SEO Basics: Using Keywords for Website SEO

Find popular keywords for SEO - Google Keyword ToolLast week, we started our SEO Basics series with a look at How to Use Title Tags on Your Website.

As a reminder, SEO stands for search engine optimization, and refers to all the techniques used to help your website and webpages rank well in search engine results.

When telling you how to optimize your Title tags last week, we talked about how it was important to feature the keywords that are most popular to describe your product or service.

The same is true for the content of your webpages: keywords matter.

Here’s what you need to know about keywords:

  • Ideally, each of the pages on our website should be focused on one keyword (with close variations).
  • “Keyword” often means multiple words: web hosting service and professional web design are multi-word keywords for EarthLink Web Hosting pages. High speed cable Internet is a keyword for our cable Internet access page.
  • Use tools such as the Google Keyword tool to find the right keywords.
  • Generally it’s recommended to shoot for the keywords with the highest volume, though you may decide you’re better able to compete for some more narrow, long-tail keywords with less traffic.
  • Keep in mind, your product name is typically not your keyword. Your keyword is the more generic term for what your product/service is. Think: what do people call products like mine, in general.
  • Ideally, keywords should be in the page’s Title tag, URL, page header (H1 tag), and used throughout the body of the page, especially near the top.
  • Do not stuff the page with keywords. This is a very old and now dangerous technique that is likely to backfire. Use your keyword (and variations) a natural number of times when covering your topic/product.
  • Vary your keyword on your webpage in natural ways: using singular and plural forms, different word orders for keyword phrases, close synonyms, and natural keyword modifiers.
  • Use your keywords as links on other pages in your website. Internal linking using keywords is another way that search engines determine what is most important about a page.

Using the simple keyword techniques above should help you get started with SEO and help you generate traffic to your website. Good luck.

SEO Basics: How to Use Title Tags on Your Website

So, you’ve built your business website. Now you want some traffic.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is one of the traffic-generating tools you have at your disposal.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors outside your control when it comes to SEO. Others can be controlled but take significant time or effort.

But here’s one that’s both fully within your control and super simple: optimizing the Title tags for your business website’s homepage and product pages.

The Title tag determines what appears at the top of your web browser window when visiting a webpage. The Title tag is also what Google, Bing, and other search engines use as the main link to your website in search results. The search engines also use the keywords in your Title tag to categorize your pages, which is why the tag is important for SEO.

One of the biggest, commonly missed SEO opportunities is a business homepage that says Welcome or Home.

Those generic Titles don’t brand your website at all. Nor do they give potential visitors (and search engines) any idea of what your website is about.

There are some different schools of thought when it comes to the perfect Title tag, but in general, the best practice advice is to lead with keywords that are the most popular for the products or services you offer and end with your website/brand name.

If branding is most important to you or you feel your brand name is strong and want to feature it more in search results, then flip the order and use your brand first, then keywords.

You should keep the Title under 70 characters (including spaces). Anything above that will get cut off in Google search results.

Because you don’t have much space, you really have to prioritize the keywords you use.

Here’s an example of our EarthLink Business website. The Title tag of 69 characters leads with the keywords for the main business service categories we offer: IT, Data, Voice & Internet Services for Business – EarthLink Business.

This is how the EarthLink Business homepage Title tag shows up at the top of a web browser (in this case Safari):

EarthLink Business - title tag for business services homepage

And this is how the Title tag looks in Google search results:

EarthLink Business in Google search resultsKeep in mind, you should have unique Title tags for each of your pages, so you need to plan out which keywords to use for which pages. Reusing the same Title tags on multiple (or all) pages is another one of the most common SEO mistakes.

Using the EarthLinkBusiness.com site as an example again, here are Title tags for some of our important business service pages:

Most content management systems (such as blogging software) let you update Title tags by simply typing in new text in the Title field and updating the page.

In the source code for your page, the Title tag is found in the <head> section and is whatever you put between the <title> </title> tags.

If you need help finding popular keywords related to your business website to use for your Title tag, try using this Google Keyword tool.

