Home » Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization

How Important is Google to Local Businesses?

In the digital marketing world, we focus a good portion of our efforts on getting found or showing up in Google and Google-owned networks for a good reason. In case you haven’t noticed, Google pretty much owns everything related to the internet. Of course, this is an overstatement,  but their products and related advertising tools have extensive reach and can be extremely valuable to businesses owners, particularly those in our North Canton community.

Consider Google’s Dominance  

Google’s DominanceDid you know that Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second? That works out to over 3.5 billion searches per day! You can’t afford to ignore how your business appears when people search for it – or what people are saying about you online.

Consider Google’s Economic ImpactEconomic Impact of Google

In the state of Ohio in 2015, over 34,000 businesses and non-profits benefited from using Google and it’s various advertising tools such as Adwords and Adsense. Google estimates it helped generate $2.92 billion in economic activity for Ohio alone (nationally over $165 billion). The potential economic impact is another reason why every small business should have a plan for utilizing Google.

Consider Google’s Local Rankings

Small businesses specifically have an advantage in their local markets because Google is very focused on returning results that are unique to the location where a search takes place, as well as the best possible result for the users. Google does this by considering these three factors for local results:

1. Relevance

2. Distance

3. Prominence

There is not much you can do about the distance factor in this equation. However, the Relevance and Prominence portions are areas you can influence. Every local business needs a local presence on Google, which requires a plan for providing relevant information to the search engines and for building prominence within the online community.

For many businesses, the local population, will be the most significant customer base. And even if your business reaches national or global markets, how you appear locally in Google can be an indication of your domestic or global presence.

Consider Google’s Potential Traffic  

When time, effort and budget are directed towards a businesses local search presence the results can be amazing. Consider this example of a client whGoogle Traffic o shifted their focus to providing Relevance and showing Prominence in their local search area.

After implementing a strategic optimization plan over a three-month span, their result was a 63% increase in organic traffic from Google! This increase in organic traffic allowed them to cut their PPC budget by more than $6,000 a month while maintaining continual growth in web traffic.

An additional benefit often seen is an impact on Bing and Yahoo traffic. While the user groups on these search engines are much smaller, they work in nearly the same way as Google does so your optimization efforts will carry over exposing your business to even more users.

Larry Page and Serge Brin, Google’s founders, once wrote: “Our goal is to deliver services that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible.” Even though Google has become the giant monster that it is, their philosophy still holds true today. Capitalizing on Google’s dominance in the digital world and focusing on your local rankings can allow your business to thrive in the digital world and significantly improve your life.

If you are not sure where to start when it comes to Google or how your business appears in Google locally give us a call, leave a comment or fill out our contact form. Together we can build a strategic optimization plan and get your business showing up where it counts!

How Important is Google

content-pyramid-iconOver a decade ago we were preaching “content is king” – long before the field of content marketing was an actual thing. Sure good design, great page layout, and mobile friendly design are important. But it’s great content – and the presentation of that content – that ultimately sells your business.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking to a group of publishers at a seminar in Orlando on various digital marketing topics. One of the sessions I facilitated was an open discussion on “riding the jump to mobile” in which we discussed how mobile, especially in that particular industry, is really driving the approach to how we plan and present websites. One of the participants asked a great question; one that we hear frequently from the businesses with whom we work:

“People keep telling me that pages need to have less and less copy, especially for mobile users. Is that right?”

The answer? Sometimes – but not always!

It’s a commonly perpetuated myth that users don’t want to read; that all website pages should be short and visual with little copy. Instead, we are finding that website visitors will consistently spend a good deal of time reading long and in-depth articles if the topic interests them or meets a specific need. Long-form content, or articles over 1,000 words, are making a strong comeback – largely as a result of the mobile explosion. Users no longer prefer to click around to other pages or navigate through a series; they want to get all the information available with one click.

Not all of your website copy should be treated the same. Here’s a glimpse into how to take a strategic approach to planning your website copy.

