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Your Company's 2013 Website Optimization Checklist

Building a website optimization strategy for your company is paramount for its success online. It's key to create an actionable plan with realistic and well-defined goals.

This checklist is designed to help you and your company's marketing team tailor a results-oriented website optimization strategy. Whether for better website usability, visibility, or conversion potential, there are a number of elements that go into the website optimization process. Below we outline several ways in which your company can improve its website for better performance.

Optimize the Website's Navigation

A critical component of having a well-optimized website is its navigation. Navigation focuses on the structure and organization of pages, as well as how pages are linked together throughout the website.

Optimizing the navigation of your company's website addresses both SEO and CRO (conversion rate optimization.) In many respects, the emphasis is similar to structuring a textbook. Think of each primary category of the website as a main chapter, and the site's sub-categories (or individual pages) as sections that support each chapter.

From an on-site SEO perspective (and to strengthen a website's "domain authority") having more sub-categories and individual pages supporting a chapter will help bolster keyword relevancy and overall domain-level authority. A cohesive and logically-structured navigation can also help to ensure visitors can efficiently make their way around the website.

Optimize the Website's "Focal Pages"

Keyword optimization is a primary aspect of the SEO process. In order for your company's website to attain its fullest SEO potential, the "focal pages" of the website must include keywords in the proper places. Focal pages are core pages of your website that will bolster SEO value, such as the product and service pages.

Whether your website has 2 or 200 focal pages, the process is the same per page. The actual "optimization" of these pages consists of mentioning targeted keywords in the right places. These include:

  • the URL (e.g. www.domain.com/keyword-target/)
  • the page title (or "Meta title")
  • the Meta description
  • the page copy

It's important to note that a high keyword density is not the way to go. In fact, keyword stuffing is a risk that can get your website penalized (with respect to Google Panda.) Based on the best practices of on-page SEO, the optimal keyword density is about 2-3%.

Lastly, focal pages should only be optimized for 1 or 2 closely related keyword targets. Attempting to optimize a page for 3 or more keywords is inefficient and wasted effort. Instead try to create dedicated pages whenever possible.

Optimize the Website's Internal Linking

In short, optimized internal linking is the art and practice of linking one relevant page of your website with another. The art comes in how you balance the anchor text of internal links for keyword relevancy.

The primary purpose of internal linking is for better usability. For this reason, it's best to approach this practice with a logical and user-focused mindset.

However, optimized internal linking can also aid SEO. Similar to an inbound (or "external") link, the anchor text used for the link can help a search engine spider determine its keyword relevancy. So in addition to usability, you can implement internal linking with keyword-optimized anchor text.

You’ll want to be careful not to go over-board in using keyword-optimized (exact phrase match) anchor text. In light of Google's algorithm updates ("Penguin") that penalizes sites that overuse keyword-targeted anchor text (both internally and externally,) keep your linking as natural as possible, and only use keyword-relevant anchor text when it makes logical sense.

Optimize the Website's CTA's

An important component of your company's website optimization efforts is the use of calls-to-action, or "CTA’s." By testing the appearance and placement of CTA’s, you can maximize the conversion potential of your company's website traffic.

The CTA’s of your company’s website should be well aligned with its online conversion goals. If your optimizing an ecommerce website, the goal of your CTA’s will center on immediate purchases and newsletter sign-ups. As a result, you'll want to leverage sales promotions and customer incentives to get people to register on your site, or buy a product.

To determine the most effective call-to-action, testing multiple variations is key. Whether it’s the copy, graphic design, or the placement of the CTA, you’ll want to try-out and keep track of split-tests to ensure you know what's working effectively.

Optimize the Website's Back-end

The load speed of your website can directly correlate to its back-end, or HTML code structure. If you’re company is using a content management system (CMS) that generates a back-end structure of nestled tables and other robust coding structures, the load speed of the website may be hindered.

The coding structure of your company's website can indicate of how efficiently it gets crawled and indexed by search engine spiders. In short, a website takes several seconds to load (using a high-speed connection) may not be reaching its full SEO potential. To determine the approximate load speed of your company's website, try using this handy tool. If it takes several seconds for the website to load, you may need to optimize the HTML, or flip your company's website to a different, more SEO-friendly CMS.

Optimize the Website's Sitemaps

Next to the homepage, the sitemap of your company's website is one of the most important pages. The sitemap should withhold the entire navigation of the site, containing links to all primary pages.

In essence, the sitemap brings everything together like an index and it serves as a roadmap for search engine spiders. For deep websites with hundreds and thousands of pages, creating segmented sitemaps is a great website optimization technique.

