Entries Tagged 'seo' ↓

SEO: The Difference Between Black Hat and White Hat

You’ve probably read umpteen articles that bang on about black and white hat search engine optimisation techniques.

Understand them?

Do you know what’s good and what’s not?

There is a lot of confusing material out there so here’s a quick run down of what’s good (i.e. white hat) and what’s bad (i.e. black hat) in the world of SEO.

Let’s start with the bad stuff.

Black Hat

Black hat is all the stuff that Google hates that if used will generate a heft penalty.

1. Bad content

This encompasses anything that’s written for the search engines and keyword stuffed or automatically generated content that is meaningless drivel produced by various software programmes. Don’t use either.

2. Links

Never buy, sell, exchange or dabble in automated link building activities. Links should always be earned through creating high quality content.

3. Hidden links and text

Text hidden behind images, white text on a white background, tiny fonts and hidden links (i.e. linking a hyphen rather than a word) will lead you into trouble.

4. Scraping

This is republishing articles from other sites without permission and pretending they’re your own.

5. Redirects

In the past people would create text-heavy web pages that were crammed with keyword-stuffed content written for the search engines. When clicked on, they redirected the user elsewhere.

White Hat

White hat is all about optimising your website for your audience. These activities are aimed at improving user experience and not manipulating the search results.

1. Content

It must be relevant, useful and written naturally. Plus, it produced regularly so there’s always something fresh on your website (e.g. by adding a blog).

2. Links (internal)

These are links to other content within your website. They are designed to enhance your reader’s experience by taking them to other relevant information within your website.

Only use a couple or so within your content so you don’t bombard your reader and make sure you use relevant anchor text.

3. Link earning

Every website that links to yours is like a vote. The more votes you get, the higher you rank. But these links must be natural and earned.

4. Navigation

At the top of your website (or down one side) will be your navigation helping your readers find their way around your website. These should incorporate your keywords.

5. Tags and titles

META descriptions and keywords are no longer important, but your title tags are. The tag you use should accurately describe your page whilst using your keywords (but without stuffing).

6. META description

Yes, I know I said this was no longer important and from an SEO point of view their not. But they come into their own for the user when your website is listed in the search results. It is this description that will help the user make a decision about which website to look at.

7. Images

The search engines can’t read images, but they can read the Alt tag that goes with them. Make sure your tags are meaningful and relevant.

8. Anchor text

This is the word or phrase you use to link out to another page of your website. It should utilise your keywords, but naturally, built within a phrase.

To make sure you don’t go wrong simply make sure that everything you do is for your reader and not the search engines.

YouTube SEO: How to Boost Your YouTube Rankings

YouTUbe boost

With over 30 million visitors a day, YouTube is the second largest search engine. That’s why it makes sense to house your videos on the platform.

Millions of businesses are making the most of YouTube’s popularity by using it as a repository for their videos that they can then embed within their own website.

Not only do they benefit from YouTube’s search capabilities, but they can also use it to create a channel to which people can subscribe.

It sounds great, but its popularity also has drawbacks – namely competition for rankings and the need for an SEO strategy.

As with all content marketing strategies, every video you put out must be of a high quality and contain content that’s targeted to your audience. Then it comes down to good old-fashioned hard work to optimise your videos for maximum impact.

How to improve your YouTube rankings

1. Keywords

You can’t get away from them. Whatever form your online marketing takes, keywords will always have a part to play.

This isn’t a free ticket to keyword-stuff your videos, far from it, but it is important to make sure you use words that relate to your video’s content. A great tool to use for this is YouTube’s own keyword tool.

2. Video title

Just as with your articles and blog posts, your video title will have a big impact on your click rate.

Make sure it’s short, attention grabbing and uses one or two of your keywords. But you only have 120 characters to play with, so you may have to get creative (just so long as the title is relevant to the video’s content).

3. Description

Sadly, Google can’t watch your video so the only way it will know what it’s about is through your description. Again, use your keywords (sparingly) and, if it’s a long video, add a transcription to give your SEO a boost.

4. Tags

Video tags serve the same purpose as those you use for blog posts. They help YouTube understand what you’re video is about and, by using keywords (plus locations, categories etc.) they will boost it’s search-ability.