Strategic Approach to Planning Website Content

A helpful picture for planning your website content is to think of it as a pyramid. At the top you have the least amount of information, as you go down a level it grows, and at the bottom it is most expansive.

content-pyramid-small
Download Graphic as a PDF

The key approach to remember here is that you provide bite-sized chunks on the main pages of your website – a sampling of what is available and important – and use it to entice readers further into the site. The deeper you go, the more specific detail and in-depth information you give on individual topics. And if you have plenty to say that is valuable to a customer, don’t be afraid to use as many words as are necessary to do it as you get deeper into the site.

These high quality, descriptive, detailed, deep pages are great for searchers who have specific questions and often want to learn all they can – without having to make a phone call.

Best Practices for All Website Pages

No matter the approach, poorly written or formatted copy will kill a visit no matter how few or many words it contains. Here are three best practices you need to keep in mind that apply to all the pages of your site.

Pages Should be 250 Words Minimum

When it comes to developing best practices for copy and search optimization, what Google says is generally what goes. And for good reasons: Google owns the search market, and in the vast majority of cases the largest single source of traffic to your website is Google.

Google is clear that each page of your website should have a minimum of 250 words of unique copy (so not counting header, footer, or sidebar material). If it doesn’t make that minimum, it will be held back in the search results.

Format for Readability

HTML markup such as headers and subheaders are critical for search engine optimization and for your readers. Using shorter sentences, paragraphs of alternating length, and good organization and formatting makes your content easy to scan and enjoyable to read. Make good use of:

  • An engaging page title (be descriptive and convey action)
  • Headers and subheaders
  • Bullet and/or number points for lists
  • Link to other pages on your site when you mention topics that are covered in more depth elsewhere
  • Bold sentences that convey key ideas
  • End with a specific call to action related to the page’s topic

Good formatting is key on short pages and long-form articles alike. Need an example? Follow how this post is formatted!

Write Quality

Every page of your website should be well-written, unique, and convey important information, key messaging points, benefits and differentiators, calls to action and your unique personality. Cookie-cutter or typo-ridden pages waste your time and your visitor’s time. And ultimately they drive potential customers away.

Great Copy is Strategy, Not Just Writing

Website content that converts visitors into customers requires strategy, not just well-written copy. And it certainly requires more than simply copying and pasting from a brochure or other materials.

Want to get started with a strategic plan for how you write and present your business through website content?

Contact Sanctuary Marketing Group today for a free assessment. Our team of strategists and writers will help you develop a content plan that grows your business.

Shorter Isn’t Always Better: Strategic Approaches to Mobile Copy
Local Search Ranking Factors

Ever wonder what it takes to rank high in the search engines? Ranking factors, despite being perceived as a great mystery, are in reality relatively straight forward. Create great content, get people to link to it, make sure your business listings are in order and you’re all set! Of course, I’m oversimplifying things. There’s a bit more to it than this, however knowing what the search engines are looking at provides a perfect place to start.

Every year the top SEO service providers pull their shared experiences, tests, and case studies to produce a Top Ranking Factors list.

For local business owners, this list is a valuable resource for deciding where to spend time and budget to put your business in the best possible position to be found in the search engines.

Check out this infographic on the top Local Ranking Factors.

Local Search Ranking Factors

Sanctuary provides optimization services for local businesses. Let us help you get your business showing up at the top of the search engines.

Search Engine Local Ranking Factors
Evaluating an SEO Agency

The world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google always seem to be clouded in mystery. Even though it’s 2016 and Google has been around for 18 years, many business owners or marketing managers have no idea how it works or how to get their companies to show up on Google.

This confusion makes it easy for less-than-reputable individuals to take advantage of those who know they need to be found on the web but don’t know how to get there. These unscrupulous SEO firms throw terms around like Algorithms, Penguin, Penalties, and SERP’s – more to confuse and thus convince clients to trust them.

The end result is a company who pays a lot of money for tactics that, at best, achieve no results and, at worse, cause damages that are difficult to undo.

Evaluating an SEO Agency

Top 5 signs you might be dealing with an “SEO” Agency that doesn’t have your best interests in mind.

