Category: SEO and Marketing

Local Business Internet Marketing ideas

Improve your local business internet marketing

Running a local small business can be a stressful exercise. You have so many jobs that you are doing, from selling your products and services, to promoting through advertising, to managing staff and systems, to merchandising and window displays and so forth. Especially when just starting out.

Your business not only needs to have the right mix of products displayed effectively, but you need to attract customers and clients through your doors. If you have plenty of passing traffic such as in a CBD main street or perhaps a popular shopping centre, then you need to focus on ways to get them to stop at your shop or store.

But if you are in a quiet strip, or a location where passing traffic isn’t enough, then you MUST focus on other types of marketing including internet marketing.

So how do you do local business internet marketing?

Start with a website, if you don’t have one yet then David Tiong Web Consultancy can help. Promoting your local business online only through a Facebook page, or through a local business online directory, should be part of your local online marketing strategy, but not replace the essential starting point of setting up your own business website.

If your website is live and well, then next up is to help people find it. Read this article to find out what you should be doing to promote your website by doing some of your own local SEO.

A recent article published on Business2Community titled “6 Internet Marketing Ideas for Your Local Small Business” give some great tips to get you started with internet marketing.


1. Verify and Promote Your Google Business Listing
2. Run Facebook Ads for Your Location
3. List Your Local Small Business On Industry-Specific Portals
4. Organise Events and Post Them On Facebook
5. Create a Meetup Group
6. Create With Locals On Twitter

Read more at B2C – Business 2 Community

Here are some other quick and easy local SEO tips to add to your marketing to do list.
Write a blog on your website, include descriptive text in your web page image ALT tags, ensure consistent NAP (name, address, phone number) on all online listings of your business, create a Facebook page for your business, create “community focused” content on your website, try getting online reviews, donate to local charities and participate in local communities and forums, create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google Webmaster Tools, and make sure your website is mobile friendly.

That should get you started with your local online marketing ideas, if you need more support or don’t have time to manage your own internet marketing, then checkout our helpful services here.

Filed under: SEO and MarketingTagged with: , ,

Increase your search appearance on Google – what you should be doing

search engine ranking and marketing your website

SEO, Content Marketing and the Google Algorithm

The role that SEO, or search engine optimisation, plays in today’s online search world where Google is king, has changed completely in recent years. Google has a secret formula called the Google Algorithm that they use to determine what to display when someone types a query into the Google search bar.

“Google’s aim is to provide the most relevant results for each search based on the actual end user – i.e. the person typing in the actual search”

If you mention SEO, many people immediately think of keywords, especially ranking number 1 for popular keywords to do with their business. But what most people don’t realise is that search results now vary continuously and different results show from one search to another. Search results are not static, they are changing all the time.

The Google Algorithm is actually smart enough to know about you and how you search. Factors such as your geographic location, personal search history, social connections, and computer/mobile device you are using, all contribute to why you will see different search results to another person doing the exact same search query at the exact same time.

“SEO is an evolving process of optimising your website and webpages to be found for search queries that are relevant to your business, your brand or your target market. SEO must adjust and be responsive to changes in the way search engines work, or otherwise SEO ceases to be effective.”

As search engines grow larger and larger, the amount of information they consume is increasing. To remain relevant, current and trusted your website content must also increase. This is where Content Marketing comes into the picture, and is essentially deciding on what content your customers, clients, followers and fans need and want, creating this content, and then publishing it onto your website, your social channels and your brand outlets.

The SEO landscape has changed completely.

Search engines update continuously and the Google Algorithm undergoes tweaking and updates more frequently than most people realise, but the major updates are given names like Panda and Penguin. Online marketers and SEO companies are constantly having to adapt their strategies according to these changes to remain effective in driving traffic to websites. What worked in the past to make your website rank higher, could actually now have the opposite affect and negatively impact your search engine rankings.

SEO changing landscape

You might be wondering how to go about achieving a first page ranking, and how to rank as high as possible for as many relevant search queries. But what is often overlooked is the fact that there is no point ranking in the top spot if this doesn’t lead to conversions, especially if you’re paying big dollars to be there.

A conversion is someone who actually becomes a customer and often follows a lengthy process of multiple “touch points” or interactions. Finding your business online through a search, reading a review or testimonial about you, visiting your website, a referral, seeing one of your online ads, looking at your Facebook page, reading a blog post on your website, or a blog post about your business on another website, and any social or brand interactions are all touch points that work together to turn prospects into leads and ultimately into clients and customers.

To convert you need to be relevant and have content on your webpage that fulfills the search query. So how do you make your website rank higher on Google search for a search query? Well keyword stuffing, listing your website on hundreds of global directories for back-links, and other “black hat” tactics are no longer effective, and can lead to a Google penalty that will see all of your search traffic drop. Yet many SEO companies still make wild claims like “We’ll get you to number 1 on Google” – You’ve probably had many phone calls and emails telling you that you are missing out on hundreds of visitors or that you don’t even rank on the first page of Google.

What factors contribute to SEO that are relevant today?

There is an extensive list of actions you can take to improve your rankings. But the best approach is simply to concentrate on putting yourself into the shoes of the person doing the search. Remember afterall, that this is what Google is trying to do – provide the most contextually relevant results – to serve up on the plate what the end user actually wants to eat.

