Tag Archives: seo

Icey-u Painting Cory Gugler

Quick tip: Using Google trends and auto-complete to produce content

If you’re a small business with a website, writing articles or blogging is the best way to get some Google juice and attract more traffic to your website. Coming up with content idea’s related to your small business can sometimes be difficult though.

One of the best ways to keep a constant flow of content is to just keep focused on content during your everyday activities. Questions your customer ask, interactions with customers, and everyday research into your business are good starting points.

It’s important to keep a list and add to it immediately when an idea comes up for a new article or piece of content for your website. It’s very easy to become inspired and come up with tons of great ideas in an afternoon, only to forget them later that night. Pick up a list app or something similar for your phone to keep track, there are plenty on all the popular app marketplaces.

But, what about coming up with ideas on demand? Say you have some free time to up your content footprint on the web, but you’re fresh out of idea’s. One technique I’ve advised often is to use Google trends.

It’s as simple as going to Google trends, typing a phrase related to your business-which can be either generic or specific-and checking out the related searches.

Google Trends Screenshot - related coffee searches

Look over both the top and the rising searches, and if they’re too generic, try grabbing something from there and searching trends for it.

Google Trends Screenshot - coffee trends

Still having trouble finding something not too generic? Try using Google search auto-complete. When you begin typing in a search term, pay attention to the auto-complete suggestions. One of these might yield a great suggestion as a topic or for another Google trends mining search.

Google search screenshot - green coffee

You may even find looking through trends will spark an idea for something completely unrelated to your original search.

Hugs - Painting by Cory Gugler

Let’s talk about HTML basics for SEO again.

Alright, so maybe my previous post on html wasn’t the ‘least amount’ you should know. You can never know too much about anything. The more you know about the underlying structure of your website the easier it is to optimize every single detail. Let’s go further down the HTML rabbit hole and learn more about some important tags and attributes.

Write an attention grabbing title!

The <title> tag in your html document always resides within the <head> tag. If you haven’t guessed by now, the title tag determines what is displayed on your browser title bar. This will also be the text that search engines link to your site-the text people will first see when a page on your site shows up in their search results.

Website title in search results

It should be pretty obvious that you want your titles to be attention grabbing and descriptive of the content. They should be concise and to the point, and sometimes maybe a little surprising.

For SEO, titles should be less than 80 characters long. Anything longer is likely to get cut off or not used at all in a search  result. Your targeted keywords should be as close to the beginning of the title as possible. When your page comes up in a search result, users are more likely to notice and click on links with their keywords more prominently placed near the beginning of the result.

Each title should be unique. It’s alright to have a few words in the title on all your pages, like your company name, etc… You should not however have any duplicated titles across your site. Similar or duplicate titles will be confusing for your visitors, search engines, and yourself. Duplicate content is something to be avoided like the plague.

I wrote a meta tag describing my meta tags, meta!

Meta tags are used to tell browsers and search engine crawlers specific information about a page. Meta tags are placed within the <head> of your html page. There are only two meta tags you need to concern yourself with in regards to SEO.

Meta description

The meta description tag tells the search  engine what your page or site is about. It should be a well written human readable description less than 155 characters. On a Google search result page this description is the text displayed beneath the title of the result displayed.

Website meta description

It must be written for a normal human to understand and not just a list of keywords. Google’s algorithm will analyze this description and may not use it at all if it’s determined to not represent the page it’s describing.

Here’s an example of a meta tag:

<meta name="description" content="Great Choice Dog food is a well-balanced nutritional food for your favorite pet. Serve your best friend only the tastiest treats and make him or her a happy dog!">

Writing a great description will also help you get more people to click through to your site. Users usually scan through the first search result page and an enticing description will be much more effective than one generated by the search engine itself.

The robots are taking over

Robot telling a human to get to work

The robots meta tag is something you won’t likely have to concern yourself with, but it is important to know about nonetheless. If you would like a page not to show up on a search engine results page this is the tag you would use.

The robots tag can be used to give a search engine crawler some rules regarding how it can use the content on the page. Most major search engine crawlers will respect these rules but they don’t necessarily have to. What this means is that a spam crawler, or other malicious web crawlers may ignore all robot rules and do what it pleases.

By default, without a robots tag on your page, a search engine will index your page and use it in it’s search results. You can specify ‘noindex’ in a robots tag to tell the search engine you do not want the page to show up in their search results.

The robots meta tag looks like this:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

You can read a little more about the other available options to use in the robots meta tag over at Google developers.

Headings, sub-headings, sub-sub-headings, oh my!

We already talked a bit about headings in the article about content hierarchy but I think we should revisit them briefly.

Often your content management system will use an <h1> heading to represent the title of your blog post or page. This same content is often what is also automatically placed in your <title> tag as well.

In WordPress you can use a plugin, such as the Yoast SEO Plugin to tweak the title of your page and make it completely different than the title of your article. You will want to keep your <title> still closely related to your page or post title, but often it’s a good idea to tweak it just a bit to move keywords closer to the beginning of the line or rephrase it target more keywords.

Screenshot of Yoast SEO Plugin

Since most people scan documents before reading, you should split your content up into easily digestible parts and important points. Using layers of headings and sub-headings to split up sections and direct their attention where you want it.

