Tag Archives: SEO

Don’t Let Bad Content Ruin Your SEO Rankings

You’re probably familiar with the old SEO axiom: Content is king. That’s a little bit of an oversimplification, but there’s a lot of truth to it. If you’re trying to enact a savvy SEO campaign and achieve higher Google rankings for your business website, strong content is crucial. It’s job #1. It’s an absolute deal-breaker.

And why is that? Think about it from Google’s point of view. Like any business, Google wants to provide its customers (search engine users) with the best product possible (relevant search results). That means content that adequately answers their questions. If you want to rank well, that’s the kind of content you need to create.

But if good content can boost rankings, bad content can sink them. Unfortunately, bad content is all too plentiful. Here are a few ways in which bad content can disrupt your SEO undertaking—and not in a good way.

Bad Content Means Bad SEO

Content that’s too flimsy. While we are adamant that there’s no magic word count you need to hit, it is wise to be as thorough as you can be, completely addressing the topic at hand. Just ask yourself: Would this be satisfactory to a search engine user who wants to learn more about this topic or issue—or would a search engine user come away with more questions than answers?

Content that lacks the right keywords. When it comes to keywords, moderation is key. If you jam in so many keywords that your content feels stilted or robotic, your rankings will slip. Do include a few target keywords in strategic locations, however—titles, section subheadings, meta descriptions, and sprinkled throughout your body content.

Content that’s not localized. For retail companies or brick-and-mortar businesses, some geographically specific keywords are vital. Some examples include keywords like [City] plumbing company, [City] accountants, [City] pizza restaurant, etc.

Content that doesn’t offer a good UX. User experience is a key SEO ranking factor, so make sure that any visitor to your page feels totally welcome, and that it’s easy for users to find the content they’re after. We recommend plenty of white space; bullet points whenever appropriate; section subheadings; and, of course, a mobile-friendly layout.

Content that doesn’t offer value. There’s nothing wrong with developing content to sell your products, but remember that any content you create is meant to be informative and educational; if all you write is marketing fluff, you’re not helping Google provide its customers with a strong product.

Content that lacks internal linking. One more hallmark of strong content? It makes it easy for users to navigate to related resources. Make sure to include links to relevant resource pages or blog posts whenever you can.

Get the Help You Need Creating Strong Content

SEO can get really technical, and those technicalities are important—but they don’t mean anything if you don’t have good content to offer. That’s where we come in. Grammar Chic, Inc. is adept at content creation that delights readers while also pleasing the search algorithms. And we’d love to talk with you about your company’s content writing and SEO needs.

Schedule a consultation today: Reach out at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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3 Ways Google’s SERP Changed Last Year—And What It Means for Your Business

Google is constantly tweaking its search engine algorithms—and often, those changes are plainly evident from the search engine results page (SERP) itself.

Why is the SERP such a work in progress? Simple: Google wants to provide its users with the best product possible—that is, quick, relevant, practical answers to their search queries. And it’s constantly devising new ways to make that product just a little bit more appealing.

The downside for business owners is that there’s a lot of fluctuation to keep up with. The SEO efforts that worked in years past may not work as well today. In fact, 2017 saw a few significant changes to the SERP—and those changes all have some implications for small business marketing efforts.

PPC ads take up more of the SERP than ever before.

There was a time when the SERP was occupied mostly by organic search listings—the kind of listings you could attain through the right mix of content marketing and SEO. But today, paid ads are placed more prominently than ever before. Users have to scroll further down the SERP before they even arrive at organic listings; meanwhile, PPC ads have infiltrated parts of the SERP they never appeared previously, such as the Google Map Pack.

Does this mean SEO and content marketing are dead? Far from it. It just means that a comprehensive approach is needed. If you want to blanket as much of the SERP as possible, you can’t rely solely on organic listings or on paid ads. You really need a strategy that encompasses both, and balances them appropriately.

If you’re not already augmenting your content marketing efforts with PPC, make 2018 the year you really get a handle on ad bidding, targeting, and copywriting.

Featured snippets occupy prime SERP real estate.

Another important change? Google wants to empower users to get the answers they seek from the SERP itself—without actually having to click through to a link. One way this is evident is in the rise of featured snippets.

