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Don Schindler

Executive Reputation Coach & Digital Marketer

Tag: SEO (page 1 of 3)

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?

How to fix a high bounce rate on your website

trampoline-fail-bball

People that bounce your website consider it a fail – like this.

If you have a website, you have a bounce rate. It’s inevitable that someone will find your page through a search, click the link, read the content and decide this wasn’t what they were looking for.  Instead of clicking anything on your website, they will back out, close the window or click on a link that leads to another website that is on your website.

don-schindler-website-bounce-rate

My bounce rate for the year

This is a bounce. And if you have Google Analytics running on your website, Google will let you know how many times this happens to your website.

But Google is also watching from the search engine side of the business and if you get too high of a bounce rate for a certain keyword, they won’t be showing your website for that keyword much longer.

So what can cause a high bounce rate?

1. Technical Issues

Slow page load times – if your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load (and even 3 seconds is pushing it), then the bounce rate is gonna go up. People don’t have time to wait on your big image carousel (hate those things) or all those cool widgets from Facebook and Twitter that display your content.

If you want to see how fast your page loads, use GTmetrix or Pingdom and it will tell you what is taking too long.

Not being Mobile First – When it comes to where the web is going, mobile is leading the charge. There are more mobile phones than toothbrushes and it’s how the majority of us access the web, read our email and play games.

So if you website isn’t mobile-optimized (which means that it can function for the user on a mobile phone – most relevant content for a mobile user is easy to find and operate with a thumb) and responsively designed (one website that shifts size and content depending on the device accessing it) then you are going to have a high bounce rate for mobile and tablets.

Cheap crappy hosting – maybe you have a website and you decided to go with the lowest possible payment (Web Hosting for only $1.99 a month). Even with net neutrality, a crappy provider could put your website with a few hundred other small websites on one web server without a load balancer and your website gets punished for slow load times.

Loading popups – now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for an email capture pop-up after the user has been on the page for a while. But if your email capture pop-up launches the minute someone arrives at the website, that’s annoying and it can slow down the website load time.

2. Website Content

Low Quality Content – unfortunately most websites suffer from this. The content just sucks. It’s full of marketing fluff or it promises to teach you something and just doesn’t deliver. Continue reading

Why you should be using Google Webmaster Tools and how to set it up? – Simple SEO

The best things is that Google will email you when your site is having issues. This is huge.

Google Webmaster Tools emailing me

Google warned me that I was having issues back in January with my domain.

How do you know when your website is having issues with the search engine? You don’t. Google needs to tell you.

But there’s also a ton more it does. I’m just going to give you a few highlights.

 

Search Queries Reports

Since Google Analytics doesn’t give up keywords people are using to search with when they discover your  website (only if they are logged in), Google Webmaster tools will provide these search queries regardless if they are logged in or not.

The only issue is that it’s not tied specifically to their visit. 🙁

But you will find a ton of information on your keywords and landing pages like impressions, clicks, click-thru-rates and rankings.

Google Search Queries

Search Queries will tell you what keywords people used to find your website

There’s a ton of information to be found here and here’s a great article from LunaMetrics explaining a lot more of it.

You’ll also want to connect your Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. It’s pretty easy to do. Just go to Acquisition -> Search Engine Optimization -> Landing Pages.

The only thing you need to worry about there is that only one account Google Webmaster Tools account can be connected to one Google Analytics account.

 

Links to your website

Continue reading

What are page titles and meta descriptions? Simple SEO for posts and pages

Page Titles

Page Title

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

Page Titles are the titles that appear in the results of search engine query like “What is in milk?” If you have a page title that uses the keywords “what” and “milk” with a question mark, you have a good chance of popping up in the results. That’s one reason that I love writing my blog posts titles in question format.

When I was typing in “Kraft Mac & Cheese”, the Kraft website popped up first with “Kraft Macaroni & Cheese | You Know You Love It”.  The page title is highlighted in blue as you can see because it’s the link.

There are a few guidelines that the search engines would like you to use when putting in your page titles.

  1. Try to keep it between 50-60 characters – or it will be cut off and no one will see those words anyway.
  2. Always write for humans but know your important keywords – Be specific about the page they are going to. You don’t have to have “Home” or “Welcome” in the page title for the home page.
  3. Put your keywords near the front of the title – The closer your keywords are to the domain, the better.
  4. Should your website be in the title (maybe) – if you want to add some branding along with it. If you ever see my page titles, – Don Schindler is usually at the end for branding purposes.

 

Meta-Description

Meta-Description

Kraft is using their advertising copy to attract their policy.

Meta-description serves as your marketing copy when your page is pulled on the search engines. If you look at the image above you’ll see they are using the advertising copy (probably their standard fare) to drive you to the website.

Here’s what it looks like in the code.

meta-description-in-code

Here’s a few guidelines on how to write up the meta-description for your pages.

  1. Try to keep this between 150-160 characters – again it will get cut off if you go over.
  2. Write compelling but relevant information about the page that would draw them in for a visit. And definitely don’t lie about the page because the search engines can see the content and it will have a large “bounce rate”. You don’t want that.
  3. Avoid duplicating the meta description across multiple pages. – This is a classic mistake that most marketers made in the past. Using the same meta-description will cancel out all meta-descriptions on the pages.
  4. Never use quotes. – When a search engine sees a quote, they will cut the rest of the meta-description out.

 

Headers

Header on the page

As you can see, DMI and the Dairy Checkoff is the header of the page.

Headers should be used to pull in the visitor. In other words, you should be using the H1 tags to put emphasis on the headline you want the reader to read.

The search engines are looking to see if the reader stays on the page, reads the headline and looks to click on other parts of the website.

Here’s what it looks like in code.

H1 Code

You can see it is bracketed h1.

If the H1 tag fails and the reader leaves the page, then it will cause a “bounce” increasing your “bounce rate”, which makes the webpage less effective for the keyword in question.

The same could be said for “bolding” text on the page. It does give the search engine a bit more emphasis on the words in bold but if the reader leaves then the search engine will lessen the strength of the page even with the bold keywords.

Now I’m sure you’ve heard about “Meta-Keywords”. These are not really used anymore by the search engines because of all the SEO spamming so I would recommend that you not worry about putting your keywords on the page. You should know what your keywords are for the web page content – you just don’t have to put them on anymore.

What are some of your favorite search engine optimization tips for your pages?

How do you find broken links? Simple SEO for 404 Pages

Search engines don’t like broken links because they think that you are not maintaining your website.

Going back and correcting these links is good website maintenance.

How do you find broken links?

There are several tools out on the market as well as you can set up Google Webmaster Tools and it will tell you.

I’ve used Xenu for PCs and Integrity for Macs.

Once they have done a scan of the website, they will give you the page and the link that is broken. Usually you will get a download into an Excel file.

Fixing 404 Broken Links

Just go into your CMS and fix the links.

Just go into the CMS and correct the link.

Do you have a favorite tool for checking your links?

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