As noted here last week, ranking highly in search requires writing great content, making smart use of Google Webmaster Tools, and building or earning high-authority backlinks.
But there’s more involved in generating high, and highly relevant, organic search traffic.
At its core, search still relies on words, whether typed or spoken. How can you identify the highest-value keywords for your content? Which keyword research and other SEO tools are most effective? What tactics are most valuable for local SEO success?
Find those answers and more here in 10 expert SEO posts.
SEO Keyword Guides and Tools
How to Find Keywords Your Competitors Don’t Know About by Feldman Creative
Writing that “By strategically implementing long tail keywords, you’re far more likely to rank high, attract the audience you desire, and show motivated prospects the way to your website” but “Your challenge is to identify the right long tail keywords,” Barry Feldman outlines six sources for finding those valuable-but-undertargeted phrases, including tables of contents on Wikipedia and common questions on forums.
Fast SEO Competitive Analysis by Search Engine Watch
Ben Goodsell explains how to identify top competitors in search, how to use SEMrush to discover how people are finding competitors in search, and how to use the Google AdWords Keyword Planner tool along with Excel to identify search trends and quantify search volume.
Google Didn’t Want Us To Use The Keyword Planner This Way. But It Works Nicely. by Advanced Web Ranking
***** 5 STARS
Noting that “This landing page tool in keyword planner is primarily designed for when you have created a landing page, and you want to place ads to get paid traffic to that page specifically,” Dan Shure proceeds to demonstrate eight other “unintended” ways to use this tool for keyword research, such as by entering competitor sites, then using filters to find high volume / low competition phrases from the resulting list.
70+ Keyword Research Tool Alternatives to Google Keyword Planner by Small Business Ideas Blog
Updated for 2015, this bookmark-worthy post from Brian Lang now includes reviews of more than 90 keyword research tools, ranging from tools provided by the search engines (e.g., Google Correlate, the Bing Keyword Tool) to online research tools like Advanced Web Ranking to keyword suggestion tools, other desktop keyword tools, competitive analysis tools, browser add-ons and plugins, analytics tools, and “other ideas.”
Free Keyword Suggestions Tool by SerpStat
This simple free tool lets you search for general keyword ideas as well as questions only (e.g., what is…? type terms), and export results (with registration).
Since “the demise of Google’s Keyword Tool, the most popular of its kind, has left marketers scrambling for alternatives,” Pam Dyer helpful reviews 10 other options here, including both free tools like Ubersuggest (which “makes good use of Google Suggest and other suggest services. You can instantly get thousands of keyword ideas from real user queries. It also offers vertical results for images, news, shopping, video, and recipes”) and paid tools such as KeywordSpy.
Other SEO Tools
This free downloadable SEO analysis tool offers five different crawl modes including keyword intelligence: “This crawl option will crawl all the keywords from website. This mode takes keywords from titles, headings and anchor texts and do analysis on them either they are conflicted with any other webpage’s keywords or are good to go.”
SEO Tools: The Definitive Excel Plugin for Digital Marketers by leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal
Guest author Joe Cox delves into the functionality of Niels Bosma’s SEO Tools plugin for Excel, which he believes “is without doubt the most outstanding and powerful Excel add-in available for SEOs.” Among the tool’s capabilities, the Google Analytics API “literally puts the power of Google Analytics into your Excel Workbook,” and “from HTML Title, Meta Description, Meta Keywords, H1, H2, H3 and Canonical URL Meta, the on-page section of Bosma’s SEO Tools is absolute dynamite.”
Local SEO Guides
Jeremy Walker writes that regardless if its shortcomings as a social network, “Google+ sits at the center of local search.” He outlines four steps for local businesses to make the most of Google+, from creating a Google+ account and verifying ownership to enhancing the content on your Google+ Brand Page: “you can add a custom cover photo, create posts, add photos and even videos.”
10 Local Marketing Myths Hamstringing Your Business by Search Engine Land
Chris Silver Smith lists 10 “local marketing myths that you should become familiar with (and banish from your own thinking),” such as as that your primary keyword must be part of your domain name; that Twitter and Facebook are worthless for certain types of local businesses (“social media profiles such as Twitter and Facebook pages provide you with assets to help proactively manage your online reputation, and they may help you outrank your competition”); and that mobile optimization isn’t important.
