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6 SEO Tips and Tricks for the Holiday Season

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It’s that time of the year again. The holiday season is here! Did you conform your website to it yet? The holidays may be the biggest sales month for most eCommerce and retail companies but getting your customers’ attention above all the promotional noise and web clutter around this time of year is a lot of work. Raising the bar with a resounding, authoritative voice may mean the difference between gaining a customer and pushing him to your competition.

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To get your website ready for this holiday season:

1. Piggy Back on Your Competition

It’s a simple concept: If you want to surpass your competitors this holiday season, you first need to know what they are doing and what marketing strategies they are using. The first step is to get an idea of the keywords they are targeting. To do this, you can use a tool like Mozbar or SEMrush. The next step is to have a look at their backlinks. This can give you a pretty good idea of the sorts of where they are building a relationship, and if it would be worth it for you to do the same for your own website. Handy tools you can use for this purpose include Open Site Explorer and Mondovo’s Link Research Tool.

2. Conduct your own Keyword Research

You can use the list of keywords that you’ve gathered above as a “seed list” that will help you get started with your own KW research. This way, you’ll be able to target the keywords that they are targeting as well as fill the gaps in their keyword strategy.

The key is to not get seduced by high volume phrases. Target a good mix of short, medium and long tail keyword phrases. For long tail keywords, you can use the idea: Seasonal word + Your product + Your city area plus other variations of this phrase.

3. Begin Content Marketing

The holiday season is a surefire period of consumer spending but to capture the attention of people during one of the busiest times of the year, you need a strong content marketing strategy. The challenge is to strike a balance between producing content that your consumers will want to talk about and link to, and that also aids the sales funnel. You can kick start the process by creating an editorial calendar to push holiday-related content at the right times and in the right places.

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How to Find Popular Keywords Using Wikipedia

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It doesn’t matter what niche you are in or what business model you are following; if you want your business to succeed online, you need to do keyword research.

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It’s not only about SEO; it’s about what your customers want. If they cannot find what they want on your page, you can forget about making a sale, getting a lead or even getting a click on your ads, no matter where they came from.

A lot of software and services are available to help you with keyword research, like this one. However, you can also do the research ‘manually’, using Wikipedia. And this is exactly what this article is about! It’s not a conventional way to do keyword research (I don’t see it being discussed on Internet marketing and SEO forums for some reason), but it does result in a lot of high-quality keywords.

Tip #1: The SERP

Okay, this one doesn’t really involve using Wikipedia itself, but it is a big part of the method. Adding the word ‘wikipedia’ to your topic results in informative pages being displayed in the SERPs.

For example: carpet cleaning wikipedia

Instead of being presented with all sorts of carpet cleaning services in the area, I am getting a page full of informative keywords. You should look both at the page titles and descriptions.

carpet-cleaning-wikipedia-Google-Search

In my example, I came up with:

carpet cleaning

rug cleaning

rug cleaner

truckmount carpet cleaner

steam cleaning

vapor steam cleaner

hot water extraction vs steam cleaning

steam mop

Not bad for 90 seconds of work! And that’s without scrolling down past the first 6 results!

Tip #2: Use Wikipedia Search

The heading is pretty self-explanatory. Go to the Wikipedia main page and perform a search on your topic. The page talking about your topic should contain keywords related to your niche.

Performing a quick search on “suits” resulted into the following keywords:

lounge suit

business suits

dinner suits

black tie

design

cut

bespoke

made to measure

ready-to-wear

And again, I didn’t even have to scroll down to find these.

The takeaway here is this: Wikipedia articles are keyword mines. If you invest some time looking, you will find some nice keywords out there.

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How to Create Content That Your Audience Wants

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Market research was once a concept only big companies grasped; if you weren’t a Fortune 1000 brand, customer research was something either you didn’t have to worry about or you couldn’t afford. But with advances in digital marketing over the last decade or so, even the smallest businesses now have access to market research technology to routinely test ideas before they take them to the market. This is particularly helpful for businesses to develop products and services that won’t fall flat and will steer the growth of a business and its impact in a favorable direction.

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The Definition of Market Research and its Application in Content Marketing

According to Entrepreneur, market research is the process of gathering, analyzing and interpreting intelligence pertaining to a market before a product or service is pushed to potential customers. This information looks at the past and present characteristics of a business’s target market and establishes whether or not a particular product or service will fall flat in the market or drive business growth.