The way that a user interacts with your webpage is analysed by search engines. This is called engagement metrics and includes statistics such as how long they visited your webpage after clicking through from the search page and whether they visited other pages. If they left your website immediately then this suggests that your page did not have what they wanted, what they typed into the search query. In other words – you were not a good match for that keyword phrase. This is an important aspect of being competitive in the search results and if users find your content useful then a search engine has done its job and will be more likely to show your result next time, and maybe higher up the ranking. But the opposite is also true.

So what actions should you take?

“Well make sure that your website is user friendly – easy to navigate, use good headings and titles, write text that is easy to read and understand, make the page visually appealing with quick loading graphics, photos and images, design for multiple devices including mobiles and tablets, keep the website fresh with new content, engage people on your webpage, lead them to the content they are looking for and to the actions you want them to take. And naturally include your important and relevant keyword phrases inside all of this great content.”

Forget about a single minded focus on rankings and concentrate instead on engagement and targeting your ideal audience. Provide value to your audience both on your website and at all of your brand’s touch points by integrating content marketing into your weekly business activities. Think about the overall online branding experience and don’t just focus on one area.

Keywords for content marketing

We are starting to realise that ranking for long tail keywords (search phrases with 4 or more words) is more profitable even though there is less search traffic. Why is this?

“Because a more specific search phrase usually indicates that a user is more likely to buy or more likely to engage.”

If someone walks into a department store and asks “Where is menswear?” then they may just be looking in general. However if they ask “Where are mens business shirts?” then you know they are actually looking for something specific that they possibly want to buy today.

Here is an example of how to create keyword phrases for generating effective content for users and search engines:

Lets consider how people search on Google? If a person in the UK has heard about a place called the Gold Coast in Australia, and is curious where it is, they would type a simple search query into Google “Gold Coast Australia”. They would be expecting to find a map and some information about the area, and would learn that the Gold Coast is a city in Queensland, that stretches across 57 kilometres of beautiful beach coastline and is famous for its surf, sand and sunshine.

Now if you own a small private resort on the Gold Coast at the southern town of Coolangatta, would there be any point trying to rank for “Gold Coast Australia”? Probably not.

If a person living in Melbourne, Australia wants to go for a beach holiday to the Gold Coast, their search query might be “Gold Coast accommodation”. Most likely if your resort appeared on the first page, they would click your link, but also possibly any other links on that page. However you would spend a ridiculous amount of money trying to rank on page 1 for such a highly competitive search query, as you are competing against large accommodation booking companies. If you did get there, then your site’s traffic would increase significantly, but most likely the conversion rate would not be high enough to offset the amount spent on SEO to gain and then maintain that position. Especially if a large percentage of people typing in that search query were actually looking for the accommodation directories or the most popular town of “Surfers Paradise”. Many people would quickly “bounce” off your page, back to the search results.

Now consider a longer keyword phrase or a “targeted keyword phrase”. Your resort is located in Coolangatta beach on the Gold Coast with beach front views and is family friendly. Perhaps your facilities include kids clubs and swimming pools with waterslides and childrens pools… etc.

Publish content on your website including text phrases such as “Family friendly resort on Coolangatta beach” and “Coolangatta Resort with waterslide” and “Relaxing beachside family getaways in Coolangatta“, and you will be more likely to naturally appear on Google search for these lower competition phrases, and similar related phrases containing those keywords.

Also make sure that your web pages have great photos showing families enjoying the pool, testimonials from happy customers, facts about your facilities, and you regularly share similarly related content on your brand’s social media pages that links back to these pages on your website.

“Creating great content that is engaging for a visitor, will actually lead to an increased presence on Google search.”

The idea is to think backwards. Instead of working out a bunch of keywords to rank for and then deciding where to add them onto your website, keep your website fresh and optimise your current pages with content that is going to be useful, valuable and engaging for someone who is on your web page. Make sure that your page content contains a good mix of words about your topic, to ensure that Google fully understands semantically what your page is all about. Google will then index what your webpage is all about and include it in a search results when it “believes” it will be useful to the search query.

Headlines and Click Through Rate (CTR)

When a user types a search query into Google, the results page displays a list of snippets, each one made up of a headline, a web page URL link and a short description. To make your snippet appealing, you should think about how it looks to the person doing the search, and how it looks in amongst other snippets.

If your website appears in the search results, then this is recorded by Google as an “impression”. If a person then clicks on your link and visits your website, this is recorded by Google as a “click”.

“Click Through Rate or CTR, is a measure of the ratio of clicks to impressions and is one of the engagement metrics that is recorded by Google and used as a popularity ranking factor.”

The higher the CTR, the more often people are choosing your website in the search results, and the more traffic you have going to your website, so when you appear in a search result you really want to make your listing snippet as appealing as possible. How do you do this?

good headlines for Google click through rate

A good article should always have a great headline. The headline draws the attention of the reader, and a person’s reaction to the headline determines whether they read the article or move onto the next one. Interestingly when it comes to web pages, the headline is actually something different to the main heading on your page, but both are very important.

Your page headline is also referred to as your page title. This title is not displayed on the actual web page, but instead in the top of the browser tab.

“But most importantly, your page title appears as your headline in the Google search results page in big blue bold letters.”

