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A Simple Technique for SEO Keyword Research

Strategic organic SEO begins with solid keyword research and website analysis. Keyword research requires an in-depth look into both external and internal factors. Although most insights for SEO derive from external sources, such as keyword search volumes and sources of traffic, some ideas for optimization may spawn from internal intelligence. Have you ever wondered which page of a website is most primed to rank for a select search phrase? For smaller websites, the answer might be obvious.

But for larger websites, particularly those optimizing for new keywords or hefty long-tails, the answer to that question might be harder to find. Here we offer one of the simple keyword research techniques to help you evaluate your site's search prowess from an internal perspective. In other words, this easy research tactic will tell you which pages of a website have the highest potential to rank on a given keyword target.

Enter: Google Search "Site:"

At Google.com, enter in the search field "site:" followed by the domain of the website (no space, including www.). Submitting this search query alone will exclusively display the most powerful webpages of the domain in the organic results. However, if after the domain a keyword phrase is added, the results will then rank the webpages of the site in relation to the latter phrase.

Consider this make-believe scenario: The SEO team behind www.carters.com is optimizing the website for kid's sleepwear, particularly pajamas for boys. As a large ecommerce store for baby and toddler clothing, the webpage on carters.com that is most related to boys pajamas may requires some digging. The SEO team can determine the most relevant page on the site for "boy’s pajamas" with the "site:" technique. They can do a Google search for "site:www.carters.com boys pajamas" - and voila!

 

Now the SEO team of www.carters.com can be certain that the "Boys Pajamas | Kids Sleepwear" page is best primed for the keyword optimization of "boys pajamas."

This information is invaluable, because it does not rely on assumptions or SEO speculation. This internal keyword research technique objectively tells us the page(s) most relevant to the keyword phrase from Google's point-of-view. This little keyword research trick can help you pinpoint both the most powerful overall webpages of a website, as well as the most relevant webpages of a website with respect to a give keyword. For deep websites, this can be an efficient technique, saving time from sifting though sitemaps and website navigation. And if the results of the “site:” research are undesirable, this keyword research technique might even motivate the creation of new, more optimized webpage.

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Tips for Using Google’s Keyword Tool

Whether as the starting point for optimization, or a supplement for keyword information, the process for most SEO’s includes the use of Google’s keyword tool. Putting the Google Keyword Tool to use is a cinch. You simply plug in your desired keyword phrases and start analyzing. However there are a few essential learning curves to get the most from the Google Keyword Tool. The tips below can help you become more efficient, and more aware, during your keyword research endeavor.

Segment Your Queries

When searching for additional keyword ideas, using the keyword tool in chunks, or related segments, is ideal. Submitting a vast list of several unrelated keywords can result in a mediocre return. If you are researching more than just a few keyword phrases, or seeking the perfect keyword variations, chop your research list into categories.

By submitting a few related keywords, rather than a laundry list, the return will yield keywords that are more relevant and focused to the topic. As a result, your keyword list will expand into many insightful variations and awesome long-tails. This approach is definitely more time consuming than the alternative mass submission, but it’s worth it. Not only are the returns greater by segmenting keywords, but the structure of the end result is more organized too.

Especially from an agency perspective, offering a neatly segmented keyword list is clutch. It allows other viewers to analyze keywords in a more logical and cohesive manner. (Tip: using tabs in a spreadsheet to represent each keyword category works great)

Almost Always Be [Exact]

In left hand navigation of Google’s keyword tool is the option to display Broad, [Exact], and/or “Phrase” match results. By default, the tool will only show keyword volumes and data based on Broad phrase matches. That can make the keyword volumes appear extremely inflated than what they actually represent. It is important to note the immense breadth of Google’s Broad phrase match. In Pay Per Click advertising, bidding on Broad keywords establishes tremendous variation, or keyword flexibility.

For example, the keyword phrase “kids shirts” might also trigger Broad-based variations like “boys tops” or “girls T-shirt.” So if Google’s keyword tool claims that “kids shirts” is search approximately 201,000 times a month, think again.

