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Sherry Bonelli – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Mon, 24 Sep 2018 19:26:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 Are you guilty of these common SEO mistakes? /are-you-guilty-of-these-common-seo-mistakes-305826 Mon, 24 Sep 2018 19:30:00 +0000 /?p=305826 Mistakes happen. When they do, the best response is to learn from your errors, and those made by others, so you can turn them into opportunities.

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When it comes to SEO and trying to rank high on Google, everyone is trying to outdo each other. It’s competitive — so every little bit of SEO you can add to your site helps. But let’s face it… it’s a struggle!

Here are some common blunders you should avoid.

Adding keywords to your Google My Business listing business name

Everyone has heard of the importance of keywords. So, when thinking of their Google My Business (GMB) listing, it’s natural for a business to think that adding keywords to their business name could help their rankings on Google. Keywords in a business name can help with rankings, BUT if those keywords are not part of your company’s legal name, adding those keywords is in direct violation of Google My Business Guidelines.

So guess what? If you add keywords to your company’s name in your Google My Business listing, you just became a spammer — something Google (and the rest of the legitimate SEOs in the world) despises.

Here’s a strong word of advice: No matter how tempting it is to add keywords to your GMB business name to try and boost your local SEO rankings — DO NOT DO IT! It’s just not worth the risk.

Why is it risky? Your competitors (or anyone else, for that matter) who find “spam” in your Google My Business listing can report you to Google, and Google can take action against your listing, which is NOT a good thing.

Spam includes keyword-stuffed business names, businesses that have UPS or virtual office addresses, have claimed multiple addresses where they don’t have employees, fake reviews and more.

So, what do you do if you find competitors who are up to no good? Joy Hawkins wrote a great article on the Google My Business forum that explains how to properly report Google My Business spam, and Kaspar Szymanski has written in these virtual pages about reporting competitor spam.

Running a not-secure site

Way back in 2014, Google announced that having a secure site was a positive ranking factor. However, digital marketers and SEOs didn’t really start paying attention to this SEO opportunity until recently.

Why the switch? Google is now showing “Not secure” warnings on their popular Chrome browser for websites that aren’t secure. Now SEOs and website managers are starting to pay attention.

When a potential customer visits your site and sees this “Not secure” warning, will they trust you? Will they have confidence in your website? Will they feel safe putting their personal information in a form on your site? Probably not. So not only will having a secure site potentially help your rankings, but it can also help with website conversions.

To make your site secure, you first need to purchase an SSL Certificate. You can purchase an SSL Certificate from your website host or domain name registrar. (Note: You need to renew your SSL Certificate every year, just like a domain name.) Once you purchase an SSL Certificate, you need to install it on your website. Sometimes your website host will do the installation for you (for free or for a charge), or else you can hire a website developer to do the installation for you.

It can get a little technical, and unexpected issues can arise when an SSL certificate is installed on a website. I usually have a web developer do all my SSL Certificate installations, so they can thoroughly check the site for any issues that may have occurred due to the installation. Just to be safe.

One important component of the SSL installation is to do 301 redirects that point all of your non-secure URLs (http://) to your new secure URLs (https://). This is very important because otherwise, when a person clicks on one of your old URLs in search results, they will be sent to a dead page that doesn’t exist anymore — and get an error. You don’t want that.


Some website CMSs have plug-ins that can make the 301-redirect process easier, or you can also hire a web developer to ensure that all the loose ends of changing your site from a non-secure to a secure site are tied up nicely.

Since making your site secure is such a big deal, you want to make sure that this process is done correctly and professionally, so be sure that your secure site switch is in good hands.

Having a slow site load time

While Google hasn’t provided specific metrics to say what’s “too slow,” it does say that 53 percent of mobile website visits are abandoned if it doesn’t load in fewer than 3 seconds.

What? That’s lightning speed, my friends.

I personally know that this is a struggle for most websites — even the big guys can have load time issues.


If your website doesn’t load quickly, your rankings could take a hit because Google wants users to be happy, and fast-loading sites make users happy. If your site loads slowly, you’re likely to drop in rankings, and it may be difficult to recover.

You can test your site’s speed using Google’s Site Speed Test. Simply enter your URL and you’ll be given results for both a mobile and desktop device. The best part? Google will give you tips on exactly what fixes you need to make to help improve your site speed. Alternatively, check out the two other free page-speed testing tools described by my fellow columnist Marcus Miller.

Asking people to click here

I’m sure you’ve seen it. You’re reading a website page and you see the famous “Click here for more information.” When you use this generic call to action (CTA) as anchor text, you’re wasting a prime opportunity to help boost your SEO.

Whenever you use anchor text on a page, be sure to use text that is helpful and relevant to the person reading your content. Using keywords in your anchor text can help with SEO because Google factors in the anchor text and where that hyperlink goes. Just don’t overdo it by stuffing your page with a bunch of keyword anchor text links. It can be perceived by Google as spammy and can backfire.

Did you know that Google also considers the content around a hyperlink? So be sure that the words around the anchor text are related to the keywords and context of the anchor text.

Top-secret tip: You can embed Google Maps driving directions as anchor text. This is especially helpful to your visitors on your Contact Us page. To do this, search for your business on Google, and you should see your business’s Google My Business listing’s Knowledge Panel on the right-hand side. Next, click on the Google Map:

Then, click on Directions:

Next, click on and copy the URL — that’s the URL of the directions to your business’s location:

You can then use that URL as a link on your page. So on your Contact Us page, you could write something like, “Get directions to Thomson & Thomson Law Firm.” Not only is this a great use of anchor text, but it also gives Google a signal to your local business’s location -– an extra local SEO bonus!

Not using image alt tags

The internet is all about text, video and images. You use all those pieces to tell your business’s story. If you’re not fully optimizing your images, you’re not doing one of the most basic elements of your SEO job.

In fact, Google’s John Mueller suggests that using alt tags is a Google best practice and one that SEOs should be using:

When selecting what to use as an alt tag, be sure to describe the image, not what you wish the image was showing (i.e., don’t just use a bunch of keywords you’re trying to rank for.) Also, you don’t need dashes in between the words in alt tags — so just write alt tags like you would any other short sentence.

Top-secret tip: When uploading images to your website, don’t just use the randomly generated image file name your camera or stock photo company gave the image. Rename the image with keywords that describe the photo, like “unclogging-a-sink-drain.jpg.”

Also, if the photo is an image that directly pertains to your business’s location, you can geotag the photo itself. You can use a tool like GeoTag My Photo to add a geotag location to the actual photo.

Failing to implement a Google Map

Can you believe that some businesses don’t have a Google Map showing their business location on their “Contact Us” page of their website? (Instead of having a Google Map, one of my client’s sites had a Yahoo! Map on their “Contact Us page” — and that was one of the first things that had to go when I started working on their SEO.)

Why should you have a Google Map on your site? First, you want to make it easy for customers to find you. Second, you want to make it easy for Google to find your physical address, so it can better send traffic to your website and business when potential customers perform a local search. What better way than using Google Maps?

To get started creating your Google Map, first go to Google Maps and type in the address you want to create the map for. Once the address is pulled up, click on the Menu (it looks like a hamburger.)

Next, select “Share” from the menu:

You will then select “Embed a map.” You can select the size of the map as you would like it to appear on your website.

Then simply copy the HTML for your Google Map and paste it into the HTML of your website.

By simply switching from a Yahoo! Map to a Google Map on my client’s site, we saw a spike in page views!

Ignoring pages that don’t rank on page 1

Many people think that if their current pages don’t rank on page one of Google, they need to simply write more pages and then try to get those pages to rank higher.

Nope! Why waste efforts when chances are you have some high-potential pages already in your arsenal that just need some help. If you have pages that are ranking on page two of Google for your target keywords, chances are that –- with a little help –- you can get those pages to rank on page one.

If you’re getting clicks on a “page two” page, then it’s worth trying to get that page to rank higher. To find high-potential pages, log in to Google Search Console and click on Performance. Be sure to select the filters you want (you’ll need Queries, Clicks, Impressions and Position at a minimum.)


If you have pages that are ranking in 11th to 20th position, then you have a shot at working your way toward the first page – especially if you’re getting clicks and there are people searching for that keyword phrase.


