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STEP FIVE to SEO: Local SEO

Have I built and fixed online citations for my business?

We’re reaching into the SEO arsenal and pulling out another tool for digital marketing success: Online business citations.

Don’t worry––no injection required.

The number one reason why online citations are so important––let me repeat––SO IMPORTANT is a secret we’re going to let you in on in this blog.

And the gooey little nugget of truth comes from SEO master Rand Fishkin, so we know it’s going to be good.

But first––

Let’s be clear––the tools defined here and in the previous four steps to SEO success do not exist independently of each other. Nor are they take-it-or-leave-it strategies that can be actioned once and then expected to care for themselves.

Think of each of these strategies as two-year-old children–they require constant parental guidance and commitment if they are to grow into human beings other people will want to be around.

These steps form the foundation of SEO success. Miss a step and you’ll trip yourself up. You want a solid stairway to SEO heaven and it requires a certain amount of devotion––and faith––to the practice.

So, let’s start with the basics of Step Five to SEO Success.

What are Citations?

An online citation is a reference to a company’s contact details and other core data found on business directories, websites and apps, and social media platforms. They are either structured or unstructured.

Unstructured citations are mentions of a business in a blog or other online publication.

Structured citations are listings on local business data platforms, such as Google My Business (GMB) and geo/industry-specific platforms, like chamber of commerce or professional association websites.

Structured citations are the ones we’re most concerned with because, as the name suggests, structuring them appropriately will boost our rankings and establish validity and trust with potential customers.

MOZ outlines four core business data platforms: Google My Business, Acxiom, Neustar/Localeze, and Infogroup.

These are the ones you want to use when building citations, which is why we included the links––so you can get down to business right after you finish reading this (and keep reading because we included six crucial ingredients for building your online citations).

Then go hand-pick your industry-specific platforms.

But the big question is––

Why should I build online citations for my business?

Good question. Rand Fishkin breaks it down for us here:

Photo Credit: Moz.

Online citations help potential customers find you or your client’s business online, particularly through the use of third-party directories.

They also achieve links and although most of them are no-follow, they validate the association of your website with your NAP (name-address-phone number) listing.

Experts agree that NAP consistency between the business website and that referenced in citations and GMB (if built correctly), can have a significant impact on local search rankings and influence localized organic rankings.

And there’s more.

Most people think online citations are about helping customers find your site.

While that’s true, you wouldn’t be reading this blog if it were the only reason. Unintended benefits often trump the original purpose of an action plan.

What’s the purpose of customers finding your site if they’re not going to visit it? You need to enhance your online citation image before people even get to your page so that they want to get to your page instead of your competitor’s.

The primary reason online citations are so important is not just that they help validate your business out there in cyberspace, but they also––

ESTABLISH TRUST

Think of it like this––

When you’re reading an online article about the use of steroid injections for sports injuries, you’re not just going to take that information at face value. You’re going to scan the article for references that validate certain information. These citations will show as links to other sites, or at the least, include the bibliographic reference, which we can consult to verify data. This helps to establish trust.

In addition to having an influence on ranking, Rand Fishkin tells us that online citations are also useful for signalling trustworthiness. This is a particular benefit for online-only businesses because Google effectively tells people that yours a legit business and your site is a real site, not spam.

Six Tips for Building Online Citations

Determine which platforms are most useful for your business. In addition to those mentioned earlier (see links), Facebook, Yelp, and IYP (Internet Yellow Pages) are also big league. Then go pick platforms specific to your industry and geography.

Ensure your citations are accurate and consistent. Mistakes or inaccuracy can hurt your reputation and lead to lost revenue. According to marketing expert James Watts, NAP consistency on major citation sites is a critical ranking factor on par with reviews and backlinks. Further, NAP consistency is one of the most critical factors in making it into Google’s coveted 3-pack/local finder (yes, 3-pack is the new 7-pack as of August 2018).

Use an automated solution like Moz Local for getting your business info into various forms to save yourself time. Such tools prevent you from feeling like you’d rather pluck each of your nose hairs out, one by one.

See Google’s guidelines for representing your business online. To get started, first claim and verify your GMB listing.

Choose the right categories in GMB and when selecting industry-specific platforms. See Moz for how to choose local business categories and HubSpot for 57 Online Local Business Directories.

Use a local area code and address. While GMB allows toll-free numbers, a few directories don’t, and GMB recommends using a local phone number. Allow your address to appear, even if you’re a service-area business operating remotely or out of your home. This makes your listing more complete, and therefore, verifiable. It also helps to establish your business as locally-focused––a main pillar in local search success. The chances of anyone showing up at your home are slim (and––a recent development––specific address and phone number don’t show in the SERPs anymore, only in the actual listing).

That’s Not All, Folks…

You know you should check your sources before making any decision––when there is a monstrous needle involved but most especially concerning which listing to click. After all, we’d hate to give the wrong impressions…

Help your customers to not only make the right decision but avoid making the wrong one. Get visitors to your site and increase your conversions by putting forth the effort required to build and maintain accurate and comprehensive online citations.

The results will be well worth your time, and you’ll avoid stabbing yourself in the ass.

Then, review steps 1-4 to ensure they haven’t fallen by the wayside.

Remember––SEO is a staircase of strategies; each step gets you closer to the top of the SERP.

Logging out,

Logical Mix

 

Step FOUR to SEO: On-Page SEO

Am I using Step 1’s insights for page targeting & structuring?

If you did your homework, you would have made some discoveries about how to rank for keywords.

If you haven’t already checked it out, see Step One to SEO Success: Keyword Research to find out how to get started on this critical stage.

If you’ve done your research, let’s take a look at what you’ve discovered.

Two of your major findings would have been:

  • How people are searching for your product or service offering and,
  • How your offering aligns with their queries.

