Friday, October 13, 2017

Fight Content Glut: Promote Content the Right Way

Content creation is no small task. Many of the best writers spend hours, days, and weeks laboring over a single article or post. Unfortunately, the effort is often wasted. Most online content, even great content, attracts no organic audience.

The simple truth hurts: The day-to-day online experience offers too much relevant, engaging, and truly informative content. And this so-called "content glut" is destroying engagement.

Our blog's sponsor, Alex Stepman, of Stepman's SEO, works with local website owners; earlier this week, Stepman told us about the "number one" anxiety currently plaguing local websites: Content glut.

"For new website owners, especially," Stepman said, "content creation and publication often feels like shouting into the void. They write great content--I've seen it myself. It's good. Yet when they press the 'publish' button nothing happens. And, of course, nothing will happen, until they discover a viable promotion strategy."

As Stepman implies, the problem is not the writing itself. The problem is promotion.

Why Do We Hate Self-Promotion? 

Before we speak about content promotion, it may be helpful to explore the psychology behind self-promotion.

Why do we hate self promotion so much?

On Forbes, Bonnie Marcus states the questions another: "What about self-promotion is so difficult?"

"It’s the 'self' part," she answers, "the egocentric nature and seemingly aggressive pushiness that makes us cringe not only when we attempt it for ourselves, but when we observe others bragging in a self-centered manner."

Of course, the challenge of self promotion is nothing new. As The New York Times notes:

"In 440 B.C. or so, a first-time Greek author named Herodotus paid for his own book tour around the Aegean. His big break came during the Olympic Games, when he stood up in the temple of Zeus and declaimed his 'Histories' to the wealthy, influential crowd."

Read: "How Writers Build the Brand"


Herodotus: The father of history--and famed self-promoter
If Herodotus promoted his brand, in front of Zeus, no less, why can't we do it?

It is a simple fact of modern life: Most great writers fail miserably at promotion. In fact, on social media--at least in our circles--it is nearly axiomatic: The best writers abhor self-promotion. It is accepted, of course, that a writer has to self-promote, yet many good writers feel the need to apologize.

So many self-promoting posts begin, "Sorry for the self-promotion..."

Of course, as Herodotus reveals, the two talents, good writing and self-promotion, are not mutually dependent.

Walt Whitman, for example, practiced an inventive (and deceptive) means of self-promotion. After the publication in 1855 of his book of poems, Leaves of Grass, Whitman wrote "anonymous" reviews praising (and sometimes criticizing) his work.

"An American Bard at last," he wrote in The American Review, later declaring himself  "the largest lover and sympathizer that has appeared in literature"--a true statement, in our estimation, but still.

Whitman's "anonymous" review [Photo Source]
"I celebrate myself," Whitman famously begins his poem, "Song of Myself," a sentiment--in literature, life, and self-promotion--that has since rarely been matched.

Whitman's unique brand of self-promotion might seem outrageous today, but his impulse, in the end, is instructive. He wrote an amazing book. He believed the book deserved attention. So he engaged in relentless (shameless) self-promotion.

Of course, self-promotion need not be shameless. Plenty of authors practice self-promotion with humility and panache. So how can you promote your website's content with humility and panache?

Below we offer the three essential steps for attracting an organic audience.

Promote Your Content the Right Way: Three Simple Steps

Contact Well-Known Writers in Your Niche 

Walt Whitman famously sent his first edition of Leaves of Grass to the most famous writer in American, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson wrote back, "I am not blind to the worth of the wonderful gift of 'Leaves of Grass.' I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom that America has yet contributed."

Don't expect this sort of response to your own content--but do reach out to others--especially well-known writers. By contacting a well-known writer in your niche, who might be willing to share your article, or offer a quote for your article, you might gain access to a new, colossal audience.

KissMetrics suggests contacting influencers at scale by using BuzzStream. This is a terrible idea. If you're going to contact a well-known writer, write a personal, genuine note. As with your writing itself, the quality of this form of self-promotion is much more important than the quantity.

The key, of course, is humility: When asking another writer or influencer to share your work, be courteous and respectful. It's good to have wild ambitions, as long as ambition does not translate to undue expectations.

You do not deserve attention--you must earn it, like everyone else.

Contact Your Immediate Social Circle

When contacting others, do not limit yourself to "influencers." Your article might be of special interest to certain friends in your social network. Again, though, do not follow the terrible advice of KissMetrics: do not "scale" your contacts with a mass message. Make it personal.

Take the time to reach out to a few key friends via private messages. Let them know that you've written a piece that might interest them. In this way, you cultivate a devoted (and personal) readership--a group of core readers who are more likely to share your content.

Sound time-consuming? Remember, one well-promoted piece of content is worth more than ten pieces of content that no one reads.

Scale with Humility and Tact--and Persistence 

"The public is a thick skinned beast," Whitman wrote, "and you have to keep whacking away at its hide to let it know you’re there."

In his quest to "sound [his] barbaric yawp," Whitman might've neglected humility and tact, but he certainly understood the value of persistence.The key to successfully promoting your work at scale, however, is humility and tact.

Read this simply-stated, genuine tweet from the writer, Dominic Smith, whose novel, The Last Painting of Sara De Vos, was released last year:
Simply put, without fuss. When sharing, there is no need to apologize. Just share your stuff without pretense: Here it is. I hope you have the time to read.

Of course, for beginning writers, especially, persistence is important. Make sure you're not overloading anyone's feed with relentless self promotion. Remember, humility governs not only how you share your stuff, but how often. There is no golden rule here. Only this: Share enough to attract attention, but not enough to annoy others.

Content Marketing with Stepman's SEO 

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote content, contact our sponsor, Stepman's SEO: 215-900-9398.

Stepman's SEO combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns.

Friday, October 6, 2017

What is the Purpose of Your Website?

The sponsor of the SEO blog, Alex Stepman, of Stepman's SEO, often refers to websites as "high-priced business cards." Of course, a website should function as a business card, of sorts, by establishing credentials and revealing important information, like the business name, address, or phone number.

In Stepman's view, however, a "high priced business card" is not a good purpose for a website. In fact, far too many website function like a business card, yet serve no other purpose.

A concise purpose should be the starting point for any website. So Stepman asks all potential new clients the same question: "What is the purpose of your website?"

If clients cannot answer this question with pinpoint clarity, Stepman believes, they are likely wasting money on domain and hosting fees, not to mention any money spent designing and developing the site.

A beautiful 19th century business card, which shares the relevant information for James M. Vance & Co; unfortunately, too many websites serve the same purpose--yet offer browsers nothing else [Source].

What is the Purpose of Your Website? 


What is your answer to this question? Perhaps you have a well-defined purpose. If so, your website is likely a profitable venture for you.

