It’s Not Easy Picking a Focus Keyword – How Do You Do It?
27/02/15 SEO

It’s Not Easy Picking a Focus Keyword – How Do You Do It?

It’s pretty simple – Pick the right focus keyword for your page and:

  • It’s easy to sell
  • You don’t waste months of your time ranking for the wrong keywords

Pick the wrong focus keyword and:

  • You make no sales, or many fewer than you should
  • You waste months of time, and lots of money

It’s tough to choose keywords with “buying intent.”

And what do you do with those other keywords that don’t have buying intent?

Do they have any use?

They do – let me explain.

Which Keywords Have Buying Intent?

For starters, these keywords go on website pages aimed to sell. Those include all the pages in your main navigation. So, your home page, services pages, geo-targeted city pages, about, and contact pages should have these keywords and close variations.

Which ones should you use on those pages?

Generally, you should go with “[city name] + [your service].” That’s a start, anyway.

So for example, “Dallas criminal defense attorney” is a good start. But there’s one problem with it – it’s tough to rank for. If you go to the Google Adwords keyword planner, you’ll find there’s 210 monthly searches for this keyword. That means, for a small law firm or single lawyer anyway, it’s going to be expensive and time-consuming to rank for.

But if you keep checking out more variations, you eventually come across “Dallas criminal defense attorneys,” which has just 20 searches. Fewer searches, yes, but less competition in the ultra-competitive legal niche.

Another thing to do is to Google your chosen keyword. So if we Google “Dallas criminal defense attorneys,” this pops up:

focus keyword

Well, this is a pleasant and unexpected surprise!

Notice that not a single result uses “Dallas criminal defense attorneys.” They use close variations, but not the exact term. That’s a nice opportunity because if you optimize for a keyword exactly, you have a bit of an advantage over other websites that don’t.

FYI – if only 2-3 results optimize for a certain keyword, that still gives you good opportunity. If more than that do, you may want to pass on that keyword.

What about Those “Other Keywords?”

They go in your blog.

Yes, blog posts sell.

Unlike your web pages which aim to sell now, blog posts inform and educate with the idea of making the sale 6 months from now.

You don’t want to put “Dallas criminal defense attorneys” in your blog too often. That’s because it’s too hard to make that phrase sound natural.

If it doesn’t sound natural, that irritates Google and your readers. But you probably could make it sound natural in an occasional blog post.

The amount of keywords you can put in your blog is almost endless.

Here are some examples a criminal defense lawyer might use:

  • Texas DUI law/laws
  • DWI/DUI in Texas
  • Class B misdemeanor Texas
  • Alcohol laws in Texas
  • 2nd DWI in Texas

Again, all these keywords appear in Google Adwords. At this point, you know people searching for these terms have an interest in a criminal defense lawyer.

So that’s good. And then a portion of them will keep hanging around your blog until they’re convinced you’re the best lawyer to hire.

That’s keyword research 101. With these keywords, you get all relevant and appropriate traffic for your site that could eventually turn into business.

While the keywords change, the process works the same for every industry.

If it seems to hard or you don;t have time, hire a professional SEO to help.

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When is it Time to Hire an SEO Expert?
27/02/15 SEO

When is it Time to Hire an SEO Expert?

Isn’t SEO dead?

Doesn’t basically everyone know it?

Far from it!

The SEO of today is much different than in years past. It’s about a million times more complex – too much for one person to do.

And while everyone knows the basics, only a few know it to a truly deep level that consistently gets you amazing results. As a profession, SEO has only existed for 15 years or so, and 80% of its professionals have started within the last 2-8 years.

When are some specific times you should hire an SEO expert?

Here’s a few that come to mind:

  1. If You’ve Gotten Penalized

Using Google Disavow works to get rid of bad links, but it’s hardly a straightforward process. Google wants to see you’ve contacted the site’s owners a couple times before they consider removing those bad links (even if you didn’t post those links yourself).

Or maybe the issue is the links you do have are optimized to exactly match your keywords. Your content could also be too simplistic – basically stating the obvious.

What you did to rank well a year ago may now ruin your search rankings.

A penalty takes an awful lot of work to identify and get out of.

  1. When You Start a New Website or Redesign One

Web designers are great at what they do – designing your website. But remember, even though they may do SEO too, that doesn’t mean they’re as good as a specialist.

For example, they might change the categories in your WordPress blog. They might create new pages. They might use different URLs and not 301 redirect the old ones properly.

