Local inventory-based SEO strategy juiced rankings and sales for US wireless carrier

One of the major problems online consumers face is figuring out where they can buy or see a desired product in a nearby store. Beyond local product feeds into Google, most major retailers don’t offer real-time local inventory. There has even been resistance to putting local inventory online.

But a recent case study from Lastmile Retail and a major US wireless carrier with over 1,000 local stores validates the proposition that when you give consumers information about local product availability, they are more likely to engage and convert. A related and equally important benefit is improved position in search rankings because of greater relevance to the query.

Lastmile offers an “omni-channel marketing solution with real time local inventory.” In practical terms, it’s a dynamic landing page solution that matches local product inventory and promotions with store finders and a range of consumer engagement options:

  • Purchase/reserve device for in-store pickup.
  • Call the local store.
  • Get directions to nearby store locations.
  • Make an in-store appointment.

It also brings e-commerce and local store options together in a single place for customer convenience.

Lastmile’s CEO Michael Carini told me that the carrier saw an average ranking position of 1.9 for iPhone-related queries compared with 7.86 for the company’s competitors for the same queries.

Conversions were also 5x those of other digital channels. This is search, and so these are often going to be high-intent consumers. But that’s Carini’s ultimate point: If you tell people where they can buy something (or buy online and pick up in the store), they’re more likely to do it. He also said that e-commerce conversions from these landing pages were 3.2x higher on average than the carrier’s other channels.

Carini provided me with the breakdown in actions taken by from these landing pages, expressed in terms of percentages of total people who took any action:

  • Buy for in-store pickup — 47 percent.
  • Reserve device for in-store purchase — 21 percent.
  • Purchase for shipment to home — 17 percent.
  • Make in-store appointment — 7 percent.
  • Call store — 5 percent.
  • Navigate to store — 3 percent.

Among the above options on these landing pages, true e-commerce (buy and ship) represented 17 percent of conversions/actions. The remaining 83 percent involved the local store. But what’s striking is the array of different choices and options — all leveraging the local store presence.

As an aside, I believe that local inventory availability is also a key competitive tactic against Amazon. Regardless, this case study validates that the majority of “ready to buy” consumers are still most interested in the instant gratification of having something “today.” It also argues that there’s a huge opportunity cost to retailers in not pursuing a local product inventory strategy.

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Why websites should be using HSTS to improve security and SEO

Site users and search engines don’t take website security lightly which is probably why you’ve likely heard of added security measures like HTTPS.

But a lesser-known security layer called HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) is also available and can help protect your site and your search engine optimization (SEO) as well.  Let’s walk through what HSTS is and how it works.

HSTS

HSTS is a response header that informs the browser it can only connect to a certain website using HTTPS.  HSTS increases both the speed and security of HTTPS websites.  To fully understand what HSTS does, you need a little working knowledge of HTTPS.

HTTPS

HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) is a secure version of HTTP.  When a user connects to a site using HTTPS, the website then encrypts the session with a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate. In layman’s terms, it adds an extra layer of security to the site session and protects against hackers who may try to steal information from web users.

As you can imagine, this is especially useful for e-commerce, banking, or other transaction sites like Paypal, which require users to enter sensitive information.

Whether or not a site uses HTTPS is clearly visible to users. Those that are secure will feature a green secure symbol by the URL.

On the flip side, those sites that still rely only on HTTP will be labeled “Not Secure” in the uniform resource locator (URL) box.

HTTPS has been a confirmed Google ranking factor since 2014, and while it won’t immediately skyrocket your site to the top of the search engine result pages (SERPs), it will give you an added boost and signal an extra layer of trustworthiness to website visitors. I like to think having HTTPS gives a web page a boost and will usually move the HTTPS page ahead in the SERPs.

While HTTPS is a vast improvement over its predecessor, it’s not entirely without its flaws and that is where HSTS comes in.

How HSTS increases site security

One of the flaws associated with HTTPS is that it isn’t entirely hack-proof.  It leaves your site open to SSL stripping. This occurs when a hacker changes the connection from an encrypted connection to an older version.

