SEO Timelines: How Long Does It Take to Get Results?

You might have heard that search engine optimization (SEO) is a quick and easy way to rank number one on Google and get more traffic to your website.

Here’s why that’s wrong.

The truth is…once upon a time, SEO could work quickly.

But as search engine algorithms have evolved and the online space has become more competitive, the SEO landscape has changed drastically.

Every business owner wants to see results come quickly. But when it comes to legitimate, proven SEO strategies, results simply don’t happen overnight.

Any agency that says otherwise is not to be trusted.

Below, we’ll cover the real factors that will affect how long it will take for SEO to get measurable results for your business, as well as the minimum time investment to really get your money’s worth from SEO.

 

How Long It Takes for SEO to Generate Leads and Sales

When it comes to SEO, business owners often ask, “How long does it take for SEO to work?”

Which usually means, “How long before I rank #1 in Google?”

This is the wrong question to ask because ranking #1 in Google isn’t the end goal. The goal is to generate qualified leads and sales opportunities.

In other words, organic search traffic is only as valuable to your business as the revenue it generates.

The real question that you should be asking is, “When will SEO start generating sales and leads for my business?”

Based on our experience and that of our colleagues at other reputable SEO agencies, we can give an estimated timeline of 4-6 months for SEO to begin producing some form of results, which could include:

  • Overall improved average ranking
  • Website being indexed for more keywords
  • More traffic to your website and opportunity to close that traffic

The above timeline represents our average client experience. This is when things start to work, but not necessarily when you achieve your end goal.

There are numerous factors to consider when determining when you can expect to begin seeing SEO generate results. It would be impossible to cover them all in detail here ‒ but some of the most significant factors are:

  1. Competition for high-priority keywords
  2. How effective are the site’s inbound links
  3. Healthy, SEO-friendly site
  4. Regularly published content on the site

1. Importance of Competition in SEO Timelines

Generally, the more competing websites that your business is up against, the harder and longer it will take to see your website climb to the top of search engine results.

In a crowded industry, many of your competitors will have experienced SEO professionals behind them to improve and maintain their rankings. Understanding the level of competition based on your products/services and location will help you get a sense of how long it will take for SEO to get results.

For example, a small local massage therapy clinic will face less competition than a real estate brokerage business serving a large city, amongst many other real estate brokerage businesses. That same brokerage would face less competition than a national-level mortgage company with competitors in every market in the country.

Search results are all relative, and that is the key to understanding why SEO works differently for different businesses online.

2. Importance of Inbound Links in SEO Timelines

Acquiring more inbound links will help your business achieve the SEO success you are striving for more quickly… but it is not all a numbers game.

Quality over quantity, like most things, is always the way to go. Having fewer, high-quality links from relevant websites will have a much greater impact on your overall results than having a greater number of low-quality links from other irrelevant websites.

Acquiring higher quality links are much harder to earn, having them on your website will make it more difficult for your competitors to replicate and compete with you. As well, higher-quality links last longer and keep their effective power.

The speed in which your business online can acquire links takes time, make sure to look out for any abrupt increase in links. This could identify an inorganic attempt at a manipulative ranking and negatively affect your business’ SEO.

3. Importance of a Healthy SEO-Friendly Website

SEO isn’t just about keywords and content. Your website’s internal workings also have a big impact on how it ranks.

When your website appears on a Google search results page, it becomes part of what Google offers its users. And Google cares a lot about its users’ experience.

So, a big part of its search ranking algorithm is focused on checking the ‘health’ of your website. It looks at technical aspects of the site that have an effect on the user experience, like:

  • Site speed
  • Crawl errors & broken links
  • Mobile friendliness
  • Site structure
  • Navigation
  • txt
  • Sitemap

When your site is healthy and SEO-friendly, the work being done on the content and external links side takes effect much faster. On the other hand, a site that is not technically optimized for SEO will move slowly or not at all.

4. Importance of Content in SEO Timelines

Quality content published on your website plays a vital role in how quickly you will see SEO results.

There isn’t a set length/word count for SEO optimized content. It just has to be long and detailed enough to solve the visitor’s problem.

Along with quality content requires consistent content. Maintaining a publishing schedule will encourage Google to come back to your website to read and learn more about your expertise. It also encourages users to return, suggesting a positive user experience that Google’s signals will notice.

If you focus on producing helpful content that answers specific questions your target market may have, you will see results. Users will come, have a great experience and build trust with your brand (possibly reaching out) and Google has more information about you to determine where else you can rank.

SEO Timelines Then vs. Now

To explain why SEO doesn’t happen overnight, it helps to recognize a crucial difference between the early SEO landscape and what we see today.

Old SEO: When Low Competition Got Big Results

In the early days of SEO, it was possible to skyrocket a website’s search ranking by identifying and optimizing for a small number of high volume, low competition keywords.

The trick was to target keywords that were popular, but not competitive.

You could build an entire strategy around these ‘golden’ keywords, climb to #1 in the rankings, and have most of your traffic come from them within a few months.

Nowadays, it’s extremely rare to find a single keyword or small group of keywords that can drive a lot of traffic to your site.

People just don’t search like that anymore. Plus, the web is way more competitive today than it was in the early 2000s. There are nearly 2 billion websites today, compared to just 17 million in 2000, an increase of nearly 11 thousand percent.

New SEO: Targeting the Long Tail

Today, people are adding more words than ever to their searches to get faster, more specific results.

They’re asking specific questions that they need answers to, rather than searching individual keywords and seeing what comes up.

We call these searches long-tail keywords. And search engines like Google and Bing have gotten very good at delivering long-tail keywords relevant results.

Long-tail keywords are:

  • Easier to rank for, because they’re less competitive
  • Generate more revenue, because they’re more specific
  • Account for a higher search volume in total than shorter “golden keywords”

Today, generating search traffic that brings you leads, sales, and revenue means curating a larger number of natural language or long-tail keywords searches that grow and change over time.

Is SEO a Good Investment?

When you have the funds and stamina to be patient with the results, as well as stay in the game for the long haul, SEO is an incredibly powerful marketing tool that all businesses should invest in.

A minimum of 4 to 6 months of SEO services will allow you the time and money to see the results that you want. For businesses that do not have a budget for SEO services for up to a year, we recommend a few key steps regardless:

  1. Make your website SEO and user friendly – you may need a professional to help with this as a one-time project
  2. Work on building out good quality content on your website if you build genuinely helpful content to your target market, it will pay SEO dividends down the road
  3. Consider using additional funds towards paid advertising to start generating traffic to your website

It’s important to remain patient throughout the SEO process. When businesses fail to see results after a couple of months of SEO services, they are tempted to give up ‒ when they could actually see results in a matter of weeks. We often refer to this time period as the “trough of sorrow” in the industry.

 

We as agencies or individuals cannot control a lot of the SEO process. We don’t control Google, their algorithm, or what competitors do. The only thing we can do is understand what Google is looking for, give them what they want, connect with our customers and give them what they want, and we will start to see results.

SEO is not only a science, but also the art of adapting to changes in the industry.

Remember that SEO results increase over time, not overnight. Your results should be significantly better after 12 months than they were after 6 months.

To get the results that you need online for your business, professional SEO services are OFTEN worth the time, energy, and money that you invest.

If you would like more information about our SEO and digital advertising services, please do not hesitate to contact our SEO team here at TrafficSoda.

3 Fatal Risks of Cheap SEO Services (Avoid at ALL Costs)

Here’s the hard truth: cheap SEO is too good to be true.

Just because you’re better than your competitors in ‘real life’ (better products, better workmanship, better results, etc.) doesn’t always mean you’ll get a better search ranking.

Google and Bing search results are extremely competitive.

