Posts by AndrewF

Local SEO Mistakes and How To Fix Them #SEMrushchat Recap

82% of smartphone users are turning to search engines to identify local businesses, and this is just one reason why it is essential for businesses to nail their local SEO strategy to improve foot traffic that will eventually lead to sales. This post by Paul Paquin offers quick hacks to win at local SEO, but if your site still doesn’t rank, then you may be making mistakes that need to be corrected.

To get expert insights on this topic we invited a special guest, Greg Gifford, to join us in our latest #SEMrushchat. Greg is a pro at local SEO and has assisted more than 2,000 businesses across the US and Canada to improve their sales. Greg, along with our chat participants, shared some great insights with our community on the usual mistakes with local SEO and how to rectify them. Here is what they had to say:

Q1. What is the biggest mistake you see all the time with local SEO?

With local SEO, it is not just enough to do it – it is important that you do it right! For instance, having reviews about your company on Google gives you a huge local SEO boost, but, if your reviews are fake, this mistake can cost you when you get caught.

SEMrush

@semrush

Q1. What is the biggest mistake that you see all the time in Local SEO?

View image on Twitter

Kim Doughturkey 🦃@Howdy_Doughty

A1. Clients who make fake reviews for their own business. 😐

See Kim Doughturkey 🦃‘s other Tweets

Our chat participants also discussed certain mistakes that, according to them, are absolutely unacceptable. Check to see if your business is guilty of any of them:

Content Related Issues

The content you put on your website for local SEO can sabotage your rankings or reduce your store visits if it has these three major flaws:

1. Content that isn’t geo-specific – Nearly 2/3 of smartphone users are more likely to buy from stores that customize information to their location. So, ensuring that your content is geo-specific is extremely important.

2. Location keyword stuffing – Inserting a city or pin code in the header or footer is easily picked up by Google’s algorithm. It is now more likely to get you a penalty than a boost in ranking. It is also important to remember that the location-specific keywords you target should not include areas you don’t serve.

Tim Capper@GuideTwit

A1. Targeting cities that you literally dont and cant serve.

See Tim Capper’s other Tweets

3. Poor quality or unhelpful content – 7 out of 10 customers visit a business or make a purchase based on the information that they find online. If they do not find your content helpful, they probably won’t buy from you either.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

Q1. For me, it’s seeing location-keyword stuffed content. And crap content. Never REALLY good useful/relevant localized content

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Inconsistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)

Having your contact details searchable in the SERPs is essential, as most of us know. For local businesses, however, it is even more important to have the same contact information across all directories and platforms. Citations are considered to be one of the most important signals to Google; it shows that your business is authentic and that you are providing accurate information to your users. Inconsistent listings confuse users and search engines, and therefore, trust is lost.

Simon Cox@simoncox

A1 Inconsistent NAP – Name Address Phone number across all media.

See Simon Cox’s other Tweets

Heather Harvey@Fizzle_Up

A1: I think a lot of people will agree on inconsistent information (including NAP etc.) across different platforms/ listings. And does anyone ever have the logins to be able to access & update the stuff – NO!!

See Heather Harvey’s other Tweets

Not Using Your Location in Keywords at All

As stated earlier, you shouldn’t be keyword stuffing with cities all around you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your location in your keywords. Customers are more likely to visit stores near them than those that are farther off. So, just including your location on your website may not be enough. Instead, optimize for keywords like ‘Florists in Trevose’ rather than just ‘Florists.’

David Gossage@dgossage1983

A1. Having a generic 500 word block of text about the location with the odd smattering of the word “plumber” https://twitter.com/semrush/status/996768734843953152 

SEMrush

@semrush

Q1. What is the biggest mistake that you see all the time in Local SEO? #semrushchat

View image on Twitter
See David Gossage’s other Tweets

Not Claiming Google My Business (GMB)

“While most local SEO pros think claiming a GMB listing is an important step in their SEO strategy, a surprising 56% of local retailers have yet to claim their Google my business listing, according to Brandmuscle’s State of Local Marketing report. This is a serious oversight in the local SEO efforts.

Not Using Structured Data Effectively

Using schema markup communicates to the search engines where your office is located, which then allows the SERPs to serve the most relevant content to your users. This is especially important for multi-location businesses with a single website, since results will be based on structured data, as opposed to websites.

Bill Slawski ⚓@bill_slawski

A1 Biggest Mistake seen in is not using Structured Data effectively or correctly

See Bill Slawski ⚓‘s other Tweets

Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

A1: The biggest mistake is not using schema markup for location citations and entities

See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets

Not Tracking Attribution and Not Optimizing

Taking advantage of ways to track attribution to find out where your customers come from, and why, will help you to optimize your site’s content. This will also give you great insights on your customer’s search behavior, thus helping you to identify top performing channels.