You’ve probably seen these before, even if you didn’t realize what they were called. Have you ever done a Google search, and had the SERP give you a direct answer, in the form of a little “answer box” appearing just above the organic search listings?

These are featured snippets, and they occupy the “zero position” on the SERP—coveted online real estate. Getting your content to rank in the zero position can be a major boost to your brand visibility.

This is a tough thing to attain, but not impossible. The best bet is to format your content in the form of a bulleted list, a table, or a Q&A—especially when it comes to more fact-based and objective subject matter. Remember, Google wants to provide quick, clear, authoritative answers to its users, and it’s in your best interests to help it do so.

More people are arriving at the SERP through voice search.

We’ve blogged before about voice search, which is quickly becoming the most popular way to search for content on Google. But as more and more search engine users arrive at the SERP via Siri or Alexa, it’s important for your content to accommodate them.

Again, a lot of it comes down to formatting—with bulleted lists and Q&A formats being especially useful. Also remember to write your content in a conversational style that reflects the way real voice searches are done. A traditional Google search might be phrased like this: Jimmy Kimmel age. But with voice search, you’re more likely to ask: How old is Jimmy Kimmel? For content to rank well for these voice-based queries, it’s important to emulate that casual style.

Making Sense of the New SERP

As you seek to get your content ranked on this new and ever-changing SERP, don’t hesitate to seek guidance. Grammar Chic, Inc. has diverse experience in content marketing, and we always have the latest SEO strategies in mind. We’d love to consult with you about your content marketing and Google search needs. Reach out at www.grammarchic.net, or 803-831-7444.

 

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A Quick Guide to Enterprise SEO

Every company wants to be found by search engine users; for this reason, every company should have an interest in search engine optimization. It’s been said before, but warrants repeating: Any company that can’t be found by the Google algorithms might as well be invisible.

But of course, specific SEO needs vary greatly from one business to the next. A small, local brick-and-mortar store has a radically different SEO agenda than, say, an international conglomerate.

This brings us to enterprise SEO, a subset of search engine optimization that caters specifically to the needs of very large businesses. But what does enterprise SEO really entail—and what makes it different from other SEO endeavors?

Enterprise SEO Defined

Essentially, when we talk about enterprise SEO, we’re talking about search engine optimization activities for Fortune 1000 companies—big brands whose needs are more robust (and whose budgets are typically bigger) than, say, mom and pop shops.

Enterprise SEO needs are varied. On the one hand, there is a need to be discoverable by everyday consumers—especially in localized contexts. At the same time, enterprise SEO must preserve online reputation while advancing global branding. A good enterprise SEO campaign will balance these different concerns, and will take an interest in both granular and big-picture issues.

Hiring an Enterprise SEO Company

Enterprise SEO companies—which typically work closely with existing marketing departments and CMOs—must bring some unique skillsets to bear. A few of these include:

  • Search engine trends can turn on a dime, and it’s important for big enterprises to be able to pivot accordingly.
  • It’s simply impossible to do efficient enterprise-level work without automation. A good enterprise SEO company will be certified and experienced in key technologies.
  • The volume of content that’s needed for effective enterprise SEO is typically quite large; it requires someone who’s able to keep up with this work.
  • CMOs want to see that their efforts are paying off—and the only way to prove this to them is to furnish them with advanced data and analytics.

Embracing Enterprise SEO

For companies that are large in size, the work of SEO can be daunting—but with the right partner, it’s possible to achieve great results. Engaging an enterprise SEO firm—complemented with a strong content campaign—can be the critical first step in that direction. Consider whether enterprise SEO is right for your company’s needs.

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The Right Way to Use SEO Keywords in Your Company Blog

One way to add SEO value to your written content is to include keywords. This is one of the oldest practices in all of digital marketing, yet also one of the least understood.

There have been a lot of pendulum shifts in the way marketers understand keywords; for a time, keywords were gleefully stuffed into every piece of content, and then there was a season when many wondered if keywords were on their way out.

The truth is that keywords still matter a great deal, and inserting them properly can add tremendous SEO value to your writing—yet judicious and strategic keyword use is something that requires some forethought and some discipline.

In this post, we’ll offer some basic practices for ensuring that, when you add keywords to your content, you do so effectively.

