How to Build a Video SEO Strategy

Video can be a fantastic tool in your SEO strategy, but many companies fail in this area because they don’t know how SEO works.

Phil Nottingham is an SEO consultant and in-house video expert at Distilled London, and he shares some of his hard-earned expertise in a recent article on SEOmoz.

Nottingham details a comprehensive video SEO strategy and gives advice on the four types of content companies should focus on producing. For the full article, head over to SEOmoz:Building a Video SEO Strategy

Copywriting Video of the Week: How to Write Better Google AdWords Ads

Google’s YouTube channel has some fantastic instructional videos on how to get the most out of your AdWords account.

This one’s on improving the copywriting in your ad. The important points to note are:

  • Be specific
  • Use keywords in your ad copy – preferably in the headline
  • Include a call to action
  • Each ad should link to a targeted landing page (most people overlook this vital point)
  • A few tweaks to your ads can make them perform much better

Take a look:

On another note, don’t you just love the writing and production of this video? Google’s marketing team really knows what it’s doing.

I think Google’s AdWords mini-site is one of the best examples of website copywriting around. Definitely something to aspire to.

How to Avoid Angering Google

Jill Whalen, SEO Consultant and CEO of High Rankings, ran an article last year titled “18 SEO Killers”. She mentioned footer links as a potential problem, and this year she followed up on that, expounding on the subject of abuses that Google dislikes. Some common footer abuses mentioned:

  • Content well below the fold
  • Keyword phrases placed in the footer
  • Lists of keywords – stuffed links in the footer
  • Footer links that use different anchor text from the main navigation
  • Links from other sites’ footers

If you’re guilty of one or more, you might soon incur Google’s wrath. Find out how to avoidSneaky Footer Links and Other Footer Abuses That Google Dislikes

“Secret” Website Ingredient #2: Customer-Focused Content

It’s hard to go wrong when your website offers, well-organised, well-written, customer-focused content.

But from my experience few businesses heed this crucial advice for creating a successful website:

The graphics and the technology are a minor part of web success. The content is the hard part, and it is also what will make your website a success or failure.
Gerry McGovern, author of Killer Website Content

They focus all their effort on creating an eye-catching design. The content is usually an afterthought – a badly organised mish-mash of brochure copy, old press releases and stale marketing clichés.

Websites like this are rarely profitable. They fail to deliver enquiries, leads and sales. In fact, a website without high-quality content can easily drive potential customers away and erode hard-earned brand equity.

If your website isn’t getting the results you would like, don’t spend any more money on a prettier look and feel. Rather, make the content on your site a priority. Here are five reasons why:

1. People read on the web… but differently

Think about it for a moment. What’s the number one activity that everyone on the Web does? They read! The World Wide Web is made of words.

Now consider this: if you took all the images off your website, would it still work? Most likely. If you took all the words off your website, would it still work? I doubt it.

It’s the words that do the selling on your site. The words build relationships, drive actions and keep your customers happy. So if you want to be a success on the web you need to make words the hero of your site.

But keep in mind people read websites differently than printed pages. They scan, skim and scroll, looking for relevant information. Therefore your website content must be written for scanners.

Write meaningful and descriptive headlines and sub-headings. Online text should have roughly 50% of the words you would use for print. Include lots of bullets, lists and meaningful sub-headings. Use links to break longer information up into parts.

Don’t think you can just plonk your brochure text onto your website and people will read it. Because they won’t be bothered! But if you write you content for scanners, you empower visitors to find information quickly, improve their memory recall and add credibility to your site.

2. Content persuades visitors to take action

The web is not a passive medium like TV. When people go online, they’re active. That’s the nature of “interactivity”. High quality content persuades website visitors to take action in your favour.

Good website content is a lot like good direct response marketing (such as direct mail or infomercials) because it motivates the reader to take action. Sign up for our newsletter, view our product range, download this report, ring us for a quote, click here, and so on.

If you’re marketing on the web you’re relying on the responsiveness of your website. If nobody clicks your links you get no customer enquiries, no sales and no business. So your website content must guide your visitors to the actions you want them to take. People want and need clear instructions, so make sure you give them.

