SEO blogs to add to your RSS feed

Right now, you’re probably thinking, “why would this amazingly helpful SEO blog promote other SEO blogs?” But if you think back to our post about link building campaigns, you will remember that being friendly, even with competitors, is helpful for a website’s authority. So, here are some pretty great SEO blogs that answer some more in-depth questions you might have about SEO and optimizing your content marketing.

The Moz Blog

Moz is already a leader in subscribable and downloadable SEO tools, so it is no surprise that their blog is a leader in search as well. When visiting the Moz Blog, you won’t find shameless plugs for their costly tools and devices. Instead your reading will open SEO doors that you didn’t know existed.

Much of the blog is devoted to how-to’s that are fairly straight-forward if you are looking to improve some aspects of your site. Even better, is Moz’s thoughtful posts on content marketing in general. These types of posts are great for those who are looking to expand on their website topics after you’ve been in the content marketing game for some time.  

keyword map
[Source: Moz]
One of the best things about the Moz Blog is the abundance of visuals. It’s sometimes to difficult to include relevant images or graphics in your post about SEO, which is not necessarily a topic made for visuals. Moz does an excellent job of creating visuals out of their data to help readers take in information more easily, like the chart on the right detailing keyword usage on a website.

The Orbiter

The Orbiter is the web marketing blog of Orbit Media Studios, a web design and development company led by web expert Andy Crestodina. The Orbit team take turns writing posts, usually centered on their specialty topics. This is where to go when you want to know what the experts are thinking.

The blog’s voice is extremely easy to follow and makes the reader feel like an equal, which is important when it comes to the sometimes confusing and frustrating task of optimizing online content. Each post is broken down for easy-reading and, even when a post is long, does not leave the reader exhausted.

The blog’s topics are mostly focused on SEO, website optimization, and content creation, but there are also more general topics, like instructions for making a simple content mission statement. Not only does this blog want to help your business’ online presence, but the people behind it want to help your brand as a whole, which is comforting.   

Search Engine Land

If you are a part of a business that just needs to know what’s happening in the realm of SEO innovations, then Search Engine Land has to be number 1 on your list of sources. Be warned: this is not a blog to be visited by SEO beginners. If you have become comfortable with SEO jargon and carrying out web optimization tasks is a breeze, then you can give this blog a shot.

Search Engine Land blog home page
[Source: Search Engine Land home page screenshot]
By a simple scroll through Search Engine Land’s home page, it’s obvious that this blog cannot get enough of Google. Just look at the screenshot on the left of their current home page with four references to the big G without even having to scroll.

And why should they shy away from the number one search engine that essentially dictates all rules and regulations for SEO? Google’s algorithms, tools, and ranking systems are changing almost as quickly as a marketer can learn them, so why not stay updated?  

Search Engine Land posts about 4-5 times a day. This can seem a little daunting when you don’t have much time to skim through thousands of words for some practical information, but the deep content that this blog provides could be worth it. For marketers wanting to take their brand to the next level.

kissmetrics

infographic on e-commerce sites
[Source: kissmetrics’ infographic]
kissmetrics does not waste time on flashy layouts and witty blog voice. Instead, the writers behind this web marketing and tracking blog get right to business. It’s easy to tell that this blog is managed by experts in SEO analytics because of the varied and detail-oriented content.

Not only does kissmetrics offer helpful, step-by-step posts on measuring your SEO’s success, but there are also webinars, infographics, and marketing guides to skim through when you are looking for something more than words. Some of this content requires a subscription to kissmetrics, which will cost you. If you spend a few months with the kissmetrics blog and find it extremely useful for your business and marketing goals, then maybe throwing some money their way wouldn’t be the worst idea. In the meantime you can marvel at one of kissmetrics’ many thorough infographics. This one is all about making your ecommerce site trustworthy.

 

Hopefully these alternative SEO blog options didn’t make you completely jump ship on Searchable. We know we can’t cover everything, so we hope you can find something useful for your business’ SEO needs from other web marketing fanatics.     

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?

 

4 Free SEO Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed

If you are feeling fairly confident in your mastering of basic optimization for your business’ website, then it’s time to take your SEO tactics to a new level. There is a wide world of easy-to-use and free online tools that can help your website’s content thrive, as well as keep an eye on the competition. These free tools have received some love from SEO experts, so give them a go.  

1. Ecreative Link Juice Calculator

This first tool is for those pages on your website that you take pride in because they have a lot of outbound links directing traffic to your internal pages and other sites. But, believe it or not, too many links can actually harm your homepage’s authority, as well as interior pages. As web marketing expert Andy Crestodina notes, even an enormous site such as Amazon only has around 100 links in on its homepage.

