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On-page SEO Guide: Optimizing for Google Organic & Google Local

Attaining top search engine ranking in the Google organic search listings is different from that of reaching a high placement in Google's local listings (which are accompanied by the map and red pins.) Traverse City SEO

In this article, we delve in the basic SEO best practices of optimizing a website for each of these search engine listings, helping you to double your business's search engine exposure at the top of Google.

In short order, organic search optimization takes deeper on-page SEO, while ensuring your website is properly optimize to rank in the Google Local Listings is a little easier. Below we go into detail about the general on-page SEO techniques to cover both.

 

Organic Search Optimization

Optimizing a website for high rankings in Google's organic search listings involves a number of different components. The nice thing about on-page SEO for organic search optimization is that the 80/20 rule applies. In essence, there are a few things you can do to make a big difference.organic google local

An important piece of the SEO puzzle is proper keyword inclusion. In other words, you need to mention your primary keyword target in the right places on the page. These include:

  • Meta Title, or Page Title, which you will appear as your listings main headline link in the Google search results. It's SEO best practice to keep your Meta title under 70 characters
  • Meta Description, which is the summary of that page that appears in Google's search results below the main headline link. Include your keyword target here but avoid a lengthy Meta description that exceeds 155 characters
  • Headers are a great place to establish keyword relevancy on the page. Mention your keyword in a Header 1 and Header 2, but try to be creative about it
  • Page Copy below your headers is also an important place to mention your keyword targets. Shoot to include the keyword at least 2-3 times and try to have at least 200-300 words of copy for each page

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to on-page organic SEO techniques. Other concepts and strategies worth researching are strategic internal links, HTML and XML sitemaps, Schema, optimized images, and website optimization or technical SEO. This often combines aspects of SEO, web design and development. You can explore some of these advanced components at Top of Mind's SEO Guide.

Google Local Optimization

Google Local ListingsMaking sure that a website is well-optimized for the Google local listings (shown with the Google map) is a straightforward process.

  • First and foremost, ensure that your business's name, address, and phone number (also called "NAP" or a "citation") is mentioned accurately on all pages of the website.
  • Next, head on over to Google+, and claim and submit the verification process for your company's Google+ Local page. Also be sure to populate your the Google+ Local page as completely as possible
  • Lastly, add a link to your business' Google+ Local page on your website to seal the deal

Similar to the processes involved in organic search optimization above, there are other on-page SEO techniques that can help boost your Google local listing's ranking. Some of these techniques include, but are not limited to, creating and uploading a KML file, integrating LocalBusiness Schema markup, citation auditing, etc.)

For the first step of the Google local optimization process, it's critical that the NAP information is completely accurate and consistent across all other web properties that your business owns (i.e. Facebook page, Yellowpages profile, LinkedIn profile, Yelp page, etc.)

For advanced local SEO consulting and techniques on how to further optimize your company's web presence, contact OIC Group today.

SEO Insights for a Successful Strategy in 2015

Although Google continues to tighten-up rankings algorithm as it rolls-out the latest Penguin 3.0 update, the grand scheme of SEO has never been more predictable. For smart SEO's, it is now easier than ever to understand and gauge exactly what it takes to get a website ranked at the top.

SEO 2015Here at OIC Group, we've been on the forefront of SEO best practices for the last few years. Our methodology and resources have adapted significantly over that time, and righteously so, as the success stories we're helping clients create have been as plentiful as ever.

If you're going into 2015 with SEO as a means to drive traffic to your website, then this article is for you. Below we share some powerful SEO insights that can help you actualize a successful strategy for the new year.

Become an Authority: Carve a Niche Within a Niche

There are a couple ways you can view this. If you run a local business, you'll want to strive toward being the local authority for the products and services that you have to offer. If the local market is a little saturated or presents some tough competition, perhaps focus on one or two specific products/services as the core of your company. For instance, if you offer well water services, maybe you should make well drilling the primary core of your business.

