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4 Ways to Accommodate Search Engines and Your Visitors

Optimizing your website to improve your search ranking can also help you create a better website that your visitors will enjoy. Here are our top four ways your optimization efforts can win over search engines AND your visitors.

1. Include search terms.

Search engines
will use the search terms throughout your site as a good indication of what your website is about and rank it accordingly.

Your visitors
will see your website closer to the top of search results so it will be easier to find.

2. Add your company name to your website header.

Search engines
look at your website header as an important description of your site’s subject matter and they’ll display your site when a search is calling for that topic.

Your visitors should know exactly what your website is about at first sight. Write your company name and add your tagline to further explain your business.

3. Make updates whenever you can.

Search engines
notice frequently updated websites first, which could improve your search rankings.

Your visitors
will appreciate seeing fresh content and will be more likely to check back often to see your updates.

4. Describe your images and videos.

Search engines
will use your text to determine your relevancy to searches. The more text you add to your website, the better.

Your visitors
will like that you’re providing details and telling your story.

Enjoy the process and do a little bit at a time to make sure you cover all of your bases. And remember, your primary audience is your site visitors, so cater to their needs first.

Digital Marketing Dictionary

We get it — when it comes to getting listed online, the process can be overwhelming. The first step is understanding what terms such as “local search” and “organic search” mean, and how they relate to your site.


Key Terms

Local Search
: The basic definition revolves around geography. Results are displayed when a potential customer searches online for a product or service within a specific geographic location. For example, if you type “landscaping, Boston” into Google, Yahoo orYelp, it will return Local Search results for landscaping businesses in Boston.

Social Media: According to Merriam-Webster, Social Media includes “forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).” Whether or not you use Social Media in your personal life, utilizing it as a marketing tool for your business can have big benefits. Popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter make it easy to engage with existing customers and connect with new ones.

Organic Search: The original type of results in a search engine that include a list of websites. Major search engines such as Google evaluate websites based on credibility and relevancy so that searchers find the best matches for their search.

Search Engine Optimization: Otherwise known as SEO, it is the process of optimizing your website so it shows up in organic search. One specific way to do this is to think about various keywords that you use within your content.

Keywords: Think for a moment about what words you type in to your preferred search engine when you’re looking for something specific. For instance, if you were searching online for a restaurant that served a particular dish, but you couldn’t recall the name of the restaurant, you would likely type in keywords such as your location, the dish’s name, or perhaps even the main elements of the dish.

Paid Search: Results are advertisements or "sponsored links" in search engines that businesses can purchase from sites such as Google. Paid Search is a useful form of online marketing for some businesses because one can see results immediately, however, unlike other more gradual types of online marketing, it does cost money.
 
Over the next few months, we’ll be posting specific content about how you can utilize these key digital marketing terms. Can’t wait for the post? Keep in mind that we have an extensive Online Guide that can be found on your dashboard!

Search Engine Optimization and Google Webmaster Tools

 
 
A few weeks ago, I posted some information about a new tool we added to the website builder: a Meta Tag editor.  This may be new to many of you and you might be asking yourself some questions like, what are meta tags, what is Google Site Verification and how do I set it up?  Or, how does this work with the Vistaprint Search Engine Optimizer (SEO)? 
 
What are meta tags?

Meta tags are HTML codes that are inserted into the header of a webpage.  These tags are never seen by visitors to your site.  Instead, their main purpose is to provide search engines with information about your website.  This helps search engines recognize and rank your website.  
 
What is Google Site Verification and how do I set it up?
 
Google Site Verification is basically a way for Google to know that you own your site.  They will provide you with a meta tag to put in the header of your site so they can pick it up through their search engine, helping improve your visibility.  Once enabled, Google Site Verification and Google Webmaster Tools allow you to understand how people are accessing your site and what they are searching for.  Follow these easy steps to setup Google Site Verification for your website:
 
1. First, you’ll have to set up an account with Google.  If you already have something like Gmail, you’re all set.
2. Go to Google Webmaster Tools and sign in using your Google account.
3. Once you’re signed in to the tools, click “Add a site.”
4. Enter your website URL and press continue.
 
             
5. On the next page, choose “Add a meta tag to your site’s home page.”  Google will provide you with a meta tag.  
 
6. Open up your Vistaprint Website Builder in a separate window and choose the “Add Meta Tags” extra. Paste the meta tag Google provided you here.
7. Publish your website.
8. Once published, go back to the Google Webmaster screen and click “Verify.”
9. Once verified, you’ll be directed to your Google Webmaster dashboard, where you can access information about your site.

How does this work with Search Engine Optimization?
 
Google Webmaster’s dashboard provides specific information about your site, including significant keywords and search queries.  Basically, they’re telling you what keywords you have on your site and how people are finding you.  These are great pieces of information but don’t give you full details about your website optimization.  Using SEO with what you’ve learned from Google Webmaster can really benefit your site. 
 