Or perhaps your answer does amount to "a business card"--in essence, you did build your website merely to establish credentials, or to offer a accessible venue for your business information. And perhaps you have done little to update your site since its inception.

If this describes your website, you should know two important facts:

1. Google My Business Is Better Than Your Website

A neglected website, while offering valuable information to your consumer, may do more harm than good. At the very least, your hosting fees may be unnecessary. Why share your own information, after all, on a neglected site, when Google can do the job for you?

A Google My Business account offers any business the free opportunity to share business info, with special attention to details like your business category. This information is used to populate the local map in search results as well as the knowledge graph, two powerful SEO tools.

A Google My Business account is mandatory for any business, especially local businesses, but many website owners do not even know this tool exists. Yet for most websites, a Google My Business account will likely offer the most visible presence on the web. It is a powerful adjunct to a good website and a good replacement for a neglected website.

Simply put, a Google My Business account is more accessible than a neglected website. Your neglected website is likely lost on the third or fourth pages of the results. A Google My Business account, however, will often help your business appear on the first page, connecting you to browsers who are looking for your type of product or service.

2. Your Site Can Do More

Some businesses may do better abandoning a neglected website altogether and opting for a visible web presence through Google My Business and social media sites, like Facebook or Twitter.

However, a far better option, for any website, is to update the existing website or build a new website to reflect a clear purpose. Essentially, a website with a purpose (beyond establishing credentials and offering basic information), will do one of two things:
  1. Sell products or services online
  2. Generate business leads
Both of these purposes require clear-sighted marketing strategies that utilize site-wide "calls to action."

A call-to-action, as we noted in a recent post, "is related to the digital marketing concept of 'conversion,' when a visitor actually performs a desired action--like clicking that link or button, or signing up for a newsletter. To attract conversions, of course, a website must offer effective calls to action--enticements that make the 'action' both simple and desirable."

Read: Crafting Effective Calls to Action: Three Simple Tips

This is a simple fact too many website owners miss: The best possible use of a website is to entice existing customers and attract new customers. So Alex Stepman often asks his clients to think about the purpose of a website in terms of both conversions and calls to action.

Yes, a high-priced business card may offer a information portal for browsers who already know your business, but a website that focuses on conversions and calls to action (and is, by nature, performing digital marketing and SEO) will offer something tangible and beneficial for customers new and old.

When thinking about the purpose of your website, then, you attune your thinking to business growth. And isn't that the point, after all?

Grow Your Business with Stepman's SEO

Digital marketing and SEO are powerful engines to new customers, profit, and success. If you sell a high-quality product at a good price, a well-executed marketing campaign will deliver success. Search engine optimization (SEO) should be an essential part of every website marketing campaign. An optimized website will create new opportunities for any business, making it easy to find new customers at any time. To start, call today: 215-900-9398.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

SEO Spam Emails: Bad News for You and SEO

According to the most recent "Email Statistics Report" from the Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, the number of emails sent each day worldwide is 269 billion. Unfortunately, according to other reports, nearly half of these daily emails are spam.

Spam is often associated with crazy requests for bank transfers from Nigeria or China, or nonsense English, but most spam emails are generated in the United States (Belarus leads spammers, per capita).

Too often, too, spam emails arrive from so-called "SEO experts" promising higher rankings and increased online traffic--the same promises you might hear from reputable online experts. These emails may even seem tailored to your site, with warnings of "errors" that harm your site's performance.

Most of these emails can be dismissed, point blank, without a second thought. However, even reputable SEO firms send unsolicited emails, which can be harder to identify as spam and dismiss as nonsense. A local friend, a partner at a law firm, recently received the following email from a digital marketing firm in New York. The friend forwarded the email to me with a simple question: "What do you think?"

***

I do NOT need legal help - I am calling for a different reason.
             
I work for 130 different attorneys throughout
The United States, and I have a simple proposition
that will benefit your website and ours.

One of my attorney clients would like to
Place a link from his website to your website,
Which will elevate you in Google’s eyes and help
You get higher up in Google results.

In return, we ask for a link from your website to
A different attorney client of ours.

No money exchanges hands, the links are not
Reciprocal, and both parties benefit.

This is NOT a ‘black hat’ technique, or anything
That violates Googles’ terms of service.

100% straight up, legitimate, tit for tat.

Are you open to this simple arrangement?

Please reply regardless...

***

The email is articulate and sensible--and it is clearly written by a well-meaning human being, and not a spam bot. So should it be dismissed like any one of other hundreds of spam emails?

In our estimation, yes. It should be dismissed--point blank. Below we discuss the problems with SEO spam emails--and why this email meets the criteria of spam.
Most unsolicited emails can be dismissed as spam--including emails from so-called SEO experts. [Photo source].

Unsolicited Email = Spam


Not every unsolicited email qualifies as spam, per say, but an unsolicited email from a so-called "SEO firm" (or any other iteration of digital marketing) is usually spam.

Any reputable firm that associates itself with SEO and/or digital marketing should abhor unsolicited marketing emails. It is not precise, as an analytics-driven digital marketing campaign should be, but scattershot.

As we've noted before, spam works not on a premise of quality but quantity:

"Blasting emails to millions, regardless of the recipient's preferences, spammers care little about the quality of their image. Instead, spammers play a numbers game, hoping for bare minimum conversions: 1% or less. Sounds inefficient? Well, it is, in a sense. Yet a 1% conversion for one million emails is still 10,000. Would you like 10,000 customers? Perhaps. But if you're goal is a sustainable business, of course, spam is not the answer."

Read: Quality or Quantity: A Different View of SEO Marketing

Now, the email quoted above, although unsolicited, still seems relevant to my friend's business. The sender even included a legitimate name and website. So should it sill be dismissed out of hand?

Black Hat Practices

What is so egregious about the email above--and most spam emails--is that it presents a questionable act, a link exchange, as "100% straight-up, legitimate."

Strictly speaking, link exchanges do not violate Google's terms of service, yet Google does clearly advise against "excessive link-exchanges ('link to me and I'll link to you') or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking."

Read: Google's Advice on Link Schemes

The problems with the request for a link exchange above is not the excessive nature of the request itself but the fact that the request comes from a total stranger.

Google always preferences a natural, "organic" approach to search engine optimization. Requesting a link exchange from a site that may or may not have anything to do with another site is decidedly not natural.

My friend, an attorney, may or may not have any relation to the "130 different attorneys throughout the United States."

Again, SEO is about precision; the category "lawyers" is not inclusive: lawyers specialize in any number of niche areas. A link between two disparate firms, say an employment and immigration firm, operating in two distinct parts of the United States, does not make sense.

The link's purpose, in fact, is only to boost rankings; it is manipulative, then, a direct violation of Google's guidelines:
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines:

"Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines."

This is a black hat practice.

