Most people are familiar with the term search engine optimization, or commonly termed, SEO. This is a critical aspect in both design and success of your websites content and drawing people to it via search rankings. So consider it not the roof of the house but truly a part of the foundational structure of your website. And there are great rewards if your website contains SEO rich keywording and proper tags.
“A website isn’t worth having, if no one can find it!
So if you really want to build traffic to your website or blog, you will be thinking of SEO as something paramount to your site’s developments. Majority of webmasters only do the things required to gain a good amount of search engine traffic, but very little actually measure their site’s SEO value.
You Are Being Out Ranked!
One of the best articles I’ve read about rankings comes for the industry gurus of HubSpot. Rebecca Churt’s blog titled, “How to Conduct a Competitive SEO Audit to Outrank Industry Rivals” says it all. In this article, she lists 5 Simple Steps to Perform Your Own Competitive SEO Analysis which include:
-articulate your buyer personas;
-identify key competitors;
-explore what the competition looks like; and more!
Measuring via Your Analytics
So much data is now available through the various analytics systems, and the one most commonly used (and respected) is Google Analytics. The key to successful utilization of it is to focus on the data that matters most. By focusing on the reporting metrics, you can get a sense of the true ROI and the value of your SEO efforts. Start your analysis by looking at the number of visitors to your site, where they came from, and most importantly, what search terms they used. Just this preliminary information alone, will tell you is how well you are doing at getting more people to visit your website while increasing the visibility of your business and/or service.
What’s the Hook in Link Building?
Within the SEO communities, you will often hear the term “links” and/ or link building. What that really means is that a link from another website links to your company’s site. SEO link building requires that the site linking to yours must indeed be trustworthy link and furthermore, related to your business. Valuable links come from trusted sites like:
- Educational institutions that your company has a relationship with;
- Local and national organizations you or your company has an affiliation to;
- Any number of relatively unknown but reputable business and industry-related directories;
- Similar industry online publications; and more!
The Key is Keywords
While considering the written content of your website, make a conscious selections of commonly used keywords and phrases to increase your chances of climbing the search engine ranks. Think of yourself as the consumer and even consider looking up certain terms in a Thesaurus to determine commonly used words that most users in your industry might use. A test run on your success at this would be search engine sites and paste them in the major search engine sites you want to be found on, then hit the search button. Whatever page your site is will determine how effective your SEO investments are.
Honk Your Horn For More Traffic!
Increased traffic for your website and if you’re not getting enough of traffic as evidenced by your analytics, it means you need to tweak your process (eg, keywording) and do more optimization. Try keeping a record (easy enough in an Excel spreadsheet) how much traffic your website increases after each new method is implemented. Then move forward, scale back or consider a new method based on the data collected and analyzed. This is a simple way to determine the true value of your SEO efforts.
The Sum of it All
SEO is instrumental to content builders whether you are a web designer or blogger. We don’t have the luxury of ignoring the SEO value of our websites; investing time and resources into a zero-yielding ROI and a non-existent consumer base.
We’ve all heard the old adage, you only get out of it (a particular action) what you put into it. And that is so true when it comes to the online marketing of your business and the sweat equity you put into it. It takes time, effort and can also cost a considerable amount of cash if you have it. But if you are a frugal business owner or have fallen on hard financial times due to the economic climate, you need to review these 8 ways to promote your business online completely gratis!.
Free Social Media Resources
#1 Facebook posts need to occur on a regular basis to be effective. Most people are logged on during the prime time hours of 5-9pm. You can create quick posts about a new product or service, a free service tip or even ones that are relevant to seasonal time frames. For example, “Stay warmer longer and out of the cold less with a new SmartStart remote starter!”
#2 Blogging via your website is easy enough by adding a few paragraphs with information specific to your business or service. Adding fresh content on a regular basis will give you consistent indexing on major search engines. You can do this yourself or consider asking a friend or family member that’s a pretty good writer to put a brief article together that gives you an authoritative voice about your particular niche and hopefully a faithful following!
#3 Twitter posts are the easiest but seem to be the hardest to keep up with. Why I don’t know. But I do know is that prioritizing a few Tweets per week can help keep your business relevant in this social medium. If you just don’t have the time, there are social media management programs to help schedule postings on a daily or weekly basis.
#4 Hootsuite is a free social media management tool can help you to schedule and manage multiple Social Media networks and your daily/weekly postings. It’s free up to 5 networks and then becomes a paid service. This is a great no cost/low cost option and it’s super easy to use. Another option would be to consider asking a college student to do it for a few bucks so they can leverage it as professional Social Media management experience.