In content marketing, a solid market research campaign does two things:

- It decodes what kind of content your target audience wants

In content marketing, understanding your audience is key to creating content that will resonate with potential customers. Market research helps you answer vital questions such as:

  • Who are your customers?
  • Where do they hang out online?
  • What are their most pressing concerns?
  • What do they look for in a business before making a purchase?
  • What are they saying about you to their peers?

- It helps you create more valuable content

Knowing what your audience wants can help you focus more on your content. You can produce more of the kind of content your potential customers want and less of what they won’t read because it’s not pertinent to their needs or problems.

All in all, market research can clearly have a profound impact on the way that you do business.

4 Ways to Research What Your Target Audience Wants

1. Stalk your Competitors

A ridiculously simple way to do audience research to steer your content marketing in the right direction is to see what your competition is doing. Both business and SEO are competitive activities so it does not matter whether you seek to drive your business sales or move your website rankings up the SERPs; looking at your competition to see if you’re doing it right and tapping into their deficiencies is the one of the best ways to drive click-throughs, traffic and conversions.

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Local Search Engine Optimization for Businesses

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In the past, only websites that had the resources to gather a lot of links were seen on Page 1. Local search can be viewed as an opportunity that search engines give to small businesses to shine. In 2014, with the right optimizations in the right places, small businesses can reach their customers pretty easily without having to invest the big bucks into SEO.

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See, 80% of people want their search requests to be made according to their specific location, according to some research conducted by some of Google’s friends.

Consumers don’t really care about how popular a website is worldwide anymore. They want to know where they can eat, or which service professional can help them in the next few minutes. And to satisfy these consumers (who are also the people who make the search engines money), the SEs had to make their results more relevant…more local.

So if you have a business and want the local people to find you more easily, this article will show you just that!

It all Starts With your Website

Most SEO experts would agree that SEO work should begin within the website first. This applies to local SEO as well.

The biggest tip we can give you for local SEO? Build and optimize a landing page for each and every location you service. This applies whether you own 1 local shop or a chain of them.

Every page should have proper title and meta tags. Then of course the business name, address and phone number. Keep those consistent wherever you are posting them (don’t use 23 Reagent Street, Cashmere on your website and 23 Reagent St., CSH on a local business listing site – use the same address and phone number format everywhere). A Google Maps of your location is a good idea, too.

One of the biggest challenges is writing unique content for each page providing the same service. The solution: Since you are writing a page for each area, why not write something about the area? Write about the landmarks, memorable events, parks, etc. as part of the content.

Last but not least, optimize the URL. Like this: https://www.myservice.com/410033-Cashmere

Last tip for this section: Use pictures that people will resonate with. A picture of your store with some known buildings on its side will help reduce the bounce rate. And if you can make a video showing the surroundings, even better!

Make Ads ‘Localized’

If you are using paid ads to drive traffic to your website, make sure to optimize them as well for the area (zip code, city or even street name). Make it easy for them to reach you.

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60% of the people prefer using the ‘Call’ or ‘Get directions’ buttons directly from the ad rather than clicking through to the website itself, according to this data.

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6 Companies that are Getting Content Marketing Right

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The web is home to over 60 trillion individual pages. For a typical query, there are thousands (if not millions) of webpages with helpful information. As such, marketing today is about relationships. The way to do this is creating content that stands out.

content-marketing-examples

By definition, content marketing is the science and art of producing content that builds trust and authority in your industry.

Standout Examples of Good Content Marketing

1. Lush Digital Media’s LTV video series

The LTV- Leadership-Thought-Vision video series by Lush Digital Media is content marketing that stands out. Every fortnight, interviews with some of the biggest “Thought Leaders” today from a wide variety of industries including government, technology and healthcare, are published on the agency’s YouTube channel. There is no pitch there! It’s just great information to inspire motivation. The fortnightly dose becomes addictive!

LTV- Leadership-Thought-Vision-video-series

The take-away: Provide value content. It’s not all about selling.

2. ‘The Epic Split’ by Volvo Trucks

A live test aimed at demonstrating the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic Steering, the Jean-Claude Van Damme stunt video from Volvo Trucks is majestic, powerful and visually spectacular to watch. It was the season finale of a series of 6 stunt videos by Volvo Trucks last year to test the quality of its trucks. Compared to its previous video ads (which have been documentary-style), last year Volvo Trucks invited several guest stars including World Champion slackliner Faith Dickey and Hollywood legacy Jean-Claude Van Damme to realize the ultimate ad for Volvo Trucks.