If you're business targets a wider market (and thus contends with many other related businesses,) then you need to carve a very fine niche. For example, a few months ago OIC Group created a niche SEO company targeting surgeons (www.OptimizedSurgeons.com). Some might think that a company that provides SEO services specifically for surgeons is pretty darn niche. However, we have gotten even more targeted and carved a niche within a niche. That is, we focus our business model and its resources on providing SEO services for surgeons who provide breast augmentation, implants, and other related cosmetic surgeries?

This approach enables us to provide premium quality SEO programs that deliver outstanding results. Further, we can attract breast surgeon prospects with highly-targeted Facebook ads. In essence, we can target surgery professionals with specific credentials and affiliations, and serve them ads that say "Could You Handle 3-5 Breast Implant Patients per Month?" Carving a niche within a niche is a win-win for SEO and Internet marketing.

Develop a Content Strategy: Be a Problem Solver, Solution Provider, Educator, and/or Inspiration

A couple years ago, developing a content strategy would go hand-in-hand with SEO and keyword targets. For instance, if we were targeting a keyword like "computer repair shop," then we might create content around topics like "5 Questions to Ask a Computer Repair Shop Before Hiring Them." These keyword-focused articles would help to establish greater keyword relevancy.

While the latter approach does still work, the focus should go beyond just keywords. Instead, focus on creating content that offers value and meaning to your target audience. The objective is induce reactions like "hmmmm, interesting" and "ah ha!" These reactions are what build faith and credibility in your business while prompting your audience to like, share, tweet, +1, or pin your content (attributing it with social signals - a growing factor in Google's search engine algorithm.)

Step-up Your Social Presence

Social media is emerging more and more in the SEO scene, as social signals (Likes, +1's, Shares, Pins, Tweets, and Re-Tweets) serve as a sound mechanism for Google to valuate legit content. Social signals are becoming increasingly vital for SEO, and many smart businesses are developing and expanding their social presence.

The underlying challenge for most SEO's and web marketers is accumulating a sufficient number of followers to engage a sufficient level of interaction (to naturally earn social signals.) Facebook and Twitter both offer advertising solutions which provide a means to earn greater exposure and more followers. But doing it naturally is tough. Regardless, some level of investment (whether it be money, time, or effort in actualizing a viral-driven content strategy) will be required.

To become more popular naturally, we suggest making a list of some of the top influencers in your market. You can leverage influencers to help spread awareness of your content, or perhaps see if they're interested in a guest blogging relationship. This in itself is not easy, so go embrace this idea with a what's in it for them mentality.

For more specific and actionable insights for your 2015 SEO strategy, contact us to inquire about a free, no-obligation audit of your website.

How to Convey the Marketing Value of SEO to Clients & Corporate Execs.

As a professional of SEO, you are fully aware of your work's value. But not all your clients or prospects will fully grasp the necessaries that make SEO successful. SEO

This can be attributed, in part, to the fact that it is challenging to prove return on investment (ROI) for the money spent on SEO by an individual or an organization. This does not mean that it is impossible.

Tracking ROI on SEO efforts is of great importance, and especially so for you as a professional in the field. This is because you will need this data to justify your value to the client. You will also need this data to justify the expenses incurred on SEO to their management.

SEO is less attractive to many businesses as compared to activities that more readily produce hard ROI statistics. Due to this fact, SEO is one of the first things to be dropped by a business in favor of other marketing activities with more "tangible benefits". This can however be combated through the following efforts.

Use Numbers To Defend Your Position

Making use of hard data is ideal when proving the worth of SEO to a business. You can use the following steps to streamline the process:

1. Measure the number of leads.
2. Measure the revenue.
3. Measure the revenue per lead.

The revenue per lead can be calculated by dividing the aggregate amount of revenue by the aggregate number of leads.

A Few Key Points On Leads

It is important to note that visits to a page do not necessarily translate to leads. They can, but do not always. Tracking visits to a page will provide a general idea of the overall activity, but of more importance is tracking the events or goals. They are more useful when mapping SEO back to revenue.

SEO strategyThe concept of events and goals in the context of Google Analytics can bewilder many company executives. Turn this to your advantage by educating your clients about them. Explain to them what they mean and why they are of significance to the business.