You can use a variety of different strategies to help boost already existing pages or blog posts on your site:

  • Add more content to make the piece longer — aim for at least 1,500 to 2,000 words.
  • Update the page to add new information and more content.
  • Add links to that page from other pages that currently rank on page one.
  • Create new headings with better use of keywords.
  • Add new examples.
  • Include more external links (with properly SEO-optimized anchor text) to highly authoritative sites. Try to link to at least three quality resources that are pertinent to the topic of the page.
  • Mention influencers and link to their websites or blog posts (and be sure to tag them in social media posts for extra possible exposure).
  • Add new images, and be sure to optimize those images with alt tags and other image optimization strategies.
  • Include case studies that show results.
  • Add infographics.

By updating a page or blog post that is close to ranking on page one versus writing brand new content, you’ll increase your odds of ranking on page one of Google.

SEO mistakes happen

Let’s face it — mistakes happen. The best thing you can do is learn from your own (and others’) mistakes and figure out how to turn them into opportunities. Good luck!

The post Are you guilty of these common SEO mistakes? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google My Business listings: 5 frequently asked questions /google-my-business-listings-5-frequently-asked-questions-301499 Tue, 10 Jul 2018 13:24:00 +0000 /?p=301499 GMB has a handful of new features and some best-practice confusion. Contributor Sherry Bonelli clears things up and answers five frequently asked questions on fake reviews, random people changing your listing and more.

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One of the best ways to get local rankings is by claiming and optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing.

Not only does your Google My Business listing increase your chances of showing up in the Google Local 3-pack, but when your business is searched for by name, Google often shows a Knowledge Panel that displays detailed information about your company.

These details are pulled directly from your GMB listing, as well as from information Google finds from other online sources and user-generated content (like third-party reviews, Q&As, user-suggested information and so on).

Google has added a lot of amazing features for businesses to use to enhance and optimize their GMB listings over the past few years. If you’re not taking advantage of the latest features of GMB — such as being able to manage multiple locations with one dashboard — it’s time to log in to your Google My Business dashboard and start optimizing it.

However, along with all the new features comes a slew of questions and some confusion as to best practice do’s and don’ts. Here are five frequently asked Google My Business questions asked and answered.

GMB questions and answers

Question: Can random people really make changes to my Google My Business Listing?

Answer: Yes.

Even though it doesn’t seem fair to most business owners, anyone can suggest a change or an edit to your business listing,  including your competition. These user-generated changes can be made live on your listing, and you might not even be notified the changes have been made. This includes changing your physical business location.

That’s why it’s good practice to log into your Google My Business dashboard frequently to make sure that no one has made incorrect or inaccurate changes to your listing. To see if you’ve received any notifications from Google regarding any changes made to your listing, log into your GMB dashboard and switch back to the “classic view” of the dashboard:

In the dashboard, click on “Google Updates.” It’s here where you’ll see a box that allows you to “Review Updates” that were either made or suggested.

If you find updates here, Google made changes to your business listing because they discovered new information about your business from another directory, a change on Google Maps or a trusted Google user submitted an edit to your listing that was made and possibly already published.

Depending on the situation, when people make “suggested edits,” the changes can go live without your ever being notified.  Google is supposed to send emails to the owner and others managing your Google My Business listing when changes are made, but many times these change notifications are not received. So it’s best to log in to Google My Business frequently to check your listing to ensure that all of your information is correct and accurate.

Question: Should I use hashtags in my Google My Business Posts to help people find trending keywords and search phrases?

Answer: No, I would not waste the space.

Even though they might look like it, Google My Business posts are not social media posts. You have up to 1,500 characters for the details of your post, but the ideal length is between 150 and 300 characters, so use these characters wisely.

Because the text gets cut off and people need to click on the post to read everything you’ve written, make sure you put the most important content at the beginning of the post. Wasting precious characters on hashtags is pointless, especially when hashtags don’t help with rankings in any way.

Instead, use Google My Business Posts to promote your business and what you think customers viewing your Google My Business listing would be interested in. Things like:

  • News or new things going on at your business.
  • Events. Event titles should not include promotional language, pricing information or calls to action.
  • Offers. Sale or specials you are running.
  • Products.

Google My Business Posts stay live for seven days, and then they “go dark,” but past posts are still visible when the current post is clicked on. People can scroll through past posts you’ve made.

If you’ve created an event or write dated posts (like a sale that runs from July 4-9), then the post will “expire” when the offer or event ends.

To catch a searcher’s attention, include a great image in your post. Because Google Maps can cut the post image off on mobile devices, make sure the best part of the image is centered and that the image is sized correctly for Google Maps and the Knowledge Panel on desktop computers.

Question: I have some fake reviews about my business on my Google My Business listing. How can I get them removed?

Answer: Are they truly fake reviews or reviews you simply don’t like? If they’re negative reviews you don’t like or don’t agree with, Google probably won’t remove them.

Read Google’s Review Policies to see if the reviews truly violate Google’s policies. If the review does violate Google’s terms and are truly fake reviews, the first thing you should do is politely respond to the reviewer. This lets everyone who sees the negative review know you care enough to at least address the unhappy “customer” head-on.

Google even provides you with tips on how to reply to a reviewer.

Next, you can log in to your Google My Business dashboard and flag the review. First, go to the specific review you want to flag and click on the three dots next to the review:

And then click “Flag as Inappropriate.”

Flagging a review inside of Google My Business is more effective than flagging it through your browser.

Another benefit is that you’ll get a response from Google letting you know they got your request.


After getting the confirmation email, wait three days. You should receive a response from Google where you can explain the circumstances as to why the review is fake. Don’t use emotions, use facts. Give Google as much detail as possible about the situation, the reviewer and why the review is fake and should be removed.

You can also go to the Google My Business forum and explain your situation there. Depending on your situation, a Google Top Contributor may assist you and help you reach out to a person at Google who can help you get the fake review removed.

Question: One of my former employees must have claimed my Google My Business listing, because I know we verified it, but I do not know the login information. How can I get access to my listing?

Answer: First, reach out to any former employees you think may have claimed your Google My Business listing, ask if they did, and then ask for the email address and password. Or ask they log in and make you the primary owner.

If you worked with a digital marketing agency, reach out to them as well. Agencies should have you claim your listing and then ask to make them managers of your listing so this type of thing doesn’t happen. As the business owner, you should always have control of your listing. That’s the proper protocol.

If all else fails, take these steps:

Go to GMB Create and enter your business name. You’ll see a message that says the listing has already been claimed, and Google will show you a snippet of the email address that was used to claim the listing. This may also jog your memory.

If it’s an email address you recognize, you can exit and then use that email address, password and login to your Google My Business listing. If you do not recognize the email address, click Request Access and fill out the form. The current listing owner will receive an email — and so will you.

After you request listing ownership, the current listing owner has seven days to respond to your request. You can check the status of your request by clicking on the link that’s in the confirmation email you received from Google.

If your ownership request is approved, you’ll receive an email letting you know, and you’ll be able to manage the listing by logging into Google My Business. If the current owner denies the request for ownership, you’ll also be notified by email. Just like anyone else, you can still suggest edits to a listing and in some cases, the denied request can be appealed.

If you don’t get a response after seven days, Google might give you the option to claim the business listing yourself. To see if you’re eligible to claim the listing, log in to Google My Business and see if there is a Claim or Verify button on your dashboard.

You can also do a Google search for your business and see if there is an option to claim your business in the knowledge panel that shows up in the right-hand side. (If you don’t see an option to claim the listing, that means the listing is not eligible to be transferred.)

Question: I find myself with a lot of Google My Business questions. Is there a place I can go to get answers to specific questions I have?

Answer: Yes! If you have specific questions about Google My Business or have issues with your listing, the best place to go is to the Google My Business forum.

There you will find industry experts ready to help answer your questions or Top Contributors who can reach out to Google on your behalf to expedite changes that may need to be made.

Not only is it a great resource if you have an issue, but it is also a great way to help you learn more about the ins-and-outs of Google My Business. It’s an awesome place to go to learn tips and tricks.

To close

One of the best ways to rank locally on Google is to use all of the features offered by Google My Business. With all the cool stuff Google offers to enhance a listing, you should take advantage of everything. Not only will GMB help provide potential customers with more info about your business, but the program tracks your listing, which can provide excellent information to help market your business.

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Google My Business Q&A: What you may be missing /google-my-business-qa-what-you-may-be-missing-299177 Mon, 28 May 2018 13:00:00 +0000 /?p=299177 Did you know you can add a custom FAQ to your GMB listing? Contributor Sherry Bonelli explains how to use the often-overlooked Q&A feature to promote your business and stay ahead of the competition.

