January 24th, 2011 by Allison Yagesh
Writing online content is different from print because online audiences typically have shorter attention spans—an infinite amount of possibilities are just one click away. Here are five tips to keep their attention:
1. Establish a Goal and Achieve It
Every word on the page should have a purpose. Whether you are selling a product or service or you are trying to educate the audience, be sure to clearly establish your content goals before writing. This will give your content direction and clarity.
2. Answer Questions
To achieve content goals, you need to answer vital questions to give the audience a reason to pay attention. Anticipate questions or stick to the basics by answering a few news-style questions: who, what, where, when, why and how.
3. Eliminate the Unnecessary
Online audiences have notoriously short attention spans. Get to the point quickly and cut unnecessary filler words and phrases. Get rid of anything that adds length but lacks value. Front-load content so the reader will get the most important information in the beginning and have a reason to keep reading.
4. Stay Organized
Each paragraph should have a specific focus. Cater to readers who skim and add subheads to clarify each paragraph’s purpose. Keep paragraphs short and present bulleted lists when appropriate.
5. Personalize It
Know your audience and customize content to address their needs. Write with a friendly tone (depending on the formality of the subject matter) to create an authentic experience for the reader. Provide informative tidbits that will encourage sharing. Overall, make sure that your content is relevant to your audience.
January 13th, 2011 by Jessica Runberg
With today’s social-media frenzy, digital content is more important than ever. Whether on a website, a blog, a Facebook update, a microsite, an online ad or a Tweet, digital content is king.
Why go digital? Because online content has the power to spread like wildfire. It’s one of the reasons that press releases have experienced a renaissance on the Internet. If your press release, YouTube video or Facebook update goes viral, you could see an influx of hundreds or thousands or millions of visitors.
The best part? Online content is one of the only forms of media that can take on different forms. Take Burberry’s The Art of the Trench microsite, for example. It claims to be a living celebration of the classic Burberry trench coat and the people who wear it, but is it an advertisement or social media? Is it marketing or entertainment? It’s almost chameleon-like in its ability to address the needs of the company and the consumer.
Social media is blurring the line between what’s advertising and what’s “just for fun.” And customers are spreading the word about companies’ products and services without the company having to do any of (or very little) work. When customers do the work for you and share your story with others, the results can be phenomenal. But if you’re going to do it, it’s important to keep up with your digital content so visitors don’t see tweets or blog entries that are a couple of months old. Also, search engines will show recent tweets/status updates, so some traffic can be generated by making a quick daily update part of your routine.
Another benefit of digital content is that you can get immediate feedback from your client base. Customers who are connected 24/7 will respond instantly to Facebook status updates, tweets, comments on your blog posts (especially if they have an RSS feed). And these same customers will share these updates with their friends, and their friends will share them with their friends and so on.
You get the point. Now get out there and post some digital content—stat!
January 12th, 2011 by Patrick Hare
The new year usually brings a little spring cleaning for webmasters and site owners, and in 2011 a lot of people are interested in modernizing their sites to make them more user friendly and easier for search engines to read. A site that had modern features a couple of years ago may now seem dated, and this can be due to the appearance of things (like cars and people) in the images on the site, or functionality that may not be up to par for Web 2.0 functionality.
Here are a couple of inexpensive ways to spruce up your site so users can get the information they need and search engines can give your site a more prominent position among competitors for top keywords:
- Remove logos that link to obsolete sites. A few years ago, “Chiclets” (icons for feeds and networks) were popular so an article or page could be shared on various networks. Several of these sites have gone out of business, so removing the link will modernize your page. Additionally, a search engine does not see you linking out to a dead site.
- Add logos linking to popular new sites. Got a Facebook Page, Twitter Feed, Foursquare Check-In, or other trendy feature for your business? Make sure people can see your presence. Social media has an impact on search rankings (though the exact amount is debatable) but it still makes sense to improve the trust factor in your site by linking to your channels elsewhere on the web.
- Include your address, location, and new phone numbers. Google Places and Bing Local should be associated with your physical address. You may be able to claim your listing in Google and Bing map (or embedded local) results, and adding your address to the site also helps other local search tools associate your site with your brick-and-mortar presence.
- Update any product descriptions that may be new. It isn’t uncommon to see a reseller website that does not have the latest model of a popular product listed. While you don’t necessary have to delete old model numbers (which is usually not recommended) you should make sure that your site can be found for searches on new models or versions.
