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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Tag: Google (page 1 of 4)

What’s new with SEO? – Search Experience Optimization Workshop 2015

SEO-search-experience-optimization

Learning the basics of SEO can help you get found on the web. Not knowing it will make sure you aren’t.

Being found on the web is getting harder and harder to do.

The big brands are finally catching up to how the search engines see them and they are now putting substantial budgets into paid and organic search and social campaigns in order to be found on the first page of Google (for their important keywords).

So how do you compete?

Well, there are a lot of ways to compete but you need to have the basics down first.

In my workshop on search engine optimization or the better term for it, search experience optimization (SEO), I break down the basics and try to shed some light on simple things you can do to make sure the search engines and the people using those search engines see you. Because if they can’t see you, then you don’t exist.

Here’s the deck I used. Now you can flip through the deck if you want but it doesn’t have the text that you’ll have here.

When it comes to SEO, the first thing you have to do is produce good content. I know that sounds silly and like my friend Erik Deckers says, “Telling people to produce good content is stupid.”

That’s so true.

You need good content but you have to understand what makes good content and how to produce it specifically for your desired audience.

I like to say that good content is all about making people laugh, cry or think about your subject matter. If you can do that, then you have exactly what they are looking for. They will read it, watch it and share it.

Sharing is very important in this day and age of social.

Buzzfeed (who is one of the reigning kings of sharing content) talks about how they produce good content. You should read it and try to incorporate what they do to produce it.

If you’ve got the content down, then SEO gets pretty simple.

I like to break it down into these 8 things that you should focus on.

1. Content Strategy is basically what should be on the website when it launches and what will you continue to add to it. This is taking your good content and making sure it is focused on your subject matter. Once you have that down, your website should be able to handle these simple questions for both the users and the search engines.

  • Who You Are
  • What You Do
  • Where You’re Located
  • Your Value Proposition
  • What Visitors Should Do Next

2. Platform Strategy is knowing what devices your content is on and how your users see them. The platforms I believe you should worry about are iOS & Android first. Mobile is how people are connecting them most. I’ll have more on that later. Then you need to verify how you look in Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.

There are two testing tools I like – www.browserstack.com (paid with free trial) and www.browserling.com (free but more features with paid).

3. Information Architecture is how things are laid out on your website (goals, navigation, search, calls to action). Essentially where the content will go. I love that more and more sites are moving to the “hamburger patty” navigation button and essentially hiding standard navigation.

Instead of driving people’s attention away from the content, the hidden navigation will help get your Call-to-Action noticed more and that’s the whole point of the website, right?

4. Keyword Research will help you understand what terms your users are using to find your type of content. Why guess when the search engines can tell you what terms you should be using and what terms you are currently indexed for.

I like using Google’s Adword Keyword Planner tool as well as Soolve to discover more familiar terms.

5. Usability and User Interface are two separate things but they really revolve around each other. I believe you can’t have good Usability without good User Interface and vice versa.

When I think about usability, I’m worried about how easy is it for a user to navigate the site? Do they understand your Call-to-Action? Are they incentivized to do it?

6. When I’m thinking about User Interface, you should be focused on the mobile website vs. the desktop for the first experience. The mobile version in responsive design will really teach you what is most important then you can focus on that when you start doing the desktop design. You should be focused on touch (thumb size) instead of mouse clicks as well as more and more screens become touch sensitive.

Color/design mean everything to the user. Check out my post on digital body language to understand more of how to be intentional with everything the user sees so they will do what you want them to do.

7. Accessibility is important because everyone should be able to view your content including those with disabilities. I’ve been told that up to 25% of your audiences can have vision problems and you can help them by making your website 508 compliant.

Check out 508checker.com and boia.org to help you get 508 compliant.

8. Last but definitely not lead is Inbound Links. These are the amount and strength of other websites hyperlinking to your website. The more you have based on your subject matter, the more the search engines will look to you as an authority in that subject matter.

You used to be able to manipulate these inbound links with blog farms and other black hat techniques but the search engines, especially Google, is constantly on the hunt to keep their search from being gamed. So it’s better to just focus on great content and asking people to link/talk about you on their websites.

You should definitely have a distribution strategy to execute upon when you put out great content. I love using email, social networks, blogging networks, etc… to encourage people to visit the content when we get it up on the website.

Now let’s touch on tools I use to find out what’s going on with the website.

First there’s Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools.

I have an article on how you can get them both set up and connected together.

google-webmaster-tools

Search Queries that lead to people finding your website

Once you have that you can start looking at what you are being found for currently and then adjusting to be found for other keywords.

Google Webmaster Tools will also let you sort of control your most popular navigational links so you should have know what those are.

Also Google Webmaster tools is going to tell you a lot about how Google sees your website, from mobile experience to your 404 broken link / missing page issues.

Speaking of 404 broken links and missing pages, I use Xenu to scan websites and get a report of what’s wrong with them so I can check. It’s simple program (free) that anyone on a PC can download. Since I’m on a mac I use Wine to run the program.

Here’s a link to my article on how to fix 404 issues.

Fixing 404 Broken Links

Just go into your CMS and fix the links.

Next up with SEO tactics are your images. It’s pretty simple to fix these. All you need is a process. I would not recommend going back and fixing all your image SEO problems unless the images are on your most popular pages. You can find what your most popular pages are in your Google Analytics. Just click on Behavior > Site Content > All Pages and you’ll get a list.