#5 No Clear Strategy

If an SEO has no way of articulating their strategy for increasing your visibility then chances are they don’t have one.  A strategy is their chance to explain what and why they will be doing certain things. Always ask what and why.

#4 Lack of Reporting

Reporting is a vital part of business operations. If you can’t report out on it how can you assess the ROI? Any SEO firm that doesn’t provide an account of what they’ve done and how successful or not (which is ok, failure if part of the process) it has been, is not being transparent. Lack of access to analytics (Google Analytics), conversion tracking tools, rank reports etc. are a sure sign things are not being assessed properly.

#3 Magical Results

Everyone wants to see their traffic, sales, conversions etc. grow and grow quickly. But be wary of the ‘magical’ results. Organic traffic can grow fast, but use your gut when you see extreme growth. Often these visitors turn out to be inflated or manipulated and provide no value to your company.

#2 Google Guarantee

Any SEO firm or agency that says they can guarantee an organic ranking is, well, not someone to trust. No one can. Google won’t allow it or Google would be out of business. Certain tactics have proven to be more efficient than others, but there are simply too many factors involved for anyone to declare emphatically they can guarantee rankings.

#1 Laziness

The digital world has changed a lot in the last five years. Google has made over 20 changes to how it interacts with a website in the last two years. If your SEO agency is still using tactics from 2010, they’re being lazy.

 

A mix of proven and innovative approaches always gives a company the best possible chance to succeed. A quality SEO firm will explain the tactics they are using and explain why they are important. If your agency isn’t doing that, you need to ask questions.

These are just a sampling of the things you should use to evaluate your current or prospective SEO agency. Our hope is that your agency passes the test and is providing you with a valuable service. Quality SEO makes the web a better place for everyone!

 

At Sanctuary Marketing Group we pride ourselves on having an open relationship with our clients. Our clients look at us as partners, focused on achieving results openly and ethically. If you’ve had a bad experience with an SEO or Digital Marketing agency, contact us. We are happy to listen to your needs and experience, offer advice and help you get back on track growing your business.

How to Evaluate SEO Providers & Avoid the Sketchy Ones
Black-Hat-SEO

Back in 2012, Chris Auman wrote an article titled “5 SEO Tactics to Avoid at all Costs.” Needless to say, a lot has changed over the past four years when it comes to digital marketing and SEO.

Despite all the information on the web about how search optimization has changed and what not to do when it comes to SEO, we still find many companies dealing with old SEO tactics. Perhaps these are still around because of a less than reputable SEO provider or maybe just because companies haven’t had the time or budget to addressed their approach to search optimization.

With that in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit these tactics for a little refresher on what you should not be doing. What Chris wrote in 2012 is still very much relevant in 2016.

 

Top 5 SEO tactics to avoid at all cost Black-Hat-SEO

#1: Keyword Stuffing – Keyword stuffing may happen if you are writing about something that requires certain keywords to be repeatedly used but it is still something that needs attention. While overusing certain keywords once worked to get your site or blog bumped to the top of a Google search, it now has the opposite effect. Saturating your piece with the same words over and over is a clear abuse of SEO and can now get you booted from search. Also, it makes the content clunky to read.

#2: Paying for Links – Having links and backlinks is something else that should happen naturally. Paying for this type of connection is considered unethical and will probably not get you the results you want. Creating fake websites just to increase the backlinks to your site is not an ethical practice to follow, which ties into the next point.

#3: Hiring someone to leave fake comments or to write false reviews and testimonials – The idea is that you should be attracting authentic versions of these for other users to see. If you want to encourage visitors to your blog or users of your product to leave real comments, reviews or testimonials that is one thing. If you go out of your way creating false reviews, you are operating with black hat marketing techniques.

#4: Hidden or Invisible Text – This is the practice of using text that cannot be seen by visitors to a site or blog but is detected by search engines. Again, it is considered a less than ethical tactic to use to rank higher on search engines. Using hidden text is seen as a form of spam,  frowned upon by most and if used, the site runs the risk of incurring a penalty from the search engines.