Difference Between Broad and Exact

While conducting keyword research for organic SEO, or virtually any keyword-based Online marketing, almost always check the [Exact] phrase match box. It is the only legitimate representation of true search volume for particular keyword phrase.

Take the Contextual Tool for a Test Drive

Google’s Contextual Targeting tool is a great resource, particular for those in Pay Per Click advertising. Although its not only for PPC advertisers, the Contextual tool hints at how the search engine “decks” or “indices” work. It breaks down keywords into endless possibilities, revealing new long-tail variations behind each door.

If you haven’t dabbled in the Google Contextual Targeting tool, take it for a quick spin. It can expand your horizons on select keywords and offer insights for further optimization down the road. Like mentioned above, Google’s keyword tool is pretty easy and straight-forward (perhaps too much so.) Be mindful of the phrase matching and keep your keywords nice and organized. It will help facilitate your optimization efforts as well as your deliverables.

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New Multi-Channel Funnels of Analytics Offers Valuable Insights

Online marketing is in a constant evolution, particularly with respect to tracking and analyzing data. Before Google launched its Multi-Channel Funnels on August 24, 2011, “sources of conversions” was a metric determined by the last destination from which a user came to a website. Now, with the new features of the Multi-Channel Funnels, Google Analytics offers insights about the various channels that users may have interacted with prior making a conversion.

The features of Google Analytics' Multi-Channel Funnels allow marketers to track the interactions consumers have with various forms of online marketing that lead to conversions. In short, the information provided offers valuable insights as to the impact of organic SEO efforts, banner and display advertising, Pay Per Click, as well as social media, email, video and mobile marketing. With Multi-Channel Funnels, online businesses have the capabilities to analyze how all of these online marketing methods come into play.

Google Analytics offers five new reporting features with Multi-Channel Funnels. This allows online businesses to track and analyze data from a number of perspectives. Learn more about each of these five features below.

The Overview feature of Analytics' Multi-Channel Funnels provides a summary of data on total conversions as well as assisted conversions. In addition, the Overview offers a Venn diagram that gives users a visual representation of which channels (Paid Advertising, Organic Search, and Direct Traffic) contributed to conversions as a whole. This multi-colored diagram is most useful for analyzing assisted conversions where more than one source is responsible for sales.

The Assisted Conversions report outlines the various sources of traffic and each one’s impact on aiding a conversion. In essence, this feature sheds light on which channels are influencing conversions more directly than others. Assisted conversions displays the amount conversions that occurred during a specific period of time. This information also shows the “assisted conversion value” of each channel, as well as “last interaction conversions,” which is the referral or channel that immediately precedes the conversion.

Also of great value to the Multi-Channel Funnels is the Top Conversion Paths report that shows the path consumers take leading to conversions. It can be sorted in several ways and is useful for determining the most effective keywords for organic search and Google AdWords campaigns.

Google Analytics also offers reports on Time Lag. This report displays the time it takes for conversions to occur starting from the time users first make contact with a specific source until the time of a conversion. Also of interests in the new five reporting features is Path Length. This displays the number of channel interacts leading up to conversion.

Currently used by 161 of the Top 500 Internet retailers, Google Analytics offers other useful features that will enable marketers to analyze their website and Internet marketing performance. The importance of the new Google Analytics reports impact the primary factors that affect online businesses. Richard Frankel, president of Rocket Fuel sums up the advantages of these reports, stating that, "Marketers can input all the metrics they gather - about brand impact, intent, sentiment, clicks, shares, conversion, and the like - into the media-buying process to make the most accurate buys possible".

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3 Essential Perspectives for SEO

What makes for good SEO? There are many aspects of search engine optimization that contribute to its effectiveness, many of which depend upon the nature of the website being optimized.

Good SEO begins with awareness. That is, understanding the website, its competition, and the best techniques to achieve desirable keyword rankings.

Here we outline some broad-based perspectives in which every optimizer should master.

Start Thinking Critically

An essential requirement for SEO, as well as in life in general, is critical thinking. In short, critical thinking means using reason and rationality before accepting what others claim as fact. This doesn't mean disregarding what others say just so you can be original and do your own thing.