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Google has been releasing more and more features on Google My Business (GMB). Additions like posts, photos, videos, booking, business descriptions, reviews and more make optimizing your Google My Business listing a must for local business or digital marketing agency managing local search strategies.

Staying on top of all the updates needed to keep a Google My Business listing current and optimized can be daunting — especially if you have multiple locations or are working with more than one business.

One GMB feature often overlooked is the questions and answers (Q&A) feature. Just like Google My Business reviews, Q&As are essentially crowdsourced by people — real people (potential customers) who ask questions with the expectation the business will answer their questions.

However, many businesses are not aware this review feature even exists! So the questions often go unanswered by the business, or the questions are answered by everyday people who often give incorrect answers or less-than-helpful ones.

This can lead to disastrous and embarrassing results for a business.

Look at this local movie theater as an example. They currently have 48 questions:

Of the 48 questions asked, not one of them was answered by the theater. Not one. In fact, most were answered by “Local Guides” or random people, and the answers were typically less than helpful:

Is this embarrassing for the theater? You bet! Heck, it’s even embarrassing for the people that answered the question in this case.

As a business owner or digital marketing agency that manages GMB listings for clients, how can you stay on top of Google My Business Q&As and use them to market and promote your business for the good,  instead of potentially tarnishing your brand?

First, let’s define what Google My Business Q&As are and then discuss how you can better manage Q&As and use them to your business’s advantage.

What are Google My Business Q&As?

Google My Business Questions & Answers are crowdsourced questions and answers for a local business. These questions are asked and answered through a business’s Knowledge Panel.

Crowdsourcing content is nothing new. When Amazon first asked a customer for an online book review, it was one of the first forms of crowdsourcing.

Google is taking crowdsourcing to the next level in many ways with online reviews, user-generated attributes and now they’re adding Google My Business Q&As.

To help you understand why Google is all-in with crowdsourcing, let’s take a look at user-generated attributes.

User-generated attributes

User-generated attributes are questions the public can answer about a business that help “fill out” a local business’ profile. You will see the linked question, “Know this place?” in the company’s knowledge panel:

After you click on the link, you’ll be served up some questions about the business that you can choose to answer if you’d like:

You can even skip a question and see more question choices if you like! That’s Google building a better overview of exactly what a business is about and more information about the products and services they offer.

Google loves this type of user-generated input because it provides consumers with (typically) unbiased details and information about a business, things that are genuinely used to build out the business’s profile.

This information also allows Google to better determine if a business should be shown in search results when queries such as “Is there a doughnut store close to Boyson Road?” are asked.

Google My Business Q&As are a lot like attributes, in that users ask questions they want answered about a business. They offer the input and then wait for the business to respond.

The problem: they often wait… and wait… and wait…

According to a study by Get Five Stars, 25 percent of locations on Google Maps have questions.

The study also found that the following industries had particularly high numbers of questions asked:

  • Car dealers.
  • Employment agencies.
  • Self-storage companies.
  • Dentists.
  • Casual restaurants.
  • Chiropractors.
  • Insurance agents.

It was also found that 90 percent of big box stores had questions. For big name stores, this makes it especially important for their brand to keep up and answer these questions to ensure accurate and correct information is being provided about their products and services.

How to use Google My Business Q&As to your advantage

Today’s savvy shoppers often check the internet, look around and do research before they make a purchase, whether it’s an online or offline purchase. They’re curious about the price of services and product information and have questions about the business itself.

The GMB Q&A feature is perfect for these people. But as a business owner or agency, you need to be prepared to monitor and answer the questions before a random person does.

Google doesn’t exactly make it easy for you to find out when questions are asked. You don’t get any notifications letting you know that there are new questions when you’re logged in to your Google My Business dashboard. To find out if you have new questions, you can:

  • Search for your business name on a desktop computer and see if there are new questions.
  • Install Google Maps on your phone, log in and check for questions/notifications.
  • Go on a mobile browser, search for your business and see if you have new questions that need to be answered.

Now, most people understand this feature is for questions they have about your business, and it isn’t a place to complain or leave a review. But be prepared — you may get the occasional complaint, rant or great review!

Google has recently started sending out email notifications letting a GMB manager/owner know a new question has been asked, but it’s possible not everyone associated with your GMB account receives these emails. It’s best to manually check for new questions.

Create your own FAQs

One of the cool things about GMB Questions & Answers is that you can go in and prepopulate your Q&A with frequently asked questions and answers yourself.

This means you can essentially create an FAQ section on your Google My Business listing. It’s a great idea, and chances are your competitors aren’t going to think of doing the same.

If you add these commonly asked questions and answers, they will head off questions potential customers have, so you’ll be ahead of the curve instead of behind.

Plus, it’ll make your listing look super useful to people that are researching companies and looking for products or services — yours will stand out.

What to ask and answer

A great way to find out what type of questions your customers ask is by talking to your customer service and sales team. They are on the front lines working with customers day in and day out and are the people in your company who hear customers’ questions, concerns, complaints, feedback and insights.

If your marketing team has done any type of market research recently, ask for that data as well.

Get some drinks and snacks and invite everyone into a room, set up a whiteboard or computer and brainstorm all the questions customers ask. Once you have a good list, write down your company’s “official” answer to each question.

Not only will this help your GMB listing, but it will also be a great document the customer service and sales teams can use later to answer customers’ questions correctly and consistently.

If you’re an agency, going through this process with your clients is a great way to better understand how they operate, to meet the team, get familiar with who their customers are and what concerns and questions they have. All this information will help when you manage their search marketing because you must understand your client’s customers to create a successful digital marketing campaign.

Can I get a thumbs-up?

Did you know Google My Business Questions & Answers can show up in search results? They do, which makes it even more important to properly manage your GMB listing. So, when you’re answering the questions that come in, it can’t hurt to include keywords where it makes sense.

Also, people can “thumbs-up: or “thumbs-down” Q&As, and that impacts the order the questions appear in.

There’s always a bad apple in the bunch

If you find someone is misusing or being abusive in the Q&A section of your Google My Business listing, check out Google’s guidelines to see if the offender is truly offending.

If they are, you can flag them…

… and then tell Google why you think the question goes against the guidelines:

If it truly is against Google’s guidelines and you’ve flagged the question (or answer), and it’s still on your Google My Business listing, you can always contact Google’s GMB support team:

  • Google My Business Support Facebook
  • Google My Business Support Twitter
  • GMB Support Phone Number: 1-844-491-9665

More changes to Google My Business Q&As?

Google is always testing features, so don’t be surprised if the Q&A feature goes through some changes. For instance, it would be awesome if you could get a text notification every time a new question is asked or answered, especially if you haven’t answered it.

So, keep your eye out in your Google My Business dashboard and log in frequently. You never know what feature will appear next!

The post Google My Business Q&A: What you may be missing appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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How to use a podcast to create smart and usable content /how-to-use-a-podcast-to-create-smart-and-usable-content-296881 Mon, 30 Apr 2018 13:30:00 +0000 /?p=296881 In the last of this three-part series, Contributor Sherry Bonelli says a podcast might be an audio file, but you can create unique written content from it to help with your branding and SEO efforts. Here's how.

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This is Part 3 of a three-part series. Here are Part 1 and Part 2.

The more podcast interviews you do, the more credibility and authority will be built around your brand. This, in turn, provides more opportunity to use that authority in your search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing efforts.

Using reviews

Show notes, reviews and links from the podcast sites typically include your name. That means when people search for your name, your pages should appear in search result pages.

This gives you higher authority and reinforces your personal branding,  which helps when you’re trying to rank higher in the search engines.

It also helps you become a successful marketer and leader in your niche.

Reach an audience quickly

Being a guest on the podcast is one of the fastest ways to reach an engaged audience interested in your topic.

In fact, podcasts will promote your name, company name, social presence and other links, all of which promote you to audiences as an expert.

Once you take up podcasting, to take your personal brand one step further, consider adding an “As Featured On” page on your site. You can add a list of the podcasts, along with their logos and audio snippets, and optimize the page as much as possible for keywords of the topics discussed on the podcasts.

Not only is this a great way to build up your authority for the search engines, but it will also make potential clients feel more comfortable and confident in hiring you.

Ask the podcast host if you can put a snippet of the audio file on your website and then link to their site so people can listen to the full podcast. (Audio really engages people and can mean that visitors will stay on your site longer — which is also good for search rankings.)

Using a show notes page

As mentioned earlier, the podcast host will probably take links from your “As Featured On” page and put them on the show notes page. These links are like gold!

If the show notes page has been indexed, those links will help reinforce your pages and may influence the search engines.