5. Links

Links back to your video are as important as links to your website. In the same way as they help your Google rankings, links back to your video will help its YouTube rankings.

6. Thumbnail

Not as obvious is attractiveness of your video’s thumbnail.

Find an image that will appeal to your audience to try and attract clicks.

How does YouTube ranking videos?

It’s also worth taking note of the factors that YouTube takes into account when it comes to rankings its videos:

  • How many views the video has
  • How long users spend watching the video
  • How many appearances it’s made on a user’s playlist
  • How many positive ratings and comments it’s received
  • How many subscribers your YouTube channel has
  • How many times the video’s been added as a favourite or to a playlist
  • How many times the video has been embedded on the web

Popularity appears to be a recurring factor, therefore it’s worth adding another factor to help you improve your rankings – social sharing. Getting your videos out on social media regularly will boost your audience and have a positive impact on your rankings.

Author: Sally Ormond, copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd and cyclist (not at the same time).

How to do Unoptimised SEO

Unoptimised SEO? Have you lost the plot?”

At times I think I have, but in this case, no, there really is such a thing as unoptimised SEO and it’s something you should be doing.

You’ve probably seen loads of posts announcing the death of SEO following the numerous Google algorithm changes, but I can confirm that SEO is alive and well, just not necessarily in the same form as it was.

SEO is alive; it’s just different

In the ‘bad old days’ SEO practices were focused on Google and manipulating its rankings.

Before you get on your high horse and say it wasn’t, it was. It was all about link building, link exchanging, manipulating page rank and keyword stuffing. The actual user or reader took a back seat.

Now, SEO is all about the reader and not focused on Google. Over optimisation, using the techniques above, lead to hefty penalties, so now you have to focus on unoptimisation.

But how do you do that?

Traditionally, SEO fell into 2 categories:

  • On site SEO – this is controlled by you, so it’s HTML coding, meta tags, keyword density, keyword placement etc.
  • Off site SEO – this relates to link building, link popularity and link authority

You can do as much on site SEO as you like (so long as it’s not hiding links, keyword repetition or duplicate content), but the off page stuff is a no-no.

Why?

Because off site SEO is seen as manipulating the search results, therefore the SEO industry is now redefining itself.

How to do unoptimised SEO

The easiest way to explain the technique is to tell you to focus all your efforts on your audience.

Create helpful, relevant content that’s easy to understand on a website that’s coded correctly with appropriate tags.

Then, rather than link building, you need to concentrate on link earning by sharing your knowledge, creating original material, being active on social media and offering your audience helpful content.

But it’s not enough to just churn out content you must also measure its effectiveness through:

  • Shares
  • Traffic generation
  • Conversion rate
  • Return on investment

The chances are, as Google continues to try to improve user experience, SEO techniques will change again, so it pays to keep up to date with what’s happening in the industry.

Today, your audience is everything. Your website and business is nothing without them, so it’s time to change your online marketing and SEO strategy to reflect that.

 

Why Content, Social and SEO Marketing Should Be One Strategy

One strategy?

Surely they’re three different disciplines, aren’t they?

If you believe that, you may be experiencing issues with all three.

Taking content marketing first, how did you get started with that? I’m guessing it was a blog.

When you started out online, everyone and their dog were telling you that you had to have a blog. So, never one to turn down advice, you set one up and started churning out articles.

Probably, after a month or so of regular posting, you found your ideas drying up. Not only that, but you realised no one was really engaging with you. Perhaps one or two comments were posted and one or two people shared the odd post, but there certainly wasn’t the flood you’d expected. Demoralised, you gave up.

Sound familiar?

The mistake you made was viewing your content marketing, social and SEO strategies as three separate entities. They’re not. They must all work together if they are to survive.

Three cornered marketing

Have you noticed that old school SEO is no longer effective? Gone are the days when SEO companies could achieve fantastic rankings by building a few links here and there. Today, SEO is content driven. It’s all about feeding Google the high quality content it craves.

In the same way, your social media strategy is nothing without great content. If you don’t have anything to share people aren’t going to follow or engage with you.

Content, social and SEO strategy

Planning your content

With high quality content being the driving force behind your marketing strategy, it’s essential you plan what you’re writing carefully.