Explain clearly the meaning of events and goals as follows:

- Events: An event is a specific action that a visitor engages in while interacting with a website. It may involve clicking on a link, downloading assets or information. Each event is an indication of some sort of engagement by the visitor, identifying more qualified prospects from the overall number of visitors to the website. It is thus more beneficial to track events rather that just tracking page views.

- Goals: A goal is the state of affairs that a plan is intended to achieve. In relation to visits to a website, there are four crucial goals that a business should track. First, visits to specific URLs such as the confirmation page should be tracked. Second, the duration of time a visitor spends on a site. Thirdly, the total number of pages on a website viewed in the length of one visit. The fourth should be the number of events as mentioned earlier.

Tracking the events and goals will give you and your client greater insight into the customer and prospect behavior than tracking the number of visitors to the site could ever achieve. These metrics could also directly tie into the revenue stream data.

Set Up Yourself And Your Clients For Success

It is very important to set the stage from the beginning in order to accurately measure the ROI of your SEO efforts. Ensure that you and your clients expectations are aligned to avoid unpleasant (and sometimes unnecessary) experiences.

You are once again provided with an opportunity to showcase your talents by demonstrating your expertise and presenting it to your clients. Teaching your clients more will empower them and as a result make them more loyal to you.

There are three important points that you should establish with new clients.

1. Patience is crucial to SEO success

However great instant gratification might be, it is not what SEO is about. Clients may not want to hear this, but they have to be made to understand. SEO can be beneficial in the long run and will thus boost its value greatly.

Getting a website ranked via SEO may not reflect on revenues for some time. It is crucial that your clients understand this and exercise patience for a bit longer before the results start showing.

2. Measuring ROI measure SEO

In addition to revenue per lead, number of events and goals, other measurements should be used to track the success of a SEO strategy. Such measures include the removal of Google penalties. In addition, some metrics can not be directly tracked to revenue.

3. Setting up Analytics

If your clients have not set up their analytics to properly track conversions, the picture painted by the analytics may be incorrect. Coordinate with your clients to ensure that all analytics are capable of capturing and showing you what you need to know. These concepts need to be established at the beginning to ensure that the relationship with your client is healthy and profitable.

What SEO is About

SEO is not just about getting leads, it's about getting the right leads. It's also about accuracy in tracking this leads to help you make adjustments to activities as needed and help clients calculate the ROI for SEO.

Will Backlinks Soon Lose Their SEO Value?

When it comes to Google's search engine algorithm, it's not uncommon for certain ranking factors to lose their value over the years. With respect to the practice of crafty SEO companies, Google must consistently refurbish is ranking mechanism to provide optimal quality results.

Yes, you know what we're talking about here. Links.

There's no question that links (aka "backlinks" or "inbound links") are a huge ranking factor in Google. But with new variables (e.g. social signals,) over time, it's anticipated that links may lose their SEO value?

Well, will they? Matt Cutts explains how Google plans to interpret and value links when ranking websites in the search results.

In his vague response, links will most definitely retain their value for quite some time. However, as many SEO professionals are well aware, the nature of (and natural appearance) a site's backlink portfolio will ultimately determine its SEO success and ranking sustainability.

So, my friends, how does your site's backlink portfolio look? Are you scared?

Let's run a quick backlink audit on your site and let you know. It's free. So do it. Hit us up!

The Value of Local SEO for Your Peoria Marketing Strategy

According to Google, 97% of customers search online to find local businesses in their neighborhoods and communities. For local businesses in Peoria, this means growing your online presence is more important now, than ever before. Local Search Results

One way of doing this is by implementing a local SEO in your Peoria marketing strategy. Since anything and everything can be found online, competition (even in Peoria, IL) is tough, and will only continue to increase as time goes on. This is why a local SEO strategy is massive game changer for small to medium sized businesses.