Guest post by Felix Tarcomnicu.
If you want to dramatically improve your organic search traffic, you have to make your website better. Think about what makes it unique, valuable and engaging. To dominate the search engines results, your website must stand out from all the others in your field.
A common mistake among webmasters is that they think their website is done way too early. Because of that, they spend less time improving the website and eventually everything stagnates. The truth is that your website is never done. You have to continuously improve and give your users reasons to spend more time on your website and engage with your content.
If you are determined to get more organic traffic and make your website deserve to rank on the first page in Google, follow the below tips.
1. Use Google Webmaster Tools
By using Google Webmaster Tools you know when your website has coding- and search-related issues. The tool points out errors and gives you recommendations to improve your website.
Use Google Webmaster Tools to identify and fix 404 errors and crawling or security issues.
Also from Google Webmaster Tools, you can highlight your data and tell Google how your content is structured. When your website becomes the authority in your niche, Google can use your structured data to show knowledge cards with data from your website.
To structure your data, click on ‘Search Appearance’ and then on ‘Data Highlighter’.
Structuring your data is a very easy and straightforward process that can give you a lot of advantages. To understand your website’s pattern, Google will ask you to indicate where your information is located on your page. You can chose to highlight articles, review pages, books, videos and more.
2. Understand user behavior
Knowing what your users do on your website is the key element of improving the overall user experience. If your users think that your website is unique and valuable, then Google might think the same and reward you with higher rankings.
To determine how your users are engaging with your content, Google uses several metrics, which include:
- • Average time per visit
- • Bounce rate
- • Page view per visit
- • Exit rate
- • Number of comments per post
Always write content that engages with your users and ask them to place comments and share their insights. Be funny and natural.
You can understand more about where your users are going and clicking on your website, by checking Google Analytics. To see a click-map of your website, go to Behavior – Site Content – All Pages. Here you can select the page you want to analyze and then click on ‘In-Page’.
Analyzing your website’s click-map helps you learn where users expect to see links. Alternately, you can use other tracking tools that provide heat maps.
3. Write the best content possible
Writing a 500 -word article is not even close to doing enough. Webmasters who set a limit of words per article are making a terrible mistake. Just because your content writer charges you per 500 words, it doesn’t mean that should be the standard length of your posts.
Your content can be as long as it has to be. Always provide value and bring something new to the table by giving your readers the information they expect to get. There is no maximum length for your posts.
Numerous studies has shown that websites with longer articles tend to rank higher in Google.
Concentrate on helping your readers find solutions to their problems. Remember that the key to making a user return to your website is to satisfy him with the information you have shared.
4. Get quality links to your website
Publishing top-notch content on your website is very important. Nevertheless, it will be very challenging to rank high without having some high-authority backlinks pointing to your website.
Google still uses backlinks as their main ranking factor, and therefore you have to build or earn some high-quality links to increase your website authority.
Note that backlinks can be your ticket to heaven or hell. The quality of your backlinks is extremely important, and you must avoid building links from untrusted sources.
The easiest way to find new link building opportunities is to look at the backlinks of your competitors. By identifying and replicating the links that helped them rank high in Google, you can outrank them.
With tools like Monitor Backlinks you can spy on your competitors link building campaigns. Every ten days, you get a report with all the links they have earned recently. You can sort them by their value and do your best to replicate the best ones.
The tool automatically checks if you have a link from each domain, and if you do, it will highlight the backlink row in green.
If you can replicate 30% of the good backlinks each competitor has, eventually you will outrank them in Google.
To get more organic traffic to your website, start by making your website better. Never stop improving and testing methods that help you improve the overall user experience.
Keep an eye on what’s working best for your competitors and try to replicate their best backlinks.
About the Author
A well-written and consistently updates business blog is a vital core element of a successful content marketing program. As noted below, blogs are among the most effective tools for increasing website traffic, generating leads, and acquiring customers. Yet blogging requires considerably less expense and effort than other top marketing tactics like live events, webinars, and video.