As with any document, online or offline, your headings are just title’s for sections of content. You should treat them like you would the title. They should be well written, descriptive, and have keywords near the beginning. When someone is scanning through an article they will generally read the headings and the first sentence or two before deciding whether to more thoroughly read through it.

If your post or article title is and <h1>, your content will split up into various <h2> sub-headings and <h3> sub-sub-headings. Of course, you can continue to go <h4> and above this depends what you’re writing about.

The following is a heading hierarchy example (albeit not a great one).

<h1>Ways to get around town!</h1>
  <h2>Get around town in style on wheels</h2>
    <h3>Two wheeled transportation is economical</h3>
      <h4>Fast lightweight bikes for rent</h4>
    <h3>Four wheeled transportation for comfort and style</h3>
      <h4>Try a car</h4>
        <h5>Compact cars for fuel efficiency</h5>
        <h5>Mid-Size cars for extra room</h5>
  <h2>Get around town on Foot</h2>
    <h3>Wear comfortable sneakers for long walks</h3>
    <h3>Boots are best in the rain</h3>

Conclusion

There are many html tags, and to ensure search engine crawlers and humans alike understand your content, you must understand how to correctly use them. I can’t go over all of them in this one post, so I’ll continue to talk more about the different tags available, their semantic meaning, and how to use them correctly.

Next week: Images.

Until then, keep it semantic. 😉

 

Flatfall - Watercolor painting

Create quality content and become an authority.

If your website just contains your business location and phone number along with some promotional text don’t expect to rank high on search engines in your industry. It’s alright to just have a ‘business card'(Fig 1) type site online so your existing customers can find you, but you need quality content that people want to read to have any relevancy or authority on the internet.

Business Card Parody Image

Quality content for quality rankings

Producing unique quality content is the first and most important step to help your site rank high in the search engine space. Your customers are searching for answers to questions every day and your site should be the one to answer them. In fact, your site should also answer search queries in any related topics to pull in even more customers.

One of the top metrics search engines rank your site on is the quality of your content. Spam sites meant to game rankings are often filled with barely readable copies of articles from more popular sites that have been automatically reworded/rephrased to appear to be different unique content. These tactics are well known and a good reason to make sure your content is unique, interesting, and readable.

Unique quality content is also more likely to appeal to your customers and produce sharing among them.

Customer Engagement

The rise of social media sites like Twitter and Facebook has revolutionized customer engagement. Customer complaints and questions are often public and easy to find. Engaging with your customers and potential customers is now easier than ever.

A quick search on twitter for your product or industry will likely reveal hundreds or thousands of tweets. Each tweet is a possible positive interaction for your business.

Let’s say you run a business that sells coffee beans and supplies to consumers. You search twitter for coffee grinder and find a tweet from a user complaining that their coffee grinder broke this morning.

Broken Coffee Grinder

This is an opportunity to help a potential customer. Be careful about sounding spammy, in fact, I would recommend your tweet not promote your business at all, just help out someone in need.

In the above example, you could respond with something along the lines of: “I hate when that happens! I’d recommend a burr grinder, I like the Burr Grinder super ultimate express plus plus.”

Be careful of appearing to be spamming random twitter users. If you manufacture ‘Burr Grinder super ultimate express plus plus’ and it is only available from your company, you may want to disclose this. The key idea is to help people without trying forcefully promote your business–while also promoting your business.

Helping people promotes more social interaction with your brand, resulting in more mentions of your business on social media sites.

Be THE authority

You provide a product or service to your customers. You are the authority on that product. Make sure everyone knows it.

Your customers need to know it. Google needs to know it. Bing needs to know it. DuckDuckGo needs to know it. Everyone.

Make sure everyone knows you are the master at making gourmet chocolate covered pizza bites by becoming the authority and main source of information on the web about gourmet chocolate covered pizza bites (I just made that product up, but if these really exist, well, I don’t know what to think about that).

Drawing of a chocolate pizza

Becoming an authority online can be difficult depending on your product. Being the authoritative source about chocolate pizza bites won’t be as difficult as becoming the authority on-say, insurance.

If your product or service has huge competition you’ll still want to target the general audience, like insurance, but you will want to expand and narrow down what you write about even further for better results. You could focus on the location and then narrow down the topics.

So, don’t just write about general Insurance topics, start to focus on specifics. For example, you could write about standard Insurance topics and then expand and write about Kansas City focused insurance topics, and finally Kansas City Casualty insurance.

If you consistently provide quality information related to your product, service, or industry and make sure people know about it, you will become an authority and naturally start gaining links and mentions from social media and other websites.

Search engines look at your content and who is linking, liking, and talking about you to determine how relevant your site is related to a search query. This is why content is the most important factor web marketing or SEO.

That’s all folks

Create quality content, engage your current and future customers, and become an authority. It’s really that simple, or hard, depending how you look at it. Start today providing content on your site. Start small if you have to–just build a habit of consistently writing on your site–or hire a good writer if you have the budget, but make sure whoever is writing for you is as passionate about your product or service as you are.

Homework: Make a commitment to publish at least one piece of content on your site weekly.

Top tip: Every question a customer asks you is a potential blog post. This is a great source if you’re blocked and having trouble thinking of what to write about. Another customer somewhere is asking that question online but they haven’t heard about you yet. Write about it.