Using as many tools as possible, you compiled a list of long-tail keywords. You ranked them by relevance and difficulty and then chose the ones that are most relevant and least competitive.

Right?

Great, what were they?

If you used a Venn diagram to display the results of a simple keyword investigation in the health supplements niche, it might have looked like this:

Now, what do we do with this? Let’s get to the nitty gritty…

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO is essentially structuring individual web pages around target keywords with the goal of creating more traffic and achieving a higher rank.

It’s also about responding to the people who come to your page looking for answers.

One of the most obvious ways to hit on all these points is through content so let’s start there.

You could start structuring content around the keyword “gluten-free supplements for weight loss” because it is both relevant and low competition. This is a perfect jumping off point for a review of competitors’ brands (if there are any), or an article about how gluten-free supplements are hard to come by (until they stumbled across your brand of course), etc., etc.

Let’s hope you don’t just plop this juicy keyword into existing content about the benefits of supplements.

Of course you wouldn’t because you know as well as we do that it is better to start at the beginning.

Like a plant has a seed, a keyword is the crux of great content, which is still one of the top ranking factors. It’s easy to sniff out in the opening paragraph when keywords have been stuffed or simply dropped into existing content. Readers will quickly realize that your page is not going to deliver what they came looking for.

Irrelevancy makes you unreliable, and when you’re unreliable, people aren’t going to ask you for help and Google will note that and respond accordingly.

Don’t be that guy.

Make yourself trustworthy and deliver fresh new content that answers your users’ questions.

Now, let’s take a closer look at why content is king in SEO success and how to masterfully craft content around the keywords you want to rank for.

Enter RankBrain.

RankBrain is a machine-learning component of Google’s algorithm that measures dwell time (how long users are spending on your page) and click through rate (CTR), which is the total clicks divided by total impressions (read more about Google Analytics here JOEL – PLEASE ADD A LINK TO STEP 3 BLOG ONCE IT’S PUBLISHED). RankBrain then moves your page up or down the SERP depending on those two factors.

3 Techniques for Improving Rank

There are three key ways to win at RankBrain. First, optimize your titles and meta descriptions for better CTR. Second, rank for highly relevant keywords. Third, write quality content.

Sounds easy, right? They are, and they’re also dangerously easy to overlook. Each point carries some pretty heavy weight when it comes to on-page SEO so ensure you are focusing your efforts on all three.

 

  1. Optimize titles.

The first point is so important. Time and effort are wasted on creating great content out of awesome keyword research if there is nothing to attract users to your page. A gripping title and simple, to-the-point meta descriptions are necessary. Like the department store Macy’s revolutionized the storefront window, the title and meta description can lead users right to your page, wanting more of what your virtual window promises.

 

  1. Target relevant keywords and the people using them.

Let’s highlight the second point. You can write as much content as you want but if it’s not relevant to your offering, people are going to bounce.

The word people is strategic here. We talk a lot about the user, which makes me picture a hand on a mouse, or the reader, which makes me picture a book. But when I read the word people, I imagine a face, which directs my efforts to a person with a brain and the ability to subjectively decide what he or she is going to read and why. It makes my work more personal.

Okay, maybe not that face exactly. This one is a little closer to human (and looks a little like my grandma):

This point is, I’m not directing my efforts to the Google Machine, I’m addressing the needs of the people who ultimately determine what Google does with me. Right? This is a critical mind shift with which to lead.

 

  1. Create quality content.

High-quality content is one of the top ranking factors. But quality is a bit of an ambiguous, static term, isn’t it? Let’s go with engaging instead; it’s a bit more active.

Content that engages draws the reader in right away with a hook phrase that is both relevant and interesting. It keeps the reader wanting more by providing useful bits of information that are easy to absorb and answer the readers’ questions directly. It often tells a story to which the reader can relate. It also leads the reader to helpful resources that explore their query further.

Now, great content needs a bit of decoration. Something that yells out READ ME. Because let’s be honest, no one has time to fart around looking for the juiciest tidbit of meat.

When I land on a page, the first thing I do is cut the fat. I quickly scroll through the content to see if anything jumps out. What do I notice?

Three things, mainly: Images/videos, length, and headers.

We love images. They’re the eye candy that break up the text.

Length is often a good sign that a chunky chunk of content is going to feed me what I’m looking for.

Headers offer a place to start if I’m looking to pinpoint specific information. If the headers aren’t relevant to what I’m looking for (i.e., they don’t match my keyword query) then bouncy-bounce I go back to SERP and right into RankBrain’s time-out chair.

Rand Fishkin outlines seven elements of an optimized webpage. They are less quantitative than the SEO methods of yesteryear that called for specific keyword placement so they may seem a little loosey-goosey. But they’re not.

Qualitative strategies take center stage as the algorithms that assess relevance increase in complexity.

So, what makes a page brilliantly optimized according to Fishkin and Logical Mix?

  1. Offers uniquely valuable content and images
  2. Provides excellent user experience
  3. Targets specific keywords
  4. Easily shared through social networks
  5. Optimized for every device
  6. Accessible to crawlers
  7. Includes authorship, rich snippets, metadata, and schema

Fishkin created this genius, though mythical, perfectly optimized page, highlighting his seven factors, mentioned earlier:

Pretty cool, right? I’d love to land on more web pages like this: perfectly structured to answer my question and oh so pretty.

So there you have it. On-page SEO is actually a bit fun. Maybe not as fun as the keyword research it took to get here, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

What is the main takeaway?

Remember, you’re doing this for a living, breathing human being (or several thousand if you’re doing it right). Not a doll, not an ape (though possibly some monkey brains). Google is a machine, and although we want to please the machine, we’re still the ones ultimately in control… for now.