It is also sometimes displayed on external websites that link to your page, such as in social media. To set your page title it must be specified in the meta <title> tag in the header of your web page, and should be descriptive, concise, and unique. Consider keeping the length of your titles to less than 60 characters, placing important keywords towards the start, and including your branding when possible and practical.

Snippets in Google search

 

Your headline needs to encourage someone to read the rest of your snippet and hopefully to then visit your website, so you must write informative and interesting titles for your web pages. As an example, lets say someone types a query into Google such as “how to learn guitar by myself“. You could make your page title / headline interesting by writing something like “Learn Guitar in 20 minutes a Day“, or “Teach Yourself to play Guitar – Learn Online”. Of course it must be relevant to your page content, but make it sound good and try to appeal to reader’s emotions.

Another aspect of your listing that is worth considering is your description, that appears under your headline and URL link. Google will often display your meta description here, otherwise some text it extracts from your website page. Include a meta description that evokes curiosity in the reader to visit your web page to read more. Make sure that the meta description is an accurate description of your page, unique, no more than 160 characters and include your important keywords.

Note that your keywords will appear in bold if they match the search query. Also Google will sometimes display the starting lines from your page’s body content rather than your meta description, so always consider what you include in your first few lines of body text on a page.

Backlinks, Links and Broken Links

What is a link? Quite simply it is a relationship between two things. If you have a link on a page then it is a reference to another location, whether that is another webpage, a file or a document. A backlink, or an inbound link, is a link from another website to your website or webpage. Broken links, as the name suggests, are links that reference a destination that no longer exists, or perhaps never did exist.

When it comes to search engines, links help create paths for discovering new content on the web as well as helping to determine a page’s popularity, so a link to your website is a vote for you. The more high quality backlinks that you have, the more popular your site is seen to Google, and so the more likely you are to appear for your keywords. Conversely if you have very few links to your website, then this suggests that your website is unpopular, or not recommended by others, so it is harder to rank for your keywords.

Google does not see every link as equal however, so some links are worth more than others and some links can even hurt your website rankings. Here is a brief outline of some link facts to be aware of (note these may change as Google changes its algorithm):

external links are stronger than internal links

links from unique domains are more valuable than more links from a website that already links to you

links from highly trusted domains or from sites that are linked to by highly trusted domains pass more value in a link to your website

create linkable content that encourages natural links from other bloggers and websites, rather than asking for links

article submissions and directory listings have been abused and overuse may lead to search engine penalties

order of links that appear on a page (links that appear earlier in a page’s code pass more ranking than links appearing later)

links inside noscript tags pass little or no value

Now what ?!??!

This hopefully gives you some insights into how you might go about improving your own rankings on Google. It’s a brief overview, but looks at the bigger picture to help you realise that marketing your website starts with you, not with paying an SEO company to “get you on Google”.

Ranking on search engines is actually really easy to do, if you forget about the “number 1” mindset and simply start creating something of value for your audience. That might be a resource information page, an instructional video on how to use one of your products, an inspiring story, an interview with an expert in your field, a collection or list that your readers would refer to often, a downloadable worksheet, or even just something really interesting and relevant.

Start brainstorming today with your team, your marketer, your friends, your family and start publishing more awesome content.

Filed under: SEO and MarketingTagged with: ,

Hints to improve your Content Marketing strategy

Tips for content marketing
For a business or brand to be found online – publish quality content online regularly

Your content must be communicating effectively, so consider what is relevant for your audience – Answer real questions, provide product and services information, talk about the latest news, be interesting and entertaining.

Adding fresh new content to your website with the aim to target your audience and increase “eyes” on your website is known as “Content Marketing”. It is as important as SEO – they go hand in hand. Since Google indexes content continuously, to enable it to provide the best response to a search query, if you want your website to appear in the search results you need to not only add fresh new content regularly, but you need to use a plan.

Here are some questions to consider when formulating your content marketing strategy.
 

Question 1: Does your headline create curiosity?

headline create curiosity for better content marketing

Hints:
When creating an effective headline, ask yourself whether or not it is “clickable”. If someone did a Google search and your headline appeared on the search results page, would it evoke enough curiosity for them to take the action of clicking on your link?

Is the headline short and clear? Try triggering emotional responses. Also include your keyword phrase if possible, as the words in your headline or title are used by Google.
 

Question 2: Where is your introduction?

every blog post should have an introduction

Hints:
Just like any piece of great writing, blog posts should contain an introduction. If you enticed your reader with your headline, then the next hurtle is to actually get them interested enough to read your article. So hook your readers in by making a bold statement, or by asking a question in your introductory paragraph.

Keep your intro short, no more than 2-3 paragraphs, and give them a taste of what to expect. Add in a picture to make it visually appealing also.
 

Question 3: How is your body looking?

content strong body
Hints:
When writing an article or body of your webpage, keep in mind the following:

  • use subheadings – many readers will not actually read your article from start to finish, they might only skim over the article, so provide informative subheadings for scanning
  • avoid big blocks of continuous text – use short paragraphs and no more than 3-4 paragraphs in a block of text
  • use questions, tell stories and write as though it were a conversation with an actual person in front of you
  • use different forms of content such as images, charts, videos and other interesting types
  • keep your content as concise as possible – not wordy
  • use emotions to appeal to the reader
  • make sure you check your spelling and formatting before publishing
  • refer to other experts and sources, and if using facts provide the evidence

 

Question 4: Have you effectively ended your article?

writing effective conclusions

Hints:
Don’t just end your blog post without wrapping up the aim of the article. You wouldn’t start a conversation, say what you have to say, and then walk off on the other person. So why do this in your blog post.