For instance, by being a guest on The Local Business Leaders Podcast, my site was linked to twice and my LinkedIn profile was included.  The podcast host usually promotes the podcast on social media, and even on ads they are running for more exposure!

Transcribe the audio file

Surprisingly, most podcast hosts don’t take the time to transcribe the podcast audio into a text file.

This is a huge opportunity for you to get search ranking bonus points! First, ask the host if it’s okay if you transcribe the audio (podcast) to create a blog post for your site.

You can use a service like Rev.com to transcribe the audio and add the transcription to your site for a nominal fee.

Most podcast shows are 20 to 30 minutes long, so for around $30, you can get a full transcription of your podcast audio. You will want to spend some time optimizing the content with your targeted keywords and maybe add images to reinforce points you made on the podcast.

Make sure you give credit to the podcast and link to the podcast’s site; they will appreciate the acknowledgment. Once your audio transcription of the podcast is live on your site, let the podcast site know so they can share your website page with their social media channels and you can share it on yours. (It’s almost like a relaunch of the original podcast — win-win!)

Be sure to post your transcription blog post a few weeks after the initial launch of the podcast so you’re essentially relaunching the podcast and keeping the promotion going.

Ready to get started?

If being a guest on a podcast sounds good to you, it’s time to get started. If you don’t want to try to get yourself booked, there are several great podcast booking sites that can help you get started for a fee:

  • Podcast Bookers.
  • Interview Valet.
  • Get Featured.
  • Be My Guest.
  • Interviews That Convert.
  • Interview Connections.

If you do regular speaking at trade shows, conferences or webinars, you may even be approached by podcasters to be interviewed.

Just remember that being a guest on a podcast has more benefits than just the speaking and interview. You can get SEO benefits that can last for a long time and will build up the more podcasts you’re a guest on if you take full advantage of the podcast and the content you can create from it.


Read more of this powerful series on mastering podcasting: 

The post How to use a podcast to create smart and usable content appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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The power of podcasting: SEO keyword angles /the-power-of-podcasting-seo-keyword-angles-295419 Mon, 02 Apr 2018 15:54:00 +0000 /?p=295419 In Part 2 of a three-part series, Contributor Sherry Bonelli dives into the details of optimizing a podcast for maximum SEO, link and brand-building benefit.

The post The power of podcasting: SEO keyword angles appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Part 1 can be found here.

Once you are booked on a podcast, brush up on the host’s website, bio and about page.

Listen to recent podcast episodes so you can get a feel for the types of questions being asked, learn a little bit about the host and ask about audience demographics. You have an opportunity to speak with someone who is going to listen to you for 20 or 30 minutes of their time — you must make an impression!

Before the podcast interview, the host or one of their representatives will typically contact you to chat about what they want to cover on the podcast. If they don’t reach out to you, you should contact them and ask if you can schedule a time to talk about what they would like to discuss on the show.

Some will want the interview to be organic and won’t share the angle they are planning to focus on; some will strategize your interview so that you both can tailor a message that will best help the podcast audience.

As an example, when I was interviewed on Phil Singleton’s podcast, The Local Business Leaders Podcast, we decided I would talk about local search engine optimization (SEO). But as we talked, we also decided I would talk about a local SEO success story I had with a client who was an attorney. That gave both of us an angle for the podcast, and through our discussion, we’d get attorney SEO-related keywords that would be included in the transcript of the episode.

Remember, the audience trusts the show host, so as a result, you get an automatic “seal of approval.” And remember, the entire show is dedicated to you! You’re the person of the hour, and it’s costing you nothing but your time. SWEET!

Think SEO during the podcast interview

Prepare for the interview by brainstorming and writing down a list of keywords, influencers, companies, blogs, universal resource locators (URLs), books, etc. that pertain to the topic of the show and keep that sheet of notes handy so you can refer to that list and use those examples throughout the interview.

As you are being interviewed, think of how you can use those keywords naturally during the conversation with the host. If you mention links, make a quick note and be sure you provide the direct link to the host after the interview, so they can add them to the show notes.

When you’re talking, speak to their main audience. Now, like many speakers, you may use similar examples in almost every interview or presentation you give, but tailor those answers to meet the audience’s interests. Remember to teach and share your best information; don’t pitch your services. You’re there to teach, not sell your products or services.

Mention what you admire

During the interview, mention books, influencers or other companies you admire or like to work with. You can use these types of people and companies as examples.

Once the podcast is uploaded and available to the public, you can promote the podcast on social media.

Be sure to mention the influencer, his or her company, software or book on social media. You’ll likely get kudos or a thank-you for mentioning these people or companies. Just make sure you don’t sound like a sales pitch when you’re a guest on a podcast. Remember, you’re only there to share information, not to sell.

Use names, companies and keywords and examples naturally throughout the show, just as you would if you were writing an article.

Keep an SEO mindset

Throughout the interview, keep an SEO mindset. Think carefully about the words and phrases you are using. The content and information you share in the show will benefit you in multiple ways, so try to be strategic in what you say.

During the podcast interview, be very purposeful in how you mention your website or business. Don’t talk about your business too much. At the end of the show, the host will usually give you an opportunity to mention something about how people can learn more about you and your business. This is the time to mention your URL and work in a call to action (CTA) for a special offer only available to podcast listeners.

Plan ahead: Set up a special page on your site with an offer, pixel visitors and capture names and email addresses and give them something awesome in return.

Make your offer redeemable only on your site.

SEO benefits after the podcast

Once you’re done with your guest interview, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief and feel really good!

Don’t forget to send the host an email thanking them for having you as a guest, and be sure to provide the host with all the links you mentioned during the show.

Reach out to those influencers, let them know you shared their websites and books in your podcast, and then leave a link to the podcast. Many will share the podcast link with their fans and followers.

Getting these shares is just one more way to amplify your SEO benefits through social media. Be sure to social tag these people when you make your social media post like this:

You can also send them an email or direct message them on social media as well.

After the podcast recording is done, the host is going to do most of the work to promote the recording, driving people to visit your site so they can find out more information about you. However, you will also want to do your part to share on your social media channels as well. This cross-promotion between you and the podcast will benefit everyone from a search and social perspective.

Since podcast listeners are more active on social media, you can use that to your advantage to promote your podcast guest interview through your social media channels. This gives you a huge, well-rounded digital marketing strategy to help promote your podcast interview.

Links and asking for reviews

At the end of the show, be sure to send the podcast host a list of the links you mentioned during the interview, so they can easily put them in the show notes.

It’s been shown that Google considers online reviews in their ranking factors. At the end of every show, send an email, politely ask the host for a review based on your knowledge during the podcast interview, and offer to leave them a review on iTunes as well. This will lead to new reviews that can help you with rankings and credibility. The podcast host will be thrilled that you’re leaving a review for them as well.

Leaving great reviews may help you land more guest spots, so be sure to leave a review that is fair, informative and lets others know you are available as a podcast guest.

This ends Part 2 of our three-part series: SEO and podcasting. In Part 3, we’ll learn how to build personal and brand authority with podcasts, look at how podcasts generate backlinks and discuss how to transcribe audio files for more SEO-rich content. Stay tuned!


Read more of this series on mastering podcasting: 

The post The power of podcasting: SEO keyword angles appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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The power of podcasting: How to boost your reputation and search engine rankings /the-power-of-podcasting-how-to-boost-your-reputation-and-search-engine-rankings-295003 Fri, 23 Mar 2018 19:25:00 +0000 /?p=295003 Podcasting is hot and a must-use SEO tactic, says contributor Sherry Bonelli. Here is Part 1 of a three-part series on how to use podcasts to boost your SEO and brand reputation.

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If you’re in the digital marketing industry, you know podcasts are HOT. Whether you’ve started your own or are a regular podcast listener, podcasting is a medium all digital marketers should pay attention to.

According to Edison Research, 58 percent of listeners spend one to five hours each week listening to podcasts.

Surprised at the high number? You shouldn’t be. We live in a very busy and hectic world. People are using every minute they can to multitask and learn so they stay competitive.

Listening to podcasts allows people to learn and catch up on things they’re interested in while sitting on the couch, working out, driving or on the go.

Here are some other podcast statistics from Edison Research that deserve your attention.

• An estimated 42 million Americans listen to podcasts weekly.

• The average person listens to five podcasts a week:

• 85 percent of listeners listen to all (or most of) a podcast:

• Both men and women are listening to podcasts, and the numbers are increasing for both.

This means that no matter what your interest, you can find an audience that is excited and willing to listen.