CallRail@CallRail

A1: Not taking advantage of ways to track attribution–it’s just as important for local businesses and the agencies who serve them as it is for the big guys. Figure out where your leads are coming from + optimize those channels.

See CallRail’s other Tweets

@greggifford said that DealerOn has started using Google Posts for car dealers and has gotten a ton of visibility and click-throughs to their sites, but only if they are done right, like this example that he shared:

Bill Slawski ⚓@bill_slawski

A2 Specials or Events seem like ways to capture people’s attention with Google Posts

See Bill Slawski ⚓‘s other Tweets

Kim Doughturkey 🦃@Howdy_Doughty

A2. We aren’t using Google Posts currently, but in my previous job I dabbled with it. Specials and events were the most successful use cases, like others have mentioned.

See Kim Doughturkey 🦃‘s other Tweets

Similarly, in the hospitality industry and co-working spaces, Google Posts can be used to promote different offices, tours, and events for greater visibility.

Marccx Media@marccxmedia

A2: We’ve helped a hospitality/co-working client use Google Posts to promote their offices, tours, and events. Another hospitality client uses them for their restaurants (food, events, etc.). Great visibility, but middling interaction.

See Marccx Media’s other Tweets

@Ashok83 stated, remember to keep your posts short and to the point.

Q3. Q&A is a minefield that most businesses don’t even know about – what should business owners and marketers know about Q&A and how to use it?

The minute you have a GMB listing, your business automatically has a Q&A section that displays on Google Maps. This feature allows anyone to ask and respond to questions in regards to your business. Unfortunately, not many businesses are aware of this feature and even fewer bother to check it regularly.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A3 – OMG, Y’ALL – it’s SO BAD out there… business owners should be checking Q&A daily (but really, shouldn’t they be checking their listing daily anyway?)

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Simon Cox@simoncox

A3 Own Q and A – make checking it someones responsibility and don’t skimp – it is a front line interaction with customers. Can damage brand if you are not careful. Anyone remember Exxon – I’m sure it was Q and A that did for them. Probably

See Simon Cox’s other Tweets

Here are few reasons why you shouldn’t ignore Q&A and how it can be used to help your business:

It Can Help to Build Your Brand Reputation Online

Q&A is a great opportunity to build and maintain your business’s brand reputation. Make sure you check your listings every day and respond to questions quickly and politely.

Express Writers | Your Content Writing Team@ExpWriters

A3: It’s worth checking regularly. You don’t want questions from people going unanswered.

Respond swiftly and politely!

See Express Writers | Your Content Writing Team’s other Tweets

How you respond to these questions can help many future customers make their buying decision. Since the questions are ranked from most recent to older, time is of the essence when you respond.

Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

A3: Businesses need to treat Q&As like reviews, these can play a major influence in a perspective client’s decision process. Since Questions are ranked from most to least recent, always try to answer the most recent questions in a timely manner.

See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets

Heather Harvey@Fizzle_Up

A3: Remember to read & respond accordingly! Put some thought into it as potential clients read this stuff. It’s more valuable than a lot of people realise.

See Heather Harvey’s other Tweets

It Can Help You Control the Conversation

Remember, anyone can post questions on the Q&A section, including you as a business owner. So, if you understand your target audience well, you can control the conversation by posting questions that you think are relevant.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A3 – also, business owners need to know that they can ask their own questions, then answer them – people are reading this BEFORE they get to the site… control the conversation!

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

It Can Help You Discover New Content Opportunities

The kind of questions asked can highlight new opportunities for you to write specific content based on the answers to these specific queries. Jim Fuhs – @FuhsionMktg also mentioned that businesses using chatbots can also incorporate these questions for FAQs.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A3 we’ve also had a lot of success using the questions asked in Q&A to figure out what sort of content needs to be added to the website (HUGE opportunity here)

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

 You Can Use It As An Engagement Channel

By simply making your customers aware of the Q&A section and encouraging them to post questions there, you have a new place to interact and engage with your customers. If you have a set strategy in place for certain questions, you can easily improve the quality of questions and the engagement.

Joshua Delbert Hermreck@thisisdelbert

A3: Make your clients aware of the Q&A section. Discuss strategy for certain question types (silos) and respond as the owner when relevant! If you know a Local Guide those answers might be useful too 😉

See Joshua Delbert Hermreck’s other Tweets

SEMrush

@semrush

Q3. Q&A is a minefield that most businesses don’t even know about – what should business owners and marketers know about Q&A and how to use it?

View image on Twitter

Carolyn Lyden@CarolynLyden

A3: Make sure to check it regularly. Answer all questions POSITIVELY and honestly and transparently (don’t go in and pretend to be someone you’re not). And just accept that ppl will probably use it to leave reviews bc ppl are … human.