3. Content builds trust and credibility

People don’t go online looking for advertising. What they are seeking is information. Rather than the hard sell, your website content should provide the information visitors need to make an informed purchase decision.

Your website is an opportunity to communicate your expertise in solving your customers’ problems. By sharing this knowledge you show you’re credible and begin building relationships with prospective customers. Their desire to do business with you will increase as you keep supply them with more useful information.

After you’ve demonstrated expertise in your market and knowledge about solving your customers’ problems, then you can introduce your products and services.

It’s a simple fact: customers’ do business with people they like. And they’ll like you a lot better if your website content is filled with relevant facts and helpful information.

4. Content increases your visibility in the search engine rankings

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a process of developing a website so that it gets high rankings in search engine results pages. High search engine rankings are essential to helping people find your site.

Search engines are all about relevance. When you type in a search query the search engine aims to deliver a list of web pages which contain content that’s relevant to your query.

Search engines use a combination of many factors to determine relevance. But two of the most important factors are key words and incoming links. Both of these factors rely on good content.

Key words – These are the phrases people enter into a search engine e.g. “laptop computer”. Effective use of key words tells the search engines what your content is about, thus helping to attract targeted traffic to your site.

First you have to know the key words customers use most frequently when they search for the type of products or services you sell e.g. do they enter “laptop computer” or “notebook computer”? Then you have to sprinkle these keywords in strategic places in your website content.

But it’s not just a matter of stuffing your web pages full of key words. You have to create key word rich content that also informs, motivates and delights your target audience.

Incoming links – Search engines count incoming links as votes of confidence for your website. So, generally speaking, the more links you have, the better your rankings. And if you get links from high quality sites, that’s better still.

Obviously, having great content helps you attract links. Because if people find your content valuable they’ll want to share it with others by way of a link. No one wants to link to a site filled with empty sales hype.

5. Content gives you a competitive edge

Quality writing is the best way to make your site stand out from the millions of others on the web. Why? Because the average website is poorly written. Most sites are full of clichés, hyperbole and generic marketing blather, and the information is poorly organised. Great writing gives you the edge.

High-quality content is an asset

In summary, well-written web content that anticipates and satisfies customers’ needs is a valuable asset to a business. High-quality content:

  • Entices prospects to give you their contact details
  • Drives sales and helps qualify prospects
  • Increases sales conversions by keeping prospects on the site and giving them all the purchase information they need
  • Provides customer service (often reducing costs in the process)
  • Differentiates your business from your competitors, and
  • Is essential for getting high ranking in search engines and attracting qualified traffic.

This post is part 3 of the series: The 4 “Secret” Ingredients of a Profitable Website

Discussion on Foreign Language SEO

Much of the SEO industry deals with the English-speaking market; however, there’s quite a huge demand in the foreign language market as well.

As SEO morphs and develops, the foreign language market is only going to expand.

Zeph Snapp, President of Not Just SEO, offered a great Q&A recently at SEOmoz, and you can get the full “Mozinar” here: So, You Want to Know about Foreign Language SEO?

Website Mistake 7: Your Site Isn’t Visible On Google

Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.
Black line art illustration of a man with his thumbs down.

Your website is like a billboard in the desert. It doesn’t matter how good it is, if no one sees it, it’s absolutely worthless.

The most common way people find websites in Australia is via Google search engine. Therefore you can expect a large proportion of your website traffic to come from Google.

So you need a search engine marketing strategy to ensure your prospects and customers see a listing for your website when they’re using Google to find information about the types of products or services you sell. There are two ways to do this:

1. Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Wikipedia defines SEO as “the process of improving the visibility of a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid search results.” When people search on Google they generally enter two- or three-word key phrases, such as “buy laptop computer”. Google delivers search results based on what it considers are “relevant” web pages.