Keywords Drive Content—Not the Other Way Around

First, it’s really ideal if you use keywords as your starting point. Come up with your targeted keywords before you do any writing, and allow them to guide your approach—your topic selection, your structure, etc. This way, the keywords are worked into your content more organically.

The alternative is to write a piece of content and then add keywords after the fact. This isn’t optimal because it means the keywords will likely stick out like sore thumbs, or disrupt the flow of the writing. The goal should always be for your keyword use to be natural and seamless.

Keywords Reveal Something About Your Readers

Another important concept is keyword intent. If someone is searching for a particular keyword, it’s because he or she is seeking a certain kind of information. Think about why your buyers would be searching for a particular set of keywords, and what it says about their pain points and their ideal solutions.

This allows you to craft content where your keywords are not only present, but used in such a way to address the reader’s questions and provide a real sense of value. In other words, your keywords are in the content as answers, not just as SEO add-ons.

The Best Places to Include Keywords

Getting caught up in how many keywords is usually a dead end, but we do recommend trying to include keywords in a few strategic locations. Here are the places where keywords offer the most SEO value.

Headline

Include a keyword within the first 65 characters of your headline, if at all possible.

Body Text

The body of your blog post should have keywords used naturally throughout. Remember to never force them or stuff them; just use them where they fit naturally, ensuring that the content still reads well.

URL

A vanity URL slug, with your keyword included, is a great SEO feature.

Meta Description

Another great, often-overlooked place to add keywords is in your blog’s meta description.

Write Blogs with SEO Value

Keywords aren’t everything, but they can make your content more discoverable among search engine users. The Grammar Chic, Inc. team offers unsurpassed expertise in writing blog content with SEO value in mind. To talk to one of our ghost bloggers today, contact us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Make it Easy for Local Customers to Discover Your Business

When people want answers, they turn to Google. That includes those who have questions or inquiries about local companies. New to town and need to find the best Chinese takeout? Google can show you. Looking for a reliable plumber in your neck of the woods? Google can show you. Not sure where the nearest Laundromat happens to be? Google can show you.

But if Google is where people turn with their local business questions, it’s up to you to position your brand as an answer. In other words, you’ve got to show up on those search engine results pages. You’ve got to make it easy for local consumers to discover you.

That’s what local SEO is all about. And this is not just an abstract marketing concept. This has real, bottom-line significance for your business.

A recent Forbes article puts it this way: “50 percent of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit a store that same day. And if your business’s visibility is not ranking highly in your area, your brick and mortar location could be losing out to competitors.”

So how can you improve your visibility among local consumers? How can you make sure your brand is discoverable by people in your area who are asking the right kinds of questions? Allow us to offer a few suggestions.

Improving Your Local Visibility

  • Put contact information on every page of your website. It’s especially critical to include a local phone number, with area code, that helps Google know which customers count as “local” for you.
  • Seek opportunities in the local press. This isn’t necessarily something you’ll be able to do overnight, but reaching out to local papers and blogs—or sending out press releases—can help you get some off-site citations. This is an important ingredient in local SEO.
  • Get local links. Seek out opportunities to have your website linked from a local business bureau, professional organization, or chamber of commerce.
  • Improve internal linking, as well. Your website should have a lot of interconnectivity—specifically, links to relevant blog posts or evergreen Web pages, guiding website users through your site.
  • Don’t forget meta data! Both your title tags and meta descriptions provide useful opportunities for you to insert geographic keywords.
  • Make sure you have a Google My Business profile. It’s an important way to shore up some SEO cred.
  • Seek out customer reviews. We talk about reviews all the time, and it’s because they are really important. If you want to show Google that your business is a trusted resource, you’ve got to ask customers to furnish you with five-star ratings.
  • Provide meaningful content. There is no better way than a blog! Create helpful and informative content that local customers will want to bookmark, send to their friends, or even share on social media.
  • Promote your blog. Writing is half the battle. Going out there and promoting your content with other bloggers in your industry helps you get more backlinks and grow your SEO visibility.  Use a tool like Linkio to plan and track your backlink campaigns and be consistent about performing blogger outreach and getting your content in front of people who would find it valuable.

