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Everything You Need to Know about Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update Rolling Out on April 21

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Every year Google makes hundreds of changes to its search algorithm. The motivation is always the same- to deliver the best results possible to users. This year, Google announced a major update that will affect search results in significant ways. The announcement was made on February 26, 2015 on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, an unusual move by the search engine in that most algorithm updates come with little or no warning. For search marketers, knowing the specific details of the change as well as an exact roll out date is helpful to improve search engine optimization.

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About the Algorithmic Update Rolling Out on April 21

In an effort to deliver the best possible results to the increasing number of mobile users, Google is expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor starting April 21. Once rolled out, the algorithmic change is expected to affect mobile queries in all languages and have an impact more significant than both Google Panda and Google Penguin. At the time of the announcement, Google also talked about App Indexing for a better search experience. So the mobile-friendly update by Google will include two important changes to help users find the most relevant and timely mobile-friendly search results:

  • More high quality mobile-friendly websites in search results

  • More relevant content from indexed apps in search results

6 Things You Need to Know about Google’s Upcoming Mobile-Friendly Update

1. The Changes Google is Making on April 21

Recently, we’ve seen Google test out many changes to apps, Google Play and the presentation of mobile-friendly results up the SERPs. We also saw the search engine giant add Mobile Usability Report in Google Webmaster Tools and send warnings to webmasters with non-mobile friendly sites. Clearly these changes were in preparation for the 4/21 update. At core though, Google just wants users to have a great online experience and adapting to the new mobile usage patterns, the search engine seeks to improve mobile online experiences. So just give your users a great experience and Google will reward your efforts.

2. Will the update affect your desktop rankings too?

On a panel at SMX Munich, Zineb Ait Bahajji from Google answered this question with a non-hesitant no. This leads to the rational conclusion that Google will launch a new mobile crawler to parse, index, and evaluate mobile search results without desktop repercussions

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Local SEO Tips & Tricks for Multi-Location Pages

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Today’s search engine optimization strategies have mutated drastically, in order to keep up with Google’s ever-changing algorithms. Although national SEO is crucial, local marketing strategies offer a majorly viable source of traffic and potential income. In fact, some businesses will gain more profitability, by catering to a local audience, instead of focusing on the national market.

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Of course, in order to do this, it is imperative to follow the appropriate steps to optimize pages for your local state, city and general region. There are innumerable ways to reap the benefits. These methods will be discussed in-depth below.

Building Specific Pages for Individualized Locations

In order to rank appropriately, within your local market, it is of the utmost importance to target these areas using suitable content. By utilizing location pages and URLs for each specific city and state, you’ll certainly rank better. There are numerous advantages of building distinguished pages for each city, since you can actually optimize each page for the search engine. When you set up a page for your specific city and state, you’ll want to rely on the standard SEO guidelines for optimizing and ranking that page.

  • Use appropriate H1 tags

  • Page titles are crucial

  • Geo-specific keywords in content

  • Use localized URLs

  • Local keywords in IMG tags, when possible

Although it is possible to build content for each individual page quickly, it is advised to do so in a measured manner, in order to ensure that each page is unique. If you have specific operational hours, testimonials or reviews for a particular location, make sure to delegate these to the specific localized page. Once all pages have met a conclusion, ensure that they’re linked together in one form of another. For instance, you can build a main page, which acts as a base and links to the other individualized location pages.

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How to Use Internal Linking to Boost Your SEO Rankings

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Search engine optimization or SEO is a complex process that includes many different elements. This process was once much simpler, but because of the frequent search engine algorithm updates more and more people are starting to look for professional help. When someone mentions SEO or takes a closer look at some SEO company offers, they will notice that most services are focused on link building especially on backlinks or external links.

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Although these links are very important, the fact is that the updates we have mentioned before are usually focused on these links and it is very hard to find a good strategy related to external links. On the other hand, there is one element that is not much affected by these changes and has significant effect on the ranking, but yet for some reason this element is often forgotten or left out. We are talking about internal links.

Internal links are links that direct users to another part of the website or on a new page that is part of the same domain (website). These links are very helpful for the users because they enable them to find what they are looking for fast. In addition, internal links can be very helpful for those who want to improve search engine rankings. In other words, with a proper internal link strategy you can expect longer visits and better rankings.

Where and How Can We Use Internal Links?

