Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Got SEO Basics? 5 Tips To Boost Your Organic CTR

There’s no shortage of new digital marketing channels these days — and while they are innovative, exciting, and fun to experiment with, they can also distract you from SEO basics that can deliver performance gains. Your organic click-through rate (CTR) is a great example.
A simple page title tweak could take you from driving 2% of consumers to your landing page, to driving 20%! But today, your organic CTR can be affected by several different elements. Below we’ll take a look at five factors in your control:

1.  Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Ranking

Marketers everywhere are chasing after Page 1 organic rankings, but is there much of a difference between Position 1 and Position 6? Or Position 2 and Position 7? The short answer is “yes”!
Studies conducted by Nielsen Norman Group report that web users view the screen in an F-shaped pattern, and spend 80% of their time looking at information above the fold (the portion of the screen viewable without scrolling — usually rankings 1-5).
Based on these data, one could infer that rankings above the fold are seen first and more often — and that users may be more likely to click on these listings simply because of their navigation behavior.
Moreover, data from a 2013 Google CTR Study by Catalyst indicates that on average, 83% of Page 1 organic clicks go to the first four organic rankings.
Clearly, while ranking on the first page is great for achieving brand visibility, you need to get your website to rank above the fold to begin seeing substantial traffic gains.
Performance Tips:
  • Strive to achieve organic rankings closer to the top of the search result pages (above the fold), as these positions can drive higher CTRs.
  • Focus your e-commerce organic strategy on developing informational based content. SERP listings for informational search queries above the fold are less cluttered and will have a better chance of attracting the user’s attention/click.

2. Title Tag

The title tag defines the title of your web page (or other web document), and is typically the text that appears as a blue link on search engine results pages.
A page’s title can greatly influence whether or not a searcher clicks on your page in the SERPs, and it has the power to make or break your organic CTR. Be sure to take the time to carefully craft your title tags.
Below is a great example of a well-crafted title tag by The Boston Calendar. Let’s examine what they’ve done right:
  • The title contains the target keyword (“boston calendar”) close to the front of the tag, which is great for grabbing the user’s attention, and can even give rankings a slight boost.
  • The title is 45 characters long, and safe from truncation. Google usually truncates a title snippet that exceeds 65 characters.
  • Several of the words in the title match the user’s query — this causes them to be bolded in the SERPs.
  • The title is in the same “voice” as the brand, which is great for delivering consistent messaging across marketing channels.
  • The text, “events that don’t suck,”  evokes emotion and creates curiosity.
Performance Tips:
  • As you develop your tags, focus on the following important elements: character length, word choice, and query match.
  • For increased organic clicks, try adjusting your page titles to be more relevant and/or enticing to click. But do not remove your target keywords as it could impact your organic ranking.

3. Meta Description

Meta descriptions help users understand what your content is about before they see it. While they don’t directly impact organic search rankings, they can greatly influence whether or not users click through to your website. Given that, never overlook meta descriptions for high priority pages.
In fact, you might want to think of meta descriptions as free advertising — it’s basically an opportunity to get your message out each time your listing is displayed in the SERPs. However, keep in mind that sometimes Google doesn’t display the meta description in a SERP snippet, and instead uses other sources like publically available data and/or the content of the page.
Take a look at the below meta description by Wicked Wine Candles. What are they doing well in this example?
  • The meta description contains the target keyword (“wine bottle candles”), which matches the user’s query. As a result, these words are bolded.
  • At 154 characters long, the entire meta description is displayed in the search snippet. Google typically truncates meta descriptions that are greater than 160 characters.
  • The copy describes the company’s products in their style and voice.
  • The call-to-action references a promotional offer for free holiday shipping.
Performance Tips:
  • When you write your page meta descriptions, be sure to focus on character length, word choice, query match, and the call-to-action. 
  • For special times of year, like the holiday season or your peak selling periods, adjust your meta descriptions to be more relevant, and reference upcoming deals and/or product promotions.
  • Try to leverage paid search to continuously test and tweak your ad copy to find what works best.

4. URL

The URL is another area where SEOs can influence what is displayed in the SERPs, and in turn, affect CTR. Back in August 2009, Google tweaked its algorithm to improve how they generate site hierarchies (i.e., breadcrumb navigation) that display in SERPs. (See example from below.)
With the introduction of rich snippet markup (detailed information intended to help users with specific queries) webmasters can adjust their URL snippets to be cleaner while providing context to queries in the SERPs.
For instance, the landing page in the example below leverages semantic markup for breadcrumb navigation. As a result, the display URL provides valuable context and additional clickable navigation options.
Performance Tips:
  • When developing your URLs, pay attention to areas such as the folder structure, word choice, query match, and breadcrumb navigation snippets.
  • Ensure your site follows a well-organized folder structure and site hierarchy that leverages standard navigational tools such as breadcrumbs.
  • Be sure to mark up your pages with breadcrumb information for search engines.
  • For special times of year, like the holiday season or your peak selling periods, consider adding a section of your site dedicated to seasonal content, such as Christmas Gifts. Integrate this section into the main navigation of your website. These elements could then be displayed in the URL within search results, attracting users whose intent is shopping for the holidays/seasonal items.