If somebody’s ranking higher than you, it’s likely because they hired an SEO company to optimize their website.

And the only effective way to outrank them is to beat them at their own game.

There’s just one problem…

Bad SEO is Worse Than No SEO at All

Many SEO companies are more interested in your money than your success.

Doing SEO cheaply is not only detrimental to your website traffic but can also harm your business’s reputation both online and offline.

The long-term risks of cheap SEO include:

  • Loss of business revenue;
  • Getting banned from search results, period; and
  • Handing all your potential search revenue to your competitors

Those are the consequences we want to help you avoid. So, in this article, we lay it all out on the table.

Read on to learn all about:

  1. How, exactly, cheap SEO can tank your business
  2. Biggest red flags of cheap SEO
  3. Black Hat vs. Grey Hat vs. White Hat SEO (and why it matters)
  4. What GOOD SEO can do for your business

1. How Cheap SEO Can Tank Your Business 

Google and Bing are for-profit companies, and their customers are search engine users. This means that both Google and Bing want to give people the best, most relevant search results. Search engines have spent years building parameters to identify high quality, relevant search results.

The problem is that bad actors frequently reverse engineer these parameters to exploit rankings, which results in low quality search results and poor user experience. As a result, Google and Bing regularly update their algorithm to identify manipulative SEO tactics and suss out actions that are fake and spammy.

Cheap SEO services often use manipulative tactics that go against search engine guidelines.

Google and Bing actively scan the web for these shady practices using the most advanced machine learning algorithms available.

You might not get caught right away, but you must assume you will get caught at some point.

And when that happens, you can lose traffic, get block-listed, and potentially forfeit all your future search traffic to your competitors.

a. Cheap SEO Decimates Your Website Traffic

Organic search is by far the #1 source of website traffic online, and the most authentic.

If you successfully rank at the top of the search results, you will benefit from more clicks and visits to your website, presenting an opportunity to turn those clicks into customers.

Poorly done SEO can tank your ranking, meaning customers won’t be able to find you and will click on your competitors instead.
 

b. Cheap SEO Gets You Block-listed from Google and Bing

Google and Bing’s top priority is to create a positive user experience, so penalizing manipulative tactics is smart business for them.

Using cheap SEO tactics will cause search engines to penalize and even ban you, banning you from appearing in search results at all until the issue is rectified.

A search penalty means a real and immediate loss of potential revenue for your business.

If you ignore the penalty, you will find it almost impossible to recover. Your site traffic will continue to drop steadily, leaving you behind the competition and low on stamina to make a comeback.

c. Cheap SEO Funnels Revenue to Your Competitors

Now, you’re block-listed from the search results. So, who do you think all those potential customers are going to click on instead of you?

You already know the answer.

Shooting yourself in the foot with manipulative SEO is like handing your customers revenue on a silver platter.

Plus, ethical SEO practices can take weeks or months to have an impact. So, the more time and money you waste on cheap SEO, the longer you will have to wait for results on good SEO when you finally switch gears.

It’s not worth the risk.

2. How to Spot Red Flags for Cheap SEO 

Hiring cheap SEO services can have serious immediate and long-term consequences to your business that can be difficult or even impossible to recover from.

To avoid them, you need to know what to look out for.

First, there’s some SEO industry jargon you need to know. These are the labels we use to separate cheap, manipulative SEO tactics from legitimate SEO: white hat, gray hat, and black hat.

  1. White Hat SEO services follow the search engine-approved guidelines for optimizing a website. White hat SEO focuses on improving the user experience and creating high-quality content. There is zero risk in using white hat SEO.
  2. Black hat SEO services rely on manipulating and violating search engine algorithms against guidelines to improve your search rankings. The short-term goals of black hat SEO services are to get you fast-paced wins to fool you into thinking their services have the best and fastest results on the market. Manipulating the algorithm is not effective because it can never keep up with Google’s constant updates, which results in your rankings being wiped out due to unethical practices. Black hat SEO is extremely risky.
  3. Gray hat SEO services test the limits of what search engines allow, exploiting ‘gray areas’ in the guidelines. Once a gray hat tactic becomes known, search engines often crack down hard, which will cost you the same way as black hat SEO. The results do not stick well over time and require repeated work. Grey hat SEO is very risky.

No serious business should never engage in black hat SEO. Your website will no longer be trustworthy to users or search engines, and recovery could take years.

Although gray hat SEO is often sold as a ‘medium risk for a medium price’, which can be tempting for businesses on a tight budget, the risk is high and the results are not sustainable. Business owners should avoid this trap at all costs.

Overall, white hat SEO services are the only kind worth your money and time because the job done will be the safest and most beneficial for your business online.

So, how do you know when a company’s pitching you cheap, black/grey hat SEO? There are a few key phrases and promises that agencies will make that should ring alarm bells:


a. Big Promises for Low Price Tags

SEO is not rocket science, but it is not as simple as you might think. It’s not just sticking a bunch of keywords and tags on a website.

Achieving long-term success with SEO takes a lot of manual work that cannot be easily accomplished on a shoestring budget. Either you settle for a very small number of keywords, or you end up paying for the work that really needs to be done.

b. No Long-Term Strategy

Cheap SEO companies will offer you short-term solutions, but this is not realistic.

SEO is a long-term strategy. It takes time to gain the rankings you deserve. If the company you are considering offers no plan past one month, they are more than likely a scam. They are either not doing their job or just looking for quick and easy money from unsuspecting customers like you.

c. No Transparency

Do not trust any SEO company that doesn’t offer you transparency into what they’re doing. It is important that you have visibility over the SEO process so that you can assess the results and make changes as needed.

The best SEO companies will offer a full audit of your site and provide explanations for any errors found. They will also provide recommendations for how to fix these errors, give an overview of how to improve rankings, and show rankings progress.

d. Inexperienced Team

One of the most important things to look for when choosing an SEO company is their expertise and experience.

Do they have a website with a portfolio of websites that they have previously optimized? Do they have testimonials from satisfied clients? Can you find any information on them at all?

An experienced SEO company won’t mind telling you who’s on their team and should be eager to tell you about their experience. If they’re not transparent, they could be hiding something.

e. Guaranteed Results

No one can guarantee a #1 spot on Google.

It is an outright impossible claim to make for an agency, as SEO is a competitive practice that depends on hundreds of signals which can change at any point in the day.

What can be guaranteed are solid and safe practices that can win better results when done properly over time.

Agencies that claim their services will guarantee a specific result in a specific timeframe is one of the biggest warning signs for cheap, black hat SEO that will hurt your business.

What About Using Negative SEO to Attack Your Competitors? 

Usually, SEO is about trying to boost your own company’s search ranking. Negative SEO is when one company uses manipulative tactics to hurt a competitor’s rankings instead.

Negative SEO is gray hat SEO. A negative SEO campaign against your industry competitors is risky because the traffic attacks can be traced back to you.

Search engine algorithms can detect bad links from good links when competitors create spammy backlinks to tank your SEO and organic rankings online.

Search engine algorithms can detect bad links from good links when competitors create spammy backlinks to tank your SEO and organic rankings online. Google will penalize websites for building spammy backlinks that use anchor text to improve their ranking by matching the exact keywords.

Any mentions of negative SEO practices should be shut down immediately, the risk is simply not worth it.

3. The Long-Term Value of Affordable White Hat SEO

White hat SEO isn’t cheap, but it’s effective – and it can be affordable. When done well, SEO is the most cost-effective and reliable way to reach your target customers and understand what they are looking for when they search for businesses online.

Investing time and money into effective, white hat SEO services will benefit your online traffic, leads, and sales in the long run.