Segmented sitemaps are essentially as the name implies. You simply break-down and segment a lengthy sitemap into relevant groupings for their own dedicated sitemap. For instance, if your company has a blog that publishes posts weekly or every other day, you can create segmented blog sitemap to contain links to all of you blog posts.

After you've created a sitemap, or segmented sitemaps, you can then generate XML versions of each sitemap. XML sitemaps are submit individually to your website’s Google Webmaster Tools account. This tells Google the pages of your website that are ready to be crawled and indexed.

About the Author:

Tyler Tafelsky is a SEO and Internet marketing specialist at the Web Presence Group, a professional website optimization company and branch of OIC Group.

Tyler offers over 5 years of experience in the SEO profession and has handled a spectrum of campaigns on both a global and local level. You can contact him directly via email at tyler@webpresencegroup.net or you can connect with Tyler on Google+.

How "Web Presence Optimization" is Redefining Search Engine Optimization

There's no doubt that the best practices of search engine optimization (SEO) are evolving. In essence, SEO is being redefined as a more holistic approach known as web presence optimization.

Web presence optimization is the cohesive effort of optimizing all online touch points a business or brand uses to connect with its audience. So in addition to optimizing a website for better search engine exposure (traditional SEO,) we also integrate various forms of social media and content marketing into the mix.

Search Authority Hinges on Social

There two primary ways in which social media is impacting search.

  1. Social signals (e.g. Likes, Shares, Tweets, and +1's) give content greater search engine value. Think of these signals as votes of credibility that tell Google that a page is worthy of better rankings. I like to think of this as "social authority," which can directly influence SEO.
     
  2. Social content itself appears in the organic search results. For example, Tweets, Google+ posts, and LinkedIn profiles can all be seen in the organic search results. These social properties can help increase a brand's search visibility.

Just look at the screenshot below of a Tweet that was ranking in the #3 spot in Google. 

The fact of the matter is, Google finds value in socially favored content. It's legitimately trusted by real humans and not manipulatively promoted by building links. Social media is an essential aspect of any brand's web presence. And with search becoming more socially integrated, it's become a more unified approach (aka web presence optimization.) Just take a look at Google's Search plus Your World. It's a clear indication that social prowess will begin having a more profound impact on search engine visibility.

Google's SERPs Showcase Great Content

It's becoming more and more common to see great content appearing in the organic search results. That is, top-notch articles, blog posts, and videos are ranking in the top spots over highly optimized webpages. Take a look at the organic search results below for the keyword "granite refinishing." Notice how the first three listings are informative pieces of content that are not directly selling anything.

Again, this is Google ensuring the quality control of its search results by ranking more neutral and info-driven pieces of content. With respect to the latter focus of social signals, the top three listings shown above have probably earned a fair share of likes, tweets, and other social signals.

As a result, creating and marketing exceptional content is pivotal for any SEO strategy. Not only does great content have the capabilities to see top rankings (thus naturally inbounding traffic to a website,) but content marketing can also offer some degree of SEO link value when appropriate utilized.

Constructing a Cohesive Strategy

SEO become less of an effort of on-page website optimization via keywords and link building, and more an effort of real marketing. The new recipe for success hinges on superb content that facilitates social engagement. In short, brands should be focusing on web presence optimization - a means for online brand building, SEO, and website optimization practices as a whole. This foundation to this approach is content marketing coupled with social media. These two practices are paramount to achieve better rankings in the organic search results.

About the Author:

Tyler Tafelsky is a content manager and SEO specialist at the Web Presence Group, a web presence optimization firm based in Peoria, IL. Tyler offers over 5 years of experience in the SEO profession and stays abreast the latest changes in the industry and the best practices of organic search marketing. To learn more him and his expertise, you can connect with Tyler of Google Plus.

Strategy Insights for SEO in 2013

Search engine optimization (SEO) is rapidly evolving. The fact of the matter is, Google is not a big fan of SEO's. This is primarily because the core function of SEO is to manipulate Google's search results for the benefit of clients, or the SEO practitioners themselves. As a result of this cunning manipulation, the quality of Google's search results has diminished.

So Google continuously changes its search engine algorithm for quality control and to keep the impact of SEO subtle and maintained. But aside from the more minute algorithm changes that occur on a frequent basis, Google is striving for a greater evolution of its search results that will significantly impact the roles of SEO's and search marketers.

In a nutshell, the big changes for SEO are already present. It will be the onset of 2013 when they really start realizing their full potential.

