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SEO

Case Study: A Website Rehab

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Aftermath of the webguy who disappeared into his mancave

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Case Study: A website Rehab Project by Top of Mind Marketing

I’m working with a client who launched a website three years ago that was never fully realized. Empty pages, bad graphics, her branding all over the place–3 different taglines. Her web guy wished her well, disappeared into his developer mancave, and she hasn’t touched her site since.

She wonders why her she’s not getting any leads from her website, so we spent some time analyzing its component parts:

  • Her metadescriptions are laughable. For her homepage, there is some kind of meaningless address—she completely forfeited the opportunity to use her keywords and to describe what she does.
  • She never filled out the fields for Yoast, a WordPress plugin that increases SEO value.
  • There’s no lead capture on her site, so she had no idea who’s going to her site and looking at her listings so she can follow up with them.
  • The call to action is not self-evident and there’s no clearly defined value statement.

A website is not magic

If you want your website to work for you, it requires a thoughtful strategy and a lot of work to make sure the building blocks are in place. Like your garden, it requires constant care and if it is going to flourish and deliver for you. It’s worth the investment. For many small businesses, this is their primary marketing tool on which they often spend way too much money and have very little to show for it.

What’s next: keyword research

We’re going to invest in a few hours of keyword research to identify keywords and keyword phrases that might be good for her to be using in her blogs. More important, we might want these keywords to become standalone landing pages on her site, with fully fleshed out content. These new landing pages would be targets for anyone who would be keying those keyword/phrase into a search engine.

She’s going to go through her site and create metadescriptions for all pages and flesh out the Yoast fields. This will significantly boost her SEO value.

An examination of existing content

Landing page length is important—300+ words. People are reluctant to have a lot of content on their sites because they don’t to overwhelm their audience. But it’s that keyword-rich content that helps search engines find you. Search engines don’t rank short pages well.

Two audiences

To keep in mind: you really have two audiences–search engines that draw your potential clients to your site and those potential clients. If the search engines did their part in bringing clients to your site, you also need to provide a compelling reason for them to want to contact you. Just talking about your services is not going to be enough. You need to be sharing case studies that position you as an expert problem-solver. Provide examples that show how you work with your clients–this is what’s powerful–it positions you as an expert with whom people want to work.

Is your website working for you? Contact us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers and content marketing experts. 

SEO: Use Google Adwords to Develop Keyword Strategies

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Using Google Adwords

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Use Google Adwords to identify the competition on keywords

Let’s demystify using Google Adwords to develop keyword strategies. If you don’t have an account, go to Google and create one. Log in you’ll see a question that says, “What would you like to do?” In the field where it says: “products and services”, key in likely keywords for your business. Mine would be words like marketing, social media, internet marketing, writer, digital media, etc. Google Adwords is used when people are creating online ads, so it shows what the competition is for these words, which helps drive the price for an ad. Forget about the ad—we just want to see what the competition is. Let’s do some Google Adwords searches to identify the monthly search results:

  • Internet marketing: 52,720
  • Social marketing: 101,810
  • Business marketing: 23,750
  • Marketing consultant: 15,280
  • Marketing services: 26,460—but marketing planning is 101,400!
  • Marketing consulting firm: 880

What to do with keyword research findings?

From this brief exercise, I learned that there’s a lot of competition for social marketing (101,810) and not so much for marketing consulting firm (880). How might I use this information? If I were building a new website, I would give serious thought to creating a standalone landing page for Marketing Consulting Firm. This page would be at least 300 words and use that keyword phrase 6+ times on the page. If I’d been thinking about creating pages for Internet Marketing or Social Marketing, I would rethink these words.

Use keywords in blogs and social media posts

While a very preliminary study, this example gives you an idea of how to search—and more important—how to use the information from Google Adwords research. You want to be doing more comprehensive research to come up with other words and phrases that might be advantageous to be using in your blog and social media posts as well as on your website. I keep a list of these words handy so I can reference them when I’m working on client projects.

Keyword research is an important part of every online marketing project at Top of Mind Marketing. If your website is not mobile-enabled, we’d love to talk with you. We build websites that show up on search engines!

Landing Pages and Great Content: A Recipe for SEO

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Landing pages and great content. Not exactly sexy topics, but landing pages with good content are what draw people to your website and provide the information that makes them decide to contact you. So what is a landing page? It’s any page on which a user lands from another site; a landing page always has its own url.

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Landing pages with good content are key to effective SEO

If you’re discussing your services and you put them all on one page, you have a single landing page for services. The url would be something like mysite.com/services. This is not a very good strategy because services is way too broad a topic. A better strategy: create standalone landing pages for each service so that each has its own url—this gives each page a chance that search engines will find it.

On my site, for example, I have landing pages for my services: top-mindmarketing.com/seo, top-mindmarketing.com/content marketing, etc. In this way, if someone keys in content marketing, I will be competing with the gazillions of other people who are content marketers, but I have better chance of showing up in search engines than if I were just discussing content marketing, as one of many topics, on my Services page.