  1. Search is the #1 source of website traffic. Organic search is a key way people find your website and become customers, whether you sell products or services online or offline. Being highly visible on Google and Bing is money in the bank.
  2. SEO builds trust and credibility. SEO creates trust and credibility by providing a positive user experience that is easily discoverable on search engines. Establishing authority online through good content results in natural backlinks that boost your ranking. Online credibility takes time, working towards your goals of authority and credibility online takes time, patience, and affordable SEO services from an experienced agency.
  3. SEO boosts local businesses. Using SEO will improve your local engagement and traffic online by connecting users to your business based on their location. SEO professionals can do this by optimizing the businesses website content and including local citations and backlinks to guide the user to their product or service. An experienced agency can provide effective, local SEO services at an affordable price.
  4. SEO is quantifiable. With SEO, you can measure your progress using analytics. A competent SEO agency has people dedicated to connecting the dots and assessing the improvements made through SEO. This information can also be used to maximize ROI and ensure that your SEO remains affordable. Hiring a team that is knowledgeable about tracking analytics and SEO data is essential.
  5. Good SEO means a better user experience. Google is dedicated to providing a positive user experience through relevant search results. Search engine optimization also means optimizing your user experience, so people love using your website and come back for more. Optimizing your website’s user experience will also help maximize the ROI from both SEO and other digital marketing efforts.

 

Bottom Line: Avoid Cheap SEO Services at All Costs 

Cheaping out on SEO is never the way to go. This will only cost you more money and more problems in the future that could potentially be irreversible.

We hope that you now understand the risks of cheap SEO services and the benefits to investing in white hat SEO services that put your success first.

TrafficSoda has built hundreds of successful SEO strategies for companies, like you, looking to increase traffic, leads, calls, online purchases and more. When you’re ready to jump in with a personalized plan, reach out for your free strategy proposal.

7 Questions to Ask When Developing Your Lead Generation Strategy

Are you throwing away hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month on online advertising with little to no results?  

Still can’t figure out how to attract more of your ideal customers cost-effectively?  

You might’ve been told that pay-per-click advertising is the answer – but like most things in business (and in life) it’s not as simple as the ‘experts’ make it out to be. 

As you’ve probably noticed, there are literally hundreds of step-by-step guides out there claiming to hold the secrets to lead generation success. Thousands of so-called marketing gurus who say they’ve developed a foolproof method to get your business – any business – more leads than you can handle.  

And that is mistake number one. 

Now, we can’t speak to your situation specifically…but from our experience, this is one of the biggest reasons why so many advertising dollars go to waste: a generic, paint-by-numbers marketing strategy that doesn’t account for foundational facts about your business.

Why You Need to Stop, Think, Ask and Answer

We know you’re eager to hit the ground running. You need new customers, and you want to start acquiring them as soon and as efficiently as possible.  

It can be tempting to believe you can skip ahead to the ‘execution’ phase (aka, the fun part).  

But it pays – literally – to put in the work and ask the right questions early on, because the result is a powerful lead generation strategy that puts the right messages in front of your ideal customers and turns them into real leads.    

These aren’t necessarily easy questions. Developing a lead generation strategy isn’t like a personality quiz. They are, however, crucially important and well worth your time to answer. 

We can’t take you through all these questions right here and now, but we would like to introduce you to 7 of the most fundamental questions you must ask when developing any lead generation strategy: 

  1. What is your lead acquisition cost and average order value?  
  2. What is your marketing funnel? 
  3. What is Happening in Your Market? 
  4. What Are Your Business Goals and Are They SMART? 
  5. Does Your Current Strategy Measure Up to Your Goals? 
  6. Is Your Copywriting Converting Prospects to Customers? 
  7. How are You Qualifying and Nurturing Leads?

1. What is Your Lead Acquisition Cost and Average Order Value?  

Developing a smart and cost-effective marketing strategy to scale your business is no easy task, especially if you are unaware of the costs associated with lead acquisition (cost per lead) and average order value.  

But first, let’s start with defining what a lead is. A lead is any person who indicates interest in a company’s product or service in some way, shape, or form 

Now, let’s define what Lead Acquisition Cost and Average Order Value are and what they mean to your business.  

Lead Acquisition Cost (LAC) are all costs associated with getting one lead, i.e., getting a potential customer.  

Average Order Value AOV) tracks the average dollar amount spent each time a customer places an order on a website or mobile app. To calculate your company’s average order value, simply divide total revenue by the number of orders. 

Wrapping your head around these important metrics can change the way you perceive your business, and how you approach a new cost-effective marketing strategy. Without these numbers factored into your strategy, you could find your business spending substantial amounts of marketing dollars on the wrong initiatives and not producing favourable results.  

The good news is that Lead Acquisition Cost and Average Order Value can actually be pinned down to the cent, and TrafficSoda can help, so you don’t have to feel around in the dark for these numbers.

2. What Does Your Marketing Funnel Look Like? 

The buying process has multiple stages.  

Most people are not ready to buy the moment they see your ad, and for that reason, it is important to warm your customer up so they can go from being unaware and uninterested in your business to engaged and ready to buy.  

At TrafficSoda, we specialize in determining the shortest pathway from your advertising dollar to your sales funnel. To do so, we first start by researching our clients thoroughly in what we call the discovery process. By understanding all aspects of your customer audience, market perception, competitors and sales process and marketing – we can develop a hypothesis, test and refine.

3. What is Happening in Your Market? 

Creating a strategic lead generation strategy starts with taking a close and honest look at who you are as a business. 

What do you do that provides unique value for your customers?  

Have you investigated the full scope of your business and have insight into your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?  

Researching what is happening in your market, what customers are saying about your business and competitors, and the actions your top competitors are taking to stand out, and better align with customers, is a great place to start.  

With this information at hand, you can then produce the right market messaging that resonates with your target audience. 

4. What Are Your Business Goals and Are They SMART? 

Goal setting is an important component when crafting a new marketing strategy.  

What are your current sales like?  

How much would you like to scale as a business?  

What are your timelines for achieving this growth potential?  

By mapping out a clear picture of your ideal business situation and your plans to support this growth internally, you and your team will know exactly what you are working towards. Setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) can help you set marketing goals that align with your overall business goals.

5. Does Your Current Strategy Measure Up to Your Goals? 

This is a loaded question, so we at TrafficSoda like to focus first on the current number and quality of leads your business is interacting with.  

From here we like to look at overall lead generation strategy, and how it’s managed, monitored, optimized AND nurtured. 

Quality lead generation does not mean you can have a “set it and forget it” mentality. Regular monitoring and tweaking of your marketing is essential to its performance and overall impact.  

What types of data are you collecting and how are you using it to make data driven decisions and improve your overall strategy?

6. Is Your Copywriting Converting Prospects to Customers? 

Is your copywriting aligned with customer needs or is it more ‘You’ focused as a business?  

Copy can almost always be refined to better communicate your unique value proposition to the customer.  

We cannot stress the importance of good copywriting enough when it comes to marketing strategy! Without it, all the time and money associated with your marketing will prove ineffective in converting prospects to leads and leads to paying customers.

7. How are You Qualifying and Nurturing Leads? 

How do you nurture leads? 

Do you currently have any nurture campaigns?  

In the customer buying process, also known as the buying decision process, the customer journeys through multiple stages before making the decision to purchase your product or service.  

Customers online are interested in conducting thorough research, weighing their options and taking their time before making a purchase. This means that you have a unique opportunity to entice, connect, build trust, educate and promote the value of your business. Through constant communication with your audience and helpful email automation.  

It is important to evaluate where your customers are in their decision making and understand the potential objections or setbacks to why a customer may not invest in your business – and address them honestly while providing value.   