There are horror stories of websites losing a chunk of search traffic after redesigns.

  1. If You Don’t Understand Anything about Digital Marketing

Should you use paid ads or would you be better off trying to rank in organic search?

Do you need social media profiles? Which sites? There’s about 8-10 popular ones worth choosing from.

Who should host your website?

Should you use one of those template designs that let you click 3 times and go live?

If not, who should design your website?

Oh, and don’t forget you need a blog too.

Speaking of content, should you add a content marketing campaign and newsletter?

There’s a ton of moving parts in digital marketing.

A seasoned SEO pro understands them all and knows which you do and do not need.

Remember: You Get What You Pay For…

Keep in mind SEOs are contracted professionals. Some charge cheap rates, while others charge much more.

At the end of the day, you get what you’re willing to pay for. Experienced SEOs know their market value and charge accordingly.

So the ball’s in your court. Now you know some good times to ask for help, and why to hire the best SEO for the job.

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How to Get Links: What Makes People Link to Your Website?
07/01/15 SEO

How to Get Links: What Makes People Link to Your Website?

So let me be honest, there’s about a million reasons that affect why people want to link to your website.

But today, I’m going to show you the biggest reasons why people link to other websites.

Here they are, and what to do to make it easier for people to link to yours:

  1. Content Quality

This one’s far and away at the top. The second most important factor is a loooooong distance away. And I still might be understating how badly you need great quality content.

Now, creating “quality” content could fill volumes of books if you talked about every last aspect.

But to write awesome content that attracts links, basically you make sure you have the most in-depth post on the topic available on the entire internet. That’s because, as you may already know, if you Google any topic, you can find like 5,000 articles on the same thing that say basically the same stuff.

So let’s say for example that you’re an HVAC contractor. Instead of “10 Furnace Maintenance Tips,” you write “The Ultimate Guide to Furnace Maintenance” and give every last bit of information people need to maintain their furnaces.

Now, you have a unique piece of web content more worth linking to than any other. You could also make it a series of 10 blog posts or so.

Won’t you lose business because you tell people exactly what to do? Nope. You net more business because you educate people, and they know you’re an expert.

They don’t have the time or desire to do everything in your guide themselves. Or, they simply may not be able to do it.

  1. Sleek, Modern Design

Some websites drop $20,000 + on brand new designs. You don’t have to do that. But, you do have to make sure your site looks recent.

It’s sort of like buying a car. Say you’re looking at 2 cars from a distance. One has a beautiful paint job, and the other’s fairly rusty. Inside, however, they have the exact same engine and quality, long-lasting parts.

Which would you buy?

It works the same way with websites.

  1. Build Strong Relationships

Business is all about relationships – and so are links. But you may not be familiar with how you build relationships online.

Here are some easy ways to do that:

  1. Find a piece of content people like to link to using org. Write a more in-depth blog post. E-mail other websites, letting them know about your improved version. If they say, “Yes,” you’ve built a relationship and may be able to reach out for a link again in the future.
  2. Contact any businesses you pay money to and request a link – you already have relationships with them.
  3. Share other people’s content on social media and ask for a link.
  4. Comment on someone else’s blog posts on a regular basis.

If you’re wondering how to get links to your website, those are the best ways to do it. The links you get are 100% white-hat and natural, which means Google will never penalize you for them.

One caveat: only earn links from websites similar to yours in topic. If you have a high percentage (more than 10% or so) of links from sites with no topical relation to yours, that may get you in trouble with Google. A good SEO consultant can help if this all seems too complicated.

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2 Disastrous SEO Mistakes You’re Making on Your Website
19/12/14 SEO

2 Disastrous SEO Mistakes You’re Making on Your Website

Yes, you can agitate Google a ton, even if you don’t mean to do any harm!

Unfortunately, Google takes a stance of proactively penalizing SEO behavior it doesn’t like.

Wouldn’t it make more sense just to have the undesirable behavior not count at all towards your rankings? That way, you wouldn’t have to worry about penalties for doing what appears to be the right thing.

Anyway, that’s a whole different discussion.

For now, let me explain some ways you can accidentally make Google angry, even though you mean well.

Let’s give credit for these tips where it’s due to industry thought leader Neil Patel.