The Real Problem with SEO Spam Emails

No doubt SEO has a reputation problem, and emails like this only serve to exacerbate the problem. As the web marketing firm VITAL says:

"Not only are such offers not worth investigating, they actually serve to undermine the credibility of legitimate SEO service providers – fueling broader skepticism about search practices in general and sowing confusion about the difference between trustworthy SEO providers and fast-buck scammers."

Honest SEO with Stepman's SEO

It is important to understand the work your SEO firm performs for you. You want to hire a real professional who will not waste your time and money. If you want to speak to a reliable SEO professional, please consider the Organic SEO Blog's sponsor, Stepman's SEO.

Just like this blog, the professional SEO specialists at Stepman's SEO strive to educate you about what we do and how we do it. After all, you should know exactly what to expect from your SEO professional's work.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Crafting Effective Calls to Action: Three Simple Tips

Many people associate the phrase "call to action" with political activism or military readiness. In the wake of the recent presidential election, for example, many protest groups (on the left and right) viewed Donald Trump's victory as a catalyzing event--a call to action.

And in recent months, as the Trump administration (and the world) has faced increasing military threats from North Korea, many governments worldwide have issued calls-to-action.

The phrase "call to action" likely evolved from "call to arms," which was first recorded in the mid 19th century (source). Today, however, "call to action" is most commonly understand as a marketing term. In digital marketing, specifically, a "call to action" is any on-page element that solicits a desired action--like a link or button.

This definition is related to the digital marketing concept of "conversion," when a visitor actually performs a desired action--like clicking that link or button, or signing up for a newsletter.

To attract conversions, of course, a website must offer effective calls to action--enticements that make the "action" both simple and desirable.

So how do you create an effective call to action on your most important pages? Below we offer three simple tips.
Uncle Sam: In World War II, America's most famous "call to action."  [Source]
Design: Make Your Call to Action Stand Out

The Uncle Sam poster above illustrates perhaps the most important element of creating an effective call to action: Your call to action must be front and center, as easy to identify as any other element on the page--and, perhaps, easier to identify.

Our blog's sponsor, the SEO expert Alex Stepman, notes that many websites fail to perform this one simple task: "Too often," Stepman says, "calls to action are hidden at the bottom of a page, or elsewhere--even visitors who may want to click can be discouraged by too much scrolling."

You do not need to bludgeon your visitors with your call to action. Instead, create an actionable button or link THAT STANDS OUT from the rest of your content. Many websites use pop-ups or overlays--but beware, you need to be careful about your use and placement of these elements, lest you alienate your visitors.

As the SEO expert, Rand Fishkin, of Moz, notes: "I would strongly urge you to avoid elements that are significantly harming [user experience]."

A better option: Blend your call to action buttons or links seamlessly into your content.

Content: Short and Sweet

Calls to action necessarily made of content--most often words. So the best calls-to-action include short and sweet words, phrases, or sentences. Simple declarative language catches the eye and simplifies the message.

HubSpot collected 31 Call-to-Action Examples You Can't Help But Click." From Evernote's "remember everything" to Netflix's "cancel anytime," which appears above the "Join Free for a Month" button, the most prominent connection between each, by far, is simple, declarative phrases:

So when writing a call to action leave passive voice behind--and strive for active voice with active verbs.

Netflix's call-to-action button is emphasized by simple, declarative phrases. [Photo Source]
Content Conversion: What's the Payoff for Your Visitor?

Your call to action must offer your visitor a sense of worth. Many brands ask visitors to sign up for newsletters; the most effective brands, however, include the enticement of savings: 15% OFF. Examples of other incentives may include free e-books, a free product sample, or a free trial of your product--like Netflix offers above.

In its article about calls to action, HubSpot speaks about the potential effectiveness of an "exit CTA," which
"detect your users' behavior and only appear when it seems as though they're about to leave your site."

Hubspot uses the example of a clothing brand, Ugmonk, which offers an exit call to action with an incentive.

"By intervening in a timely way," HubSpot notes, "these pop-ups serve as a fantastic way of getting your reader’s attention while offering them a reason to stay." [Source]
Actionable Content Marketing with Stepman's SEO 

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote websites with actionable content that converts visitors, we suggest contacting our sponsor, Stepman's PC: 215-900-9398.

Stepman's SEO combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Is Indecisiveness About SEO Costing You Money?

Last weekend I visited my father at his beach house in Brigantine, New Jersey. My father is retired--he spends his time reading and playing poker--but he still espouses the same philosophy of The Conscious Executive, part Socratic, part esoteric psychology, and part modern day physics, that guided his successful business career. I am not the only person who asks my father for advice, although often I am the person he feels obliged to give advice to.

Over a chicken dinner, I told my father about two recent communications. In both cases, I had been corresponding with a potential partner who, at a critical moment, stopped communicating with me. I thought the lack of response in both cases meant the person did not want to work with me.

"No," my father said. He explained that unresponsiveness is often not a deliberate attempt to end a relationship.

"People just don't know what to do," he said. "They can't make a decision. So they do nothing."

His advice? Write both people. Express my concerns honestly. So I did exactly this.

"I haven't heard from you," I wrote to both. "I wanted to make sure we are still communicating."

Both responded within a day, apologizing for the non-response, and both communications were re-initiated.

To my father's thinking, the inability to make a decision plagues even successful thinkers and business leaders. Unfortunately, of all flaws, indecisiveness might be the most costly for a business.

In the SEO world, our sponsor, Alex Stepman, sees the costs of indecisiveness every day. As Stepman noted in a recent interview, when speaking to small business owners about SEO, the sentiment he most often hears is, "I need SEO, but..."

Read: Ask the Expert: Why do I Need SEO?

There are many ways to say "but," yet the (flawed) logic is the same: But is often an excuse for indecisiveness.

How costly is but? There are many ways to calculate the costs of indecisiveness. Obviously, we'll look at this question from an SEO perspective.

Photo Source: "Five Reasons Indecision Will Ruin Your Life"

Is Indecisiveness About SEO Costing You Money?

A website owner can easily calculate the cost of this indecisiveness by answering a series of important questions.

1. Do you have a website? If so, skip to question 2. (If not, why?) Do you believe that a website can improve your sales?

If you do not have a website, you might find some of our prior articles helpful. An easy way to think about building a successful, fully-optimized website is to consider the following tasks, and who might perform them:

1. Website Design
2. Website Development
3. Content Creation
4. Conversion

2. If you do have a website, do you expect to profit from the site? (You should, of course).

3. If you do expect to profit from your website, do you know exactly how much traffic the Internet drives to your business? (If not, that information is easily attained in your analytics).

Perhaps you think that the Internet drives a significant amount of traffic to your business. This is good, but have you optimized your reach? Are you customers finding you easily? Can you translate your traffic to actual dollars?

4. If you do have a website, and you do expect to profit from your online interactions, the final simple step here is to perform a Google search for your business.

