Search Engine Marketing
Sunday, September 12th, 2010
If you have a particular blog post that is getting a lot of search traffic, it might interest you in turning the blog post into it’s own website. There are many reasons why it could be beneficial to do so. One reason is that it can allow you a way to expand on targeting further related keywords based on the primary set of keywords the blog post is already ranking for. Another reason is that the general topic of the article could be expanded into it’s own blog. The key thing to know is that if you have a blog post that is consistently receiving traffic, it is possible to convert the post into a website. In this post, I will show you how it can be done.
A few conditions need to be assumed prior to following these steps. Number one, your blog needs to be a self-hosted WordPress blog. Secondly, you need to have modified your permalink structure to %postname%/. WordPress is database driven and creates dynamic urls. Meaning, pages do not physically exist on your server. Instead, they are dynamically created. For example, if you have a post with the url http://www.yourblog.com/my-post-about-dogs/ in theory, this should exist on your server here: public_html/my-post-about-dogs/index.php. But, if you FTP into your server, you will see that this does not exist.
And that’s the trick. This is how you can convert the blog post into it’s own site or even separate blog. In order to do this, you need to login to FTP and create the physical directory that WordPress has created dynamically, and either upload an index.php file, or simply install a new WordPress blog inside the directory. The beauty of this trick is that even though you have overridden the existing dynamic structure with a physical directory and file(s), the existing dynamic reference is still maintained within the original WordPress install.
That means your existing blog post will still show up in all of the sections in your blog. Formally, if it was still appearing on the home page, even after you override the post by manually uploading a directory and index file, it will still appear on your original blog home page. The same applies to the post reference from the archive, category, search, and tag sections. However, when the post title is clicked on, instead of the original post being loaded, the newly uploaded section will load instead. If you simply uploaded a directory with index.php file, the index.php file will load. If you decided to install WordPress inside the directory, the home page of the newly installed blog will load instead.
The above screen shot shows a blog post I wrote about pizza coupons and specials. The post picked up a lot of traffic in Google so I decided to override the post with a physical php file instead. The dynamically generated URL for this post is http://www.garryconn.com/pizza-hut-specials-coupons.php.
So, in order to optimize this page and capitalize on the traffic, I created my own web page from scratch, saved the file as pizza-hut-specials-coupons.php and uploaded it to the root directory of my server. (i.e. public_html/pizza-hut-specials-coupons.php).
Once I did that, the physical file overrode the existing dynamic file. The end result is now I have my own specially created web page that maintains the same permalink structure as the dynamically created one by WordPress.
Above, I had mentioned that you can do this if your WordPress permalink structure is set to %postname%/, this can also be done if you have it set other ways such as %postname%.php. The key is the make sure that your permalink structure is not set to default: ?p=123. The reason is because you will not be able to manually upload physical files to your server.
I hope all this makes sense. If you have any questions about how to do this, feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll provide assistance as soon as I can.
Friday, September 10th, 2010
When you’re optimizing your website for the search engines, one of the things you’ll likely be doing is adding new content to target various keywords and keep your site fresh. Make no mistake, content is certainly important for building a well-ranking website, and there are many business websites out there that have hundreds of pages on them for SEO purposes.
If done properly, having a content-rich website can not only help you rank well for an assortment of important keywords, but it can also improve your website’s usability by giving your visitors access to all the information they need to make their buying decision.
Unfortunately, it’s not always done right.
As you probably know, I’m a freelance copywriter, and a lot of my work involves SEO projects. Many times, I work with SEO companies and clients who want to add content to their website for the purposes listed above. And while I’m happy to take the work (and the money), I often wonder: Does anyone ever stop and ask, “Do I really need that page?”
When optimizing your website, it can be really easy to fall into the trap of saying “We need a page for that too” any time someone mentions a possible keyword, new service area, or whatever else. And when all is said and done, you end up with a ton of pages on your website, but are they actually necessary? And are they worth the time and investment?