As a local business in Peoria, your marketing budget might not be that great. But given the ambiguity and lack of analytics offered by traditional forms of marketing and advertising, SEO is no brainer. At as little as a few hundred dollars per month, you can increase your business's search engine rankings and start experiencing an influx of web traffic. In addition, you'll be able to track and assess how the SEO strategy is working, and thus calculate the true ROI of your expenditure.

Drive Local, In-market Traffic to Your Site

Local SEO drives relevant, in-market traffic to your website, which could easily turn into paying customers. Because search engine users who search local or geo-modified keywords (like "dry cleaners in Peoria,") they are often seeking an immediate solutions to their needs. Being on the top of page 1 in Google's search results will help to drive those leads to your local business.

Consumers use the Internet to find items such as appliances, services, restaurants and more, right in their local neighborhoods. For example, it would benefit a local custom cabinet-maker in Peoria to focus their marketing efforts on local SEO in Peoria, and optimize their website accordingly. If someone is searching online for custom cabinets in Peoria, search engines will provide the most relevant and authoritative websites. The local custom cabinet maker can make their presence known with the right approach to local SEO.

Integrating Local SEO in Your Marketing Plan

The local search feature will populate businesses meeting the specific search criteria. This allows the customer to choose from a number of businesses in their community, instead of selecting a business located several miles away. As you see, a local marketing strategy not only benefits businesses by ensuring they show up in local search results, it benefits the consumer by returning the most relevant search results first.

Aside from the obvious benefits of driving targeted traffic to your website with a local marketing strategy, another perk is mobile users can easily find your business while on the go and conveniently get your business phone number & directions. Also a local marketing strategy creates a customized search experience which improves the customer search experience.

By optimizing your website for your city and surrounding areas, you give your business an edge over local competitors, get more quality leads and create authority within your community.  When done correctly using the right resources, optimizing your business website for local SEO in Peoria brings added value to your business and should be part of any solid website optimization plan.

5 Tips to Improve Website Optimization via Google Webmaster Tools

Spanning from SEOs to website developers, many different specialists utilize Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) for website optimization. But before we dive into "GWT", what truly defines "website optimization?"

Many believe website optimization is synonymous with SEO, specifically on-page SEO. But the process of optimizing a website can go much deeper than that.

A complete website optimization campaign will also emphasize website performance (both from a technical and usability perspective) that extends far beyond attaining top rankings in Google. Such considerations will center on how well Google bots access, crawl, and index a website, as well as how a website is interpreted.

So, to embark on your journey into the perplexing platform known as Google Webmaster Tools, let's dive into 5 ways to improve your website optimization efforts using some its features.

Content Keywords: Understanding the Contextual (Keyword) Relevancy of Your Site

Under Google Index, click into content keywords. Here you can get a view of how Google perceives your site from a contextual standpoint. That is, the keywords shown in the list reflect the terms for which your site is most relevant.

This will help you assess how well your on-page SEO efforts are working. If your keyword is "discount luggage sets" but you're lacking relevancy on the word "discount", then perhaps you should create more content (or tweak existing) pages so that they include the word "discount" more frequently in the Page Titles, Meta description, and/or page copy.

HTML Improvements: Essential Insights for Website Optimization

HTML Improvements is a powerful tool for both SEO and website optimization. Found under Search Appearance, HTML Improvements in Google Webmaster Tools will tell you the specific ULRs for your website that have issues with the Page Titles and Meta Descriptions (two very critical elements for SEO.)

Specifically, here you will want to pinpoint any pages on your site that have duplicate Page Titles and Meta Descriptions. Duplication of these content elements will diminish the SEO value of the conflicting pages. And if one of these pages is a 'money page' in which you're trying to get ranking, then it's imperative that you make it unique.

Structured Data: Assessing Effectiveness of Markup

If you're using any structured data markup on your site (i.e. Google Authorship) Structured Data (also found under Search Appearance) will help you determine how effectively it's being applied. If you are using, structured data markup, Google Webmaster Tools will show the specific type of structured data that Google was able to identify on your site. You can also view the specific URLs that contain each type of structured data.

