Using Local SEO To Get Targeted Traffic

[This is a guest post by Eugene. Eugene is a recent college grad, an avid blogger, and a SEO specialist with Net LZ. Eugene manages a variety of blogs and SEO campaigns, with a focus on web 2.0. In addition to professional interests, he is an avid reader and takes much interest in history, politics and international affairs. Eugene can be found on Twitter @wecomparebooks.]

Today the magic bullet of SEO doesn’t involve getting tons of traffic to your site, but rather it consists of getting targeted traffic to your site. It is much more beneficial to get 100 targeted hits, where each of the visitors is interested in your product, service… rather than to get 1000 hits where none of them have any interest in your content.

There are many things that can be done in order to get better targeted traffic to your site: through on-page SEO you can optimize specific keywords title tags… so that your individual pages can rank in Google, you can create web 2.0 campaigns that targeted a specific niche within your overall site, you can focus on long tail keywords… but the easiest (and cheapest) way to get quality targeted traffic to your site is to use local SEO.

Local SEO is one of the more overlooked aspects of SEO, and consists primarily of one adding their site to local directories in Google, Yahoo, and Bing etc… Once your site is added it means that whenever someone searches for a type of business + specific location that you will appear, along with a map to where you are located. For example, if you run a summer camp in New Jersey, and someone was to do a search for “summer camp NJ” your site will appear in a list of businesses, along with your phone number, web address, and a map.

Adding ones site to the local directories of major search engines is simple, and requires only that you have a physical location, where your office/storefront is located, and a phone number. Although there are a few things that you should do when you are submitting your site, make sure that you provide as much information as possible, and fill out every field of the form (even the optional stuff), you should also make sure that you choose the most optimal category for your business.

When it comes to further optimizing your local listing there is one thing that you can do in order to get best results, that is, you can add keywords that are related to your business along with your business name to the title of your submission, so the title of the summer camp submission would read, “Camp Funplex – summer camp, day camp” in this way you will be most likely to show up in the results when someone searches the keywords that appear in your listing.

If you have used Google local and have thoughts on other ways to make use of local SEO in order to get targeted traffic to your site please submit your thoughts as a comment to this post.

7 Things To Think About When Applying SEO To Your Blog

The views on search engine optimization (SEO) has been one of the things that has changed in the past few years. A lot of bloggers sit down, type a post, and publish it without even applying any keywords. In fact, there are some that even apply SEO without even knowing it. However, it is usually not enough.

Of course, there are professionals and even plugins for content management systems that can assist in optimizing an article.

For some of the older bloggers, and I mean ‘older’ as in you have been blogging for more than 3 years, you might want to take a look through your posts. It might be a walk down memory lane, but you should check out your posts and see how you can change and insert the keywords necessary to allow the search engines to list your article where it should be.

However, for a lot of bloggers who are newbies…

Here are 7 things you should consider before applying SEO to your blog.

Writing Style. You do not have to be perfect. However, you should write naturally. If you are unsure of a word, look it up in a dictionary. Some people believe you have to write like you are a journalist for a newspaper. You do not. If you are passionate about SEO, then it will come naturally and you may not have to optimize your article much.

Readers. Your readers are extremely important. They are the ones viewing your content and judging whether it is useful or not. They will also be the ones that would turn away if your site is obviously in for just the money. This should be your main focus. The keywords can come in time. You might like to read Reader comment: counting keyword density and worrying about SERP’s by Marko Saric or even Jack Nguyen’s article – Writing For Traffic or Visitors? – Have You Been Doing It All Wrong?

Design. You can have a nice fancy design, but is it functional? Are your readers able to surf your site with ease? If not, you might want to look into revamping it.

Keywords. Keywords should be used wisely and not in overabundance. A lot of people try to aim for posts between 200 to 800 words. This is not a lot of words to work with when playing with keywords. This is why you should write naturally. If you are not sure on the subject, research it before writing about it.

The Article Title. The article titles can have keywords, but like newspapers have to kind of draw in your visitors. It is not uncommon that when a person goes to purchase a book, they are looking at the title and cover first. So – make your title pop. You can still use keywords, and write a naturally sounding title.

The Article’s URL. Because of the wonderful technology of some content management systems, it is possible to use “pretty permalinks.” While an article’s title might be longer, the URL can be optimized for keywords. For example, Joost de Valk talks a lot about WordPress SEO. Even though he has a subheader, he put ‘WordPress SEO” as keywords in his URL and his title. Of course, it was a simple decision, but he could have put WordPress SEO: The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For Your Blog, but he did not because it was much more important to draw in people looking for that term. (By the way, you should read Joost’s guide on WordPress SEO.)