So what are these big changes that are evolving Google search? The momentous changes center on social engagement (namely via Google Plus) and the profound impact real social interactions will have on SEO.

SEO is NOT Dead. It's Becoming More Social

Have you heard of this catchy buzzword floating around: "SEOcial?"

That weird little word, in its very essence, underscores the new form of search engine optimization. Instead of optimizing a website's content for keywords, SEOcial is all about optimizing your content (articles, webpages, blog posts, videos, etc.) for social engagement.

Awesome and engaging content that gains the likes, tweets and +1's of the masses is what will win the SEO game in 2013.

Not to say some of the more old-school SEO practices of keyword optimization and link popularity will be entirely dead - these techniques just wont be as powerful as the latter social media signals and natural sharing of exceptional content.

How to Prepare Your 2013 SEO Strategy

In short, the brands that produce top-notch content, and share it persistently with the right audiences, will achieve better positioning in the organic search results. In a sense, SEO is becoming more like actual marketing in that the focus has shifted from gaining the respect of Google (via keywords and links) to gaining the respect of people (via relevant, awesome content and social engagement).

Creating Amazing Content That Gets Ranked

Your 2013 SEO strategy will center on the development of superior content. To get your creative juices flowing you should be asking yourself:

  • "What types of content (e.g. videos, articles, etc.) would my target audience find engaging?"
  • "What social media platforms (e.g. Facebook, Google Plus, etc.) does my audience participate on?"
  • "What topics of interest (e.g. Tutorials, Reviews, etc.) are relevant to both my brand's offering and my target audience?"

The answers to these questions will build the foundation for your SEO content strategy.

Partner With Insiders to Produce Killer Content

The inspiration and insights needed to create killer content will be best gathered by the people who are knowledgeable and passionate in the brand. By teaming up with insiders, you or your content creators can learn, incubate, and develop superb ideas that promote profound results.

If you're doing SEO for your own business, insiders are the people of your company that know the in's and out's of your USP's, products/services, and target market. If you're doing SEO for clients, the insiders will be the clients themselves and their marketing personnel.

Again, SEO is becoming more like real marketing. Think of the content you create as a marketing and advertising tool that spreads brand awareness. As that awareness grows, so will your brand's social authority (which can have a direct impact on SEO.)

Diversify Your Content Portfolio

There are many forms of content that you can produce to engage with your target audience. Spanning from videos to podcasts, infographics to articles, there's a lot of ways you can communicate and promote engagement.

You can even take one form of content, such as an article, and re-purpose it into another form, such as a video. In the SEO profession, we call this spinning. Spinning content is typically frowned-upon because it's generally seen as an effort of spinning the same article several times to generate greater link popularity. However, spinning your work into entirely new forms will help make the most of your resources while diversifying your content portfolio.

The Last Word

As you have learned, the best practices of SEO in 2013 will emphasize great content and engaging your target audience with that content. Just look at Google's search results. Local organic listings with Google Maps (heavily based on the social media network Google Plus) are dominant. Additionally, the types of content that you see ranking are videos, articles and blog posts - which are all enhanced with a little picture of the author (authorship rich snippets.)

There's still plenty of time to start planning your 2013 SEO strategy. I hope these insights will focus your intentions on the righteous path of creating a well-optimized web presence.

About the Author:
Tyler Tafelsky is the Internet marketing manager here at OIC Group, Inc. He offers over 5 years of experience in the SEO profession and handles a spectrum of campaigns on both a global and local level.

Tyler is well-adept in the latest changes of Google and advocates Google Plus and other social mediums as an integral component to any organic search marketing (SEO) campaign. You can contact him directly via email at tyler@oicgroup.net or you can connect with Tyler on Google Plus.

 

 

3 Common Website Optimization Weaknesses That Hinder Organic SEO

Many marketers have come to realize the immense advertising potential that organic SEO has to offer. This has made optimizing a website a marketing mission for many businesses.

But what many fail to realize is that search rankings are mostly determined based on factors that are off the website, primarily from inbound links and social signals (e.g. Google +1's, Facebook Likes, LinkedIn Shares, etc.)

So no matter how well you optimize your website, it's probably not going to rank until your do some off-site SEO work (which takes a lot of time and effort.) However, that doesn't discount the website optimization process from being important.

Website optimization is still incredibly essential for SEO, but more importantly conversion rate optimization (OIC's Marketing & Operations Manager, Chris Everett, explains it well in his article Why Top Rankings Just Don't Cut it Anymore. In short, a properly-optimized website "sets the stage" for SEO and the future influx of search engine visitors.

