5 SEO tips for maximizing Facebook traffic and visibility

Since 71% of online users have Facebook, a business Facebook page is likely a part of your branding. Just like your website, SEO is just as important as your Facebook is almost a second home page. While social media marketing can be expensive, Facebook SEO is completely free and can easily be improved to benefit yourself and your target audience with these steps:

  1. Effectively brand your name and URL

Choose a good name. This cannot be changed, so be careful and selective when creating your page. The first word is most important by Google’s standards. Keep it simple and concise and avoid stuffing it with keywords. If visitors get a vibe from it being “spammy,” they will either unfollow you or leave your page. Trust the rest of your page to attract your target audience. Additionally, customize your URL. Unlike your name, your URL can be changed to one of vanity once you have at least 100 “likes.” Again, be specific and concise to improve your likeliness to be found. It should be unique to your brand, but still easy to remember.

  1. Complete your entire profile

Ensure that your profile is filled out as much as possible, keeping all information, content, and pictures uniform to your other social media channels and similar to your website. This consistency looks professional and makes both your Facebook and website easier to use. The About Us section is particularly important because it is similar to a meta description. It needs to be short enough to be displayed in a search engine result, but also contain the most important keywords for your target audience to find you. Use keywords strategically, but try not to overuse them with more than six essential keywords.

  1. Include sufficient contact information

By displaying as much contact information as possible, whether it is phone number, address, email, and business hours, Google is able to display your information faster to those who need it. As Google prioritizes local information, your address and location is becoming more important to be available. Think about searching nearby businesses to visit: the ones with the highest accuracy will be more helpful to those searching.

  1. Utilize all new features

Facebook is constantly implementing new features, especially as advertisements continue to grow on this platform. The call-to-action tool allows visitors to easily interact with your page, whether it is signing up, booking, contacting, playing a game, downloading an app, shopping, or watching a video. Messenger, payments, and saved replies are other great features that truly allow your Facebook to be a second homepage for your target audience. Utilize them, and your customer interaction will be greater on top of an already solid SEO.

  1. Post and share strategically

Not only should you make sure the first 18 characters of posts are using specific keywords, also include plenty of links to your website. Google boosts pages with links to relevant websites, thus boosting your Facebook. You can include a raw link your post text, or you can use Facebook’s feature to attach a link. Either can be beneficial, especially depending on if you use images with your posts, which you always should! Search engines love images, especially if your content is unique and relevant.
The most important part of implementing good Facebook practice is not for SEO, but to maximize the user experience. By creating a cohesive brand between platforms, your target audience is more likely to engage with your business. As always, never try to manipulate your SEO. Be honest and get honest results.

Does Yelp Help My SEO?

If you’ve followed our blog for a while you should know that the more inbound links and keywords found online regarding your website, should theoretically boost your SEO. But what about online reviews? Online review websites such as Yelp, Zagat, and even stores themselves can make or break a purchase decision. In an age of content shock and an overabundance of products and services, it’s become increasingly important for marketers (and small business owners) to be present at a consumer’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). The ZMOT is the moment before a purchase decision and it is crucial to gaining brand awareness in an age of ever-present technology.

The Power of Yelp

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[Images are screenshots, edited on Picmonkey]

If you are a small business owner, you likely know the importance of online reviews. They can sway the opinion of a potential customer in seconds, the outcome being either good or bad for your business. According to Search Engine Land’s post on whether or not Yelp really matters, Yelp is definitely important for SEO. Nowadays Google does take into account a company’s presence on Yelp. Google measures things like how many reviews a business has on Yelp, and how positive each review is. Google then factors this into their search engine ranking accordingly. Since Google’s Pigeon update rolled out, Yelp now shows up higher on the SERP than ever before. When typing in the name of a restaurant, Google most likely returns results that have Yelp within the first three results. This is good news for Yelp and (potentially) good news for the small business owner. In an age of localized search and mobile phones, it’s important for small business owners to take advantage of Yelp. Below are four steps to fully utilizing Yelp for your small business. 

 

 

Step #1: Claim your business.

Claim your business on Yelp. According to Search Engine Land’s article on Google Maps, Yelp and Local SEO in 2015, once you’ve claimed your business, you are able to be “active” on Yelp. This includes everything from updating information to responding to reviews and uploading photos. Doing this not only lets Google know you are active and present on Yelp and therefore are worthy of higher search rank, but it also allows you to monitor the feedback on your small business.

Step #2: Keep your information consistent and up-to-date.

Make sure your business name, address, and phone number are consistent across all your platforms, whether it’s your social media, your website, or your blog. Google attempts to “verify” businesses on Yelp using contact information. So long as your information is consistent, you should be verified, which will in turn help your search ranking.