This often occurs with 301 redirects – if a website relies on 301 redirects for switching from HTTP to HTTPS.   The 301 redirect usually happens like this:

  • Someone types in examplesite.com into their browser.
  • Because examplesite.com uses a 301 redirect, the browser initially tries to load http://examplesite.com. This happens because the browser can’t know ahead of time that a specific site is using HTTPS.
  • Once it encounters the redirect and is told otherwise, the browser then has the go-ahead to load https://examplesite.com.

While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it’s those few milliseconds in between you really need to worry about because it leaves the site vulnerable to hackers who try to strip down your SSL certificate.

When the server initially calls the HTTP version, hackers can slip in and intercept the request over the insecure HTTP, which will block the site from using HTTPS.  It stands to reason that as more sites switch to HTTPS, more hackers are educating themselves on how to crack the updated security codes.

There is a solution for this, make your site even more secure by applying HSTS.

HSTS forces a site to load over HTTPS, disregarding any calls to try an HTTP connection first as in the case of 301 redirects.  This essentially sidesteps the initial HTTP load by forcing the browser to remember that this site does indeed support HTTPS. That way, the browser will load the secure version immediately and eliminates the opportunity for hackers to hijack the connection.

How HSTS helps page load speed and SEO

In addition to adding an extra layer of security to your site, using HSTS may also give you an SEO boost since using HSTS makes your web pages load even faster.

We know load time is a big deal when it comes to both search rankings and user experience.  With mobile usage only increasing and Google’s mobile-first initiative in full swing, page load speed is more important than ever.

Early last year, Google released a study with the following conclusions:

The average time it takes to fully load the average mobile landing page is 15.3  seconds:

However, research also indicates 53 percent of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than three seconds to load.

Clearly, web users aren’t exactly forgiving when it comes to load times.

And for e-commerce sites which seem to have the most incentive for applying HSTS, the news is even worse.  Consider this shopping stat from Google :


Mobile sites lag behind desktop sites in key engagement metrics such as average time on site, pages per visit, and bounce rate.  A lot of shopping is happening online, but sites that lag behind aren’t the ones making the sales.  Page load speed directly affects metrics like average time spent on site, pages per visit, and bounce rate. If you’re seeing low engagement metrics, you’re likely seeing low sales.

Those engagement metrics are also key factors in your overall SEO.  Web pages with strong engagement signal quality and good user experience to Google which can result in a higher ranking.  Since page load speeds are such a big deal, it makes sense businesses would do everything they can to ensure their sites load like lightning.  One of the things they can do is enable HSTS.

Remember, if you try to load a site using only HTTPS, it will first try to call the HTTP version before realizing a page supports HTTPS. That initial HTTP attempt will cause a small delay in the load time of your site. While it may only be milliseconds when it comes to page load speed, every millisecond counts. With HSTS enabled, the browser knows to use only HTTPS, making the redirect instant and eliminating any lag time.

How do I apply HSTS?

Before you can enable HSTS you must have a valid SSL certificate installed.  A user’s browser will have to see the HSTS header at least once before it knows to instantly redirect to a certain page. That means a user’s first visit to a certain domain would still have to go through the HTTP to HTTPS process.

To eliminate this as much as possible, Chrome created an HSTS preload list. This is a list of domains that will have HSTS enabled automatically, so users can automatically connect using HSTS.

Chrome allows anyone to submit their domain to the HSTS list as long as it meets the following requirements:

HTTPS needs to be enabled on the root domain and all subdomains especially the www.subdomain if a DNS record for it exists.  This includes any subdomains in use solely on intranets. The HSTS policy includes all subdomains, with a long max-age, and a “preload” flag to indicate that the domain owner consents to preloading.

As of now Firefox, Safari, Opera and Edge also use Chrome’s preload list, so the option is available to domains across most major browsers.

To enable HSTS on your site, you’ll need to add the HSTS header activated. You can do this through your hosting site or activate it yourself.

Conclusion

Should you use HSTS?  I think you should unless you are a content publisher and are experiencing trouble switching to HTTPS.  It’s hard to serve ads on an HTTPS site so many publishers have struggled with switching to HTTPS.  They’ll probably struggle serving ads using HSTS as well.