In this article, I want to share with you 3 common weaknesses that most marketers can address to better optimize their website. Unlike other tips that are more intricate on a specific aspect of website optimization, these weaknesses are big (but rather easy to fix,) and will have a momentous impact on you organic SEO efforts.

1. The Ever Important Sitemap

The HTML sitemap is considered the second most important page of a website (next to the homepage.) In essence, the sitemap is the search engine spider's roadmap to your website, directing the spider to crawl and index all of the optimized pages of your site.

Not having sitemap is like not having tire's on your car. It tries to move forward, but is inefficient at getting anywhere. The sitemap should contain links to all of the pages found on your website. Additionally, each link on the sitemap should use semi-optimized anchor text. For example, if you build a page on your site optimized for "Men's Road Bikes," it's wise to use that exact phrase as the link's anchor text when linking that page on your sitemap.

Lastly, make sure the sitemap itself is linked on all pages of the website, preferably in a set of footer links or navigation links.

2. Duplicate Website Content

Upon taking on a local SEO project, I was confused as to why this website was no where to be found in the search engines. It was decently optimized and offered great content, but the only page ranking was the "about our staff" page, and that was in the middle of page 3 on Google.

Come to find out, the owner of the site had another website. "Oh s**t," I thought to myself. "We got duplicate content." Sure enough, his other website was a complete mirror image of the site I was working on.

Duplicate content is a common issue that plagues a lot of websites. And it's not just an issue that involves duplicate content on other sites, but in most cases, it's having duplicate content on similar pages throughout the same site. This is especially common on ecommerce sites that have thousands of pages, many of which that overlap in relevancy.

Perhaps the most common culprit involving duplicate content stems from the page title and meta description. These are two elements that are both very important for organic SEO and can often become auto-generated based on CMS software. This auto-generation can cause duplicate content without the website owner even realizing it.

Fortunately, there's a pretty easy way to pinpoint duplicate content on your site by checking your website's Google Webmaster Tools. In the left hand navigation, click the option "Optimization," then "HTML Improvements." Here can you drill down on the specific pages that have either duplicate page titles and/or meta descriptions.

3. An Accurate Citation

The three pieces of information that define the citation of your business are its name, address, and phone number. The most essential place to mention the citation is your website's "contact us" page. However, I recommend including the citation in the footer so that it's present on all pages of your website.

Including your business's citation on your website is important to display credibility to Google. This is especially important if any of your search engine traffic derives from local search. In a nutshell, Google spiders will crawl the citation on your website and align the information with other citations found about your business on other sites (such as your Google+ page, LinkedIn page, YellowPages listing, and various other social sites and web directories.)

In summary, it's important to have an accurate citation on your website that exactly matches all other citations of your business found around the web. Any misalignment in citation information will cause Google confusion, and you definitely want to avoid that.

Well those are just three website optimization weaknesses that may be hindering your site's organic SEO performance. To discover more insights on how to make your site rank higher in Google, visit our branch of website optimization specialists and sign-up for a free organic SEO assessment. They will audit your site and provide you with honest recommendations to further optimize your website.

This article was produced by Tyler Tafelsky, Illinois SEO and Internet marketing manager here at OIC Group, Inc. You can contact Tyler Tafelsky directly via email at Tyler@oicgroup.net, or connect with Tyler on Google+.

3 Tips for Doing Keyword Research

If you have spawned an interest, need, or aspiration for search marketing, you'll soon learn that keyword research is an integral aspect to building a solid campaign. One of the best tools to start your keyword research is the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. And although the Keyword Tool appears easy to use, there are a few things that you most certainly need to know to get the best results.

Whether for SEO or PPC advertising, successful keyword research is the foundation for any search marketing campaign. In this post, I will share with you three tips to help ignite your research in the right direction.

Learning the 3 Match Types

An important part of doing keyword research is understanding the three keyword match types. The names of these three match types are Broad, Exact, and Phrase match. Although the basis for each match type is for PPC keyword bidding, learning the differences between each match type is critical for SEO.

For instance, observe my example below for research for "marble cleaner" keywords. Each match type (which can be filtered in the left-hand navigation of the Keyword Tool) is shown for the keyword "marble cleaner;" however, different search volumes are shown for each match type.