What are the key elements of a successful business blog? How can you plan a consistent stream of compelling post topics? What are the most effective techniques for crafting killer headlines and gripping copy? How can you increase your content marketing footprint through guest blogging?
Find the answers to those questions and more here in almost two dozen of the best guides to business blogging strategy and tactics of the past year.
Two Guides to Business Blogging Benefits
Why the Company Blog is More Important Than You Think by Business2Community
According to recent research reported on by Business.com, “Three of the top (marketing) tactics (in-person events, webinars and video) require significantly more resources to deliver”than business blogs, though “compared to these three tactics, blogging is relatively cheap and easy to produce; and as a bonus, it provides a nimble and consistent message platform.” As if that isn’t enough, this post details four more “benefits an authentic company blog can deliver to the organization, beyond the top line” that make the effort required to maintain a high-quality, relevant blog presence worthwhile.
It really shouldn’t be necessary at this point to “sell” top executives on the concept of business blogging, but for those still struggling, Kapil Jekishan supplies “ten of the most persuasive statistics you can bring to the presentation you’re no doubt already preparing for your boss,” including the impacts of blogging on website traffic and customer acquisition, its advantages over advertising, and big-company validation: “Fortune 500 companies have never had reputations as early adopters, but even they have been forced into the business blogging arena to compete for customers”—which is why the percentage of Fortune 500 firms that blog more than doubled from 2008 to 2013.
Six Blogging Strategy Guides
Six Crucial Attributes of a Successful Business Blog by MarketingProfs
Michael Gerard details six attributes needed to “to launch and sustain a successful business blog” based on an analysis of more than 400 blogs at the 10,000+ visitors-per-month level. One noteworthy piece of advice: the best content marketers “market their marketing” though social channel, promotional tactics, collaboration with other internal teams, and tapping into “paid media such as Outbrain, Disqus, Taboola, and other types of promotional services.”
Corporate blogging guide: strategy and tips by i-SCOOP
***** 5 STARS
J-P De Clerck provides an outstanding detailed guide to corporate blogging, including consideration of various corporate marketing goals for a company blog, a look at 14 business blogging success factors, and an infographic loaded with statistics and facts about why blogging matters, e.g.: 128 million Americans read blogs; 57% of companies have acquired customers through their blogs; and companies that blog regularly have better relationships with their customers.
29 Musts You Need to Do Before Launching Your Blog by SteamFeed
DJ Thistle writes that building a successful blog “takes preparation, time, promotion, commitment, constant education, and most of all awesome”—and by that last word, he means following these two-dozen-plus recommendations, from starting with 10-12 posts in the bank to periodically creating evergreen content to connecting with “like-minded bloggers and influencers,” building an email list, and more.
B2B Blogging: Beyond the Basics by MLT Creative on SlideShare
This presentation from Billy Mitchell and the team at MLT Creative covers the benefits of blogging, how to keep company politics out of business blogging (“Everything starts with strategy. The blog must be aligned to strategy or you are doomed”), how to create a blogging strategy, how to get people inside and the company engaged with the blog, how to drive conversions, and more.
The State Of Blogging 2014 [Research – Charts] by Heidi Cohen
***** 5 STARS
First, yes, the helpful facts and statistics in this post still apply in 2015. Among the actionable treasures from Heidi Cohen here: the average blog post is 800 words—but the ideal length of a search-optimized blog post is 1,500 words. And 54% of bloggers say they publish at least weekly—but “to generate leads from your blog, the sweet spot for is 2-3 times per week according to HubSpot.”
30 Tips to Freshen-up & Rock Your Blog in 2014 by Pam Moore
These tips still work for 2015! Pam Moore details “30 tips to freshen up and rock your website,” starting with defining your objectives and audience and progressing through refreshing your content, creating an editorial calendar, inviting contributions from guest bloggers, engaging your audience (bring site visitors “in closer with social links, surveys, video, comment plug-ins, audio”) and more.