SEO provides you with a report card that has specific rankings for each area of your site, including website name, links, images, and each individual page.  In addition, SEO shows how optimized your website is for specific search terms and keywords on your site (for more information, refer to our Vistaprint Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) post).  With the keyword and search term information from Google, you can receive a real time score about how well your site is doing with SEO.  Google may be saying what keywords are significant, but it may not mean each individual portion of your site is fully optimized for these.  That’s where SEO comes into play; it tells you where to optimize and provides fixes/tips on how to do it.  Using both of these tools together will help grow your site and company’s visibility through search engines.
 
We hope you like this new addition, please feel free to share any experiences you have and any questions you have.
 

Long Tail Keywords and Your SEO Campaign

 
Search engine marketing is one of the fastest growing forms of marketing for companies.  Experts predict that spend on search engine marketing will double in the U.S from $13 billion to $26 billion by 2014 (WordStream.com).  Tons of companies are expected to continue to use this form of marketing to reach out to potential customers.  In this growing competitive space, targeting the correct keywords is the foundation of your SEO campaign.    
 
Everyone in the market today is trying to compete for similar keywords.  Barbers are competing for “barbershop,” landscapers are fighting for “landscaping”, and florists are using “flowers,” you get the idea.  These keywords are great and useful to target, but it’ll be difficult for you to show up on Page 1 if a bunch of other companies in your industry are also targeting the same keywords.
 
For small businesses, researching keywords related to your company is important to make your business standout through SEO.  Through your research, keywords
that are beneficial to your company have a combination of these qualities:
 
  • Describe of your business 
  • Consistently searched by potential customers through search engines a lot
  • Have small number of search results in search engines
 
These keywords are known as “long tailed keywords” and account for 70% of the world’s searches through search engines.  So, as opposed to just targeting individual keywords that comprise 30% of searches, target specific groups of words using the characteristics to strengthen your SEO campaign. For example if you’re a residential landscaper, in addition to targeting the word landscaping, you may also target long tail expressions like “landscaper for local homes” or “landscaping for homeowners.”
 
Many companies are turning towards search engines to grow their businesses and there is no indication of this trend slowing down.  With a number of companies competing for similar keywords, it is important to research long tailed keywords that your customers are searching for.  Positioning your SEO campaign around long tailed keywords is important to the success of search engine marketing. 
 
Have you thought about "long tail keywords" before? I look forward to hearing your thoughts on SEO and the strategies you use or are thinking about using.
 
Happy New Year and all the best for an awesome 2011!

Secrets of Organic Search

 
 
 
Showing up as the number one position for a search term is a potential gold mine for micro businesses.  More than likely the user that performed that search is going to click on the number one listing. Why? Because it’s the first listing they see and they know the search engine believes it to be the most relevant site for their search. Based on leaked AOL data a few years ago the first listing is likely to have 3.5 times more clicks that the No. 2 position, and being No. 2  isn’t bad!

So what’s the secret to ranking number one? You can’t just pay to have your site show up, even in the paid listings search engines need to deem your site relevant and worthy before they will serve it. We know “content is king” and that optimizing your title and URL are important parts of organic search, but everyone can create a URL that’s at least somewhat relevant and optimize their title tags for searches. You want to know the trick, the secret, the special combination that will boost your site to the top?

Make your site for the user and the rest will follow, it’s that simple. It’s a broad answer you’ve probably heard before from Google’s head of Webspam Matt Cutts. We tend to think of this answer as a copout, expecting insight to the Google algorithm or specific details on how we can alter our code to improve rankings, but one should really heed Matt Cutts’ advice. Google and other search engines will always try and do what’s best for the user. So if your site is optimized for the user, chances are that your site will eventually rank well for your targeted keywords.

Yes there are certain structural improvements you can perform allowing spiders to crawl your site with more ease, but when it comes down to it there is still no better form of marketing than word of “web”.  If people enjoy your site they will share it with others and so on and so forth.  A webmaster shouldn’t be too concerned about building their site around spiders. By building a site around the user you’re also building the site around the spider.

Yes, I understand that in the end it might not be the answer you’re looking for, but in the end, it’s the most effective one.
 
What do yo think about organic search? Looking forward to recieving your comments.  

Paid vs Organic Search

 
 
Both paid search and organic search are valuable tools to help your business get found online, and it’s important to understand the difference between the two.   
 
Paid search describes the ads that are displayed on the top and the right sidebar of the search engine results page. 
 
As indicated by its name, paid search is a service that you will pay for.  This is most commonly done on a CPC (cost per click) basis.  As the advertiser, you bid on the keywords that apply to your site, and you set your maximum willingness to spend per click, per day, and per month.  The search engine uses this information, along with the relevancy of your ad, to determine if and where you will be placed on the results page.  Obviously the more you’re willing to pay, the
higher you will be placed on relevant
searches. 
 
To ensure relevancy, you need to make sure that your ad specifically applies to your landing page (your website).   In order to do this, the content (the written description) on your website should reflect the information that you’re calling out in your advertisement.   In conjunction to relevancy, you also need to make sure your ad is appealing and competitive.  It’s usually a good idea to check out your competitor’s ad copies (by searching for the keyword you’re interested in bidding on) to make sure your offers are competitive and compelling.  You always want to do some research before investing!  Paid search can become expensive if you’re bidding on high traffic keywords, so make sure you bid within your means. 
 