Structured Data Markup Helper: Tag Your Pages for Markup

Interested in structured data markup, but not exactly sure where to begin? Well, the Structured Data Markup Helper tool (under Other Resources) can help with that. In essence, this too enables you tag your site pages with specific markup, given the nature of each page (i.e. article, product, local business.) This will enhance the page's Google search listing with certain rich snippets.

The best part about the Structured Data Markup Helper tool is that you are not required to perform any HTML changes specifically to the website. Through the tool, you can easily highlight and tag the essential data on the page to integrate the necessary markup.

Sitemaps: Optimizing How Your Site Communicates With Google Bots

The Sitemaps section of GWT allows you to view the different types of sitemaps in which you have on your site. In addition to the HTML sitemap, the other important sitemap to have is the XML sitemap. XML sitemaps should be updated and uploaded regularly to your site, especially as fresh content and new pages are added.

In Sitemaps (found under Crawl), you can submit updated XML sitemaps. This will notify Google bots that your site has been revised and is ready for a fresh crawl. Not only does this help accelerate the SEO process, but for website optimization, you can assess data (i.e number of pages indexed vs. number of pages submitted) to ensure your site is being properly crawled and indexed.

If you (or your SEO provider) is not using Google Webmaster Tools, then it's about time to start. It's a powerful platform that offers a wealth of insights as to how well your site is performing from both a technical and contextual perspective.

About the Author
Tyler Tafelsky is the Internet marketing manager here at OIC Group. Tyler is highly engaged in various aspects of SEO, social media, and content marketing. Feel free to email him directly at Tyler(at)oicgroup.net or follow him on Twitter.

7 Google Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses

7 Google Local SEO Tips for Small Businesses

One of the best small business marketing sources to obtain lead generating search visibility is through the local organic search results. Local organic search results refer to the Google search listings that appear with reviews and a corresponding Google map.

Local SEO is a key marketing tool for small and medium sized businesses and is also one of the most confusing SEO strategies to implement. The fact that Google's local search algorithm is different from traditional organic search makes it even more challenging for local businesses to understand the techniques that work.

A local business can gain a big upper-leg on its competition by optimizing its web presence for local organic search. When showing local search listings, Google employs a number of factors to render the best and most relevant results possible.

For example, if you do a keyword search for "breweries" (or something that implies local relevancy) without including a search geo-modifier (such as a city like "breweries in San Francisco" or "Portland breweries"), Google will use your IP address or the Gmail account with which you are currently logged in to display results closest to you. Only the breweries that have put effort in building a solid web presence will have a prominent showing in the local organic search results.

Taking a Closer Look at the Local Organic Search Listings

Although each brewery's headline link will take you to the company's actual website, it is worth noting how the Google reviews link will take you to the Brewery's Google+ Local page. So there is more that contributes to the local search engine rankings other than a business's website, one being a business's Google+ Local page. Although creating a well-optimized website is very crucial for achieving better results on search engine pages, a solid Google+ Local page plays an important role.

In addition to a Google+ Local page, there are other elements that need to be considered. Below are seven valuable local SEO tips that will help to make your local business presence more prominent in search.

1. Optimize the website for your keywords respectfully and avoid keyword stuffing. The first thing to do is research on your main keywords extensively so as to come up with key phrase combinations that your customers use when searching for local businesses. After deciding on these, optimize your website's page titles and meta descriptions respectfully so as to meet local search terms. Avoid over stuffing these keywords and also try to include a geo-modifier (your city name) to each of these keywords.

2. Get your business's address verified on its Google+ page. Verifying your company address on your company's Google+ page will also make it easier for Google to identify your location whenever someone searches for your keywords and rank you appropriately. Verification of your address is as simple as submitting it through your Google+ page, after which Google will mail you a postcard with a PIN verification code.

3. Link your website to your Google+ Local page. Including a "Follow us on Google+" link on your website will also go a long way in increasing your presence on Google's search engine results page. This link code is normally found on your Company's Google+ profile (when in edit mode). The link tag also contains the very essential "rel-publisher" snippet.