Free Website Resources
#4 merchantcircle.com holds major clout when it comes to online business networking as the largest social network for local business owners. They offer free online business listings, free marketing tools, internet advertising and so much more. It’s 100% free to set up a profile account so you can connect with other local businesses and promote your services/products.
#5 Yelp touts they are “the best way to find great local business” and true enough they are one of them. The site is well-known as the word-of-mouth for the digital world when it comes to reviews and opinions about businesses. Creating a profile is easy, smart device friendly and it is similar to Zagat, allowing consumers to rate your business. Don’t be afraid to ask your favorite and most long-term customers to add reviews to your business profile which helps increase your ratings. Remember, you will look better to consumers with 3 great reviews rather than someone who has none. But make sure you monitor your profile regularly in case someone puts something on there that’s less than becoming. You want to be able respond timely to anything that’s said which could affect your business’ reputation.
#6 Google Places helps consumers, much like Yelp, to help choose the right businesses based on their needs. These searches focus on geographically locating your personal needs in the areas of food, service industries and more. Here you can add photos, videos, coupons and even weekly specials all on your Place Page.
#6 Google+ Profile Business Page is another great tool by Google helps you find, share, rate, and recommend your business to their friends, and people across the web. But here’s the real gold nugget value – on this site you can also hold free customer meetings via 1 to 1 or even a 10-way video meeting called Google Hangouts. You can even stream and record conversations for playback later.
#8 A Free YouTube Channel for your business will allow you to upload your videos and market via your own channel! Plus you can really leverage this medium by programming certain settings and keywords to make your channel appear in people’s online searches. Not sure what kind of video to shoot? Consider educating your consumers via a Tips Video with several how-to’s or why choose your business infomercials. For example, if you’re an automobile service business, give a how-to-tell if your tire has a real flat or if it’s just the outdoor temperature affecting the pressure.
-Unless you want to pay someone to do the work for you, it sill takes a consistent effort of rolling up your sleeves and getting these resources to work for you.
-Remember, the goal is to create engagement and grow your online business presence leveraging these free online tools.
-Be consistent in your business descriptions across all these mediums so that search engines pull the same company information about your business.
-Keep in mind that with these resources, there’s no “set it & forget it” recipe. Even with Hootsuite, you’ll need to follow-up on your postings to check for comments and post responses to those consumer comments.
-You aren’t going to see dollar-for-dollar return on these efforts & the time investment you put into it. But I am confident that within 6 months, you will be surely see the fruits of your labors with leads and consumer recognition.
-Pace yourself so you don’t burn out and remember, slow and steady still wins the race all the way to the successful business finish line.
Most of the web design industry may be on WordPress overload but majority of us still can’t get enough. The WordPress, “I’m Lovin’ It” faithful-following understand that it has quickly become one of the fastest growing, most popular content management systems (CMS) for blogging, if not the most popular CMS overall. It’s extremely quick to install as well as easy to navigate and master. And they are consistently evolving across all platforms with simplistic, internal update features and plugins that are only a few clicks away in the backend. Often, there are no external file downloads even necessary! One of the best parts is that it allows both web design companies and individuals alike to produce dynamic websites without extensive knowledge of web development or code writing. Unlike traditional HTML sites, WordPress is extremely cost-effective and easy to change over when you tire of the layout look. If you want a fast turnaround with minimal time invested, look to web design firms such as Design Theory to supply you with a customized, stunning website with lightning fast turnaround at a start-up budget price.
If there’s a WordPress for Dummies TM (yeah, there really is) you have to know there’s some industry staying power and it is more than just a flash in the pan or temporarily trending on Twitter. They’ve definitely invested in their place at the table of content management systems. Some skeptics may wonder, well is it really that easy? As a non-code writing web content designer, I can say yes it is. And as I’ve quickly learned, if there’s something you don’t understand, there is a TREMENDOUS amount of help and documentation online you can find on nearly every aspect of customizing your WordPress website. If you can dream it, chances are it’s already been done with WordPress and documented somewhere tangible and therefore learnable.
WordPress also has one of the widest varieties of plugins and themes to choose from giving a seemingly endless realm of design possibilities. Let’s look at some of the recently added & most popular layouts. Looking for a simple way to showcase your photos? Check out this Free Photo WordPress Theme. Have a blossoming political career or want to blog about and propel your choice candidates’ ratings? Political Blogging WordPress Website gives you sound bites right on the homepage and yes that is our current Prez Obama on the 4th slide. If those don’t titillate your visual & artistic senses, feel free to peruse these Top 100 Most Beautiful WordPress Themes highlighted by TopDesignMag.com.