Appeal to your customer and find out how you can deliver what they want through super-duper on-page SEO.

When you’re structuring your pages, always keep this in mind:

People have questions. Be that place where the answers are.

Logging Out,

Logical Mix

 

Step THREE to SEO: Web Analytics

Have I implemented Google Analytics and Google Search Console?

Have you seen the movie Tag? It’s about five friends who’ve played a 23-year-long game of Tag.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is kind of like that: a continuous game of Tag–but inverted. You want to be IT.  

In the game of Tag, being IT means you’ve let your guard down and left yourself wide open to the competition.

In SEO, being IT means you’ve done the opposite and you’re ranking #1 because you’ve kicked some butt.

But in SEO, maintaining IT status requires continuous effort.

Luckily, there are tools that can help you, so you don’t have to run all over the place trying to stay ahead.

Google Analytics and Google Search Console are two of these tools, and they’re some of the best tools for SEO.

Why?

They give you detailed metrics about your site, which you can use to get more traffic.

More traffic = more conversions.

Sounds simple, right? It is.

And the more we know, the better equipped we are to solve the issues that are preventing us from ranking in the top spot of Google’s search results and converting users to buyers.

Contrary to popular belief (not knowledge), ignorance is not bliss–especially in the world of digital marketing!

What’s one of the most loved things about these tools?

They’re free! And there is no catch. Simply embed the proper code on your website.

Granted, not all free stuff is good. I don’t like free advice I haven’t asked for and I don’t like free hotdogs.

In fact, there is a lot of research out there that supports the notion that the more you pay for something, the more you value it.

But tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics are the exception.

The fact that they’re free is not the best thing about either tool though.

Keep reading to find out why they’re the scaffolding of a successful SEO strategy and how they can help you discover what’s working on your site and what’s not (you might be surprised).

Before I get into what each one is, I feel compelled first to point out that both tools are extremely useful for both beginners and experts.

Also, installation and setup for both tools are fairly intuitive, so I won’t offer a step-by-step guide here. Instead, I’ll get to the meat of how these tools are a necessary part of any SEO strategy.

So, what is Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Analytics (GA)? Are they the same thing?

They appear similar, but the information they provide is different.

Google Analytics tells you about your visitors: who they are, how they’re getting to your site, where they are geographically, and how much time they’re spending on your site.

Google Search Console, on the other hand, is a suite of tools that provide information about external links and keywords.

But read it from the makers themselves:

“Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results. You don’t have to sign up for Search Console for your site to be included in Google’s search results, but doing so can help you understand how Google views your site and optimize its performance in search results.”

With GSC, you can understand how you’re ranking and why, so you can focus your efforts and continue to improve. You can’t be successful in internet marketing if you’re a passive learner. Well, maybe you can be by sheer luck, but the odds are against you.

But that doesn’t mean it takes a lot of hard work either. GSC and GA are some of the best tools available because they’re easy to use, they’re comprehensive, and they’re free.

Let’s start with GSC.

How can Google Search Console help your SEO efforts?

Here’s a quick look at what you can do with this suite of tools:

  • Quickly find the overall performance of your website.
  • Manage what content gets crawled and what you don’t want appearing in search results.
  • Maintain your site with minimal disruption on the front end.
  • Resolve spam issues and malware.
  • Discover which keyword queries made you appear in search results.
  • Determine what sites are linking to your pages.
  • Manage mobile site performance.

Google Analytics provides filters to help you access valuable data about your site. The options are Clicks, Impressions, CTR (click-through rate), and Position.

Clicks counts the number of clicks that brought users to your site from the SERP.

Impressions displays how many links to your site appeared in the SERP, even if they don’t display in their field of vision (if the user didn’t scroll down to the bottom of the page). However, this only applies to the first page, so if your link appeared on the second page, it doesn’t count.

CTR is the sum of the clicks divided by the impression count (because an impression is required for a click).

Position measures the average position of the topmost result from your site.

Pretty cool, right?

Keep in mind that these metrics will change depending on whether you aggregate results by site or page.

These metrics are a good starting point from which to refine your results further. From there you can look at several more options.

Queries – lists all the keywords that brought users to your site.

Page – shows you which of your site’s pages appeared in the results.

Country – displays where the searches originated.

Device – calculates which devices and how many of them were used to search.

Search – indicates the type of search used: video, images, web, etc.

Date – allows you to choose the timeframe.

What can you do with these data?

Start with impressions. If you’re showing up in search results but not getting clicks, then you need to optimize for those specific keywords. You can do this by selecting those first four filters (clicks, impressions, CTR, and position), as well as queries. This will return a list of keywords. Go through each one, applying those first four filters again, to see how each keyword is performing in better detail.

Then grab your finest SEO tool–your brain–and go into manual mode. Search each keyword in Google to see the SERP. If you’re on page, you need to look very closely and objectively at why you’re not getting a lot of clicks.

What’s the one thing that draws you into an article, a book, or a film more than anything else?

You guessed it–the title!

The title tag and meta description are the most significant but often overlooked parts of SEO. Even little tweaks, such as changing one word, can boost your CTR. We won’t get into the nitty-gritty of them because that could (will) be an entirely separate blog. For now, ensure your title and meta tags are optimized, compelling, and specific. Look at what is also showing in the results page. How does yours compare?

Mobile keyword research is an essential part of serious SEO, and you might be surprised to learn that mobile keywords are quite different from desktop keywords. How much do you spend on your phone? For some, it’s the only device they use.

GSC can return results on which keywords are being used specifically in mobile searches, which you can then use to enhance your mobile SEO strategy.

Another impressive feature of GSC is that it gives you the ability to compare dates. A report generated by GSC only covers the previous four weeks so you can look at older dates (up to 90 days back) as well as compare dates within a specified range. This feature will assist you in examining and analyzing any changes in your position in the SERP.