1. Use Your Footer

Many website owners don’t pay much attention to the footer although this area can be very useful when it comes to attracting organic search traffic. The website footer is much more than a place where you place a copyright notice and basic info about the creator of the website. This place should be used to improve user experience and assist users who are looking for fast access to the wanted information.

2. Use your Sidebar

If you want to start a successful SEO campaign, you should know that every element of a website can be used for better ranking. The sidebar is another element that can make a difference in your website’s success. Many people use the sidebar to place links or icons that actually direct people from their website to another place – affiliate links, ads, buttons to their social media profiles etc.

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How to Create a Mobile-Friendly Website for Your Visitors

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Let’s start this post with a little exercise. Using a mobile device, access your website.

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What do you see?

  • Can you access the pages easily?
  • Can you read the pages easily?
  • Can you find all the important information?
  • Is it hard to use?

Here is the deal: the desktop version of a website might look great but unless it’s mobile-friendly, it might be difficult to view and use on a mobile device, requiring the user to constantly pinch and zoom to consume content. This can lead to a frustrating user experience and subsequently the visitors abandon the site for greener pastures in the form of your competitor’s mobile-friendly site, which is readable and therefore immediately usable.

Did you know that, in the United States, 94% of people use their smartphone to search for local information? Even more interesting is the fact that 77% of mobile searches occur at places where desktop computers are available, namely at home and at work. The translation of these statistics is simple: Whether you are selling products to people or you are running a business blog to build trust and authority among your potential buyers, mobile is critical to your business and your website needs to provide a good experience for users, whether they are using their desktop computer to access it or their mobile devices.

But how can you optimize a website to look good and offer users a full mobile experience?

1. Make your Website Easy to Use for Customers

If you are a large men’s athletic footwear store, your goal is to make it easy for potential customers to complete certain tasks. For example, you may want customers to:

  • Pick your site from the SERPs after searching for shoes or men’s athletic footwear to buy
  • Browse through your selection of products
  • Check out your blog posts and product reviews
  • Get your local address
  • And ultimately purchase some men’s sneakers or men’s tennis shoes

Outline these tasks and design your website so it streamlines the process for users and help them complete these tasks through a minimum number of user interactions. At the end of the day, designing a site to be mobile-friendly is based on the principle of prioritization. Once you know the most important tasks your customers perform on mobile, your site should be designed to support these tasks and support ease of use too. The quality of a mobile site matters!

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How to Put Together a Homepage that Converts

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Here is the deal: If you own a website that you use to build authority amongst your customers and/or drive sales, the first impression you make matters. This makes your website’s homepage one of the most important (if not the most important) page on your website. The need to get its design right stems from two considerations:

  • A website’s homepage is where most of a website’s traffic lands that you hope to convert into leads and sales
  • Once a visitor lands on your homepage, the first impression is formed and you probably won’t get a second chance to make a first impression

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But what makes a great looking homepage that also converts as much of the traffic it receives as possible?

1. A good homepage clearly answers the questions of who you are and what you’re offering

Unless you are a company or brand with as much reach and impact as Coca-Cola or say Nike, your homepage needs to clearly answer the questions of who you are and what you do. The reason for this lies in the fact that you need to assure visitors who land on your website that they are in the right place and do so very early on so they don’t bounce. 

2. It resonates with the target audience

Your homepage also needs to resonate with your target audience in being fairly narrowly focused and communicating with people using the right language. Take a look at these two homepages:

Both are brilliant in that they use clear heads and subheads with no use of jargon and the content avoids corporate Gobbledygook.

3. It looks great

This one is a no-brainer. A website’s homepage should be designed to impress. The challenge it seems is for businesses to keep it simple. After all, what you want to do here is to provide a good and memorable user experience for visitors but not reinvent the wheel per se. To that end, choose a simple layout and the right color scheme. Include the critical elements that make a good homepage such as:

  • A headline
  • A sub-headline
  • Benefits
  • Your primary CTAs
  • Features
  • Customer proof
  • Success indicators
  • Navigation
  • Supporting images
  • Content offer
  • Links to useful resources
  • And secondary CTAs

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The Dos & Don’ts of Outsourcing Content

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For some time now, consumers have become quite adept at shutting out the world of traditional marketing. For example:

  • We skip television advertising
  • We ignore magazine advertising
  • And we stay clear of banners or buttons on websites

Obviously, traditional marketing is a lot less effective today than it used to be and it’s becoming more so by the minute introducing a need for marketers to find better ways to get through to potential consumers.