5. Rich Snippets

It seems like rich snippets are here to stay, and they can help boost your CTR.
Since Google introduced rich snippets, all three of the top U.S. search engines (Google, Bing, and Yahoo) announced joint support of, which “provides a collection of schemas, i.e., html tags, that webmasters can use to markup their pages in ways recognized by major search providers.”
Essentially, website owners can add HTML markup to a web page that allows search engines to identify specific elements on that page and, in some cases, display those elements in search results. (In Google’s case, this often takes the form of rich snippets.) Google has made numerous updates to their algorithm since the introduction of rich snippets, resulting in more and more being displayed in search results.
By marking up your HTML accordingly, your landing pages may be displayed in SERPs with rich snippets that can help draw a searcher’s attention. Many companies have already implemented structured data markup throughout their websites.
For instance, the below page is marked up with several different types of product-related structured data markup, including breadcrumbs, aggregated product reviews, and product pricing.
Authorship is another type of rich snippet that can help your brand stand out in the SERPs. Not only does it distinguish your content, but it also helps readers find the other content you have published on the web.
As you can see in the below example, Matt Cutts’ website is tagged with Authorship markup. It displays his Google+ photo in the search results.

Top 10 Usefull Tips For Local Search Success

Many local businesses today are overwhelmed by the variety of local marketing choices available. Unlike the old days when a small handful of advertising outlets would cover the majority of your audience, the sheer volume of marketing options has seemingly flattened the reach of each advertising channel.
Business owners see all the different ways that consumers are seeking out, discovering and considering local businesses, and they don’t know where to start.
The key to getting started is building a strong foundation for local search success by checking off the basics. From there, you can take advantage of other opportunities, including paid media, to generate even greater visibility for your brand.
Here are my top 10 tips for best positioning your business in local search:

1. Ensure Key Information About Your Business Is Accurate & Accessible

One of the most important aspects of local search is ensuring that your business’ information is consistent, accurate and accessible throughout the web. Yet 50% of small businesses have inaccurate online listings, according to a survey by ConstantContact. If your business information is outdated or appears in different ways in different places, it will not only lower your visibility in search — it will make it difficult or even impossible for potential customers to find you.
A good approach to tackling this issue is to take advantage of local listings services, including LocalezeAxiomSinglePlatformYext and Universal Business Listing to actively manage your business information across local search platforms.
For the most popular sites such as, and Dexknows, be sure to manually claim your listings and make any necessary edits directly right away.

2. Populate Your Top Local Business Listings

Once your basic information on local search platforms is accurate, build out your listings on the most popular sites to include additional information that potential customers are looking for.
The 2013 results from our forthcoming Local Search Association/Burke Inc.’s “Local Media Tracking Study” show there is a variety of information beyond business name, address and phone number that consumers are looking for when reviewing a local listing.
Over half of consumers are interested in hours of operation, website address, and pricing information. Additionally, more than one in three consumers (38%) are looking for online reviews (more on that later). It’s also valuable to add business photos, menus and service offerings and other relevant information to fill out your local business listings.
Building out your listing is easy, so set aside time to do it and do it right. And if anything with your business changes — e.g., you go from limited hours on Sundays to none at all — be sure to update that on your local listings quickly so that customers don’t show up to your empty business.

3. Build A Website With The User Experience As The Key priority

shutterstock_137363432-home-page-iconA business website is the leading component of any business’ local marketing strategy – it’s essentially the “home base” from which digital interaction with your business begins and ends. The website is the most important place for existing and potential customers to learn about your company before deciding on whether to move forward with a purchase.
Local businesses benefit when they invest in developing a contemporary, appealing, easy-to-use website. This includes using a visually appealing color scheme and attractive visual content (more on that below), as well as incorporating straightforward navigation.
A user’s experience on your business website should mirror the experience you want customers to have with your business overall. Outdated information, dead links and long page load times should never be considered acceptable. Additionally, avoid using Flash media on your business website since it may negatively impact your site’s search ranking potential and not load on some browsers and smartphones.

