SEO Audit for Small Business

An SEO Audit for small business is a comprehensive review of the “digital health” of a web site to understand if it’s well ranked by search engines, drives traffic, can be easily accessed by the visitor and most importantly, generates conversions: leads, new revenue, White Paper downloads, social engagement.

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Ten Steps to Content Syndication

We see blog post content costs all over the map - from $40. per blog post up to $250. range and more. It’s sinful not to syndicate your content; your losing valuable marketing ROI, back links, brand exposure and not leveraging your front end marketing costs.

1) RSS Syndication is utilized by every publisher on the web from CNN to Huffington Post - most use some kind of Feedburner and Ping services combo. We have generated significant marketing ROI for clients by more aggressively promoting RSS Feeds using RSS Directory submissions - if your vendor of choice doesn’t have a list of at least 150 plus your missing important marketing ROI.

2) TwitterFeed has emerged as an important content syndication platform - it feeds your Blog to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Be aware at times TwitterFeed (like many others) can have API issues and your posts can get held up. But, it’s a great service and used by hundreds of thousands of brands.

3) Stumble Upon has emerged as one of the highest volume “content syndication engines” (our term), with over 25 million registered users around the world. If you check your Twitter stream you will find millions (our best guestimate) of StumbleUpon users who are Tweeting out links to StumbleUpon.

4) Ifittt is rapidly emerging as a very cool platform and service for savvy content marketers. Their tagline says it all: “put the Internet to work for you.”  They have been growing rapidly and we like their TOS - no idea about monetization moving forward. Would expect them to mirror a DropBox monetization pricing at some point.

In their environment it’s all about Triggers, Actions and Channels. You can find “Channels” for just about every platform, ranging from Craig’s List to Facebook - if you think about content syndication creatively this is the right platform!

5) We’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend cross platform syndication across the social web. The list of platforms and content syndication is endless - if you are using WordPress (you should be) for a web site platform there are hundreds of content syndication plugins.

6) Don’t forget about video content syndication. Your not really amplifying video content with YouTube and Vimeo. The defacto industry standard service is Traffic Geyser. It’s actually a lead generation platform with back end functionality for lead generation and optimization, although many just use it for content syndication.

7) Socialize your content syndication using an application like AddThis - enabling your visitors to easily share your content with their connections - note, they also have very powerful analytics baked in to the product.

Takeaways for Content Syndication Strategy:

  • Lower and leverage your overall content costs.
  • Extend your brand reach into incremental communities.
  • Reach and engage incrementally across the social web.
  • Maximize barriers to entry for your competitors.
  • Generate incremental lead generation and revenue opportunities.

Utilizing Facebook Interest Lists

Facebook has now provided a way for you to curate content right on your Facebook page via their new Facebook Interest Lists functionality.  When you log in to your present Facebook News Feed you have access to aggregate content from your Friends and individual pages you’ve “liked” that Facebook’s Edge Rank (an algorithm) deems relevant to your account.

Facebook has created Facebook Interest Lists to give you another way to access targeted content via their platform by creating your own personal (or brand) newsfeed comprising individuals or pages that you want to receive information from.

To Create Facebook Interests Lists:

You will easily find “Interests” at the bottom left of your page at the bottom of the column. Just click on it and Facebook will open a page like this image below with preselected Suggestions broken out in Categories, which also shows you the Number of Subscribers and any Friends that you may have.

“Suggestions” which are optimized for your account are at top of page and then these Categories:

  • Art
  • Books
  • Business
  • Causes
  • Entertainment
  • Food
  • Games
  • News
  • Politics
  • Sports
  • Technology

Note in this screenshot above you have the ability to do a Search as well and then create a list of your which will show your Friends and Pages you are connected to via your account:

Once you’ve selected your Friends, Pages, Subscriptions or Individuals from the Specific Categories name your list and then save it. Note: you will also be asked if you want this Facebook List to be Public, Friends or only Yourself.  Select these options and then hit save.  As soon as you complete the process you will be taken to the Newsfeed of this List, enabling you to check how you set it up.