#5: Using Misspellings – This happens when you create content using keywords that are commonly misspelled as part of your content marketing plan. Using the misspelled version of the word but directing it to the correctly spelled version is frowned upon and not a good practice to get in the habit of for SEO.

While it may be tempting to use some tricks that are “in the gray area” you will more than likely be sorry you did. In the long run, it is never worth using these types of black hat approaches to SEO. Yes, it may take more time to build up the desired effect from white hat techniques, but the results will be better and longer lasting.

 

Avoid making these mistakes, whether intentional or not. If you are not sure whether your site falls into these traps or not or need direction on how to update your marketing approach, contact us. Sanctuary Marketing group has Digital Marketing strategists who are experts at this, and we’re here to help.

5 Sketchy SEO Tactics
Local Mobile Search

You already have a mobile friendly site? Better be sure of that! On April 21, 2015 Google’s mobile ranking factors will kick in. Those who do not have a mobile friendly site will begin to see a “significant impact” in their search results, according to Google. This roll out will happen over the course of a week and will be a “Yes/No” on whether your site is mobile-friendly or not, there are no degrees of mobile-friendliness in this algorithm.

Mobile Usability
Our Mobile Planet: Understanding the Mobile Customer

Mobile is something we all should have been paying attention to anyway. According to a survey sponsored by Google and Ipsos MediaCT, smartphones have become an indispensable part of our daily lives. Smartphone penetration has risen to 56% of the population, and Smartphone owners are becoming increasingly reliant on their devices. In 2013, it was reported that 67% of smartphone users accessed the internet everyday on their phone and most never leave home without it. These number have undoubtedly risen.

Google is now stepping up the game with this update by ‘requiring’ businesses to have a mobile friendly website to be found in mobile search results. And it makes sense: Google wants to deliver results that their users can be happy using. As a business, you should have the same goal! Make your site easy for people use, and they will use it. To be clear, this will mostly likely only affect non-branded searches done through Google on your browser or the Google App. Those searching for branded terms will likely not see any changes in the results.

Local Mobile SearchOur smartphones allow us to research anything, anywhere. The moment an idea crosses our mind we can pull out our phone and begin the process of getting “more input.” Statics tells us that 94% of smartphone users have looked for local information on their device, and 57% of these users do it once a week, with a whopping 25% doing it every day. Being optimized for local search is a key part of being found.

So how do you make sure you’re ready for April 21st?

Usually updates come up with little or no notice, but Google said it wanted sites to prepare; so, you have some time to make your website mobile-friendly which is a big benefit for business owners. Assuming you have a mobile site already some of the usability issues can be quickly fixed to comply with what Google is looking for. We do offer web design services that can quickly identify any issues, and affordably provide you with a solution. If you don’t have a mobile site at all, we can help with that too.

Identify Mobile Usability Issues

Mobile Friendly LabelKnowing if your site is mobile friendly or not can be done by simply doing a search for your site on your smartphone. Since late last year, Google has been using a ‘mobile friendly’ label on sites which it has identified as being such. If the site does not have this label, then that means it has not passed the test, and there’s a strong possibility it will be affected by the update.

Identifying the issues that are keeping the site from being mobile friendly can be done quickly with a few tools Google provides. Each one of these tools offers varying features and should be used in tandem to assess current issues with usability. Google Webmaster tools will give you the specific items Google is looking for and alert you if the site is not in compliance. It’s also important to understand the potential impact on traffic, which is why I suggest looking at current mobile traffic. Understanding how these mobile visitors are getting to the site and what they do while they are on it will help in making decisions on improving the usability. Identifying landing pages, exit pages, and other metrics will provide information on hurdles users faces and potential areas of improvement.

  • Site validation: Validate your site with Google’s mobile friendly test tool. It’s important that all the elements of your site are crawlable.
  • Current user behavior: Google Analytics provides a wealth of information on mobile users. Identify how they enter your site, where they land, what they do and where they convert. This information will help you understand any hurdles they are facing.
  • Search appearance: Google Webmaster tools will show you what queries your pages are showing up for, what position they hold and which search results these users click. There are features with GWT that will alert you if Google finds usability issues and provide some guidance on the what to fix.