 

The reason for this variation in search volume is best denoted by defining each match type:

  • [marble cleaner] (exact match) - search volumes represent only the two-word phrase marble cleaner, and that is all
  • "marble cleaner" (phrase match) - search volumes include exact match, as well as long-tail variations (e.g. best marble cleaner, marble cleaner for counter tops, marble cleaner reviews)
  • marble cleaner (broad match) - search volumes include any keyword search that includes similar semantics (e.g. how to get marble its cleanest, cleaning marble, marble floor cleaners)

As you can see, the broad and phrase match types for marble cleaner can appear inflated, from a SEO standpoint. Broad in particular is almost useless for search engine optimization, and in some cases, PPC too. Broad match is just far too ambiguous to get an accurate gauge on traffic potential. In almost any form of keyword research, de-select broad match, and select exact match. Again, this can be done using the options in the left navigation.

Using the Advanced Settings

Depending on your target search market, you may need to modify some of the advanced options when doing keyword research. Here you can set the geographic and language parameters so that your results are more focal to your search market.

You can also filter the results based on the device used to perform a search (e.g. mobile and tablet devices vs. desktop or laptop.) This can be very useful if you're pursuing a mobile search campaign, or sticking solely with desktop or laptop-based searches.

One tip that I recommend to considering is checking the filter box (above the advanced settings) that reads "Only show ideas closely related to my search terms." The thing is Google's Keyword Tool will give you a lot of keyword insights - almost too much. Checking this option helps keep your results more focused to what you're researching.

Look-up Results in Chunks

With respect to the latter tip of choosing to "only show ideas closely related to my search terms," you'll want to segment your research into semantic-related chunks. That is, you do not want to insert the keywords marble cleaner, granite polish, cleaning marble, granite restoration, all in the same batch. The results that Google will offer will probably have too much overlap. Instead, segment your keywords into relevant groupings.

Based on our example, we'll definitely want to keep granite and marble keywords separate. Additionally, we will further segment our keywords in secondary tiers based on cleaners, polishers, etc.

So based on the image shown, we'll look-up keyword results in relevant chunks. We will do this again for a grouping like marble polish, polishing marble, marble polisher, etc. This will not only provide more focal keyword results, but help keep the research organized throughout the process.

This blog post was written by Tyler Tafelsky, SEO and Internet marketing manager here at OIC Group, Inc. You can contact Tyler directly via email at Tyler@oicgroup.net, or connect with Tyler on Google+. He's publish other content that you can explore, like How to Use the Google Keyword Planner, a project with YisooTraining.com.

Ecommerce SEO Tips for Local Small Businesses

Ecommerce SEO is not just for big brands with big advertising budgets. When executed in the right manner, ecommerce SEO for small business retailers can have a momentous impact.

The first step toward ecommerce SEO success is building logical expectations and setting realistic goals. In short, most small business ecommerce sites are not going rank highly for 2-to-3 word product-related keywords (e.g. "Asics running shoes" or "mens vintage clothing"). There's just too many well-optimized websites dominating the playing field.

Instead, an ecommerce SEO strategy for a local retailer needs to be extremely specific with keyword targeting. That is, small businesses need to optimize their ecommerce sites for more detailed long-tail keywords (e.g. "Asics nimbus gel 12 womens" or "mens vintage leather pants".)

Additionally, any small business retailer can benefit from having a local SEO strategy that merges aspects of social media marketing. Addressing the local approach to optimization (and social marketing) can significantly benefit ecommerce SEO for small businesses. This is primarily because Google is starting to integrate more locally-focused search results that also include social activity of Google+.

So how does a small business begin in creating the optimum ecommerce SEO strategy? Let's dive into greater detail below.

Latch-On to the Long-Tails

Although high-volume keywords look attractive for SEO, the more volume a keyword offers, typically the more competition it has. In fact, this is a primary reason most ecommerce SEO campaigns fail - they try to optimize for keywords that just not plausible to rank for (and they spend months trying to reach page 1 with no success.)

When doing keyword research for small business ecommerce SEO, start with phrases that are highly relevant to your website and core product offering. Get very specific with your research and try to uncover long-tail keywords that offer substantial search volumes, but with minimal competition. Although this can be an exhausting effort, choosing the right keyword targets can make or break your ecommerce SEO campaign.

Look for 3-to-5 word phrases that get 10-200 local monthly searches. The keywords in this range of search volume are typically less competitive, yet significant for SEO. And if your business is highly relevant on these long-tail keyword phrases, you chances to rank for these terms are even greater. Be sure to actually search these phrases in Google and get look that the search engine results page (or "SERP".)