Every website can benefit from an extra layer of security, not only from an SEO standpoint but from a customer standpoint as well.  If you run an e-commerce or transactional site, HSTS is quickly becoming a must.
Think about it this way: added security and faster load times equals better SEO and ultimately, a better user experience.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


Atlanta SEO Company Creates More Effective Optimization Process

EverSpark Interactive has reinvented the SEO process with their new “90 Day SEO Sprint”.

Search engine optimization as an industry has existed for about 20 years. Though tweaks have been made to adjust to search engines’ algorithm changes, the industry mindset has always been that SEO is a marathon that could take up to a year to show results.

Atlanta SEO company EverSpark Interactive believes they’ve cracked the code to faster search engine optimization results. They call this process the “90 Day SEO Sprint”.

In developing the 90 Day SEO Sprint, EverSpark Interactive modeled the Agile method of project management, moving from monthly deliverables against yearly KPIs to quarterly deliverables against quarterly KPIs. That seemingly arbitrary shift has allowed the company to move the needle in unprecedented ways.

Chris Watson, CEO of EverSpark Interactive, says the evolution of the SEO process is long overdue.

“Agencies and clients have been caught in a limited perspective, one that results in a seemingly endless loop of vague deliverables,” he says. “By asking ourselves different questions, we developed the 90 Day SEO Sprint, we’re very excited about it.”

However, Watson doesn’t believe this is the “dawn of a new era” of SEO. Rather, it’s more of a reorganization of focus.

“Historically, when a company hires an SEO Company, they have an agreed upon budget, but that budget is assigned too broadly,” he says. “By narrowing the focus and implementing a very specific process, we’re finding that the client is happy because the results tend to show up in a much faster timeframe than the usual six to 12 months.”

While this process isn’t a “silver bullet”, Watson says a project-based process is a far more efficient and effective way of approaching an SEO campaign.

About EverSpark Interactive

EverSpark Interactive was started in Atlanta, Georgia in 2009. Always focused on SEO, the company has been studying the Google algorithm updates since inception. As the algorithm has changed, so too has EverSpark. Boasting a client roster of top tier corporate clients, some of the biggest law firms in America and many familiar brand names, EverSpark continues to be at the deep end of the SEO pool. Priding themselves on innovative thinking, total transparency and measurement, the company strives to build dashboards that track what matters, focus on projects that move the needle and developing strategies that go beyond traditional SEO thinking. Learn more at .

Contact EverSpark Interactive:

Chris Watson
404-313-7076
cw@eversparkinteractive.com
3340 Peachtree Road, N.E., Suite 1010, Atlanta, GA 30326

Optimisation is the enemy of creativity in marketing and music

No, you are not becoming crankier as you approach middle age – music is indeed getting worse every year. And the marketing industry’s obsession with optimisation is to blame.

In late 2017, the YouTube channel Thoughty2 published a video exploring how music has changed over the decades. After starting with The Beatles, the narrator continues with an example of classic British understatement: “Fast forward to 2010, when Justin Bieber released his hit single Baby. This is generally considered to be a bad move.”

According to the research in the video, lyrical intelligence, harmonic complexity, and timbral diversity have decreased while dynamic range compression has been used to make music louder and louder. In short, songs are becoming stupider – especially since every hit now includes the “millennial whoop” as well.

“Instead of experimenting with different musical techniques and instruments, the vast majority of pop music today is built using the exact same combination of keyboard, drum machine, sampler, and computer software,” Thoughty2’s narrator states. “This might be considered as progressive by some people, but it truth it sucks the creativity and originality out of music – making everything sound somewhat similar.”

As a rule, businesses do not like risk. The video states that record companies today must spend anywhere from $500,000 to $3m to sign and market a new artist. That is a lot of money to spend on a band without being fully confident of success.

To minimise the risk and maximise the potential return, these companies optimise the music to do whatever seems to have worked in the past. Same set of instruments? Check. Simple lyrics? Check. Is it loud? Check. Simple melody? Check. Can you dance to it? Check. Millennial whoop? Check check.

