The concept of speaking into a device and getting an answer back isn’t new. What is new is the way the technology behind Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant has improved to make artificial intelligence a lot more practical and a lot less comical due to odd misinterpretations of the questions asked. Right now, about 20 percent of online queries are voice searches, according to Google. Some people predict that by the year 2020, roughly half of all searches will be done with either speech or images. It’s safe to assume this voice search trend isn’t going away. Read on to discover how you can effectively optimize your online content for voice search.
Get Conversational with Your Keywords
People often don’t type the way they speak. Because voice search phrases are more conversational in nature, keywords used are often longer and related to each other. In fact, text searches are about one to three words while speech searches average about three to 10 words.
About 22 percent of voice searches are done to look for a local business. And a lot of those searches use phrases like “near me” and “close by” or reference specific neighborhoods and landmarks. Increase your odds of showing up on results pages produced from a voice search by:
- Including geographic references in keyword phrases (including local references to neighborhoods and landmarks)
- Using long-tail keywords (groups of related keywords) rather than single keywords
- Testing various groups of conversational and related keywords to see what performs best for your business
Expand the Q&A Concept Beyond Your FAQ Page
Most voice searches are in the form of a question. Draw more attention to your content by expanding the Q&A concept beyond your FAQ page. You can do this with headlines or subheads presented as questions, or by asking and answering questions naturally throughout your content. Q&A is especially effective for blogs and social media posts.
Claim Your Business My Business Listing
If you haven’t done so yet, claim your Google My Business listing. You’ll also get access to Google Maps, which makes it easier for local voice searchers to find you. Google also uses your My Business info to present results when someone does a “near me” search based on their geographic location, even if the searcher doesn’t say the specific name of a town, city, or neighborhood. Submitting your business info to local directories can also increase your presence in voice search listings.
Submit a Sitemap to Google
Google uses sitemaps (listing of website pages accessible to crawlers) to make an attempt to place your content in front of the right searchers. Submit a basic sitemap to Google that includes information people are likely to ask about when performing a voice search, such as your business NAP (name, address, phone number) info, store hours, and even directions from main highways or roadways to your business.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
If a voice searcher taps on a link to your site, they’re likely to bounce and see what your competitors have to offer if it’s difficult to navigate through your website on a mobile device. With Google’s mobile-first approach to ranking sites, it’s a step that can help your digital marketing efforts in many ways. Make your website more appealing to mobile voice searchers by taking the following steps:
- Adopting a responsive website design that adjusts to whatever screen is being used at the moment
- Paying attention to page load times (anything more than 5 seconds is considered slow)
- Making your phone number an active call link so voice searchers can click and call you instantly
- Avoiding the excessive use of images and video (such content takes longer to load on mobile devices)
- Presenting content that’s easy to digest (short paragraphs, descriptive subheads, bullets)
Additional descriptions of your content in title tags and meta descriptions make it easier for Google to direct local voice searchers to your business info. Since the majority of voice searches are done with mobile devices and have local intent, get geo-specific with your voice SEO efforts. Finally, track your stats to see if you are getting more traffic, leads, and conversions from voice searches — or if voice search even makes sense for you based on how people prefer to interact with your business.
Advanced On Page Optimization Tactics I’m Going to Cover
If you are reading this, you should already be familiar with basic on page SEO principals involving H1, H2, H3 tags, content optimization, title tags, meta descriptions, etc. This tutorial will be covering more advanced topics such as Latent Semantic Indexing, Schema Markup, Preventing Duplicate Content with WordPress, Image File Compression, and more.
Ultimately, an SEO should be thinking about developing their content for a mobile audience, while keeping conversational search in mind. Google’s voice search isn’t striving to simply answer your questions, but they are trying to get Google to eventually have conversations with its users. This way, you can ask a question, Google will respond, where you can follow up with another question while Google continues to reply within the context of the conversation.
That said, before you can truly understand how to develop an on page strategy around these principles, you must first develop a deeper understanding of how Google makes conversational search possible.
Optimizing Your Content Using SEMrush Ideas & LSI
Latent Semantic Indexing is a method Google uses to index content. A typical search engine indexes content for a certain set of keywords by matching each keyword to words on a page.