4. Optimize Your Website For Search

shutterstock_151358642-magnifierWhen building a great business website, keep in mind that many potential customers won’t see your work if they can’t find it. Optimizing your website for search should go hand-in-hand with building an effective website.
Basics for boosting business website SEO include:
  • Ensure your website title goes beyond your business name to also include what it is and where it’s located. For example, if your business is called “Wesley’s Oasis,” it will be difficult for search engines to pick up on the fact that it’s a spa located in Austin if that’s all you include in your title tag. Make sure that potential customers can find your business in search by listing all relevant information in the website title: “Wesley’s Oasis – Full-Service Spa – Austin, Texas.”
  • Create individual pages for each business location as well as each product or service your business offers. This will raise the visibility of each in search, making it easier for potential customers to find exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Use keywords and phrasing that potential customers are most likely to use. Don’t go overboard trying to “keyword-stuff” every page, but don’t use industry lingo to explain an offering that the average Joe would describe — and therefore search — differently.
  • Don’t leave contact information just for the Contact page. Include basic business name, address and phone number information on every page of your website. This not only boosts SEO, but also makes it easier for a potential customer to contact or visit your business.

5. Start A Blog To Provide A Steady Stream Of Content

An easy way to build your website’s local search visibility is to start a blog, which will provide a steady stream of new and relevant content for your site. A blog — which can be featured prominently on your website homepage as well as promoted in your business’ social media channels — is a great opportunity to provide thought leadership on your industry and highlight new business offerings.
This additional fresh content will raise your site’s SEO results and provide an ongoing mechanism to drive traffic from the social web to your site.

6. Leverage Visual Content, Including Photos & Videos

In this age of Instagram and Pinterest, visual content plays an important role in appealing to potential customers. Consumers today are attracted to large photos and engaging videos that demonstrate a brand’s authenticity and value. Both photos and videos also help to boost website SEO and improve visibility for local listings.
Basics for integrating photos and videos include:
  • Add large, compelling photos to your website homepage that illustrate the character of your brand and the diversity of your offerings.
  • On the homepage or the About Us section of your website, add a short “Welcome” video introducing the visitor to your business so they can see who you are and develop a level of trust with your business.
  • Incorporate photos and videos into products and offering pages on your website. Consider short how-to videos and the like to demonstrate how useful the product is, or how easy it is to put together, etc.
  • Add photo albums and videos to your social media pages (more on social media later). This will boost visibility for your updates and provide followers with rich content about your business.
If your business hosts photos on Flickr or videos on YouTube, you will also benefit from the opportunity to include a variety of keywords that link your content back to your business.

7. Ensure Your Business Website Is Mobile-Friendly

Mobile DevicesOne of the biggest missteps your business can make is not optimizing its website for mobile. Local mobile searches are not only on the rise – the majority end in a purchase. If a potential customer attempts to access your website via mobile but is tripped up by pages not loading, sizing issues or the inability to find basic information, they are more likely to go back into search until they find one of your competitors who has a better mobile interface.
Start by conducting a mobile audit of your current website to determine the types of mobile consumers that are visiting your website, and what they’re looking for when they access your site. Then work with a mobile website developer to create a slimmed down version of your desktop website that highlights the most important information potential customers are looking for, delivered in a format that is easily viewable across smartphone devices.
Additionally, use call-to-action messaging throughout the mobile site to make clear what consumers can accomplish via your mobile website, such as schedule appointments or purchase products. Use large, bold text that is easily viewable on a mobile screen.

8. Engage On Social Media Channels Used By Your Target Customers

Social media provides a way to keep in direct, ongoing contact with your business’ most loyal customers about new offerings, promotions and the like. Profiles on Facebook, Twitter, etc. also rank high in online search and create backlinks to your website, boosting your website’s visibility. These benefits come at no added cost to your business.
Begin by determining which social media channels make the most sense for your business, based on the types of content you will be able to share and the channels your potential customers are most likely to be using.
Then create an editorial calendar for what content you’ll post and when, such as promotions, giveaways, photo round-ups, new offering announcements and blog updates. Use posts to link to your business website to drive traffic. And always engage with users directly about their questions or concerns.

9. Encourage Reviews To Add Credibility To Your Business

reviews-240pxOnline reviews are playing an increasingly critical role in driving consumers’ purchasing decisions. The quantity and quality of reviews also strongly influences how your business appears in local business listing results.
But while you want to encourage customers who have a positive experience with your business to leave reviews, you don’t want to improperly incentivize them or even bully them to do so.
Instead, use a soft approach by featuring a list of top review sites on your website and asking customers to share their feedback with you. Print phrases such as “Let us know how we’re doing” or “Please leave your feedback” on your receipts or invoices. Even consider adding a review button in your business email signature.