If you are a digital marketer with skills and experience that are of interest to others, rather than just listening to podcasts, you should become a guest on podcasts!

There are many search engine optimization (SEO) and reputation management benefits to guesting on podcasts. Here are some tips on how you can get an SEO and reputation boost by guesting on podcasts.

Boost SEO and your brand

Being a guest on a podcast is literally one of the most powerful SEO tactics you can use to boost your SEO rankings and build your reputation and brand.

If done strategically, it can be one of the best SEO and content marketing strategies you can use to help your rankings and attract new customers. So, don’t just give an interview on a podcast without using that interview as an SEO and brand-building strategy. Here’s how.

 1. Be interview-worthy. Build yourself and your brand.

To become a guest on a podcast, you first need to build yourself and your brand as an authority in your industry or topic specialty area.

If you work for a leading company in the industry you’re interested in, you’re already ahead of the game. If you’re trying to build your personal business brand, you should start getting your name out there by:

  • Guest blogging for leading industry websites.
  • Speaking at local and national conferences.
  • Giving webinars yourself.
  • Being the expert on others’ webinars.
  • Building a following on social media.
  • Writing content on your site that gets significant shares and views.
  • Creating videos that are watched and shared.
  • Getting online reviews.

You can also help bolster your authority by making sure your website is worth visiting.

Most podcasters will tell people to visit your website for more information and will even link to your website in the show notes, so make sure your website shines. If you haven’t updated your website in two years or it looks like your 15-year-old nephew built it, fix it.

Anything you can do to show off your professional credentials on your website will help increase your likelihood of getting booked.

Do you have a Master’s degree in Internet Marketing? Do you belong to an industry association? Are you certified in a particular area? Now is not the time to be meek and mild. Show off all the amazing things you’ve done so you position yourself as an expert in your field.

Bottom line: If you want to position yourself as a worthy podcast guest, you must be a worthy podcast guest.

2. Optimize your bio 

After you’ve done some credibility building, it’s time to show off your expertise by creating a one-sheet bio (one-sheeter) that lists all your accomplishes and credentials.

This is an important document. You will make this one-sheeter available as a page on your website, and you will also send it as a portable document format (PDF) to potential podcasts you’d like to be a guest on. Show off all your professional accomplishments.

Because your one-sheet bio will be on your website, it may provide talking points on the podcast. I’ve found much of that information will be automatically transferred to the podcast’s show notes page, so it’s important for you to identify keywords related to your area of expertise and the topics you are an authority on and put them on the one-sheeter.

These keywords should be strategically placed on your bio just as carefully as you would for any SEO work you do. Additionally, start thinking ahead about how you can use these keyword phrases throughout your interview.

Your one-sheet bio should be professionally designed (if possible). Include your professional head shot and show why you’re a trusted person in the industry.

It should highlight the blogs you write for, speaking engagements, TV shows and webinars you’ve been on and more.

Whenever possible, ask for permission to show a company’s logos on your one-sheeter. The logos alone will jump off the page, grab attention and can help reinforce your credibility in just a glance.

Here is a great example of a well-done one-sheet bio:

Often, what you have on your one-sheeter is what the podcast host will read when she introduces you before the interview, so make every word count.

You can also suggest interview topics on your one-sheeter by providing a list of questions the host can use as a jumping-off point for your guest interview. This gives the host topic ideas on what they can interview you about and helps plant the seeds for keywords that are relevant to your area of expertise.

The sample one-sheeter from Phil Singleton (above) is a good example of this. You’ll see pre-prepared questions ideas like:

  • What’s your favorite content marketing tactic?
  • What’s the biggest mistake small business owners make when it comes to the web?
  • What’s your biggest “bang-for-the-buck” SEO tip for freelancers and business owners?

Your one-sheeter is a great place to show off a book you’ve written, any certifications you’ve received, associations you belong to or any other show-off-worthy information.

When a host tells their audience what an expert you are, it makes an impact on the success of your podcast interview. So make sure your one-sheeter has all the information your host needs to understand why you should be interviewed and why the audience wants to hear from you.

A last but very important tip about using one-sheeters: Be sure to include information you want the host to include in the podcast show notes, such as ways to contact you by phone or email, your company’s website address, social media channel links and links to a special offer you’re giving to their audience.

Many podcast hosts will put links on the show notes page so listeners can reach out to you. This is one of the best ways to get backlinks, traffic and social mentions. The backlinks and traffic you receive can be an SEO benefit of being a podcast guest, especially if you are a featured guest on a popular, well-ranked podcast.

Pitch to strong podcasts for maximum SEO benefit

When you are deciding which podcast to be a guest on, look for podcasts with a lot of subscribers and hosts who do a good job promoting their show.

Drop the word “podcast” plus your keywords to see if the podcast ranks well for those terms. Podcasts that are popular with the public and the search engines are your goal.

Make a list of topic areas you can cover during your interviews. Make the list broad enough so you can talk about topics that will reach and resonate with a broad targeted audience.

Make sure you guest on podcasts where your target audience listens and wants to hear the information you have to share. Open your mind a little. Not every show you get interviewed on has to be directly related to your niche.

As an example, if you’re an SEO, don’t discount a podcast that’s for restaurant owners. You could talk about how restaurants can optimize their Google My Business (GMB) listing by adding menus to their GMB listing.

Visit iTunes and Stitcher and search for podcasts you are interested in being a guest on, and start reaching out to the podcast owners. Share your one-sheet bio and get yourself booked!

This ends Part 1 of our three-part series, The Power of Podcasting: How to Boost Your Reputation and Search Engine Rankings. In Part 2, we’ll cover how to optimize an interview, read a case study and talk to an audience without selling, as well as how to use influencers to promote your podcast. Stay tuned.


Read more of this series on mastering podcasting: 

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How do you optimize content for a voice-first world? /optimize-content-voice-first-world-291782 Tue, 13 Feb 2018 15:27:11 +0000 /?p=291782 Want to know how to optimize your content for voice search? Contributor Sherry Bonelli shares how to incorporate smart SEO tactics to increase the chance of being heard.

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For years, the use of voice search and voice assistants to answer questions has been on the rise. According to Google, 20 percent of all mobile search queries are voice search, and that number will only go up.

Voice recognition technology is getting better and better: Google’s technology is now 95 percent accurate.

Yet for most SEO professionals, not much has changed in the way they optimize content for this new way to search. Now is the perfect time to pay attention to voice search and to start incorporating SEO strategies that can increase your chances to show up in voice results.

Gary Vaynerchuk agrees. From his book, “Crushing It”:

It’s called Voice-First, and anyone currently building a personal brand needs to learn about it fast and early. Its platforms are the equivalent of yet-to-be-discovered Malibu beachfront property, much like Twitter in 2006, Instagram in 2010 and Snapchat in 2012.

Voice search and personal voice assistants like Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, Google Home, Amazon Echo and the Apple HomePod have shifted how people search. Instead of typing a cryptic search phrase like “hair stylist Chicago,” people using voice search can ask a question as if they’re talking to another person: “OK, Google, where should I go to get a haircut?”

If you ask Alexa what’s going on today, you can hear your personalized “flash briefing” that contains information like the local weather forecast, local news highlights, what’s on your calendar and other quick tidbits of things Alexa already knows you’re interested in. It’s a great time-saver.

Use of voice technology and number of devices are growing

I can remember when I got one of the first Amazon Echo devices in the mail back in 2014. It was supposed to be a Christmas present for my kids, but it found its way into my bedroom, where it has served as my alarm clock, Audible audiobook player, SiriusXM music radio, weather reporter and a device that answers many questions like “Alexa, what’s the phone number for Marco’s Pizza?”

There are many search assistants on the market like Amazon Echo (Alexa), Apple’s HomePod and Google Home devices, but there are new players emerging as well. I recently spotted this Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker at a local store. It includes Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana to answer questions and manage smart home technology to streamline tasks.

I am sure there are more to come. According to reports on ZDNet, Alexa will be added to personal computers (PCs) and laptops from Acer, Asus and Hewlett Packard (HP). This could make Alexa a significant challenger to Cortana.

Google Assistant is available on 400 million devices (like Android smartphones, Google Home and other tablets and devices.) According to Forrester, the use of smart devices will continue to grow.

As a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist, are you prepared to try to get your content to show up in voice search results? Voice search is here. Voice search is now. And voice search is our future. If you want to stay ahead of your competitors, now is the time to start optimizing your content for voice.

