Edit option found in the top right-hand corner.image: https://www.matricksdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Delete_Photo_FB_2.jpg.jpg
Confirm that you want to delete the picture.
To hide the picture, choose the option Hide from Timeline.
Status Updates and Posts
Log in to your Facebook account, and go to your profile.
Scroll down your timeline, and find the post or status update you wish to remove.
Select the downward arrow in the top right-hand corner of your post, and select Delete.
Confirm that you want to delete the post.
To hide a status or post, select the Hide from Timeline option from the same menu.
Personal branding on Facebook is not something many people think about in relation to their personal accounts. But Facebook can work for you both personally and professionally. Make sure you present a professional profile picture and cover image. This doesn’t mean they have to be stuffy or formal, but high-quality, appropriate photos will significantly contribute to others’ impressions of you. Fill in all of your professional information—potential employers might check this against your application. Follow groups and pages that relate to who you are and your interests; presenting the most authentic version of yourself online is a key part of personal branding. Be aware of what you post on Facebook, and perhaps substitute that extra cute cat mash-up video for a think piece on something about which you are passionate.
What to remove
Like Facebook, you might want to consider a social media cleanup of your Instagram feed, considering that the two platforms are so closely intertwined (and that Instagram is now owned by Facebook). Remove any questionable photos that may not show you in the best light if an employer were to stumble across them, or you can set your account to private. Removing any off-color quotes or images is also an important aspect of social media etiquette.
How to remove
Log in to Instagram on your phone or tablet—pictures cannotimage: https://www.matricksdesigns.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/174211_instagram.png.pngbe deleted from the computer dashboard.
Go to your profile.
Select the photo you wish to delete.
View more options by selecting the ellipsis (“. . .”).
Select Delete from the Options menu.
Confirm that you wish to delete the photo.
Instagram has become a significant platform for personal branding. To utilize the app to its best potential, upload a professional profile picture, and really consider what you post. You are more likely to gain followers if your images are edited in a similar manner so that the photos flow together nicely or have the same aesthetic. Try to showcase photos that you have taken yourself that reveal who you are and what your lifestyle is like in an authentic way.
The key to knowing what to post on social media, especially when embarking on a job search, is to consider each post from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know you. Ask yourself, “If this one post were the only thing somebody knew about me, how would I come across?” Even though your friends and family may know that a certain status update is meant to be sarcastic or that you only use the word totes ironically (s-u-u-ure), remember that potential employers don’t know you well and are still in the process of forming their opinions about you. Make sure your social media accounts help them form accurate and positive opinions that reassure them of your professionalism and reliability.
If you created a website for your business, the very thing you don’t want to forget is to optimize it. Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the process of optimizing and improving your business website’s page rank in search engine results pages on Google, Yahoo or Ask.
Search Engine Optimization is divided into two basic areas: the off-page and on-page optimization. Off-page optimization is all about creating links pointing to the site you’re optimizing, which in your case is your website. On-page optimization, on the other hand, refers to the website elements such as your web page’s HTML code, images, and textual content.
To help you with your on-page and off-page optimization, you can use SEO Tools which Google offers to help you optimize your page by providing helpful data. You can use these tools to pump-up your digital managing and marketing efforts.
Some of the Google tools you should check out are:
1. Google Webmaster. Considered to be one of the best tools Google offers, this tool is used to identify problems, spot bigger issues quickly, and it also helps your site run smoothly. This free Google service allows you to identify broken links and crawling issues. It can also let you see all your indexed pages and download links.
2. Google Trends. You can freely use this tool if you need to compare traffic for different terms, including geographic, historic and related data. This tool can help you understand the rise and fall of each topic under your site’s niche which can be a great help for creating and writing an enticing content for your website.
3. Google Consumer Surveys. We understand that your future customers or your website’s audience is what matters most to your website. That’s why it’s crucial to understand and fulfill their needs. This tool can help you with that. Google Consumer Surveys have free options which you can use for gathering the most important data for your website’s design testing and also for your content category.
Other SEO Google Tools you can take advantage of are Google Alerts, Google Analytics, Tag Manger, Google Adwords Keyword Planner, PageSpeed Insights, Content Experiments and Google Places for Business.