Step #3: Encourage customers to leave a review (to a point).

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[Image Source]
As a small business owner, it could benefit you to encourage customers to write a Yelp review for you. In a day and age where Yelp reviews are one of the first things consumers look at, it’s beneficial for you to have a good amount of positive reviews. If your reviews happen to be mostly negative, there’s no way to really hide Yelp from the SERP. That being said, if you find that you have a good amount of negative reviews, the only thing I can suggest is addressing them. So, how should you encourage Yelp reviews? You may or may not have noticed that some businesses display a sticker in their window that says something like “Review us on Yelp!” or “People Love us on Yelp!”. This is one way to let your customers know that you appreciate positive Yelp reviews. Don’t go too crazy with this option, however, because the goal of websites like Yelp are to provide the most honest, reliable information on businesses. If you’re product is great and your service is reliable, you should not have a problem in this area.

Step #4: Engage, engage, engage

As with any social media platform, it’s always best practice to actively engage with your customers. If someone leaves a lovely review of your business, respond and let them know that you appreciate it! If someone leaves a critique or a less positive review, respond and tell them you will address the issue ASAP. Customer service and customer engagement is everything!

Bottom line? You MUST be on Yelp and other online review websites. Ever since Google’s Pigeon update, these review websites often rank higher than a company’s actual website. It’s crucial for you to have a presence on review websites. Have any other tips for navigating Yelp and other review websites? Leave suggestions in the comments below.

How Youtube can Help your SEO

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According to MOZ Bar’s post on Influencer marketing, the concept is defined as, “…the process of developing relationships with influential people that can lead to their assisting you in creating visibility for your product or service.” Influencer marketing is incredibly popular on Youtube, a social media platform that also has the ability to take your SEO to the next level. As humans, our brains respond favorably to visuals even more so than text. Youtube is a great platform to engage your fans with great visual content. This blog post will help you use the world’s 2nd largest search engine to your advantage.

Step #1: Creating your Youtube page

A Youtube account is fairly easy and self-explanatory to set up, but I’m here to give you a few thoughtful tips on optimizing the process. First, you need to know (if you don’t already) that Google owns Youtube. This means great things for the small business owner and SEO.

As with any other social media page you’re garnered, make sure your profile picture and header are engaging and reflect your brand accurately. This is one of the first things customers will see when visiting your Youtube page. Also make sure that you link your other social media in your “About” section. Let’s use Jimmy Fallon’s Youtube page as an example.

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[Image: Screenshot of Jimmy Fallon’s Youtube page]

The first thing you’ll likely notice is the header, which is eye-catching and accurately depicts what Jimmy’s brand is (i.e. the Tonight Show). Also notice the text that describes when and where to watch the show. Below that to the right you’ll see some social media icons where you can find Jimmy on more popular social media platforms. Below that you’ll find the channel’s description, which is full of keywords that encompass what the channel is all about. This is incredibly important when making your own channel. Include keywords that make you easy to find and that are relevant to your brand. Below the channel’s description you’ll see the “Links” section where you’ll find Jimmy on pretty much every relevant social media platform on the internet today. Follow suit and include all your relevant links (i.e. blog, website, and social media platforms) when creating your own Youtube page.

 

Step #2: Creating engaging visual content

This step may be the most difficult one. It’s not always easy to create quality content that’s engaging and encompasses your brand completely. Bear with us! In Mark Schaefer’s The Content Code, a book we highly recommend you get your hands on, Mark talks about a client of his who blew up on Youtube thanks to a handy 59 second video on “How to open a bottle of wine- without a corkscrew”. More specifically, how to open a wine bottle using a shoe. Seriously, check it out. The video, as you can see, has been viewed almost 11 million times! What can a small business owner learn from this? You don’t always need big bucks and loads of time to create a good Youtube video. Informative videos or tutorials are often the best way to go. As long as you stay true to your brand and get a little creative, you may very well be on your way to a successful Youtube channel.

 

Step #3: Posting and optimizing content

This step is incredibly important and it starts with your video description. In the video’s description, make sure to include keywords about the video as well as your company (Source: Marketing 399-01, Loyola University Chicago, Professor Schwab, [23 March 2016]). For example, if Searchable were to upload our 1 minute tutorial on Alt tags to Youtube, we would use keywords like “SEO”, “Searchable”, “Alt Tags”, and “Optimize” to the video’s description.