Embedded video

See Carolyn Lyden’s other Tweets

They Can Help You Identify Misplaced User-Reviews

If you don’t make checking your Q&A section regularly a thing, you can run the risk of missing out on reviews that a less-than-savvy user has posted.

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A3. The worst part is when less-than-savvy users leave reviews in the Q&A section and dealers have no idea they’re there…

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Simon Cox@simoncox

A4 Setting expectations to clients, especially if they have tried to some of this themselves, is possibly the hardest part of Local SEO. Diplomacy is the key word. But give them other solutions they can work with.

See Simon Cox’s other Tweets

Heather Harvey@Fizzle_Up

A4: I had to do this in a meeting earlier today. It’s not easy but you have to break it down into a context the client will understand e.g. they wouldn’t be put in the phone book for the metro area so why would they show up in that area listing online?

See Heather Harvey’s other Tweets

And, they have had to explain that, due to Google updates, many hacks that have worked in the past simply will not anymore:

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A4 – this is a really tough one. You have to really be good at explaining that Google has made updates, and what you could do 3 years ago won’t work anymore.

Embedded video

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

A4: This is tough, but I always felt the need to educate clients on new updates. You can tackle this issue in a few ways; blog posts, client newsletter, or a simple Local SEO packet your agency develops to give out to new and prospective clients.

See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets

However, the popular consensus was that it was easier to explain using an example, similar to this one from James Scroggie – @seoscroggie:

James Scroggie@seoscroggie

A4/1: I would try and make it simple for them. If you were ordering lunch, and the sandwich shop would only deliver within a 2 mile radius, why would you want to see sandwich shops over 5 miles away?

See James Scroggie’s other Tweets

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A4 – we use the “pizza delivery” example to help here – have people Google those 2 words at work, and then explain that the EXACT same search at home brings up 100% different results. Easy way to demonstrate proximity factor

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

Geeky Fox@TechKitsune

A4: Yeesh, well, I liked @GregGifford answer about pizza. I think that is a great example of a way to let a client know about mapping in Google as simplistically as possible.

See Geeky Fox’s other Tweets

Another tip was to have your clients try out the service results for GMB in a particular area. This can help them to understand that distance is an important factor when it comes to purchase decisions or store visits. Therefore, targeting people who are more likely to buy from them (or use their services), due to proximity, will eventually work better for the business.

Bill Slawski ⚓@bill_slawski

A4 Explain how distance is an important aspect of ranking in Local Results, and that the most success will come from targeting people who might visit them in person (those suburbs are filled with people!)

See Bill Slawski ⚓‘s other Tweets

Netvantage Marketing@netvantage

A4: That’s tough! We always recommend using service areas for GMB if they are in the suburbs. Doing that sometimes helps them understand.

See Netvantage Marketing’s other Tweets

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

A4 – we also point out that it’s important to “own your own back yard” first – many times, the businesses asking for this don’t even show up well in their own town. They have to get the foundation right first.

See Greg Gifford’s other Tweets

SEMrush

@semrush

Q4. Clients in the suburbs think they should show up in the map pack for the metro, but marketers know it’s not possible – how do you educate your clients so they don’t have misaligned expectations?

View image on Twitter

Carolyn Lyden@CarolynLyden

A4: Try to explain service areas and zip codes. If you wanna show up for the city, move to the city. People (aka leads) live in suburbs too. So don’t forget those potential leads and customers just bc it looks like there’s more grass on the other side of the fence.

Embedded video

See Carolyn Lyden’s other Tweets

Marccx Media@marccxmedia

A4: “You’re outside of the search radius in question. We can get you to rank in the map pack locally in the suburbs, though, and increase awareness of your suburban location within the metro area.”

See Marccx Media’s other Tweets

important to highlight in monthly reports, others argued that more important metrics should be reported. Others stated that their report will completely depend upon their client’s requirements and/or their business objectives.

Here are some examples of what you could include in your monthly reports:

Netvantage Marketing@netvantage

A5: Absolutely! We use the tool @UnamoHQ to track keywords rankings and GMB listings. We show how the keyword changed in ranking from month-to-month in a report.

See Netvantage Marketing’s other Tweets

SEMrush

@semrush

Q5. in Local SEO, keyword rankings are drastically impacted by location and proximity – do you include ranking data in your monthly reports, and if so, how do you do it?

View image on Twitter

Sam Charles 🌱🔎@SamCharlesUK

A5 My *lovely* ranking software exports the list of terms we’re targeting, where they appear in search and where they rank locally in brackets i.e. 5 (3). I provide a mini local report too with more details, if it’s a high priority for them

See Sam Charles 🌱🔎‘s other Tweets

Danny Ray Lima@dannyraylima

A5: No, you shouldn’t make keyword ranking a priority in Local SEO, focus on top traffic sources, top landing pages and entry pages. You can use a search term report to build out a content bucket list, but keyword ranking should not be a priority IMO

See Danny Ray Lima’s other Tweets

Keep in mind, despite what your reports show, when it comes to local businesses, foot traffic and final sales are ultimately what matters the most.