Standalone landing pages for each product/service

In general, you want to have standalone landing pages for each product and service, but that’s just the beginning. Think about your business, then think about what people would be keying into search engines to find you. This is a very good way to be thinking about identifying landing pages on your site. For my clients I like to use Google Adwords to do keyword research. This doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to be doing an ad; rather, for this exercise, we’re trying to identify keywords and keyword phrases that are popular that we might want to use not only as landing pages but also incorporate into the content on our sites to attract search engines.

Many people underestimate the importance of good web content

Not only does good content help your site show up in a search, but it’s content that provides the forum to showcase your expertise. As a business owner, people want to know about your background, training and experience. I always recommend providing case studies to demonstrate how you work with your clients. We all want to be recognized as problem-solvers, and real-life scenarios are a great way to highlight your skills.

Your website: addressing two audiences–search engines and potential clients

You need to be playing to search engines so that people will find your site, but once they land on it, there must be something compelling to make them want to stay and learn more—and ultimately contact you. Your website says so much about you—your ability to write, organize information and exhibit a high level of professionalism. In many cases, it carries the weight of a first introduction and first impression—you may only get this one opportunity, so make it count.

Is it time to rethink your landing pages and update your website? Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re writers, SEO and website experts.

Google’s New Algorithms: If You’re Not Mobile-Enabled, Time for a New Site

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If you don’t translate to mobile devices, it’s time to think about a new website

That pesky Google. The application with whom we have a love-hate relationship but frankly can’t live without, has done it again. They’ve changed their dreaded algorithms. I generally try to ignore these changes since they’re only going to change them again, right? But this most recent change has serious implications for those whose websites are not mobile friendly.

Mobile search is growing at a stunning rate: 60% of users are accessing information on mobile

If you’ve been enjoying a nice respite in Sleepy Hollow, you may not realize that people are accessing everything on their phones. Usage has gone up at an alarming rate. In 2014, data revealed that 30 percent of all searches came from a mobile device, while the most recent 2015 data shows that this has increased to more than 60 percent. Mobile search is growing at 10x the rate of desktop search.

Not optimized for mobile: lose 1/3 of traffic

Apparently this is one of the biggest changes to the Google algorithm in years, so it’s one to take seriously. Especially if your sites is not optimized for mobile. The prediction: Businesses that don’t have mobile-ready sites stand to lose up to a third of their traffic. Since more than two thirds of Fortune 100 companies are not considered mobile friendly, this is going to have a big impact.

So how is the algorithm going to test for mobile?

The algorithm will scan each page on the site, checking for things like load times, design elements and mobile best practices. For now searches on tablets won’t be affected, but this is likely to be in the pipeline – so it’s worth getting ahead of this change. Things it will be looking for:

  • Text sizes that are readable without zooming (Think big. I love this one. There’s been a trend that’s designer-based where everything is restrained/constrained and tiny. Looks sophisticated. The reality is that you can’t read it. I’m a function over form person and this makes me crazy! Isn’t this supposed to be about communication?)
  • Content that fits the screen so scrolling isn’t necessary
  • If you’re still using Flash you’re in trouble.

If you’re a business that’s been proactive about optimizing for mobile, you’ll benefit from improved mobile SEO over your competitors who are lagging behind. On the other hand, if you are lagging behind on mobile but have a great desktop site, your ranking on the latter will remain unaffected.

The bottom line: If your site is not mobile-enabled, it’s time for a new website

However, it’s to the benefit of all businesses to get up to speed with mobile and make sure your site delivers a positive user experience. Consumers will abandon you site if it’s too difficult to navigate on their mobile devices. Count on this. There are too many other choices out there.

Looking at your website on your mobile device and not liking what you see? There are new platforms that make upgrading your website streamlined, easy and cost effective.

Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re content marketing and SEO experts and we’re building websites that search engines can find.

11 Easy Ways to Boost your SEO Value

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11 Easy Ways to Boost your SEO Value

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Adding good, fresh content is key to increasing your SEO value

You’re an industry expert, not a tech whiz, right? But as small business owners, we don’t have the luxury of operating in isolation. We need to come up with winning strategies for our clients, but we also need to know about marketing and technology. Your website’s an important marketing tool, but not if nobody can find it. Here are 11 Easy Ways to Boost your SEO Value that you don’t have to be a techie to understand—tips that translate to your small business.