Critical thinking means weighing the presented evidence against an accepted belief without bias. Hearsay doesn't count as evidence, especially those based on a single occurrence. Search engine optimization can be complex, and many optimizers have their beliefs about what works. This often results in a flood of theories about SEO which are often published as articles and blog posts.

Before you nod your head with agreement, do some additional research and make sure one’s theory is not just a bunch of fluff.

Know the Mark-up

Mark-up language is the heart of the web. Web pages are “marked up” with HTML and XML, which governs most data interchange on the Internet. Search engines recognize most content through mark-up language, which is why it is essential for a SEO to understand the basics of HTML. This enables optimizers to accurately audit and review a website as well as execute mark-up enhancements properly.

Absorb the Information

Search engines are specifically designed to retrieve information. Regardless of search engine’s information retrieval capabilities, its basic function is governed by precision and recall. That is, search engines are highly precise in the way in which they can retrieve information based on the user’s needs.

In addition, search engines are able to recall information that is most relevant to the search query. These two principles form the basis from which strategies for SEO can be developed. With a good idea of the concepts of information retrieval, optimizers can better organize their strategies.

Critical thinking is also improved as SEO’s discover a wider source of relevant information from which conclusions can be drawn upon. Formal SEO education does not focus on these three foundational skills.

In many contexts, SEO education is targeted towards the immediate symptom of the problem rather than the cause. Symptomatic treatment never lasts, which is why addressing SEO from a broader perspective can often shed light on big picture issues (and opportunities.)

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Avoid The Google Search Penalty

For many companies who hinge their advertising and marketing efforts on organic search engine traffic, a penalty from Google can result in life-threatening situation for the business.

Most websites are rightfully deserving of Google penalization by way of sketchy SEO practices and unethical motives. However some recipients of a Google penalty are simply unaware of the errors and risks that exists.

Below we outline the basics of the Google Search Penalty and how to go about avoiding it.

How the Google Penalty is Issued

The Google Penalty Box, also known as the “Sandbox Effect," is the practice of filtering websites by Google's web ranking algorithms. The penalty is generally issued under two circumstances:

  • If a website does not conform to Google's standards for quality and content.
  • If Google finds out that the website is using subversive optimization techniques.

Results of the Google Penalty

Google penalizes websites that fail to use proper and ethical SEO techniques. The search engine will manually demote a website, or if the issue is prominent, Google may alter the search algorithms to cause the site, as well as many others like it, to move down in the rankings. Here are the specifics.

  • Manual demotion eventually expires after 30 days if it involves hidden text. Penalties last longer for cloaking and malicious activities.
  • Changes in algorithm can be managed if you improve your site, after which the penalty is lifted upon re-crawling and re-indexing of the page.

There are also varying severities of Google Search penalization. A “-30 day" penalty causes website rankings to slip 30 places from its original position. A “-60 penalty" lowers rankings by 60 places. A “-950 penalty" places your website on the 95th page, which is virtually non-existent to search engine users.

How to Avoid the Google Penalty

Given the reasons for the Google Penalty, it often general logic to avoid such devastations. Take in consideration these points to avoid the Google Penalty.

  • Website owners should conform to Google's standards for quality content.
  • Refrain from subversive optimization, such as unethical link building practices. Google has already filed patents to reduce or qualify the impact of these manipulations.
  • Google recommends checking on their Help Center articles to identify and fix what may be causing the problem.

What Makes Websites More Optimized?

Google also recommends solutions for making websites more "optimized" or searchable. This includes:

  • Using a text browser like Lynx because other search engine spiders interpret websites like Lynx does. You should also allow your search bots to crawl your website without session IDs.
  • Ensuring that your web server informs Google about content changes since the last time Google crawled it.
  • Writing pages that provide a clear and accurate description of content. Try to use keywords users type to find your pages and ensure that your site includes these words. 
  • Using text rather than images to display relevant names, links, and content. Texts contained in images are not recognized by Google Crawler.
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Optimized Anchor Text Links for SEO

For all the newbie’s in the SEO game looking to increase your rank, the term anchor text is used to define the visible words that are displayed on a link. Anchor text substitutes the need to link using the URL and enables search engine spiders to crawl the site being linked to with better sense of direction. The spider can gauge the relevancy of the anchor text to that of the webpage’s content, making it more popular to certain keywords.

