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How to Perform Keyword Research

Content is King, but Keyword Research Takes the Crown

Most people are familiar with keyword research, but for those of you who don’t, keyword research is when you research various words and phrases that people may enter into search engines. Keyword research is important because these terms can help you formulate an effective content and marketing strategy. Without proper keywords, search engines won’t be able to determine what content is most relevant to the person searching. Even for those of you who are familiar with keyword research, some of you don’t know how to go about it. I am going to outline 3 basic steps that will help you implement a successful marketing strategy and get people to find your business online.

Keyword Research Step 1:

Determine the topics associated with your business and Come up with a list of keywords based on those topics

Brainstorming is the first step in any successful keyword research. By coming up with topics associated with your business, such as products and services, it will allow you to narrow down what keywords you should be considering. Once you have your main topics you want to cover, come up with a list of keywords that not only you, but your customers will be searching for. A great idea is to wear your buyer’s shoes. Take into account what they would be search for since they are the one’s you’re trying to target. A way to do this is to take a look at your buyer persona’s (given you have already done them) because that will give you a better idea as to which customers will be searching for what. You should also consider talking to other employees, customers, and even friends to determine what they would type into Google if they were trying to search for your product or service.

Keyword Research Step 2:

Look at other relevant search terms on Google and see what keywords your competition is using.

Google is your best friend in this process. Google is where you’re trying to appear so looking at Google before any other software can save you a lot of time. With those keywords you compiled in the last step, begin typing those into Google and see what comes up. This will help you determine who’s ranking for what and whether it’s your direct competition or not. If it appears some keywords may be more difficult than others and you need other ideas, scroll down to the bottom of the page and take a look at Google’s related search terms. This will help you compile a larger list and once typed into Google, analyze whether those keywords would be more effective.

Keyword Research Step 3:

Use software to help you figure out the best keywords

There are many tools out there that will help you determine keyword difficulty levels and search volume. What we like to use is Google’s Keyword Planner and SEMrush. Use these softwares to plug in various keywords and flag any terms that are too difficult to show up for or have too low of a search volume. These tools will also give you estimates on whether your business has a chance to show up for the list of keywords you compiled in the previous steps.

Final Thoughts

Once you finish step 3 and narrow your list down even more, you’re finished. Now it’s all about tackling your on-site optimization and content. Incorporate these keywords (without stuffing) throughout your SEO titles, meta-descriptions, page URLs, and content. Just remember, keywords aren’t everything. Even if you get people to your site, if your content isn’t valuable, you won’t see any return. Use your keywords and content as your yin and yang in your marketing strategy. Once you do that, nothing will be able to stop you!

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Web Design Matters—But So Does What’s Inside It

Clients often come to us for a fresh, new look. Maybe their current website is out of date. Or maybe they’re launching a web presence for the first time. Either way, they’ve come to the right place.

But I’m going to let you in on a secret. A well-designed website alone won’t change anyone’s impression of you.

Here’s the truth about selling yourself on the web (or anywhere else, for that matter): image matters. You wouldn’t show up for a job interview in a stained t-shirt and cutoffs. Or greet your interviewer with a “sup, bro?”—right? The same goes for your presence online. The way you speak—and look—matters.

That’s why all the modern web design in the world is worthless if your content—everything that goes inside the design—is crap. I’m talking about things like:

• Super-dense, jargon-filled, corporate-speak. Nobody talks about “best-in-breed enterprise turnkey process workflow management solutions” when they speak. So why write that way? Explain what you’re selling in plain English, and readers will respond.

• Text wtih speling and grammer erorrs. If you’re looking to build credibility, this is a big one to watch out for. Writing blunders reflect majorly on your business. If you can’t be bothered to spell-check, what else will you overlook?

• COPY THAT’S WAY TOO SALESY!!! Visitors know you have something to offer. So you don’t need to beat them over the head with it. If your writing reeks like a sleazy used-car salesman, readers will bolt before you can say “BUY NOW!!!!”

• Low-res, grainy, out-of-focus images. Know that saying about what a picture’s worth? The same goes for your website. Photos that look like they were taken with a cellphone say “shoddy” and “unprofessional.” And if you’re trying to sell, compelling images are worth more than just words—they can make or break sales.

Looking and sounding your best online isn’t easy. And there’s no perfect way to do it—the style you choose should reflect your business’ values and culture.

Up to the challenge? Many companies (especially those with dedicated marketing/communications teams) take the task of producing high-quality images and content upon themselves—and they excel.

Others prefer to enlist the services of a professional copywriter. They may invest in stock photos, or hire a photographer to capture the ins and outs of office life. (Oftentimes, an outsider’s perspective is exactly what you need.)

Whatever you choose, Atomic can help. We can connect you with Web writers and photographers that will take your site from good to great.

You’re investing time and money in your image, so we know you want to look your best. Think of us as the friend you can always count on to tell you when you have spinach in your teeth. We won’t steer you wrong.

Want to be sure every piece of your image is on point? Call Atomic, and we’ll make sure you’re ready to impress.