Latent semantic indexing adds an important step to the document indexing process. In addition to recording which keywords a document contains, the method examines the document collection as a whole, to see which other documents contain some of those same words. Essentially, LSI looks for semantically related content rather than just keyword variations or densities on a page.
Fortunately, SEMrush has an awesome tool to help you optimize your content this way. Here’s how you set it up.
Step 1: Create a new project and set up position tracking before anything else
Choose how you want to source out your keywords. For the sake of this tutorial, I just allowed SEMrush to suggest a set of keywords for me based on the terms my competitors rank for.
Step 2: Start SEO Ideas
Once on the position tracking page, you’ll notice a small green button prompting you to Try SEO Ideas. Click that green button.
Step 3: Setup SEO Ideas
Step 4: Select your target location and run the SEO Ideas tool
Allow SEMrush to Collect the Data
Once SEMrush has finished collecting all of the SEO Ideas data, jump in and take a look at the way the data has been segmented. It should categorize the data like so:
- SERP Features: Rich Snippets, Schema, etc.
- Content: Assesses prominent keyword usage based on your top 10-ranking rivals’ data, breaking the content down to each component of the web page’s structure (e.g. H1, H2, Title, Meta, body, anchor, etc.).
- Semantic: Suggests semantically relevant keywords to use based on your top 10-ranking rivals’ data.
- Backlinks: Automatically performs a backlink gap analysis to find common links your competitors have. This data is based on your top 10-ranking rivals’ data
- Technical Issues: To get ideas, you should first set up a site audit campaign on the Project Dashboard.
- User Experience: To get ideas, you should first Connect Google Account.
Start With SEO, Content Optimization Suggestions
Start off by clicking the See Detailed Analysis under any of the content recommendations. They will all take you to the same page; it will look like this:
Keyword Phrase Usage
If you look at the Keyword Phrase Usage section, you’ll notice that it compares the keyword phrase density on your web page to your top competitors.
The word usage section simply provides you with the density of each singular word on the page. This tells you which words are more prominent within your content.
Putting the Data into Action
Try balancing your keyword phrase densities so that they are similar to your top ranking competitors. They do not have to be exact. Just keep the densities close.
Once you’ve done that, introduce an optimization that you cannot find in the SEMrush suggestions. This will be the variable you use for testing and optimization. Some examples could be, increasing your keyword density to be above average, implementing more semantic words not within the recommendations, or even using Search Console data for optimization ideas.
Once you’ve finished with the content optimizations, move to the Semantic data. SEMrush presents this data within a table comparing prominent word densities found on your web page to your top 10 competing webpages. The goal here is to words that your top competitors are using within their content that you are not. After identifying those terms, sprinkle them throughout your web page naturally.
You will want to make sure that your page’s word count is in line with your top competitors.
The last two areas you can check out are the Video Usage and Readibility sections. These are recommendations that you shouldn’t ignore, but are self-explanatory for this particular tutorial. These two subjects can go much deeper, but for the sake of the tutorial, we’ll keep it brief.
Other Data Points to Consider
Because the focus of this tutorial is on On-Page optimization, I didn’t discuss backlinks. However, analyzing the backlink data would be the next step in my SEO process. Backlinks are a different beast because they send relevancy signals, popularity signals, authority signals, trust signals, and plenty of other ranking signals. Backlinks are part of Google’s core ranking algorithm and are also the #1 ranking factor to consider.
The SEO Process – Planning for Success
In 2017, most companies have adopted Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as an online marketing strategy to grow their business; however, most of them struggle when it comes to adopting a streamline SEO Process. Although getting web traffic is often an expensive task, search engine optimization can help you enhance your bottom line by generating free traffic.
When you follow a proven SEO process and keep your desired outcome in mind, you can rank your content on the No. 1 page of Google and the other search engines. You will then get a steady flow of targeted visitors who will be eager to buy your offer or to sign up for your mailing list.