Are you the top result? Are you the second result? The third? If you're not the top result, what separates the top result from your business? (SEO, likely). If you're not on the first page...well, forget about it.

A Simple Truth: Most Traffic Goes to the Top Results

Here's the simple truth: the top results receives most traffic. According to a 2013 study from Chitika, the first result receives 33% of all traffic; the second result receives about 18%; and the third result receives 11%. That's a significant drop-off. And if you're not on the first page? Well, you're missing out on nearly 92% of all traffic.

So here's the calculation. If you know how much traffic the Internet drives to your business, and you can quantify that number in dollars, you can easily see the difference between, say, the third result and the first. By optimizing your site to be the first result, you could potentially triple your traffic (from 11% to 33%)--and potentially triple your profits.

Again, what is the difference between your business and the top-ranked business in Google? If you feel you offer a similar or better product with similar or better service, you deserve that top spot. You deserve SEO.

Is Indecisiveness Costing You Money? Call Stepman's SEO Today!

If you sell a high-quality product that deserves customers, you also deserve a well-optimized website. Do not let the changing search landscape compromise your sales. Now, more than ever, you need the astute wisdom of a professional search engine optimization professional, like Stepman's SEO. To learn how you can improve your website's performance, call today: 215-900-9398.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Ask the Expert with Alex Stepman: Why Do I Need SEO?

We frequently receive emails from readers asking specific questions about optimization techniques. However, by far, the most persistent question is a general question: Why do I need SEO? We asked Alex Stepman, the SEO expert, for some answers...

Last year Search Engine Land cited a report by a "local media forecaster," Borrell Associates, that estimated "total SEO spending will be just over $65 billion this year (2016), growing to nearly $80 billion by 2020."

The report--which can only be accessed with a subscription--argued that "the two categories that businesses spend the most on--web hosting and design--are switching positions with SEO and social media management...advertisers have finished the basic structure of their digital storefronts and are venturing out...to find virtual customers."

This report is cited four times on the first page for the Google search: "SEO spending." There are two Search Engine Land articles as well as reports from Entrepreneur and MediaPost. The MediaPost report includes a interesting graphic: a pile of money.

But, as Search Engine Land notes, Borrell's numbers "may cause some skepticism." The SEO industry is as varied as it customers, and definitive numbers are impossible to quantify.

The basic assumption of the report, however, that a majority of online businesses are now ready to promote viable storefronts, is consistent with Alex Stepman's experience at Stepman's SEO.

"The cliche 'everybody has a website' really is true," Stepman says. "In today's markets--local, national, or global--a well-designed and developed website is standard operating procedure. But a well-designed and developed site is not enough. To compete, you need a viable SEO and social media campaign."

"To compete," Alex Stepman says, "you need a viable SEO and social media campaign."
Unfortunately, Stepman's experience has also revealed another fact: A majority of online businesses are ready to promote, yet many do not.

"When speaking to small and medium-sized business owners," Stepman says, "the sentiment I most often hear is, 'I need SEO and social media, but...' Most companies have excuses--some reasonable; some ridiculous. If you hope to profit from your website, though, you need to promote somehow."

Stepman's implication is that far too many businesses treat their websites like "high-priced business cards." Brick and mortar stores, especially, view their own websites as mere information portals. But Stepman believes any business can benefit from SEO--or any form of digital marketing.

"Even if your website is not a storefront," Stepman says, "you can profit from your online presence. After all, how do you drive customers to your brick and mortar? Traditional advertising? Today, traditional advertising is online advertising."

Most small and medium-sized business owners understand this. And most continue to offer the excuse cited by Alex Stepman: "I need SEO and social media, but..."

Andy Warhol's One Dollar Bill [Source] Are you dissuaded by the cost of online marketing? 
An effective online marketing campaign requires a significant monthly investment. But doing nothing might doom your online efforts, and perhaps your entire enterprise, online and offline. Unfortunately, many online business owners are dissuaded by the perceived costs of SEO and social media marketing.

In reality, there are plenty of low-cost options for the penny-pinching business owner. The Organic SEO Blog, for example, offers "SEO 101" tutorials for people who want to try to perform their own website optimization. To quantify the potential effect of an online marketing campaign, you must, first, understand how your website drives traffic to your business.

In our recent conversation, Stepman also noted: "Most website owners do not use (or understand) website data--the rich analytical statistics that detail the performance of a website. This data is available to all websites for free via Google Analytics, or for a fee via enterprise SEO platforms."

Read: "How to Analyze Three Key Data Points to Improve SEO"

Once you understand how the Internet drives traffic to your business, you can better quantify the potential effect of an online marketing campaign. To do so, perform a Google search for your business. How do you compare to your competitors. Are you the top result? The second result? The third?

According to a 2013 study from Chitika, top results receives 33% of all traffic; the second result receives about 18%; and the third result receives 11%. That's a significant drop-off. If you're not on the first page, you're missing out on nearly 92% of all traffic.

"If you know how much traffic your receive," Stepman says, "and you can quantify that number in dollars, you can easily see the difference between, say, the third result and the first. By optimizing your site to be the first result, you could triple your profits."

Is indecisiveness costing you money? Call Stepman's SEO!

If you sell a high-quality product that deserves customers, you also deserve a well-optimized website. Do not let the changing search landscape compromise your sales. Now, more than ever, you need the astute wisdom of a professional search engine optimization professional.

Stepman's SEO is now offering a free mobile website audit. Contact Stepman's SEO today to learn how you can improve your website's mobile performance: 215-900-9398. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Mobile SEO: Three Key Optimization Tips

Search Engine Land recently posted a report from BrightEdge, the "SEO and content performance marketing platform," which revealed the platform's 1300+ customers now receive 57% of all traffic from mobile sources, like smart phones and tablets.

Only two years ago, Search Engine Land notes, Google announced that mobile queries exceeded desktop queries in ten countries, including the US and Japan. The numbers from BrightEdge, which concur with recent numbers from StatCounter, represent a definitive trend: Mobile is the new search frontier.

As Google notes: "This presents a tremendous opportunity for marketers to reach people throughout all the new touchpoints of a consumer’s path to purchase."

And in the intro to its report, BrightEdge notes specific opportunities for buyers: "The shift towards mobile disrupts the traditional buyer’s journey by highlighting new opportunities to answer questions faster, buy easier, and find physically proximate resources."

Obviously, these opportunities also apply to online businesses. Below we take a closer look at three specific techniques for mobile optimization.

Like the California Gold Rush, which peaked in 1852,
the new mobile frontier presents opportunities for early adopters.

Semantic Search

BrightEdge's first opportunity, "to answer questions faster," is really a nod to recent search engine algorithms, which use "semantic search," to analyze and interpret the intent of user queries.