Two Guides to Generating Blog Topic Ideas
Stuck for post topic ideas? Amanda Gallucci provides more than six dozen ideas to kickstart your creativity, organized into 15 categories including tools (e.g., “Create a video tutorial that walks people through how to use a tool for a specific task”), lists, internal resources (“Find out what questions your account managers get asked most frequently. Put together a blog post or other resource that lays out the answers”), events, and “out of the box” ideas.
This Is One Of The Best Sources of Blogging/Social Media Information by Joshua Wilner
Joshua Wilner sings the praises of the Support section at WordPress.com, which provides answers to both common and not-so-common questions, “ideas and information about how to use social tools on your blog so that you can drive more traffic,” resources and information about how to change the appearance of your blog, and other do-it-yourself blogging resources.
Nine Blog Writing Guides
Kevan Lee outlines “the 7 essential elements of a perfect blog post,” from how to write the perfect headline (‘Readers tend to absorb the first three words of a headline and the last three words…[but] of course, few headlines will be six words long in total. In those cases, it’s important to make the first three words and the last three words stand out as much as possible”) to how to optimally use subheads, time your posts, and plan killer post topics.
No Time to Blog? 11 Tips to Create Content Faster by Blue Kite Marketing
Writing that “although many businesses see the benefits of it content marketing, they struggle with committing the time it takes to create content on a regular basis,” Laura Click serves up 11 “quick tips to help you create blog content quickly and easily,” such as recording short videos, publishing infographics, and re-purposing content (“Every company produces tons of content every day—it just might not be in the form of a blog post. Take a look around and see how you can re-purpose emails, FAQs, presentations, etc.”).
30 Stellar Blog Tips For Posts Your Audience Loves by Heidi Cohen
Heidi Cohen (again) lists 30 useful “blog tips for creating blog posts your audience loves to read,” such as design factors, use of images (“Take the time to ensure your images support your blog goals”), utilizing other content formats like video and presentations, crafting concise headlines, and focusing on helpful content over self-promotion (though using calls to action where appropriate is fine).
23 Tips for Writing Click Worthy Blog Titles by Prof KRG
Kenna Griffin summarizes the attributes of an effective blog title along with nearly two dozen tips for writing click-worthy titles, such as using strong verbs (“Use strong action verbs in your titles. Avoid passive verbs and ‘be’ verbs”), including a number (“Scannable list posts are popular among blog readers. If your post is a numbered list, use the number of items in the title”) and avoiding abbreviations.
This is a long post and the steps outlined require a fair amount of effort, but the process outlined here by Adam Connell can certainly deliver results. He delves into how to create high-impact visuals using Canva, how to use WordPress plugins to create shareable quotes, how to identify and get the attention of influencers (and how not to do this), and how to leverage niche social bookmarking sites.
10 Steps to Building More Effective Blog Posts by Blue Kite Marketing
Laura Click (again) explains her methods for “how to build and structure blog posts in a way that’s optimized for today’s website visitor,” from writing a compelling headline (useful tips plus links to additional resources) and including a strong introduction (“Next to the headline, the opening paragraph is the most read part of your blog post…Ask a question. Tell a quick story. Start with a problem. Share some statistics”) to including a call to action.
Scott Ayres shares the strategies Post Planner used to achieve some very impressive 12-month growth figures, all done with content marketing. Daily posting, aggressive list-building, and utilization of “11 key blog post ingredients” ranging from an irresistable headline and opening with a bang (“if you don’t capture the reader’s attention in the first couple sentences of the the post, they’ll just bounce”) to maintaining attention with internal cliffhangers and choosing an arresting image.
Sarah Goliger reveals results of testing on various types of titles and which work best. Among the findings: questions work slightly better than statements (“Frame your blog post title as a question to make it more intriguing”), “you-focused” language beats “me-focused” (“Craft your title language to be about the reader and what is interesting to them, not you”), and beginning your blog post with a number helps.
How to Stick to Your Blogging Schedule by Blue Kite Marketing
Pointing out that “One of the biggest reasons company blogs fail is lack of consistency” in serving up fresh content, Laura Click (yet again) offers 10 helpful tips for sticking to a regular blogging schedule, among them building a content plan (a simple, flexible editorial calendar), eliminating distractions, collecting ideas and researching as you go (the way posts like this are built!), and working ahead when your schedule permits.