The take-away: Think outside the box.

3. Google Doodles

Doodles are fun and spontaneous variations of the Google logo to mark holidays and other special events such as anniversaries and the lives of famous people including scientists, artists and pioneers.

Google-Doodles

The first Google doodle was produced for Bastille Day in 2000. It was so well received by users of the search engine that over years, Google has created over 2000 doodles. And while for the most part, a team of illustrators and Google engineers are behind every doodle we see, users can email their ideas to proposals@google.com.

Google Doodles has turned into a much-loved tradition and makes an outstanding example of engaging content marketing.

The take-away: Ask and you shall receive. Your audience wants to feel like they belong.

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Negative SEO | Keeping an Eye Out for the Saboteurs of Search

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Negative search engine optimization! Does it really happen? Can someone who understands the rules of search actually use them not constructively but destructively to sabotage a website’s rankings up the search engine results? If so, should you be worried? And what can you do to protect yourself from potential search saboteurs?

negative-seo

Those are all excellent questions for any online business relying on Google searches for traffic. So let’s talk about negative SEO and shed some light on the subject.

The Concept of Negative SEO

Negative SEO is the name given to the process when someone (a search saboteur or a competitor) makes an attempt to lower a website’s rankings in the search engine results.

But does it really work?

Hypothetically, if a new website gains thousands of links over the course of a weekend, the site will look like it’s engaging in unnatural link building and pushing its rankings up the SERPs artificially; a tactic known to attract the disfavor of the major search engines including Google in a post-Penguin world. In response, it is highly likely that Google’s search algorithms will punish such a website by pushing the offending website pages into the deep invisible layers of the SERPs.

So, if buying or selling links and excessive link exchanges you engage in can harm your website rankings in the SERPs, it follows that similar unnatural links created by a search saboteur can have the same negative effect.

As a matter of fact, prior to January 2003, Google had statement on one of its website pages. It read:

“There is nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index.”

In 2003, that statement was modified. It now reads:

“There is almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking….”

Clearly negative SEO is a real threat and under certain circumstances, it is actually possible for someone with a vindictive agenda to harm your website by, say, changing your robots.txt file so the search engines don’t crawl your website anymore. As for negative SEO via link building, Google has things included in its algorithms to help them determine whether links are self-made or not and ensure that a competitor cannot hurt your site rankings in the search engine results. But even Google admits that they may not get things 100% right all the time.

The conclusion: Negative SEO is real and if you see a situation where you feel that negative SEO is actually being effective, it does not help to bury your head in the sand. You need to recognize the warning signs.

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How to Optimize Content Length for Maximum Engagement

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Blog Posts

One thing bloggers are often conflicted about is this: How long should my blog posts be? The answer is: It depends. The blogging community is divided on the issue and with good reason. At the end of the day, it depends on what you hope to accomplish through your blog.

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The Case for Short Blog Posts

Short blog posts (posts with 200-400 words) have many supporters. In truth, these are perfectly acceptable for a blog aimed at selling a particular product or service. These short blog posts are effective because you get straight to the point with a clear call to action. And because people tend to have short attention spans, you want to get to the point before they forget why they are on your blog.

If you need inspiration on how to properly construct a short blog post, the flawless approach of Seth Godin and David Vandagriff might be of great help. Conveying high quality and valuable information that will inspire interest and trust in 300 words or less can be deceptively challenging.

The Case for Long Blog Posts

In contrast to people who endorse short blog posts and make them work are those who are of the opinion that longer blog posts are meatier. We’re talking about 1,000 words or more here.

The question is: If short posts work, why would anyone sit down and write content with 1,000 words and above?

The answer is simple: It’s good for search engine optimization.

According to a research by serpIQ, for most SERPs, at least 1500 words for blog posts is a good target.

The reasoning: For some years now, Google has been trying to favor fully fleshed out site with a lot of quality content. With longer posts, you have more flexibility with keywords. So in a typical 1,500-word blog post, it’s highly likely that you’ll include a lot of keywords that may not be specific but still related to the theme of your post as compared to limiting yourself to one or two specific keywords. To Google, this will qualify as content designed to provide valuable information to users rather than please bots.

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