  1. Think content. Update your website frequently. How to do this? Make sure your products and services are still relevant and described so your audience wants to learn more—be sure to include a Call to Action. Add a Case Studies page and update this with projects on which you have helped your clients solve problems. Keep it simple so you can update it—otherwise it will never happen.
  2. User Experience. Believe it or not, search engines like this. Good navigation and ease of use.
  3. Start a blog. This is the easiest way to add fresh content to your site. Don’t be overwhelmed by a blog—it doesn’t have to be a tome—keep it lively and fun. If you can’t commit to a blog, don’t get started—if your last post was in June of 2013, it makes you look like you lost interest, which you clearly did.
  4. Do start using social media. Commit to posting 2-3x/week. Be sure and post your blogs to your social media sites. Provide links back to your site and use the name of your business in your post—it’s great for SEO.
  5. Don’t get scammed by people who promise guaranteed results. For anything. These people are generally bottom feeders who prey on your vulnerability. “Great results guaranteed”, “Get found on Google and double your business!” Ignore these people.
  6. Overcome your fear of keywords. It’s not as hard as they try to make it. Learn to use Google’s Keyword Planner/Adwords. Another app that provides good keywords to weave into your content: Ubersuggest—it’s also uber-easy to use. Beware of keyword stuffing—apparently Google punishes you.
  7. Use images. Let’s face it—we need to be entertained. An image provides visual texture—also make sure your images have alt tags—keywords or the name of your company on the names of those jpg files.
  8. Optimize for mobile. 60% of people or more are pulling you up on their phones—those phones are getting bigger, but they’re still small handheld devices. Most web platforms these days such as WordPress translate automatically to mobile. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it really is time to think about a new site.
  9. Set up a Google listing—a great way to increase your presence in local search.
  10. Set upand use—Google Analytics. Find out what’s working/not.
  11. Be patient. Increasing traffic to your website doesn’t happen overnight; rather, it requires a steady, prolonged effort, but it will pay off.

Make a commitment

Set aside at least two hours/week to create new content, study analytics, read about the heinous new things Google is doing to confuse us. It’s worth it—chances are you’ve spent a lot of money on your website. Time for some ROI.

Need SEO help with your website, or maybe it’s time for a new site. Talk to us at Top of Mind Marketing. We’re SEO and content marketing experts.

When It Comes to Customer Focus, We Can All Take a Tip From Santa

By | Blogging, Marketing Tips, SEO, Social media, The basics, Uncategorized | No Comments

During the holidays, I think about Santa and what a huge job he has santaevery year picking out and delivering the right gifts to the right kids. His sales territory is vast and his timeline is aggressive.

Even with the help of his elves, you have to figure that he’s a pretty stressed-out guy who is juggling multiple priorities. Yet he meets the challenge year after year. He’s timely, meets deadlines, works efficiently and sustainably, minimizing environmental impact. Like the rest of us, Santa is an entrepreneur who has run his successful business for years. We could all take a page from Santa’s marketing plan:

  • Listening. He listens to make sure that he fully understands what each child is longing for. As business owners, listening to our clients is the most important part of our jobs. Look for their pain rather than rattling on about your products and services. No one cares.
  • Customer focus. Just as Santa looks forward to the cookies and milk that we leave him each year, we should be doing something to show our customers how much we appreciate them.
  • Consistency and credibility. Christmas is about believing, and Santa does a superb job. He shows up every single year, regardless of weather, politics or illness. His brand is that of trust and reliability and as a result of that trust, he has successfully beat out his competition.
  • Keeping up with technology. I don’t know how he does it, but Santa stays on top of the trends. He has Facebook and Twitter pages, and he knows that kids aren’t interested in Cabbage Patch dolls or GI Joes anymore when they can be playing with their expensive iPhones and snappy new Air iPads.

In the same way that Santa stands out from the crowd, we need to help our clients gain competitive advantage. Just like Santa, our goals should be building customer loyalty and accountability. The great thing is that if we’re successful at helping them grow their businesses, we also will be growing our own.

Need some help developing a marketing plan for 2014? Contact us: it’s what we do at Top of Mind Marketing.

Happy holidays and best wishes for a wonderful New Year from Top of Mind Marketing.

5 Grammatical Errors That Even Those Who Know Better Make

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With the growth of content marketing everyone has become a writer. I was reading GrammarPolicea blog about business leaders who stress out about writing, fearing that incorrect grammar will make them cyberspace laughingstocks. I struggle with that, because I think people are oblivious to the fact that they are making egregious grammatical errors.

Does it matter? The object is communication. If people are getting their points across, are a few grammatical errors along the way important? I think they are. When I see bad writing and punctuation by a so-called industry expert, I think of him/her as a little less expert. 

The top five:

  1. The absolute worst: Me vs. I. A whole lot of people who should know better routinely bungle this one, looking smug and self-satisfied as they do it. He gave the gift to my brother and I. Wrong. It’s so easy. Take out the “my brother”—you wouldn’t say “He gave the gift to I”, would you? Of course, not. Therefore, the answer is “He gave the gift to (my brother) and me.” Do that little exercise before you say it and you’ll never bungle it again.
  2. Irregardless. This is simply not a word.
  3. It’s vs. its. I can’t understand why this is so hard for people. It’s is a contraction, a shortcut for it is. Its shows possession. Its color is blue. Simple.
  4. Your and you’re. This is another easy one. You’re is a contraction, a shortcut for you are. Your shows ownership, as in “your ball”.
  5. Fewer vs. less. Less refers to something that can’t be quantified and “fewer” to something that can. If you can count it, it’s fewer. The checkout line at the supermarket is always incorrect: 15 items or less should, of course, be 15 items or fewer. A few stores do get it right–kudos to The Berkeley Bowl!

Struggling with content marketing? Ask us–we’re writers @ Top of Mind Marketing.