There are three important elements of SEO:

i). “On-page” factors are directly related to the content and structure of the website. Placing relevant key phrases in strategic positions on the web page – such as the title tag, meta description, headlines, and sprinkled throughout the text – helps the search engines know what your web page is about.

ii). Having a search engine-friendly site. Search engines catalogue the web using programs called spiders (or bots) which automatically index content. You must ensure the coding of your site allows the Google bot access to all your content.

iii). Inbound links. Google used the number of inbound links to a web page as an indication of its authority. The more inbound links a page has, the greater authority it has. All things being equal, Web pages with greater authority rank higher in the search listings. Google also gives more weight to links from better quality sites.

Inbound links is the most important factor. And it’s also the hardest work.

2. Google AdWords

AdWords is the alternative to SEO for getting your site listed on the first page of Google.

Google show small text ads on the top and right hand side (and sometimes the bottom) of their search results. The ads shown are determined by the key phrase the searcher enters.

For example, if a person searched for “pool cleaners in Sydney”, ads for pool cleaners servicing Sydney would appear alongside the free listings. When a searcher clicks on an ad they are taken to the advertiser’s web page. Advertisers pay only for “click-throughs” i.e. when a searcher clicks on their ad to visit their website. Hence the name “pay-per-click”.

Geographical targeting technology means your ad only appears in the regions you select. So it’s easy to target customers within, say, 20 kilometres of your business.

The fee for each click-through is determined by a bidding system. Generally speaking, to get your ad higher up the listings you must bid more. Obviously, the more people bidding on a particular key phrase, the higher the bids will be. Advertisers control their costs by setting a maximum budget.

The importance of search engine visibility

These days the web is a key information resource for most consumers and business buyers. As Ken Cassar, chief analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings observed, “Web users are conducting more searches not because they can’t find what they’re looking for, but because search as a utility has become deeply ingrained into people’s everyday lives.”

So not having a strategy for making your website visible on Google is one of the biggest mistakes you can make online. If your site doesn’t appear in the first two pages of search results (and preferably the first page) when customers are researching products and services to buy, it opens the door for your competition to steal your business.

Google bring qualified traffic to your site. That’s because people who find your site via Google are actively looking for information on your products and services. SEO and AdWords enable you to build brand awareness throughout the buying cycle – from initial research to purchase. And high search engine rankings create a good impression of your brand.

Things to do

  • Create a search engine marketing strategy for your website.
  • Use the free Google Keyword Tool to research the key phrases customers use to search for your products and services.
  • Develop strategies to get more inbound links for your site.

This post is part 8 of the series Your Website Sucks!

Who Should be Responsible for Optimizing Content?

Writers often leave optimization to website editors, and editors often feel that it’s the job of the writer. When the two sides collaborate though, excellent content comes as a result – content that both readers and Google will love.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to divide the labour properly. Amanda DiSilvestro offers her insights in a recent post on the Success Works blog. She points out the areas that writer should focus on, and the areas a website owner should tackle.

Check it out: Website owner or writer: which should optimize content?

Is Content Marketing the Same as Branding?

Absolutely not. While branding is important, content marketing is far closer to sales.

In his recent article at Copyblogger, Chris Brogan, CEO and President of Human Business Works, offers his perspective on just what content marketing really is. A key takeaway:

–          Content marketing is sales-minded storytelling. It’s not all storytelling, and it’s not all “selly-sell”. The ultimate goal with every post though, is to advance your business.

Find out more: Why Content Marketing is Not Branding

Have you Hired the Right Copywriter?

Hiring a new copywriter can be a risky business. You trust them with a job and you really don’t know what to expect until the work is finished.

Kate Toon, award-winning SEO and advertising copywriter, offers some great tips on finding just the right match for your project. For example, you might have found the right copywriter if…

  • They’re likeable and positive
  • They have an engaging website
  • They ask a lot of questions – and listen well to the answers

If you’re still looking for your perfect, match, read on for more great advice: Eight signs you’re hiring the right copywriter

How to Find a Good SEO Professional

It seems you can hardly throw a stick these days without hitting an “SEO professional”. Unfortunately, there are plenty who really aren’t all that “professional.” So how can you find someone who’ll get the job done?

Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, offered some excellent suggestions in his recent “Whiteboard Friday” video. For example:

  • Ask your network for recommendations
  • Check out online SEO communities (i.e. the SEOmoz Q&A)
  • Don’t choose exclusively based on price or experience