Why Your Keyword Research Isn’t Getting You Anywhere — Top 6 Mistakes Site Owners Make

Some keys to business success are timeless. The customer is always right. You should build solutions, not products. The best advertising doesn’t feel like advertising.

Newer on the list of business tenets is the art of SEO. Since the early 2000s, a business’s online presence has worked its way toward becoming akin to its brand reputation as a whole. There are still industries that thrive on word of mouth, radio ads, and TV commercials, but more and more individuals look to web browsers rather than billboards to find a product or service.

As in anything else business-related, there are about a million ways to get SEO wrong. Let’s cover the top six things you don’t want to do as a business site owner if you want your brand to crawl its way up the search results ladder.

You’re Putting All of Your Keyword Eggs In One Basket

Just as your high school English teacher taught you not to rely on Wikipedia as your only source of information, Google Keyword Planner, Moz Open Site Explorer, or any other analytics or SEO platform should not be your sole source of data as you’re planning content for your site.

Pull from multiple sources, and make data-driven decisions:

Basically, use the powers of Google, Moz, Alexa, and SEMrush combined. If you’re not already doing so, use an SEO-friendly platform to manage your site content. I find WordPress to be the best for this, if for no other reason than SEO plugins are abundant in the WP world. Take advantage of the complimentary SEO tools offered by a hosting provider like InMotion, too. May the search engine force be with you! 

You Suffer From Keyword Confirmation Bias

See if you can relate: You see a high-volume term and assume its context based solely on your own experience. You think of why you would be searching that phrase, and not necessarily how someone else may have a different reason or intent.

Let’s say the term you’re trying to capitalize on is “best event catering.” The implied question here is, “What’s the best catering company for events?” If you limit your answer to only apply to a portion of the asking audience, e.g., only covering parties with 50 or fewer guests, or not thinking about corporate gatherings, you run the risk of capping your keyword success. You’re essentially cutting your content, and its potential search engine success, off at the knees.

Let the search numbers (and the articles that rank, i.e., competitor research), do the talking, and don’t let your personal opinions overpower their voice. You want to answer user questions from all sides—factoring in every potential scenario and user profile.

You’re Misusing HTML Headings, Hindering the Success of Any Research

Certain HTML structure rules you just don’t mess with. You know the big ones: Each page should only have one <h1> tag, you shouldn’t haphazardly jump up and down the heading hierarchy, and to keyword stuff is to kiss your rankings goodbye.

What about the not-so-obvious stuff?

  • Mix up headings with synonyms (e.g., “top” instead of “best,” “low-cost” in lieu of “cheap”)
  • Capture more searches with eye-catching modifiers (e.g., “free”, “2017”, “for families”)
  • Don’t use heading tags for aesthetic emphasis; use bold or underline styling instead
  • Don’t only bold for emphasis; break up content with <h2>s where appropriate
  • Think of the user intent behind the search, and don’t use keywords in nonsensical contexts

In general, headings indicate the importance of the copy that follows. Your H1 is the most important; H6 tags represent the least important sections. So it makes sense that you’d want to add keywords into your headings for search purposes, and you’ll want to get your terms as close to the H1 or H2 levels as possible for the best SEO results. It’s a slippery slope to giving off a spammy vibe, though, so proceed with caution. A good rule of thumb is to focus on user experience when crafting your skeleton for your website content.

You’re Researching the Terms, Not The Topics (Write more! Write better!)

To truly rank #1 for competitive terms, you have to become an expert on the topic at hand. Don’t expect to rank with a few measly paragraphs when others have written 1,500-word dissertations on the subject (that are both easy to follow and well-cited).

Think from the perspective of your prospective customer, visitor, or reader (every one of them).

Your Heading or Anchor Text Language is Unnatural or Repetitive

Wording variation, or the use of mixed, natural language, is key in keyword research. Don’t get me wrong, keyword-rich anchor text continues to influence search rankings. However, don’t force it. Just because “women’s running shoes” has 27,100 monthly searches and is a pivotal term for your brand doesn’t mean you need to jam it into every H2 on your site and every link back to it.