10. Pay Attention To Your Success – And Adjust Your Approach As Necessary

Once you begin implementing these tips, keep close track of your progress. Create a regular and ongoing reporting method so you can see what’s working, and what needs to improve.
By building this framework, you’ll be in greater control — and achieve peace of mind about your local marketing strategy.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Create A 301 Redirect Map in your Website

If you redesign your website, you need to create a 301 redirect strategy. At the core of this strategy is making a 301 redirect map.
If you launch a new website without a 301 redirect strategy, the website redesign will be a failure because you will lose a lot of traffic. When Digg redesigned its website, for example, it lost vast amounts of traffic.
After averaging consistent 30 percent improvements in weekly organic search traffic year over year, the site suddenly began losing up to 31 percent of its organic search visits the week of the launch. This could have been avoided if the URL changes had been implemented in conjunction with a 301 redirect strategy.
The only way to preserve your traffic from this revenue-ruining freefall is through a 301 redirect strategy.
Any SEO with a standard skillset should be able to make a redirect map. The process that I will explain below does not require any coding skills, htaccess meddling, Apache stuff, or expensive programs.

Who Should Use This Guide?

This how-to guide for creating a 301 redirect map is meant for SEOs that help with website launches. You may want find this guide helpful if:
  • You are assisting in a website launch (i.e., SEO website launch support)
  • You are helping a site regain traffic after a website launch
  • You are the SEO helping a team of developers during a website redesign
  • You are assisting with search strategy on a content refresh, architecture change, or CMS change

When Do You Create A 301 Redirect Map?

The 301 redirect strategy should be a part of your timeline at the very beginning of any website redesign. However, you won’t be ready to create an actual workable map until the redesign URLs are created. Sometimes, this doesn’t happen until the very end of the redesign process.
When all the new URLs are created, it’s time to make the map.

How To Create The 301 Redirect Map

In this step, your role as the SEO is not to implement the redirects, but to map the redirects.
The process is simple enough that all you need is Excel and a lot of time. Using Google Spreadsheets probably isn’t going to cut it in this case. Some Excel wizards may be able to create some powerful sort techniques, especially for particularly large sites.
1. Gather
Obtain a list of all the revamped URLs for the new site design. At the same time, develop a full list of all the original URLs from the old site. Your developers may be able to provide these lists, or you can assemble them using a crawling app. I used Integrity for Mac; Screaming Frog works, too.
2. Compare
Place the two lists side by side in a single Excel sheet.
3. Map
Now, match each old URL with its corresponding new URL. For the most part, this is going to be a fairly straightforward process. It will be obvious, for example, that the “About Us” page on the old site is going to redirect to the “About Us” page on the new site, etc.
Some pages won’t be so obvious, and you’ll have to make your best guess for where to redirect it. Using filtering rules in Excel, you can find common words in the URLs, and automatically match old ones to the new.
(Note: For sites with millions of pages, automating the process is essential.)
4. Hand Off
Once you’ve developed a full 301 redirect map, give it to the developers for implementation.

Testing Your New Site’s Redirects

After the site is launched, the most important thing you can do is to test the 301 redirects. Using a crawler, create a report of the server status for each page. Take note of any errors, and address these by referencing your 301 redirect map.
The simplest way to check for problematic redirects is to use Google Webmaster Tools.
  • First, log in to Google Webmaster Tools and select your site
  • Click Crawl → Crawl Errors
  • In the display, click “Not Found”
The “Not Found” report provides a tabulation of all the pages on your site that people tried to access, but received an 404 (Not Found) error.
Sometimes, 404s are the result of user error. Maybe the user manually typed in a URL page on your domain, but misspelled it — (misspelling “about-us”). The user will receive a 404, and you can just ignore it, since it’s not a major source of errors for most users.
If, however, you have 404 response codes appearing on pages that existed on the previous URL taxonomy, then those pages need to be redirect properly. It could be that the 301 redirect was misspelled or never implemented in the first place.
Here’s a look at one site’s Google Webmaster Tools report that is registering several 404s — 14 in total. This isn’t a bad number, actually. Some sites with recent redesigns may see 404 reports in the tens of thousands.
A more straightforward method of auditing 301 redirects post-launch is to use a tool like Screaming Frog that is designed for this purpose.
To use Screaming Frog’s 301 checking feature, you can:
  1. Upload all old URLs
  2. Tell Screaming Frog to “always follow redirects,” (Configuration → Spider → Advanced) and run a report
(I recommend Screaming Frog’s article on the topic for a more in depth treatment.)
Even after you’ve conducted an initial test, it’s helpful to keep an eye on your Webmaster Tools for a while. If you notice any URL errors, be sure to fix them as quickly as possible.

What Is SEO ?

SEO means "Search Engine Optimization"

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results.

Types of SEO:

There are two types of SEO: 1. On Page Optimization
                                               2. Off Page Optimization


 On page optimization is one of the very first step of SEO which every webmaster should look into. It probably won't even take you an hour to learn and implement some of these on-page optimization techniques.


In search engine optimization, off-page optimization refers to factors that have an effect on your Web site or Web page listing in natural search results. These factors are off-site in that they are not controlled by you or the coding on your page. Examples of off-page optimization include things such as link popularity and page rank.