But that optimisation process is a downward spiral that will result only in songs that will make Rebecca Black’s Friday sound as brilliant as Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir. It is creating music by paint-by-numbers. It is ticking boxes rather than being creative. And the same thing is occurring in the marketing industry today.

The rise of optimisation

After my first career in journalism years ago, I went into marketing and at one point met with a recruiter who was looking for a digital marketer. “I need an expert in SEO, ASO, and SMO,” she told me, further rattling off a lengthier list of random acronyms.

“Optimisation” became all the rage after companies discovered in the 2000s how much traffic websites could attract from search engines. After the birth of search engine optimisation (SEO), marketers tacked on the latter word to create “app store optimisation” and “social media optimisation” as well as countless other uses where the term also made little sense.

App store optimisation (ASO) looks for hacks to increase a mobile application’s ranking and findability in places such as the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store – rather than, you know, creating and promoting a real, useful app that people will like. Social media optimisation (SMO) is a useless term because social media is simply a set of channels and tools that can be used for any specific promotion tactic.

Now, businesses have always discussed general best practices. My last job in journalism in the 2000s was serving as the editor-in-chief and executive director of the Boston non-profit newspaper Spare Change News. (It is one of the newspapers in the United States that are modeled on The Big Issue in the UK.)

In that role, I once attended an annual convention of the North American Street Newspaper Association that was held in Halifax, Canada. There, the assembled staffers discussed the best practices in terms of pricing, circulation, and countless other topics. Today, marketers talk about optimisation, which often means the best practices in line with someone else’s algorithms or what has purportedly worked for others.

Buffer has published studies on the ideal lengths of everything from blog posts to tweets to headlines to Facebook updates. HubSpot has reported the best times to post on social media. But in the end, both best practices and optimisation come down to the same thing: doing what everyone else is doing.

The perils of optimisation

Once, I was in a meeting where people were discussing how to get more traffic from blog posts spread on Facebook. The ideas focused on using psychology and gaming the social network’s algorithm: “Let’s ask people to comment on posts to increase engagement!” and “Let’s change the posts so that they are lists whose headlines start with numbers!”

“Make a funny, creative video advertisement instead,” I suggested, noting the reach that humorous videos receive on Facebook. But no one listened. Everyone cared so much about optimising the form of the creative that no one thought about the creativity of the creative. They prioritised the form over the function.

The perfect example of this is when marketers see studies on which headlines get the most “engagement.” In June 2017, Buzzsumo analysed 100m headlines and found this information on which headlines receive the most clicks, “likes,” and shares on Facebook:

Too many digital marketers use such information and focus on producing whatever marcom is cheapest and then optimising it. Here is a sample of recent blog posts on Medium from a certain prolific marketing writer:

  • 5 Strange But True Habits of the World’s Richest People
  • 5 Smart Reasons to Create Content Outside Your Niche
  • 5 Simple Hacks to Sharpen Your Emotional Intelligence
  • 10 Insanely Good Reasons You Should Publish On Medium
  • 3 Unusual Hacks to Completely Up Your LinkedIn Game

Bored now.

Too many marketers go overboard and focus on optimisation to produce rubbish marketing such as clickbait blog posts with the same headline format such as this: [number] [unnecessarily strong adjective] [noun] to [achieve some goal].

The internet will continue to be flooded with boring, optimised posts that all have the same title formats in an effort to get clicks or satisfy other short-term metrics. But optimisation is the enemy of creativity and leads to worst long-term results. (Just look at how many reboots of successful TV shows from the 80s and 90s have failed today. The studios likely thought that copying what was done before would guarantee another success.)

Redundant optimisation quickly becomes cliched, hurts the brand, and is obvious to consumers. If Oxford Academic were to title journal articles in the above manner, the Oxford brand would become laughable. The only way for BuzzFeed News to be taken seriously – and the publication is indeed doing excellent journalism – has been to decouple its brand from the notoriously clickbait parent company.