How can Google Analytics increase your conversion rate?

This tool gives hundreds of different metrics, but there are a few on which you want to focus.

Discover what people are looking for in your site by finding out what they’re typing into the search field. When you know exactly what people are searching for you can provide targeted information, right? Right!

Check on-site behaviour with the behaviour flow report and see how people are navigating around your site. This gives insight into where your users are dropping off so that you can create more internal links or CTAs, and improve those pages with better content.

Using the goals function, track your conversions according to each of your marketing activities, so you know which ones are returning the best ROI.

Analyze your social media posts to determine which channels are generating the most traffic.

Determine what devices are generating more conversions. If your mobile conversation rate is low, this is an opportunity to optimize your pages for mobile.

Discover what pages are generating the most conversions so you can guide traffic to other areas of your site.

Wrapping up…

This blog is just a sample of what GA and GSC can do.

Remember, these tools are made for beginners and more experienced SEO geeks.

After an easy installation, play around with each tool and learn how to take advantage of their features to improve your user’s experience and ultimately, increase your conversions.

A final tip – like any of your SEO strategies, GSC and GA are not one-time deals. If you want to drive thousands of people to your site, you have to use these tools consistently to stay on top of your success. Like Tag, it’s a never-ending game. (We didn’t get to mention Tag Manager, even with all the puns at our fingertips)

Oh, and we love to help so,

Logging out,

Logical Mix

 

 

Inspecting rug with magnifying glass

STEP ONE to SEO: Keyword Research

Am I Matching Search Queries To My Service or Product Offering?

At its most basic, SEO is a game with Google–and a gazillion other online proprietors all vying for attention and page rank.

There are infinite, contrasting strategies for “how to do SEO”, but they all start with one thing: keyword research.

Keyword optimized content can increase traffic to your site and help your page rank higher in search engine results page (SERPs)–but you already know that.

What you really want to know is how to get more conversions.

You’ve come to the right place.

Every great enterprise starts with research.

I know, I know, who likes research, right? (Well, I do, but I swim in the nerd pool).

Keyword research isn’t hard. Some might call it exciting. But don’t take it from me. Take it from my non-nerd friend Rob who actually hates reading–a research requirement–but giggles like a small child on a merry-go-round when he nails down the right keyword to rank for.

How Is Keyword Research Done?

All research begins with a question (or two), and keyword research is no different.

Keyword research starts with identifying what your customer wants through two critical questions:

  1. How are people searching for your product or service offering?

And,

  1. How does your offering align with their queries?

To start, let’s tackle question #1.

How Are People Searching For Your Product Or Service Offering?

The number, order, and meaning of words in searches inform us of the searcher’s intention and where they are in the conversion cycle.

Matt Diggity, founder of Diggity Marketing, identifies three phases of research (in a 6-stage process) that potential customers go through when they are seeking a product or service. They are:

  1. Actively looking for a solution to their acknowledged pain (the need that your product is going to meet).
  2. Actively looking for the best solution to relieve their pain.
  3. Looking for the best place to buy the best solution.

During the first two stages, your customer is in the research phase. They’re using 1-2 keywords in their searches. These are your head or seed keywords.

Example: “yoga retreats”

In the second and third phases (they overlap), your customer is seriously considering a particular product or service. They’re using 2-3+ keywords in their searches. These are your long-tail keywords.

Example: “best yoga retreats in Bali” or “best Bali yoga retreats” or “kundalini yoga retreats in Bali”

As their research deepens, the search becomes more specific.

Make sense? Great.

Let’s move on to question #2.

How Does Your Product Or Service Offering Align With Search Queries?

By asking this question, we’re essentially seeking to know how to use keyword research for SEO.

This step is strategic. It’s where you begin to use the information you’ve gathered through rigorous keyword research.

You want to make your focus keywords those that represent the consideration and conversion stages of the journey–the long-tail keywords. Although your site will include head keywords organically, they are too general to focus your core efforts on.

You care more about long-tail keywords for two reasons:

  1. They are specific and therefore relevant to your customer’s queries.
  2. They are least competitive (because they’re specific) and therefore, have higher conversion potential.

Now, you need to find target long-tail keywords that are most relevant, more frequently searched, and are moderate or low competition.

How do you do that?

Luckily, some of the best things in life are free, including the best apps for keyword research.

For starters, try these:

Google Adwords Keyword Planner

Keywords Everywhere

Keyword.io

Keyword Shitter

Next, compile a list of long-tail keywords generated by any one of these tools (I recommend all) and then rank them, first by their relevance to your offering and then by their difficulty. This will help you determine which keywords you should focus on because they address your customers’ queries and are least competitive.

Assessing keyword difficulty is a bit labour intensive and while several tools can help determine the difficulty factor, they can be expensive and aren’t 100% accurate because no one knows how Google ranks pages–we can only estimate.

However, as a tool for assessing MOZ puts out a free extension: MOZ Toolbar, which reports on the page domain (PA) and domain authority (DA) of each search result. When SERPs have a low PA and DA, you’ve got a good starting point for choosing keywords to rank for.

screenshot of DA and PA from MOZ

But we do know that high-quality backlinks and relevant content that also considers user-intent are significant.

(We’ll take a look at backlinks in another blog. Right now, relevant content is in the spotlight).

Low competition long-tail keywords exist because there is insufficient responsive content available.

Remember–you want to optimize your pages by writing content around those keywords that are most relevant and least competitive.

Don’t take this lightly because this where many SEOs mess it up.

We can make anything fit if we really want it too. Those too-tight jeans from ‘95? Nothing an hour worn wet can’t cure (a humble confession of a thrifty nomad). But when we try to make something fit that naturally doesn’t, it’s obvious and uncomfortable for all those involved.