Voice search continues to grow

According to ComScore, half of smartphone users use voice technology, and of those, one in three use it daily.

Google reports voice search queries up through 2016:

As an SEO, you need to have a solid understanding of some of the search strategies that can help you rank for voice search, especially since voice search volumes continue to climb. By understanding these strategies and effectively using them on your site, you can increase your odds of being the answer to a question.

Here are some tactics to help you become the answer.

Voice search optimization basics

When you’re optimizing for voice search, you need to think about SEO differently. For instance, unlike typical search queries you do on your computer, voice search queries are longer than their text counterparts; they tend to be three to five (or more) keywords in length. This means you need to change the way you do keyword research and think about longer long-tail keywords.

Image credit: Purna Virgi from Bing

Search queries also tend to specifically ask a question and typically use trigger words like who, how, what, where, best, where, why and when. Use these words in your content.

Image Source: seoClarity

Voice search best practices

Additionally, you need to make sure your site and its content meet SEO best practices.

These include optimizing your webpages for:

  • Page speed.
  • Mobile compliance.
  • Great content that answers people’s questions and solves problems.
  • Use natural language that answers a user’s question.
  • Optimize local pages through Google My Business and other online directories.
  • Solid site hierarchy.
  • Site authority.
  • XML sitemap.
  • Navigation is easy to follow.
  • Local reviews.
  • Images with alt tags.
  • Respond to reviews.
  • Secure website by installing an SSL certification (this means properly installing the SSL certificate).
  • Schema Markup.
  • And more!

Voice search and featured snippets

When you search for something on Google, you might see search results with a featured snippet box at the top of the search results. This featured snippet is meant to be a quick answer to your question.

The featured snippet typically includes a summary of the answer taken from the website, a link to the page where the information came from, the page title and universal resource locator (URL) of the site. Here’s what a featured snippet looks like when you do a search for “how do you change a tire”:

Sometimes you will find the featured snippet lower on the first search engine result page (SERP). Sometimes the snippet just shows an answer with no other information. This type of featured snippet typically appears when the answer is a known fact.

In the voice search question below, here is the answer I received when I asked “How old was Patrick Swayze when he died?”

In this case, there’s only one answer because Patrick Swayze’s age at the time of his death is a fact. Google has no reason to link to a different site to back up or support that answer. These top-position featured snippets are the holy grail of SEO and are often referred to as “position zero.” Why? Because in most cases, the featured snippet result appears above ads and above organic search results.

Getting listed in the featured snippet spot increases your odds of appearing in voice search results. You’ll often hear terms like rich cards, answer boxes, rich snippets and other variations. That all gets very confusing. Google is starting to do away with those terms and is starting to call everything “rich results.”

Google recently launched a new, comprehensive guide all about featured snippets, this is a definite must-read for any SEO.

Anatomy of a featured snippet

To try to get your web pages to rank for voice search results, you need to understand some of the main things Google and Bing are looking for when they look for the best answer to give busy voice searchers.

When you look at how a featured snippet becomes a featured snippet, it’s all about using SEO strategies:

  • Write a topic-specific page.
  • Create content that answers a specific question.
  • Look for questions that you will be able to answer in great depth.
  • When optimizing for voice search, research longer, long-tail keyword phrases.
  • Optimize for specific long-tail search phrases that contain three to five words or more.
  • Think of semantic keywords, different ways of saying the same thing (i.e., synonyms).
  • Use trigger words like “how,” “what” and “best.”
  • Understand your customer’s intent, and optimize the content on your pages for every stage in your customer’s buyer’s journey.
  • Use conversational language — write like you’re talking to a friend.
  • Use Headings (H1, H2, H3, H4).
  • Make sure to use unique title and description tags on each page — use keywords in those tags.
  • Include keywords toward the front of the very first sentence/paragraph.
  • Use the keywords in the page’s universal resource locator (URL).

Here’s an example of how a blog post turned into a featured snippet and then turned into a voice search answer.

Optimize for the types of questions people really ask

It’s important that you use SEO best practices when you write any content. When you search for “how do you respond to negative online reviews,” chances are you will see a search engine results page (SERP) that looks like this:

This is a featured snippet. When you click the link, you will be taken to the website highlighted in the snippet. The blog post, “how to respond to negative online reviews,” also shows up as one of the top voice searches on an Android and iPhone:

How featured snippets are born

By looking at the blog post, the post’s source code and the featured snippet itself, you can “deconstruct” it to learn how Google created a featured snippet from it.

When someone does a voice or regular search for “how do you respond to negative online reviews,” Google first looked at the title of the blog post, “How to Respond to Negative Online Reviews,” and found this title to be a close match to what the user intended to find the answer for.

Google then looked at the keywords on the page, the content, the title, the description and the URL and saw that all of those matched directly to the question the searcher was asking.

Next, Google saw that there was a clearly defined structure of H2 tags on the blog post that made it easy for them to pull out the main points on what to do if you get negative online reviews. It pulled out those H2s and turned them into a numbered list in the featured snippet. Here’s the anatomy of a featured snippet:

SEO tools help increase the odds of becoming a featured snippet

Some of the more advanced SEO tools can help optimize your pages to increase your odds of showing up in featured snippet spots. For instance, SEMrush can help you find competitors with featured snippets, and Moz Pro has a find-and-track featured snippet tool as well.

Schema markup and voice search

I’m saving the best for last! Schema markup is probably one of the most important components you can add to your site to help rank in voice search.

Now, I know many SEOs are hesitant to even think about adding schema to their site because they are uncomfortable with code, but it’s time to get over the fear. Schema is important!

Schema markup is a global standard vocabulary the search engines agreed would help them better understand the contents of a webpage. With the appropriately structured schema markup on your site, your content will already be optimized for voice search.

Google prefers a schema markup called JSON-LD. Here’s an example of what that code looks like:

In the simplest of terms, Schema tells the search engines what the page is about — whether it’s your company’s address, your business hours, a service page or a page about a product on your e-commerce store, for example.

Including Schema on your site helps give the search engines a nudge by making it very clear what your pages are about. When you put Schema Markup on your website, Google will automatically make the marked-up information searchable by voice assistants.

Now, just like any SEO strategy, voice search is competitive, and there’s no one easy answer to getting to the top spot. You have to make your website and its contents the best on all fronts.

If you’re still a little nervous about adding Schema markup to your site, head on over to this Introduction to Data Markup article from Google and read it, and things should become clearer.

More to come with voice search

When I first started writing about voice search, there were very few articles on the subject. Now it seems as if everyone is writing on the topic. Rest assured that the topic of voice search will only continue to grow in popularity and importance to the search industry.

The post How do you optimize content for a voice-first world? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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5 content distribution strategies for 2018 /5-content-distribution-strategies-2018-289297 Tue, 09 Jan 2018 16:56:55 +0000 /?p=289297 So, you've created tons of content, but you still aren't gaining any traction. What gives? Columnist Sherry Bonelli explains how doing more with your existing content can help it reach its full potential.

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I personally feel that the most overused digital marketing phrase is “Content is king.”

Yes, content is important. Google loves quality content. Your visitors love content. But writing content for the sake of writing content simply makes no sense. If your marketing department has a mandate that you must write x number of blog posts per month, you need to change direction — and here’s why.

On WordPress alone, 86.4 million blog posts are published every month. That’s a lot of content! Sadly, most of the content that’s posted is not well written and will never see the light of day — much less the first page of Google’s search results.

Simply put, there are only a few spots on the first page of Google, and the chances of each of your blog posts making it on the coveted first page of Google for the keywords you’re targeting are slim to none. This is especially true for brands that have invested tons of resources into creating content but few into promoting or distributing it.

That being said, content is what makes the internet what it is. The internet needs content. So, how do you prioritize your workload to spend the right amount of time writing and promoting content that will rank well on search engines? You need a content distribution strategy.

The content balancing act

For years, most digital marketers have been told to produce content — and lots of it. However, savvy marketers preach something a little different. Instead of creating tons of content, you should do more with the content you create.

You can’t solely rely on Google or Facebook for all your traffic. You need to get traffic from a variety of sources: paid media, niche channels, online directories, user groups, social communities, forums, social media and so on. That means you need to distribute and promote your content through a variety of channels.

Instead of solely focusing on your content creation strategy, you need to spend time thinking about your content distribution strategy. What channels are relevant to your audience, and how can you repurpose existing content so that it’s optimized for these channels?

Here are five ways you can repurpose your content for distribution across new channels/media. While you may not see a direct SEO benefit from each of these content distribution channels, more traffic to your content means stronger user signals, more links to your website and (hopefully) more conversions.

