Three Steps to Better Search Rankings

My latest on NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well: “How to Get Better Search Rankings

Optimizing a site’s title tags is one of the simplest and most effective actions you can take to improve a site’s search engine optimization. Many content management systems create default title tags based on the site’s name and the page’s name, in that order. Others smear a single title tag on every page across large sections of the site. Depending on how suboptimal the title tags are today, optimizing them could have a real impact on a site’s organic search performance.

  • Step One: Keyword Research
  • Step Two: Review Analytics
  • Step Three: Optimize Title Tags

Read the whole article with details on each step at “How to Get Better Search Rankings.”

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Using User Language: UGC and SEO

Excerpts from my latest article at Resource’s weThink blog: “Using UGC to Benefit SEO.”


User-generated content (UGC) and search engine optimization (SEO) are a match made in heaven. SEO is done by marketers and can fall prey to same language issues that caused the site to perform poorly in organic search in the first place. But UGC is created by customers and uses the real-world language that other customers and searchers are likely to use.

“Why, is that our new ‘Zip-front Sweatshirt-Black-With Hood?’” asks the marketer.

“No,” replies the puzzled customer. “It’s a “black hoodie.’”

So while the marketer busily optimizes for the product name, the customer logs on to write a review about the great new “hoodie” he just bought.

That review, a free bit of UGC gold, contributes to the keyword theme of the page and begins to send “hoodie” relevance signals. The more customers write reviews, the stronger the signals become.

Read the article in full at Resource’s weThink blog »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

How to Explain SEO to Marketers

My latest on NBC 5 Chicago’s Inc. Well: “How to Reach Customers Via Search Engines

You don’t get the privilege of speaking to customers via organic search until the search engines understand what you’re saying.

Organic search is like speaking through a translator. The search engines’ algorithms are the gating factors that decide which sites will have a chance to speak to which searchers.

People searching Google know what they’re looking for. They ask Google to find it for them using a cryptic search phrase. From these few words, the search engines analyze relevance, intent and historical preference, and deliver a search results page with 10 organic search options.

Searchers decide based on those 10 links which site most closely meets their needs, and away they go. If Google doesn’t consider your site relevant or important enough to include in those 10 links, you don’t even get considered as an option by searchers. Period. Each time this happens is a lost opportunity to reach new customers or to market to those who already know your brand.

Businesses can improve their chances of success by understanding how to influence the process. That’s what SEO is all about.

Read the whole article at » Inc. Well

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

SEO: A Keyword by Any Other Name

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO Keywords: ‘Red Roses’ vs. ‘Roses Red’.”

Contrary to Shakespeare’s assertion of roses, a keyword by any other name would not smell – or rank – as sweet. Search engines are code-driven, logic-based pieces of software and hardware that know and do what they’re programmed to do: rank data gathered from crawling web sites according to specific algorithms against searchers’ queries. Those algorithms based on keyword relevance prefer exact matches between keywords and search queries. As a result, a site attempting to drive sales on the phrase “red roses” will not rank as sweet if it uses the phrase “roses red” across its pages.

Search engines are picky, and consequently so is search engine optimization. Small details matter. If two web pages look the same, the typical human will assume they are the same page. But if those two pages have different URLs thanks to tracking parameters, they are not the same page to a search engine. If a bad URL renders an error page the typical human will understand that that page can’t be found. But if the error page serves up a 200 OK server header status instead of a 404 File Not Found status, search engines assume that the URL is not bad at all and hold on to it like a dog to a bone. This is really picky stuff bordering on annoying for most marketers. However just as using the exact keyword matters, all of these picky elements matter in the world of SEO.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce »

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

SEO Report Card: MotoGP Store, Part 1

Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO Report Card: MotoGP Store, Part 1.”

MotoGP Store HomepageEvery now and then an ecommerce site raises its hand for an “SEO Report Card” at Practical eCommerce. It’s a great way for the site to get some free advice and a good link, and an interesting way to give Practical eCommerce readers some, well, practical tips on how we’d handle SEO challenges with real ecommerce sites. Today’s volunteer is the MotoGP Store, the online merchandising arm of the official site for Grand Prix motorcycle racing. The store serves four countries in four currencies and sells MotoGP branded gear as well as fan gear for popular racers and teams.

Home Page Content

Like many ecommerce sites, MotoGP’s home page is jam-packed with images, branding, and featured content at the expense of actual HTML text on the page. When the images are disabled, the remaining text is entirely comprised of navigational links and alternative attributes for images. Neither can hold a candle to an actual piece of permanent body copy for anchoring a keyword theme and enabling a page to rank consistently. Even a short bit of text with 2 to 3 sentences focused on the primary keywords for the page will do the trick. The H1 heading for the home page is “MotoGP Official Store,” placed on the page using CSS image replacement to include both the logo and the HTML text on the page. This practice is above board as long as the words used mirror the words in the image.

Read the article in full at Practical eCommerce for insights into page templates, navigation, landing pages and conversion, keyword research and title tags. This is just part 1 of the report card, so stay tuned!

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.