Posted in Blogging Tips, Business Motivation, Copywriting Tips, SEO, Writing in General

SEO 101: 3 Search Engine Optimization Tips For Getting Found in Tucson (And Anywhere Else!)

After my recent move, I was in the market for some new furniture.  Actually, I was in the market for a lot of new furniture:  a couch, chair, kitchen table, coffee tables, beds, lamps…everything.  And as much as I wish I could tell you that I’m absolutely made of money and can afford anything I want at any time, the truth is that I am your typical middle-class American living in your typically expensive city of Tucson, Arizona.  Budgeting is always a concern.  So I needed furniture that was quality, yet budget-friendly, and that could be delivered soon.  That ruled out the big name stores, for sure.

Anyway, in my attempt to plan my furniture shopping trips, I took to the internet to find stores here in Tucson that might sell what I was looking for at prices I wanted to pay.  Considering search engine optimization (SEO) is a huge part of what I do in my business, I felt pretty confident that I’d find what I was looking for with relative ease.  But guess what?  I was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are a business person and you have any sort of online presence…and especially if  you’re targeting local customers and clients…you MUST focus on local search engine optimization!  Let’s face it:  not every business can/is/wants to compete in the national or international marketplace.  And that’s perfectly fine.  But if you ARE competing for local customers then here are some things to keep in mind:

 

  • Use the name of your city, town, county, or state in your keywords:  In my situation (above), I needed quality, affordable furniture in the Tucson market.  So naturally I searched for keywords that included “Tucson” in the description.  Otherwise, my results were worthless for meeting my particular needs.

 

  • Include words that your customers would use:  Nobody wants to equate the word “cheap” with their business products or services.  But if your customers are looking to save money, there’s a very good chance they’ll use it in their search query.  So put away your pride and use the language of your people.  It’s the difference between being found online…and not.

 

  • Provide  useful, targeted content to read:  Maybe it’s just a pet peeve of mine, but I just don’t understand the concept of throwing a bunch of photos up on a site and calling it a day.  Is there anything worse than going through the hassle of actually finding a business’ website only to see that there’s absolutely no useful information on it to help you decide whether you even want to make the drive to visit??  I don’t think so…So write something.  Describe your product or service.  And don’t forget to use words that your customers would use!

 

Think like a consumer.  What would you, as someone looking to make a purchase, type into that little box on your computer screen?  Keep in mind that YOU know your business products and services better than your customers or clients, so keep it simple.  And if you’re targeting the local consumer, don’t forget to throw in a few mentions of where you are–city, county, state…whatever your idea of “local” may be.

 

And remember, if you need help…I might know someone who can get your website up to speed and getting found–in Tucson and beyond.  *ahem*  🙂

 

 

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Posted in Blogging Tips, Business Motivation, Writing in General

Basic Blogging Tips for Businesses That Don’t Want to Outsource Their Blogs

Blogging is easy, isn’t it?  You get an idea for a topic and you just…start writing.  Or typing, as the case may be.  And bada-bing, bada-boom…a blog post you have!

Image from pointcentral.com
Image from pointcentral.com

Trust me, I hear ya:

“Paula, it’s so easy that anyone can do it.  We don’t need to hire a professional to write for our business blog!”

Fair enough, is what I say.  BUT…if you own a business and you truly feel you’d like to write your business blog in-house, then at least allow me to give you a few very important blogging tips first.

  1. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER:  Define him.  Define her.  What makes your customer tick?  What makes your customer BUY?  What makes your customer click away from a website without getting more information or making a purchase?  If you don’t know who your business blog is “talking” to then in all honestly…you are just wasting your time.
  2. FOCUS ON YOUR KEYWORDS:  This follows my first blogging tip because if you know your customer then you should know what he is searching for online.  And if you don’t know your customer then keywords won’t matter.  Your business blog needs to address your customer’s questions and curiosity about  your product or service.  That means researching–finding the keywords and phrases that your customer is typing into the search bar–and then integrating those topics into your blog posts.
  3. KEEP IT EVERGREEN:  In the world of blogging, the term “evergreen” refers to content that doesn’t age quickly.  If the content you post to your business blog has an expiration date, search engines consider it less relevant to a customer’s keyword search, making it less likely to appear in search results.  The best way to create an evergreen business blog is to keep your posts as general as possible while maintaining real value.  Evergreen blogs can also be reused down the line as long as the information is still accurate.  I do, however, highly recommend refreshing them with at least some updated information before reposting.