1. Turn your blog post into an e-book

Creating an e-book used to involve hiring a design firm or taking your in-house designers away from a pressing client project to create a beautiful finished product. Thanks to technology, making e-books just got easier for us everyday folks. Designrr is a tool that makes it incredibly easy to take a blog post you’ve written and turn it into a visually stunning e-book that you can use as a lead magnet.

Make ebooks With Designrr

On the landing page for your e-book, be sure to use all the relevant keywords you want to rank for and write content that pertains to the contents of the e-book. Make sure you include social media share buttons to make it easy for visitors to share your e-book link with their colleagues and friends.

2. Video marketing made easy

If you’re not creating videos, you need to get on the bandwagon — fast. Did you know that turning your blog post into a video is an easy way to repurpose great content and get kudos from Google and YouTube? Using tools like Lumen5 or Content Samurai, you can copy and paste your blog post content into the tool, add images, narration or music, transitions, videos and more. Before you know it, you’ll have a video that’s ready to optimize and upload to your YouTube channel!

Content Samurai

Google has been known to include video results for relevant search queries, and the competition for those video spots may even be lower than for the organic listings. Targeting other areas of the SERP — such as videos, images or news — can be a great way to grab a spot on page one when an organic listing is out of reach.

3. Make your content extra sharable with infographics

One way to get more attention for your content from visitors is to create a long-form blog post (of approximately 1,500 words) and create an easy-to-share infographic that presents the most important points of the post in a visually compelling way.

Infographic Canva

There are several high-quality infographic tools that are relatively easy to use (and affordable). Canva and Vennage are two of my favorites.

Vennage Infographic Software

Again, be sure to include social media sharing options so that your readers can easily share your amazing infographic with their fans. This is a great way to get some links and traffic back to your site.

If you optimize the image well, you also have a chance at ranking in image search results for your target keywords.

4. The power of email

First, if you’re not collecting email addresses from your visitors, shame on you. The myth that “email is dead” is just that: a myth. Sending emails to your customers or clients is still one of the best ways to keep them engaged with your brand — and keep them buying what you have to offer.

Using email to distribute and promote your content should be a no-brainer. Here are a few things you can do to turn your email marketing into a content distribution powerhouse.

First, send out a link to your email list telling them about your latest piece of content. If your list isn’t very big, reach out to another person in your industry (or an industry organization or association) and see if they would be willing to share a link to your blog post to their email distribution list. Now, sometimes you will have to pay for this type of distribution, but if they have the right distro list, you just might hit gold and get more visitors than you ever dreamed of.

As long as we’re talking about email, think outside the box and think of all the emails you send out every day. Your own email signature is a great place to promote your content. Every time you create a new piece of content on your site, include a link to that piece in your email signature. You can say something as simple as, “Check out our latest blog post: XXXXX,” or make it even more enticing by posing a question like, “Want to know 5 ways you can get more traction from your content?”

Oh, and if you happen to mention any companies or influencers in your blog post, send them a personalized email letting them know that you included their name or company in your article, and politely ask if they’d be willing to share the link to your post on their social media channels or to their email list.

5. Have you Reddit?

Reddit (and similar content-sharing sites) is a great way to promote your content and show the search engines that you’re active online. If you don’t have a Reddit account, what are you waiting for?

Sign into your Reddit account, and then do a search to find a subreddit that has an audience that would be interested in your content. Once you find the right subreddit, submit a link to your content.

Find a Subreddit

Sites like this can help with rankings and indexing of your content — just make sure you’re getting your content listed on quality content sharing sites.

What are YOU doing to distribute your content?

These are just a few of the ways you can leverage your content to get more mileage out of the pieces of content you create. What other things are you doing to take your content further?

The post 5 content distribution strategies for 2018 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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5 local search tactics your competitors probably aren’t using /5-local-search-tactics-your-competitors-probably-arent-using-288028 Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:55:33 +0000 /?p=288028 When you and your competitors are all adhering to local SEO best practices, how can you differentiate your business from the rest? Columnist Sherry Bonelli has some ideas.

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Local SEO is competitive and fierce. With more and more local businesses vying for the Google local three-pack — and ads and online directories occupying a large percentage of the remaining SERP real estate — your local SEO strategy has to be aggressive.

So, what can you do to outrank your local competitors down the street, especially when you’ve all got the basics down? One approach is to use local SEO tactics that your competitors may not know about or aren’t using. Here are five local SEO tactics you can implement to help get ahead of your competitors.

Google Posts

First, every local business should claim their Google My Business (GMB) listing. It’s a must-do. Non-negotiable. If you don’t claim your Google My Business listing, you essentially don’t exist online! (Okay, that’s an exaggeration — but not claiming your GMB listing will significantly diminish your chances of showing up in local search results.)

Of your competitors who claim their Google My Business listing, most will just walk away and forget about it. However, claiming your listing and letting it sit there gathering dust is like purchasing a new home and not putting any furniture in it. There’s so much more you should do, and this is one way you can outsmart (and outrank) your competitors.

Google has insight into how you and your potential customers are engaging with your Google My Business listing — and generally speaking, the more activity, the better. Does someone use the click-to-call option on their smartphone? Is a potential customer asking you a question using the new Q&A feature? Did you answer the question? Are you updating your business hours for holidays? Are you uploading quality photos of your business or staff?

And are you utilizing Google Posts?

Google Posts are almost like mini-ads with a picture, description, offer, landing page URL and so on. You can create Posts that tell potential customers about a product or service, promote upcoming specials, offer holiday wishes, let customers know about an event you’re having, and more. Having an open house? Create a Post for that event. Offering a free report or white paper? Create a Post about that white paper and add the link to where people can go to download it.

Creating a Post is easy. Simply log in to your Google My Business dashboard, and to the left, you will see the Posts option. Click on it to get started creating your first Post!

How to Create a Google My Business Post

Whether you’re creating a post about an upcoming event, sale, special offer, product or service, try to include keywords relevant to your business and city in the copy of the post. (It can’t hurt!) Make your post compelling so that people who see your GMB listing will want to click on the Post to learn more. (Remember, Google is watching those interactions!)

Create a Google My Business Post

Once you’ve created your post, here’s how it will look on your Google My Business Listing:

Create a Google My Business Post

To make sure that the Posts are timely, Google removes Posts after seven days (or, if you set up an event, the Post will be removed when the event date has passed). To keep you on your toes, Google will even send you email reminders when it’s time to create a fresh new Post.

Google reminds you to create a new post

Does creating a Google Post help your local rankings? The verdict’s not 100 percent in, but Joy Hawkins and Steady Demand did some research, and they found that Google Posts did appear to have a mild impact on rankings.

Check your Google My Business category

Speaking of Google My Business, selecting the best GMB category for your business can make a huge difference in how your business ranks on Google. If you find your competitors are leapfrogging ahead of you on the local three-pack, scope out what category their business is listed under — you may want to experiment with selecting that same category.

If matching your competitors’ categories doesn’t move the needle for you, try getting more granular. (Yes, this is a case of trial and error. You may need to test until you find the right category that will get you better visibility and/or more qualified leads.) See the example below, where one of my clients jumped up on Google rankings when we changed her category from the more general “Lawyer” category to a more specific category, “Family Law Attorney.”

Results from changing Google My Business Category

It’s always best to choose the category that most accurately fits your business type. Sometimes, people select too many categories, which can “dilute” your specialty. Selecting the best category for your business is a strategy that may mean you fall before you rise — but once you find the “sweet spot,” you can outrank your competitors.

Apply URL best practices

URLs are an important part of your search engine optimization and user experience strategy. Not only do URLs tell your site’s visitors and search engines what a page is about, they also serve as guides for the structure of your website. Your URLs should be descriptive, user-friendly and concise. When appropriate, include keywords (like your city, the name of a product, the type of service and so on) in the URL.

If your website runs on a CMS, you may have to adjust the settings to ensure that your page URLs are SEO-friendly. For example, WordPress URLs have a default format of /?p=id-number, which does not adhere to SEO best practices and is not particularly user-friendly.

To fix this issue, you need to create a custom URL structure for your permalinks and archives. This improves the look of the URL for visitors and people that share your link, and it also allows you to add relevant and local keywords to a page’s URL.

To fix this WordPress default setting, log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to Settings and click on Permalinks:

WordPress Permalinks

There you will be able to change your setting to “Post Name.” Changing this setting will allow you to create SEO-friendly URLs like:

https://websitename.com/products/blue-widgets

Please note that after you change the permalink structure on your website, you may need to create redirects from the old URLs to the new ones (assuming your CMS doesn’t do this automatically).