Write a short conclusion (less than a paragraph or two) that sums up the most important points, lead the reader into the next step that you want them to make, ask a question to keep the conversation going in the comments, provide links to related content, offer them a bonus, whatever it is don’t just walk out on them and hope they know what to do next.
 

Question 5: What about after you hit publish?

Promotion after publishing new content

Hints:
Ok so you went to all the effort to publish your masterpiece, so what now? Don’t sit back and admire your work, it isn’t finished.

Now is the time for promoting. This may include sharing your new page on social media, sending an email or tweeting to a person that you mentioned in your article, or perhaps someone who you know would enjoy or benefit from reading your article.

Some more ideas might include:

  • create short snippets from the article for sharing – you could use your subheadings or quotes – and auto schedule more social mentions of the article over the next month or so – using a service like Hootsuite or Buffer
  • design a graphic for Instagram or Facebook, include an interesting quote from your article, and share your graphic with a link back to the blog page.
  • make a video that relates to your article, for example if you wrote about a new product, you could produce a short video demonstrating a key feature, then post it to your YouTube channel and link back to your article
  • create a PDF of your page content and print it out as a leaflet
  • send out an update to your email subscribers and provide a snippet from the article with a link to read more

 

Wrapping it up

There are some hints to get you started to more effective content marketing. It’s important to realise that getting the perfect mix in online marketing requires more than just following a series of steps to creating some web content. You need to continue to invest time and effort into your website and web presence.

Sometimes the difficulty lies in finding content to talk about on your website. Start with your audience, either think about your business from their perspective, or ask them, to decide what they want to read more about.

If you found something useful in this article, then why not share it with your community by clicking on your favourite social place below.

Filed under: SEO and MarketingTagged with: ,

Increase your Website Traffic using Google Semantic Search

[cposhort_feature icon=”quote-left” style=”horizontal” title=”What is Semantics and how is it relevant to search engines such as Google?”]Semantics is the study of the meaning of words and the context in which they are being used. By focusing on the relationships between similar words and their meanings, it is a method of understanding how language is used through words, phrases, sentences and texts[/cposhort_feature]

 

When it comes to searching on the web for a particular topic, Google uses semantics to understand what the user is actually searching for.

It’s a complex concept, however in simple terms a search engine such as Google, determines the intent of a search phrase by using “semantic understanding”. This knowledge is gained through analysis of countless webpages it has indexed, that provide associations between words and phrases commonly appearing together inside the content of pages, in links, and in other texts across the internet.

So for example, if you’re wondering “where does the Queen live”? Well you don’t need to type into Google “home location Queen Elizabeth” for Google to understand.

When you type in “where does the Queen live”, the answer comes back “The Queen lives in Buckingham Palace in London. She also has other homes too. Her favourite is Balmoral Castle in Scotland where she spends Christmas. Windsor Castle is another of the Queen’s homes.” Google also gives you a list of website pages to choose from such as “Where does Queen Elizabeth II live – Answers.com”.

Searching on Google

 

How can I use semantics to improve my search ranking for words that relate to my main keywords?

Well the first step is to make sure that your content contains a good mix of words about your page topic, to ensure that Google fully understands what your page is all about. For example if you’re a mobile hair and makeup artist, then your website home page could contain a range of possible search phrases, such as:

  • makeup artist
  • mobile hairdresser
  • hair and makeup
  • hair and makeup for formals
  • makeup group lessons
  • Bridal Hair
  • mobile service

If you are not sure what words and phrases are related, then you can use Google’s Semantic Operator to see some semantic keyword relationships. Add the tilde symbol  when searching for a keyword phrase on Google to see other words that Google has determined are related.

[cposhort_leading]Important SEO note:
By searching with the tilde symbol ~ , you can find the phrases and words that Google is looking for when someone types in a search query. Then make sure you include these on your webpage
[/cposhort_leading]

Based on the mobile makeup artist example you could enter into Google search: ~mobile ~makeup ~artist ~hairdresser.

Then look at the search results, look for bold words and also look for “searches related to” at the bottom of the search results page. Make sure that your website contains all of the relevant keyword phrases. Here are some of the semantic search results:

  • mobile makeup artist
  • hair stylist and makeup artist
  • mobile hairdresser
  • mobile hairdressing by
  • premier mobile hair and makeup team
  • mobile makeup and hairstyling service
  • mobile wedding hairdresser

Now that you have your extended list of keywords to work with, write your web page content to be engaging and easy to read, while incorporating all the related keyword phrases that you have found.

Bonus Tip:
If you want to find out the actual Google search volumes for semantically related keyword phrases, then you can always plug the phrases into the Google Keyword Planner. Use this tool to find out important information such as monthly search volumes and competition. If you are a local business then you should adjust the location filter in your Keyword Search, to make sure the results are relevant for your business area.