Ecreative link juice tool
[Source: Ecreative results page for LUC.edu]
To use Ecreative’s tool, simply paste your homepage URL into the bar and press enter. The “juice calculator” will let you know if you have too many links and will normally give you a suggestion on how many links you should remove. For example, Loyola University Chicago’s homepage (LUC.edu) has 294 links on its homepage alone and this tool suggests they get that number down to around 100 to increase their link juice.

 

2. Moz On-Page Grader

Moz is a leader in SEO tools and expertise. They have a large number of great tools to choose from. One of the simplest is their On-Page Grader, which scans a page of your website and measures your keyword optimization. Moz uses 30 different criteria to calculate where your best optimization is coming from and suggests how to focus on the positive SEO areas of your page. The tool will also perform weekly page audits to make sure you are keeping up with the ongoing process of keyword optimization.

This tool is unfortunately only available for free during a 30-day trial. However, if you are a Moz Pro member, you can enjoy this tool as much as your heart desires.

3. Linkstant

Remember that link building campaign that your started six months ago? What happened with that? We know you don’t have an intern lying around who can answer these questions for you (and if you do, you are one lucky business owner). That’s where Linkstant comes in.

If you have lost track of where your inbound links are coming from and where they aren’t, then Linkstant can wrangle your incoming links in one place. Just create an account and you can get all of your links in order. This tool offer real-time information on what links are performing well and what links are duds. It will allow you to not only be satisfied with the amount of external links you have built, but to have confidence that those links are doing some good for your site’s traffic.

4. GTmetrix

When trying to optimize every little nook and cranny of your website, the simple things can get lost in the SEO shuffle. One of those “little things” is page speed. How fast or slow a page of your site loads can make your bounce rate (the percentage of visitors to your site land on a page, and then the site altogether) skyrocket, driving your traffic into the ground.

Luckily, GTmetrix can offer you an analysis of loading speed on every page of your site and can also offer suggestions on how you can make slow-loading pages faster than ever. Google actually uses page speed in its PageRank algorithm, so it is best to not overlook this on your own website.

 

These tools don’t have all of the bells and whistles that paid tools have, but they get the job done. For those marketers and business owners who have limited time and money, test the tools out before you commit to any paid subscriptions or software. Start with these tools and work your way up if you really want to work with the Internet’s most high-tech SEO robots in the future.

TOMS Takes SEO to a New Level

For all of those readers out there who have been skeptical about whether or not SEO can actually impact website traffic and business, look for confirmation no further. TOMS, aided by the work of Wpromote, a digital marketing strategy firm, optimized their website and ended up with a traffic increase of more than 1,000 percent.

TOMS’ goals

First of all, TOMS initial problems to solve must be understood. TOMS underwent a site migration as a part of its process to appeal to their global audience (when a website changes its URL to reflect going international, a name change, or rebranding). In TOMS’ case, their website needed to be suitable for international use, while still maintaining their impressive SEO rankings from their last website. TOMS had its work cut out for them.

Not only did TOMS hope to maintain their website traffic, but they wanted to see an increase in traffic after their move to an international URL. This put a lot of pressure on Wpromote, as site migrations are often risky processes that can actually result in lowered traffic, and in the worst cases, a drop in revenue.

Expert SEO gets the job done

TOMS’ site migration was carried out smoothly and efficiently for a number of reasons, all of which benefited the overall SEO of the TOMS website.

At the time of Wpromote’s work with TOMS website migration, the one-to-one company happened to be launching a national television commercial. This advertising fostered increased intrigue in the brand, and therefore, more website traffic. This shows the importance of timely SEO work. The launch of a marketing campaign aligned with the site migration, so that customers searching TOMS online would immediately arrive at TOMS new and improved, international website. It may just be coincidence that TOMS site revamp and new advertising happened simultaneously, but if it was, it was a lucky mistake that drove traffic.

Since the TOMS website was receiving increased traffic, URL mapping (a tactical part of site migration in which URLs from all pages on the old site are redirected to new URLs for the new site) had to be precise and optimized for keywords. URLs are taken into account in search rankings, so they should be keyword-rich. The creation of find-able URLs is one way in which TOMS’ migration went swimmingly.

In addition to the fairly technical site work, TOMS also implemented a trusty link building campaign, focused on persuading fashion bloggers who had similar target audiences to create inbound links to TOMS site. This link building was a part of TOMS “online reputation management.”   

The results are in

At the end of the day, TOMS defied all odds with their site migration. The result that the charity retailer was able to obtain are ideal for businesses large and small. All in all, TOMS not only maintained their organic search rankings from before the site migration, but they added value to these rankings by expanding their inbound links.

TOMS rose to the number one page ranking spot for their brand’s name and other unbranded keywords. Lastly, the company experienced an astounding 1,000 percent increase in daily unique visitors to their new, international site.

TOMS blog screenshot
[Source: TOMS “Stories” blog]
These shiny numbers did not make the TOMS web team take a vacation though. TOMS continued to carry out the SEO best practices that gave them their results in the first place. By reaching out to more and more influencers and having fans and employees write blog posts for their site, TOMS was able to keep their website fresh and relevant for Google’s rankings robots.  