  1. Exchanging Links with Other Webmasters

You give them a link, and they give you one. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

It’s okay, but make sure your partner (and you) don’t put that link in the footer of your website. Here’s why Google abhors such links:

  1. They’re in the footer, and the footer has been used manipulatively by SEOs in the past (It appears on every page on your site, and having it link to internal pages and other sites gives a lot of links, which worked very well to boost rankings in the past).
  2. You can get a lot of links way too fast. Google looks at your “link velocity,” the rate at which you get links to compute your rankings. If you use the footer of a big website, you can get thousands to millions of links from that site overnight. That’s too many, and Google thinks you do this to manipulate your rankings.
  3. Too many links from a single site. There’s no “perfect percentage” of links to get from one website. However, if you have 200 links now, and all of a sudden 1200 more from another website, now more than 80% of them come from one site. That’s suspicious in Google’s eyes.

The cure for this mistake? Fortunately, it’s easy. If you switch links with someone else, make sure their link and yours comes from a page that appears just once on your or their website (and not a sitewide area like the footer).

  1. Make Sure Who You Outreach to Knows SEO Best Practices

Neil shared a story where one client reached out to moms who ran blogs. To earn links, the company requested the owners of these blogs link to them.

They got a much bigger response than anticipated. Unfortunately, these blog owners often used exact-match keywords in their links (a big no-no now!). That got the client a devastating penalty.

Plus:

  • Some sent 10-20 links in a single post
  • Many of these blogs were already penalized themselves
  • Numerous blogs were extremely low authority. This is a subjective measure, but you should have just a small percentage of links with a domain authority of less than 20 according to Moz coming to your site.

The fix again, though, is easy. If you outreach to one or more sites:

  • Use Mozbar to check their domain authority (look for 20+)
  • Don’t let ad-heavy websites link to you
  • Make sure the site has a clean, organized, and professional design and copy
  • Tell the site you want a link from that you want just a single link and that they can use whatever anchor text they want, as long as it’s not exact-match to your primary keywords

If you choose to ask for links, make sure you watch those things closely. Google does allow these mistakes to some degree, but you should aim for never allowing any of them to affect your website.

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4 Astonishingly Simple Reasons Your Search Rankings Are Tanking
12/12/14 SEO

4 Astonishingly Simple Reasons Your Search Rankings Are Tanking

How many times have you heard “SEO is dead?”

Seems like everyone says that these days. While SEO has changed so much from even just a couple years ago that it’s barely even recognizable, it was, is, and always will be important for ranking your website.

Google needs some way to identify how to rank your website, which keywords to rank it for, and why it might be better or worse than other sites. So that’s what the SEO game’s all about: helping Google understand where to put your website in its search index.

Take a look at a few of these easy, oh-so-simple ways to make sure you’re not losing your rankings unnecessarily:

  1. Keyword Placement

The keyword you want your page to rank for should be in the page title, ideally at the beginning. That’s the biggest on-page optimization signal Google needs to see.

In addition to that, it should appear in your URL, in the page <H1> tag, and then 2-4 times in the body copy and additional <h2> tags. There’s no “perfect” formula here. As long as you have your keyword in those areas, though, Google knows what you want to rank for.

  1. Your Primary Pages Don’t Have Links Pointing to Them

Your home page gets most of your links – that’s just what people logically think to link to. However, to rank any page, you should have at least a few (3+) high-authority links pointing to those pages.

The easy part is knowing you have to do this (your competitors often don’t and often have 0 links pointing to their main services pages). The hard part is earning those links – and that’s where professional help does its magic.

  1. You Don’t Write Content Regularly

There’s varying opinions on how much content helps your rankings. Some SEOs tell you 50%, others 75% or more.

The percentage doesn’t matter, but you get the point: you must have monthly content posted on your website. This is an especially huge advantage at the local business level, where many do not update their content often enough (or at all).

What do you need? Right now, I recommend 2 400-500 posts per month at minimum.

It’s nicer to have 4-5 (your readers like 1 per week), but not absolutely necessary. An aggressive strategy uses 8 per month, and some hyper-aggressive businesses even post daily.

It’s all about your budget and comfort zone.

  1. You Don’t Use Schema Meta-Data

Simply put, Schema is a set of HTML tags you use to enhance your SERP listings. There’s conflicting evidence as to whether it improves your search rankings.

However, Search Engine Land did find 30% more traffic from click-throughs for websites that use it. You can easily implement schema into your WordPress website with the WordLift plugin.

And here’s a secret: almost no websites use it – a huge competitive advantage for you!

If you address those issues, it’s pretty easy to get your rankings back or take them to new heights!

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