Start today to target more Google traffic

By including a wider variety of semantically related keyword phrases on your important webpages, you will target more keywords, to ensure that Google knows exactly what your webpage is about. And also don’t forget to make sure that your text is easy to read and understand. Don’t pack it full of repetitive keywords, but keep it interesting and concise.

A good idea to keep in mind when writing content is to write it as though you are talking to a person in front of you. Keep it interesting, use a variety of different phrases and don’t repeat the same words over and over or you will lose that person’s interest.

Filed under: SEO and MarketingTagged with: , ,

5 Reasons Why People Won’t Buy from You

Have you ever wondered why your sales are not increasing? Or why some businesses are successful, while others seem to be stuck in a ditch?

Well read on!

WARNING:
Some viewers may find the following content offensive. But don’t feel bad if any of the following apply to you or your business. I’ve included some solutions to each one.

You aren’t popular


You don’t have what I want


You confuse me


You are a ripoff


You stink

You aren’t popular!

If you wander along a busy street of restaurants, you’ll see that some are busting at the seams, while others look deserted? Do you grab a table at the empty restaurant, or do you wonder why no one is eating there? It doesn’t matter how great your food is, people will keep walking past.

Solution:
Get popular by bringing people into your restaurant. Invite your friends and your family and serve them for a supremo discount that they cannot resist. People passing by will think you are popular. Get around to some local businesses and offer group booking coupons.
You can apply the same tips for any business- coupons, competitions, offers, sell to friends, sell to business buddies, just get busy being popular.

You don’t have what I want!

If I want to purchase a particular product, then I’ll Google to find out where it is, whether it’s in stock and how much it costs.
Now if I expected to find that product at your shop then I’m going to be very disappointed if it’s not there. So if you are setting up your business as an office supplies store, and you don’t have staples in stock, then my confidence in you goes out the door when I leave.

Solution:
Have what your clients want. Keep stocks, have a reasonable range. Let me know that when I need something, you will have it ready to sell to me. If you sell chicken and chips, don’t be putting up a sign halfway through lunch hour that you’ve sold out of chooks.

You confuse me!

Walk into any store and ask a question. The answer ideally should be tailored to the person asking. I don’t have all the time in the world to listen to your sales spiel, so I’m going to switch off after the first minute or two. If I’m not engaged in what you are saying, then it’s all gibberish.

Solution:
When someone asks a question about a product or service, try to figure out what they are really asking. They want to know that the product is going to make their life better.
Let’s take purchasing a television as an example. What one person looks for in a television, is probably completely different to the next person. And I’m wondering why one television will cost me $400, whereas another will set me back $4000. Don’t start rattling off a list of technical mumbo jumbo about why this television is more expensive than the other.
What you should be doing is determining what I actually need. Do I only watch an hour of news each night, or am I a hardcore gamer, or do I spend hours of watching movies each week? Don’t confuse the buyer, appeal to their needs and then sell then what they actually need.

You are a ripoff!

Ok so no one likes to think that they got ripped off. And if your business starts being known for ripping off customers, then that’s the quickest and surest way to losing business. One unhappy customer will feel the need to tell their bad experience story to many others.

Solution:
Surprisingly it doesn’t mean you have to be cheap. It comes back to selling me what I actually need and will feel value in having. If a customer wants a laptop to check emails, surf the web and do some basic document editing, then they don’t need the latest $3000 machine with dedicated graphics and top of the range processor. Even if that machine is on a 2 day sale for half price, it still isn’t good value if it gets used for less than an hour a day. Sell them the $800 model that ticks all the boxes for what they actually need. Just because you can sell something to someone, doesn’t mean that you should.

You stink!

No I don’t mean that you are putting out an offensive odour, although I guess this could deter some people from entering your store. What I mean is that you are just no good at your job. If you construct a fence for me today and then tomorrow when the wind blows, it falls down, then you stink. If you sell me a watch and tell me that it’s the latest and the greatest, and it loses time, then you stink.

Solution:
Don’t stink. Do what you are good at. You don’t have to be great at everything either. If one of your services is something that you can not do well enough to save yourself, then don’t do it. Hire someone else to do it for you, or get some more training to improve your skills in that area. If there is a lot of competition in a particular field, then it becomes even more important that you do a good job.

That’s my 5 top reasons why people won’t buy from you. Don’t take offense if you fall into one of these categories. Just go and do something about it. Be Popular, Over Deliver, Increase my Understanding and my Interest, Make me walk away thinking that I just got the greatest deal of my life, and Be Known for Your Professionalism and Expertise.

Filed under: SEO and MarketingTagged with: ,

Fix hAtom microformats – at least one field must be set for HatomEntry

hatom missing data hatomentry errors

If you’ve been using Google’s Rich Snippets Tool, you might have come across an error for HatomEntry. Under the Extracted structured data, errors may be seen such as:

“Error: At least one field must be set for HatomEntry”, or “Error: Missing required field “entry-title”.

What is hAtom?

According to www.microformats.org/wiki/hatom, “hAtom is a microformat for identifying semantic information in weblog posts and practically any other place Atom may be used … is easily added to most blogs by simple modifications to the blog’s template definitions … hAtom is a microformat for content that can be syndicated”

If Google is testing for hAtom microformat in web pages, then it would be wise to assume that it must play a part in how Google indexes blog articles using microformats.

There are different ways that you can fix this issue, however the basic requirements are that certain classes are added into your blog page’s source code.