Simon Cox@simoncox

A5 Yes but footfall in the shops and till takings is ultimately what counts and I have received great feedback about both when we have optimised for local.

See Simon Cox’s other Tweets

Greg Gifford

@GregGifford

a5 – plus, think about why clients pay us…

They don’t pay us to get them to rank better.

They pay us to get them more traffic and more leads.

Ranking reports don’t show anything about that objective…

16 people are talking about this

This is why many of our chat participants prefer to leave local SEO keywords out of their reports. However, here are some pointers to keep in mind for keyword ranking, if you do choose to report on it:

So, if your client wants you to show keyword rankings in your reports, go ahead and include it in your report. But, you can explain to them that, in the long run, building more local authority and optimizing your business listings are a better use of your time.

SEMrush

@semrush

Q5. in Local SEO, keyword rankings are drastically impacted by location and proximity – do you include ranking data in your monthly reports, and if so, how do you do it?

View image on Twitter

Sean Bucher@spbucher

A5: It depends on the client and their objectives. I think showing results of opitmzing a listing and building authority over time warrant more attention. GMB’s API allows for 16 month lookback on location data, so you can show growth YoY in calls, clicks, etc.

See Sean Bucher’s other Tweets

https://www.semrush.com/blog/local-seo-mistakes-and-how-to-fix-them-semrushchat-recap/

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Getting listed: how to generate more traffic and mentions

Directory submission is a tactic that has evolved dramatically since it first became known. Firstly, it is no longer referred to as a directory submission, simply because the term has received some negativity over the years.

Secondly, the goals have changed: we no longer focus on link acquisition. When you come to think of it, the whole link-building strategy has undergone the same evolution: it has become more integrated, meaning that we now pursue non-link-building tactics while still hoping to get some links anyway.

Some of the non-link-building benefits of getting listed that may still result in links include:

Getting listed: the opportunities

If you think directories are dead, think again: there are plenty of new and old directories out there that can send you traffic and leads. Here are just a few categories to look into.

SaaS and B2B directories

Business directories

These come in several types and forms. Some are more traditional (free but with the option of charging you once for premium review):

While others charge you a monthly/yearly fee:

Local directories

These deserve a separate article (which you can find here). Apart from the ability to send local traffic (from people trying to discover a local service), they are also quite useful for so-called local citation building – in other words, they help search engines associate you with important locations.

Getting listed: the smart way

There are many more useful directories out there that can still drive sales, but choose wisely; in many cases, it’s an investment of some sort. In addition, it’s paramount to stay away from penalized directories. Here are a few tools I use to evaluate whether any directory or platform is worth the investment:

Find whether the platform ranks in Google

Does Google think a directory is good enough to rank it high in search results? Search positions are the most reliable sign of a site’s health.

There are not many sites that will let you see the stats for free, and Serpstat is one of the most affordable.

Simply run the domain in Serpstat to quickly see where it ranks and how its rankings are distributed among different search engines. There are also tools to analyze whether the domain is ever featured in Google, which is an important signal of health too. Here is the list of tools you can use.

Find whether the platform has any traffic

Since creating an alternative traffic source is one of the main goals here, this is vital. There aren’t many reliable ways to evaluate a website’s traffic unless you own it, but these are decent:

Check whether your subcategory is linked to from elsewhere

I wouldn’t be an SEO if I paid no attention to backlinks, but in my defense, links are not just a sign of SEO ‘authority’ – they signal quality too; if someone links to it, it must be a good page.

I use Ahrefs bulk backlink analysis feature to quickly run a lot of pages and section to choose the best ones.

[NB: I only mention directories that have proven worth the investment based on their rankings and traffic.]

Have you listed your website in some directories and seen some solid traffic and leads? Share your tips and resources in the comments.

 

 

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Top time-saving tools for SEOs

I recently moved to a new position at a new company, with a new computer and a new, clean install of Google Chrome. It wasn’t clean for very long, though, as I logged into my Chrome account and watched my address bar shrink as all of my extension icons flooded the right-hand side of the window. I was determined to use this as an opportunity to pare down the extensions that I had accumulated over the years.

I didn’t do a great job cutting back. As an SEO, I lean heavily on these time-saving tools. So in the spirit of new beginnings and sharing knowledge, here’s a selection of my favorite Chrome SEO extensions (with a few apps sprinkled in).

The basics

These are the simple extensions I can’t live without, and often use outside of SEO work.

Word count tool

SEO is content (well, in part), and an important piece of content is length. One of those extensions that I didn’t know I needed until I had it, this basic word count tool makes roughly assessing a page’s content length a cinch. I generally use this in discussion about competitor pages or to quickly assert whether my client’s copywriters are hitting the length benchmarks they need.