Optimised reflects only short-term thinking. Using clickbait to get people to a website is the same as knocking people over the head and dragging them into your store. They may be there, but they will not buy anything because they will hate your brand.

When everyone optimises for everything, it is no longer a competitive advantage. The only true competitive advantage that people will have is what rests in their brains – creativity. Without that, you will only be as good as everyone else.

The benefits of creativity

According to an updated study in Admap magazine by Data2Decisions founder Paul Dyson, creativity is – by far – the second-best profit multiplier after market size:

Optimisation and best practices aim to do what someone else defines or the best of what everyone else does – but nothing more than that.

“Best practice is like training wheels – it keeps you safe whilst you’re learning how to excel in your industry,” Helen Pollitt, head of SEO at the British digital marketing agency Reflect Digital, said. “To really differentiate yourself from the competition you need to be open to experimentation and growth, true optimisation requires facing failure. The issue with sticking to the safe zone of best practice is it stifles creativity.”

The best depiction of the benefit of being different that I have seen comes from this BBH ad:

People notice what is different. And if your marketing does not get noticed in the first place, nothing else you do matters. As BBH London strategy director Lucian Trestler recently put it:

“‘Difference’ isn’t just a two bob philosophy or a frivolous creative penchant. It is the most powerful communications tool there is to deliver commercial results. We have a vast amount of data to support that. Evidence from neuroscience, marketing science and creative effectiveness data all agree on this point; difference is commercially safer than ‘safety.’”

Optimising based on data or algorithms is easier than being creative – but it is not always better, according to Wistia co-founder and chief executive Chris Savage.

“Today, everyone scores their leads with Marketo and A/B tests thirty different varieties of their landing page. You can’t get a competitive advantage doing that stuff anymore. You could say that as the percentage of marketers with a certain tech stack or using a certain tool approaches 100%, the competitive advantage you reap from it approaches zero,” he once wrote. “Using data to scale your marketing is critical. But when we all have access to the same types of data, it won’t be the data that differentiates us — it’ll be the art.”

Tom Goodwin recently said something similar: “A/B testing seems to be getting out of hand. Seems to be a way to offload decision making, not have a strategy, or gut or courage. What great art/music/products would ever be made this way?”

But tell that to those digital marketers who think only in terms of optimisation. Tell that to high-tech chief executives who want to mimic the marketing of competitors and think that they need only a differentiated product to be successful. (Just like record companies, startups are risk-averse because they do not want to lose the millions of investor dollars.)

In a quote attributed to John Ward from B&B Dorland in England, “advertising is a craft executed by people who aspire to be artists but is assessed by those who aspire to be scientists. I cannot imagine any human relationship more perfectly designed to produce total mayhem.”

At Digital Annexe University in 2015, Dave Trott gave a classic speech on creativity. Effective communications, he said, needs to have an impact, needs to communicate, and needs to be persuasive. “Impact” is the most important part.

“Impact will get you on the radar,” he said. “Without impact, there’s nothing there. There might be a bloke outside on the street right now telling us the secret of all life, and we’ll never know because we can’t hear him. Without impact, nothing happens.”

Now, take the desire of so many marketers to optimise all collateral to match some alleged universal standard. How will their work be different from that of everyone else? How will their work stand out? How will their work have an impact?

“Optimisation might work for certain businesses for a certain amount of time,” Steve Daniels, an independent graphic designer in the UK, said. “This course of action may feel safer, but it only remains safe if there are no competitors who disrupt the market or start playing the brand game in a strong way. As soon as that happens, focusing on creativity is a great a way to play the long game – and to invest in your future success.”

If your business wants to remain safe, no one will notice you. Taking creative risks is how you become memorable.

A quick recommendation

So, if you want to listen to an album where the musicians wrote their own material, played dozens of instruments, and created songs that are lyrically intelligent, harmonically complex, and timbrally diverse, I have an assignment for you.

Listen to records or remastered CDs of the Moody Blues album In Search of the Lost Chord (1968) and The Smiths’ song How Soon Is Now? (1985) with a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones and some refreshment of your choice. Maybe it will kickstart some creative inspiration.