Use mixed language throughout your site content, including headings, body copy, image alt text, and link anchor text. Not only does this dilute your keyword density and safeguard you from penalties, but this actually reinforces your credibility in the eyes of search engines. Google knows by now that “coffee shops” and “coffee houses,” or “best real estate agents” and “top real estate companies,” essentially mean the same thing or are at least related. No need to repeat yourself.

It doesn’t matter how buttoned up and professional you aim to come across as a brand, you want to sound human! Forcing head terms into unnatural positions in a heading or redundantly jamming competitive phrases into every link you build to your site does not a human experience make.

Your Blog or Site Lacks an Editor—Everyone Needs an Editor!

This tip seems to come up in just about every how-to or how-not-to article I write when it comes to site building, web marketing, or content in general. It’s basically the Golden Rule of content quality, though, so I’ll continue to drive the point home: Everyone needs an editor! It is impossible to be your own second set of eyes, so if you don’t have the resources to bring aboard a proofreader of some kind, at least give your content a second look-over the day after writing (before you publish).

More experts note the significance of grammar, spelling, and semantics in SEO:

Whether you’re attracting foot traffic to your brick and mortar or web traffic to your WordPress site, you have to know your audience and how to capture their attention. In the online world, attention goes hand in hand with searches. Avoid these six faux pas above, and your business will be well on its way to the top (of search results, that is).

Alexandra Leslie manages HostingAdvice.com as the Tech Vertical Manager of Digital Brands, Inc. Boasting 50+ years combined experience in various tech fields, the HostingAdvice team is the web’s leading source for information on all things web hosting.

5 Tips For Bing Ads Ecommerce Advertisers

Bing AdsAs an online retailer, how do you bring more customers to your website? Especially, customers that are ready to buy. That’s exactly the question that Mountaineer Brand asked itself just over a year ago. Selling natural handmade beard supplies such as oils, balms and shaving products, the small brother-sister team brought on an SEM agency in July 2015 to help the company reach more shoppers.

The agency immediately began search campaigns with Google AdWords and Bing Ads. Through the implementation of some new SEM strategies and high-value features, the agency helped Mountaineer Brand bring in 1,700 percent more “bearded” leads. And, on the Bing Network alone, Mountaineer brand saw a 1,500% ad spend increase, 2,300% revenue increase and 1,700% conversion increase.
Continue reading “5 Tips For Bing Ads Ecommerce Advertisers”

Social Media Mistakes Made by Business Owners

social media

Social media has been used by businesses for a long time. Nowadays, it is hard to find a business that has not shown its presence on social media. Businesses mainly use it for marketing and to advertise the business. However, not all business owners know how to manage their social media fronts. These are some of the mistakes they make while using social media in business. Continue reading “Social Media Mistakes Made by Business Owners”

Online Essentials Your Business Needs to Thrive

Business Chart Report Statistic Planning Analysis Concept

For your business to thrive, you need to constantly bring in new customers and clients. While cold-calling and traditional advertising both have their benefits, we now live in an online world – when people want something done, their first stop isn’t the Yellow Pages, it’s Google. If your small business marketing plan is going to succeed, you need to have a strong online marketing presence.

Naturally, you’re worried about both the expense and the time commitment. While online marketing can be expensive if you’re not careful, meeting the minimum requirements is an absolute must if you hope to grow your business – and it can be done in a cost-efficient way. In fact, you can take a lot of the following steps for free! Here are the online essentials your business needs to thrive in the 21st century: Continue reading “Online Essentials Your Business Needs to Thrive”

How to make sure your site is mobile friendly in a ‘mobile-first’ world

mobile marketingThe world is dynamic, and people are moving from using desktops to using the Smartphone in finding information and communicating via the Internet. In lots of countries, the number of Smartphones in use is more than personal computers. All the more reason to make your site mobile friendly. A mobile friendly site is the one that has the correct display for handheld gadgets like tablets, Smartphones, iPhones, and iPads. The site also has minimized scrolling, easy to navigate, loads faster and avoids using flash. Making you site mobile friendly makes you visible to a wider pull of mobile users since your website will be visible in the search results depending on how well you have configured it. There are three things you should know when making a website accessible by a mobile phone user. Among them is: Continue reading “How to make sure your site is mobile friendly in a ‘mobile-first’ world”

5 Little Tweaks to Boost Sales from Your Website

The internet is playing an increasingly prominent role in commerce, and research shows that digital interactions influenced retail sales to the tune of in 2015. This number will only go up, but what does this mean for your business?