4. Populate your Google+ Local page with accurate and sufficient info about your company. Include relevant info about your company, what it deals in, and a few other things that customers may need to know about your company. Where appropriate, deploy your main keywords and geo-modifier.

5. Earn or ask for reviews from some of your customers. In some cases, pages that have more customer reviews (whether good or bad) will typically have more authority and rank highly on local search engine results listings. Put in place some creative and innovative ways of getting your customers to review some of your products.

6. Include the address of your business on all pages of your website. Be sure to include your company's address in the footer of every page of the website, and make sure that there is no difference between this address and that on your Google+ Local page. Make sure that your address is accurate to avoid any legitimacy issues that may arise.

7. Get your company listed on relevant directory sites. Create your company's listings and profiles on other directory sites such as Yellowpages, Manta, Yelp, Yahoo Local and LinkedIn just to mention a few. To ensure your company is legitimate, Google will search and match your company's address on its website, Google+ Local page, and on other directory sites. This signifies that you're a real business, and the more listings you have the more authority you can earn in Google local search.

As you may notice, a solid and well optimized website is not all it will take for your company to attain high ranks on Google. By carefully addressing each of these Google local SEO tasks, your business will be better placed to appear higher in Google's rankings.

AdWords Campaign Management Tips for PPC Beginners

Google AdWords PPC Campaign Management

Managing a PPC campaign on Google AdWords can be a confusing undertaking, even for adept search marketers. Many businesses and advertisers balk at the PPC model because they think it's an ineffective waste of ad spend. 

The truth of the matter is, when a PPC campaign is well-constructed and properly-managed, the results can be quite substantial. It all comes down to understanding the basics of PPC campaign management.

Whether you operate a small business with a local target market, or an ecommerce store with national focus, the PPC campaign management tips mentioned below will help to ensure your PPC investment is profitable.

1. Ensure Your PPC Campaign Settings Are Correct

Upon creating your first PPC campaign in AdWords, you are presented with many settings options. A few of these options will make or break your campaign if not addressed.

  • Always select the option to run a "Search" only campaign (never combine Display & Search PPC advertising campaigns.)
  • Know your geographic parameters. If you're doing PPC campaign management for a local business, you'll want to set your ads to display only to searchers in your specified target locations.
  • Set your ads to rotate evenly. Although Google will display a warning sign, disregarding the warning. Even ad rotation is key to conduct ongoing testing of ad copy (which is critical for high volume keywords.)

2. Take Advantage of Ad Extensions to Make Your PPC Ads Pop

Ad Extensions are a feature in Google AdWords that easily enhance the presentation of your PPC ads. There are many Ad Extensions to choose from, and none of them require an extra fee to use.

 PPC Campaign Management Extensions

Go through the various Ad Extensions and pinpoint those that are most relevant to your business. Professional PPC campaign management services utilize 2-4 different Ad Extensions (e.g. "SiteLinks" can be used for any type of business, as well as "Call Extensions" and couple others.)

If you're managing a PPC campaign for a local business, then you'll definitely want to consider "Location Extensions." If you have a ton of Google+ followers, then you may want to include "Social Extensions." The combination of at least 2 Ad Extensions will significantly improve the click-through rates of your ads.

3. Create Extremely Tight & Focal Ad Groups

It's extremely important to develop each ad group around very focal keyword groupings. A good tip for PPC campaign management is to only include about 3-5 (or less) similar keywords in one ad group.

This is one of the biggest PPC campaign management mistakes advertisers make. Not only will tightly segmented ad groups enable you write more targeted ad copy per grouping, but keyword quality scores can increase and cost per click (CPC) can plummet. It might take a bit more work to develop 10 ad groups, as opposed to 4, but your overall PPC campaigns will have greater efficacy across the board.

4. Avoid Using Broad Match Keyword Bidding

The fact of the matter is, Google's definition of "broad" is extraordinarily broad. Bidding on the keyword phrase "red wagon" could make an ad trigger for "burgundy hatchback." That example might be extreme, but know that broad match keyword bidding is a good way to suck your budget dry on keywords you may not want to target.