The dictionary definition of "semantic," "relating to meaning in language or logic," essentially describes semantic search in a nutshell: Search engines like Google analyze each search to discover logical connections (over time) between language and intent.

The more you search, then, the more Google understands what you're looking for. This is apparent, for example, in Google's autocomplete, which presents a list of useful queries related to the words you type in the search bar. This list changes respective to your prior searches. The goal for the search engine, of course, is to extract personalized answers quickly. Instead of revealing sites based on simple keywords, search engines answer questions and solve problems.

In part, semantic search is a response to the surge in mobile usage and the attendant surge in"voice-based" queries. A voice-based search has a different goal than a traditional search. Instead of "browsing," per say, most voice searches ask a question or state a problem.

The opportunity here is to optimize your content to answer specific questions or problems. Instead of writing an article about "denim repair," strive for specificity--answer a specific question, or solve a problem, related to denim repair: "An Easy Way to Fix Holes in Your Jeans and Other Garments," for example, earns a spot on the first page. The value here is not the title, per say, but the content on the page, which provides a step-by-step tutorial with images.

Read: Two Simple Questions to Inspire New Content

Easy Shopping

BrightEdge's second opportunity for buyers, "to buy easier," presents a unique challenge for online businesses as well as brick and mortar shops: How can you leverage the power of mobile search to your advantage?

Online shops can make buying easier by streamlining website design and offering simple payment options--like Amazon's 1-click ordering. As The Telegraph noted last year: "Industry data suggests technology is finally catching up with [the] impulse-buying urge." Obviously, facilitating the impulse requires a Mobile-Friendly website.

Read: Mobile SEO in 2017: Six Key Questions

Brick-and-mortar shops can take ques from larger retailers, like Target, which offers its "Cartwheel" app for shoppers to choose coupons while shopping. Other retailers, like Sears, have taken advantage of mobile browser's tendency to "showroom"--using a device in-store to comparison shop and research products and features.

In an article about "M-commerce", Search Engine Land noted that Sears was "actually encouraging showrooming on their mobile sites by providing mobile searchers with a price scanner which allows them to compare prices of items they’re looking at to items for sale at Sears."

Local SEO

Local businesses are poised to take advantage of BrightEdge's third opportunity for buyers, "to find physically proximate resources."

We know that the physical location of a searcher is a prime determinant in discovering local locations, but a local business must take a few essential steps to guarantee inclusion in local results. Make sure your keywords are hyper-specific to your location and business. And always make sure your Google My Business account is accurate and up-to-date.

Read: What You Need to Know About Local SEO

Need Mobile SEO Help? Call Stepman's SEO!

We believe that ecommerce is now a mobile game! To navigate the new rules of mobile SEO, you might need to hire an SEO specialist like Stepman's SEO. If you sell a high-quality product that deserves customers, you also deserve a well-optimized mobile website.

Do not let the changing search landscape compromise your sales. Now, more than ever, you need the astute wisdom of a professional search engine optimization professional.

Stepman's SEO is now offering a free mobile website audit. Contact us today to learn how you can improve your website's mobile performance: 215-900-9398.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Three SEO Myths: Fact or Fiction?

The website Moz has a page devoted to Google's Algorithm Change History, which cites a popular SEO statistic: "Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times."

SEO firms often cite this statistic to affirm the value of SEO: No business has the knowledge to track Google's changes; only a professional can track and react to the algorithm.

This is not true. Yes, SEO does require specialized knowledge--yet this knowledge is readily accessible online, from a diversity of sources, including Moz and Search Engine Land--and, ahem, The Organic SEO Blog.

The problem for most SEO newcomers (especially small business owners) is, simply, time.

SEO is not for professionals only. This is one of many myths that obscure SEO. Below we take a look at three more SEO myths and answer the question: fact or fiction?

Photo Source
Google and SEO are Enemies: FICTION

Yes, Google changes its algorithm frequently. The 500-600 number is an estimate; in reality, the number could be more or less. Even then, most of these changes are minor. Google only occasionally introduces a "major" algorithm update that changes search results in a fundamental way.

Google's major updates often present headaches for even the most knowledgeable and successful SEOs. And yet, website optimization, by nature, is a collaborative effort.

With each algorithm update, Google creates new guidelines for webmasters. Some complain about the hassle of adapting to these ever-changing guidelines, but any webmaster worth his or her salt understands that Google's purpose aligns with SEO's purpose: to deliver relevant information.

The best SEOs work together with search engines to create clean websites with searchable content that is relevant, error-free, and truly informative. From Google's point of view, this is precisely how the Internet improves. This is why the Google is often transparent about its algorithm updates.

Please read: "Google & SEO: Dynamic Partners"

Algorithms Changes "Punish" Websites: FICTION

A major element of the Penguin algorithm is its focus on bad links. In the past, some websites have been damaged by the way Google has defined bad links. And yet, as Search Engine Land reported in anticipation of a recent Penguin update, Google does its best to allow these sites to recover:

"Google could have done a Penguin update more frequently, but they want to push out an update that makes both webmasters and users happy. So they are working hard on making both happy. [Google] also said that if you disavow bad links now or as of about two weeks ago, it will likely be too late for this next Penguin refresh. But [Google] added that the Penguin refreshes will be more frequent because of the new algorithm in place."

Our obligatory penguin picture [Source]
It is a popular misconception, even in the SEO world, that the algorithm updates are a form of punishment. This "myth" is patently false. The updates are a form of tutelage: Google is trying to teach webmasters how to improve the Internet.

As we wrote before:

"With each update, Google explains precisely why the new algorithm is necessary, what will happen if you don’t follow the rules, and how to update your website to meet the new SEO standards. Yes, Google reveals this information. You might not know where to find it, but it certainly exists. A well-trained SEO professional will always stay up-to-date with all the major SEO techniques and updates."

Please read: "Bad Links? Bad News!"

SEO is Technocentric: Part, FACT, Mostly FICTION 

To understand SEO, many newcomers believe, one must adapt to the language, which is so often dismissed as technobabble. Keyword density. Title tags. Gateway pages.

For many, even the language, as obscure as it might seem, is not as inscrutable as SEO itself. Many website owners see SEO as technocentric, an esoteric art practiced only by development experts.

SEO does require technical knowledge (which is easily accessible, as noted above), but the cornerstone of SEO is not development. Most SEO campaigns are based on the simplest, most straightforward element of marketing: content.

With appropriate keywords, SEO attempts to create dynamic content.

In the SEO world, if anything, writing is key.