 

We call it stuffing–don’t make this mistake. Stuffing irrelevant keywords into your copy increases bounce rates and signals to Google that your page is not providing useful information.

Why Keyword Research Is So Important

Providing relevant content is one of the most important ways to respond to your customer’s needs (I argue it’s the pinnacle of SEO success). It starts with knowing what people are actually searching for and then responding with information that doesn’t relate to but explicitly answers their questions.

If someone asks about the gestation period of unhatched turkey poults, you’re not going to tell them about the sexual activity of turkeys. While it’s related, it’s not the question they asked.

You know how annoying not having your question answered is–don’t be that person.

And don’t insert those well-researched keywords into lousy copy. Instead, craft your content around those target keywords to provide your customer with on-topic, quality information.

Providing meaningful, relevant content means potential customers stay on your page longer,

their trust in your brand deepens,

they’re more likely to convert,

And Google ranks your page higher–it’s a happy place for everyone.

But, before we wrap up, we also need to consider user-intent. Words have double, sometimes triple, meanings. For example:

Someone searching for “chocolate labs” might actually be looking for one of three things:

A dog,

a factory that makes chocolate, or

a dog-shaped chocolate treat for their favourite uncle (unlikely but don’t cancel it out).

There is greater belief now that Google looks first at whether pages accurately respond to user-intent, which makes relevance a moot point. So, consider all the different ways people interpret the keywords you want to rank for.

Go Keyword Hunting…

Now you’ve got something to start with on your way to SEO success. Keyword research is a necessary first step–a strategic one.

My advice to you is to use every keyword tool available to you. The most valuable one is your brain.

Metrics are important, but they’re machine-generated. Investigate by performing your own search queries and analyzing the results. Read available content and note what is lacking–that’s your opportunity. It requires manual labour, but it supports a greater understanding of how Google ranks pages and why (before it changes again).

Then, write awesome, engaging content built around your target keywords, that feeds your potential customers exactly what they want. Write your own or hire an expert copywriter with SEO knowledge.

Happy researching!

Logging out,

Logical Mix

 

Text about Rand Fishkin and Moz

End of an Era with MOZ and the SEO Community

SEO Rockstar Rand Fishkin Steps Out And Moves On

College dropout-turned-SEO-messiah, Rand Fishkin is a legend in the SEO world. Co-founder of Moz, Rand held the seat of CEO for one of the top software analytics companies in the world for years. His SEO empire Moz grew out of the humble web design business he started right around the time Google entered our lives and changed the virtual world. Talk about being in the right place at the right time–and with the business acumen of a pizza pusher at a Blue Jays game (with the right amount of MOZ-arella).

Rand built his success, somewhat reluctantly, upon the general lack of knowledge about SEO and page ranking that existed at the time. While businesses clamoured to gain a first-page spot on any SERP, Rand outsourced research to SEO experts to meet the needs of his clients. With the demand for SEO expert knowledge and their prices increasing, Rand took it upon himself to become an authority. Massive research and self-study led to the birth of his blog SEOmoz and his successful venture to uncover the secrets of SERPs, which eventually became what it is today–Moz software business empire.

Rand’s SEO empire ranked #334 on the Inc. 500 list in 2010, has received multi-million dollar financing from high-profile investors, and receives over three million visitors per month. Its three primary products, Moz Pro, which includes Keyword Explorer and Open Site Explorer, Moz Local, and Moz API service everyone from professional SEOs to the local paint store owner to individuals who want site data and analytics.

After stepping down from his role as CEO of Moz and a subsequent four years fulfilling a variety of roles, Rand’s journey with Moz ended this past February. Rand’s last day at Moz was over a month ago and it was hard to digest.

Logical Mix Has Benefited Immensely From His Teachings

I know he’s doing more ‘whiteboard Friday’s’ (in fact, he lined up about a dozen before he left), but he’s gone to do… Sparktoro.

You can check out what the heck Sparktoro is by clicking here, but first, the million-dollar question lingers: If Moz is so successful, why the heck did Rand leave? The search for a clear answer leaves a pile of earth and stones. But reading between the lines of his personal blog, we can extract a sense that Rand was aggrieved by the operation of Moz over the past several years, which may be why he stepped down from CEO in 2014–this is mere conjecture though so don’t quote me on it. But he did write,

“On a scale of 0-10, where 0 is “fired and escorted out of the building by security” and 10 is “left entirely of his own accord on wonderful terms,” my departure is around a 4. That makes today a hard one, cognitively and emotionally. I have a lot of sadness, a heap of regrets, and a smattering of resentment too.”

Personally, Rand taught me a lot about the SEO game, one of the most significant being that it actually isn’t a game. When it comes to SEO best practices, he clearly demarcates between quick hacks for instant rankings and hard-won experiences as a result of consistent hard work. He reveals that his “secret sauce” for SEO success is not so secret at all and anyone who isn’t transparent about his SEO activities is likely up to some shady business. He insists that there is no one right move that will accelerate the growth of any business. The value is in the whole, not its individual parts. Anything else smacks of black hat biz.

But damn, even with the success of his SEO enterprise and the years of hard work under-riding it, Rand is an uncommonly humble guy. Personally, I suspect that is the cornerstone of his success. Humility supports a continuous desire to improve.

“I’m not sure I’d call Moz a ‘success,’ at least not yet. We’ve raised venture capital, and that means returning money to our investors, hopefully at a very high multiple. It’s a very tall task, but I believe one that’s possible – just an incredibly hard thing to do.” 

A juicy last tip from Rand: Put your customers first. VCs are important for economic growth but you’ve got to listen and respond to what your customers want.