If you’re thinking about adding more pages to your website, my suggestion is to ask yourself these questions first, so you can determine if the page is truly needed.
- Have I really done my keyword research? It’s shocking how often people just guess as to which keywords they should be targeting. Some companies (and even SEOs who should know better) hear a keyword that sounds logical and automatically assume people are searching for it. But that’s not always the case. Never add a page to your website for keyword-targeting purposes until you’ve done your research and verified that your customers are searching for it.
- How will the page help users? At the end of the day, it’s all about your users. If adding a new page helps them find the information they need or gives them an extra resource, by all means, add it to your website. But if the page is just repeating what they can find everywhere else on your website, I’d think twice before adding it.
- Where will the page go on the website? Are you going to have to add a new tab in your navigation for the page? Or will it fit neatly in one of the sections already on your website? When you start adding a lot of content to your website, it’s important that you really focus on keeping everything neat and organized. Otherwise, you could end up with a monster.
Thursday, September 9th, 2010
Immediately after I caught wind of Google Instant, I started researching and observing the reactions from other people within the SEO community. If you haven’t heard about Google Instant yet, let me brief you quickly:
Direct from Google:
“Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. We are pushing the limits of our technology and infrastructure to help you get better search results, faster. Our key technical insight was that people type slowly, but read quickly, typically taking 300 milliseconds between keystrokes, but only 30 milliseconds (a tenth of the time!) to glance at another part of the page. This means that you can scan a results page while you type.”
You can read more about Google Instant here.
Much like any of the past changes that occurs with Google, many people who have a vested or personal interest in SEO tend to get concerned. I honestly feel the pain, especially when there are situations that I feel will have a profound affect on my own SEO business ventures. The key concern is if Google Instant will Kill SEO? To give some remote rest to your mind, I am one who doesn’t think it will. That said, I do, however, think it will create purge effect on how SEO’s approach their goals.
In this post, I’d like to publish my thoughts on how I think Google Instant will change SEO. The points I make both bring opportunities as well as challenges to the table. The newly found opportunities, I feel, are things that were once challenges, and ironically, the things that typically came easy in the past, are actually things that I now believe are going to become challenges. In all honestly, I see it as simple as that. Nothing less, and nothing more.
To begin with, I feel it’s now more important than ever to make sure that your listings ranks above the top fold, and look good. Google Instant is all about helping speed things up for people. In part of this process, Google Instant places a lot of focus on keeping people off the second and third page results. Instead of viewing additional pages, Google is directing people to adjust their query in the search bar. So, when your listing does pull up in a predicted query result, it’s vitally important that it pulls up above the top fold and looks appealing. Publishers should revisit the first few sentences of their content. Especially, the content directly below header tags. Also, meta descriptions should be looked at as well.
As mentioned above, Google Instant is being advertised as something that will help speed up searches. But, in my opinion, this is also something that Google has developed to help increase AdWords revenue. If part of their goal is to keep people off the second and third page results, then that inadvertently places an increased focus on sponsored listings. So, if you focus on ranking well in organic search, this is going to make your job a little more difficult simply because the sponsored ads are going to look even better than before.
On the contrary, Google Instant may be useful for search engine marketers simply because it reveals the keywords Google is suggesting to users. Basically, this gives marketers a roadmap on precisely which keywords to target. Doing a basic search for single keyword reveal the most popular long-tail keyword phrases suggested. From there, these popular long-tail keyword phrases can be investigated to see if it’s worth the effort to target.
Another reason why Google Instant can offer great opportunities for online publishers who monetize their content is because people who formally have been bidding on long-tail keywords in AdWords may soon conclude that they will need to start bidding on more primary keywords and phrases due to the fact that their existing long-tail targeted ads may take a dip in exposure. In other words, publishers who have the resources and ability to pull organic rankings for keywords higher up the food chain may start to see a higher the payoff than before.