Lead nurturing is essential, and in many instances your own sales representatives need to take an active role to ensure that warm leads don’t go cold mid-funnel. It can actually take between 7 and 12 points of contact before getting a sale, so as a business you really want to deliver as much value as you can in advance so there is little to no doubt in a customer’s mind that you are the obvious choice.  

An automated email path is a great way to nurture your leads, build a relationship and humanize your company and brand. If a customer is no longer engaging with and opening your emails after a couple of weeks, it is safe to say that they are no longer a ‘warm’ lead and can be removed from future email marketing.

Start Building an Effective Lead Generation Strategy NOW

Ready to attract more of your ideal customers?  

We want to help you produce the maximum number of sales from your marketing strategy. Contact TrafficSoda to build a powerful lead generation strategy that fills your funnel with quality leads and helps your business scale. 

What Is Link Building? A Beginner Guide

If you want more traffic to your business, linking building is an essential skill.

In fact, there’s no factor within SEO rankings that is more important than link building. If you want to rank high, you need as many links as possible bringing people back to your website.

With this guide, you will learn everything you need to know in order to begin building high-quality links and boost your ranking.

Contents

  1. The Basics of Link Building
  2. What are High-Quality Links?
  3. How to Get Backlinks using Content Marketing
  4. The Penalties of Black Hat SEO
  5. Link Building Strategies
  6. Tips for Advanced Link Building

1.The Basics of Link Building

Links are one of the foundation pieces of Google’s search engine algorithm. In fact, Google came out and said that links and content are the top influencers of rank.

But why?

To answer this, let’s take a step back to understand what link building even is.

Link building is the process of receiving promotions from external sources, either other websites or social media, in the form of backlinks (also known as inbound links or hyperlinks).

The goal is to increase traffic from other websites to your own as a form of advertising.

But that’s not to say that you just need an absurd amount of links directed towards your website. Google focuses on the quality of the link, not the quantity. Quality links provide the best indicators that your website will provide the information people are searching for.

This seems a little vague though. What makes a link high quality?

We’ll answer this in the next chapter.

2.What are High-Quality Links?

Link building can result in one of two things happening:

  1. You build a high-quality link and watch as your ranking goes up and up and up, or
  2. You build a low-quality link and watch as your rank plummets.

This doesn’t leave much room for mistakes. It’s important to know what makes a link “high quality” in the eyes of Google…especially when the website is linking to you.

So what makes a backlink high-quality?

On a page with PageRank

Is the page that’s linking to you highly ranked on PageRank? If so, then it’ll have a huge impact on your own rank, especially if you’re a smaller page.

PageRank is an algorithm developed by Google that evaluates the quality and quantity of the links to a specific webpage. It measures the importance of the website’s pages, therefore influencing your rank. This information isn’t shown publicly, but it has a great impact on the search engine algorithm that Google uses today.

There are workarounds to finding information regarding your own PageRank or the pages that backlinking to you. Ahrefs can be a good indicator of the URLRating of the backlink.

From a relevant and trusted source

This is you. You need to have content that is of high quality and provides accurate information.

But it is also important that the website that is linking to you is relevant to your business or industry. According to an interview from an ex-Google engineer: “Today it’s more about relevance to the site’s theme in regards to your, relevance is the new PageRank.”

Not only do you need to have accurate information but the people linking to you also need to be related to your industry.

Non-misleading anchor text is used, the exact phrase is best

One thing that makes a link more clickable is knowing what exactly it is you’re clicking on.

When anchor links indicate exactly what the viewer is clicking on, the customer’s expectations are met. If you see an anchor link that says cute puppy video, you’re expecting that when you click on it.

The issue with anchor links is that they can to be anything. If the text says one thing and the link turns out to be something else, you’ll feel misled. That results in an unhappy customer.

Google sees anchor links using keywords and notes that the link was useful regarding that specific keyword. While it does help your SEO ranking, it’s important that the anchor links aren’t spammed because that will end up hurting your rank.

Editorial links

While there are a few different ways for a website to link to your page, editorial links are one of the most effective ways of generating leads and traffic.

Google puts a lot of weight on editorial links. This is because the algorithm sees that someone else find your article useful enough to spread the information you’ve posted.

Simply publishing content isn’t going to get you very far when it comes to obtaining backlinks.

Not all content and copy are viewed the same. Certain types of content are more likely to become backlinked than others.

In order to determine what kind of content will get a backlink, ask yourself: “What have I linked to in my own articles?” You’ll find it’s likely one of the following:

i. Visuals

This includes images, diagrams, infographics, and other charts or graphs.

These are linked to most because they are extremely useful for people and they are convenient to link to. Anyone that shares or uses your graph within their article to help confirm their message will provide a link to your website.

Visuals are a powerful tool that helps visualize information in a creative way while also making it easier and more interactive for viewers.

ii. List Articles

List posts are typically articles that condense information into little chunks. This can be tips, reasons why, myths, how-tos, and the list goes on. They can be just about anything

They are clear and concise pockets of information that are easy for viewers to read and easy to take information from to help prove the point of the article that’s linking to it.

List posts generate more backlinks that most other formats including videos and infographics, according to BuzzSumo’s analysis of 1 million articles.

iii. Research and Data

When a business reveals game-changing research and data, the industry goes wild.

Why? Because people need to know about the latest and greatest industry-related statistics, research, studies, and surveys in order to stay on top.

When new research is released, people will source the original material when spreading the word. The backlinks add up fast.

iv. Guides

Guides provide the ultimate insight.

A great guide will provide comprehensive information about everything you need to know on a given topic. Everyone, from beginners to industry specialists, can benefit from it.

The ultimate guides pack a lot of extremely useful information all in one place, making them the go-to.

4.The Penalties of Black Hat SEO

If the links aren’t following Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, they’re likely following black hat SEO practices, which can result in serious consequences to your ranking.

Google Penguin is an algorithm designed to detect and dish out penalties of spammy link building techniques. The only way to avoid its wrath is to build quality links and avoid any linking that seems fishy.

Additionally, Google can give you manual penalties based on unnatural links.

Unnatural links are intended to manipulate search engine results through the PageRank algorithm.

Unnatural links are considered to be the following:

  • Inorganic
  • Toxic
  • Low quality
  • Artificial
  • Deceptive and manipulative

5.Link Building Strategies

There are countless strategies for link building. We’ll go over some options in depth.

i. Resource Page

For those unfamiliar, resource pages are purely dedicated to linking out to other sources and providing valuable resources on a topic. You need to find content that other people can’t find very easily, and then make accessible through your site.

ii. Guest Blogging

This is one of the oldest link building strategies in the book.

How it works is simple: write an article for another website in your industry. Once that is complete, have the article link out to yourself since you’re the author.

iii. Other Techniques

Here’s a resource page dedicated to other link building strategies if the two examples above don’t suit your current needs as a business.

6.Tips for Advance Link Building

 

Once you have the basics down and websites are backlinking to your articles, it’s time for some tips that will help gain even more links.

In a perfect world, everyone would credit everyone. However, this isn’t always the case. When someone mentions your website or business, they should be linking to your website, but they don’t always.

With a kind message asking for them to provide the link, most people are happy to accommodate you for this request.

The real struggle is finding them. BuzzSumo is a great option for uncovering. They will find the unlinked mentions of your website.

Another way of discovering some unsourced content is through reverse image sourcing. Similarly to name mentions, a quick nudge towards a link will straighten that right out.

Link building is a very complicated process and it takes a lot of trial and error to get right. This guide is meant to set you up for success and help you grow your backlinks to gain traffic to your business.

Beginner’s Guide to SEO Split Testing

When it comes to making landing pages, email copy or even ads, it can be hard to gauge what will perform the best.