Read: The SEO Writer: Five Key Skills

Separate Fact from Fiction with an Honest SEO Firm: Stepman's SEO

At the Organic SEO Blog, we pride ourselves on the simplicity of our style. We hope to democratize the practice of SEO by explaining its elements in clear and precise terms. When we use jargon, we strive to explain its meaning. If you ever have questions about our posts, please leave a comment. Or better yet, call our blog's, Alex Stepman, of Stepman's SEO: 215-900-9398.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

There are No SEO Secrets

The SEO community offers an abundance of common-sense tutorials (like our SEO 101 series or Moz's Whiteboard Fridays). Despite the abundance of information, however, "most website owners perceive SEO as a dark art, shrouded in mystery."

This quote, from Paul Boag, identifies a core problem for most digital marketing firms: Website owners do not trust SEO. Unfortunately, many SEO firms unwittingly contribute to this problem by posting content that promises to reveal SEO "tricks" or "secrets."

Most of this content follows a familiar outline, emphasizing the view that SEO is misunderstood and then attempting to reveal the truth.

Writing for Forbes, for example, Edmund Ingham, a freelance journalist, writes "Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most misunderstood marketing mediums out there."

And yet, Ingham's article, a run-of-the-mill SEO piece, most notable for the mistake-ridden writing and the wisdom of Ken Laing an SEO "freelancer," promises to reveal "The SEO Secrets Every Business Should Know." These secrets should be evident to readers of The Organic SEO Blog--or, really, to readers of any SEO publication:
  1. Write content for your users
  2. Focus on the right keywords
  3. Have the right mindset for long-term benefits
  4. Make sure your website is free of technical issues
  5. Get links from a wide range of websites
These are standard SEO tropes. For an SEO newcomer, Laing's information is helpful.

However, calling this information "secrets" is a bit far-fetched. The article itself, in fact, begs the question, "Do SEO secrets actually exist?"

As Laing notes, "so much of the non-technical side of SEO marketing is plain common sense, and this is something that Google desperately wants us to understand. There are no shortcuts; high quality content, updated regularly, is the best way to gain traffic without going 'under the hood'."

By "under the hood," Laing means to refer to the arcane technical side of SEO, "drilling down into the website and studying the code behind it."

SEO Secrets?

We do agree with Laing's assertion that this work can be "pretty overwhelming" for novices, yet we disagree with the premise--or, at least, the title--of the piece: there are no SEO secrets.

From common sense to "under the hood details," every and any SEO "secret" is widely available online. Google itself endorses ethical SEO, and works hard to make sure people understand SEO.

The Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, for example, is an incredibly helpful read for first-timers. In that guide, you will find plenty of helpful common sense and under the hood advice--enough, really, to optimize your own website.

Another helpful tool is a list of Google's ranking factors. We prefer Backlinko's list, for its clarity and thoroughness. In concert with Google's starter guide, the information available will provide you with the same level of basic knowledge, if not experience, of most SEO specialists.

Of course, the word "specialist" here is operative. True SEO specialists have studied the field for years, and have a keen knowledge of how to apply the knowledge behind the SEO "secrets" efficiently and expeditiously.

Please read: "Organic SEO is a Specialized Talent." 

Calling SEO a "secret" is both untrue and counter-productive. Saying so shrouds SEO in an esoteric veil that obscures its basic utility.

Is the work of a car mechanic a secret? Of course not. You can admit this while still admitting the value of a car mechanic: He/she has learned the trade, and has developed the skills to efficiently and expeditiously fix your car.

Paul Newman, fixing a car. You can, in fact, specialize in two or more disciplines, like, say, acting and car repair. By the same token, business owners can easily learn how to optimize a website. [Photo Source]

We repeat this phrase, efficiently and expeditiously, because it describes the value of any specialist--from a car mechanic to an SEO: You could do the work yourself, no doubt, but how long would it take you?

Do not let the seemingly "secretive" nature of SEO dissuade you from learning more about the practice. Only by learning about SEO, will you begin to see its value.

And once you have seen what SEO requires, decide for yourself: Do you want to perform SEO on your own or outsource the work to a digital marketing firm?

Digital Marketing with Stepman's SEO 

Yes, SEO is based on timeless marketing strategies, but the execution of SEO is a cutting-edge science, promoted by many but mastered by only a few. Once you have a vision for exactly how your product should be presented, you must convey that vision to your website designer and/or SEO firm. Take care to choose professionals who have created naturally-optimized websites that you find visually attractive.

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote emotionally accessible websites with specific keywords and intriguing content, contact our sponsor, Stepman's SEO: 215-900-9398.

Stepman's SEO combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Before You Jump on the Social Media Bandwagon: Three Key Questions

Many so-called digital marketing "experts" presume that social media is a must for all brands, including small businesses.

Citing a host of statistics, for example, David Cueva of InTouch Marketing, writes "The free lunch is over, and social media marketing is now becoming a necessity for most businesses."

It's not clear what Cueva's "free lunch" metaphor means, yet his statistics seem to prove a point: "84% of B2B marketers use social media in some form."

And: "83% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business."

But what point do these statistics prove?

On Fortune, Ryan Holmes writes, "For businesses today, the best way to keep your company successful, in my estimation, is to fully embrace social media."

"In my estimation," indeed. Holmes, The CEO of Hootsuite, a platform for managing social media campaigns, is inherently biased. Like Cueva, however, he cites statistics to prove his view:

"Three-quarters of online adults in the U.S. now use social media sites...If we’re talking just about millennials and young people -- i.e. tomorrow’s consumers -- that number gets dramatically higher."

And: "Facebook's 1.4 billion monthly active users around the world spend an average of 20-plus minutes a day, everyday, 365 days a year, on the network. (Little wonder that social media now drives more traffic to websites than search engines.)"

Of course, there is no denying the prominence of social media usage, which both authors needlessly prove. Yet the actual benefit of social media use (for businesses across the board, especially small businesses) is hard to quantify. According to a 2015 survey by Manta, for example, 59% of respondents saw no ROI on social media and only half of respondents were willing to spend money on social media.

Source: Manta's Small Business Insights: Social Media
Still, reading articles like Cueva's and Holmes' you can't blame small business owners for believing the hype.

Recent social media failures offer a different view: In 2014, for example, the NYPD learned the hard way how NOT to do Twitter. And yet, despite the backlash, the New York Times reported that the NYPD planned to expand its social media efforts. The police commissioner, William Bratton, announced that:

"New recruits would be better trained in community relations; that the police would be more 'collaborative,' an oft-heard new buzzword; and, as he told a closed-door meeting of chiefs and supervisors in January, that his administration would use social media to bring positive police stories directly to the public."

What the NYPD, and many other brands (like McDonald's), fail to realize, is that social media users do not want to be fed a line. Both brands tried to tell followers to tweet great stories about the brand. And both brands failed because they misunderstood the nature of "social networking."

Thankfully, these failures can be instructive to businesses and organizations who hope to profit from social media. Despite our misgivings here, we do believe social media can be a key element of a digital marketing campaign. By crafting a thoughtful social media identity, you can increase your brand's presence across the Internet.