Here’s my article on how to fix images to make them SEO friendly.

Cow In A Grass Field

Cow eating grass in a green field

Finally let’s talk about website Title Tags and Meta Description. You should use real keywords within your Title Tags because the domain URL is going to be very important to the search engines. They especially don’t like numbers or non-sensical titles.

Meta-Descriptions have been seriously downgraded for SEO if they were even a part of the search algorithm in the first place but they are seriously important to the Google Snippet which people read about the page they are visiting. If you don’t fill this out, Google will pull any text on the page that it thinks describes the website. You don’t want that to happen.

Here’s my post on how to do Title Tags and Meta-Descriptions.

Page Title

Page Titles are probably the most important piece of SEO you can do.

So this was my workshop on Search Experience Optimization (former Search Engine Optimization). Do you have things you would like to add to it?

Why is my Google Maps, Chrome and iMessage breaking on my iPhone?

google-search-app I’ve been searching for the answer for weeks with my iPhone. It was driving me crazy.

First, it was Chrome. I would open the app and nothing would work. Then my Google Maps app (which I rely on heavily) wouldn’t work. And if I went to Apple Maps, it wouldn’t work either.

Then quickly after that, my iMessage would stop working correctly as well. The notifications badge wouldn’t clear.

Here’s what fixed the problem. I had deleted my original Google Search app. With it gone, none of the other apps would work correctly unless I shut down the phone and restarted.

Once I added the Google Search App back and logged back in, everything has been fine.

Is SEO dying? Nope, but you better have social as well.

Marketing Over Coffee - John Wall and Chris Penn

Marketing Over Coffee - John Wall and Chris Penn

The old way of doing SEO – keywords, meta description, proper URL set-up, etc… which you can find all about on seomoz.org is great and you should be doing it but it’s not enough anymore.

If you listen to the guys at Marketing Over Coffee (Christopher S. Penn and John Wall – love these guys), they are saying it’s not enough anymore. You need to have social as part of the mix. You need a network of people that will spread your message along.

The other interesting tidbit is how Google is changing search for more localization. So if you are national, like we are national, then we might not rank for local searches (which Google is starting to default to).

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Isn’t Social Media Just Real Time Communications?

I dislike the term “social media”.  I think a lot of very smart professionals don’t think much of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+ and a whole host of other social media platforms (i.e. Youtube, foursquare, etc…).

So if you think of social media as real time communications then how does that change how you think of it.  Other real time communications being a phone, face-to-face, chat…

It seems a bit more crucial to the day-to-day operation of your communications.  Which I think it is.

Much like you wouldn’t ignore someone knocking at the door of your office or calling your phone.  You don’t just ignore those people, do you?  Well, maybe some people.  Got to love caller ID.

What are the PROS of real time communications.

  • communicate in real time.
  • get indexed for search.
  • help you understand what are your best stories to communicate.
  • real time communications is great customer service.

What are the CONS of real time communications.

  • communicating in real time means that “real time” not two or three days
  • if you say something wrong, it gets indexed as well.
  • maybe your best stories aren’t what they think are the best stories
  • real time communications can be negative if someone is upset (this is customer service)

[slideshare id=8698316&doc=social-media-brown-bag-110726212003-phpapp02]

What are some things that you should have in place before you start your real time communications.

  1. A good informational website to help you answer their questions.
  2. An email marketing program or customer database program to capture their information.  Connect with the alumni for their program or use your own.  I recommend mailchimp but there are lots of others.
  3. A brochure, one sheeter or flyer – this will help you respond to people (you need to know your best stories by heart)

But the big thing here is you need to BE PREPARED as best you can.  Think of things that people might ask you and make a list of their questions with the answers.  FAQs are great for this and always be adding to it.

The other thing you really need to know is YOUR AUDIENCE.  Are they actively using Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin?

Once you have your audience in your sights, make sure you plan for all of this real time communications.

We use Strategic Communication Plans, Communication Spreadsheets and Creative Briefs.  All of which are great and help you really think through what you are about to do.  And help you keep track of your time.

Don’t forget to track your time.  It’s important when it comes to getting an accurate ROI of your communication endeavors.  Here’s a great ROI calculator site to calculate what it costs.

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What happens when someone “googles” you or your professor?

Googling Don Schindler Personal branding, I know, is a bad word in academia. I learned that over the past year. So I’ve changed the term and changed how I talk about it. My friend, JP, over at the Science of Generosity gave me a great term to us and I can’t believe how much it has helped. It’s called “Public Intellectual”.

And it works perfectly. Because all of our faculty are “intellectuals” – in fact, they all have brilliant minds and I love talking with them. That was a big draw to leaving retail and going back to my college roots here at Notre Dame. The conversations are inspiring.

But one thing they have to remember in this day and age of the internet is that the “public” part of the term is just as important. Professors are celebrities. And they are in the public whether they want to be or not. I believe most don’t even know how public they are.

I recently had a meeting with one of our more controversial professors. I won’t mention his name but he has the research to back up what he claims and I believe it’s the best thing for humanity.

But the problem he had is that he doesn’t “google” himself very much.

And a lot of interesting things came up that he didn’t know about. Which is unfortunate. Some of it was good – like a Facebook Page all about him that had over 1000 fans. Continue reading

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