Step 1: Keyword Research
Keyword research is the first step that you will need to take when you want to use SEO to earn targeted traffic. As you move forward with the process, consider the terms and phrases that your prospects are likely to use when they are looking for things related to your business, and you will be off to a good start. Since coming up with all of the keywords you need can take a long time, use Google’s Keyword Planner to get even more ideas and to learn the search volume of each keyword.
Step 2: Create Content
Once you have several keywords that you can target, you are ready to craft high quality content that will demand attention and engage users. When you are creating your content, remember that keyword placement is an important part of the puzzle that you can’t ignore. Google wants to offer the best possible content based on the keywords for which its users are searching. Placing the term or phrase in the title is a wise move, but you can also use the keyword within the text as long as each placement is natural. If you don’t know what to write, ask yourself what the people who are searching for those keywords will want to learn.
Step 3: Build Backlinks
If you want your content to have any hope of making it to the No. 1 page of Google, you will need to build backlinks from reputable websites. When you earn a link from another domain, it tells the search engines that your content is useful and relevant, boosting your rank. When you are ready to build backlinks, submitting press releases and writing guest posts will do the trick. If you don’t want to run into any problems along the way, ensure that the links you earn offer value to the readers.
When you want to reduce your overhead without losing your stream of web traffic, search engine optimization could be the solution for which you have been looking. Enhancing your odds of getting your content to show up on the first page of the search results, SEO will allow you to take your profitability and bottom line to new heights. When you do keyword research, craft high-quality content and earn backlinks, you will reach your goals in no time. You will be amazed when you see how many visitors you can get by following the right SEO plan, and you will know that you have made the right call.
Why I Created a Technical SEO Checklist
I wrote this technical seo checklist because it is becoming evermore important to pay attention to it. As Google’s algorithm becomes more focused on detecting User Experience behavioral patterns, technical SEO is becoming more important each day. Many people overlook technical SEO and focus solely on content. If that is you, then frankly, you need a better strategy. Without a solid technical SEO foundation to stand on, you are setting your campaign up for failure.
Technical SEO is normally executed at the very beginning of an SEO campaign. If you are optimizing a website being redesigned, you should first start off with a SEO website redesign audit, which involves some additional steps in your SEO process prior to launching the website. That said, here are 8 technical SEO tactics you should be implementing on every website you optimize.
1. Technical SEO Requires Sites to Be Mobile Ready
A website that is mobile ready means more than using a responsive framework. There are several additional technical factors that come into play. Be conscious of the fact that mobile devices that aren’t hooked up to wi-fi don’t load data as quickly, so it’s important that your website is blazing fast. Today’s standards suggest that your page load time should be less than 1 second.
Google provides a free tool called PageSpeed Insights to help you test your website.
As you can clearly see, Mobile website factors go far beyond a responsive design. Fixing the items listed in the image above will help your site perform better and load faster. Items like enabling compression and leverage browser caching are simple to implement. It simply requires some minor additions to your .htaccess file (using Apache).
If you find that your website is failing the PageSpeed Insights test, follow the instructions listed in the report and read the documentation provided. If implemented correctly, you will surely start seeing faster page load times.
2. USE HTTPS
More and more studies have begun to show that websites using HTTPS are beginning to
gain share of urls ranking on 1st page. Even if you don’t require a secure encryption,
using HTTPS can provide your website with some ranking benefits, especially if you are
in a highly competitive niche.
3. Implement Proper 301 Redirects
This is important because Google considers the www – version of your home page and
the non-www version of your website’s home page as two separate pages. This is
because www is just a subdomain. So to prevent your rankings from being hurt due to
duplicate content issues, create a 301 redirect going from the www version to the
non-www version or vice-versa.
4. Plan a Strong Website Architecture
A strong website architecture not only leads to a better User Experience, but it also helps
you rank better. Ensure that your website is easy to navigate and that your interlinking
structure makes sense for the user.
Moz does a great job explaining this concept in one of their Whiteboard Fridays.
5. Make Use of Structured Data Whenever Possible
If you aren’t familiar with structured data, now is a great time to start learning. Use
schema.org as a reference guide. They provide examples on how to implement and properly use structured data.