Relying on guesses or chance for your marketing decisions is risky. You’re much better off split testing.

Most people have heard of the term A/B testing before. SEO split testing is relatively new to the marketing world but is quickly becoming an essential tool for conversion-driven companies.

What is Split Testing?

Our goal with SEO split testing is to compare multiple versions of the same ad or landing page and see which performs better.

Imagine you’re at the optometrist, getting an eye exam. Split testing is similar: you try out different variations until you’ve found the option that suits you best. When it comes to SEO, the best option is the one that most effectively achieves your goals for the campaign.

In order to begin split testing, you’ll need some ads. The best practice is to create two or more ads that have minor changes to the design, copy or layout (more on that later.) You’ll then show each ad to similar target audiences and monitor their performance.

The Benefit of Split Testing

Simply put, split testing is valuable to businesses because it’s low cost with a high reward.

You could pay someone to write five articles per week, but they may only generate 10 leads. Imagine the savings you could earn by only writing one article in the time it takes to write two but split testing the calls to action (CTAs).

You may find that the number of leads goes from 10 to 20. The extra time spent writing the article means it’s of high quality and unrushed. Even if the test doesn’t yield the results, you can use the knowledge you gained to make data-driven changes for the next time.

The eventual success of your tests will ultimately set you off better than a business that didn’t test.

It’s easy to determine which title has a bigger impact or which button is most clickable using testing. Minor changes and adjustments can make your conversions take off and keep people on your page for as long as possible.

How to Run Split Testing

Before You Run the Test

Step 1: What do you test?

Before you do anything, you have to identify the aspects of the ad or landing page you want to test. It may prove to be a longer list than you bargained for.

However, it’s a good idea to only one variable at a time. That way, you’ll know whether (and exactly how) the change made an impact. These changes don’t have to be major. Even changing the colour of your CTA can improve your results!

If you want to test multiple variables, that’s perfectly fine! The best practice is to test them individually and identify the top performers.

Now, there are times when it does make sense to test multiple variables instead of just one. This is called multivariate testing. This method takes longer to set up and requires more traffic to complete. The more you change, the more combinations you have to test to get useful results.

Step 2: What are your goals?

It’s important to identify the specific goal you want to focus on throughout the test.

Though you’ll end up monitoring multiple metrics for each test, you should choose a primary focus before you start testing.

Why? Simply because it allows you to identify which variable will influence what metric.

You should identify where do you want the variable to end up when the test is done.

Step 3: Creation

It’s time to create your various tests!

You have your variables and goals, so all that’s left is to make them. The first step is to make a control – an unaltered version of whatever it is you want to test. If this is a landing page, you would design and create copy how you normally would.

Once that is finished, it’s time to build your variant page or ad. This will be whatever you’ll be testing against your original. For example, if you’re wondering whether videos or images provide higher engagement, you would set up your unaltered version with just images. Your variation would then replace the images with videos.

Step 4: How Significant Do the Results have to be?

It’s easy to say that the results just have to be better than the original.

But by how much? If you got one more conversion than the original, is that worth it? Probably not.

Statistical significance is the most important part of the testing process. You may recall the term confidence level from your old statistics class. Typically you want to have a 95% confidence level, but the higher the percentage, the surer you are that you’ll have the results you think.

During the Test

Please note that you shouldn’t run more than one test for a single campaign. If you do, it can complicate your results. If you have an ad campaign that directs to a landing page that you’re testing, how do you know which one is actually generating leads?

Step 5: Test the Control and Variant at the Same Time

To begin your test on a website or email, you’ll need to use a testing tool.

Using Google Analytics’ Experiments, you can test up to 10 versions of a web page to monitor the performance.

Once you have that in place, you’ll need to run the campaign at the same time. If you were to run test A about furnaces in the winter and then test B in the summer, you won’t know if it was actually affected by your changes or if it was just the time you ran them.

Step 6: How Long Should the Test Last?

Oftentimes one of the downfalls of testing is limiting the amount of time to see the results.

You won’t see results overnight. It typically takes a week or two to see the variations in the different tests.

So don’t panic if you don’t see results yet!

After the Test

Step 7: Was the Test Significant?

It’s time to reflect on the test you just ran.

Looking back on your original goal, did you meet it? Which performed better?

Once you determine that, it’s time to find out if the test results were statistically significant. Can you justify the change?

Hubspot offers a free split testing calculator for you to use if you don’t want to do it manually.

Step 8: Improve!

These tests are all about making improvements to gain traffic and conversions.

So use the information you’ve gathered to improve your results.

If the test you just ran didn’t work out how you thought, then run another one with a different change! If you were successful, use that in your next campaign.

Use your tests to discover new ways to develop your own content and improve!

Beginner’s Guide to Creating Quality Content Using SEO Practices in 2019

What did you last type into Google? Chances are whatever the question, it recommended a blog or article on the topic.

In 2019, search engines like Google care about solving the intent of the searcher. This means that the viewer’s attention must be grabbed, the information was helpful, and the article had steps in place to engage with the company.

Do you want to learn about how to write a quality blog post that helps your relevancy on search engines?

Here’s a beginner’s guide to everything SEO to optimize your next blog post.

Creating Effective Content

Your goal as a writer is to keep people on the website.

Content that is overly complicated or boring will cause readers to abandon your page. The experience that your audience has is an important one.

You aren’t the only one writing a blog today. Countless blogs are posted every day, so how do you grab people’s attention?

Well, it all starts with creating meaning content that educates or inspires your readers. How do you do that?

The first thing to do when creating compelling content, is to find a compelling topic to write about.

Choosing A Topic

The best thing to write about are things that both relate to your services and educational topics. Simply put, people find blogs by searching for questions they have. So, answer them!

The easiest way to identify this is to think like your audience and ask the following:

  • What do they want to know about?
  • What will they identify with?

This isn’t to say you should never write about your own business when it makes sense. Your company just won an award or was featured in a major new article? Perfect opportunities to write about what your company can do for the masses!

But for most blog posts, it’s best to focus on the industry’s questions. This is largely due to the fact that the people you are hoping to reach don’t know about you yet! If you only talk about your business or yourself, people won’t be able to find you by searching.

Are you stuck for ideas or have writers block? Consider talking to other people in the company in different departments or that have unique perspectives. They could be a gateway to ideas!

Here are some questions to ask regarding potential leads to topics:

  • What are frequent questions from customers?
  • What does our audience need help with?
  • What do people wish they knew regarding our industry?
  • What are others in our industry talking about?

It may be beneficial to start with a very broad topic. As you research and write, you’ll likely find subtopics that could be expanded on. Try to approach the broad topic in different ways to create different avenues for expansion.

Keyword Research

Keywords are the words or phrases that are commonly typed into the search engine. They are the main words people are looking for information on.

What are the words that your industry uses all the time? If you run a company that repairs air conditioners, your keywords could be “air conditioner repair.”

The concept of keywords is not to completely overwhelm your content with a keyword every sentence. It actually negatively impacts your search engine optimization because it’s considered stuffing.

Think about incorporating them naturally in the headlines and body, as if they were a conversation.

Language allows us to say the same thing differently. Maybe your keyword can be said a different way. Instead of repeating “air conditioner repair”, use a synonym. This can also help search engines to pick up on different nomenclatures because not everyone searches for the same thing the same way.

Develop a Long-tail Keyword and Title

Long-tail keywords are very specifically targeted keywords.

They typically are 3 or more words and contain a head term combined with more generic search terms. The head term should relate to what you want your company to be known for and what topics you want to provide knowledge on.

A good practice is to develop and focus on a single long-tail keyword.

Why are Long-tail Keywords Useful for Titles?