Another benefit to Google Insight is that it’s being marketing as a service that caters to less computer savvy people. Inadvertently, this means that people who choose to use the service are also more likely to be what I call, “Click Happy.” In other words, you may start to discover that the traffic Google Instant sends your way will be more of people who are unaware of what is user generated content and what is contextual ad based content. In other words, the traffic that Google Instant sends your way can very well lead to a higher concentration of “Click Happy” people. This is great for people who monetize their sites with programs such as AdSense.
Ultimately, it’s my opinion that Google has created a system that does allow people to save time performing searches. But I feel that it’s also a system that allows people to think less for themselves. It’s a system that influences people by offering suggestions towards what to search for. Secondly, it’s a system that optimizes sponsored listings and ultimately helps Google continue to increase revenue with AdWords. This again is due to the increased probability that users will click on the sponsored listings instead of the organic ones.
All that said, I believe that Google Instant will make SEO easier as well as more difficult at the same time. The simple fact that Google reveals the most popular keyword phrases allows SEO’s to know exactly which keywords to chase. Simple research based on these discoveries will allow SEO’s to determine if it’s worth their time to target them.
Another thing to consider is that it is now very important to focus less on targeting broader ranges of keyword terms within your content. This is something that I have already been doing for many years. In other words, in most cases, what you see in my <title></title>, <H1></H1>, and <H2></H2>, are typically the actual keyword phrases I am targeting. On the contrary, many other marketers tend to focus on targeting secondary keywords within their content as well. In the past, this has proven to work quite well. The way I feel about that is basically, content is material, and just like with any job, it’s always best to control the amount of resources consumed to complete a goal or task. Writing content is a controllable business expense. So, in the past, publishers could easily kill two birds with stone, by targeting multiple keywords and phrases in one copy. Again, many years ago, this was a focus of mine as well. But, in recent years I have decided to write content with the sole purpose of ranking for specific keywords I want, and let the chips fall where they may on anything extra.
Prior to Google Instant, I know that my content did attract an undetermined amount of traffic inadvertently through secondary long-tail keyword targeting. However, I feel now it’s more important than before to place more focus on targeting primary keyword phrases per page rather than both. Once again, the reason being is that people are going to be more critical when it comes to clicking on the results shown. People will be more susceptible to click on listings that have an exact title and description match to the keyword phrase being searched. My point is this. I think that Google Instant will cause publishers to write more content in order to continue experiencing success with gaining traffic organically. The issue at hand is not ranking top fold for the keywords, but more so with attempting to control and mold how Google displays the listing organically. In other words, I feel more content will need to be written in order to customize the results in a way that continues to appeal to people.
On the same note of difficulty, I also think Google Instant may actually makes things more challenging for SEO’s simply for the fact that popular keywords are going to have a surge of newly added competition. Because popular phrases and long-tail keywords are now visible to everyone, the job for ranking for these terms may become more difficult as they are no longer a speculation or even mystery. Now that these predicted search queries are visible, there will be an increase in the number of people targeting them.
Overall, it’s easy to see the debate regarding Google Instant. Will it kill SEO? I am one who doesn’t think so. However, I do believe that it will cause people to adjust their approach. I see Google Instant as something that will bring many things forward that were once difficult. And I see it as being something that will push back the things that were once easy. All in all, I don’t think Google Instant is an SEO killer, but more so an SEO purge. Meaning, anyone is the business of SEO needs to recognize that things can and will change. Further more, those who continue or begin to find success are those who accept, adapt, and adjust to change. These same rules apply largely to any form of business, or general life experience. Change is good. And success comes to those who easily adapt and adjust to it.
What are your thoughts? Is Google Instant a Dream Come True or a Nightmare For SEO?
Monday, June 21st, 2010
Yeah. Yeah. I already know what you’re saying.
“Why are you talking about meta tags? They don’t affect a website’s search rankings. They aren’t really important at all.”