  1. “Hentry” * must appear in the article class or the post class such as:
    <article class="hentry"></article>

    *If you are getting the HatomEntry error on Google Rich Snippets Tool, then this class name must already exist in your page’s source code. View the source code and do a search for “hentry” to verify.

  2. “Entry-title” must appear as a class name in the title:
    <h1 class="entry-title">Title of Blog Post</h1>
  3. “Updated” must appear as a class name for the date the post is modified or published:
    <time class="updated"> December 29th, 2013</span>
  4. hCard “author” fields must also appear by adding:
    <span class="author vcard"><span class="fn">Author's name</span></span>
  5. “Entry-content” class should be added to your blog article’s content:
    <div class="entry-content">
        <p>the text content of the article</p>
      </div>

How to modify the source code to fix hAtom errors?

There are different ways to modify your code. You could edit the single.php template file in your theme or childtheme, or any other files that control your blog article pages, and add in the extra class names into the correct spots.

Alternatively, and I think that this is probably an easier modification for people who are unsure how to modify post templates, you can add the below code to your functions.php file of your WordPress childtheme. If you use a custom mu-plugin for your website then you could add the code there instead.

The code contains 2 functions. The first function will use the WordPress filter hook for “the_content” to add the class of “entry-content” to the article. To add in the other essential hAtom fields, the second function will add a short sentence to the end of your post article, which contains updated time, post title and author, with required microdata.

//mod content
function hatom_mod_post_content ($content) {
  if ( in_the_loop() && !is_page() ) {
    $content = '<span class="entry-content">'.$content.'</span>';
  }
  return $content;
}
add_filter( 'the_content', 'hatom_mod_post_content');

//add hatom data
function add_mod_hatom_data($content) {
	$t = get_the_modified_time('F jS, Y');
	$author = get_the_author();
	$title = get_the_title();
	if(is_single()) {
		$content .= '<div class="hatom-extra"><span class="entry-title">'.$title.'</span> was last modified: <span class="updated"> '.$t.'</span> by <span class="author vcard"><span class="fn">'.$author.'</span></span></div>';
	}
	return $content;
	}
add_filter('the_content', 'add_mod_hatom_data');

This is the result now when testing with the Google Rich Snippets Tool:

hAtom microdata

I have added some css styling to the extra sentence that is added to the end of each blog post, as I prefer to display the last modified post date, however if you would prefer to hide it all together you can:

/* style for extra sentence */

     .hatom-extra {font-size:10px; font-weight:400; font-style:italic;}
     .hatom-extra .entry-title {text-transform:uppercase;}


/* alternative style to hide sentence from view */
     
     .hatom-extra {display: none;}

**special updates – VIDEO TUTORIAL and WORDPRESS PLUGIN NOW AVAILABLE:
This article has become a very popular topic of discussion, and a good source of information for WordPress users around the world. I have spent a great amount of time trying to assist where possible in the comment section below.

As a result of discussions, I have decided to spend time putting together a video tutorial that expands on the instructions in the tutorial above, to help those who are still unsure how to implement the solution.
This video is available for a small price of an average cup of coffee here in Australia. If you would like to purchase, to show your appreciation of my efforts in helping others fix hAtom errors, then that would be nice.

– purchase no longer available. Video still available below for members.

DT hAtom Error Removal Plugin

I have also just released DT hAtom Error Removal Plugin, if you prefer to use a plugin – View plugin details and payment options

Premium Club Members can view video below:
Continue reading

Filed under: SEO and Marketing, WordPressTagged with: , ,

An introduction to Search Engine Optimisation

how to do SEO for webpages

How to do SEO? What is SEO? How can I learn SEO?

These are the sorts of questions that are asked several times every day. The answers that are given however, are not surprisingly, somewhat varied.

One person tells you to do this, another tells you that you have to do that. Another tries to sell you links, another promises number 1 ranking. You wonder who to believe and wish it was simple to just find a solution that works and doesn’t cost the earth.

Truth of the matter however is that THERE IS NOT just 1 simple solution or magic trick that will solve all your SEO rankings forever.

Instead, the art of SEO requires ongoing sustained effort. You are competing for a place in the organic or “natural” rankings and so your position today is not going to necessarily be your position tomorrow. Nor will you be guaranteed of having the same ranking in weeks and months to come.

So what can you do to maximise your SEO ranking without spending all of your earnings?

Well maybe the first question SHOULD NOT be “how can I get to number 1?”

Maybe your first question should be “How can I make sure that the right people find my website?”

To answer this question you must first start off asking the RIGHT questions.

1. Who is my customer?
2. What do they want to purchase from me?
3. What do I want to sell?
4. Who are the customers who actually bring profit to my business, and what products or services do they purchase that makes my business successful?

Make a list of all the keyword phrases that are used to describe these customers and the products and services that they buy. For example if your business is advertising and marketing, and your best and most profitable customers are small business owners purchasing business cards and pamphlets, then you would list keyword phrases such as:

  • small business printing
  • business cards designs
  • business card prices
  • pamphlet printing
  • business card packages
  • print advertising, etc

This becomes your master keyword list. From there you create different combinations of keyword phrases, by asking yourself questions such as “what information are they looking for on my website”, “is it general information”, “is there a specific solution with steps”, “are they looking for tools, guides, tips for something they have already purchased”, “what questions can I answer to persuade them to buy from me”.