Often times the title is the opener for a question to be answered. Those who search for long-tail keywords will be the most likely candidate to read your post in its entirety and pursue your company further. They are the ones who will click down the conversion funnel.

Make a Working Title from a Long-tail Keyword

Everyone reads the title before committing to the rest of the blog. That means you have to make sure people are interested enough to continue by catching the viewer’s attention.

A working title is something you base the direction of your post off of. For example, using the broad topic of “video advertisements”, the working title could be “How to Optimize Your Video Advertisements in 2019”. We took the very general idea that could have been pretty much anything and made it specific.

Once you finish the post, go back to your title and rework it to align better with the end result. Your title should help people as well as search engines to decipher what the post will contain specifically. Readers will identify what they can get out of spending their time viewing your post.

Shorten Your URL Slug

A post slug is typically a viewer friendly URL name of a post or page.

They ensure clarity of the topic. For example, website.com/blog/our-first-blog.

Your slug doesn’t have to be the title of your blog. When slugs are overly long or complicated can be confusing and not memorable for users to find later.

It is also useful to have a consistent slug if the title changes. For example, if you intend on trying to better optimize your title to gain traffic, you don’t have to then also change the slug.

Best practice is to exclude years or numbers in general, this way you don’t have to change it if you update the page.

It’s important to keep the URL slug as short as possible without losing key information.

Optimize Image Alt-texts

It’s crucial to incorporate images throughout your blog to provide a visual interest.

Search engines can’t see images like we do, so you can’t optimize for actual images. What you can optimize is the alt text or name.

An alt name is information regarding what the image is about. From a search engine perspective, the best descriptions will better the results.

It’s an easy thing to forget but can ultimately help if you include them. Consider creating an alt text for your images based on your long-tail keyword or working title.

Additionally, including these will help with accessibility for impaired users and allow you to increase your reach.

Create an Interesting Meta Description

What’s the next thing users see after they read the title? The meta description.

The meta description is the brief synopsis of your article found right below the title. It is used by both viewers and search engines to provide information regarding what you intend to talk about.

Meta descriptions don’t directly affect your SEO; however, they are useful for including keywords. Searched information is often bolded if your article uses the keywords or the meta description does.

They should not mislead people into clicking on something they weren’t looking for. It’s good practice to use words that indicate what you want viewers to gain from reading further. This could be words like:

  • Get
  • Use
  • See
  • Learn

If you’re ever stuck on what to write to think of it as a headline. How would you get the attention of the viewer?

Including Strategic Blog Links

With more traffic, you’ll be able to develop better relationships with your viewers. You want users to feel that they can trust you.

So how can you create that trust with an informational blog? By being credible.

Including links to your sources throughout the blog will showcase that you have researched the topic and know what you’re talking about.

Now, including a link for every paragraph is not what you want to do. It’s best to sprinkle your sources only where it makes sense.

Likely at this point, you’ve got a few topics in mind for what you could write about, so plan accordingly! You can incorporate hyperlinks, Call to Actions (CTAs), to other blog posts of yours on related topics.

Have you already explained a topic that you mention? Link to it! This is good practice because if someone finds your content useful, they could find your services right within the blog.

Don’t Just Use Text

Plain text that all looks the same is frankly just boring.

By offering other types of media like images or videos will greatly increase the amount of time people spend on your article.

Including videos, especially near the top of your article, increases your chance of being on the front page of Google by 53 times. Why? Because people that take the time to watch your video, increase your bounce rate.

In the eyes of search engines, if people just view your page and then leave, it didn’t really help them. When people click to watch a video embedded on your blog, Google sees that as people finding valuable resources on your site. And it is more likely to recommend the article to people.

Most people would rather watch a video than read text, and giving people the option, puts value in your content.

If you’re just starting out on your blog or if you’re just looking to better your blog writing, this is an excellent map to creating quality content.

Make the most of every post on your site by incorporating these tips!

Use Your LinkedIn Profile to its Full Potential by Incorporating SEO Practices

LinkedIn is a powerful search engine that can drive targeted, high volume to your profile. But most people neglect to utilize its full potential and gain better conversions for your profile.

When you think of LinkedIn, you probably assume it is just a social media platform for your resume. But it’s more than that.

How can you optimize your profile to be more SEO-friendly and gain better traffic on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn Optimization

LinkedIn’s optimization allows connections to be built with those who are at the top of your industry. Your ideal clients are attracted to your profile and potentially send messages regarding your services.

By implementing SEO practices, like keywords and copywriting, you could generate more leads and build your brand.

How would this work?

Well, like any site, marketing is dependent on not only traffic but optimizing that traffic to create the best possible conversions. It’s important to make the most of each person that visits your profile.

Building Up Your Profile

Here are several practices in order to bring your LinkedIn profile up to the best it could possibly be.

1. The Look

Most people would say not to judge a book by its cover. But on LinkedIn you have limited space on your profile, so why not make the most of it?

Knowing your target audience, will help you tailor the profile’s aesthetics to them. If it is a very corporate job, you should wear professional attire in your profile photo. If you want to seem more casual, then don’t “suit up”. It’s all up to the audience and what they expect of you.

Take advantage of all the aspects you can expand on your brand’s look, be that the profile photo or the cover photo.

Your profile photo should have:

  • High quality image
  • Close up of your face (good practice is approximately 60% of the canvas)
  • Plain and simple background
  • Appropriate attire for your business

Your cover photo should have:

  • Unique imagery that attracts attention
  • A tagline that relates to what you do or who you do work for
  • Call to Actions (CTAs) with your contact information

Since about 65% of people are visual learners, making the visual aspects of your profile
optimized will help give a good first impression. It will also allow people to have a quick
cue to get in touch and get to know you.

2. Finding Keywords

What users type into Google are likely not the same as what they type in LinkedIn. Therefore, you need to tailor your keyword research to how people search on LinkedIn.

Here are some questions to consider when researching your keywords on LinkedIn:

  • What do you want to be known for?
  • Do these terms get good traffic but with low competition?
  • Do these terms fall into your target audience?

Based on these answers, take the shortest and broadest terms associated with you.
Good practice would be to consider the different results based on the degree filter of
your connections.

3. The Content

There are tons of opportunities to incorporate copywrite conversions within the content of your profile. Similar to your profile photos, keep in mind the target audience when writing.

Headline

Your headline should be a combination of copy and LinkedIn keywords. Users quickly understand what you do and more importantly, what you can for them.

Be clear. Don’t include catchy slogans or plays on words as it may leave the viewer confused as to what you do.

Fill the entire space. You have 120 characters for your headline so why not use them!

The main takeaway for your headline should be to appeal to people who are looking for specific qualities that you provide. Include keywords, but don’t make them the focus. For example, “Driving Digital Business Success with Best-In-Class Technology Partnerships.”

Summary

Your summary is the place where you have the most space, a whole 100 words!

This is where users hope to learn more about you, what services you provide and anything else about your industry.

What you shouldn’t do is to just endlessly list everything you’ve ever accomplished. No one needs to know you won the 3 rd grade spelling bee. Make the information relevant.

Think of this section as the About Page on your website. What would people want to know about what you can do for them?

Experience

You may be wondering how you could make the experience section of your profile SEO optimized. While it may be tempting to make this exactly like you resume, there are tons of SEO opportunities here!

Take those keywords and incorporate them within the skills you have. Mention things like how you increased the traffic of a site by a major percentage, or how you developed an uptick in conversions.

Step away from the boring bullet points of everything you did. Try writing naturally and conversationally. Those who seek your services may not know all the complex terms the industry uses. Instead of “CTR” or “KPI”, use the layman’s terms.

Use your experience section to compel your viewers in trusting you are the right fit for what they are looking for.