Make your site secure

If your site isn’t secure (i.e., not HTTPS), making it secure is something you should add to your to-do list. In January 2017, Google started showing “not secure” warnings for Chrome users on HTTP pages with a password or credit card field. And, as of October 2017, they’ve expanded this warning to display when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.

Website Not Secure Warning

Even worse, their goal is to eventually display this warning on all HTTP pages. With all the press about cyber-security and protecting your personal information online, seeing this “Not Secure” warning on your site could scare off potential customers. Google is essentially warning people not to visit your site. Since many people are apt to close a website if they see a security warning, that means you could be losing a lot of business.

The bottom line: If your site’s not secure, you could be losing business to competitors.

(For a primer on making the switch from HTTP to HTTPS, check out this guide by Patrick Stox: “HTTP to HTTPS: An SEO’s guide to securing a website.”)

There are immediate benefits to having a secure site, too. If you have a secure site, the https:// and the green locked padlock that appear next to your URL in Chrome will make your website seem more trustworthy than a competitor’s site that isn’t secure.

SSL Certificates

And, of course, Google has stated that secure sites receive a slight rankings boost. Though this boost is fairly minor, it could still give you an edge over a competitor, all else being equal.

Write quality content: End writer’s block

Not only does Google like fresh, relevant, high-quality content — your site visitors do, too.

When it comes to writing long-form content, however, some people freeze up with writer’s block. How can you determine what to write about in order to satisfy users and drive relevant traffic?

Rest easy. There are amazing tools out there that can help you find the most popular questions people ask about a particular topic, and these types of questions and answers make for great content fodder.

Each of these tools has a different algorithm they use to find popular questions that need answering, but many pull top-asked questions from Google, various user forums, Quora, e-commerce sites and more. Finding these questions and writing a piece of content that answers those questions can squash writer’s block — fast! Now you can write content that actually answers questions potential customers are really asking.

BuzzSumo Question Analyzer

Here are just a few of the “content crushing” tools I use:

  • Question Samura
  • Storybase
  • Answer the Public
  • BuzzSumo Question Analyzer
  • BlogSearchEngine.org
  • HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator

Which local SEO tactics are YOU using to beat your competition?

I’d love to know what local tactics are giving you a competitive edge in rankings. Are you using any of the tactics above? Different ones? Let us know!

The post 5 local search tactics your competitors probably aren’t using appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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SEO + UX = Success /seo-ux-success-286638 Fri, 17 Nov 2017 21:48:53 +0000 /?p=286638 These days, SEO best practices include consideration for the user experience (UX). Columnist Sherry Bonelli explains how SEO and UX work together to help both search engines and users.

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In the good old days, SEO was simple. You stuffed a page full of keywords, and you ranked number one. Oh, if only it were that simple today! Now, Google (and the other search engines) literally take hundreds of factors into account when determining which pages rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs).

This new reality means that elements of user experience (UX) have been rolled into SEO best practices. How easy is your site to navigate? Do you have quality content that makes visitors want to stay and engage? Is your site secure, fast and mobile-friendly?

Think of the partnership of SEO and UX this way: SEO targets search engines, and UX targets your website’s visitors. Both share a common goal of giving users the best experience.

Here are some common website elements that impact both SEO and user experience.

Headings

Just as the headings of a printed work make it easier to find information, the headings of a web page make it easier for both visitors and search engine crawlers to understand and parse your content.

Headings (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6>) should tell the readers and search engines what the paragraphs/sections are about and show a logical hierarchy of the content. Headings also help users if they get lost on a page.

Only use one h1 tag on a page — that lets search engines and users know the page’s primary focus. H1s are normally the first piece of content on a page, placed near the top. (Think of h1s as the chapter title of a book.) Adding keywords toward the front of a heading can also help with rankings.

Other headers (h2 through h6) should follow h1s to structure and organize the rest of the page appropriately. The other headings can be used several times on a page, as long as it makes sense. You do not need to use all of them, either — sometimes your content may only need an h1 and some h2s.

Easy navigation and site structure

It may seem crazy that we’re still talking about easy site navigation… but we are. There are way too many sites out there that simply don’t get it. Your site structure is not only important for your users, but it’s your site’s roadmap for the search engines, too.

Remember that many of your visitors will not enter your site through your home page. This means that your site needs to be easy to navigate — no matter which page a searcher (or search engine crawler) lands on.

Your site’s navigation is not the place for fancy popups, a long list of options, hide-and-seek games or a place of dead ends where the user doesn’t know how to get back to another section of your site or get back to your home page.

Take a look at how healthcare giant Anthem’s menu overtakes the screen — on both desktop and mobile — when the menu is clicked:

Navigation Structure Nightmare Navigation Structure Nightmare Mobile Navigation Structure Nightmare

With the menu literally filling the entire screen, a user can’t read the content that’s underneath the navigation. This creates a very poor user experience. When people are on mobile devices, chances are they won’t have the patience to deal with menus like this.

Additionally, a clean site navigation and structure can also lead to sitelinks appearing in Google search results. Sitelinks can help you take over more real estate on search engine result pages — which means less room for your competitors (and, hopefully, more clicks for you).

Google Sitelinks

Google’s algorithm decides which sites get sitelinks (and which ones don’t). They base this decision largely on a site’s structure:

We only show sitelinks for results when we think they’ll be useful to the user. If the structure of your site doesn’t allow our algorithms to find good sitelinks, or we don’t think that the sitelinks for your site are relevant for the user’s query, we won’t show them.

User signals

I believe that user signals will increasingly become a more prominent factor in search engine rankings. Do you have Posts on Google My Business that visitors are clicking on? Are visitors on mobile devices using the click-to-call feature to dial your business? Are happy customers leaving five-star reviews for you — and are you responding to those reviews?

Although Google has denied that user signals such as time on site or bounce rate are direct ranking factors, studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between these signals and top rankings. Let’s put it this way: Google sees and knows everything. Every touch point and interaction your visitors have with you (and you have with them) shows Google that users are interested in and engaging with your content.

Site speed

Site speed has long been a ranking factor for Google search, and the company has even announced that mobile page speed (rather than desktop) will soon be used to determine this ranking factor. So not only is it important to have a website that loads quickly, but your mobile experience needs to be fast as well.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool allows you to enter your URL to see the issues your site might be having with mobile responsiveness. PageSpeed Insights measures how the page can improve its performance on both time to above-the-fold load and time to full page load and provides concrete suggestions for reducing page load time.

Amazingly, even the big sites with presumably large development and IT budgets have speed issues. See the poor results for the Harvard Business Review site:

Speed Issues

Content-heavy and news sites should especially pay attention to site speed issues, since these sites are often viewed on mobile devices for the sake of convenience.

Mobile experience

When you think of “mobile experiences,” speed is definitely one consideration, but so is your mobile website as a whole — the look, feel, navigation, text, images and so forth.

Ever since Google released its mobile-friendly update in 2015, webmasters and SEOs have had to take “mobile-friendliness” into account as a ranking factor. And now, with the mobile-first index said to be coming in 2018, your mobile site will be considered your “main” website when Google’s algorithm is calculating rankings — thus making a good mobile experience all the more crucial.

Navigation is one of the most important components of a mobile experience — users and Google need to be able to find what they’re looking for quickly. Even button sizes and designs can impact user interaction on your mobile website. Every element on your mobile website impacts a user’s experience and directly (or indirectly) affects SEO as well.

In searching for an example of a local business’s mobile website, I found the one shown below. For this company’s mobile site, more than half of the above-the-fold real estate is taken up with meaningless information like huge logos and social media buttons. Plus, their menu is teeny-tiny and doesn’t even say “Menu” — it says “Go To…” and has the actual link to the menu to the far right-hand side. This does not make for a very user-friendly experience.

Eliminate the Clutter

This company would be better off taking the clutter away from the top of the screen and making their menu, products and services more prominent for their mobile users.

Simple and smart design decisions like this will go a long way to making not only your visitors happy, but Google, too!

SEO and UX: A winning combination

Hopefully, you can see how SEO and UX go hand-in-hand in creating a successful website experience for both your human visitors and the search engines.

But what do you think? Do you think of your site’s users when you are creating content? How do you work with your design team to ensure that your site makes for a great mobile experience for your users? What is your balance between SEO factors and UX factors? We’d love to know!

The post SEO + UX = Success appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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