Remember: Local SEO is all about bringing in new, paying customers. To get started, follow some of these tips today; and for help with content creation, reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. Find us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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3 Timeless SEO Rules Anyone Can Master

Google’s algorithms are constantly shifting, the technical rules of search engine optimization (SEO) regularly changing. That can be frustrating, especially for small business owners who don’t have a technical background. The good news is that, though details may vary, the big picture remains more or less the same: Google wants to provide its search engine users with value, and if you help them accomplish that, you’ll probably get decent enough rankings. That’s something that even the complete novice can latch on to.

Specifically, there are three basic SEO principles that we believe will guide you toward a smart, savvy approach—and they don’t require any great technical know-how on your part. Here are those three principles, which are timeless and evergreen.

It’s Always About the End User

Again, Google is a business, and it wants to provide its customers with a great product. In this case, that means providing search engine users with relevant and valuable results.

A lot of small business owners get caught up in writing for the search algorithms—but that’s backwards thinking. You don’t need to write for Google. You need to write for the end user. Write content that is clear, well-structured, informative, and full of actionable takeaways. Writing for actual human beings is the best way to appease the algorithms.

Be One of the White Hats

Do you know the difference between black hat and white hat SEO? Basically, black hat SEO seeks to cheat the system and circumvent Google’s stated rules, while white hat SEO abides by those rules. Black hat tactics can sometimes generate quick results, but they’re never lasting results. A solid, enduring SEO presence requires a white hat approach.

So, don’t try to game Google. You don’t need to resort to gimmicks, or buy links. Just focus on providing valuable content that includes natural, judicious keywords and that earns links from other websites. Skip the shortcuts and do the real work instead.

Make Use of Every Opportunity

If you’re wondering how many keywords you can cram into your content, you’re thinking about it all wrong. The key is to use keywords organically. With that said, you definitely want to optimize every square inch of online real estate that’s available to you. That means focusing not just on writing good content, but also writing strong title tags and meta descriptions.

Not sure that you’re following these timeless rules properly? Our team of SEO-savvy copywriters can help. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. today to talk about getting your Web content ranked better. Find us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Content Marketing with RankBrain in Mind

How does Google determine which content ranks where on the search engine results page (SERP)? That question is at the heart of SEO, and it’s also important to content marketing. Answering it is, truthfully, close to impossible; Google’s algorithms are complicated, and ever-changing. There are a lot of factors in play, and the way Google balances and prioritizes them is somewhat veiled.

With that said, Google has been clear about one thing: RankBrain is one of the most important of all ranking factors. In fact, Google has stated that it’s in the top three. So, if you want to write content that ranks well, you have to know what RankBrain is—and how to appease it.

What is Google RankBrain?

RankBrain represents the artificial intelligence and machine learning aspect of Google’s algorithms. RankBrain works to understand user queries and content topics, and to match the right content with the search request— evaluating all the content out there and formulating the best possible results for the search engine user.

In other words, RankBrain is a machine that’s actually capable of learning about content and user search queries, and of judging which content provides the most relevant and actionable results for a search engine query. That’s really pretty cool, especially when you consider that these editorial decisions are made strictly by AI; there is no human assistance required for RankBrain to do its thing.

Again, RankBrain is not the only factor in determining search engine rankings—but it’s a major one. This brings us to our ultimate question: How can you design content that appeals to RankBrain? How can you get your website or blog ranked well by this AI system?

3 Tips for Mastering RankBrain

There are three tips we can offer here.

  1. Write content that is focused. RankBrain evaluates content to determine—basically—what it’s about, and whether it answers the user’s question. If your content is all over the place, jumping from topic to topic and presenting a hodgepodge of information, it’s unlikely that the algorithms will be able to reach clear conclusions. Content like this almost never ranks well. Make sure each blog post and each website has a strong, singular topic—and that everything within the content points back to that topic.
  2. Structure content in a logical way. Along the same lines, your content should be structured in a way that leads the reader (or the RankBrain algorithms) through a logical argument. Present your main topic or point in the first paragraph, then use section sub-headings to advance the content, one step at a time, until you reach a clear conclusion or CTA.
  3. Test everything. You won’t be able to guess your way to ranking success. Instead, you’ve got to constantly consult your data and analytics—seeing which content works and which doesn’t, learning from your SEO successes and failures alike.

Step Up Your Content Game

Effective content has to appeal to human readers and to Google’s machine learning system—and that’s a tall order. We can help. Get some seasoned, SEO-minded content writing professionals on your team. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to learn more: 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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