Instead use more precise bidding strategies like "modified broad match" and "exact phrase match." For more tips on how to use these bidding strategies, checkout the section under "Keyword Bidding" on this PPC strategies article I wrote last year.

5. Never Stop Exploring, Nor Fine-Tuning

Once you think you have your PPC campaign on auto-pilot, think again. There's always ways to fine-tune your account. Whether by conducting negative keyword research, or exploring new keyword variations to add to your list of targets, the search landscape is constantly evolving.  PPC Campaign Management Tips

Features like "Product Extensions" (for ecommerce) and "Click to Call" (for local mobile) are becoming game-changers for various businesses. Continue refining your practice in PPC campaign management and you'll learn Google Ads in no time.

 

About the Author
Tyler Tafelsky is the Internet marketing manager here at OIC Group. Tyler is highly engaged in many facets of search marketing and social media. You can email him directly at Tyler(at)oicgroup.net, follow him on Twitter, at YisooTraining.com, or encircle him on Google+.

How Social Media Influences Google Search Rankings

It goes without question that social media now has a significant influence on Google's search engine rankings.

"Social signals," (also commonly referred to as "social indicators") are redefining how Google values quality, rank-worthy content, and thus the best practices of SEO. These are the Facebook Likes, Google +1's, Tweets, Pins, Shares, etc. that you often see on blog posts. Social Media SEO

That's not to say other ranking factors, such as inbound links and keyword relevancy, do not play a role in the SEO practice. But rather, SEO has becoming very socially integrated.

In order to achieve top search engine rankings, it's critical that you understand how social media impacts the game. Below we reveal some of the primary ways social media shapes SEO.

How Social Media Influences SEO

Of course social media in itself serves as a powerful marketing medium. However indirectly, social media can contribute to better search rankings.

  • Social Signals - This one's worth repeating. As a webpage earns more social signals, Google finds the page to have greater value and authority (and thus better ranking potential.) In addition to having a strong social media presence, you'll want to share your prized website content from time to time. This will help generate social favor (and thus SEO value) for your domain.
  • Citations - Also known as "mentions," are simply a company's name, address, and phone number found on other websites. From Google's perspective, citations represent greater credibility and legitimacy in a website. This is particularly influential for local SEO and increasing a business' listing in Google's local search results. Social media sites are a simple way to build citations.
  • Backlinks - These are inbound links that stem from other domains (such as a Twitter or Pinterest profile page.) Backlinks have been a huge topic of discussion in the SEO community. Now more than ever, it's important to generate backlinks organically. Building a presence on various social media sites is perfectly natural way to generate backlinks to your website.

Quick Tips to Leverage Social Media for SEO 

  • Build a blog, produce awesome content, and share it with your social audience.
  • Leverage Google Authorship in your content marketing practice.
  • At the very least, include Google+, Twitter, and Facebook in your social media portfolio. These social sites have the largest volume of users, and offer the greatest potential to generate social signals.
  • Integrate social sharing icons on your pages to make it easy for visitors to Like, +1, or Share your awesome content.
  • Reach out and build an strong, loyal community of social followers. This will only magnify your ability to generate social signals, as well as make your profile page an SEO asset in itself (social profile pages can rank very well in Google search.) You can use promoted tweets on Twitter, or Facebook advertising to help building your audience.

Want to learn more? Drop us a line here at OIC Group. Our social media marketing experts will be glad to assist you in creating a socially-integrated SEO campaign.

10 Rules of Thumb for SEO in 2013

The best practices of SEO are constantly changing every year. In fact, almost every month search marketers are faced with new advancements, algorithm updates, and techniques that shape their SEO strategies. SEO Rules of Thumb

In this short post, we summarize 10 rules of thumb that have seemed to remain consistent over the years with respect to SEO best practices. Each rule of thumb should be well ingrained in your SEO practice.

1. You Can't Out-Smart the Search Engines

There are no tricks to getting good results with SEO. Sure, in the past there have been some automated processes that have made SEO easier (automated blog/link building networks,) but the easy ways of SEO seem to become obsolete (if not complete risky to the website being optimized.)