Love him or hate him–that dude is a legend in SEO. White hats off to you Rand!

Check out Rand’s recently released book, Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World.

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DeltaGrowth logo

DG’s Roundup Summary: What SEO or PPC Advice Would You Give Yourself?

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Delta Growth (DG), a big boy in Toronto’s SEO & SEM industry, specializing in e-commerce. Eugenia, DG’s SEO/PPC Implementation Specialist reached out to some of the industry’s local brainers to ask a SEO/PPC question that few of us ever ask ourselves during our careers:

What advice would have changed your SEO or PPC career?

It’s the kind of question that encourages us to reflect on our business moves of yesteryear. But it also makes us want to nail our thumbs to the floor for the dearth of knowledge our brains now overflow with. If only a DeLorean time machine were as accessible as a Zipcar.

But alas, DG talked to leading SEOs, so we did something right even back then! As a SEO Specialist in Whitby at Logical Mix I was humbled to be regarded in this mix and appreciated the opportunity to reflect on the ghosts of SEO past.

Whether you’re a blogger, consultant, strategist, or a newbie copywriter, Delta Growth’s Round Up about SEO/SEM career advice from leading industry experts may surprise you. It seems success lies in some good old-fashioned values and technical know-how.

Make Great SEO & SEM Relationships

Relationship building is the cornerstone of success in any business. Regardless of how great we are at the technical stuff, there is a person behind every move we make and that person is either going to trust us or bounce. We don’t want bouncers. Stoney Degeyter, Founder and CEO at Pole Position Marketing urges us to always, “focus on the customer, not the algorithms”.  Make the user’s experience your priority. It’s not enough just to know SEO. A grasp of marketing fundamentals is essential to reaching your audience and garnering the staying power that will bump up your conversion rates. What is the crux of Marketing 101? Know your customer. So, know your customer.

Tor Refsland says that if he could go back in time he would have told himself “to grow some b*lls and become uncomfortable much sooner!” He would have started getting new clients right away, face-to-face. So get out there and show face.

Check in with industry peeps too. Nobody gets very far alone. The e-comm community is huge. Learn from as many people as you can. Garner good quality links by offering something of value. Bump up your social media presence.

Give TOFu and BOFu Equal Opportunity

We want to pay attention to everybody at every stage of the conversion cycle so we’ve got to know how to structure our content appropriately. The experts give a few suggestions here. Nail in on long-tail keywords to reach the BOFu kids. Stick to one topic at a time. Create pages to rank for individual head terms and focus on the low-competition keywords in your niche.

But the awareness phase is critical and you can’t gain interest unless you give people something useful. Steve Wiideman insists on links to free tools, guides, and checklists as a marketing strategy for garnering tons of TOFu interest.

Invest In Yourself

It’s easy to forget about our own brand when we’re focused on making it awesome for our clients. John Rampton and Michael Cottam urge us to take the advice we give our clients. Clients come and go with their millions. “What will stick with you is your own brand and assets. Build those and invest as much resources (sic) in those as you would your clients’ sites” (John Rampton, Founder and CEO, with over 1 million Twitter followers). Capitalize on what you practice everyday and know one or two things really well – this is your expertise. And study what you’re not practicing everyday to maintain an edge in the industry.

Craft Awesome New Content Every Week

The demand for high quality content won’t change anytime soon so unless you’re a blackhat you’ll want to maximize your content and repurpose it – a ingenious hack from Oleg Korneitchouk. Several experts commented on how they wished they’d known the value of investing in a marketing campaign, with regular, meaningful content at the top of the priority list. Josh Steimle, Founder of MW1 says it’s simple: “High quality work will attract high quality links. It’s a lot of hard work to create great content, but it’s a simple recipe.”  Good quality content helps the customer alleviate their pains and achieve their goals. This points back to relationships and making our brand trustworthy. But it has to be ongoing. Fresh content each week is essential to high organic ranking and traffic.

Get Your Hands Dirty

We’ve gotta be ballsy in this industry. If we want to know what it feels like to jump out of a plane, we’ve got to jump out of the plane. Take risks with what we know. Research. Experiment. Learn from the results. Experiential learning is the key to forming a knowledge base that will compound over time and support innovation. According to the experts, research and risk are our most profitable investments. Know how to code. Use PPC as a learning mechanism for SEO. Don’t be afraid to try and share with others – remember relationships? Eric Enge sums up SEO & PPC advice the best: “Establish yourself as knowing one aspect of it very, very well. Then, when you’re ready, work on adding a second area of expertise, and get to the point where you are recognized as an expert on that. Keep expanding on those things over time.”

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*Full article here: Round Up: What Advice Would’ve Changed Your SEO or PPC Career?

the Griswolds looking at the sky in front of a house with Christmas lights

Happy Holidays from Logical Mix

Taking time to reflect on the internet and digital marketing business in 2017 has brought much joy to our hearts.

The internet is becoming more user experience focused…and we like that trend! The 2018 digital marketing landscape is going to be filled with change. Adapt or die.

The Good News:

We’re on pace to reach our long term goals with all our clients.

Thanks to all our clients for trusting us and believing we are the right company to grow your company online. We will not let you down.

Happy Holidays to all and to all a good night!

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Shopify logo

What Lessons Can We Learn From Shopify?

What Makes Shopify One on the Most Innovative eCommerce Solutions on the Planet?

We’re glad you asked.

Did you know that in just one year, Shopify increased their revenue by 90%? It’s probably why some short sellers are questioning the business model.

In the matrix of digital marketing, Shopify has found their niche: customized, SEO-rich lures that have made them one of the most innovative and effective ecommerce solutions in the world.

Find out how Shopify cracked that egg better than the other guys in the industry–but who are they again?

They Help Customers Before They’re Even Customers….