According to data from Eisenberg Holdings, for every $92 the average company spends to get customers to their site, they spend just $1 to convert them. So much attention is paid to driving traffic, to getting attention, that what really matters – getting people to convert – is ignored.

If you have a website, boosting sales is no rocket science. In fact, simple little tweaks – that can sometimes take minutes to implement – can double your revenue. Here are 5 little tweaks you can implement today that are proven to give you a sales boost: Continue reading “5 Little Tweaks to Boost Sales from Your Website”

Business Startup Checklist

checklistThere are some advantages with providing web hosting to 100,000+ customers over the past 15 years. As small business owners ourselves once, we sought out to create a web hosting company that speak TRULY to those looking to create a solid website that represents the the digital home to their brand.

We’ve seen websites created that have grown from our lowest plan on a shared server, to reaching the need to use a dedicated server. We are proud of this growth – and our customers are happy that we haven’t given up on them throughout their journey.

Throughout those 15 years, we’ve gathered a checklist of processes that, if followed, help keep you and your business website fresh, relevant and optimized. Continue reading “Business Startup Checklist”

How to Build a Content Plan for Your Website

I’ve got some good news and some bad news…

The bad news is that getting your website live was the easy part. InMotion Hosting makes sure of that! The hard part is still to come…now you need to develop content for your site that will attract, engage and convert visitors into prospects and ultimately customers.

The good news is that there is a tried and true framework for developing a content plan to ensure that your site can attract qualified visitors and will engage those most likely to become customers.

In this post I’ll share this framework to help you evaluate your business and customers, and develop a strategic content plan to help you meet the needs of your target market, and in turn your own business objectives.

4 Steps to Building a Successful Content Plan

The following steps walk you through a research oriented planning process designed to build a content plan based on the needs of your target market. Rather than the usual brochureware and marketing speak we are aiming here to develop content that answers questions and helps potential customers reach a decision to buy from you. By the time you’re through with this process, you will have created a content plan designed to attract and convert the most qualified visitors to your website.

Step 1: Define the Buying Cycle in Your Business

Your business’ buying cycle in the simplest sense is the journey your customers follow in order to buy a product or service. The customer journey will be different for different industries, longer or shorter depending on the nature of the product. Generally speaking however, a buying cycle follows this basic process…

buying-cycle

The breakdown itself is simple enough to understand, the question here is what does the buying cycle in your business mean for content? Let’s take a look at the buying cycle from both a customer’s and content strategist’s perspective to tackle each stage head on.

Continue reading “How to Build a Content Plan for Your Website”

11 Ways SEO is Changing in 2015 and Beyond

seo-in-2016

As the year 2015 winds down to a close, it’s time to start looking forward to 2016 and beyond. Digital marketers and SEO professionals are always looking to the future so they can be ready for the changes that are no doubt coming. Google is constantly pursuing a better search experience. This results in changes to how they index and rank pages, resulting in changes to SEO tactics.

It’s a cycle that has been going on for years, and 2016 will be no different. New WordPress tips and SEO best practices will start emerging, but I’m here to give you the inside scoop now instead of later.

11 Emerging SEO Trends for 2016

 Google is a business like any other, they just happen to be one of the largest businesses in the world. Everyone that uses their service is a customer to them, so it’s only natural for them to constantly pursue a better experience for their users.

As you read these eleven upcoming SEO changes, keep the words user experience at the forefront of your mind. You’ll find that all of these changes make sense when viewed through that lens.