2. Optimize Pages for Only 1 or 2 Keywords

It's not uncommon for some search marketers to try and optimize a page for 4 or 5 different keyword targets. Although the keywords might be related in some respect, this is not ideal. Either pick your top 1 or 2, or determine if it's logical to create a dedicated page for the outliers. You'll find it's much easier to write short and concise page titles and Meta descriptions when your on-page optimization efforts are more focal.

3. Build an HTML Sitemap

One of the most important aspect of a website that often gets overlooked is the HTML sitemap. This page, which acts as an index or reference source (particularly for search engine spiders,) is considered by many search marketers to be the second most important page of the website (next to the homepage.)

4. Link Logically

Whether your adding internal links throughout your website, or building backlinks from other sources, it's important to link logically. That is, build links that make sense from a user's perspective, not just for SEO value. The link anchor text you use is a major consideration. Instead of using exact keyword match anchor text, use descriptive text and other natural forms of anchor text. Especially for backlink building, it's critical to use a blend of anchor text so that your website's link portfolio appears as natural as possible.

5. Start Integrating Social Media

There's no question that social media is having a profound impact on SEO. Social signals (such as Google +1's and Facebook Likes) are becoming a stronger ranking factor every month. If you have a blog, social media is the place to share your content. This will help inbound traffic to your website, in addition to racking-up the social signals (and search engine authority) of your website. By the way, if you have yet to set-up a Google Plus page for you website or business, this should be a marketing priority.

6. Start Producing Content

With Google Authorship shaping the search results, content creators can earn an upper-leg in SEO. Google values strong content (especially content that's socially favored and marked-up with Authorship.) It keeps a website fresh with newness, and also helps make a website more keyword relevant. Whether weekly or monthly, starting a blog or articles section on your website can offer massive SEO advantages.

7. Keyword Optimize Consciously

The process of keyword optimizing a page is rather simple. In the old days, it was all about cramming the keyword for high density. That is now a risk that can result in your website being penalized. To successfully keyword optimize a page, consider the following rules of thumb.

  • URLs: include your primary keywords in the URL (and avoid including words like "the" or "an") - shorter URLs are preferred.
  • Meta Titles: include your primary keywords only once and keep the title under 70 characters.
  • Meta Descriptions: include your primary keywords once, but more importantly, write a compelling description that motivates users to click into your page.
  • Page Copy: try to use your primary keywords once in an H1 (header) and variations of your keywords in H2's and H3's. It also helps to mention the keyword a few times in the copy (but don't over-do it!)

8. Install Google Analytics

In order to properly track and measure visitor traffic and the level of interaction users have on your website, it's imperative that you install Google Analytics on all pages of your website. Analytics is a must for all web marketers and it can help you troubleshoot issues as well as find new opportunities for optimization.

9. Get Listed on Trusted Directories

Being listing on trusted directories only makes your site appear more trustworthy and credible. In addition, most directory listing that you create will offer a link back to your website, which can significantly help for SEO. A few of the most trusted directories are Yahoo! Local, Bing, Yelp, LinkedIn, and DMoz.

10. Verify Google Webmaster Tools

Similar to Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools enables search marketers to check-up on the health and overall performance of their websites. You won't gain the same level of insights as with Analytics, but you can find out if your website is being flagged for certain problems like: duplicate content, short Meta titles and descriptions, HTML code errors and warning, and other SEO-unfriendly ailments. You can also create and submit a XML sitemap on Google Webmaster Tools which tells Google your website is ready for fresh crawling and indexing.

There are your 10 SEO rules of thumb to keep top of mind with your optimization efforts. Do you have additional questions or concerns regarding SEO? Ask us in the comments section below, or contact us directly to learn more.

 

About the Author
Tyler Tafelsky is highly engaged in many facet's of search engine marketing. He currently heads the Peoria SEO team here at OIC Group, Inc. You can email him directly at Tyler(at)oicgroup.net or follow him on Twitter.

 

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