However, before you jump on the social media bandwagon assess your brand's ability to turn all that social media work into a ROI. Ask yourself three key questions...

Small business social media requires a serious time investment--but to what benefit? [Source]

Do You Have the Time?


As the image above reveals, social media requires a serious time investment. If you do not have the time--or conscientiousness--to truly engage with social media, you might do better with no social media presence.

Far too many brands flounder simply because they mistakenly believe all brands must have a social media presence. To succeed on social, however, you need engaging content, unique images, and a consistent presence. Do you have the time to create great content and maintain a presence?

Lackluster content can harm your brand's image. And if you do not stay current with your pages, your image will suffer online. Worse, if you do not engage with your followers (a day-to-day task), you risk alienating potential customers.

Do You Have the Money?

Beyond the time expense, which obviously incurs a tangible labor cost, social media may require a significant out-of-pocket investment in advertising. As Jordan Kasteler writes for MarketingLand,

"The undeniable truth is that without spending some money on advertising with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others, you are just not going to be effective on social media."

Kasteler pins a good social media budget at $200-$300 per day. Though we believe you can succeed with a more streamlined budget, the fact remains: social media requires advertising dollars. Without a serious investment, any brand's social media presence is bound to fail.

Do You Know Your Audience?

Before using any social media, you must first understand the dynamics of the audience. Twitter is an expansive, yet unique, community: of all social media platforms, for example, Twitter is by far the most activist community.

The NYPD failed to acknowledge this simple fact. Assuming that the Twitter population would cherish the opportunity to tell great stories about a notoriously racist police force, the NYPD instead opened the door for a public relations nightmare.

The NYPD's decision-making implies colossal ineptitude. Do not fall into this trap. Try to understand the network audience before you begin any social media campaign. Each network is different--and each requires a different form of engagement. If you think cross-posting to multiple platforms is acceptable, for example, you're on the wrong track.

Read: The Single Worse Social Media Mistake

As we've said before: "Each platform is unique and should be respected as such. Respect each individual audience for what it is, and remember: be an active member of the community."

People are attracted to social media because it promises engagement. The best brands understand that customers can be friends, too. That means that you must respond to all inquiries with sincerity and timeliness. Talk to your "followers"--and don't treat them like followers; treat them like friends.

If you misunderstand these dynamics, you may alienate the very customers you wish to attract.

Social Media Marketing with Stepman's SEO

Stepman's SEO combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective social media marketing campaigns.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Good SEO News: Flash is Dead

This Tuesday Adobe announced the end of Flash. By 2020, the company will completely stop "updating and distributing," the once famed, and now notorious, freeware software.

The end of Flash will come as no surprise to many in the tech industry. The writing has been on the wall since at least 2010, when Apple eliminated Flash from the iPhone.

"It was too insecure," Wired recently wrote, referring to Steve Job's assessment of the technology, "too proprietary, too resource-intensive, too unaccommodating."

This has been the assessment of developers (and savvy end-users) for years; yet all of these factors had other, indirect effects on website performance--and, consequently, website SEO.

Looking at the history of Flash and it's demise, in fact, is perfect way to explore some key SEO themes.

Read Wired's Article: Adobe Finally Kills Flash 

Flash: A Brief History

In the early 2000s, at the dawn of the Internet, most websites relied on simple codes to produce simple designs. Both HTML and CSS, the most popular early coding languages, produced workable sites without much, well, flash.

When Flash was introduced, around this time, designers had access to a new range of content, including the animated graphics many associate with Flash (in positive and negative ways). Soon Flash was installed on most desktop computers. People used the software to access online games, videos, and audio. YouTube, which was founded in 2005, initially used Flash to display its videos.

The problems with Flash, however, which Steve Jobs noted in his "Thoughts on Flash," and which included the fact that the software was not open-source, nor reliable or secure, soon outweighed the benefits. Websites with Flash often took forever to load; and many crashed routinely.

Over time, better codes offered better means of presenting dynamic content. The prominence of touch screens and mobile phones, too, highlighted a crucial Flash flaw, which Jobs noted in 2010:

"Flash was designed for PCs using mice, not for touch screens using fingers."

The development of HTML5, a coding language that supports the same dynamic content as Flash, made Flash essentially useless. In 2011, even Adobe announced it would stop developing Flash to meet touch screen standards--and would, instead, develop HTML5-based products.

Flash and SEO: Website Usability 


The reason Flash is so bad for SEO is partly about usability. Flash makes websites run slower; it also makes sites harder to navigate. Slow, hard to navigate sites do not impress the search engines.

Usability may be of a "second order influence," as Moz notes, but it certainly effects how browsers perceive a site--and consequently, how search engines interpret a site's popularity:

"Usability and user experience are second order influences on search engine ranking success,"  Moz notes. "They provide an indirect but measurable benefit to a site's external popularity, which the engines can then interpret as a signal of higher quality. This is called the 'no one likes to link to a crummy site' phenomenon."

Read: "How Usability, User Experience, and Content Effect Search Engine Rankings"

Flash and SEO: Website Visibility 

Another reason Flash is so bad for SEO with Flash is website visibility. Writing for the online marketing firm, Custard, Sam Allock itemizes the reasons Flash is essentially incognito to search engines like Google:

"Since Flash content doesn’t have any URLs, isn’t able to be searched or indexed, uses unreadable text content and doesn’t provide any way of monitoring outbound links, it’s a nightmare for Google’s search bots."

A nightmare indeed. We know URL optimization helps a search engine find a specific page. We also know content is the cornerstone of any digital marketing campaign. And, of course, we know that backlinks are one of Google's top three "ranking factors." For Flash pages, however, these elements are invisible to search engines.

Read: SEO 101: How to Optimize URLs

Read: What is Content Marketing

Read: Google's Top Three Ranking Factors

No wonder Google warns mobile users about Flash websites.

Flash Website? What Can You Do?

As Allock notes, the best way to optimize a site with Flash is to "make sure the Flash content is not critical." The best option, however, is to hire a design and development firm who understands SEO to refresh your website--or, if needed, to build a new website.

An SEO Company That Understands Website Design: Stempan's SEO

To build an effective, fully-optimized website, you need a web design and development company that understands SEO. Stepman's PC is the rare company that offers a host of SEO and marketing professionals to optimize your website. Contact Stepman's PC today to learn how you can improve your website's performance: 215-900-9398.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Organic SEO: Two More Timeless Strategies

Last week we discussed how SEO has evolved with the Internet to help online businesses deal with the byzantine challenge of marketing to a global audience. And yet, SEO is relevant today because it relies on timeless marketing strategies. Marketing is about communication, and from the beginning of commerce the art of attracting customers has relied on the same principles.

The content of your message, for example, including the specific words, phrases, and design elements you use to express your message, must be specific and accessible; at the same time, your content must create a sense of intrigue.