Take note of the websites that ranking in the top 10 results. Additionally, take a gander at any paid or sponsored listings surrounding the organic results. A competitive keyword is sometimes evident based on who is bidding for the keyword using PPC advertising.
 

Combine Local SEO with Ecommerce SEO

In effort to ensure better quality results, Google is starting to serve its users more relevant, localized listing. Earlier this year, Google started integrating Google+ social activity into it search results. This has underscored the importance of locally optimizing a small business website.

The first step of local optimization is quite basic. You simply need to include your geographic references of your location through certain areas of the site. One of the best ways to achieve this to ensure your address is accurately mentioned in the site-wide footer of your website. In addition, you can further locally optimize your ecommerce site by:

  • including the city and state in the Page Titles and Meta Descriptions of the primary optimized pages of your site
  • mentioning your geographic location in the page copy or text of certain webpages
  • building links to your website using geo-specific anchor text (e.g. "mens vintage clothing in Boston")
  • cross-linking your Google+ Local page with your ecommerce site (more below)
     

Share Your Goods via Google+

A priority for any small business pursuing online marketing should be creating a Google+ Local page. This social media profile is a powerful web property that can significantly enhance the ecommerce SEO efforts of a small business.

Here you can share links to products, video reviews, or other relevant content that you deem valuable to social users. As a result, you can inbound more traffic to your website, in addition aiding your 2013 local SEO strategy with social signals pointing to your content and optimized product pages.

When Google+ followers or simply local searchers go to Google to find a product that you're offering, it's possible that your Google+ posts can be seen in their search engine results. To maximize the potential of this happening, be sure to use the hashtag (#) to tag relevant keywords that best describe your post.

For instance, if you're posting a review about a 'green countertop cleaner' include at the end of your Google+ post a few hashtags, like #green #ecofriendly #cleaner. This will increase the keyword relevancy of your post around green cleaners, and can increase the chances that your post will be visible on both Google+ and Google search.

To learn more about ecommerce SEO services, contact us or visit our subsidiary company ClickCentricSEO.com

Tips to Become More Popular in the Google+ Community

With competition among like-minded businesses as high as ever these days, companies live and die by how effective they get their brand out on the web. Being active on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ is becoming more important as SEO algorithms continue to respect social media signals more and more.

In this post, I’ll show a few tips on how to earn more Google+ followers, the trickiest and most important social media platform to conquer.

#HoneYourImage

Inviting people to add you or your business to their circles is certainly the first step to gaining a following. The next being inviting people you don’t know. But when people get to your page and find nothing of value, they will not be returning. Promote your page only when it is ready to be promoted. Ensuring your Google+ page is well populated before reaching out is the smartest strategy you can take.

Load your page with content and posts so visitors won’t lose interest when they find a vanilla page. And as always, building up your image on the other social media giants always helps, (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn).

#ExpandYourReach

Blogging about your page not only gives readers an in-depth look into what your business is all about, but it’s a way of putting your page out there to be shared. If people find worth in what you’re blogging about, there’s a good chance they’ll share it with contacts of similar interest.
Google Plus Followers Tips in Peoria IL
On the web, it’s paramount to post only relevant content that has purpose and value - not just something you personally found interesting. Take a moment to think about the content you're posting, along with your presentation. Valuable, highly-relevant content is what leads to viral sharing, which in turn will skyrocket your following.

#Diversify

Not only is providing valuable content a must, but posting visually diverse content can hook visitors of varying expectations (and attention-spans). Posting and sharing all types of content is a sure way of appealing to a broad range of visitors.

Diversify your content by posting various forms of rich media. If you’re trying to explain some form of data or statistic, develop a graphic. Also consider the impact of posting videos or more interactive text-based content like how-to lists and tips. Even try engaging with followers and visitors by asking questions and requesting feedback. Every creative effort you attempt can pay dividends in the long run.

#BeTransparent

Google+ has this feature called ‘Direct Connect,’ which enables your page to be found on organic search results. The searcher then has the option to follow you directly from the page results. Direct Connect is currently only available to select businesses and will continue to add pages algorithmically.

‘Hangout on Air’ is another nifty feature which lets up to 10 people participate in a chat, with an unlimited number watching. This means an exclusive group of industry professionals can broadcast a live web seminar where thousands and thousands of people watch. The potential with this kind of social networking is endless. Hangout on Air can potentially give a face to businesses who may be suffering from stale content and image.

Direct Connect will slowly become less exclusive to businesses. But in the meantime making yourself eligible is paramount. To make yourself eligible for Direct Connect you need to add a badge (six different ones to choose from). Once you put the badge code on your page you have become eligible for Direct Connect. In order to become added, you need to be active with links and posting content regularly (the usual SEO stuff).