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Enter content marketing!

By definition, content marketing is the strategy of producing and publishing content to:

  1. Build trust and authority among customers
  2. Build relationships and a community around your brand
  3. Become established as a thought leader in your industry
  4. And drive profitable customer action

Quality content is today at the core of most forms of marketing including social media marketing, search marketing, PR and PPC. The challenge it seems is to be able to generate an unending stream of fresh, unique and valuable content.

And let’s face it, that’s a big task! Therefore, the need to produce enough content and the need to produce engaging content that gets read and shared often drives marketers to outsource their content writing as a solution to problem of limited time and resources to get the task done in-house. The key to success is to know the dos and don’ts of outsourcing content.

1. Do Your Due Diligence

When outsourcing content, the first task is to know where to look for writers. The world is full of great writers and a few well-known sites where they hang out include Elance, oDesk and People Per Hour. The challenge is to find a reputable writer and that’s not going to happen if you accept the cheapest bids. In addition to writers on freelance sites, students also make good writers. An example of this is UK-based Studentgems, which can be more expensive than Elance but the writers are more enthusiastic and talented. As with most aspects of marketing, when looking for a writer, research is key to making a good and informed decision.

2. Make Sure They do their Due Diligence

So you did your research and found a few potentially good writers with the writing skills you need. Next up is making contact with them. Beware of any writer who doesn’t ask smart questions about the scope of your content marketing strategy. If they don’t collect necessary information, they will most certainly fail to meet your expectations.

3. Be Specific about Your Instructions

But you also need to be specific about the information you give to your writers. As a rule of thumb, the more specific the instructions, the better the copy they’ll produce. So don’t be afraid to arrange a Skype call for any small detail or linking out to a competitor’s website. This can make a difference in making sure your writer is on the same page as you from the very beginning. You also need to be specific about your SEO requirements including the keywords you are targeting.

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A Guide to Understanding What Bounce Rate is & How to Lower it

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According to Google, bounce rate is a website metric indicative of the percentage of sessions in which people leave your site after interacting with the entrance page. Most often, when you own a website, you want visitors to somehow “convert” either by clicking through to buy something, fill out a form or read more. If your website has a high bounce rate, this could mean one of three things:

  • Either your website has design and/or usability issues
  • Or you are attracting the wrong kind of traffic
  • Or you attracting exactly the right kind of traffic and users are finding the information they need on the entrance page itself and ergo have no reason to click through to the other pages of your website

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In truth, a number of factors can contribute to a high bounce rate. These include:

1. Your website has only one page

If your website only has one page, analytics software such as Google Analytics do not register multiple page views unless the page is reloaded several times. Consequently, it’s not uncommon for single-page sites to acquire high bounce rates.

2. Your web tracking code setup is not working

For a multiple-page site, a high bounce rate could be indicative that the Google Analytics tracking code on your website has not been implemented correctly. To make sure you are collecting data, you will need to review the set up.

3. Site design

If all your website pages bear the tracking code and your site’s bounce rate is still high, the problem could lie in the design of your website. A few things to consider include:

  • Redesigning your landing pages
  • Optimizing the pages so they attract the right kind of visitors
  • Changing your target keywords around to better reflect page content
  • And optimizing your website with a fresh and unending stream of quality content

4. User behavior

Last but not the least, sometimes a high bounce rate has nothing to do with your website and everything to do with user behavior. For example, if a user bookmarks a page of your website and returns to it several times over the next couple of weeks, each session is considered a bounce.

How to improve your bounce rate

Because both the design of your website and its Google Analytics set up can have an impact on your bounce rate, improving this website metric is contingent upon making certain very specific changes that will be as individual as your business itself. The key to success is to analyze specific data and consequently adjust factors that are contributing to your bounce rate. To name a few:

1. Attract the right kinds of visitors

To reduce a website’s bounce rate, a valuable approach is to optimize the pages so they correlate better with search terms. The process starts with choosing the right keywords to target and maintaining top rankings up the SERPs for those keywords. Also consider creating multiple landing pages, each with unique content created around a branded term and aimed at different types of visitors.

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