Shopify’s “try before you buy” free trial provides time and tips to get your business up and running before you’ve paid a cent. Once hooked, their pricing system has budget-friendly options.

Then, they break down new business start-up step by step, right from the home page, and provide real examples that everyone can relate to.

Shopify discovers what people want and own it. They create ToFu content and subdomains from highly searched keyword phrases. Their useful content draws in and assists all kinds of folks.

Daily blogs. In-depth guides. Instructive podcasts. Video courses taught by industry experts. All expertly optimized. Shopify create interesting, usable, and varied content, a little something for everyone, without email opt-in. One stop shopping for ecommerce education.

Shopify address new business owner concerns through a seven-day email series. Each one takes you one baby step further in set-up. But it’s not entirely altruistic. The introductory email congratulates the new business owner, while the CTA button reminds of the extra goodies available with a paid plan.

In addition to baiting new customers, Shopify go fishing… at the competitor. They identify and solve the primary pain problem competitors’ customers have with straightforward copy.

And of course, Shopify make good with their old friends too.

Their Twitter support channel broadcasts their awesome customer support, which makes them look really good too, like that 22nd selfie…nailed it!

They Take Smart Risks….

Shopify inspired the entrepreneurial spirit of thousands through Build a Business. Seemingly crazy, and $uper risky, it was the motivation behind the start of thousands of new, successful businesses, for a total revenue of $3,543,191 by shop owners. BOOM.

They make evergreen webinars available almost as soon as you sign up. Then they advertise them as a limited time offer (except they aren’t). This creates a speed-laced dangling carrot that turns traffic into regular users.

They Roll With the Big Guys….

How about a brilliant affiliate marketing scheme that benefits everyone? Shopify’s done it. With their affiliate referral system, Shopify have turned their customers into a mass-marketing, super-bomb Shopify team. And they use industry innovators to create awesome apps and designs just for Shopify–so they can hoard the good ideas for themselves.

And, for every app they partner with, they create keyword-rich, integrated landing pages that lead potentials to their free trial.

They Juice Up the Dry Stuff….

Shopify get how significant those little CTA buttons are. Theirs use a different kind of speak to respond to email subscribers. Totally refreshing. But who cares about the newsletters? It’s all about the free-trial, right?!

They have designed an attractive, interactive, and current product update page that gets thousands of social shares without any buttons.

They make meat of ToFu with perfectly-matched ad copy, super specific PPC landing pages, and MoFu keywords that lead the searcher to exactly what they want.

And all those little things, like logging and out stating the terms of service (yawn)… They take them to the next level, to be just that bit better than the other guys–remember them?

This all just smacks of clever business sense.

*All material researched and used can be found at: Shopify’s Website

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Banner with text of 12 Steps to SEO success.

12 SEO Steps to Success

This SEO Checklist will send YOU down the Path of Internet Success.

Ask yourself these 12 SEO questions frequently during your marketing campaign:12 SEO Steps to Success printable jpeg

This list has taken the length of my career to make. Creating 12 summarized sentences to get to the heart of search engine optimization was a hard task indeed and by no means complete. It is worth noting, that over time, some of these practices will shift or become extinct altogether.

This is Logical Mix’s, 2017 version of the “12 SEO Steps to Success“.

I hope it serves you well!

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*Here is the text, if you are having a hard time viewing the image:

1. Keyword Research

Am I matching search queries to my service/product offering?

2. Competitive Research

Have I found usable insights from top organic competitors?

3. Web Analytics

Have I implemented Google Analytics & Google Search Console?

4. On-Page SEO

Am I using Step 1’s insights for page targeting & structuring?

5. Local SEO

Have I built & fixed online citations for my business?

6. Reviews

Do I have a strategy for gathering reviews from happy customers?

7. Technical SEO

Are my relevant web pages being crawled & indexed?

8. User Experience

Is my website intuitive & frictionless throughout?

9. Content Creation

Am I creating quality content that solves the searcher’s problems?

10. Content Marketing

Am I marketing the quality content I created?

11. Internet Partners

Have I been building relationships with non-competing companies?

12. Off-Page SEO

Am I building authority to my site from external websites?

writer at computer

How To Write SEO Content Like A PRO

If you’re wondering how to become an SEO expert writer, grab a coffee, sit down, and take ten minutes to read this simple guide.

Are you a writer just entering the world of SEO content writing? Has your writing for SEO become dull or lifeless? Are you struggling to increase traffic to your blog or website? Do you understand what SEO actually is?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a “marketing discipline”, according to MOZ, focused on improving organic (non-paid) rankings in Google searches and increasing traffic to webpages. Everybody who is anybody that has a website or blog of any kind wants a piece of this action.

The world of SEO is complex but don’t be deterred. Just learning a few basics about how to write expert SEO content is enough to improve your site’s ranking and traffic. You really don’t need to be a rocket scientist. If you can shuck a corn husk, you’ll do fine with SEO writing. So let’s start with the basics and go from there.

WHAT IS SEO WRITING?

First of all, SEO expert writing involves finding the right keywords and phrases and weaving them effectively into your content to generate traffic to your site.

But there’s a little more to it than that.

While there are some technical aspects to learn, creativity is equally important. How you write is as important as what you write. Writing to attract and engage an audience and writing for SEO purposes aren’t that different.

Let’s suss out the requirements of both aspects to get a clearer picture of how to be a SEO expert writer, both technically and creatively.

WRITE IT WITH BRICKS AND MORTAR

Your keywords are the bricks, your content is the mortar. You need both. You can stack a bunch of keywords together but the structure will eventually collapse without the glue. Similarly, mortar without bricks is kind of a waste. You can write the most beautiful, interesting piece of content but if no one but your mom is reading it, what’s the point?