Three Guides to (Properly) Using Guest Blogging
Proof That Guest Blogging Is Not Dead, Coming Right From Google by Monitor Backlinks
Felix Tarcomnicu argues that guest blogging isn’t dead, despite earlier statements from Matt Cutts, because Google accepts guest posts (with do-follow backlinks) on their blog, and “If Google is accepting guest posts on their Analytics blog…that’s the proof that guest blogging is not dead, and you should not stick a fork in it. Period! What you should do, is to raise your guest blogging standards.”
The Pros And Cons Of A Guest Blogging Strategy In 2014 by BirdBrain Logic
Frequent best-of honoree Amanda DiSilvestro outlines the pros (e.g., building relationships: “Part of guest blogging is building relationships with editors across the web. This is an excellent way to find new opportunities and stay involved in the community”), cons (keyword links have become less important), and the ultimate verdict on the benefits of guest blogging—concepts that still apply in 2015.
The Five Types of Guest Bloggers (Funny Graphic) by SteamFeed
Reviewing the panic caused by Matt Cutts and his “fall of guest blogging for SEO” announcement, and the ensuing clarifications, Jesse Aaron shares an amusing infographic characterizing the five types of guest bloggers, such as “The Guru” (the self-proclaimed expert who values image and follower count) and “The Spinner” (submits to hundreds of sites; what’s plagiarism?).
This was post #5, the final post, of Blogging for Business Week 2015 (#b4bweek) on Webbiquity.
#5: 22 Exceptional Business Blogging Guides, Tips & Tactics
At the core of any successful blog is valuable content—helping readers solve a problem, increase their knowledge, work more effectively. But text alone isn’t enough; to really make a blog stand out, it needs to include compelling images as well.
As noted on the CyberChimps blog, “a picture is worth a thousand words. But a 1000-word blog post with a great picture to go with it? That’s worth gold.”
Interesting visuals add value beyond blog posts as well, of course: they’re useful in presentations, videos, e-books, and other types of content at the core of an effective web presence optimization strategy.
While there is no shortage of “free’ image sources on the web, not all are worth your time. Some are difficult to use, have very limited or poor-quality selections, or include “fine print” that limits what you can actually do with their images.
To help you be efficient and find great collections of free or low-cost images, here are links to six excellent image sources along with guides to and reviews of dozens more free image sites.
Reviews of Free Image Sites
20 Sites to Get Free Stock Images for Commercial Use by Social Media Today
Finding free, high-quality images for commercial use can be a pain, but in this post Giancarlo Massaro has “done the dirty work for you and compiled this resource of 20 different sites so you can get free stock images that fall under the Creative Commons Zero license or similar; meaning you can copy, modify, and use any photo you find, even for commercial purposes, without having to ask permission or provide attribution.” His recommendations include Realistic Shots, Free Nature Stock and Kaboompics.
20 Awesome Websites for Free, High Quality Stock Photos by To Make A Website
Matt Clark presents his list of “some of the better stock photo sites” he’s come across, which are also “completely free.” Among his favorites are several popular free images sites as well as lesser-known options like Picjumbo, Pexels, and Getrefe, a “tumblr blog that has free photos for personal or commercial purposes.”
53+ Free Image Sources For Your Blog and Social Media Posts by Buffer Social
Courtney Seiter helpfully reviews more than 50 sources for free blog images, from Buffer’s own Pablo tool to some of the popular tools mentioned below to unique sources like Dreamstime, IM Free, Public Domain Pictures, BigFoto and Foter.
14 Sites for Free Stock Photos by Practical Ecommerce
Sig Ueland shares “a list of resources to find free stock photos for commercial use. There are stock photo search engines, huge image collections from stock photography sites, smaller curated collections from design sites, and some additional sources for free high quality photographs” including some interesting lesser-known sites like RGBStock and New Old Stock (which “features vintage photos from the public archive, free of known copyright restrictions”).