For example, a link with the anchor text free rank checker that directs users to http://tools.seobook.com/firefox/rank-checker/ tells search engine that this webpage is about a “free rank checker" and will better rank the site in the organic search results for users searching for similar keywords.

Optimized Anchor Text for Partial Linking

The practice of applying anchor text may seem simple; however there is one strategy to better your organic listings in the search engines. Using anchor text for partial linking a powerful tactic is often overlooked by many in the SEO business. Partial linking is just like it sounds – using only part of the keyword phrase for SEO in the links anchor text.

A few examples of solid partial linking in anchor text (when targeting the keyword phrase “Felt triathlon bikes") would be “top triathlon bikes", “Felt brand bikes" or “learn more about Felt."

As link building continues to be dominant in SEO, using the best practices of anchor text is critical. Start using creative SEO anchor text links to better your organic search performance.

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The Benefits of Guest Blogging

Are you interested in the benefits of guest blogging? Did you know that you can reap more website traffic all the while promoting your product or services with guest blogging?

Well this is your opportunity to expand your mind, and see what you have been missing.

What is guest blogging?

Being a guest blogger simply means that you are included as a writer on another blog. There are different arrangements, but it in essence, guest blogging is when you write content for other blogs.

How to become a guest blogger?

Some popular blogs have a link like 'become a guest blogger,' if they offer this possibility. But even if you can't find such a link on the blog, you simply write to the blog owner and ask how they feel about guest bloggers.

As a guest blogger, you often need to present on-topic content that relates to the blog, or follow the blog owners instructions. If you find blogs that are relevant to your interests, then you can gain even more value.

Benefits of being a guest blogger

Once you jump on the guest blogging bandwagon, you can realize a number of benefits:

  • Guest blogging can allow you add links to you blog posts that direct back to certain websites for SEO purposes
  • When you write blog posts on other domains, you are using an additional channel to you or your business's name out there
  • The link building advantages of guest blogging will help you to rank better in search engines
  • Guest blogging is great networking tool that can result in many valuable relationships

Guest blogging for SEO

When you write for other blogs, they often allow you to link back to your domain through the content you provide. These backlinks give your website more credit and can contribute to a greater PageRank.

This is a very easy and simply way to build links to your domain, which is now known as the most influential factor in SEO. Just imagine if you could write a few posts per week for a few high authority blogs. In time, you website's search engine performance could skyrocket.

Guest blogging can be a very powerful marketing and advertisement tool. It can help brand your online business as well as increase your rank.

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Content Will Win The Organic SEO Game in 2012

Quality, highly relevant content is an essential aspect of the SEO game. Gone are the days when keyword stuffing could produce higher organic search rankings.

After Google released its Panda update in 2011, many websites were penalized due to overly keyword-stuffed content. Now websites are focusing on link building, which is considered the greatest factor to better search engine placement.

+1's Will Slowly Replace Backlinks 

Just like copy was abused with mind boggling word repetition, now link building is becoming an automated and unnatural sub-service to organic SEO. In short, the web will soon be scummed up by way of "gray hat" link building.

So what does this mean for the organic SEO game of 2011?

Backlinks will soon loose their credibility to Google "+1's," and relevant, compelling copy will be MVP. 

Think about it. What better way for Google to overcome poor quality websites holding top rankings on competitive SERPs?

The answer is by hinging a ranking system based on its own in-house mechanism: The Google+ social network.

In addition, what better way for Google to take over Facebook?

SEO and Internet marketing are two very influential practices, especially upon the masses. Once one hundred Google +1's replace the the PR4 backlink, the professionals of the media world will be swaying society that if your not on Google+, your not in "the game."

Moving Forward

So how does a website prepare for this momentous shift in 2012?

It all comes back to content and how well it is marketed.

The strongest of the organic SEO strategies will include masterful content marketing combined with a spread of social media.

In essence, for businesses to catch the big fish, they must lure in the +1's by compelling users with their awesome content.

Rank on.

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Why SEO Copywriting is Still Significant

The craft of SEO copywriting is, and always will be, the king of Search Engine Optimization.