One example of a situation where you would benefit from using structured data is if
your local business website has contact information such as your Company Name,
Address and Phone Number. In this case you would use Local Business schema
markup which specifies each piece of your contact information (e.g. Name, Address,
City, State, Postal Code, etc…)
Google recommends that you use structured data throughout your website and has
mentioned that it will be even more important moving forward.
6. Prevent 404 Crawl Errors After Launching a Website Redesign
Now this is a pretty big one. If you are redesigning a website with new content, architecture and url structure, you will need to create a 301 redirect plan prior to launching the new website.
When you launch the new version of your website, Google doesn’t eliminate the old page urls from their index right away. Therefore, anyone who clicks on your search result will end up finding themselves on a 404 Not Found page. To prevent this from happening, you should create a document listing all of your redirects, and apply them to the .htaccess file as soon as the new redesigned website launches.
Even then, you should be using Google Search Console to monitor crawl errors closely over the next few weeks. Sometimes there will be pages you missed that you can fix as soon as Google detects it.
7. Configure Your Robots.txt File
Robots.txt files come in pretty handy when you have specific pages that you don’t want
being indexed in Google’s search engine. For instance, maybe you built a custom Content Management System and you don’t want your admin area to get indexed… or maybe you have a directory with important documents that you want to keep out of Google search. This is where robots.txt files can help you. It’s a simple txt file containing a series of commands for robots like GoogleBot and other crawlers to follow.
8. Create and Submit Your Sitemap.xml File
This is a commonly known SEO tactic, but also very important. Always create a
sitemap.xml file and submit your sitemap to Google using Google Search Console. You
can specify which pages take priority of importance over others and help Googlebot
understand the intended structure of your website.
9. Use Optimized Hosting or Configure Your Server
You need to leverage browser caching, enable gzip compression and configure specific security measures. Keep your site running on a fast server, optimized for speed.
10. Use Meta NOODP and NOYDIR Tag
In some cases, you may find that your Title tag in the search results isn’t displaying the
way it’s supposed to. This could perhaps be the effects of Google using your DMOZ title
over the one you set in the head of your page. To prevent Google from manipulating
your title tags, you can use the META NOODP and NOYDIR tag.
11. Use Canonical Links
If you are nervous about doing that, and you don’t have a developer on hand to
help you, at least use a canonical tag. Canonical tags tell search engines which version
of the page you prefered to be displayed. That way Google can ignore one version of the
page and index the version you specify in your canonical tag.
12. Use AMP-HTML
AMP-HTML Stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, which is a new standard for mobile search. Google created the framework in 2015, which allows pages to literally load instantly on your mobile devices. If you are using wordpress there are several plugins that will help you install AMP HTML. Otherwise, you will have to customize your code and follow Google’s guidelines.
13. Use Open Graph Meta Tags
There are several wordpress plugins that will help you implement these tags. These simply help you control what people see in their news feeds on social media. You set the image, title and description.
There are many other technical SEO factors to be aware of. This list will definitely give you a good start. You can also download copy this technical seo checklist on Google sheets.
If you are an aspiring SEO professional, you probably know what link building is in concept. On the other hand, if you are a business owner, you may have heard the term a few times before. Not everyone understands SEO jargon, and very few business owners care to understand it. However, if you are in the process of hiring an SEO consultant or agency, reading this article will make you dangerous.
What Is Link Building?
First, let’s define what a “Link” is. This is a link. Therefore, in its most basic form, link building is the process of building or creating links. Now, there are a few important factors that make link building valuable for your website’s search engine rankings.
- When building links, you will want to have the link pointed at the webpage you are trying to rank.
- The anchor text (word you choose to create the link with) is a ranking factor that is important to pay attention to.
- Not all links are good links. Only build links from quality sites with content relevant to the page you are linking to.
- Link Building isn’t easy.
- Without links, your website will not rank for competitive terms.
One of the ways that I explain how SEO works is by comparing it to a car.
- Onpage Optimization- Just like a car needs to be fine tuned to run great, your website content and structure have to be optimized correctly.
- Link Building- Even with the most well tuned car, packed with all of the upgrades, it still won’t run unless you have gas. Your links are your gas and it’s important to continue feeding your website links.