As with most Google updates there tends to be a “freak out” moment where we wonder if we’re going to make the cut. Remember this one simple rule, one that I live by, Don’t optimize for Google! Optimize for the user. If your site is built with user experience at the forefront, then you have nothing to fear. My colleague Jackie Baker has written extensively about The Best SEO Strategy is Always About Your Customers (Not Google).

Sanctuary Marketing Group is ready to assist businesses to make sure they don’t lose rankings and quality traffic on mobile searches after the change is made. Contact us at for a free consultation.

Google Mobile Friendly Update

Great search engine optimization has always been, and will always be, about your customers. If you – or the company you’ve hired to do your SEO – are getting bogged down in the intricate technical details of search optimization, focused on adapting to Google’s latest changes, or overwhelmed by the detailed (and often conflicting) must-do’s touted by many SEO experts – you are probably losing out on a lot of valuable customers. Same as you are if you’re not doing SEO at all.

Great marketing in general has always been about knowing your business and knowing your audience (the “user intent” model currently taking the Google world by storm). SEO is just one more piece of that puzzle.

Why A Customer-Focused SEO Strategy Works

When it comes down to it, your organization’s needs are pretty simple: stay in the black and maybe even get a little ahead. And it’s your customers or supporters who make that happen – not search engines.

The best SEO strategy that actually provides ROI for your business focuses on leading your ideal customer through the process from search to purchase. It looks something like this:

  • Ideal customer searches for a solution to a need.
  • Your relevant web page shows up in the search engine results for phrases describing that need.
  • Ideal customer clicks on your link because it displays the most relevant and compelling answer to the question.
  • Ideal customer reads your relevant page that shows you understand the need, offers a solution, and explains why you can meet that need better than anyone else.
  • Now convinced, ideal customer easily completes the purchase, fills out the lead form, donates, or takes the intended action you’ve clearly provided.

Notice what’s missing? The bells and whistles of an optimization strategy that over emphasizes the importance of search engine technicalities – or is only about keywords and rankings.

Rather, this model focuses on the end result. It’s about getting the right people for the right reasons – and getting them to buy.

Do note: depending on the individual buyer, the industry, the types of products and other factors, the actual buying process often takes multiple visits to a site, sometimes from different sources, and may happen over time. This is why digging deeper in analytics matters.

How the Best SEO Strategy is Practically Implemented

You are the most critical component of a successful search engine optimization strategy. You, and an SEO expert or company who can guide you through customer-focused SEO and the elements of a practical implementation that you actually need.

Your Contribution to SEO Strategy

Nobody knows your organization or your audience better than you do. Start by identifying who your best customers are, what they care about, what their needs are, and what motivates them to choose you (and not your competitors). Determine what it is you want them to do: buy a product, submit a lead form, give you an email address.

Your Digital Marketing Company’s Contribution to SEO Strategy

You know your business, audience, and products, but a great digital marketing expert knows websites, search engines, and conversion strategy. You need a firm that will:

  • Get to know your organization, products or services, and audience.
  • Research your audience’s questions, needs, and interests online.
  • Build content that is compelling and relevant for your target audience’s expressed needs.
  • Ensure your website is technically sound, easy to use, and focused on generating conversions (purchases, leads, submissions, etc).
  • Implement basic but key on-page optimization strategies to ensure your content is found for relevant searches.
  • Recognize your individual needs and doesn’t force you into a cookie-cutter mold.
  • Constantly research and analyze visitor behavior in order to improve.

Practically, this will look like constantly improving your website to make it more successful with your visitors, regularly generating new, quality content, and always analyzing how to improve.

This way, you are putting your time, money, and effort into SEO work that impacts your bottom line for the long haul and won’t be obsolete the next time Google changes its algorithms.