While they don’t have an impact on where your site ranks in the search engines, meta tags (particularly description) are still important. Remember, this is what searchers see when they’re looking for your products and services. This is your first introduction to a potential buyer, and it’s your chance to convince them to come visit your website.
So, how can you write a meta description that attracts your target audience and gets people to click?
- Use keywords, but don’t focus on that—Again, placing the keywords in your meta description isn’t important for SEO purposes. Your website will rank the same whether the terms are in the description or not. However, there still is an important reason to use keywords in your description when possible.
The keywords let the searcher know that you have what they’re looking for. For example, if they Googled “Red Trek mountain bikes” and you have “Red Trek mountain bikes” in your description, it tells the searcher they need to go to your website to find what they need.
Having said that, this doesn’t mean you should stuff your meta descriptions full of keywords. It’s all about using them naturally. If you force the keywords in there, the copy will be difficult to read, and searchers won’t click.
- Use strong words—With 10 organic search results and a few paid search results on the page, why should searchers click your website over all the others? They need motivation. You need to use strong, motivating words that get people excited enough to click on your website.
Some good words to use include “discover”, “get”, “receive”, “today”, “free”, etc.
- Be clear in your description—The main purpose of the meta description is to, well, describe what your page is about. You want to attract qualified traffic that won’t bounce at absurdly high rates.
To do this, your description needs to be as accurate as possible. Don’t use gimmicks to get people to come to your website. Don’t use jargon. Don’t try to be clever. Be clear and concise. And give people a good reason to come to your website.
Take a look at your meta descriptions. Do they give searchers a reason to click on your link?
Thursday, June 17th, 2010
We’ve all seen them. The huge red headlines. The sales letter format. The yellow highlights. The intrusive testimonials. And the infomercial-style sales pitch. Of course, I’m talking about ugly landing pages.
A few years back, when I was an internet marketing noob, every time I saw one of these landing pages, I would shudder. I thought they looked like blatant spam, and I couldn’t believe visitors would actually do business on such a sketchy/ugly website.
But after time and time again seeing just how well some of these ugly landing pages convert, I had to realize that I was just wrong. The people designing and writing these landing pages know what they’re doing. Many of them are affiliate marketers whose entire living depends on getting the highest number of conversions possible, so you have to realize they’ve tried everything and have found these sales letter landing pages just flat out work. That’s all there is to it.
But why? Why do ugly landing pages convert so well?
- They have no distractions—One thing you have to admit about the sales letter landing page is that it doesn’t include anything that distracts the visitor from the main message. There isn’t any navigation, and there aren’t any unnecessary graphics. As soon as someone lands on the page, there’s only one thing for them to look at, and that is the sales message.
- They’re easy to scan—By now, you know that online readers tend to scan content rather than read it word for word. These ugly landing pages are set up perfectly to accommodate scanners. They include bolded/highlighted phrases, bullet points, subheads, and other elements that allow you to quickly scan the content without having to read everything.
- They include frequent calls to action—Too many landing pages have a buried call to action. Web users spend 80% of their time above the fold, so most visitors don’t even notice a call to action at the end of the page. That’s why it’s important to feature the call to action prominently and to repeat it regularly so visitors always have a way to take action no matter where they are on your landing page.
- The main message is repeated regularly—I hear a lot of copywriters complain about long, sales-y landing pages because they feel like they’re just repeating the same things over and over. And to an extent, that’s true. But it’s also smart. Your message might not stick in the consumer’s brain the first time they see it, but by driving the point home over and over, it can become clear and motivate them to take action.
- The testimonials verify the claims—Whether you believe the testimonials or not is irrelevant. The truth is testimonials build credibility, and consumers feel like they can trust their peers. So, whenever they see testimonials that verify the claims being made on the page, they start to think “Maybe this isn’t too good to be true.”
What do you think of ugly landing pages? What are some other reasons they work so well?