Good luck with your SEO.

Facebook Announces New Graph Search

New Facebook Graph Search Announced This WeekIs a new type of search headed your way? If you’re a Facebook user, yes.

Just this Tuesday, Facebook held a press conference to announce what it is calling Graph Search.

The search product is considered to be in very early, limited beta, so you can’t go try it out just yet. But you can get on a waitlist to be one of the earlier users.

Is Facebook’s Graph Search going to replace Google or Bing for most users web searching? No.

But it’s not meant to.

The new search is more a way to intelligently leverage the network of people and information you already have within Facebook, rather than extend Facebook into the web search world.

Facebook explains it like this:

“Graph Search and web search are very different. Web search is designed to take a set of keywords (for example: “hip hop”) and provide the best possible results that match those keywords. With Graph Search you combine phrases (for example: “my friends in New York who like Jay-Z”) to get that set of people, places, photos or other content that’s been shared on Facebook.”

Searches, at least at first, will be limited to people, places, photos, and interests. They will also be private, meaning “you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook.”

Search for Places

You may turn to the new search as a kind of recommendation engine, like Yelp, but based on your network. So you’ll search for nearby restaurants that your friends like.Or a dentist they like.

But you’ll also be able to refine your searches by more personal criteria. You could, for example, search for restaurants liked by your single friends vs. your married friends. Or favorite restaurants of people you went to college with. Or favorite restaurants of people who work at a certain company.

 Search for People

The new search will let you do simple things, like find all your friends that live in your city. But you can get much more granular and specific than that, searching, for example, for friends who like jazz music or running. If you’re planning a trip you may search for friends who’ve been to the destination you’ll be visiting.  When looking for a golf buddy you could search for people who like golf and live nearby.

Search for Photos

Photo search should also be popular, allowing you to find photos by person, place, or date. You can even use it to look back at “photos I like,” photos you’ve commented on, photos from specific trips (e.g., “photos of me at the grand canyon”), or times (“photos of friends in 2007”). Your photo search doesn’t have to be limited to your own photos either.

Search for Interests

Like the place searches, interest searches will often be used to find recommendations, such as “music my friends like.” Again, you will be able to use the searches to find recommendations of people with similar tastes outside of your network of friends, such as “movies liked by people who like movies I like” (which is the kind of thing Netflix has done well). You can also use the search to find out the tastes of different subsets of people, such as “books read by school teachers” vs. “books read by authors” vs. “books read by CEOs.”

Want to learn more? Check out Danny Sullivan’s Up Close with Facebook Graph Search at SearchEngineLand.com.

Remember, the new Facebook Graph Search won’t be widely available for months. But it looks like it will be an interesting, useful, and fun addition to the Facebook experience.

 

AdWords Made Simple: How to Get Started with Google AdWords

How to Create Your First Google AdWords campaignIs your resolution to drive more customers to your business website in 2013?

To do that, you may want to experiment with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, also called search engine marketing (SEM). Google AdWords is the biggest player in PPC, so we’ll use that service as an example to show you how easy it is to get started.

Why Use AdWords or Other PPC Services?

AdWords lets you create your own online ads and deliver them to your target audience right when they’re interested in the products or services you offer: that is, when they are searching Google with keywords that describe your business’s offerings.

In addition to helping you sell products, you can use AdWords to promote your business, raise awareness, or increase traffic to your business website.

One of the great things about AdWords is that you can spend as much or as little as you want. There’s no minimum spending commitment.

You set and control your daily budget from your own online dashboard, which is also where you set up and control your ad campaigns.

You’ll also be able to measure the results of your AdWords campaigns and make adjustments to optimize your results. You can change your ad campaign at any time, including your ad text, settings, and budget.