Site lookup

If I can avoid opening a new tab to search, I will. That’s why so many of these extensions allow me to do things in-page. The ‘Search the current site’ plugin is a tiny tool that essentially auto-completes the ‘site:’ operator in a Google search for you.

Hunter

I’ve been using Hunter (formerly Email Hunter) for years now and not just for link building (though it’s been essential for that). It’s also great for following up with potential clients or employers when you haven’t been given an email address.

MailTester

Hunter gets it right a lot of the time, but MailTester can help you ensure the address is correct before you hit send. It’s got its limitations – many servers will block the request – but on the whole it’s a good insurance policy.

Link Klipper

There are a number of ways to pull the links from a page, whether it’s a SERP, a directory, or a partner page. Link Klipper’s handy click-and-drag function can help fill in the gaps by selecting a subset of links, or pulling them from tricky-to-isolate groups like dropdown menus.

Redirect path

How did I get here? Ayima’s simple Redirect Path tool lets you see how your browser arrived at a given page. This tool is particularly useful for isolating complicated or broken redirect paths and ensuring link equity is passing properly.

Advanced

Depending on the type of SEO you are, you may use one or all of these extensions, or have 15 others that offer similar functionality. Here’s what’s in my rotation right now.

MozBar

Every proprietary metric should be taken with a grain of salt, but Moz’s MozBar is still great for quickly assessing a site’s relative quality through its ‘Domain Authority (DA) mode that displays DA in the tool icon without crowding the page with other details (though you can still display those metrics by clicking on the icon).

Tip: As a bonus, MozBar allows you to quickly extract results when you’re on a SERP. It’ll only pull the displayed results so change your settings if you need more than 10 sites.

NoFollow

NoFollow is a simple plugin that highlights nofollow links on the page you’re viewing. You can also set it to check the robots.txt file against the links to indicate any disallowed pathways.

Web Developer

A powerful plugin with a robust suite of tools, Web Developer allows you to quickly disable JavaScript, cookies, CSS, as well as displaying web page info, styling tools, and more. Chances are if you want to modify, block, or load it, Web Developer can help.

BuiltWith Technology Profiler

See at a glance what’s going on in the background with this plugin from BuiltWith. With just a click, you’ll be able to identify tracking, frameworks, content delivery, and a lot more. Used in conjunction with Web Developer, you’ll be able to troubleshoot issues across myriad systems, all in-browser.

Ayima Page Insights

On-page issues plaguing you? Not sure why a particular page is underperforming? Ayima’s Page Insights extension can help you quickly identify issues like multiple H1 tags, alt attributes, and header problems. It can also display HTML elements like title and meta description without having to hunt through the source code.

Bonus: Chrome DevTools

One reason that Chrome is the first thing I install on a new computer is its powerful developer tools that let me dig into the guts of a web page. DevTools may not be easy to learn or master, but learning the ins and outs like how to view a page as various mobile devices, or manipulate HTML to mock up recommendations can make life a lot easier for an SEO.

Non-specific to SEO (but still helpful)

LastPass

As someone who is simultaneously forgetful and terrified of identity theft, I’ve become a LastPass evangelist over the past few years. Store all your passwords in one place, share them temporarily, and generate complex passwords that you don’t have to write down anywhere else. I’m slowly working my way towards only having to remember one password ever.

Google Dictionary

Double-click on a word to bring up its definition in pop-up bubble with a link to read more. Google Dictionary is very helpful when reading technical SEO documents (or Heidegger).

Super Simple Highlighter

I’ve recently been searching for better ways of keeping track of interesting points within articles. Super Simple Highlighter lets you highlight passages on page and store the URL for later perusing.

Nimbus Capture

Windows’ built-in snipping tool is extremely handy, but for more complex capture, you’ll have to use something more robust. Nimbus lets you capture all or part of your screen, a whole web page, select and scroll, and plenty more. You can also record a video – super helpful for demonstrating all of your other thousands of extensions.

For the writing of this article, I solicited recommendations from the SEO team at Croud, and as such am currently experimenting with even more extensions like Keywords Everywhere. Watch this space!

Adam Clemence is Senior SEO Manager at Croud

 

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Beyond keywords: What really matters in SEO content

— so important that a new sub-industry has squeezed its way into the search engine world: SEO content writing.

Otherwise referred to as “SEO copywriting,” SEO content writing has a bad reputation for being chock-full of keywords and little else. Though this may be more of a stereotype than reality, there is something to be said for going beyond keywords to write high-quality content that attracts new customers AND is SEO-friendly.

What’s the deal with ‘high-quality’ content?

The focus is typically on “high-quality” content — a term that becomes more subjective by the minute. It leads to questions like

The standard formula of:

keyword research + good writing + on-page SEO = high-quality content

may not be the move anymore. It’s simply not enough. In fact, keywords may be even less important than we all think.