The second thing you need to add to ALL your video’s descriptions are your relevant social media and website links (Source: Marketing 399-01, Loyola University Chicago, Professor Schwab, [23 March 2016]). Just like you would in a blog post, link anything significant that you mention in the video. I’ll use one of my favorite Youtube channels as an example. The SACCONEJOLYs are a family that post daily vlogs to Youtube. In each video’s description, you’ll find a plethora of links associated with their “brand”.  

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[Image: Screenshot of description on SACCONEJOLYs Vlog]

First, notice the call to action. Every video description should start with an ask for comments or a shout out to your other social media. Notice they then link to the two individual’s channels that they were interacting with in the video for that day. Following that they link to their other social media and Youtube channels as well as a helpful link for subscribing to their channel. Keep in mind, this is all amazing for SEO. What really impresses me about this channel is what’s next: links to 5 different videos corresponding to the same day 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 years before. This is a great way to upcycle old content and gain more traffic on previous videos!

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[Image: Screenshot of description on SACCONEJOLYs Vlog]

The end of their video description gives a brief background on who they are and why they started Youtube. Notice how many times “Saccone” or “Joly” is mentioned. This, obviously, ties into the name of their Youtube Channel. The same should be done with the name of your business!

Something else you can do to optimize your content on Youtube is add annotations to your videos (Source: Marketing 399-01, Loyola University Chicago, Professor Schwab, [23 March 2016]). Let’s go back to our Jimmy Fallon example.

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[Image: Screenshot of Jimmy Fallon Youtube Video]

On one of his more recent posts, “Thank You Notes: April Fools, Lunar Eclipses” you’ll see that the last 8 seconds of the video, like with all of his videos, there is an ending page with annotations. The ones above link to everything from subscribing to the channel, playlists, and previous videos. Again, all of this is great for SEO and driving traffic to your other content. Use these annotations for social media links, website links, and always include a subscribe button! Put them at the beginning of the video, the end or somewhere in between, but remember, do not overwhelm the screen with a million annotations. Keep the number to around 3 or 4 to avoid driving the audience away.

Step #4: Going the extra mile

The tips we’ve shared so far will have you well on your way to optimizing your content on Youtube and using the platform to your advantage. However, if you’re like us, you’ll want to go the extra mile when it comes to SEO. The first way to do this is by creating playlists with both your own content and curated content that is relevant to your brand. Playlists appear in Youtube’s search and they drive up views by keeping viewers engaged with videos.

Step #5: Don’t forget to make friends

This is super important on a community platform like Youtube! Remember to favorite videos, leave comments and share your videos on social media! This will bring valuable traffic to your content. Plus, as we know, sharing content across social media channels is great for SEO and brand awareness. By favoriting and commenting on videos of those you admire on Youtube, you may greatly increase your chances of an inbound link to your own Youtube page from an influencer in your field, thereby exposing you to a completely new audience! Making friends will only benefit you!

That concludes our post on SEO and Youtube. I hope you found some valuable tips for starting a Youtube page for your small business. If you already have a Youtube page, I hope there were some helpful tips on using the platform to ramp up your SEO. As always, we’re here for your questions, remarks, concerns, or anything else you’d like to leave in the comments!

ALT-tags in 1 Minute

If you didn’t have the time to read through last week’s post on optimizing your images for search, then we have you covered. Check out this video, created by the people of Searchable, on the importance of alt-tags.

Now the important question. What should the alt-tag be for that quirky little cat in the pirate costume?

 

Making Images Searchable

 

Having pictures and videos on your page is crucial. Readers are more likely to remember information that is presented to them in picture format and photos increase dwell time on your page. Dwell time, as you can probably guess, is the amount of time that people spend on your page. This is important for Search Engine Optimization because the longer the dwell time, the higher the page is ranked on the results page of a search engine. Images themselves can also be optimized for search engines. Yoast’s article on image SEO, is a bit dense for beginners so we will simplify some of the most important tips here.

 

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This picture has nothing to do with Search Engine Optimization. Source

The Perfect Picture

Unlike the picture for this article, your image should be relevant to your post. Although pictures of kittens are cute, readers may feel cheated if you can’t deliver the “aww” factor they were looking for. Any diagrams, photos, or videos should serve to enhance your point, not distract from it. You may be tempted just to slap a stock photo in your article, just for the sake of having a picture, but this is not the greatest idea. Stock photos are boring and impersonal. Try to use your own high-quality photos, if you can. If not, try and use stock photos that are engaging rather than boring.

 

Use Your Words

Search engine crawlers have access to a behind-the-scenes layer of information that goes unseen to readers. Search engines use this information to rank results. Computers can’t see pictures the way we do (yet), so we have to describe them. The first way to do this is, admittedly, a bit of a drag, but will help you and the crawlers. When you transfer images from your smartphone or computer, the filename is usually a number. “1286.jpg” doesn’t help you, or the search engine, know what’s inside the file. File names should be brief and descriptive such as, “cupofkittens.jpg”.