While these great themes are indicative of the WP developer bug bite, WP and its growing community of contributing developers do their best not to skimp on flash or fun. How creatively, fun are widgets! A Widget? For those who don’t know, it’s an on-screen device/application that can be installed and executed within a web page by an end user such as a clock, calendar, image, daily weather, etc. This allows putting your own style & spin to most WordPress themes/layouts. And speaking of spin…a great example of having more WordPress amusement can be the Flash Image Carousel plugin, which circulates a variety of images/photos in a cool, circular motion versus the typical, right to left slide show. WordPress Plugins are great tools that extend the functionality of your WordPress website and currently there are 21,820 plugins available directly on WordPress’s website (as of today that is).
Another feature that we all love is the ease of Drag and Drop content editing which makes content placement a cinch with 2 clicks. Oh and the list goes on and on…With WordPress it seems that if you can conceive it someone creates it and that’s the best part of being WordPress user and fan. So if you’re already an enthusiast or are curious about becoming one, check out some of the latest WordPress innovations via WordPress TV. What, their own online TV station – what’ll they think of next? Apparel? Say it isn’t so…sorry we can’t because you can wear it loud and proud via WP Apparel. Needless to say they’ve proven that the sky’s the limit and I’ll be tuning in to find out what’s hot from these tried, true and trendy website theme makers.
Lastly, to the Big W…if you couldn’t already tell –
Aw shucks, we love you guys!
~ Content Writing Inspiration ~
“A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something.” Frank Capra
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WordPress 3.4 has a number of exciting new tools and features. Over the next several weeks I’d like to share some of the highlights with you. Please do note that the current version of WordPress is 3.4.1 -which includes some important bug fixes- but because these features were included in the 3.4 “Green” release, I’ve chosen to reference the core.
One of these new tools is the Theme Customizer, which provides a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor for some style and display options.
To access the Theme Customizer page, you can reach it via a link directly under the active theme area.Alternatively, you can find it in the admin menu bar beneath your site’s name when you are logged in and viewing your site. You should end up at a screen looking like this:
Looking at the options on the left side, we can see that there are a number of things we can alter. (I am referencing WordPress Twenty Eleven. Depending on your theme, there may be varying levels of support for this, so be sure to check what version of WordPress your theme is compatable with.)
The top box drops down to provide the description of the current theme–though there isn’t an option to change it here.
The second allows you to alter the site’s title and tagline. If you make a change to either, you will notice that the preview on the right instantly updates. This is the case with all edits done from the customize page — hence the WYSIWYG feature — though none of the previewed changes take effect until you click the “Save and Publish” button on the top of the toolbar.
One of the coolest functions of the “Theme Customizer” tool is the “Color” option. This allows you to preview and select a change in color scheme– for example, Twenty Eleven has a light and dark color scheme built in– header text color, background color and link color.
Clicking on one of the swatches displays a color wheel, which allows you to slide and select your color, or you have the option to input a hex value if you already know what color you’d like.
Layout does just what it says–allows you to select from the theme’s default layouts. It is important to note that this change seems to cascade throughout the site, so if you select “No sidebar”, you will not only be removing it from your homepage, but from your blog as well. If, however, you want to set all your pages to the same template with minimal amount of clicking, this is definitely the way to go.
Header Image lets you select a header image from the defaults, uploads, or upload a file. The uploader is much like the media uploader, allowing you to drag and drop the image or select it by browsing. The uploaded tab shows you images that you have uploaded previously. The default tab allows you to view all header images packaged with your theme. You also have the option to remove the header image entirely.
Background Image is, again, self explanatory. This gives the same options as the header image (upload, remove and, depending on your theme and your prior changes, uploaded and default). Once you make a selection, you are given the options of background repeat (change if or how your image tiles), background position, and background attachment (if the picture scrolls with your content).
While an option available in the Settings>>Reading menu, Static Front Page with the customize tool is easy to find. You also can preview how the front page will look if you switch it to a static page, or if you want to display your posts.
The option to customize your WordPress theme via a WYSIWYG editor gives you even more freedom and control over your site. If you don’t know CSS or don’t want to mess with the theme’s style sheet directly, you are no longer forced to choose a theme simply based on available color schemes or background. Are you a theme designer/developer? Then check out “Add Customizer Support to Your WordPress Theme” to learn how to add customizable options to your own theme.