After all, the Beatles will be remembered forever. Justin Bieber will not.

The Promotion Fix is an exclusive biweekly column for The Drum contributed by global marketing and technology keynote speaker Samuel Scott, a former journalist, consultant and director of marketing in the high-tech industry. Follow him on Twitter. Scott is based out of Tel Aviv, Israel.

11 Free Chrome Extensions for Technical SEO

Search engine optimization is well suited to technical and analytical tools. Unfortunately, there’s an overload of choices, especially for browser extensions at the Chrome Web Store.

In this post, I’ll review 11 of my favorite free Chrome extensions for the technical aspects of SEO.

Some of these SEO extensions offer paid versions, but all of them deliver strong functionality at the free level. However, no one tool provides every piece of required SEO data, in my experience.

All-in-one SEO Extensions

These extensions combine comprehensive SEO utilities into a single platform.

SEOquake offers data from critical SEO categories — technical, content, and link authority — and allows you to customize what you want to see. Have a look through all of the tabbed navigation options on your SEOquake results — there’s a lot more than what you see initially. There is per-page data (available with one click on your extension bar), plus an optional bar after every search result in your search engine results pages.

SEOquake's initial view of Amazon's home page.

SEOquake’s initial view of Amazon’s home page.

SEO Analysis with SEOptimer is not as extensive as SEOquake. But it does contain useful information in an attractive package. If you want an all-in-one alternative to SEOquake, give SEOptimer a try. It has a premium option, but the free option includes many data points across all aspects of SEO, as well as across usability and social.

Technical SEO Extensions

There are so many technical aspects that search engines take into account when evaluating a page for ranking. These extensions all measure something different. Give them each a try.

Firebug Lite allows you to right click on any area of a web page and view the code that is used to create that element, such as how headings are coded, whether links are crawlable or nofollowed, and much more.

Web Developer Toolbar for Chrome is a shadow of the original Firefox version from a couple of years ago. But it’s still useful for certain tasks, such as toggling your JavaScript and CSS on and off, checking which fields are coded as H headings, reviewing all outbound links, and much more.

User-Agent Switcher enables your browser to spoof Googlebot, Bingbot, and many other browsers and devices, all by changing the user agent signal your browser uses when it requests a web page from a server. This can be handy in analyzing different browser and device experiences, as well as identifying cloaking issues, where the content presented to the search engine is different from that presented to the user.

Link Redirect Trace shows the chain of server headers until the final page loads with “200 OK.” It traces 301 and 3012 redirects as well as meta refreshes and JavaScript redirects. Once you understand which server headers are in play, you can take steps to better manage the flow of your internal link authority.

OpenLink Structured Data Sniffer identifies all the different types of structured data on a page, from JSON-LD to RDFa to microformats and other assorted metadata. Search engines value structured data because it helps them to accurately interpret the information on your site for relevance. If your pages don’t have structured data, this is a good tool to see how competitors are implementing it.

META SEO inspector shows a basic “print” of the metadata on a page, as well as canonical tags, noindex and Open Graph tags, microformats, and more.

PageSpeed Insights Pro combines elements from Google’s PageSpeed tool into a single, attractive extension that’s easy to trigger on any page you’re viewing. Page speed is critical, especially since Google’s mobile Speed Update just launched.

First Paint & Page Load Time covers much of the same ground as the PageSpeed Insights extension above. But it slices the data to show the number and weight of resources, as well as a nice rainbow chart of the 10 heaviest resources.

Broken Link Checker identifies broken links on any web page, which is important because broken links can add to a perception that your site quality is low. This tool is most helpful for sitewide elements like headers and footers. But it can be useful for other pages as well. It’s a faster alternative to a crawler.

3 SEO Pitfalls Service-Based Businesses Should Avoid

Search Engine Optimization has become one of the most complicated aspects of having an online presence.

The variables that are key to earning your rank constantly update and change and there are many things that can go wrong.

Moreover, SEO for service-based businesses have goals that are not necessarily going to be achieved through strategies built for other types of businesses. In this article we’re going to look at 3 pitfalls you should avoid when marketing your service-based business online.