 

ALT Text Is Your Friend

ALT text is another way to tell search engines, and people, what your picture is about. When people who are visually impaired use the internet, the text on the page is read to them via computer. Unfortunately, the computer doesn’t have the imagination to describe the picture in the same way a human would. In order to make sure that the visually impaired can enjoy your website, use ALT text to describe the image. Good ALT text also helps crawlers know what the image depicts, which can help you get to the top of the search engine results page. The alt text for the picture above is “Two adorably tiny precious kittens sitting in coffee mugs.” In an SEJ.com article about optimizing photos, Jean Dion stated,

Verbosity might be your friend here, if it helps your readers to understand what the image is about.”

 

Descriptions AKA The Title Tag

According to Yoast’s article on images, the title tag is a good place for “nonessential information.” While it might not be vital for Search Engine Optimization, the proper use of the title tag is vital for your successful integration with social media platforms. Jean Dion notes in her article that the title tag contains the words which are displayed when Pinterest users pin your image. Title text is also the little box of information you see when you hold your mouse over a picture. Unlike ALT text, these descriptions should be succinct i.e. “kittens in mugs.” Be sure to check out Yoast’s ALT text and title tag article for more in-depth information. 

 

Great Captions

The use of captions isn’t just for witty Instagrammers. The combination of useful images with helpful captions arguably makes or breaks an article. Crawlers move through a page similar to a college student. They quickly skim for titles, headers, hyperlinks, images, etc. in order to get a general understanding of what the page is about. It’s important that the items that make up this summary are an accurate depiction of the content. Students and crawlers aren’t the only ones guilty of skimming. In 2012 KissMetric wrote that

“Captions under images are read on average 300% more than the body copy itself, not using them, or not using them correctly, means missing out on an opportunity to engage a huge number of potential readers.”

 

Until computers catch up with us, we’ll have to continue to do some of the hard labor ourselves. Luckily, there are hosting services, such as WordPress which simplify optimizing your images. For those of you brave souls who do the coding themselves, there are plenty of tutorials like this one from w3schools to help you along the way. Please feel free to leave a comment, we’d be happy to answer any questions!

 

 

5 Tips to Help Google Find Your Website

It’s easy to get so caught up in Search Engine Optimization that you forget your target audience-the customer. When optimizing your website it is important that your content is easy to navigate for both crawlers and consumers. This article is going to give you the highlights of Google’s very own Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, plus a few examples to help you get a headstart.

 

Tip # 1: Use descriptive titles!

The title of your page is the first line of a search result, make sure it is descriptive and concise. Readers don’t need a bulky 20-word title, but they do need a title that explains what the page contains. Make sure that your page titles are unique and specific. While the title to our article, “Spiders on the Web,” is clever, it does not specify what the article is really about. The title to this article is more helpful for crawlers and people alike.

Search engines look at page titles before they crawl through the content. Titles and headers are not the same and thus need to be coded differently.Titles are different from headings in that there can be multiple headings but there’s only one title. You can signal to a search engine that a heading is a heading by using the appropriate html coding.  There are plenty of tutorials online that will help with formatting headers and titles in html.

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Tip #2 : Use Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are a chance for you to advertise to potential customers and are incredibly important in generating click-thrus. This article by MOZ explains meta descriptions in more depth. Sometimes, search engines use meta descriptions as part of a search result. These meta descriptions should be short, about the length of a tweet, and compelling. Similar to titles, it is best if you do not use the same meta description for multiple pages.

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Descriptions are not the only meta tag you can use to specify information on your website. If you want to learn more this tutorial on author and keyword meta tags is quite helpful. In-depth explanations of Google’s meta tags can help you better understand all of your options.

 

Tip #3: Navigation

Make it easy for both users and crawlers to find content. If you use Searchable as an example we have a home page. This is the most visited page on our site because it is (usually) the first page people see. If you look up towards the top we have a menu bar, each item in a menu bar connects to a parent page, within those parent pages there are ‘child’ pages. This clear hierarchy helps search engines (and humans) identify the main themes of your website. It also helps consumers find more information relevant to those themes.  