4. Connections and Recommendations

LinkedIn prioritizes the degree (1st , 2nd , and 3rd ) of connections based on what is searched.

When you connect with people, you are connected to their network as well as your own. This means you should try and keep your connections within your industry for best results. If they search for one of your keywords, you’re more likely to popup with them.

Simple connections are easy to accomplish. Creating meaningful and memorable connections is more difficult. We recommend starting a conversation.

Conversations make people feel important and valued. When composing a message, don’t ever pitch in the first message. It is an extreme turn-off for most people and often feels spammy.

Let the conversation naturally flow. They will almost always bring up what they are looking for from you, rather than you are presenting what you can do for them. Leads will find you and they are more likely to turn into a conversion.

When you work with people sometimes, they will provide you with a recommendation.

A recommendation is akin to a review of your services. They prove that you have the skills! It shows you know what you’re doing, and the results other people can expect of you. Naturally, keywords will be important here.

The goal of your profile is to create leads. Overall, by adapting your LinkedIn profile to a more SEO optimized profile, you’ll get more meaningful traffic. Not only that, but according to LinkedIn, companies who complete their profiles get 30% more views.

If you’re not making the most of your profile, why not start now?

5 Key Ingredients of Effective SEO-Friendly Copywriting

What is the fundamental difference between traditional and web copywriting?

In a word, it’s visibility.

When your content appears in print, it’s already in a place to catch a certain audience’s attention. Your copy is visible to whoever decides to flip through your magazine, unfold your letter or shuffle
open your newspaper.

Putting your ad into print is like fishing in a well-stocked pond. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get a bite, but you’ve at least cast your lure where it will be seen.

Writing web copy, on the other hand, can feel like dropping words into the middle of the ocean. How can you possibly hope to reach anyone, let alone your ideal prospects, in such vast waters?

The answer is a lot simpler than you’d think.

Why SEO Copywriting Matters

Ask yourself: how do you find stuff online?

The most common answer is Google.

Search engines are the single biggest source of B2B and B2C website traffic, responsible for 61% of all website hits worldwide. Nothing else even comes close.

Incredibly, only 10% of that is paid search advertising – meaning 51% of all website visits come from the search results that occur ‘naturally’ (known as organic search traffic)

When you drill down and look at where all that traffic is coming from, you’ll find that most of it happens on the very first page of search results. In truth, experts estimate that 71% of all Google users hardly ever venture past page one.

What does all this mean to you as a writer? Simple: if you write content that Google loves, Google will put it front of an audience.

Instead of drifting aimlessly in the middle of the sea, you’ll be back to casting into a pond that’s full of potential catches.

What Google Wants to See in Your Copy

The challenge is convincing Google that your copy is worth showing people.

That means crafting copy in a way that impresses the search engine algorithm – the digital mastermind that decides where your webpage should rank for different search queries.

Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? Traditional ad copy plays on the whims and emotions of warm-blooded humans. Search engines are cold, heartless machines.

But Google doesn’t crawl and rank webpages all for itself. Google works for us. It was built to deliver accurate, relevant information and answers to every imaginable query.

Of course, search engines don’t look at a webpage the same way as you or I. Your copy and the webpage containing it needs to look a certain way for Google to know what it’s about.

Google loves copy that is:

  1. Unique.
  2. Enriched with relevant keywords and phrases.
  3. Organized with logical headings, bullet points and numbered lists.
  4. Surrounded by relevant images or videos.
  5. Comprehensive, complete and accurate

Here’s how that translates to practical SEO copywriting.

1. Make Your Copy One-Of-a-Kind

Imagine you’ve bought three books by three totally different authors – only to discover that beyond the unique covers, each book treads over the exact same content. Such a waste of time (and paper!)

You’d feel the same way if you clicked through three search results and found largely identical content. To avoid this annoyance, Google strives to fill its search results with pages that provide unique, distinct information.

If a site has two extremely similar pages – for example, ‘regular’ and ‘printer-friendly’ versions with the same copy – one of them is going to get filtered out. You can tell Google which version you’d prefer to show off in the search results using canonicalization.

But what if your website uses copy that appears elsewhere on the web? Say you’re running an online store that sells other brands’ products. You might’ve considered ‘borrowing’ some copy from the brand’s website on your own product pages to save time.

Resist the temptation. Duplicate copy can hurt your site’s search ranking. Google loves original content, even on the most well-tread topics.

2. Lock-On to Your Target Audience with Keywords

Search engines are great at picking up patterns. It’s one of the primary ways they process and understand what a webpage (and a website at large) is about.

When a particular word or phrase appears repeatedly throughout a webpage, the crawler clues in. If these terms are also surrounded by quality and relevant copy, it increases the odds of that webpage ranking for search queries that use the same important word. Hence the term keyword.

Keywords are at the core of SEO copywriting. Enriching your content with well-researched keywords is one of the best ways to help it reach the right audience.

3. Use Headings, Bullets and Lists

Have you ever had to speed-read part of a textbook moments before class?

No shame – we’ve all done it at one point in our lives.

Take a second to think about how you read a page when you’re down to the wire like that. You tend to flip through quickly, skim over paragraphs and focus on things that stand out:

  • Heading and subheadings
  • Lists, tables and diagrams

It’s not too different from how Google parses a webpage.

Search engines are increasingly fond of copy that can be turned into quick ‘snippets’ – and we know for a fact that your layout is key to creating snippet-friendly content.

4. Compliment Your Copy with Awesome Images and Videos

Think your web copy can stand alone? Think again.

Visual content is so powerful when it comes to SEO that it’s practically mandatory.

To date, Google Image Search has indexed over 10 billion images and stands as the second-biggest search engine (earning about 23% MORE searches than YouTube) Incredibly, images also account for about 3% of all Google search clicks via image blocks.

The stats on video are equally enticing. One research firm estimates that having a video on a page increases its chance of a top Google ranking by 53%! Another has found that video boosts your organic traffic by as much as 157%.

Video and image files also serve as another clue to the topic of your page in the eyes of the algorithm. You might not give a second thought to your file names and metadata, but this information can really help reinforce the keyword or phrase you’re targeting in your copy.

5. Be the Authority on Your Subject Matter

Above all else, Google wants to make its users happy.

Why? Because more users mean more advertising revenue.

The people behind Google Search (and competing search engines like Bing) work tirelessly to develop a search engine algorithm that delivers the most accurate, relevant answers to your queries. As a result, the system tends to favour content that is more thorough, accurate and digestible than other pages on the same topic.

This doesn’t always mean your copy needs to be longer than your competitors’ pages. Rather, it should deliver more information and/or better information (ideally, it does both).

Smart keywords, quality visuals and good formatting are all valuable assets when it comes to writing for SEO – but they’ll fall flat if the copy doesn’t deliver. In fact, Google can even penalize your website if the copy doesn’t live up to the hype.

Start Writing Copy That Google Loves

Of course, getting people to your landing page with search-friendly copy is only half the battle. You’ve still got to turn those eager prospects into customers. That requires a calculated blend of persuasive writing, pitch-perfect web design and proven sales tactics.

It’s well worth your effort to get the ingredients right from the start.

How Long Does It Take for SEO to Start Working?

One of the most frequent questions from clients of a digital marketing firm is “When will my search engine business rankings increase?”, or “How long does it take for SEO to start working?”

Google analytics dashboard on tablet

Business owners know the importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as part of their online marketing strategy. They also understand that SEO strategies make it easier for search engines to find them, rank them higher, thereby increasing traffic to their website.

So how long do you have to wait before you see results? The short answer is “it depends”.

There are many variables to optimizing your website, however three specific criteria play a significant role: competition, inbound links, and content.