Linkage. A lot of people know about different link programs. You can exchange links, and join web directories, but you can now do more than that. You can write article that might be related to other articles written by other bloggers. You might get a link back, and maybe a new reader!

Are there any other things people should think about when applying SEO to your blog? Or even to your site in general?

Are You Tagging Properly?

tags It has become alarming to see some great sites tagging excessively, so I thought I would cover this issue without pinpointing anyone in particular.

It is important to not put so many tags in your posts. Like keywords, the density should be low. For sites that contain a lot of posts that talk about the same subjects, but not exactly be the same, it might be best to use something different than another post.

Though I have no definite number that is generally acceptable, you can use tools like Website Grader to see if you are excessively tagging. For Blondish.net, I use anywhere between 1 to 5 tags. Considering my front page has 8 articles, my front page could have a collective tag number of between 8 to 40. Obviously, 40 is a lot, so I have to try to make sure the tags I use are fewer than that.

Now, keep in mind tagging and keywords are not exactly the same. Tagging is just another way to organize an article in your’s sites navigational system. However, sometimes the search engines do pick up these tags. In fact Lorelle, writes a great article even way back in 2006 that I think is still quite relevant called Keywords Versus Tags.

Although there are great SEO plugins that can help for your site, make sure you are applying the same concept in using keywords there too. This is where you can use a few complex keywords, rather than use the tagging system to stuff words in.

So as an overview:

- Make sure to use only a few tags per article
- Be clear with your tags
- Optional: Use a SEO plugin if you want to write more complex keywords, rather than rely on the default tag system.

What is your policy on tagging?

Guest Post: Applying SEO To The Title Tag

[This is a guest post by Philip Golobish. Philip Golobish is a professional SEO consultant for Slingshot SEO, an Indianapolis, Indiana. When he's not sweet talking Googlebot, Phil can be found headbanging at the local music show.]

According to a 2009 SEOmoz poll of SEO professionals, “keyword use anywhere in the title tag,” is one of the top five most influential ranking factors on a search engine’s results page. The reason it’s important is pretty simple: usability. For example, say you maintain a heavy metal music blog named “Axes and Anvils” and the site’s name is all you include in your title tag. With only the site’s brand name to work from, search engines and searchers can’t easily identify what your site is about when they see it on a results page (for all they know, your site sells wood cutting tools and iron working implements). However, by simply adding the keyword phrase, “heavy metal music blog,” to your title tag, search engines and their users are immediately given a better idea of what your site is actually about; thereby, making everyone happy. Check out some “heavy metal” title tag examples below.

Recommended format:
Keyword or Phrase < Category | Website Title

A basic example:
Heavy Metal Music Blog | Axes & Anvils

An example looking to receive some traffic from people searching for band names:
Heavy Metal Music Blog |Metallica to Slayer |Axes & Anvils

An example targeting a location:
Heavy Metal Music Blog | Cleveland, Ohio | Axes & Anvils

For the examples above, search engines will now associate the blog “Axes & Anvils” with all the keyword combinations that are included in its title tag; e.g., “heavy metal,” “metal blog,” “metal music blog,” etc.

Neat, huh?

Googlebot is a sucker for sweet talk and he loves having keywords whispered in his ear. With that in mind, the next time he stops by to index your site, greet him with something sweet by adding some of your site’s keywords to your “title tag.”

For more information about “title tag” strategies, check out this classic post entitled, “Best Practices for Title Tags,” by Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz.

Are you a WordPress user looking for a quick and easy way to add “title tags” to your blog? If so, check out this plugin called, SEO Title Tag.

Canonicalization in Your WordPress Blog

As Wikipedia defines canonicalization, especially for search engines and search engine optimization (SEO):

In web search and search engine optimization (SEO), URL canonicalization deals with web content that has more than one possible URL. Having multiple URLs for the same web content can cause problems for search engines – specifically in determining which URL should be shown in search results.

For example, WP Addict could be listed as:

http://www.wpaddict.net

OR

http://wpaddict.net

The problem is that is that search engines merely split the content results between the two URLS if I were a person to be wishy washy and not define where users and search engines should be linking. I have to determine the primary entry point to the site, which in my case would be http://wpaddict.net.

You want the search engines to find one place to your site and not fragment visitors who have come in from a search engine in any way with a slightly different from the main URL of your site. Some people fear that this could cause duplicate content.