Read: Organic SEO: Three Timeless Strategies

Specificity, accessibility, and intrigue will help you attract potential customers. But attracting attention is only part of the equation.

You also must inspire potential customers to become actual customers--to purchase your product or service. And, of course, you must inspire your customers to return.

Of course, this is also a timeless view of marketing. In today's SEO parlance, a purchase is called a "conversion." And return customers are frequently referred to, simply, as "return visitors."

Below we discuss these two essential principles and how they apply to today's SEO--or more specifically, today's "organic" SEO.

This photo, from last week's post, offers a perfect illustration of the elegant simplicity of organic SEO, which is based on timeless marketing principles. [Photo Source]

Conversion Rate Optimization 

Many website owners (and certain SEO firms) portray success in rankings and traffic, but ranking, which is partly often based on traffic, is meaningless without conversions.

Successful traffic obviously implies multiple visitors, but it's important to remember: a visitor is simply that--a visitor. A visitor may click on your page, browse a bit, then leave. A high ranking site may attract many visitors who browse a bit, then leave.

In this case, a visitor is essentially worthless. The key to online success is converting visitors to customers.

A conversion is a visitor who performs a desired act, like purchasing your product or service, sharing your content, or signing up for daily emails..A "converted" visitor is a customer.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is a simple measurement of the percentage of visitors who perform a desired action on a website. The higher your CRO the more successful your site.

Read: SEO and Conversion Rate Optimization 

The wrong type of visitor will have no connection to your product or service--or, in the case of  Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers, to your wedding! [Source]

Return Visitors  

One-time visitors might be incidental or accidental; many visitors may have been looking for something else. But returns indicate well-informed visitors—visitors who may become actual customers; or better yet, actual repeat customers.

The pursuit of repeat customers is, perhaps, the oldest marketing challenge. How do you engage your visitor's imagination, inspiring return visits? When a visitor first views your site, he or she will experience an emotional reaction--for better or worse. Your job is to guarantee a uniformly positive reaction.

In organic SEO, this reaction is often determined by your website's design and layout.

Read: SEO 101: Website Design

Beyond the specificity, accessibility, and intrigue, you must design a simple, streamlined site which delivers the design goods:
  • Is your website user-friendly? 
  • Do your visual elements immediately inspire confidence in your customer? 
  • Is your language enthusiastic, positive, and evocative?
  • Are your promises about customer service sincere? 
  • Are you conveying the benefits of your product or service? 
Consider the first question: Is the website user-friendly? Speed and reliability are crucial website features. For most websites, speed and reliability is as important as the actual product or service.

If your website loads quickly, visitors will easily navigate between pages, and there will be no need to visit any other website for the same product or service.

Search engines also investigate this type of website performance; even if your website has been optimized for content, you might be penalized for slow loading times.

When you deliver the goods, however, you create confidence in Google and your customers--the type of confidence that inspires repeat customers.

An SEO firm can achieve some of this work for you, but to truly inspire your customer you, the website owner, need to cultivate a well-honed aesthetic sensibility.

To do so, you might browse websites that you find visually appealing. Look at these websites with a keen eye, and try to answer the questions above.

Digital Marketing with Stepman's SEO 

Yes, SEO is based on timeless marketing strategies, but the execution of SEO is a cutting-edge science, promoted by many but mastered by only a few. Once you have a vision for exactly how your product should be presented, you must convey that vision to your website designer and/or SEO firm. Take care to choose professionals who have created naturally-optimized websites that you find visually attractive.

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote emotionally accessible websites with specific keywords and intriguing content, contact our sponsor, Stepman's SEO: 215-900-9398.

Stepman's SEO combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Organic SEO: Three Timeless Strategies

Webmasters have practiced some form of SEO (search engine optimization) since the mid-1990s, when the first search engines cataloged the web. Since then, of course, the web has changed the world, escorting society into a Brave New World of inventiveness and social transformation. SEO has evolved, too, to help websites market to a global audience.

Today, SEO is often associated with cutting edge digital marketing, but it's important to remember: SEO is based on timeless marketing strategies.

From the beginning of commerce, of course, marketing has been about communication.

Below we discuss three means of effective communication and how they apply to today's SEO--or more specifically, today's "organic" SEO.

Read: What is Organic SEO?

At heart, SEO is a simple marketing strategy based on timeless principles. [Photo Source]

Specificity  

SEO essentially governs the keywords and website design elements you employ to market your business online. If you can identify your potential visitors, or if you want to build a website for a specific visitor, you must include specific words and design details that will appeal to your audience. This idea, like most marketing principles, is self evident, yet too many designers build websites for a general--and not specific audience.

For online marketing success, specificity is key.

Read: SEO 101: Industry-Specific Keywords

Accessibility 

Remember, no one understands your product like you do. You are the expert. Your challenge is to convey your expertise in a way that inspires confidence in search engines and browsers.

When you use jargon that may not be familiar to your customer, he or she may lose interest—and like that, you’ve lost a sale! If you understand your customer, adapt your text and design elements to suit his or her needs--and avoid jargon!

Unfortunately, the SEO industry itself is plagued by jargon; and the industry could do a much better job making the essential tenants of SEO accessible to more people.

Do not let the jargon, or any other obscure SEO association, discourage you from learning more.

Read: Do Not Fear the Code: Is a Tech-Centric View of SEO Holding You Back?

Intrigue 

Relevant content may attract browsers, but a website should strive to not merely attract browsers—a good website must sustain a browser's interest.

The marketing goal, of course, is to cultivate informed and involved browsers who convert to actual customers. A precise and accessible description of your offering is necessary. But you must do more than describe your product--however precisely. You must intrigue browser to purchase your product.

One of the best ways to create intrigue online is to teach your customer something new—and possibly include him/her in the learning process.

Dr. Mercola has built a successful online business by making his supplements feel like necessary by-products of his health tutelage. To read Mercola's article on astaxanthin, for example, is to want to purchase his astaxanthin: "Hailed as One of the Most Powerful Antioxidants Ever Discovered," he announces. "Are You Missing Out?"

Among Mercola's many intriguing claims here is that flamingos "only obtain their pink color once they eat food that is loaded with astaxanthin."

Mercola creates intrigue by inspiring emotional connections to his products. You can do the same.

Read: SEO and the Power of Emotions

Flamingos get their pink skin from astaxanthin--an intriguing fact that helps to sell a product. [Photo Source]

Digital Marketing with Stepman's SEO 

If you're looking for an SEO company that understands how to effectively promote emotionally accessible websites with specific keywords and intriguing content, contact our sponsor, Stepman's SEO: 215-900-9398.

Stepman's SEO combines traditional marketing methods and organic SEO--with an emphasis on natural website optimization--to design thoughtful, inspiring, and effective content marketing campaigns.