Let Sanctuary Guide Your Customer-Centric SEO Strategy

At Sanctuary our goal is simple – to develop and execute an internet marketing strategy that will help your business succeed online. We can partner with you from the ground up by building a new customer and conversion focused website (or refreshing your existing one), and guiding, developing, implementing, and honing your best SEO strategy. Contact us today for a free assessment and quote.

 

The Best SEO Strategy is Always About Your Customers (Not Google)
is keyword research dead?

is keyword research dead?It used to be that including keywords in tags and content was a surefire way to improve your site’s visibility in search results. However, Google is once again changing the landscape of SEO with the idea of semantic search. Instead of targeting specific keywords, the powerful search engine is now attempting to discern the context of the words and phrases that users type in when they’re looking for something.

The Rise of Semantic Search
Semantics is the science of meaning in language, and that’s exactly what Google is using to deliver the most relevant results possible based not only on keywords but also on what those words mean.

Google doesn’t just recognize words when users are searching; it also looks for patterns and makes suggestions based on similar searches. Semantics takes this a step farther to deliver results based on what a user actually wants. That means you can’t simply drop keywords into the content you create and hope that they’ll get your page noticed. You have to take into account what people are looking for and how that influences their choice of search terms.

Keyword Research: Still Necessary?
If Google is looking at context rather than individual keywords and phrases, it may seem like keyword research is a waste of time. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Keyword research is not only still important; it may be more important than ever before. (more…)

Is Keyword Research Dead?
pizza has user intent

pizza has user intentWhat’s the User Intent of “Pizza”

Long focused on technical strategies and tactics (keywords, H1 tags, page links etc) for optimizing websites, search-engine optimization experts have begun to adopt a different approach – something called User Intent. Mind you, they aren’t doing this willingly.  It’s simply a reflection of Google’s constant desire to improve search results by delivering the most relevant information based on the search query a user enters.

Type the word ‘pizza’ into Google and the top results will be information about ordering pizza from pizza shops in your
local area.  Google has started to learn that the ‘user intent’ for the word pizza is to ORDER pizza from a local restaurant.

Rather than keep only to narrow concerns such as anchor-text placements, URL-construction tactics, tailored keyword profiles and measured keyword densities, a growing number of SEO mavens are heeding the call from Google and others for high-quality content that genuinely meets the expectations and needs of consumers. The twin hammer blows of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates merely reflect an ongoing algorithmic evolution from static keywords toward the liveliness of semantic awareness and direct relevance to the intentions of visitors. (more…)

SEO: What is User Intent?
do not duplicate content

do not duplicate contentIf search engines find duplicate content on your website, they might remove its pages from the results or downgrade them to lower positions. This can cause your company to lose valuable Web traffic. While it’s true that some identical text consists of plagiarized material, many firms produce duplicate content by accident.

Headlines

One common mistake is to put the same title or heading on many different Web pages. For instance, a music store’s website might use “Shop Online” as the title tag for every product page. In addition to triggering search engine penalties, this practice can make it harder for customers to find specific pages on your website.

(more…)

What is Duplicate Content?
seo misconceptions

seo misconceptionsOptimizing your webpage for search engines is only part of the equation when it comes to boosting local visibility. If you’re using broad SEO tactics in the hopes that it will bring in more local traffic, chances are you’re making the same mistakes that many companies make based on misconceptions about how local optimization works.

1) All SEO is the Same
Traditional SEO is about ranking as high as possible for a certain keyword or set of keywords. Local SEO focuses on being visible to a target audience in and around your location. An estimated 20 percent of searches on Google are local in nature, with people searching for specific business types close to where they live. If you’re not making location part of your SEO strategy, you’re missing out.

2) I Don’t Need to Worry About Mobile Users
To say that everybody is going mobile is no exaggeration. Half of all searches are being performed on mobile devices, and people who are on the go aren’t going to be looking for businesses halfway across the country. They want to know where they can find products and services that they need without having to go far. Neglecting to incorporate a mobile-friendly site layout such as responsive design shuts out this entire segment of potential customers.