These three blogging tips are a really great start if you own a business and don’t want to outsource the writing.  And while I respect that not every business has the budget to accommodate hiring a professional writer, I feel compelled to emphasize that following these three business blogging tips still won’t give you an effective online presence if the writing is bad.  So as part of your commitment to in-house writing and blogging, consider brushing up on your writing skills if needed.  It’ll all pay off in the end!

Until next time, lovely readers…

Posted in Business Motivation

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is Dead…Kinda

Photo credit www.onlinebusinessasia.com
Photo credit http://www.onlinebusinessasia.com

Ok, so maybe the title of this post is a bit dramatic.  After all, we all know that SEO isn’t actually dead.  Just look around at all of those experts selling their SEO services and guaranteeing results!  The demand is definitely still alive and kicking.

But here’s the problem:  SEO has changed dramatically in the last few years and so-called SEO experts aren’t ncessarily keeping pace.  Gone are the days when creating a successful website meant paying close attention to things such as keyword density, keyword-specific coding, and minimum lengths for posts.   While keywords still play a vital role, current best practices have more to do with overall site mechanics and structure than anything else.  In fact, according to Evan Bailyn, a well-known SEO and social media expert, there are only four on-site pieces to consider for ranking with Google:

Keyword-rich meta page titles:   When I work with clients in improving their websites, this is one of the first elements I look at.  Why?  Because meta page titles are “your only opportunity to tell Google what each page on your website is about.”

For example, let’s say you sell popcorn machines.  And let’s say your family has a long history of selling these popcorn machines and you want to share some of that information with visitors to your site.  So you create an amazing page dedicated to this topic and you label it “About Our Company.”   That seems logical, doesn’t it?  But guess what?  It doesn’t provide any information to Google regarding what your website is about.  Google gets that information (mainly) from the title you give your page.  In this example, a better page title would be “Our Popcorn Machine History.”

SEO-friendly URLs:  This isn’t necessarily something you need to consciously focus on anymore because any quality CMS (content management system) will automatically handle it.  For example, the URL to this particular post will reflect the post’s actual title (which I haven’t decided on yet…it’s the last thing I do when writing!).  Keeping with the popcorn machine theme from above, however, you might see a URL such as http://www.yourawesomesite.com/how-to-use-a-popcorn-machine.  Avoid long strings of numbers, letters and funky characters.  They mean nothing to a search engine!

Clean code:  This mainly applies to those of you who are creating websites from scratch–HTML, CSS, PHP…the whole shebang.  If this is your preferred method (and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing it this way) then be sure you get a thorough review of the site’s coding to ensure Google can read it properly.  If, on the other hand, you use a platform such as WordPress or Wix then coding shouldn’t be an issue.  It’s one of the perks and conveniences of using them instead of building from the ground up.

Sensible site structure:  This is another common error in my experience with new clients.  It’s important that your visitors are able to easily navigate the site.  The rule of thumb is to not bury any of your pages deeper than two clicks from the homepage.  For example, your site visitors click “Products” on the homepage which opens up another menu where they can select “Popcorn Machines.”  And then, once they’ve clicked on “Popcorn Machines” they are given an option to select either “Home Use” or “Professional.”  This means your visitors had to click three times to get to the information they were seeking.  Google likes it to be easy and transparent.

You’ll notice that the only everyday SEO tasks you’ll need to worry about are those page titles.  Everything else is more of a “set it and forget it” situation.  But keep in mind that SEO is an ever-changing art.  What works today might be obsolete tomorrow.

Periodically analyzing your website to ensure current best practices are in use makes excellent business sense.   “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

P.S.  Did you know that I offer website analysis as one of my concierge services??  Yep, I sure do!  Contact me today and let’s get started!

(Information contained in this post was taken from SEO Made Easy:  Everything You Need to Know About SEO and Nothing More by Evan Bailyn.)