Optimize your site content for search engines by WRITING FOR SEO

With your most important keyword phrases, use one for each page and try to include the phrase 3-4 times inside the page content. Ensure that the content reads well, don’t sacrifice quality of your content for the sake of keyword density.
Use the exact keyword phrase, and keep the words in the same order. Add plenty of good content, as longer copy allows you to include the keyword phrases more often, without it seeming like you are “keyword stuffing”.

Where do I need to add keywords?

Add keywords to:
[check_list]

  • Title tag
  • URL
  • Headings and Sub-headings (H1, H2-H4 tags)
  • Call to action (CTA) links and other page links
  • Main body text content, from top to bottom
  • ALT tags for images

[/check_list]

Get quality links to your website pages

Crucial to being found on the major search engines is to have LINKS on other websites that point to your website. These links must be quality links, NOT a bunch of links that you pay for, but genuine links from other blogs and websites.

Google uses these links as an indicator of your site’s popularity. People link if they think that your content is worth sharing with others- whether for a positive experience or a negative one.

Of course you want the quality links from people who are finding your website valuable.

How can you increase these links?
[check_list]

  • By writing content that is helpful and compelling
  • By letting people know you exist
  • By networking on social media and engaging customers so that they link to you
  • Participating in online forums that discuss topics around what you do and know
  • Leaving comments on other blogs that are related to your industry, but not competitors

[/check_list]

Although some people believe that social signals don’t influence search engines such as Google, it makes sense that they do, as the more links from Twitter, Facebook and G+, the more obvious to Google that your content is likely to be valuable. And the more valuable it is seen to be, the more relevant it becomes to search.

How to maximise SEO for Social sharing

A very simple starting point is to include social buttons on every page of your website, including blog posts, press releases, emails and more. Choose the social channels that your customers use. The obvious one to include is Google+ as Google is the number 1 search engine.

Create content people want to share

People like to talk about experiences they enjoyed, new things they have learnt, interesting information they have found. It makes the sharer look like they are in the know, as well as making you look like you are an authority on a subject.
So be sure to offer plenty of great relevant information in a variety of formats including case studies, survey and research data, thought provoking posts, whitepapers and downloads, videos and more.

Wrapping it all up

To conclude this short summary on how to use SEO for your website without having to pay through the nose, the MOST IMPORTANT aspect for SEO, is to write your content for SEO. That is, to identify how you are being searched for, by profiling your ideal customers, then determining keyword phrases that are most relevant to your ideal customers and also what you want to sell. Add a keyword phrase onto a page and optimise that page by adding the keyword phrase into the content, the URL, the title, the heading tags and more.

Filed under: SEO and MarketingTagged with:

Using the TITLE and ALT attributes for tags in SEO

Part of optimising your posts and pages for search engines and users, is to ensure you are using simple tips like adding ALT attributes and TITLE attributes to your image tags and links.

I’ve noticed that a lot of themes nowadays are being designed so that you can add your own logo/ header images and change footer copyright text. A missing component from an SEO point of view however, is that there isn’t always an automatic TITLE or ALT attribute on these images and links.

ALT stands for alternative text, so that if someone is using a screen reader or their browser is blocking images, then they see the alternative text. This is also helpful for Google, as it cannot read the image, so it reads the ALT to identify the image content.
Now if you are using that image/logo as a link to a page on your site, then Google uses the ALT attribute as the anchor text – so this is the value for SEO.

The TITLE attribute is for giving information to the user who is viewing the page, by displaying a tool tip as you hover the cursor over the image or the link. It isn’t currently indexed by search engines (though this may have changed), however it is useful for the person to know whether to click on an image or a link. It may also provide some relevancy to search engines in indexing your page, now or in the future.

For SEO, the anchor text and the link itself, are the most important. Anchor text is the text contained between [php]<a href="yourlink"> THIS IS YOUR ANCHOR TEXT </a>[/php]

So to add TITLE and ALT attributes, open up your themes header.php and footer.php files and add this to the footer credit link and the logo header link:

[php]
title="<?php echo esc_attr(get_bloginfo(‘name’));?>"
[/php]

and add this to your img tag:

[php]
alt="<?php echo esc_attr(get_bloginfo(‘name’)); ?>"
[/php]

so it might look something like this depending on your theme:
[php]
<div id="top-area">
<?php do_action(‘header-logo’); ?>
<a href="<?php echo esc_url( home_url() ); ?>" title="<?php echo esc_attr(get_bloginfo(‘name’));?>" >
<?php $logo = (get_option(‘theme_logo’) <> ”) ? esc_attr(get_option(‘theme_logo’)) :
get_template_directory_uri() . ‘/images/logo.png’; ?>
<img src="<?php echo $logo; ?>" alt="<?php echo esc_attr(get_bloginfo(‘name’)); ?>" id="logo"/></a>
</div>
[/php]

and footer credits might look something like this:
[php]
<p class="copyright-credits">&copy;
<?php echo date(‘Y’); ?> <a href="<?php echo esc_url(get_option(‘siteurl’)); ?>" title="<?php echo esc_attr(get_bloginfo(‘name’));?>" ><?php echo esc_attr(get_option(‘blogname’)); ?></a></p>
[/php]

Filed under: SEO and Marketing, WordPressTagged with: , ,

Adding Meta Description to WordPress pages without a plugin

add meta description to wordpress header

How to add meta descriptions to certain posts without a plugin?