There are a couple ways to help with this in WordPress

1. .htaccess – You are telling your own server that you are hosted on where your main URL is at. Add the following into your .htaccess file:


RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^YOURURLHERE.URLEXTENSION$ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.YOURFULLURLHERE/$1 [R=301,L]

Replace YOURURLHERE with your URL name and URLEXTENSION with your extension like .com, .net, .org, etc….

Replace YOURFULLURLHERE with your full URL name, and no, you do not need to put it in uppercase as I have. Lowercase may be best.

2. Your can download Joost de Valk’s WordPress plug called Canonical URLs.

Please note that Google does not penalize for duplicate content, rather more so if you spam. So, if you are a blogger who has allowed a person to cross post an article on another site, you might not be penalized. However, you will be penalized if you are posting your material in places that are not relevant to your article(s).

Do you have any other solutions to canonicalization for your WordPress Blog?

Search Engine Optimization

Now, a lot of people who blog keep hearing about SEO. What is SEO? Well, basically SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization.

A lot of people like to write about it and here are some things I have learned. What I have learned is in no way a comparison with others who are much more tech savvy, but I like to try to exercise and apply what I can and when I can.

In the past, webmasters could try to buff up their traffic and thought it was all about making the Google Page Rank with doing affiliate links and link exchanges. Then, it was making link exchanges with sites that also had good Page Ranking. Since Google, Alexa (amongst others) had become a great factor in making saying what sites are popular, but it solely was based on a site’s traffic statistics. Also, just submitting a page to a search engine like Yahoo!, HotBot, The Open Directory Project, were valuable things to do for webmasters.

However, now that is not exactly the case. Things have evolved greatly. Implementations to these big dogs in the search engines geared it more to what people were searching for, using their keywords. So, if I looked up the word ‘blondish‘ in Google, my site would come up listed as second. Besides keywords, the way the page was seen (web accessibility), and quality of content were other factors that came into play that made a site more popular in the search engines.

Here are some basics:

1. Keywords. For anyone not into WordPress, using simple meta tags in the html header of your site would be optimal. Do not use too many and make sure they are relevant to your site. For those who use WordPress, like myself, I recommend implenting the widget for the tag cloud and using the WordPress “All in One SEO pack“. You will not have to manually make your met tags. This will do this based on the pages content. I have recently implemented it and have noticed how frequent my site has been seen.

2. Quality of Content. Now, a site is wonderful to have, but even as a personal site, being a bit informative here and there between the humdrum of regular life will not only give your site quality and quantity, but make you less of a shallow person.

Now, back to quality in writing, please remember to try to be as original as possible and reference links for extra resources are a bonus. However, in the same breath try to use credible resources. Treat it like an essay and be your own teacher in proofing it before you publish it. If you have articles that require images, try to load a small thumbnail to save on loading time. I have a habit myself of just throwing up a resized image, so I will start to also adhere to this advice. I should have as I always have been saying that since the beginning.

3. Social Bookmarking sites. I actually exercise this on my blog and I need to update the script to include other places. These sites are places like Digg, Yahoo! Buzz, and StumbleUpon, and more. When you write an article, submit it to the site. It will be posted to the article’s listed in the site, in the category you wish.

4. Site Design. I truly am a fan of having a bit of color on a site, but not overly so. Sometimes simple is great, but overall, I always say it roles down to load time. It always has. There still are people out there using dial-up and it can be a pain to wait for a site to load due to heavy graphics and content. Use valid coding. You will have more web accessibility in any browser if you do so. You can use W3C as a guide if you wish. Also, use graphics that are not heavy. Try not to be too trendy. It might be hard, but make it your way. Of course, if you like popstars, anime, or celebrities, then fine, but make it unique and make sure to credit the source as well as make sure to read the usage policy.

Implementings some of these techniques may help increase your viewing status in the search engines. Just remember, it boils down to how people will find your site on the internet.

Some useful places to read more:

Jem’s article on Help Your Friends Rank Better
Google’s article – Google Webmaster Guidline
Wikipedia’s article about Search Engine Optimization

Why Content Is Important

Having a blog is a wonderful tool. It opens the possibility for the writer to give a piece of their mind to the world. However, for those starting out and not knowing what to do, it can be frustrating. Some bloggers just have a web journal to post their daily ramblings without expectations of driving traffic to their websites. This article is for those who want traffic and wonder what they can do to set their site a bit above others.

Of cource, there are naysayers in blogging that do not wish to have content, but really, how interesting is a site with just a blog and nothing interesting to learn? Publishing content does not have to involve allowing visitors to download graphics or programs, but it is a plus. It is all about sharing quality information.

