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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.

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!

4 Reasons to Include Social Media Video in Your Business Marketing Strategy

No matter what size your business or what niche you’re in, you’ll need to take social media video marketing seriously. Though it’s not the only tool in your social media toolbox, it definitely is a major one. The ability for a business to tell its story and engage its audience is a powerful sales tool, and video is helping to tell better stories.

Two men holding a laptop, editing an online video.

Video content can help businesses reach 4 specific goals:

1. Web Traffic

Social media video content is an effective way to drive traffic to your website. Video content continues to grow and drive the internet. It plays an integral part of the online social lifestyle. Demand for social media video content is continually growing on social channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and especially YouTube. A successful social media video campaign will include a CTA (Call to Action), the most popular being “Visit our Website”. Other CTAs include “Learn More”, “Sign Up Now”, “Book Now”, or “Shop Now”.

Gaia.com is an online resource that streams videos about alternative health, yoga and inspirational films and documentaries. This brand knows the benefits of using video on social. Their video on Facebook had 248 shares and 6.3 M views with a clear CTA to visit their website to learn more.

2. Engagement

When social media videos showcase your brand and tell your story effectively you connect and engage with your audience. When that video content is not only worth watching but also worth sharing, you increase your audience reach.

Canadian Tire™ successfully showed its support for the Canadian Olympic team during the summer 2017 Olympics with this inspirational video that only subtly shows its product: tires. It turned out to be one of the most viral videos of 2017. It just goes to show that your businesses’ story is not just about showcasing your product. It’s also about the things your company believes in and supports.

3. Brand Awareness

More and more brands use social media videos to tell their story and give their brand personality.  It’s that personality that followers want to see, and what makes your brand stand out from the crowd. Recognition is a key element to your product’s story.

Taking a similar marketing approach as Dove™, Always™ came out with this video as part of their “Like a Girl “campaign. They used a powerful message of empowerment for women to gain attention and respect for their brand. Their campaign went on to win numerous awards including an Emmy.

4. Generate Excitement and Educate

Leveraging the power of short social media video content by creating instructional how-to videos, showing off a new product from every angle, or simply using text to tell your product’s story creates interest and excitement while getting your message across. If you create content that’s both informative and useful, you’ll create trust in your brand, and a set of loyal customers.

Today’s Parent shows off an easy Ikea™ hack using one of their products in this cheerful video with a “Back -To-School” theme so relatable to families that want to avoid the common entryway clutter.

Are you looking to optimize your digital marketing strategies using video? Contact us today and let’s get started!

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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SEO Writing Tips: 5 Blog Writing Do’s and Don’t’s

Writing for SEO is not all that different from writing well in general. You want to make it clear, compelling, and as concise as possible. But there are a few essential SEO writing tips you should know if you’re new to the world of blogging.

Blogging Tips

We’ll start with keywords, word count, and a few notes on style.

1. Keywords

Writing for SEO means choosing your words carefully. If a word or phrase reoccurs throughout a web page, the search engine algorithms are more likely to dig up that page when someone searches for that phrase. Those are your keywords: words and phrases that help to define what your blog post is about.

Do: Use Keywords Them Strategically in Each Blog Post.

An effective keyword is one that:

    1. Accurately reflects what the blog post is about.
    2. Is something your customers are searching for.
    3. Does not have steep competition for the keyword.

We visit the topic of how to use effective keywords in greater depth here.

Don’t: Stuff Blog Posts Full of Keywords.

Search engine algorithms look at more than the number of times a keyword reoccurs in a blog post; they also consider its semantic value. Algorithms penalize sites that engage in ‘keyword-stuffing’, which means cramming a dense volume of keywords into a post to try and game the system. While the ideal keyword density is up for debate, writing for SEO means integrating strategically-chosen keywords into natural-sounding prose.

2. Post Length

Ironically, it often takes longer to write a concise piece than a lengthy one. But there is such a thing as being too concise when it comes to writing for SEO.

Do: Write At Least 500 Words.

Like your high school English teacher, search engine algorithms may take points off if your work is too short. There’s no strict word count for blog writing, but any page with fewer than 300 words may come under scrutiny for having thin content. We generally aim for 500 words at minimum.

Don’t: Pad It Out With Fluff.

Most readers are looking for fast, clear answers. Don’t bury key information beneath a lengthy introduction or sprinkle it among irrelevant tangents. If you are stretching to reach 500 words, consider broadening your chosen topic.

3. Active vs. Passive Voice

There are two ways to write action. One approach puts the force driving the action first; the second focuses on the person (or place, thing, etc.) at which the action is directed. That’s the simplest way to explain active and passive voice, a choice which can have a big effect on a blog post’s readability.

What does this have to do with SEO writing tips? It’s simple: the more people enjoy reading your post, the more likely they are to consume it in full, explore the rest of your site, and share it with others. Search engine algorithms take these as signals of a high-quality post that should rank well in the search engine results.

Do: Use Active Voice Whenever Possible.

With few exceptions active voice makes for clearer, more effective writing. Active voice is generally more concise and transparent than passive voice, and it flows naturally. Try reading some examples of examples of active and passive voice out loud: you’ll notice how active voice is smoother.

Don’t: Use Passive Voice Unless You Have To.

Passive voice, on the other hand, is often stiffer and less exciting compared to active writing. While most readers won’t nit-pick your post for passive voice, it will affect their reading experience. Switching from passive to active voice is a small change that has a big impact on the quality of your work.

4. Grade Level

Grade level is a way of measuring how easy a post is to read. The higher a post’s grade level, the more work it takes to read and comprehend its content. You can assess your post’s grade level using Microsoft Word’s built-in writing tools or a free tool like Hemingway Editor.

Do: Write for An Accessible Grade Level.

Don’t shut out potential readers by using long, complex paragraphs and unnecessary jargon. For a general audience, we recommend aiming for a grade level of six to eight. This limitation also has the benefit of encouraging you to write clearly and concisely.

Don’t: Make Errors.

Writing at a sixth-grade level doesn’t mean you should make sixth-grade spelling and grammar mistakes. The occasional typo is fine, but readers are unlikely to read through a post that is rifled with errors.

5. Be Connected

Your blog is not an island. There are many reasons to incorporate outbound links to other sites into your post. Chief among them is the fact that high-quality links gives your readers more value when they visit.

Do: Vet Your Sources.

Emphasis on high-quality. Search engine algorithms judge you by the company you keep, penalizing sites that link out to sub-par pages. If you wouldn’t put something on your own blog, don’t link to it, either!

Don’t: Forget to Give Credit.

There are times when backlinking is mandatory. Borrowing content from other sites without attribution is plagiarism, which can tank your search engine ranking as much as your reputation. Always take notes on the origin of your information while you’re researching your blog post.