#TheWrap

There are, of course many tactics involved in attracting new Google+ followers. But these are the basic steps, where if done right, will definitely help develop a hardy cluster toward your business’ page. The rules are changing but the game is still the same. Posting valuable content improves your overall web presence and gives yourself a solid chance to rank among the best.


This blog post was contributed by Kyle Blasco.
Connect with Kyle on Google+

Why Articles Are Still Righteous for SEO

For those who think articles are big waste of time for SEO, it's time to get real. An online article, just like any webpage, can have authority. Also like any good webpage, a good article is typically filled with valuable content.

As a result of that valuable content, people link to the article and it earns PageRank (or "PR" - the primary measure of webpage authority.) In the SEO profession, we call this "link bait." We all know that backlinks are sources of higher keyword rankings.

Authoritative, contextually relevant articles are a great addition to any website's backlink portfolio. What exactly do I mean by that? It's really quite simple.

Value & Relevancy are Key

To offer value in your content you have inform or educate your readers. In doing so, you must very specific in how you communicate your ideas. That is, focus on a narrow topic and reveal all goods that you can (or find appropriate.) Focusing on a very specific topic correlates to being very relevant.

Contextual relevancy is simply content that highlights a similar theme with that of what a business is offering. So if your business provides ecommerce software (and your SEO keyword targets center on 'ecommerce software,') then the most contextually relevant articles will be about ecommerce software. This concept is significant to ensure the backlinks in your articles offer the most value. To reiterate, the main idea is offer something of value about a narrow topic or niche.

When you produce superb content that offers a specific audience valuable takeaways, your articles can offer many advantages beyond SEO. This is why the articles you see ranking highly in the search results are about "tips" and "strategies." In a sense, the more you give, the more you gain.

Organize Your Ideas

Before you get to writing, take some time to organize your ideas. If you're a lawyer, you probably already plan to produce articles about your legal practice and areas of specialty. Think about your approach from the reader's point of view.

If you specialize in criminal defense law, what types of articles are going to hit home with your audience? Perhaps map out a few potential articles about 'how to fight a DUI' or 'steps to take when faced with drug charges.'

What kind of information is your target market (or a potential client) seeking? Being an educator will not only up the value of your articles (authority,) but will position you or your brand as knowledgeable, trustworthy resource. Instilling such advocacy can result in quality leads (especially if you articles rank in the search results.)

Write On!

So who's to say solid articles are no good for SEO?

Like blogging and other forms of content marketing, awesome articles can:

  • gain authority, which passes along to any backlinks in your articles.
  • rank in the search engine results, maximizing your marketing exposure.
  • inbound traffic to your website and position your business are reputable and trustworthy.

And lastly, (with respect to changes in Google's search that target overly-optimized websites) article backlinks can help to make your off-page SEO efforts appear more natural. Having a diverse backlink portfolio is key in today's SEO best practices, and articles are great contribution to achieve just that.

 

This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of SEO Specialists here at OIC Group, Inc. Visit Tyler on Google+

Twitter Tips for Local Business Marketing

Twitter is one of the most popular social networking sites with over 500 million users. In short, Twitter is a microblogging platform where users can share text-based messages (also know as "Tweets") which are limited to 140 characters.

Christened the SMS of the Internet, Twitter is one of the top ten most visited sites on the net. In 2011, Google Inc. agreed to include Tweets and Twitter results in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). In the agreement, Google said it would provide real-time data in its SERPs. These features are not only great for personal users, but also local business marketing (SEO).

Take the example of a new seafood restaurant in Peoria, Illinois. Building a Twitter presence can offer a number of marketing benefits. By establishing a strong following of Peoria-area foodies, the seafood restaurant can blast Tweets of dinner specials, fresh catches, and other incentives that steer local traffic through the door. Twitter can also be used to promote reviews on other social platforms like Google+ and Yelp.

Lastly, activity associated with the restaurant's Twitter account may appear in search results for keywords like "seafood restaurants in Peoria." This can generate greater brand awareness and new visitors. These are just a few common examples of how Twitter can help with local marketing. Now let’s get to some tips!

Tips for a Powerful Twitter Presence

Keep in mind that every local business is unique and that different social media marketing strategies will apply. These are some fundamental tips to help you build a powerful Twitter presence for you business.