To find the right keywords you’ve got to do the research, and not just once.

Long before I learned about SEO my routine was to gather a list of sensible-sounding keywords based on my topic, chuck them into my copy, wash my hands, and move to the next task. This is like trying to assemble IKEA furniture without the helpful little diagrams… good intentions don’t always produce the desired result!

But how does one do keyword research? I’m glad you asked.

CHOOSE A FOCUS KEYWORD & DEVELOP A STRATEGY

Indeed, choosing a focus keyword is essential. It determines how your site will rank and how readers will find you. Look at sites similar to yours. What are they writing about? What keyword search brought you to those sites? What questions do you want your site to answer? What keyword or keyword phrase is most relevant to your site’s content? This is the first part of developing your keyword strategy.

For example, perhaps you want to write about how to write expert SEO content (okay, so no points for originality here but we’ll let it go for the purpose of example). What words are you typing into Google (or heaven forbid, Bing)? Let’s see. How about “SEO expert writing” or “SEO expert writer” or variations of that: “how to write expert SEO content” or “writing expert SEO content” or “SEO expert content writing”.

These examples are considered long-tail keyword phrases because they’re comprised of three or more words. They make up 70% of web searches. Long-tail keyword phrases help you zone in on a more specific target than a simple search for “SEO” that will return thousands of general results–have fun weeding! So, gently tailor your focus keyword to your topic.

Next, there are plenty of tools out there to help you research additional keywords, free and not-so-free. Yoast for example, is a WordPress plugin that analyzes your content against your chosen focus keyword and can generate keyword expansions.

A freebie resource like Moz Keyword Explorer offers the same and is an extremely simple tool to get you started on keyword research and strategy development. There are plenty out there. At this moment, Google’s free Keyword Planner tool is not that useful anymore unfortunately.

You can also pay a SEO expert who specializes in creating quality content, understands Google’s algorithms and they can do all the heavy lifting for you.

Do not take KEYWORD RESEARCH lightly! It is the backbone of your SEO campaign or any campaign you want to conduct online.

ORGANIZE YOUR INFO AROUND YOUR OBJECTIVE

It’s natural to want to just jump right in and get writing. But, just like you should wax your board before you surf, adequate preparation is essential for success in the next steps.

Create an outline. You’ve chosen your topic and your keywords. Now you can create the bones of your article. Choose a keyword-informed title and subheadings so that you can organize your thoughts and stay true to your objective. (This also helps Google sort you out but we’ll get there in a minute).

What’s your objective? Writing interesting content that people will want to read, peppered strategically with SEO keywords. Right?!

Now, organize your keyword information so you can keep track of how often you use certain keywords and phrases. A spreadsheet is a good way to accomplish this–especially if you’re a spreadsheet junkie!

The most important part is your keyword research in the spreadsheet and how you use that information in your content. However, bricks and mortar without a design are just a pile of sand and stone in the end. Organizing your hard earned research findings is key.

That brings us to the next, less technical, but equally important step in writing expert SEO content.

BE A RESPONSIBLE SEO WRITER!

Now we’re diving into the more creative aspect of SEO expert writing. But it’s not all fancy-free and foot-loose ways here. There are some important creative considerations you should make before jumping into the surf and allowing your flair to take over. SEO-safety first please folks.

Avoid making your content a keyword dumping ground. It’s lazy, ineffective, and even damaging to your site’s performance to jam keywords into your final copy. You’ve done the research so be tactical in your next steps.

Be a responsible SEO writer and place your keywords appropriately throughout your text to avoid damaging its readability. Roll them in naturally as you write, rather than trying to jam them into your first draft. If it feels like stuffing, rethink your strategy.

Your chosen, tactical keywords should feature prominently in your article but avoid overusing them. Yoast recommends including your focus keyword in the first 300 words, and in the first main heading (H1) or subheading (H2).

STRUCTURE YOUR COPY

Keep your sentences short and concise, no more than approximately 20 words. And, avoid lengthy paragraphs. Few tasks are more daunting than weeding out the gold nuggets of information in paragraphs longer than a showgirl’s legs. Such a task makes your eyes bleed and we naturally want to stop doing anything that causes bleeding. Make it easy on your readers. Break up the paragraphs into two or three sentences.

Use headings and subheadings. They organize your content to make it more readable and to assist Google in extracting your copy’s main topics to improve your site’s ranking. Anything that helps Google read your site… helps your site!

And a mention on article length. The average word-count for blogs and content articles is 1500. I don’t recommend less than 400 or more than 3000. Readers will typically scan for specific information, hence the headings, concise sentences and short paragraphs. Make your content readable. Make your readers want to stay a while.

 

WRITE QUALITY CONTENT REGULARLY

If you’re writing for your own site don’t think that posting a few blogs or articles when you’re starting up is enough. Your numbers may spike but then settle right back down unless you’re generating new and quality content regularly. And with that, as mentioned, comes regular keyword searching and strategizing. This is an ongoing process and one of the most important ways of improving SEO.

ENJOY THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

Now you have some basics for writing your own SEO content (or someone else’s)! Informed writing is always better than ignorant writing so good for you for indulging in this ten minute learning break!

And writing for SEO doesn’t have to be a task you approach begrudgingly. The best advice I can offer is to write what you know and then learn how to write it well to support your SEO objective–remember your objective! If you need to know more, research. Web surfing is one of the best activities you can engage in to learn more about SEO expert writing, content writing, and blogging. (And can I just add how unintelligible that statement would have sounded 30 years ago–I’m picturing spiders on surf boards).

So, now you’ve got your SEO swimmies on, you’re ready to enter the wonderful world of SEO expert writing. Go on, get wet–but remember to practice safe surfing!

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*featured image courtesy of Wellesley College