Uh-oh.

Beyond keyword research

Being consistent with great SEO content writing doesn’t mean it should be formulaic.

Depending too much on robust keyword research and on-page SEO will result in dry content that appeals more to search engines than it does your target audience. Mastering the art of SEO content writing can be the difference between attracting a few website visitors and creating dedicated customers

That all being said, there is a sweet spot between creative content and “content” as we know it. The key lies in going far beyond keyword research and really understanding how words can be used to both attract traffic and drive conversions.

1. Keyword research, the right way

Though this post is all about going beyond keywords, it’s worth addressing what level of keyword research should be done before hopping into content writing. Keywords are still a component of SEO content — but perhaps shouldn’t be as important a component as traditionally thought.

First, your approach to writing new content should fit in with your existing SEO strategy. This should be a no-brainer, but it is a frequent issue I see in SEO content.

For instance, many business owners and SEOs outsource copywriting with little collaboration with the writer on what keywords are to be used. And, even if keywords are provided, it is unlikely that the writer really understands the fundamentals of using keywords in their writing beyond “keyword density.” This results in content that is incohesive and not SEO-friendly.

Second, when it comes to performing keyword research for your new content, look beyond the data. Sure, SEO tools can tell us a lot in terms of search volume and competition level, but can they tell us what content is really engaging to users? Doing a Google search on your target terms and seeing what post titles come up and how many comments and even social shares they get will give you some ideas as to what content is drawing people in and enticing them to engage.

Finally, SEOs and copywriters alike can spend far too much time focusing on terms they think are relevant without stepping back to see the full picture.

Sure, your rankings may increase due to great SEO, but there are many other factors to consider. Is your audience reading through the entire post? Are they sharing it? Are they opting into your calls to action? These elements of your writing should be your main focus. Be sure to have an outline in place, along with your keyword research, to ensure that you aren’t skimming over what matters most: what is going to help you drive conversions.

2. Get organized

How often have you had a new content idea pop into your head and instantly put fingers on the keyboard?

As much as I am a fan of writing when you feel inspired, there needs to be a structure for your content from the very beginning. Content that is too “stream-of-consciousness” or unorganized simply doesn’t convert well. There is a difference between having a conversational tone and writing whatever comes into your brain. I’m here to say that there is a way to capture that creative flow, all while putting out content that works.

Create an outline of the potential post or page, including the title and headings. Organize your content into sections that are cohesive and keep the reader interested. Figure out if and where the content fits into your website overall and what purpose it serves. You can even go as far as to decide what internal links will be used. Having a plan will both help in overall organization and ensure that it fits into the framework of your existing site.

3. On-brand is your best friend

One component of SEO content writing that is rarely, if ever, talked about is branding. As more SEO experts become aware of the intersection between SEO and a larger marketing strategy, it becomes apparent how big a role branding plays in a business’s success.

Your website content is no exception. This is why hiring out for copywriting outside of the brand, or even the industry, can be a risky move. For one, you risk having the overall tone of the writing shift and become incohesive with the rest of the brand message, and even the most subtle variations can be picked up by readers.

A good way to ensure that your content is on-brand and stays true to the business message is to utilize language that is used throughout the existing site and marketing materials.

For instance:

These are all subtleties to look out for that can make all the difference.

A great SEO copywriter will be able to pick up on the tone, vocabulary and message a brand is putting out and capture it in the posts and pages. There should be no question from the target audience who the content came from and what the message is.

On-brand content means that users can come to depend on the brand acting and sounding a certain way. It ultimately comes down to trust. If a user trusts a brand and understands its core mission, then they are more likely to buy.

4. Integrity & authenticity matter

Integrity and authenticity may seem like “fluffy” words that have no place in the often formulaic world of SEO. But when it comes to writing content that drives more than just traffic (i.e., sales), then these two elements can be the difference between website visitors and paying customers.

There are many SEO and marketing strategies that can drive traffic to a page. What matters is what actions users take once they get there. No amount of strong-arming will convince a user to buy. It takes integrity and authenticity to get them there.

People are becoming more and more aware of shady marketing tactics, and traditional methods of manipulation simply don’t work anymore. A website that makes it clear what the brand’s message is, the service it provides and how it can help potential customers truly has a leg up on the rest. Your content should be authentic, honest and in line with the ethics of your business. Otherwise, you will lose your customers before you even get them.

5.Know your target audience

 

Creating great SEO content goes beyond writing what you think your target audience wants to read to truly listening to what they want to know.

Are you in tune with their needs? Are there questions in the comments section that should be addressed? Are you writing down their common concerns and pain points? If so, these all open the door to creating solid content that will meet their immediate needs and drive them to seek out your services.