Now, it is safe to say that TOMS’ success story is definitely not the norm. The numbers achieved at the end of all of this SEO work are not stats to which small businesses should compare their websites (mostly because smaller companies don’t have the time or money to hire Wpromote to do all of the technical work). But by practicing simple steps to optimize a site when changes are happening, such as link building, URL mapping, and keyword monitoring, websites can survive heavy renovations.

 

 

     

 

         

 

Go-To Glossary for SEO

The SEO world is full of phrases and terms that can be difficult to understand as a beginner. The below glossary is a brief source for those looking to begin a smooth transition into improving SEO for their small businesses. The terms on our list will help you to navigate our blog more easily, as well as others.

  • 301 redirect: When a URL is no longer in use by a website or a web page is deleted, a 404 error usually pops up (“page not found”). A 301 redirect will navigate users away from the abandoned or deleted page to a new page that the web manager specifies. Having a 301 redirect could lower bounce and increase page views on content to which users are redirected.    
  • Alt text: a piece of text that may appear to some users in place of an image. Some users are online via text-only browser, so this text will help those visitors to better understand the content of your page.  
  • Anchor text: the text that holds a hyperlink to another source. Anchor text should not be vague, such as “this article” or “click here.” Anchor text needs to describe what users will find when they click on the link. Keep the linked text between one and five words.    
  • Authority: The trustworthiness, knowledge, reliability, and respect of your website. Authority is one of the key attributes of a website that Google uses to rank a site, and many metrics contribute to authority, such as external links, age of site, and popularity among searchers.   
  • Black Hat SEO: The opposite of white hat SEO, a type of SEO strategy that does not abide by best practices of guidelines established by Google and other search engine leaders. Tactics are usually unethical and can result in a website being penalized by search engines that will give the site implementing black hat SEO a poor ranking.
    Mac n' Cheese recipes on AllRecipes.com
    [Source: AllRecipes.com]
  • The Fold: The spot where a web page becomes cut off by the bottom of a screen or computer monitor. The most eye-catching, user-oriented content on a website’s homepage should be above this point to avoid a high bounce rate due to difficult navigability. On the right, you will see the fold for this All Recipes page is just below the header images. 

 

  • Information architecture:The organization and structure of digital content. the architecture of a website’s information strives to be findable by spiders, but also usable for users of the content which we are organizing. Bad information architecture can include unclear page titles, meta descriptions that don’t utilize keywords, and websites with poorly designed navigation.
  • Keyword:A term or phrase that is used in a web page’s title, content, meta-description, and tags that can lead to the page having a higher ranking for such a term/phrase in search. Strategically choosing keywords that are searched often or sought out by your audience is key.
  • Link building: An effort by a website manager to attract external links to one or more pages of their website. Building links is desirable because inbound links to a website can boost its page rank on Google. Link building is carried out through traditional public relations techniques and mutual linking to relevant websites. Link building helps to increase a website’s authority.    
    Meta description screen grab
    [Source: Google screen grab for search “Chicago mac n’ cheese”]
  • Meta description: The text that appears below the title and URL of a web page in a search engine. Meta descriptions usually include keywords and the terms that are being searched. Creating your own meta description to highlight key phrases is essential for building SEO. Below, you can see that the meta description for the page is “Mac and cheese is one of nearly everyone’s favorite comfort foods and here is the recognition it…”

 

  • Page rank: A system that determines a website’s ranking for certain keywords or phrases. Google’s PageRank algorithm scores site’s based on external links to site, relevance of content, and site authority. If your website has made it onto the first Google SERP for a certain keyword, then you’ve made it, but there is always room for improvement.
    SERP
    [Source: Google screen grab for search “Chicago mac n’ cheese”]
  • Search Engine Results Page (SERP): The list of search engine results that appear when searching a specific keyword or phrase. The order of results of a Google SERP are determined based on Google PageRank (discussed above). Many times, the first one or two results is an advertisement result by AdWords, which does not necessarily appear based on PageRank. 

 

 

 

  • Web 2.0: Contemporary computer technologies that are Web-based (run by the internet and not PC software) and that allow users to interact with content more freely and with more ease. An example of this this is the shift from using Microsoft Excel to Google Sheets, which allows multiple people to edit and control a document remotely.  
  • White Hat SEO: In contrast to black hat SEO, a strategy for SEO that follows the ethical guidelines and best practices put forth by search engines. Playing by the rules through white hat SEO is more likely to improve your PageRank on Google.  

While this list is by no means an all-inclusive dictionary for your SEO adventures, it is a good start for a beginner. If you don’t understand some SEO jargon next time you are watching a tutorial or reading one of our blog posts, your first step should be to look it up. No SEO stone should go unturned!

 

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.

SEO components graphic
[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!