How Brands Can Generate Marketing ROI using Facebook Lists:

  • Your aggregating the best or optimum content for your audience. If you make your list public others can see and then subscribe to your list, which generates exposure.
  • Make sure you add yourself to your list of course - this helps to also create broader exposure for your brand and Page.
  • Like anything social media marketing process - try to niche in as much as possible. Expect millions of lists to be built moving forward. So, in your self-interest to make sure your list is curated for a specific niche, geographic location or market segment.
  • Remember, the more Friends who sign up for your lists the exposure your lists will generate and they will also garner more authority your lists have when others are searching.
  • Bit off topic but related - make sure you have your Facebook Settings set up so others can Subscribe to your public updates. This is a simple check box. Will help to drive more engagement moving forward.

Think of Facebook Interest Lists as valuable content curation that is effective for your Facebook page but that can also be used as a content source for your other social media profiles and accounts.

Twitter Marketing Strategies

One of the biggest complaints we get from brands and individuals we are working with on twitter marketing strategies is their frustration with Twitter’s inherent Follow limits. Most are not even aware of Twitter API Limits and what this means to growing a Twitter Follower account.

Twitter has strict limitations on the number of Followers any account can add - this is to prevent spammers/unscrupulous types from rapidly growing accounts using  applications that facilitate Twitter marketing and/or manually abusing the system.

Twitter’s API Rate Limits reflect the following:

API Requests - only 150 per hour - “API” stands for Application Programmer Interface and in this instance refers to the number of requests sent by any application to Twitter’s Server.

Direct Messages: 250 per day rate limit.

Email Account Modifications: only four per hour.

Daily Following: This is a moving target but limited to just 1K Followers per day. Twitter is looking for aggressive Follower strategies that will in turn kick up a ref flag to them indicating you are being too aggressive.  Be aware, these limits have per hourly ratios assigned as well. These aren’t published by Twitter for obvious reasons; again, they are looking for patterns that are too aggressive and “abnormal.” “Churn” is the term you will most often hear from them.

Account Following: Once you hit a 2K Follower your account status is shifted by Twitter. This is different for each account and is partially based on the ratio of Followers to Following. If you hit this rate limit Twitter will notify you immediately - our recommendation for most clients is to add no more than 200 Followers per day. But, again, this is not a hard/fast Twitter Marketing Strategy - its driven by other factors as well: type of account, number and quality of Followers, account updates, etc.

Twitter Marketing Strategies:

1) Followers are critical to marketing success on Twitter - but, engagement and quality content trump any other Twitter marketing Strategy.

2) Clean out the Twitter deadwood - there are a ton of applications (web based) that let you see who is not Following you back or you can easily do this via Twitter’s platform. If they aren’t Following you back then delete the account, as this will help you maintain a good Follower to Following ratio. Also delete accounts that are following you but are not longer active on twitter.

3) Curate great content - meaning, share relevant news, blog posts, images, videos that will resonate with your Followers - this drives healthy account growth.

4) Think about off platform Twitter marketing; meaning, connect your Twitter account to other platforms and social networks including LinkedIn, Facebook, your web site/blog, Klout, PeerIndex, etc.

5) Practice Pay it Forward Marketing via Twitter and across the social web. Brands/people/groups on Twitter act like they have ADD and you will get frustrated at times with their lack of responsiveness - tenacity of purpose will win the day eventually.

That’s our quick take on Twitter Marketing Strategies - for deeper dive please dig into our web site and/or let us know via comments if you have any questions.

SEO How To Guide

Most businesses get frustrated with search engine optimization. It’s a blend of art, science and technology and to many firms a daunting task. Here is our basic SEO How To Guide that will give you a good snapshot of basic search engine optimization processes.

1) Remember search engines rank web sites not just pages. You want to think and act holistically - meaning, deploy a search engine optimization strategy that is integrated across your entire site. This may sound simple but it isn’t - our SEO how to guide is all about thinking and acting strategically to drive search rankings.

2) Don’t get lost in and sweat the details too much. In the end, good effective search engine optimization comes down to well written content that has some thoughts/recognition of keyword usage. But, for most web sites 70% of your traffic will come from “long tail keywords” - these are created over time and via consistent good quality content.