So, let’s get started…

How to Get Started – Create Your  AdWords Account

  1. Go to www.google.com/AdWords/ and click the Get Started Now button.
  2. If you have a Google email address and password (from Gmail or another Google service), click that radio button and decide if you want to use the same login for AdWords or create a new account. You can also create a brand new Google Account for use with AdWords if you don’t have one.
  3. Set your time zone and currency preferences. Note: you cannot change these currency and time zone preferences later. Currency should be simple: you’ll be paying Google in dollars. The time zone you enter affects reporting on your AdWords ads (which days you got clicks and what times during the day or night you got clicks). Entering Pacific vs. Eastern Time will change your reports by 3 hours (and potentially move some clicks to another day).

This is all you need to do to create your account. Click the Sign in link to go to AdWords and create your first ad campaign.

How to Set Up Your First Campaign

Today, we’ll give you a general overview and tips about the AdWords campaign settings you will need to choose to get started. We’ll follow up in the coming weeks with additional posts to help you finish setting up and launching your campaign.

When you log into AdWords for the first time after you create your account, you’ll go to a custom landing page for first time users prompting you to get started (see screenshot above).

You may want to first explore some of the helpful information offered on this page. There’s a 3 minute introductory video as well as links to a Beginner’s Guide and common questions.

When you are ready to get started click the Create your first campaign button.

Select Your AdWords Campaign Settings

This page lets you specify setting for your whole campaign. If you’re not sure about what certain terms mean, hover your mouse over the question marks for an explanation.

Don’t worry, although some of these settings seem like very big, broad decisions, you can come back and modify your settings at any time (unlike the currency and timezone preferences above).

  1. Campaign Name: choose a name for your first AdWords campaign. We recommend you keep it simple. Focus on one product and name the campaign for that product (or perhaps a location if you are only going to advertise in one place).
  2. Type: The default setting is for Search & Display Networks. Display means text ads that are displayed on relevant pages like banner ads are, as opposed to ads that show up when people search. Many people like to test one of these at a time. To do that, select Search Network only from the drop-down menu. You can also specify Standard or All features at this point (keep at Standard for now unless you know you want to use some more advanced AdWord features).
  3. Networks: Here’s where you decide if you want to include Google’s search partners or just the Google Search Network. If you want to keep things as simple as possible, uncheck search partners. If you want to advertise more broadly, slick to include partners.
  4. Devices: Leave the radio button selected to have your ads show up on all kinds of devices (desktop & laptop computers, tablets, mobile devices) or click Let me choose… if you want to narrow your focus (some new advertisers like to wait to add mobile after some initial results with regular computers).
  5. Locations: This setting is very important. You want to make sure your ads show up to potential customers without wasting your budget advertising to people who can’t buy from you. Unless you operate internationally, you will either select United States or the Let me choose… option. For Let me choose, enter a country, state, city, region, or zip code. If you are an accountant in Los Angeles, you might want to enter Los Angeles as your location. After you click to add one location, you can add others or exclude other locations. For example, you could add the state of New York but exclude New York City if it doesn’t apply to your business. Some businesses like to start as broad as possible (to reach the widest audience) and then refine the locations later. Others like to start with the most focused location possible (where are your very best customers?) and expand from there later.
  6. Bidding and budget: It’s money time. First you need to choose how you will bid for your ads. The Basic options are that you will manually set your own bids (what the maximum you will pay for any click on your ads) or have AdWords automatically bid to try to maximize the number of clicks you get based on your budget. Enter the maximum amount you want to spend per day (the actual amount may vary up to 20% on any one day, but over the month it will even out). Click the Advanced options if you want to bid based on conversions (if you have Google Analytics set up). You can also bid based on impressions if you are using the Display network.
  7. Ad extensions: Extensions are optional. Click Location to have your business address and phone number show up with your ad (good for local search). Click Sitelinks to have multiple links to different pages/sections in your site show up as options to searchers (you may get more traffic but it may be less targeted). Click Call to have your business phone number show up on iPhone/Android mobile phone searches. Click Social to allow people to be able to +1 your business’s Google + Page from the ad results.

Click the Save and Continue button when you have finished making all your settings choices. Remember, you can go back and change these at a later time.

Creating your first AdWords Ad Group and writing your first ad are the next step, which we’ll cover next week.

Happy New Year!