How to Find Free Images With Google’s Advanced Image Search by Search Engine Watch
Noting that images “capture the attention of many more readers by giving your words a boost with a little visual appeal,” Matt Morgan provides step-by-step instructions for how to find and verify the status of freely usable images on Google, to avoid threatening or demanding letters from commercial image sources.
By Request – Good Alternatives to Google Image Search by Free Technology for Teachers
Richard Byrne responds to a teacher frustrated by “students are getting when they search on Google Images” with details of eight free-image alternatives, including the Morgue File, everystockphoto.com (“a search engine for public domain and Creative Commons licensed pictures. When you search on Every Stock Photo it pulls images from dozens of sources across the web”), and Wikimedia Commons.
Premium photography provider Getty Images got lots of attention last spring when they announced they were offering free images. But, Ginny Soskey cautions, read the fine print: you generally can’t use the images for any type of “commercial” purpose (defined quite broadly), and Getty’s plans for monetization are unclear: “They can make money through this…because the code is an iframe. An iframe is a type of code that takes a piece of content that lives on another website and puts it on your site, and the site that hosts the code has complete control over what displays on your site.”
Other Sources for Free Images
This was post #4 of Blogging for Business Week 2015 (#b4bweek) on Webbiquity.
Blogging, like any other task, is faster and easier with the right tools. But while there’s no shortage of online tools, plugins, and browser extensions available—for every purpose from generating post topic ideas to speeding up page load time—not all of them are worth spending much time investigating, let alone using on a regular basis.
What the best blogging tools based on your objectives and level of expertise? Which tools are the favorites of top blogging pros? What are the best tools for increasing your blogging productivity? Sharing your content socially? Building your opt-in email list?
Find these answers and more here in a handful of the best blogging tool reviews and roundups of the past year.
The Step by Step Guide to Generating Hundreds of Blog Post Ideas by Digital Rhinos
How can you come up with creative and effective new blog post ideas when “you’ve got timelines to adhere to, targets to hit and people within your company counting on you to keep pumping out high-quality content that appeals to your personas and gets noticed”? Adrian Cordiner demonstrates how to use 18 useful post topic / content asset idea-generating tools, such as BuzzSumo, which will “will spit out the most popularly shared articles (amongst other content types such as infographics) over any time in the last year.”
63 Blogging Tools That Will Make You Insanely Productive by Boost Blog Traffic
Marsha Stopa understands you don’t “need another post on all the cool tools (you) don’t have time to use,” so she has very helpfully categorized the tools here as ideal for the minimalist blogger (“You’re willing to dip your toe in the water, [but]you don’t need the fancy tools…[for you] a blog is a side project that you can give no more than 10 hours per week, if that”), the serious and committed blogger, and the entrepreneur blogger. Just check out the tools most appropriate for your level.
26 Awesome Blogging Tools Used By The Pros by Twelveskip
Pauline Cabrera shares advice on the best tools from eight top blogging pros, including Ian Cleary (“I love Optinmonster. It’s a popup that is only displayed when a user is exiting the site. As soon as the user moves their mouse outside of the main window it’s likely they are planning to exit so this pops up”), Daniel Sharkov, Mike Allton, and Aaron Lee (one of his favorites is Flipboard: “What not many people know is you can actually load twitter lists into onto Flipboard to manage your twitter stream”).
52 Essential Tools And Resources For Bloggers by Blogging Wizard
***** 5 STARS
Adam Connell compiles “a detailed list of all of the resources and tools that (he relies) on day in, day out,” from planning and research (tools like SEMrush and UberSuggest) to various sources for WordPress themes through SEO tools, email list-building tools (e.g., GetResponse), productivity tools (like Dropbox) and various WordPress plugins.
You work hard to write compelling, original blog content. Then another site brazenly steals it, reposting your sparkling prose word for word. Worse, they outrank you. It’s infuriating. Pauline Cabrera (again) explains how to fight back using Google’s scraper report form: “Through this form, content creators who have any complaint against a scraper website that outranks you can now ask Google’s help to correct the situation.”
This was post #3 of Blogging for Business Week 2015 (#b4bweek) on Webbiquity.