Your business’s online presence will only help you if it’s aligned with guidelines and expectations laid out by Google and any website you use to help rank your website.

Make sure you’ve got these all covered!

  1. Be Consistent

    Your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) needs to be the same on all listings. If you have several locations, make unique listings for each when adding your business to websites like yp.com, superpages.com, and Yelp.

    If you only have the one location, then you just have to be very careful that each location listing has identical contact information. Scrutinize this heavily because some websites may display elements slightly differently and some fields can get filled in wrong.

    Review these so you’re not sending mixed signals to Google and to users.

Don’t panic if you’re guilty of any of these pitfalls.

They’re easy problems to fix and once you have them right, you’ll be in much better shape to earn higher placement in Google. They’ll also help your users by providing the right information, and in a way that doesn’t seem like you’re misleading them in any way.

If you’ve got all these done right and you’re working on earning rank but finding there is just too much to do or you can’t figure it all out, then please let us know. Our SEO professionals will review your entire online presence, goals, and use those to develop a strategy that works to earn your website rank for the terms you want it to rank for.

Let us know if you have any questions about SEO pitfalls in the comments below or email us and we’ll make sure you get an answer.

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3 SEO Pitfalls Service-Based Businesses Should Avoid

Start at the Beginning with SEO

There’s no getting around the fact that building your online reputation is a staple. With half of the world’s population using the Internet, it’s not surprising that almost everyone makes purchases online. Without going out of their cocoons, buyers can easily swipe on their phones and wait for their products to arrive. And if your business isn’t on the Web, then you’re probably missing the pot of gold.

Now, businesses have a basket replete with to engage potential prospects, and eventually add them to the sales funnel. Let’s be honest though. It’s tough for companies like yours to maximize all of these methods, especially when you’re just starting up.  I’d agree that having a pool of resources can be quite overwhelming. Sometimes, you might get carried away with the plethora of options at your disposal. But mixing up everything might do more harm than good, and the chance of your website ending up on Google’s honor roll gets thinner with every online mistake.

The best way to approach online marketing is to start basic with search engine optimization (SEO). Remember that your goal is increased online presence to gain page rankings, ultimately ending up on the first page. To achieve this, you must befriend search engines especially Google, the #1 search engine with 12 billion searches a month under its belt. And you can only do it by passing your SEO.

Here’s a handy list of elementary tips to get you started:

Check On Your Website

SEO won’t work if your website doesn’t. From the design to the content, search engines will keep an eye on every detail. Ensure your page URL and content are simple, short and contain targeted keywords. Provide text for all images in HTML.  

Keyword Research

Keywords are the direction that leads to a search engine result. It’s the Dewey Decimal Classification in Google’s library. It’s a compass that points customers to their destination. And it’s your Internet magnet that will draw potential customers right to your website. Set your market and targeted keywords with specificity. The basic question to ask is “How will my prospects find me?”. You can start with (1) product/service and (2) your location. For example, accounting services in Miami or hair salon in Seattle.

Go Loco with Local

Target your niche first, then the world. It’s not impossible but definitely a waste of time and money to reach everyone to kick off your campaign. Start with and get listed on local business directories. Mobile searches are more often than not location-based. I bet you’d rather stand out on the first page of city-specific results than buried deep in the abyss of a generic search.

Rich Content

Your page ranking doesn’t stay forever. It might even take a few days or weeks before a shake-up happens. Improve or keep your position by regularly producing quality content — a weekly blog, infographic or a compelling video — that’s compelling, customer-centric and value-adding. Just follow simple rules with any marketing content. Keyword padding is prohibited and so are images left without alt text. More hits and likes from the readers can get a search engine’s attention and can significantly change the game.

Good Links

It’s not all internal for SEO. You need votes from the outside to win Google’s attention and attain traffic success, and those votes come from building relevant links. This is when you start publishing content to trustworthy sites, sharing materials to social channels, or going viral with a newsworthy post.

Building an online brand is a daunting task.  But when mastered, you will reap the rewards. If you want to start optimizing your website but don’t know how, you may browse a list of reliable service providers ranked by .