  • Start by following local businesses and individuals who are authorities in your niche and region.
  • Always have something valuable or meaningful to Tweet about. Share news, offers, coupons, or other promotions.
  • Use hashtags (#) in front of relevant keywords in your Tweets. This can help your Tweets become found by related searches (e.g. #Peoria_Seafood, #PeoriaRestaurants #Best_Restaurants, etc.)
  • Include a Twitter icon (and perhaps a live Twitter feed) on the homepage of your website. This can attract new followers while keep your site fresh with new content.
  • Use Twitter in conjunction with other social platforms like Facebook and Google+, as well as your blogging efforts.
  • Promote you Twitter presence on off-line marketing materials like frequent diner cards, menus and brochures.

In addition, there are several tools that can make your Tweeting more efficient. Here at our Peoria, Illinois office, we like to use TweetDeck. You can learn more about this tool by visiting www.tweetdeck.com. Start taking advantage of Twitter today. It's both easy to use and highly effective for local business marketing.

 

This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of SEO Specialists here at OIC Group, Inc.

Visit Tyler on Google+

Top CMS for Ecommerce SEO: Exponent CMS

It's pretty common today to see ecommerce sites operated on a content management system or CMS software. In short, a CMS is platform enables almost anyone with basic computing knowledge to manage and edit the content of a website.

Content management systems provide convenience and cost-efficiency because they reduce the need for webmasters and HTML technical professionals. For ecommerce stores with many employees supporting the site, a CMS offers an ideal website solution. T

he choice of CMS software will also impact how search engine friendly a website is. Because the software generates the HTML code for the site, a CMS can have a direct impact on SEO performance. For this reason, there's a lot of debate about which CMS is best for ecommerce SEO?

Well we have done our homework and found that there's handful of content management systems that suit well for ecommerce SEO. A few common choices are Wordpress, Magento, and Volusion; however even these did not compare to our flagship product. When it's all said and done, (and yes, we'll toot our horns on this one) Exponent CMS reigns king for ecommerce SEO. Why, you might ask? Well let's dive right in.

SEO Friendly Code

The HTML coding structure generated by a CMS holds immense importance for search engine optimization.

Where some platforms produce cumbersome coding structures with nestled tables and mysterious tags with random characters, Exponent has been developed with back-end optimization as a top priority.

When we created Exponent, the organization and use of certain HTML tags and SEO friendly coding techniques was our primary focus. Some of the most important pieces of content are among the first lines of code to be crawled. By building a CMS that generates a seamless HTML back-end, Exponent websites are crawled and indexed faster and more efficiently that other CMS platforms.

Complete Content Editing

Optimizing website content is paramount for ecommerce SEO. Not only is quality, keyword optimized content important for SEO, but having unique, customer-focused copy can contribute to sales conversions. With Exponent CMS, editing and optimizing the content of your website is simple.

The off-page SEO elements, such as the URL, page title, and meta data, can be easily optimized per page. These elements are critical for SEO and are a must have for any CMS platform. Also important is the body copy or page text.

Although just about any content management system is equipped with the capabilities to edit the body copy, Exponent goes one step further. Many of the default attributes of content editing are set with SEO in mind.

For instance, the bold attribute defaults to a strong tag and internal linking can be executed on the fly, with no HTML coding required. The interface of Exponent CMS is a reflection of the website itself. Although there is some back-end functionality with editing off-page SEO elements and media, almost all work is done as it's seen on the site. Exponent uses an intuitive module-base system, making content editing a breeze.

Limitless Layout Capabilities

The process of optimizing a website must also take into consideration the post-click activity of users. This is the evolution of SEO, also known as conversion optimization, and it centers on having the proper design elements and calls-to-action.

Exponent enables users to create almost any layout for any purpose. Beyond ecommerce SEO, Exponent is ideal for building custom landing pages for PPC advertising.

Additionally, custom contact forms and design elements can be placed on pages to enhance the conversion potential of key pages. This allows even the most elementary of end-users to create and optimize a webpage from scratch.

These are just some of the primary reasons why Exponent is the top CMS for ecommerce SEO. Other features include easy integration of social media icons, mass product uploads, e-newsletter sign-ups, and custom design and development capabilities. If you'd like to learn more about Exponent and what makes it so SEO friendly, visit www.ExponentCMS.org.

 

This article written by Tyler Tafelsky, one of SEO Specialists here at OIC Group, Inc.

Visit Tyler on Google+

 

Peoria Web Design Company Offices:
OIC Group, Inc.
Phone: (309) 680-5600

Mailing Address:
PO Box 1111
Peoria, IL 61653