Staying up-to-date on your website is good for business, and keeps the site fresh in the eyes of search engines and other tools. Google, Bing, and other up-and-coming search engines are continuously working to find new pages and read sites that they had previously been unable to index. Unfortunately, this does not favor the webmaster with a “hands-off” approach because competing pages will also be discovered and shown in search results simultaneously. There are even cases where active SEO campaigns have to deal with unintended competition from newly indexed pages on sites that aren’t even trying to be found. By having a freshly updated site, you can offer visitors an appealing alternative to “junk” results, and show search engines that your site is more relevant that ones that may have been build and forgotten.
January 11th, 2011 by Allison Yagesh
2010 was a huge year for technology and online innovation. With social media showing its value with search and the creation of new platforms to access the Internet on-the-go such as the iPad, 2011 is sure to be another record-setting year for online technology. Here are some Internet trends to prepare for in 2011:
1. Social Growth
After the behemoth growth of social media in the past year, it has become clear that Facebook, Twitter and other social networking websites will continue to flourish in new ways. Facebook was recently valued at nearly $50 billion, thanks in part to a recent investment of $500 million by Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies, which has left analysts guessing their next move for edging toward Google’s market share.
2. Find Your Niche
Search engine optimization will continue to trend to niche markets by way of “long-tail” keywords. Seek out these low-traffic, low-competition keywords to take the lead in your market. Need some inspiration for long-tail keywords? Peruse the suggestions in Google Instant to get new ideas for search trends.
3. Mobile-Friendly Design
Internet analysts agree that mobile Web access will soon overshadow desktop Internet access. With the number of people online via smart phones, tablets and laptops steadily growing, it is important to make sure your website is mobile friendly. In 2010, custom apps gained popularity as a powerful marketing tool. Expect apps to be bigger than ever in 2011, especially since more platforms are now mobile compatible.
4. E-Commerce Updates
Watch for a social shopping to cast a ripple effect throughout the e-commerce market. With Groupon’s unmatched success in 2010, expect to see continued innovation in the way things are bought and sold across the Web.
January 6th, 2011 by Patrick Hare
Long-tail keywords are a great way to get traffic, but the very nature of long-tail keywords makes them difficult to research. For anyone who is going after short-tail traffic on a website, it is a given that a significant quantity of traffic from longer-tail terms is going to be generated. This traffic will increase as the short-tail phrase moves up in search engine rankings, and in almost every case you can gauge the success of early SEO efforts by the trickle of long-tail keywords that bring visitors to your site before a short tail term even hits the first page of Google.
Measuring the sentiment of searchers can help you determine which additional phrase combinations (or roots of phrases) can deliver more high-value long tail terms. One way to do this is to use the Google Keyword Tool to get a list of variations relevant to your main phrase, and then use a Tag Cloud in order to see which words most prominently figure into the mix. Most tag clouds will make frequent words appear to be larger, so you can easily see a quick visual snapshot of the most common words. You can even find several free Tag Cloud generators online, which let you drop lists into a field.
In the example below, we used a small group of terms related to “logo design” in the Google keyword tool. At a glance, you can see that the terms “logo” and “design” have the biggest frequency, and these terms are followed by terms like business, software, company, award, corporate, and best. Terms like affordable and portfolio are less popular. Therefore, if you have a website (like Web.com’s LogoYes logo design division) that is relevant to these keywords, then you know that you can pepper them into your content in order of importance. A more in-depth test may include a much longer list of terms in order to recognize broader trends.
To understand the nature of your existing traffic, you can also make a tag cloud by exporting your Analytics keywords (usually you have to do this in blocks of 500, but you can get a pretty good sample with the first page) and then feeding the word list into the cloud. You may be surprised at some of the high frequency words that come to your site, but you can then make adjustments either to cater to those keyword visits or to reduce the profile of words for which you don’t care to be found. While people normally don’t think about eliminating unnecessary “free” traffic, a lower quality search experience and higher bounce rate may have a negative long term impact on rankings, and dilute your value among your core market.
For both approaches, the keyword search volume or traffic volume for each individual keyword is not measured. Instead, the goal is to find out how many other individual words are appearing in search results and in actual traffic. By making a quick study of the terms in each situation, you can usually discover opportunities for further optimization or content building. For example, if a relevant keyword appears often in searches, but is not getting traffic to your site, then you can create material that matches up with consumer sentiment.
