Thursday, April 21, 2022

SEOOOOO

Refresh your SEO strategy with a 14-day free trial to Semrush

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It’s time for a spring refresh. So update your wardrobe with floral dresses, bring out the grills and get ready for some seasonal reading.

Contrary to popular belief, spring refreshes aren’t solely reserved for closets and activities. They’re also perfect for updating your SEO strategy to close out the first half of 2022.

Whether you’re a small businesses, freelance marketer, work in the B2B or CMO industry, or someone who is simply building a website or blog, an updated SEO strategy can completely revolutionize your impact.

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So if you’re someone who is interested in increasing your conversion rates and site efficiency, we have some good news for you —keyword giant, Semrush, is here to help.

Right now, you can unlock a 14-day free trial to Semrush and gain access to more than 50 tools to grow your online presence across a variety of marketing channels.

Why should I opt for Semrush?

At the end of the day, organic search traffic will always prove more effective than targeted ads being tossed around left and right. Plus, with the only platform that has the largest keyword database on the market of 20 billion keywords across 130 countries, you can confidently know you’re getting the best return possible.

Beyond the plethora of keywords and metrics, Semrush also offers access to various stats such as competitor optimizations, global volume, related keywords, corresponding questions toxic link monitoring and penalty recovery.

Best of all, no mattter which subscription plan you opt in for, you are guaranteed the most accurate position tracking tool due to the daily position tracking updates for all Semrush users.

Does Semrush work?

Semrush doesn’t just talk the talk, but the strategy platform also walks the walk.

Tested by 7 million professionals and relied on by 30% of Fortune 500 companies, Semrush actually works and shows results.

If you don’t believe us, take Edelweiss Bakery, the artisan bakery who decided to lean into SEO.

Within four short months, the bakery was able to increase mobil organic traffic from 171 monthly visits to 785 monthly visits, which translates to a 460% traffic increase.

Semrush hasn’t only aided Edleweiss Bakery in their traffic increase, but has also helped countless other top-rated companies get to the next level, which you can dive deeper into here.

Why Keywords Still Matter in SEO (But They Aren't Everything)

In the early days of search engine optimization (SEO), keywords were everything. Many search engines including Google relied heavily on matching keywords and phrases in a user’s search query with real pages on the web. For example, if a person searched for “hot dog restaurant,” Google’s algorithm would disproportionately favor domains and pages with the exact phrase “hot dog restaurant.”

This led to the rise and dominance of keyword research, and keyword-centric SEO strategies. Writing content and building links that contained the phrase “hot dog restaurant” could practically guarantee your ranking for the phrase — but that's not the case anymore. 

Google's algorithm update in 2013, called Hummingbird, introduced semantic search capabilities. Google started looking at the context of content, rather than just scanning for specific keywords, which required SEO and content marketing strategies to shift away from a keyword-density focus.

But that doesn't mean keywords aren't still relevant. So how can you implement the best content marketing and SEO strategy?

The importance of keywords

A keyword is defined as a search targeted word or phrase in your web content that a search engine can use to establish relevance. In modern parlance, a "head keyword" is a short, topical keyword or phrase; for example, “hot dog restaurant” could be considered a head keyword. 

By contrast, a “long-tail keyword” or “long-tail phrase” is an extended, often more conversational string of words; for example, “where to find the best hot dog restaurants in Memphis” is much longer and, as you might expect, less common.

Conducting keyword research allows you to glean three main insights:

  • New keyword options. If you’re not sure what users are searching for, or if you’re interested in discovering new opportunities for content creation, keyword research can help you generate a list of new words and phrases. 
  • Keyword search volume. You’ll also need to look up the search volume for each keyword and phrase. Volume refers to the number of people searching for this term over a period of time. 
  • Keyword competition. You’ll also be able to judge the competitiveness of each keyword term. As you know, SEO is a highly competitive field, so if you want to rank highly in results pages, you’ll need to outdo a number of competitors. 
  • Read more: 7 Reasons Why SEO Matters for Every Startup

    From there, you can choose an assortment of powerful keywords for your industry. Hypothetically, there are a few ways you can utilize those keywords:

  • Onsite core content. Most search optimizers use keywords primarily in the core content of their site. They feature their most important keywords in the title tags and meta descriptions of their main pages, and sporadically throughout the body content of the site.
  • Onsite blog posts. Even more commonly, optimizers use keywords as part of their content marketing strategy. They take keywords and phrases and build new posts around them. For example, if you’re targeting the term “hot dog restaurant,” you might write a post titled “The Best Hot Dog Restaurants in Memphis,” and include the term in H1 headers, as well as naturally throughout the text.
  • Inbound links and anchor text. It’s also possible to build inbound links using anchor text that contains your target keywords and phrases. Links are important in building the authority of your site, and it’s vital to include relevant anchor text; however, exact match anchor text may no longer be as useful as it used to be.
  • Search engine algorithms: the high-level view

    Google has always been the dominant competitor in the search engine field, and most other search engines mimic its functionality, so we’ll use it as our main example and as a stand-in for other algorithms.

    Keywords are almost exclusively used to determine relevance. If your website has many instances of the phrase “hot dog restaurant,” and lots of content about hot dog restaurant-related terms, it’s probably going to be considered appropriate for a user search about hot dog restaurants. A tech blog, no matter how trustworthy and authoritative it is, will not be considered appropriate.

    But let's ignore the “authority” part of the equation for now, and focus exclusively on the “relevance” part. Will the right keywords guarantee that your site will be considered by Google appropriately?

    The inner workings of Google's Hummingbird algorithm are somewhat secret, but the functionality is clear. Rather than taking a user’s query and looking for exact matches throughout the web, Google Search now attempts to analyze the general meaning and intent of a user query. This looks like a subtle difference, but it has some important side effects.

    Take the query “hot dog restaurant” above. Rather than looking for this exact phrase throughout the web, Google will understand that a user is looking for a restaurant that sells hot dogs, and probably nearby. It may make some assumptions and consider topic-adjacent keywords, including synonyms. 

    Related: Here We Go Again: What Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Hummingbird, Google's Latest Update

    The consequences of low-effort keyword strategies 

    Even with the presence of semantic search, keyword research and inclusion can be a valuable way to boost the visibility of your strategy. However, you need to realize that excessively or thoughtlessly using keywords can actively work against you.

    There are several tactics that could end up weakening your position, or even earning you a manual penalty, including:

  • Keyword stuffing and hiding. Including a keyword too many times in a given context is going to trigger a red flag with Google. For example, if the phrase “best burger restaurant” appears 25 times in the body of an article, it’s going to look suspicious.
  • Irrelevant or unnatural keywords. Keywords should flow naturally in the context of your article. It’s not worth bending over backward to ensure an exact match; not only is there little direct benefit, but you could also invite a penalty. 
  • Bad anchor text practices. Anchor text is a debated topic in the SEO industry. While it’s important to have some relevant text to house your links, if you use unnatural text, or if you use the same phrase in multiple links, it’s going to be seen as a red flag.
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    If you have a selection of target keywords in your SEO strategy, you need to avoid these pitfalls. It’s simply not worth the risk.

    The power of keyword-centric SEO strategies has declined over the years, thanks to the increasing sophistication of semantic search and Google’s capabilities in general. But make no mistake: Keywords and keyword research still have a place in your SEO strategy.

    Related: Should You Simply Ignore Keywords When Writing Content for SEO?

    Copyright 2022 Entrepreneur.com Inc., All rights reserved

    This article originally appeared on entrepreneur.com

    Five Tips For SEO Agencies On Setting Expectations With Their Clients

    Founder/CEO of Rankings.io, an SEO agency that helps elite personal injury law firms dominate first page rankings.

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    As an SEO agency owner, you probably know that getting clients is just half of the battle. The other half of the battle is retaining those clients.

    Joey Coleman, the author of Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days, stresses that the first 100 days are critical for each customer—they have to feel like they made a good purchasing decision; companies need to counter potential buyer’s remorse.