 

Tip #4 : Hyperlinks

In our previous article about how search engines work, we mentioned that hyperlinks are crucial for your page’s visibility on search engine results pages. Search engines don’t just look at where you are linking, but also how you are linking. Anchor text is incredibly important when creating a hyperlink. The anchor text is the words that are underlined in blue. Try to make sure that the anchor text describes what information you are linking to. Google says to avoid using vague anchor text like, “this article” or “click here.” Don’t hyperlink a paragraph for your anchor text either. A few words should be enough for the crawlers to make the connection. It’s also important to remember that your real target audience is your customers, so anchor text should flow with the sentence instead of hindering the reader’s understanding. To learn more about how to take advantage of hyperlinks, read our article on link building campaigns.

 

Tip #5: Content is king

In their Search Engine Optimization guide, Google states, “Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any other factors.” Spelling and grammatical mistakes make it difficult for users to understand your content. That being said, proofreading is key. Clarity and simple sentence structure help readers of varying experience levels enjoy your website. Make your content worthy of  a “share” because the more links you get, the higher up you move on the search engine results page.

 

If you know of any websites that have utilized these tricks paste a link in the comment section below!

4 Simple Steps to Beginning a Link Building Campaign

There are many ways to improve the findability of your business’ website or content, but link building campaigns may be the simplest. Link building is a fairly self-explanatory way to increase the amount of external links to your site or blog. Whether these links are from media outlets, similar businesses, or even from a friend’s blog, they matter and will boost your Google search ranking. Link building is the place to exercise some traditional public relations skills for the good of your SEO strategy.

For the sake of consistency, let us say that you are the owner of a small, neighborhood fitness center. Your website is mostly informational, but visitors can convert by signing up for your healthy living newsletter and buying memberships online, so it is important that people can find you online. Your referral traffic (traffic to your website coming from external links) is low, and you want to give it a boost. Here is a go-to guide for your fitness center (or any small business) that needs to build some link:

Step 1: Evaluate your external linkers

Who are the people who could possibly link to your gym’s website? They are stakeholders, customers, partners, fans, neighbors, etc.  Linkers are people who truly enjoy your business and want to tell the world about it. They are also people who will benefit from a friendly relationship with your business. Below is a list of outside sources (people) that could link to your fitness center website:

  •         Community leadership—Your gym is important to your neighborhood, so why not let people know about it? If your village/city/town website has a travel guide page or “things to do” section, your gym should be on it.
  •         Customers—Joe comes into the gym every morning at 5 a.m. and then writes about his workout, and his protein shake, afterward on his blog, which is all about lifting. Joe is a fitness freak and it couldn’t hurt for him to mention where he is doing all of the heavy-lifting.    
  •        Neighbors—When someone asks you where to get a post-workout smoothie, you always point them toward the small grocery store down the street. Make that mutually beneficial relationship permanent with a link.
  •         Past acquaintances— Do you remember last year when you were mentioned in your city’s newspaper for that article on New Year’s resolutions? Do you remember how the journalist didn’t link to your site, but just mentioned the gym’s name? If that story is still live somewhere, there is time to change that.

Step 2:  Reach out

It’s not enough to just keep pointing those yoga instructors toward the smoothies down the street. It’s time to initiate a working relationship. Make a visit to the shop down the street and ask them if mutual linking would be okay. Email the writer of that story from a few years back and ask them to make the simple edit of adding a hyperlink, especially if that story did or still does receive a lot of views. The next time you read one of Joe’s blog posts, tell him you think he should link to your site, so more people can be aware of the space in which he works out. Ask him more than once. There is no harm in following up. As you can see in Moz’s figure below, following up is an essential step in link-building and can lead to real results (i.e. more links!).

Moz link building steps infographic

In short, make friends. Your neighborhood could consist of the residents and businesses around you or your “neighbors” may be completely virtual. Either way, they are your community and it doesn’t hurt to help each other out by linking. Linking is like caring, except caring does not have a high probability of boosting your referral traffic.

Step 3: Keep track of your links

Once more external sites begin to link to your own, make sure that you are tracking those links. Use your analytics platform (most likely, Google) to see where your referral traffic is coming from and to what pages it is linking. Referral traffic, according to Avinash Kaushik, should account for about 20-30 percent of your total website traffic.

Make sure you note which pages receive the most links and which pages are more bare. It will help you better understand your own content based on what others find most useful.  You’ll want to try to imitate and improve upon your content that is popular among referrals.

Step 4: Spread the love  

Not only does having external links to your own content help your search engine ranking, but linking to those external sources also help you. The more you link to reputable websites, the more reputable your website will appear.

When linking out, don’t just copy and paste a URL. Use descriptive anchor text for linking to other websites. See what I did there? This will offer Google more keywords to be associated with a link and will help boost your ranking.

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[Source: Social Servings]
Overall, the opportunity to build links is easy and requires little technical knowledge compared to some other major facets of SEO (see above figure). So, put your PR pro hat on and start fishing for those links!