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Cut the **** — User Feedback Gone Wrong

Last weekend, I was looking for a video game to buy as a gift. I used my smartphone to open up the GameFly app. (For you non-gamers, GameFly is the biggest video game rental service around—they offer around 30,000 games for PC, consoles, and mobile.)

I didn’t find a game to order. Not because there weren’t enough to choose from. I just couldn’t get past the way GameFly was using social media within its app.

It appears that any message posted by a GameFly member (an account can be linked to Facebook or Twitter, or created in-app) is immediately published to one of the app’s front pages. At first, this seems like a great idea: helpful reviews from real-live players! Seamless user interaction! Mad excitement-building for new product releases!

And GameFly’s not alone in adding this feature. Application programming interfaces, or APIs, make it easy for apps to pull tweets, likes, and posts from other programs into their own.

But here’s the problem. There’s zero filtering of vulgar, profane, hateful comments. And trust me, there’s plenty of potty-mouthed posting going on. That means when my 7-year-old daughter opens the app and looks for an age-appropriate title, she’s assaulted with this garbage. And short of deleting the app altogether, there’s not a thing I can do about it.

For me, this was a really negative experience. But it got me thinking. As more and more companies integrate user feedback into their digital marketing strategies, brands need to be aware of what exactly their fans, followers, or users are posting—and where their words are showing up.

That’s not to say you should delete or edit user comments. (As Applebee’s recently learned, moves like these can backfire, and may make you appear untrustworthy.) But you also don’t have to give nasty commenters the spotlight. In GameFly’s case, “mature”-rated games (and their associated commentary) could be sorted into a separate menu. And smart programmers could add “safe-word” filters to weed out bad language.

I’m all for a collaborative user experience. But not when that experience is hurtful to others. Above all, companies should ensure that they’re the ones in control of their content—on social pages, apps, and everywhere else. When a 7-year old has easy access to content that would shock a 70-year-old sailor, something needs to change.

At Atomic, we want to build a great user experience—for everyone who uses our apps. We can help you create content filters and choose features that will best highlight your brand. Contact us to find out how.

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Attack of the Penguin (Update)

Google rolled out version three of its Penguin algorithm a few weeks back, and SEO folk everywhere took note. The original Penguin was released in April, and targeted sites that Google considers spam. (In contrast to last year’s Panda, which went after low-quality sites, Penguin is built to weed out violators of Google’s anti-spam guidelines.)

What’s new with Penguin 3

Victims of Penguin’s wrath include keyword-stuffed sites, link schemes (manipulation of links to or from a site), “cloaking” (showing search engines and users different content), and content that’s purposefully duplicated from other pages.

With each update, Penguin has gotten smarter. The first version of the algorithm affected 3.1 percent of sites across the web; the latest update affected just 0.3 percent, as most sneaky sites have already been sorted out.

Who cares? You might be wondering. If you’re not one of the sad content creators still trying to boost rankings the shady way, you’ve got nothing to worry about, right? Well, yes and no. If you’re following Google’s quality guidelines and aren’t doing anything clearly unethical, you shouldn’t get hit too hard. On the other hand, you could be racking up penalties unintentionally.

For example, maybe you haven’t updated your site in a while, and some of your outbound links are now defunct. Or maybe you have just one more keyword per paragraph than Penguin likes. You may not notice a huge ranking change, but you’ll pay the price.

How to fight back

What’s an upstanding SEO manager to do? Stay informed on updates like Penguin. There are plenty of plugins and software you can download to make sure you’re in the clear (I use free plugin SEOquake). Also, check out SEO news sites, blogs, and head Google spam-slayer Matt Cutts’ infamous Twitter feed.

At Atomic, we keep our clients’ websites search-friendly by running a checkup every few months using a checklist of SEO guidelines. Staying current and updating regularly saves us time in the long run—and ensures that we’re prepared for what’s ahead. That way, when the SEO gods at Google unleash their next beast (Platypus? Prairie Dog?), we’ll be ready for it.

SEO still a total mystery? Contact Atomic and we’ll help you fight off Penguin and Panda alike.

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The New Face of SEO: Life After Google’s Panda Update

In 2011, Google changed how it ranks websites in its search results. Google’s new ranking algorithm is called Google Panda, and this algorithm is intended to promote high-quality, informative websites and weed out spam-filled web pages. Marketers and business owners alike should be aware of these changes. Websites that continue to use old practices will fall in the rankings under the new guidelines and this can cause companies to lose potential customers and clients. Keep reading to find out more about life after Google’s Panda update and important new SEO practices.

No More Keyword Stuffing

The new changes penalize websites for stuffing their content with keywords. Articles need to be informative and well-written. A large number of spelling mistakes and other typos on a website can also damage its search engine ranking. Instead of trying to game the search engine system, companies should focus on creating articles that website visitors will find legitimately valuable. Keywords can still be used sparingly, but should no longer be the primary focus of any article.