Although it is true that high quality backlinks have the biggest influence on search engine rankings, getting backlinks is not always permanent, nor is it tangible.

The content of a website speaks to both search engine spiders and users. Well optimized copy facilitates the spider's indexing process, contributing to greater keyword relevancy. And well-written copy delivers value to users, which aids in conversions.

In a nutshell, SEO copywriting is a vital ingredient to the organic SEO game.

Controlled Site Indexing

The main purpose for having optimized content on a webpage is to make that page more relevant to specific keywords.

That purpose entails much more than simply including those keywords in the copy. One might say that the process of SEO copywriting is similar to writing a book.

Websites are composed of many book-like components, such as page titles, summary (meta) descriptions, headers, paragraphs, (web) pages, and indexes (sitemaps).

By carefully and considerably writing for each of these elements, a website can be indexed to precise keyword relevancy. The result makes other SEO strategies like link building and content marketing even more effective.

Conversion-Oriented SEO Copywriting

Many website owners who choose to outsource their SEO copywriting services from abroad are delivered the "fluff" content.

Fluff content can be defined as "copy" that rambles on without any unique reference to brand. This type of content has little direction and offers little value to users.

What separates strong copywriting from the fluff are words that speak to a targeted audience through the voice of a specific brand.

Good SEO copywriters highlight the unique features and benefits of a business, and portray those points flawlessly with stealth keyword inclusion.

SEO copywriting is often the missing ingredient to highly successful optimization efforts. Simply increasing a wepage's word count with keyword rich (and respected) content can do wonders for a website.

Start strategizing a SEO copywriting plan, a begin realizing better organic results in the search engines.

Take matters into your own hands learn the importance of SEO copywriting. Check out this brilliant SEO copywriting piece from Copyblogger Media.

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The Basics of On-Site vs. Off-Site SEO

There are two different forms of SEO, and each are carry a great deal of importance in their own way. These two types of SEO are known as on-site SEO and off-site SEO.

In a nutshell, on-site SEO includes all executions and optimization that occurs on website itself, whereas off-site SEO focuses mainly on link building and content marketing, which contribute to greater website popularity through external means.

Below we define both in more detail, and provide some best-practices tips in strategizing for each.

On-Site SEO

There are many techniques that go into the on-site optimization of a website. The element that carries the greatest importance to on-site SEO is the content of a website.

The content includes both on and off-page content. On-page content is the copy visible by users. This includes headers, links, body copy, and anything else that visitors can see on the page. Off-page copy includes the page title, meta description and keywords, and alt tags for images.

These elements all flow together as one. By this we mean that each page of the website must be optimized in similar manner with respect to the keyword target(s).

One of the simplest on-site SEO tips is to optimize each page for only one or two primary keywords, with perhaps a couple close variations. In doing so, include the exact phrase match of the primary keyword targets in all of the on and off-page elements.

Specifically, it is recommended to include the primary keyword target early in the page title and meta description, and at a few times on the page, with particular use of headers and strong tags (bold.)

Although there are many mixed theories regarding the optimal keyword density of a page, many high ranking websites are cohesively organized around proper keyword inclusion.

Off-Site SEO

The optimization the occurs off from the website has become increasingly influential in SEO game. In essence, the more links pointing to a website deem it more credible and popular to the search engines, and thus promotes higher rankings.

As a result of the increased importance of link building, many SEO's focus exclusively on providing only link building services. However many services have become automated and unnatural, which can risk the search engine performance of a website.

It is advised to either build links naturally on your own, or to work with only trusted link building experts who advocate only "white hat" practices. It is often apparent the type of links being build to your site simply by observing shifts in your site's ranking. Inconsistent rankings, or evidence of the "Google dance" is sign that links are weak and plentiful.

The best links come from high authority websites that typically have a high Google PageRank (PR). Even one or two links coming from a couple high PR domains can override a thousand blog comments. For this reason, it is suggested that a blend of both, high authority and low authority links, are built to ensure the most natural indexing.

We hope this betters your understanding on the different approaches to SEO. Thanks for visiting the Increase Your Rank blog!

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