    One of the key ways to make each of your clients feel like they made a good decision turning to your SEO services? Set expectations early. As Robert Patin, the author of The Agency Blueprint, explains, “Unmet expectations are the root of all unhappiness. Setting expectations with your clients sets them up to feel confident throughout the process of working with you.”

    Here are five tips for SEO agencies on setting expectations with their clients.

    1. Uncover The Reasons Why Former Clients Left

    One common business practice is to run retrospectives, also known as post-mortems, to reflect on what went right and what went wrong with a particular project, with the goal of avoiding the same pitfalls in the future.

    You and your team should put together retrospectives whenever a client leaves (and retroactively run retrospectives as needed). During each retrospective, some of the factors you and your team should reflect on include:

    • What challenges you had working with that particular client

    • What challenges that client had working with you

    • Why that client left

    Whatever the reasons you uncover were behind those clients’ departures, address them in future client onboardings. For instance, let’s say you and your team conclude that a client left because they felt your SEO agency wasn’t transparent enough. You can take two steps with future clients to improve transparency: sending them monthly reports and setting up regular meetings to discuss progress. Your future clients will all start your working relationship with those two expectations.

    2. Reach A Mutual Understanding About Priorities

    It’s essential to reach a mutual understanding about priorities with all of your clients.

    If a client comes to you and says they want to rank number one for a keyword that’s only tangentially related to their business, you should have a conversation with them about why that’s not the best strategy. If a client wants you to edit their website to focus on specific keywords and requests that you follow their style guidelines—style guidelines that they haven’t formalized in a document—it’s up to you to set the expectation with them that they’ll need to give you a formal style guide so you can complete the second half of the project.

    Many clients will have an idea of what they want, but at the end of the day, they’re seeking you and your team’s SEO expertise. You should give them guidance to set them on the right SEO path.

    3. Get Clear On Deadlines And Turnaround Times

    Sometimes, clients have unrealistic expectations about turnaround times and deadlines. They might think it’s feasible to get 40 polished blog post drafts a month or revamp their entire website copy in a week.

    It’s up to you to communicate to your clients when they can expect to get their deliverables. For example, if they want 30 blog posts a quarter, you could create an editorial calendar that maps out deadlines for each blog post or set the expectation that they’ll get ten blog post drafts each month.

    Keep in mind that the client will hold you to whatever expectations on deadlines and turnaround times you set unless there are extenuating circumstances. If you realize you can’t meet a deadline or turnaround time for whatever reason, inform the client as soon as possible. And sometimes, especially in situations where you have a client on retainer, the client will suddenly want to prioritize a new project over an existing one. You should tell clients how far in advance they should give you notice if they want to shift their priorities.

    4. Show Clients How To Treat Your Time

    It’s also vital that you set expectations with your clients about your and your team’s availability.

    For example, if you set an expectation that your agency doesn’t answer emails or pick up phone calls after 5 p.m. on weekdays, your clients won’t get angry if no one responds to emails they send at night. But, if you don’t tell your clients your hours of operation at the start of their onboarding, you risk opening a can of worms. A client might call you after hours and get frustrated if you don’t pick up.

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    Also, remember that setting expectations about your availability is essentially useless if you constantly break your own rules. So, if you tell your clients that they can expect a response the next business day if they email you after 5 p.m., but you constantly email them back after hours, you’re showing them that you don’t respect your own boundaries. And if you don’t care about your boundaries, why should they?

    5. Educate Clients On When They Can Expect To See SEO Results

    SEO is not an industry where clients can see immediate results. That’s why it’s important to tell clients that it can take at least four to five months, if not longer, to see results.

    When clients understand that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, you’ll be able to nurture a better working relationship with them. You’ll be less likely to be on the receiving end of anger over not seeing overnight results. Clients will understand that you’re doing all you can to give them the best outcome; it’ll just take some time before they’ll see the payoff.

    Ultimately, many times, clients have falling outs with SEO agencies because of uncertainty. By giving them clear expectations and answers to their questions every step of the way, you’ll minimize, if not eliminate, those feelings of uncertainty and boost your SEO agency’s client retention rate.

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