3) On Page Search Engine Optimization should have these basic How To SEO Guide Elements:

  • Create a Title with less than 70 characters that reflects what your page is about, with a primary keyword or phrase used on the page.  This Title tag should be at the top of your HTML code (we use plugins as below) in your <HEAD> tag.  The top of the page (in HTML code) is important unto itself. And, remember this shows up in Search Engine Results and will drive visitors (or not) to your site. For a deeper dive visit Aaron Wall’s page about Titles which will give you much more insight.
  • Write a Description that has a call to action to the viewer who is getting your page presented in search results. And, remember this also is used by search engines to determine what your page is about.  Some agencies recommend “branding” your title with a reference to your company - the challenge is of course using the space to reference your brand, which in turn dilute the overall quality of your message. Optimum length is about 120 characters with spaces or 20-30 words.
  • Use Header Tags - these tell Search Engines and your visitor what your content is all about. The most important is the The <H1></H1> that typically surround a post title and you should have only one H1 Tag per page, with sub Header Tags (five additional) used to define your subheadings on the page.
  • You should be using images on your page as they drive search engine rankings and help to engage the visitor. All of these should have an Image Title and the Alt Tag should be used as well. Use the keywords that are optimize for the specific page where the image is located
  • Keep the Web Designers in check and map to Search Engine Ranking goals first and let design take the back seat. A beautiful site with no traffic is not going to drive revenue, opportunity and/or engagement.

4) There is no single contributor to search engine rankings more important than quality content. Search Engines love fresh sites with quality content that is updated frequently. Content can be images, videos, podcasts, plain vanilla text, infographics and/or Instagram uploads - keep it fresh and meaningful.

5) Use WordPress for your web site. There is no other alternative technology platform that even comes close. It is search engine ranking friendly - we typically see search engine rankings for client sites within a matter of hours behind a new piece of updated content.

There are tens of thousands of plug-ins that extend WordPress, thousands of developers, it has a superb build in content management system, is updated frequently with much more robust capabilities, it’s free for the most part and it is used on about 75 Million sites and counting. It’s a no brainer.

6) Off site link building is in itself a topic that we could write reams about, as others have done. For a deeper SEO dive check out our “Why Google No Longer Loves Your Brand” - but, for the sake of brevity, here’s what’s important. Create good content that will be linked to and shared on the social web - this unto itself will drive high quality back links for your brand. Nuff said……

Other ways to develop quality back links:

  • Offer infographics that can be downloaded (some brands develop standalone apps) across the web that incorporate a link back to your site.
  • Create your own back links - we use a nifty WordPress plugin by Mark Jaquit called “Page Links To” - that enables you to upload a page and select a page via search to link to.
  • Create quality Comment tags on sites that are targeted and that offer “do follow” (we are trying to avoid SEO geeky terms) - “do follow” (simplified) means you will get some link juice back from Google.
  • Submit your site to quality Directories (note our emphasis on quality); i.e. Yahoo (yes, they are still alive), and/or vertical market directories in your market niche.
  • Complete your Social Profiles on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and/or second tier sites.
  • Syndicate your content across Web 2.0 sites like Posterous (now part of Twitter) and StumbleUpon. If you’ve built back links into older pages (as we’ve done on this post), every time your page is published elsewhere you are creating a back link for yourself.
  • Think social for link building - are you surprised that setting up a Google+ account and sharing content will create back links for your brand?  The more you integrate social signals into your backlinking (big three: Facebook, Twitter Google+) the better. And, as search becomes more social, you are laying the proper groundwork for your brand.

7) Use and leverage Search Engine Plugins for WordPress. Two of the best (both are industry standards) are “All in One SEO” (by Semper Fi Web Site Design) and Yoast’s WordPress SEO - we’ve used both of these plugins across many sites for years and they can even be integrated together. Speaking of Yoast - he has a superb tutorial about all things SEO related and WordPress - it’s authentic, informative and well done.

8) You have to use Google Analytics for your web site - it’s an industry standard and your brand and online business will be remiss not using it for a snapshot of your web site. But, having said this, we also use  StatPress across all of our client and publishing sites - it’s not going to give you a a deep dive into analytics but it will give you a fast snapshot take of visitor traffic and associated statistics. And, there is no learning curve associated with it like Google Analytics.

8) Last but not least - shooting for search engine rankings is like being nineteen again and trying to wade through the dating process…… most cases you get your heart broken at least once. This holds for this SEO How To Guide - expect some trial and error, be patient and keep sharing content across the social way. Romance and search engine ranking sometimes occur when you least expect them……we digress……..