As with your web copy, brochures and other marketing materials it’s important you understand the audience you are reaching out to and, most importantly, what problem they want solving.

Only then can you be sure your content will resonate with them and lead to the sharing, engagement and traffic generation you want.

Of course, there are millions of blog posts published every day, so yours has to stand out.

A great way to make sure yours is head and shoulders above everyone else’s is to search the keywords you want to write about and see what your competitors are saying about the subject. Then all you have to do is write something that’s better than theirs.

But I’m not just talking about churning out a flurry of 500 word articles. You must produce linkable assets; content that people will see as authoritative work, that they’ll share and talk about.

A great way to do this is to create something longer than the average post that also cites other relevant work within your niche. Not only will this enhance your readers’ experience, it will also boost its chances of being shared.

How?

Well, take a note of all the experts and external material you’ve cited and email them (or contact via social media) to tell they you’ve included them in your piece, asking them to share it with their audiences.

Once published you’ve also got to do some promotion. Share it with your social audience through all the channels you use. Plus, if you’re part of any forums or groups (such as LinkedIn groups), push it out to them too.

It’s not enough just to write something, publish it and hope for the best. Your three-pronged content marketing strategy is something that must be worked at. If you want people to read what you’re putting out make sure it’s written well, it’s relevant to your audience and that you’ve done everything you can to encourage people to share it.

Only then will you have a strategy that drives your business forward.

Author: Sally Ormond, Copywriter at Briar Copywriting Ltd.

Why Conversion is More Important Than Traffic

My office faces one of the busiest roads in Suffolk. Traffic constantly roars back and forth as people make their way between Suffolk and Norfolk. SEO and copywriting

Drinking my coffee this morning, wracking my brain for an idea to write about, it suddenly struck me. Traffic.

You, and every other online business, is obsessed by traffic.

Religiously, day in day out, you’re checking your analytics to see how many visitors your website is getting and where they are coming from.

You smile smugly as you see your visitor numbers increase; you are invincible because you are brining in 10 times the traffic of your competitors.

So what?

If you’re that amazing, why are your competitors making more money than you?

What’s happening to your traffic?

Running a business is tough. There’s so much to think about and only a finite amount of money to reinvest.

You probably started out with an ‘OK’ website that you got cheap and filled with content yourself. With a bit of help from your SEO guy (or girl) you’ve got traffic heading your way in droves, but something strange is happening.

When you look at your sales (i.e. conversions), they aren’t reflective of the number of visitors you’re getting.

Why?

Because your website and its content isn’t up to scratch.

Look at it this way, if you have a High Street store with a stunning window display, potential customers will flock through your doors. When they get inside, if your products are haphazardly strewn here and there and your sales team are loitering in corners discussing what they’re going to be doing at the weekend, ignoring them, the chances are they’ll turn round and find a different shop that’s more welcoming.

Well, that’s what’s going on with your website.

Your SEO guy/girl has done an amazing job luring people to your website, but because you’ve got a dreary site with awful content, they’re leaving straightaway.

Yes, SEO is important to get people to your website, but it’s the design and, more importantly, the content that will get them to stay and buy.

Convincing people to stay and buy

Your website copywriting must:

  • Address the reader directly
  • Sell the benefits of your products and services
  • Convince them to buy

One of the most common mistakes is to write about your company. This comes across as very inward facing and ignores the needs of your customers.

When they reach your website they want to instantly see what it is you offer, how it will help them and why they should buy it.

If you write in the second person (i.e. using ‘you’ instead of ‘we’ – just like this blog post) you are instantly creating a relationship with the reader. It’s as if you are talking to them – it’s the written equivalent of eye contact.

Using this technique, show them the benefits of your product. That doesn’t mean the colour, size, technical spec etc., all that comes later in the product description. They will want to know how it will make their life easier.

SEO and content go hand in hand

If you want to succeed online, you must invest in good search engine optimisation and great web content.

Find a copywriter who really understands the concept of search marketing and who can create content that fulfils the needs of both Google and your customers. It’s a fine line to tread, but one that will bring incredible results when done well.

A good SEO and copywriter is a dream team – when you find yours hold on to them and don’t let them go.

 

Author: Sally Ormond – Briar Copywriting Ltd

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