It is not enough to do keyword research to see what they are searching for. If that is the foundation of your content, you are likely to attract some readers but little else. But if you are able to keep them on site longer by creating a vast web of information, you are more likely to get them hooked from start to finish.

Even more, if you engage with them using language they understand and bring up their pain points, you are likely to convince them to fill out that contact form, subscribe or pick up the phone.

If you are struggling to think up fresh and engaging content ideas, be intentional about paying attention to what your customers and potential customers are telling you and asking for. Then, do a quick search to see if any other sites have addressed this issue, and how.

If you aren’t snatching up those opportunities, and another business is, you may be leaving money on the table.

6. Micro-engagement makes the difference

Long-form content can be a bore. For that reason, keeping readers engaged throughout the content can be quite difficult. However, mastering the art of micro-engagement can take your SEO content to the next level.

When it comes to informative content that can be a bit of a yawn, it’s a good move to try some different tactics to keep users engaged. Micro-engagement, as I refer to it here, means incorporating elements in your content to keep readers clicking, scrolling and reading more.

This is where a solid understanding of your target audience really comes into play. You should have a sense of what kind of content keeps your audience engaged. Testing different approaches and looking at the results can be a great data-driven method for seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Here are some suggestions to boost micro-engagement:

Incorporate a few of these ideas into your SEO content and see the difference. Over time, you will get a sense of what your audience likes, what keeps them engaged and what entices them to perform certain actions on your site. This list is by no means exhaustive; feel free to get creative with it and see what happens!

7. Content ‘freshness’ and competitive analysis where it counts

“Freshness” usually refers to having fresh new content on your website, but I believe this should extend beyond that. In other words, you should be putting unique ideas out into the world. How do you do that? By making competitive analysis a part of your SEO content strategy.

Scroll through any SEO or digital marketing site, and you are likely to find the basic posts and pages: “What is SEO?,” “Why You Should Hire an SEO Expert” and the like saturate these sites, and these topics are covered ad nauseam.

What these sites, and others outside of the SEO industry, fail to do is proper competitive analysis when coming up with new content ideas. That is, they are rewriting and reworking the same content that their competitors are using. This is not a good move.

What takes businesses to the top is looking at what competitors are doing and doing it better. Sometimes this even means doing something different. Whenever you are about to write a new piece of content, look to see what your competitors are doing, and consider how you can take it up a notch.

Your best approach is to stay ahead of the curve.

8. Data is everything

You simply can’t create great SEO content without looking at the data.

With a vast array of tools, SEOs and business owners alike should be looking to see what content is performing well, and why. They should be tracking conversions everywhere users are performing an action and seeing what works. This data will indicate the kind of content they can and should create in the future.

Staying on top of your analytics will not only show you the numbers in terms of traffic, but time on page, bounce rate and other valuable metrics that indicate how your content is performing. Through these, you can learn from your mistakes and imitate the strategies that are working. Without this knowledge, you are essentially flying blind and are again playing the guessing game.

Following the data throughout the process will help ensure that you are on the right track and that your utilization of the above principles is working for your business.

To close

There is no cookie-cutter approach to SEO content, but the fundamentals are still there. Write content for people, structure it for search engines and create an experience that is engaging and bound to drive the traffic you deserve.

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Best Chrome Extensions for Social Media Professionals

Every social media manager has a favorite set of tools that help make their job easier. But when a tool is coupled with a Chrome extension, it adds an additional time-saving element that we all need.

In light of the recent release of our Social Media Poster’s Chrome extension, we decided to compile a handy list of the best extensions available for social media managers. To help you handle the list, we split all the extensions by the stage of a social media manager’s workflow where they best fit.

Plan & Organize Your Activities

Todoist

Todoist is a great task management extension. It has all the organization features you need to manage your tasks right from your browser.

It takes just one click on the top right of your screen to plan and organize a new task: add a deadline, set a reminder and a priority, and off you go. Going on a business trip? No worries: the tool allows you to sync all your devices so that you can manage your tasks offline wherever you are.

An added benefit is that you can save websites, articles, Amazon and IMDB pages, and Google Docs for future reference; your task will link back to the original web page so you can refer to it when you need to. Your team collaboration can also become easier with Todoist because you can share your projects, assign tasks to your team members, and add comments where necessary.

To help you stay motivated and productive, Todoist also offers their Karma system, which will visually display your progress and achievements in easy to read graphs that are color-coded by project, giving you that sense of accomplishment at the end of each workday.

The tool’s motto is ‘do more and stress less,’ which is a fair statement considering how much routine work it can help you with. This simple yet powerful task manager will definitely free up your mental space!

Search for Relevant Content

Inoreader

One of Feedly’s main competitors, and a very decent one. The tool allows you to keep up with your top information sources, save pages from the web for viewing later, and subscribe to social feeds.