Plagiarized Website Copy Can Get A Website Banned 

One of the worst things that a company can do is steal content from another website. Although this practice has been common in the past, the Google Panda algorithm specifically looks for instances of plagiarism. If a website is determined to be composed of stolen content, Google might delete the page from its search engine entirely. Companies should invest in original, well-written content for their web pages.

Relationships And Contacts Are Key

Google’s Panda algorithm wants to promote websites that are considered trustworthy and authoritative, and one of the ways Google Panda makes this determination is by counting the number of pages that link back to the original article. Companies should work on relationship building by encouraging visitors to share articles and features. By including social media buttons, websites can make it easier for visitors to share pages. Social media engagement can help boost a website’s search engine ranking and help companies with relationship building online. Marketers should make sure that every article published on their client’s website is worthy of sharing.

Fresh Content Is More Important Than Ever

Under the new search ranking guidelines, fresh, high-quality content is more important than ever. Google Panda privileges websites that are updated frequently over those that are not. Companies should make sure that their pages are not filled with stale content. Updating a website at least once a week is a good strategy. Of course, in the attempt to produce fresh content and comply with new SEO practices, website managers should not forget that all their content should be original, error-free, and informative.

Keep Ads From Cluttering The Page

Google Panda also will penalize websites for overcrowding pages with advertisements. Not only does the inclusion of too many ads make it difficult for readers to navigate a website, but will also cause the page to drop in the search engine rankings. Companies should choose ads for their websites strategically, and should make sure that any ads that are posted do not distract visitors.

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3 Blogging Basics: Why, What, and How

Most of the websites we create include blogs. We consider them a critical component of most websites and most successful SEO strategies.

However, blogging usually represents foreign territory for our clients. They’re unsure why it’s important or what they should write about. And if they’re not IT people, the whole process can seem intimidating.

For those just venturing into business blogging, here’s a basic explanation of why it’s is so darn important — and some quick tips on what to write about.

Why blog at all?

First off, there are too many websites for search engines to monitor in real time. Therefore, how often they crawl a given website depends in large part on how often new content is added.

For example, Google might crawl your website after an absence of three weeks. If new content has been added since then, Google will be more likely to return after only two weeks. And if there’s always new content, that’s a sure sign to Google that someone cares about this website. They’ll start crawling even more frequently.

Conversely, if Google never finds any new content on your site, their spiders might not return for a month or even longer. That means your site is going to do poorly in search results.

So adding new content to your site is a critical way of promoting your search rankings. And what’s the easiest place on a website to add new content? Your blog.

What in the world should I write about?

Once our clients get the importance of new content, they’re willing to start blogging. The next stumbling block? Figuring out what to write about.

Here are some fail-safe suggests.

  • Client problems and the solutions you provided
  • New developments within the company — new employees, a new office
  • Developments within the industry — Is there a new product available? What technology is pushing your industry to change?
  • Fun topics — company parties, company pets, a particularly interesting project
  • Writing specifically for keyword phrases. For example, a client of ours specializes in exterior home improvements and is interested in acquiring roofing leads. He and I created an article on energy-efficient roofing solutions, frequently linking from the article to his roofing page.

 

How do I do it?

I’m not going to belabor this point. Suffice it to say that once I sit down with a new blogger and show them the incredibly easy GUI that modern blogging platforms provide, they’re sold. They can see the parallels between Word and WordPress, and see how easy it is to make the leap.

A final suggestion

So this is the basic information I give to our clients about getting started with blogging. One final suggestion: In terms of content, don’t limit yourself —remember that nearly any content is helpful.

After all, Google learned what you’re selling the first time it crawled your site. It also probably knows 500 other websites selling the same thing. Start blogging and differentiate yourself by out-content-ing your competitors.

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Why content is still king

In our previous post, we talked about the importance of including keywords in your site structure.
What we didn’t say is that keywords mean nothing if they’re embedded in cruddy content.
By cruddy content, we mean content that’s poorly written or organized. That’s salesy or full of typos. That’s been pulled from a print publication and slapped into your site without being webified.
As web developers, we’d like to think that we can create perfect sites using clean code alone. But we can’t. It’s the content in your site that matter most. Great content helps establish you as an expert in your field. It gives customers a reason to visit your site. And it helps Google understand your site and classify it properly in search results.
Need help creating great content? Here are a few tips.

  • Unless you’re a professional writer yourself, hire one. And not just any writer – one with experience writing sites optimized for web readability and web searchability.
  • Write for your customers. Yes, your website should tell your story. But think first about your customers’ story. Who are they? Why are they visiting your site? What information do they need? If your content consistently addresses your customers’ questions and interests, you can bring them back to your site again and again.
  • Remember that size matters. To optimize search results and get Google visiting regularly, you need lots of content – and you need to update it regularly. How much content do you need? Start with at least as much as your competitors have, and go from there.
  • Don’t write for search engines. Yes, keywords are important.  But if you overload your copy with keywords, you’ll lose credibility with your readers. Plus, Google knows that trick and is so over it.

The bottom line is that customers come to your site for content. Give ‘em that, and they’ll always be happy.
Want to talk with our SEO copywriter about your content? Contact us today.