Understanding the Search Engine Landscape
The world of search engine algorithms is a secretive affair that requires a certain professional approach. Search engine optimization (SEO) is unique in the sense that seo consulting providers and its professionals are confronted with lots of secrecy and obfuscation practiced by the major commercial search engines, particularly by Google.
The Emergence of Search Engines
The early days of SEO consulting looked radically different from today. When Architext, the first practical internet search engine, was developed by students from Stanford University in 1993, the algorithm and mechanism were available to anyone who wished to research them. Architext would later become Excite, a major commercial online portal.
By late 1993, three search engine bots were crawling the World Wide Web. It only took a year for commercial search engines such as Alta Vista, Lycos and Yahoo to begin using crawler technology for indexing and cataloging.
It would take nearly three more years before Google operated as a commercial search engine. That is when the PageRank algorithm was born; its first iteration was explained in a paper that also indicated the economic value of quality search results in terms of advertising revenue. From 1997 on, the Google algorithm became the most dynamic and closely guarded corporate secret.
How SEO Consulting Started
SEO consulting started around 2001 when internet enthusiasts figured out that a major portion of PageRank consisted in counting the number of inbound links pointing to single webpages or documents. This would result in the strategy known as backlinking.
Google took notice of the nascent SEO field around 2003 when it began discussing algorithm changes through online postings and at developer conferences. By that time, SEO practitioners had figured out not only backlinking but also keyword stuffing; two SEO techniques that had little to do with quality websites. Google penalized these techniques with a major algorithm update named “Florida.” From that point on, SEO practitioners realized the business need of providing a professional service to clients who wanted to improve their online presence.
SEO Consulting as a Holistic Practice
In the last few years, the role of the SEO consultant has evolved into that of an online marketing consultant who is responsible for the internet branding success of his or her clients. This requires a holistic approach that is no longer focused solely on the secretive Google search algorithm.
Modern SEO consulting sees Google as a major online marketing platform, but not as the only one. The holistic SEO consultant will also consider the impact of social media, mobile search including Bing and Yahoo, marketing through dedicated apps, original content production, paid search advertising, online marketing partnerships, and others including offline branding.
The holistic approach to SEO focuses on the entire online experience. A holistic SEO consultant will not only try to improve a client’s rank on the Google search engine results page (SERP); he or she may launch a Twitter campaign or work with mobile app developers to extend the online reach of the brand.
Link Building Defined
Link building is an SEO tactic used to increase Google PageRank to a page on a website in order to gain better keyword position on Google.
What is a Hyperlink?
A hyperlink or “link” is a highlighted word or picture in a document or Web page that you can click on with a computer mouse to go to another place in the same or a different document or Web page.
Therefore, link building, as it relates to Link Building Strategies, is the process of distributing these links to websites other than your own, but directing the links to the page you want to improve the Google keyword position for.
The Importance of Link Building
In an oversimplification of the process, link building is critical for search engines to rank your website’s popularity. Search engines look to the number of legitimate links which exist to your website to determine how and where your website is listed among other websites which the search engine returns to its users.
A key component of how search engines determine which sites are linked first uses a tally of the number of links to your website from other websites. The idea is that the more links to your website that there are, the more popular, and consequently relevant to the search engine user’s query, your website is, and it should therefore receive a higher spot in the listing results.
Several strategies can be employed to further these ends involving a technique referred to as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
How Anchor Text Affects Your Site’s Popularity
The way that a site is linked back to your website is through specific code in the linking website’s pages.
Web sites use a specific type of code called markup tags. Markup tags look like letters in between < and > characters. The tags occur in the opening and closing pairs, with the closing tag having a / in between its < and > characters.
The markup tag which affects link building is called the anchor tag. The anchor tag has a few sections. First the anchor tag tells the web browser that there is a link to another site using the “href” attribute, next the tag allows you to enter text meaningful to an end user in between the beginning anchor tag and the closing tag. This text is visible to the user and can be clicked.
An example using google.com might look like <a href=”www.google.com”> The Famous Google.com Website </a>.
These anchor tags are important because software processes called web crawlers scan every website that they know about and read the anchor tag markup code and count the references to your website to determine how it will be ranked to its users.
