Taking A Bite Out Of SEO

Rachel-Howe

Rachel Howe is someone I know through the social media platform Brazen. Back then it was a virtual place to meet other Young Professionals. Recently I had a client who asked me for a SEO recommendation so I scoured through LinkedIn and contacted Rachel to gauge her interest. Long story short, my client hired Rachel and everyone is happy. Since SEO can be an intimidating subject, I’ve asked Rachel to share her thoughts in the following interview:

1) Tell us a little bit about how you got started in SEO.

Well, what can I say? I don’t think anyone can say that they grew up wanting to be a search engine optimizer when they were a kid. Especially since the internet is less than half a century old! I did what I think most people who entered the profession ended up doing, I kind of fell into it. When I was a kid I used to want to be an artist or a veterinarian. I quickly realized that I was no good at science and biology. And, while I enjoy art and have taken a few college art classes, I knew that it wasn’t something I was passionate enough about to do day in and day out (not to mention when you’re putting yourself through college, being a starving artist just won’t cut it.). So, I studied marketing. I could see myself as a businesswoman and marketing combined my interest in using my creativity and business interest. I had no idea what I wanted to do though. When I graduated, I ended up working in the corporate setting for a couple of years. I knew that I couldn’t keep that up. It was just too draining. So I did things I liked like writing and marketing. I set up my own blog and started blogging about internet marketing. Soon after I got my first agency job at a small agency here in Milwaukee. And the rest is history ☺

2) What are some misconceptions about SEO that you’d like to clear up?

I think the SEO industry is interesting because there are people out there that give it a bad rap. There are “black hat” SEOs that try to game the system and make a quick buck, which are the biggest culprits. But there are also people that just think that you slap a few title tags on a site, stuff some keywords on the page and voila! The site is SEOed. While that would be great, it also does the profession a disservice. It is a profession for a reason. People make their livelihoods out of it and a lot of work goes into doing great SEO. It’s a large combination of things including understanding algorithms, code, marketing principles, PR and having good business sense. There’s a lot of work that goes into it, so my hope is that by bringing transparency in combination with education, we’ll shed more light into this up and coming, complex industry.

3) On your site, you talk about creating meaningful connections vs. solely driving sales and leads – why is that important?

A lot of people will tell you they can make you a ton of money with SEO and get you to the top of Google for “xyz” terms. The chances of them delivering on that is low. Yes, it is definitely possible, but there really are no guarantees with search engines. Things change all the time and you can only really estimate and put your best foot forward. Even if they could get you to the top and let’s say they convert here and there. Are they repeat purchasers, or just a bunch of one-timer purchasers or visitors? Because if all you get is one time purchasers or visits, you’d really be missing out on a valuable segment of your market, which is repeat purchasers. And going after that is a better use of your marketing dollars and time.

If you think about how search engines like Google evaluate websites, it’s really almost like evaluating a business as if it were the brick and mortar itself. You have to be a good, credible business in the real world and that translates on the internet. Which is largely due to the relationships you build and how you run your shop. So, it’s really important to think about the broader perspective when you get into marketing your business online, or anywhere for that matter.

4) If you had to sum up what you do in one word, what would it be? Why?

Marketing. At the end of the day, great SEO is more than just getting higher rankings. It’s helping people market their products and services.

5) Describe to my readers what it’s like working with you & why they should hire you!

I like to think that I’m easy to get along with and at the end of the day, I want to help people with marketing and growing their business. I think big picture, but I’m also practical. I don’t tell people what they want to hear, I tell them what they need to hear so we can focus on getting results. If you want to work with someone who’s honest, hard-working and cares about getting you results over a paycheck, then here I am! (of course, I want a paycheck, but you get the point 😉

How to Optimize Content to Reach Your Target Audience

Alex Membrillo

You can have a killer product and the world’s best writers tasked with promoting it. But, we are still at a point where marketing efforts live and die by their search engine placement. Four out of five purchasing decisions start with a Google search. To make sure that your excellent, persuasive content is part of what consumers see, it needs to be well-optimized. A few of the best ways to get to the top of the SERPs:

1. Create a keyword-rich, enticing headline.

Your headline should include keywords that lets audiences and search engine spiders know what your work is about. By including this bit of information, you can significantly increase your chances of indexing well. Make sure your headline is short, as well. Five or fewer words is best. Load keywords toward the beginning of the phrase so that it catches readers’ eyes.

2. Break content into sections with relevant subheads.

Well organized, skimmable content is more likely to be read than impenetrable walls of text. Breaking up using subheads also gives you the chance to inject your keywords into H2 tags. Make each subhead descriptive and inviting.

3. Tune up your technical SEO.

The technical specs of your page matter as much as the content that is on it. Every page should load quickly and completely, no matter what device your visitor uses to get there. The average surfer will leave your page if it takes more than three to four seconds to load. Image files should be small so that they don’t cause people to bounce before the page fully loads. Ensure that pages are mobile-friendly; this is now a major part of how Google assesses your site.

When you are setting up how URLs appear on your blog or website, make sure that they are descriptive. “http://www.myawesomesite.com/web-content- blog-post” does much better than “http://www.myawesomesite.com/3033ab4.” When QuickSprout analyzed the top ranking URLs, they found that they were short, contained few subfolders and generally had no extraneous characters.

4. Use descriptive title tags.

Pages on your site should not have names like “home” or “index.” These tell search engine spiders nothing about what your site is about. Instead, title your pages in ways that add valuable information. “South Texas Exterminators” tells search engines and surfers what they can expect.

5. Create a great description Meta tag.

While many Meta tags have fallen out of use, the description tag is still a valuable one. In most cases, search engines pull from this tag when they are listing your page in the search engine results. Think of this tag as like the title, but more detailed. You should organize the description so that the most important information comes first. If you have a background in journalism, think of it the way you would an opening sentence in a traditional newspaper article. Keep the content here short and to the point, no more than 160 characters.

6. Never forget that you are writing for the reader.

With all of the technical details involved in good SEO, the most important thing that you can do is always consider the reader first. Create content that is novel, informative and compelling. Elicit a reaction. Tell people something that they didn’t know. This leads more people to read and engage with your content. They are more likely to post links to your work on their own blogs or on their social media pages. These earned backlinks and the boost in traffic that they bring are also good for improving your SEO. In the end, you get rewarded by the search engines for doing the right thing by your readers.

With a little fine-tuning, you will find that you are able to get much better results with your content. By creating content consistently and keeping in mind what is needed for optimal performance, you can increase your number of readers and their engagement and get better visibility for your content and your brand.

About the Author

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, an award winning digital strategy agency based in Atlanta, GA. Named Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)’s 2015 Digital Marketer of the Year, his innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets.  Cardinal has been 3-time consecutively named on Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies.  Visit www.CardinalWebSolutions.com to find out more about Cardinal Web Solutions.  Membrillo tweets @Alex_Membrillo