The greatest thing about Inoreader is that it doesn’t restrict the number of sources you can subscribe to in the free version, which gives it a huge competitive advantage over other newsreader services.

The extension’s design is minimal, so you don’t get distracted. You get to choose your favorite topics, and then all the related content starts coming straight to you, saving you from having to go and check every site on your own. Whenever you are not sure which topic you need, you can monitor news about specific keywords or regular expressions.

Oh, and remember that article you read a few days ago that you liked, but you can’t think of its title? With Inoreader, you can easily find the content you have read by some keyword, and it is free for everyone.

For those night owls who prefer reading articles at night, the tool also has a night mode!

Schedule & Post

SEMrush Social Media Poster

How many times have you come across a great article and regretted not being able to share it with all your followers across all social networks at once? The new SEMrush Social Media Poster extension makes it possible.

Whenever you find something your followers would find valuable or if you find a website where you have been mentioned, you can post it on all your social media accounts with one click. It’ll help streamline your social media posting giving you the option of posting immediately, scheduling for later, or saving as a draft. Choose ‘Share via Poster’ on the right click menu or click on the extension button for the wizard to pop up. The tool will automatically pull pictures from the article you are going to post, and you can also write a message to accompany it:

The same goes for retweeting – just click on the extension’s icon below a tweet. This feature works great for those who need to schedule their retweets to create powerful themed series or launch event-centered marketing campaigns.

Here is another great feature of this extension: if the article’s title is not a straightforward one, you can choose to post only the selected text:

SEMrush Poster also has a built-in link shortening service (Bitly) for posting on Twitter. Once a link appears in your posting wizard, it automatically gets shortened:

Social Media Poster

Schedule Your Next Post

Grammarly

Social media can be merciless if you make a mistake.

If everyone had Grammarly installed on their browsers, the social world would never have seen the ‘seizure salad’ and the ‘undateable human bean.’ Misspelling words or making grammar mistakes can make you look uneducated and diminishes your credibility; and if you are posting on behalf of a brand, a tiny mistake could change how people think about that brand.

With Grammarly, you can be sure that your grammar, spelling, and punctuation are perfect. It is an indispensable tool for social media managers, who are always at risk of making small errors. Use Grammarly to keep your brand’s reputation intact.

Find Hashtags

RiteTag

This is an absolute must-have for any social media manager. The tool gives you tag suggestions for images or text on any site and multiple social networks like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook. All it takes is a right click on the image or text!

RiteTag has their own color system in place to indicate the hashtag strength. For example, using a red hashtag puts your posts at risk of disappearing in the crowd, while green gives you all the chances of getting seen right now.

Choose the Visuals

Lightshot

This extension is a no-brainer, must-have solution for every social media professional. Make customizable screenshots of any selected area by hitting the Lightshot icon on the toolbar. What is great is that you instantly get a link to a screenshot you have just uploaded so you can share it with others very quickly. This is a simple, convenient, and, more importantly, lightweight tool!

Awesome Screenshot

If you want to get a little more advanced with your screenshot editing, try the Awesome Screenshot extension. There are lots of nice little tricks in it, like the ability to blur sensitive information and add annotations to the screenshot. With this extension, you can even record what is happening on your screen and upload it to YouTube or Google Drive immediately:

Pablo

Each social network has its own size and format requirements when it comes to images. Instead of keeping all that information in your head, try using Pablo — an extension that creates images with the perfect size and format for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and allows you to share your images to popular social networks directly from Pablo.

You can add a background picture to an inspirational quote you found, or you can use your image and add text; it is simple. If you need an image, highlight your desired text and right click to see an option for opening that text in Pablo to create beautiful images. If you are looking to add text to an existing image, right click on it to open it in Pablo for editing and choose one of the stylish fonts it offers.

Colorzilla

This extension does all sorts of color-related magic, from color reading to gradient generator and color history. It can also help graphic and web designers analyze a page and inspect a palette of its colors. Color management is easy with Colorzilla thanks to the built-in palette browser, which allows you to choose colors from pre-defined color sets and save the most used colors in custom palettes.

Colorzilla

Giphy

Using a funny GIF every now and then is a way to keep your audience engaged and entertained. With GIFs being highly situational and only needed there and then, having an extension that can find you a relevant GIF in a matter of seconds is just amazing.

Piktochart

Have you ever tried creating infographics from scratch? Have too little time to fill your presentation with easy to understand graphs and charts? Then this extension is for you. Piktochart offers dozens of ready-made graphic templates and downloadable materials to turn anything from a slide to a poster into a designer masterpiece.

Why Extensions?

Chrome extensions can be your time-savers, advisers, and to some extent even tutors. Most of these are free, require no special skills or experience. They can quickly take on the role of a designer, proofreader, secretary, data analyst and more — if the task is not too difficult, of course.  We made this list based on time-proven preferences of our team members.

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