The Importance of Links in 2016
In 2016 links to your site are more important than ever. Online marketing of your company’s products and services begins at the search engine level. That is starting point where customers begin their looking efforts to find the products or services you’re selling. A poorly ranked website with a great product or service might never be accessed if it isn’t positioned well online.
Today’s link building strategies will utilize several available resources, including Social Media websites, blogs, news articles, and popular sites of recognized individuals.
Learning how to build links is key to your business’ online success. Many self launched online efforts fail specifically because they do not understand why link building is important.
Parting Thoughts on Link Building
Link building is the primary means of exposing prospects and customers to your business. It requires thoughtful planning. In fact, learning how to build links, is the single most important task your business can undertake in its initial online marketing efforts to promote and popularize your particular brand.
A few questions that today’s businesses migrating into online markets include:
- How can link building benefit my business?
- What is a good link vs. a bad link?
- How can I plan a successful Link Building Strategy?
- Where can I start building links?
- How to hire a link building company?
- What is the Penguin Algorithm?
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is simply the process of getting a local Google places listing within the top three positions of the results. We refer to it as the local pack 3.
Who benefits from Local SEO?
If you are a local business that either go to the customer’s location or has the customer come to you, then you can benefit from Local SEO. The trick is to be a real business and become established.
What are the benefits of Local SEO?
- The user already has the intent to buy.
- A Majority of local traffic is drawn to the local pack so you experience higher click through rates.
- Long term strategy that is sustainable and will continue to drive leads.
What local ranking factors does Google consider?
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The Only Local SEO Checklist You Will Need in 2016
1. Citation Audit
2. Meta Tag Audit
3. Website Content Audit
4. URL Audit
5. Google+ page Audit
6. Online Reputation Audit
7. Backlink Audit
8. Site Speed Audit
9. Local Schema Audit
10. Google Analytics Implementation Audit
Citations are local directory listings with your company’s name address and phone number listed. Matching offsite business information with the onsite name, address ,and phone number (NAP) allow Google to recognize that a business is credible.
[post_grid id=”8644″]Social Media Signals
Just because I’m about to give you a major long list of social bookmarking websites you can submit to doesn’t mean that is all you have to do for social media. Google looks at many different signals, but this list comes in very handle when you need to get pages indexed quickly.
If you haven’t already put a search engine marketing strategy into action, you’re already behind every tech-savvy competitor in your market. It doesn’t matter whether you intend to sell primarily to a local audience from a brick-and-mortar location, operate almost exclusively by phone, or only have a barebones website developed as a slightest nod to modernity. Your business needs search engine marketing, for four simple reasons:
SEM Drives Traffic
Let’s jump straight to the most obvious outcome of a well-managed search engine marketing campaign, traffic. Not necessarily enormous amounts of traffic, unless you aim for that with no other goals in mind. No, good SEM instead results in good traffic. Visitors more likely to take the actions you need prospects taking, rather than browsers who will pop onto your site for a moment, realize they don’t need what you’re offering, and leave.
If you’re currently unconvinced that your site has any potential to generate profit, because you get plenty of traffic and nil in sales, then you need to first experiment with search engine marketing to generate actionable leads before you write it off. Of course, this is only the shallowest benefit of raising your ranks within search engines.
Search Engine Marketing is Good for Branding
When someone in your market searches for your name, or searches for something related to your business, and your search marketing campaign then results in that search leading to your website, then you’ve gained a branding opportunity. In a way, simply having your name show up in the search results properly gives your brand a bit more strength, a bit more value in prospects’ perception. Once they’re on the site, you can make your case in full.
SEM Steps Up to the Competition
As your site rises threat search results, competing sites sink. Most users stop within the first few results of a given search, meaning that seizing those results for yourself does more than open doors—it closes them on your competition. Allowing your rivals to run unrestrained in search results gives them entirely too much leverage to shape customers’ perception. You may also fall to negative reviews, authentic or not, if you don’t curate your web presence with SEM.
The final point of search engine marketing is simple: it makes your business look behind-the-times, lazy, or incompetent if it can’t even seize a good ranking for basic searches of its name. Customers and potential partners searching your business name should find your site, period.