Here are some tips.

1. Write what you know and are interested in doing. There are so many hobbies and activities that the topic possibilities are literally endless. Some people feel like this tip would interfere with their privacy. It may, but it also depends on how it is written and what the subject may be about. If a person knows their business is going to have easy access. Do not blog defamatory statements about work. Writing about the people and situations at work are fine and may lead to some backlash, but on a legal standpoint, if the information is not libelous about the persons and events stated, and the company is in no way used in a defamatory manner, then by all means, write away.

2. Write in-depth articles. Do not leave an issue unexplained or open-ended.

3. Write frequently. The more you write, the more the search engines will crawl your site and index your pages with the updates.

4. Do not write to stuff your content section. Stuffing content is easy to spot as most articles will be written poorly and hold no genuine information for a visitor to bring away from the site.

5. Do not be afraid to use outside sources to help your articles. No one is perfect or knows everything, so linking resources are a nice way for your visitor to read information, and in the end, your article will not be open-ended.

6. Do not write fad articles. Be unique! Fad articles are articles that are seen a lot and give very little information that is different from one site to the next. If you write on a particular subject that might be considered a fad article, make it yours if you know something that no other has addressed on that same subject and convey it in a way that does not make it sound monotonous.

Content is important. Within the content a search engine like Google can index a site and make the site easily accessible. So, in the end, be unique, write frequently, and write proudly!

How do you keep your content unique?

Content Writing and Methods of Building Linkage

Anyone can make a site. No matter how much was invested in the site (ex. time, or money), and how good it looks or even how it is structured, alone it will not build the key traffic with internal and external links.

If a webmaster wishes to drive links, there are some options out there. However, there is one that is not recommended, but an easy way one for novice webmasters. It is link buying. Link buying is highly discouraged by Google. Link buying places the site on varied sites that the submitting webmaster has no control over. That does not mean advertising is frowned upon. Using proper advertising with places that have related content to the site to be advertised is very immportant. Already visitors are on the site and not only will it benefit the webmaster offering advertising (monetarily and content-wise), but it will drive the necessary traffic already geared to the topics offered on the website.

There are several ways to attract linkage. I will address them in the importance, like a top five list.

5. Free-for-All linking (FFA): An easy way to explain what a FFA is, is like a weblisting or web directory. While there may be reciprocal linkage involved, pretty much there is next to null on traffic. The real traffic lies in webmasters adding their link to the link directory. If this technique is used, it is best to text link and not use the offered banners. It is also better to not link it on the main page of the site if the directory requires a reciprocal link. There is no quality coming from the site. There are few exceptions like resource directory sites. They can be beneficial as it provides links to quality sites.

4. Linking out: Do feel free to link quality interest sites without expectations of a reciprocal link. However make a section explaining why the link is important so visitors will know what to expect before venturing to that website.

3. Affiliating: This is a fairly okay technique to drive traffic and link building. However, it is best to remember to link relevant sites. Of course, linking friends is nice, but interesting sites not only interest the webmaster, and friends, but if that should be link exchanging. Affiliates should not be friends. The misconception of affiliates is that it is a link exchange that the webmaster expect the other webowner to visit on occasional. No, it is not! Affiliating is exchanging a link in order to share relevant content and drive visitors to both websites. While one site might talk on a subject (ex. Fashion), perhaps the other with relevant topics has a slightly different opinion.

Link exchanging is nice and for friends, but it differs as it is simply a reciprocal link from another person. The site from a friend may not even have relevant topics. For example, ‘Person A’ may have a site about music while ‘Person B’ might have a site geared as a personal weblog.

In affiliating it is important not to be excessive in linking and make sure the links lead to a quality website.

2. Blog Commenting: The art of blog commenting is important. Simple comments like “Hi” or “I love your site” are often skipped over, but detailed, and relevant comments attract not only the webmaster of the site that the comment resides, but also the visitors to possibly click to go to the commenter’s site.

1. Link baiting:

Link bait is any content or feature within a website that somehow baits viewers to place links to it from other websites
from Wikipedia

This method is quite potent as it puts relevant linkage on quality content. This works great for bloggers. While a blogger might have specific focuses on blogging, they can offer interesting articles for visitors to read. Some of the articles may not always coincide with the main focus of the webmaster’s content (ex. hosting business has side articles on SEO and other tips for clients to learn how to harness more resources to build their site.)

There are many more methods to link building, but in the end always remember that quality is the key ingredient. What do you use in your own linking building methods?