3) Overall Site Activity is All That Matters
Analytics are useful for measuring how well keywords perform for your site, but when you’re doing local SEO, looking at global data won’t give you the information you need. Zero in on where people are coming from, how many mobile searches are being done and what local keywords are drawing the most traffic to understand how to proceed in your SEO campaign. (more…)

SEO: 9 Common Misconceptions
images for SEO success

With the Super Bowl right around the corner, there’s always a ton of buzz around the commercials, of course.  Who’s going to have the best commercial, the most clever commercial, the funniest, etc.

Now imagine if those commercials were just text.  Would be pretty boring, wouldn’t it?  Would they capture your attention at all?  Would any commercials stand out from the rest of the pack?  Would you run and tell your friends about the awesome commercial you saw that had 389 words on the screen?  My guess is a resounding NO.

images are important for seo successSo why should a Super Bowl ad be any different from your site content?  After all they’re both forms of marketing, right?  You’re probably asking yourself “what’s with all the questions?  Do you work for the FBI or something?”  No, but if I did, I would interrogate you as to why you’re not taking advantage of using images as part of your content marketing strategy.  Let me make a declarative statement.  Images are important for SEO success.

Images Help Your Content Stand Out

This is no shocker, but something that too often gets overlooked.  The emphasis these days is all about creating valuable, quality content, but great content alone is not going to move the needle and set you apart from the rest of the pack.  Your content needs to be easily digestible, and great images help support that notion and take it to a higher level.

images for SEO successYou know the old phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”?  Well that applies to your site as well.  The internet has become such a visual playground, which means that incorporating images can only help your online marketing efforts.  After all, if I wanted to read a novel, I’d go to Barnes and Noble.

Most popular blog posts and landing pages tie in well placed, supporting images.  That’s because the content is more shareable and entertaining. Sites like Buzzfeed, Reddit, Digg, Pinterest, and a host of others are paving the way for how to use images to your advantage.

How To Optimize Your Images for Better Search Engine Rankings

Whether you have realized this yet or not, images can actually generate a ton of traffic to your site from Google images and other image- based search engines.  Google bots however cannot read images, so you have to tell them what the picture is about. Learning some basic ways to optimize your images will help get them indexed and score you some additional visits.  Let’s take a look at four important factors and best practices when optimizing your images.

  1. Create/submit Google image sitemap – To give Google information about the images on your site you need to update your existing sitemap or create a new sitemap and add image-specific tags.  For each URL listed in your sitemap, you can add important information about your images.  The nice thing is, you can use sitemap extensions to provide Google with exactly the right information.  For more information about adding images to your sitemap, follow these easy instructions in the Webmaster Tools Help Center.
  2. Make sure your file sizes are as small as possible – Page load times matter and are an important SEO factor.  Don’t sacrifice quality, but ensure that your images don’t bog down your site.  Use an editing program to get the desired size or consider a plugin or API like WP Smush.it to automate this process.  Should be striving for less than 70k in jpeg format.
  3. Name your image file accordingly – Pick a descriptive file name for your images.  Typically this should be something sweet and to the point.  Make it something you’d like to rank for, but don’t go over the top to make it unnatural and only keyword focused.
  4. Use good alt tags – The alt tag is part of the image HTML tag.  Give your image a description to tell what the image is about.  Should be keyword focused, but also make sure it is related to the page it is on.  Again though, don’t go keyword stuffing.

Some content management systems such as WordPress allow you to specify an alt-description when you upload an image.  See screenshot below for how easy the editing interface is.

adding alt tags to images in wordpress

The bottom line is that if you’re going to spend the time and effort (and sometimes the money) to create content for your site, take the extra five minutes to optimize your images for additional search engine benefit.  It’s like baking a cake and not icing it.  Who doesn’t want the icing on the cake?

Time for Kickoff

If you haven’t already started incorporating images into your content marketing plan, put down the chips and salsa because now is the time to do so.  Is it the most prominent factor when it comes to online marketing?  Not by a mile, but it can make the difference between your page content being good and being great.

If you’re looking for a championship caliber internet marketing team, we can help.  Feel free to contact us anytime to discuss your internet marketing goals.

Using Images for SEO Success