Competition

Depending on your product or service, there will be varying degrees of demand. The more competing webpages you’re up against, the longer it will take to see results. Depending on how well your competition’s SEO strategies perform, the longer it will take for you to rise in rankings.

If you are spending a great deal of time and effort developing and implementing your SEO strategies, you can be sure your competitors are doing so as well. Every time you post a new blog, your competitor may be doing the same.

Inbound links

The volume of inbound links to your website play a huge role. The quality of those links, the speed in which you gain those links, and historically have gained them also has an effect. The speed at which you earn links should have a relatively stable growth pattern. A sudden increase in links looks unnatural. If your link-building follows Google’s guidelines, that should happen naturally.

A large number of high-quality, high-authority inbound links (also referred to as backlinks) will flag site-crawlers, indicating that your website is an authority in your particular field. It’s almost like gaining a referral from someone for your product or service.

Content

Quality content matters a lot. High-quality content is original, relevant, authoritative, factual, grammatically correct and engaging. Your web pages need have no minimum or even ideal length. They just have to answer the question or solve the user’s problem.

A business blog is a great way to become a resource for information in your field that you add to on a regular basis. Blogs are a great way to increase traffic to your website.

Keep in mind that newer pages don’t rank as well as older ones. This graph shows that the average top 10 ranking page is at least 2 ½ years old.

Google top 10 average age of page graph

Despite this, new content should be added to your website on a regular publishing schedule.

This encourages search engine spiders to crawl your site more frequently and speed up your SEO efforts. Also, users will return to your site more frequently looking for new content, further sending signals to search engines of the popularity of your site. User engagement is built and gauged over time.

SEO is An Investment

Ultimately, you need to be prepared to invest several months to a year before seeing the results of your SEO efforts. Why?  Search engines take multiple factors into account when ranking webpages. For example, Google uses over 200 ranking factors in their search algorithm! The takeaway is this: SEO can have a significant impact on the success of your business, so it is worth the investment of time and money!

What are the Essentials of Image Optimization for SEO?

You’re a great writer. You can produce killer content that people connect with. What about pictures? Do you have them on your site, or blog? Are your images optimized for SEO? Or do you just throw up whatever you have on hand at the time?

Believe it or not, there is a technique to posting images that can affect your Search Engine Optimization strategy. Done improperly, it can be a detriment to how Google and other search engines view your website. Part science and part art form, correct image optimization is ultimately about two things:

  • Making the user experience a good one
  • Appeasing the SEO gods

Achieving the second item depends largely upon achieving the first item.

Man with scruff holding a photo of a rocky shored lake, and viewing nature images on a comoputer screen.

The quality of royalty free images has vastly improved over the years.

 

Whether you’re a seasoned blogger, or just wrote your first post, the following essentials in regard to image optimization for SEO will help your content rank better with search engines.

Do I Even Need an Image?

Um…yes. Always!

Some people would consider posting anything without at least one image. But why? Humans are innately visual creatures. In fact, for those of us who do not have severe visual impairment, sight isn’t just our primary sense involved with assimilating information from the world around us. It is used at a far greater rate than all the other senses combined. And pictures have been shown to be just as, if not more effective in relaying information in certain circumstances.

Including pictorial content with a post achieves several items for the user:

Provides visual appeal: opening a page that is a sheer wall of text causes a brain to immediately tune out. Many people won’t get past the first paragraph, and your websites bounce rate will increase. Spice up your post and break up the monotony with an image.

Visuals can help clarify a topic. There’s nothing like a graph, chart, or even an on-point meme to get a point across.

Besides the obvious visual appeal for readers, search engines not only like to see that you are providing pictures, but that your images are optimized for maximum effectiveness. The metadata and descriptions associated with your picture can help increase your chances of being found in an organic search.

Where Can I Find Images?

It is considered best practice to use your own, original photos. Decent cameras are reasonably priced. Heck, some people have gotten proficient enough with their smartphone’s camera that they use this as their primary picture taking device. The biggest obstacle many people find in providing their own pictures is time. It may take too long to gather the right objects and get the lighting just right, or to go out into the wild to locate that ideal scene.

If you need to gather your visuals more quickly there are online venues designed specifically for this purpose. They come in two flavours – free and paid.

Some of the free sites like pixabay have pictures that are truly free. What’s the difference between free, and truly free? Some “free” sites offer photos at no charge, but they have a watermark on them. You have to pay a subscription, or membership fee to use the photo without the watermark. Might be okay if the mark is generic, but they usually aren’t, which makes the pic kind of useless for posting on a blog.

Some have a two-tier system. There is a small selection of free (and sometimes lower resolution) pictures without watermarks, and then if you pay a membership/subscription fee, there is a greater selection of photos which include better resolution.

Then there is truly free. There are no watermarks. There are no membership fees, or tiers. Pictures are offered at varying resolutions. The selection may not be as wide or deep as some of the pay sites, however if you are creative you can find the free sites may be more than enough to supply your needs.

Off-Page Changes

After locating the perfect picture to go with your content, there are a couple of things you will need to do with the image.

  • Change it up. When allowed to alter a pic, do it. Chances are you aren’t the only one using this picture, so by adding an effect, or overlaying some text, or cropping the image, you make it different from any other site where users may happen upon this visual. Canva is a great online tool that can help with basic alterations. If you want something a little more robust, gimp is a great picture manipulation program loaded with tons of options – and it is free! (truly free)
  • Remove unnecessary metadata. This is the part of the image that the users won’t normally see; things like the title, tags, authors, date taken, etc. In all, there are about 25 attributes that should be removed whenever possible, to help with overall page performance and not get search engines bogged down with irrelevant information.

Off-Page Information

Image optimization for SEO isn’t just about removing irrelevant items. It is also about ensuring the correct attributes are present and correctly formatted. The following items won’t usually be seen by the user but make a big difference for image optimization.

  1. File name: Never leave an image or photo file name with the default that was set by the camera or program (ie. DSC44553.png or img33224.jpg). Always change the file name to something that is relevant to the content, preferably the focus keyword. This not only helps indicate to search engines the relevance of the image to the text but can help with placing in organic searches.
  2. File format: There are several file formats that will serve for a content image, with the two main types being .jpg (this has its small size going for it), and .png (which allows for background transparency). On occasion a .gif may even be desired for animations. Remember to keep the file sizes as low as possible; use compression if necessary.
  3. Alt text: Most CMS’s media libraries will offer an extra field called alt text when uploading an image. Do not treat it as optional and leave it blank. Do not treat it as an extra field for more keywords. Instead, fill it in with a short description of what is in the picture. This field is used by programs for those who are sight impaired to give a verbal description of what the rest of us see when looking at the image. It can also help when a browser runs into problems downloading the image, by placing the alt text directly on the screen, allowing everyone to get some idea of what is supposed to be there, rather than just a blank image or file not found error.

On-Page Information

  • Give credit where credit is due. Read the terms and conditions of each site where you procure your visuals. They all have varying rules and degrees to which a picture may be used, and the way credit should be given. This not only lets search engines know you have authorization to use a picture, it can also save your hide legally in case a photographer or graphic designer sees their image on your site and challenges your rights of usage.
  • Picture size: as a general rule-of-thumb, ensure the picture is no wider than your content, and it does not fill the entire screen from top to bottom.
  • Captions: people scan titles headings and image captions (no not words imposed over the text, but words underneath a pic – relevant to the article), so a short line of relevant text under the picture can help the reader understand something if it is unclear.

Bottom Line

The biggest thing to keep in mind when setting up a picture for your content is the user experience. Is it original? Is it relevant to the content? Is it clearly, and properly labeled? Is it correctly sized on the page? Does its file size allow for rapid loading? With proper image optimization your visuals will be useful for both the reader and for search engines.

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