Continue reading “11 Ways SEO is Changing in 2015 and Beyond”

Introduction to WordPress

If you are new to the online world of websites and blogging, you may have heard of WordPress or even recognize the prominent ‘W’ logo. If you are one of these people and don’t know what WordPress is, this is your opportunity to learn about one of the most prevalent and accessible website platforms.

WordPress is an innovative tool that is used to build websites. You will often hear it referred to as a Content Management System (CMS). That means WordPress is an application designed to support the creation, management, publishing, editing, organizing, and deletion of website content –  all from one central dashboard.

WordPress.COM vs WordPress.ORG

Signing up with WordPress is completely free. It’s an exceptionally cost-effective way to get started on any website. However, the option many users must face is to either use the hosted platform, WordPress.com, or go with your own web hosting space using WordPress.org.

For beginners, starting with the hosted platform on WordPress.com is a good way to learn the ropes and get started. This will get you a sub-domain that is located on wordpress.com. You will have access to built-in plugins, features, and themes that are readily available on the WordPress platform. However, you are limited in that you will not be able to access or download the larger repository of free and premium plugins and themes. You will also have limited support for free themes and are restricted from modifying them. This route is suggested if you are just interested in trying out WordPress as as starter package or have a very simple 1-2 page website.

If you choose the route of downloading the WordPress software through WordPress.org you will need hosting from a web hosting company. Here at InMotion Hosting, we give you the option to have pre-installed WordPress software to go with your hosting. You will have your choice of a unique domain name, full support and access for all themes and plugins that exist on the WordPress platform. Another perk of owning your own WordPress site is that you will be able to monetize by adding advertisements to your page. The WordPress.org route is recommended for those who are past the planning stages of their website and require full customization, plugins, and business features such as ecommerce.

Why is this the best platform for any user?

1) Flexibility and ease of use

WordPress is often associated with the creation of blogging websites. However, since its founding in 2003, it has evolved to provide a comprehensive solution for any type of website. Whether it’s a business, informational, non-profit, job listing, or even corporate website, the CMS excels in providing a comprehensive list of website templates. WordPress is also able to handle all sorts of media content, from text, images, music, and video.

Examples of ways to use a WordPress Website:

  •         Merchandise / Shopping Store
  •         Photo or Image Gallery
  •         Video Collection
  •         Blog
  •         Review Site
  •         Personal Website
  •         Informative Website

WordPress caters to the needs of both novice web users as well as those who are more advanced and familiar with web development and coding (such as CSS and HTML). WordPress provides beginners with the tools they need to get a website started with minimal difficulty. Free and premium themes are available as a starting point from which you can quickly build and shape a website to match your vision.

WordPress is also completely open source, which means the code behind the WordPress system is available to the general public to use and modify- making WordPress extremely customizable. Many big name brands also use WordPress for their website. The New York Times, CNN, and People Magazine, just to name a few, are all powered by WordPress.

2) Large knowledge base

WordPress’ long standing success and continuing popularity comes with an enthusiastic user base that has created a massive repository of informational tutorials and videos that can help one use WordPress for all their website needs. With the robust, global WordPress community, the answer to any question you might have should be easy to find with a simple Google search. And if it isn’t, the active community on WordPress support forums is quick to respond and provide input.

3) Plugins!

There are 40,000 plugins and counting for WordPress!  Anything from needing something to make sure your website isn’t being flooded by spam content to making sure your website is secure from potential hackers. WordPress has plugins for optimizing your website. What about help with your website’s SEO? You know, Search Engine Optimization – the way that Google learns how to rank your website? There’s a plugin for all of that! When you use WordPress, you have thousands of plugins available at your fingertips to help you design, protect, and optimize your website for any of your needs.

4) Keeping up to date

Staying on top of updates has never been easier with WordPress. The growing popularity of WordPress has led to continuous modernization to make sure the system is always advancing. New improvements are being added all the time. Updates are hassle free and inform you what new features and functionality are being added or fixed. 

Overview

Overall, WordPress is a strong platform to get started on your website venture. WordPress has grown exponentially and has diversified to fit almost any website niche. With a vast library of themes and plugins to choose from and a very simple learning curve, WordPress continues to be the top solution for a website CMS.