December 16th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg
Releasing a new product? Opening a new store location? Offering a seasonal promotion? All of these are reasons to distribute a press release.
While press releases keep the PR people buzzing, their value extends far beyond the PR realm. Press releases that are distributed on major news outlets online, such as AP Digital, NPR, Yahoo News, MSNBC and others, have the power to spread the word in a way that simply isn’t possible with offline media.
SEO agencies take it a step further and optimize press releases for important keyword phrases that help them rank highly in Google’s natural search results. This way, potential customers who are searching for the products and services you sell are likely to find and read your press release. Strategically placed links in the press release will direct readers to your most important pages. This can work wonders for conversions!
But the biggest reason to write a press release is simply to spread the word. Newsworthy business happenings probably happen every week or at least every month at your company. Not sure what’s considered newsworthy? Ask an expert such as the PR pros at Web.com Search Agency what events are worthy of a press releases. Even online, press releases must be formal; this is not the place for marketing fluff. It is, however, a great place to spread the word about your business in a powerful and buzz-worthy way.
December 2nd, 2010 by Patrick Hare
A recent article in the New York Times has done a lot to show the value of external website links when it comes to search engine rankings. In brief, a seller of eyeglass frames valued the negative comments he got on consumer websites because he attributed his success to hyperlinked postings on sites where people gave him bad reviews. Put more simply, every negative review was a link building opportunity, since Google does not care why people are linking to your site, but gives you credit for the links you’re getting. Google quickly came out with a rebuttal and pointed out that many of these sites don’t pass link value, but there were a couple of places (like Bloomberg) which linked to the abusive seller’s site, and those links did indeed pass authority.
At Web.com Search Agency, we would never recommend customer abuse as a way to get links to your website. There are plenty of legal, ethical, white-hat ways to improve your own publicity and drive up your rankings. For example, making sure that your website is a prominent part of your public relations campaign can go a long way. Every time your business participates in an event, gives to a charity, or has an announcement, the website should be referenced. PR people should be sure that the site gets a link on other sites that acknowledge (or report on) work done by your business. Even without the link popularity benefits, you still want to make it easy for people to visit your website and learn more about what you have to offer.
As search engines become more sophisticated, they will indeed be factoring in consumer sentiment relative to a website and its value. In the case of the seller in the New York Times article, Google indicated that they have applied a fix related to “low quality” websites, and indicated that they have “sentiment analysis” algorithms which might be applicable to this situation. Things like consumer reviews on Google Places, Yelp, and other consumer advocacy sites are getting displayed among search results, so now a high ranking may not be worthwhile without a positive customer rating. In the big picture, changes like this are sure to help enhance the reputation of Google as an e-commerce portal, and merchants will need to keep a closer eye on their customer satisfaction rates to ensure that a good search engine position translates into a click.
October 29th, 2010 by Jessica Runberg
Halloween is in the air, which means it’s time to offer up some spooktacular SEO tips. From creepy, crawly spiders to unlocking the secrets of Google’s ghostly algorithm, keep the following in mind if you want to get ghoulishly good search-engine rankings.
Creepy, Crawly Spiders. Search-engine spiders crawl the Web in search of new content. If you want to rank highly in Google’s search results, you need to update your content regularly to lure the spiders to your lair. If you don’t have a company blog, now’s a great time to start!
Black Hats. Beware of black hats. Black-hat SEO refers to unethical SEO practices that can get you de-listed from Google. What are they? Think spam and unfair business practices. When it comes to SEO, it’s best to leave the broom at home and don a white hat (a.k.a. SEO techniques that are approved by the search engines).
Link Juice–The Witches’ Secret Brew. Link juice is vital to SEO success. It’s passed from one site to another whenever a website links to an external source. Anytime a site links to yours, Google considers it as a “vote” for your site. The concoction? Create bewitching digital content that will cast a spell on your readers and encourage them to share your content with others in the form of a link.
Google’s Ghostly Algorithm. Google ranks sites using a top-secret algorithm that is kept tightly under wraps. Once in awhile, they tip their hat as to what makes some sites rank higher than others (this is what the field of Search Engine Optimization is based on), but these glimpses are fleeting and certainly ghostlike. Your best bet? Ask an SEO expert for advice on implementing effective SEO techniques.
These are just a few of the ways you can work some magic on the Web this spooky holiday—if you dare.