Firstly I’d recommend trying an SEO plugin like All in One SEO to handle your search engine optimisation. However sometimes you might have a need to manually add a meta description onto a page.

Or you may want to do something different on a particular post or page, in which case you could turn off the SEO plugin for that page and then add some custom code to your header.php file that only inserts it onto the applicable page(s).

Updates:

update 14/4/2013
The original code for this did not take into consideration that you cannot use “the_excerpt” outside of the loop. The code below has been adjusted for this and instead of using “the_excerpt” it now uses “the_title”. If you prefer to use “the_excerpt” in your header code, then there is some code further down this page that allows for using this outside the loop.

For this exercise we are now going to use “the_title” and insert that into the header of your page, into the meta description. Paste the following code into your header.php file.

<?php if (is_single() && in_category('1')) { ?>
<meta name="description" content="<?php the_title();?>"/>
<?php } ?> 

So this would identify if the page is a single post and in category 1. If yes, then it adds meta description based on the_title.

If you want to choose a range of posts, say with IDs 41,48,103 and 152, then you could use:

<?php if is_single(array( 41,48,103,152 )) { ?>
<meta name="description" content="<?php the_title();?>"/>
<?php } ?> 

or if you wanted to add the category description to the meta description of a category page, you could try:

<?php if (is_category()) { 
$cat = get_query_var('cat'); 
$metacat= strip_tags(category_description($cat));?>
<meta name="description" content="<?php echo $metacat;?>"/>
<?php } ?> 

You can also set meta description based on “the_excerpt” using the following technique, which allows for calling “get_the_excerpt” outside of the loop.

<?php if (is_single() || is_page() ) : if (have_posts() ) : while (have_posts() ) : the_post(); ?>
<meta name="description" content="<?php echo get_the_excerpt();?>">
<?php endwhile; endif; elseif (is_home() ): ?>
<meta name="description" content="<?php bloginfo('description'); ?>- AND ADD SOME MORE CONTENT HERE">
<?php endif; ?>

This code will add the excerpt to the meta description on your posts and pages. Additionally it allows for you to further customise the meta description of your home page, by adding your bloginfo description as well as extra content for enhancing your SEO.

Filed under: SEO and Marketing, WordPressTagged with: ,

How to add noindex, follow to pages in WordPress to stop duplicate content for SEO

An essential aspect of SEO is to ensure that Google and other search engines know which content from your website is important to you.

How to prevent duplicate content affecting your search engine rankings?

By adding meta robots noindex to the header of your pages that you don’t want indexed.

WordPress is a great platform for websites and blogging, however by default there is a tendency to end up with a lot of duplicate content being indexed by Google. When you write a post, and give it a category and some tags, this post is displayed on its own page, as well as tag archive pages, category archive pages, date archive pages, author pages and so on.

It’s Déjà vu for the Google bots

The result is too much duplicated content. When the Google bots crawl your website, they find exactly the same content repeated on page after page. So how can Google decide which pages are most important and require the highest ranking. Stop diluting search engine results and making it harder for your pages to rank well..

How to fix duplicate content?

For starters you want to make sure that these archive pages are only displaying the excerpt of the posts, not the whole content. If your archive.php template is showing the whole post content, that is, listing all the posts on the archive page in full, then you can quickly fix this by editing the archive.php template.

Change “the_content” to “the_excerpt”.

Check of course that your WordPress theme doesn’t have a theme settings page that allows you to make this change without editing your archive.php page.

Secondly, you have to decide which pages you want Google to index and which pages you don’t want indexed. Let’s say that on your website, your home page shows your latest posts, and you have some category pages in your navigation. Then the best way would be to add:

meta name=”robots” content=”noindex,follow”

to the header of date archives, author archives and tag archives. Also you only want to index the first page of each category, not page 2, page 3 and so on. Another page to noindex, depending on how your theme handles images, is the attachment pages.

Use “noindex” to instruct search engines to not index the page, but use “follow” to let the search engine know that it’s ok to crawl through the page and pass link juice along.

Add code to header.php

<?php if($paged > 1 || is_author() || is_tag() || is_date() || is_attachment()){
  echo '<meta name="robots" content="noindex,follow" />';
} ?>

Adding the above code snippet to your header.php file will output the meta content onto your date archives, tag archives, author archives, and onto the subsequent pages of your individual category pages.

Don’t forget your sitemap.xml file

Also only list in your sitemap.xml file the pages that you would like to encourage the search engines to discover and crawl.

This will help to reduce issues with duplicate content and improve SEO. Feel like sharing your tips for duplicate content, then let us know in the comments below.

Updates:

update 10/3/2013
working on a website where the theme was producing excess pages with query strings, such as domainName.com/nav?=most_viewed&=most_commented. As this was producing duplicate content it was necessary to tell googlebots and other search bots not to crawl these pages.
Create a robots.txt file and upload to your website root. See this post for an example robots.txt file. Add the following to the bottom of the file.

Disallow: /*?
Filed under: SEO and MarketingTagged with: , , ,