The organic listings are the main, larger listings that take up the remainder of the page.  These are the results that no one pays for, but are driven organically through the search engine.  You don’t pay to appear on this list, but there are a few tricks to making your site rank higher on specific keywords. 
 
Ultimately, search engines like to please the user, so they put the sites with the most relevance to the search query at the top.  In order to make your site more relevant to specific keywords, you’ll need to boost the content on your website to highlight and describe those keywords.  In addition to boosting the content, it’s important to keep the content up to date.  
 
Additionally, it will benefit your site’s rankings to have the title tags of your pages reflect the relevant and high search volume keywords.  You can use Google’s Keyword Tool to determine the most high volume keywords within your product/services scope. 
 
Another way to really improve your organic rankings is to acquire quality, natural links (when another website places a link to your site on their page).  This shows the search engine that your site is popular among the online community, and thus more likely to please the user.  You can build links by promoting your site and creating viral content that will naturally spread. 
   
Ultimately, your goal as an advertiser is to make your business visible in the top paid and organic spots for the keywords (search queries) that apply to the goods or services that your business provides.  This would put you at the top of the page in two different locations, giving you a greater share of the search engine results page.  Historical data has continually proven that it’s most advantageous for the advertiser to acquire these positions to increase their session count (clicks), and ultimately their exposure. 
 
You can learn more about search engine optimization by clicking on the category on the left or by clicking on the link here. Are you using paid search or an organic strategy? We wold love to hear from you.

Strong Search Terms Using Google’s Insights for Search Tool

 
 
Choosing your website’s search terms is an important part of building your website and optimizing the content for search engines.  You want to be found and ultimately come up in searches for specific terms and
keywords, but what should you choose and how do you know what’s working?
 
 
There are many ways to determine what search terms you should use for your business, but one very powerful tool is Google’s Free Insights for Search tool. The Insights for Search tool helps you determine the most powerful search terms related to your business by looking at search volume across specific regions, categories, time frames and sites . Once you’ve chosen your search terms, don’t forget to use them in context of your location (if you are a local business). For example, don’t just write about “backyard landscaping”; write about “backyard landscaping in Lexington, MA”.
 
Setting up Insights for Search
 
Using Google’s Insights for Search tool is pretty straightforward. Once you go to www.google.com/insights/search, enter a search term related to your business. For example, if your business provides landscaping services, try “Landscaping”. If your business is a bakery, try “cupcakes” or “bakery.”  If you want to narrow your results to searches in your area, you can specify your location. If you want to narrow your results to searches in a specific time period, you can select a date. In my example, I used “Landscaping” as my search term, and filtered by results in the United States for the last 12 months.
 
 
Once you’ve specified your search terms and filters, click Search.  Your results should show you data on that search term over time. If you get the message “Not enough search volume to show results,” try expanding your filters to be less specific (for example, don’t specify region beyond country, and set your time filter to 12 months).
 
Interpreting your Results

Google will give you data on Interest over Time, Regional Interest, Top Searches, and Rising Searches. For the purposes of choosing search terms, focus on Top Searches and Rising Searches. 

 
 
Top Searches refers to the search terms with the most significant level of interest, related to the search term and filters you entered. In my example above, I used “landscaping” as my search term. The results tell me that “landscaping ideas,” “landscape,” “landscaping design” and “backyard landscaping” are common phrases that people search for most in Google (related to the term “landscaping”). For my landscaping website, I could now decide to have a page on my site all about “landscaping ideas” so people find my website in search listings. Once they got to my website to read about landscaping ideas, they could see the services I offer and decide to call me. Alternatively, I could make sure to include the phrase “backyard landscaping” quite a bit in the text of my site, because I now know that is a common phrase people are searching for.
 
Rising Searches are a little bit different from Top Searches. Rising Searches are searches that have experienced significant growth in a given time period. In my example, although “grasses for landscaping” is not always a very popular search term, recently a lot of people have been searching for that phrase. By incorporating Rising Searches into your website’s text, you have a unique opportunity to get ahead of your competition by using the most recent and accurate related search terms.
 
Wrap Up

Choosing your website’s search terms and incorporating them onto your site is an important part of marketing your business online with a website. Google’s free Insights for Search tool is a great way to help you determine the most powerful search terms for your business. And don’t forget – if you’re a local business, be sure to use your search terms in context of your location.

Small Business Guide on How to Use Search Terms to Improve SEO

 
 
Recently, I wrote an article on the best practices for Search Engine Optimization in Search Engine
Optimization Guide for Small Businesses. The article talked about 4 components that are essential to making your website Search Engine Optimized (SEO). I covered the first component - making a spider friendly site – in my article Small Business Guide to Making a Spider Friendly Site for SEO. Today, I’ll discuss the second SEO component: Search Terms. In this article, I’ll cover what Search Terms are, why they’re important, and how to choose them.
 
 
What are Search Terms?
 
Search Terms are the words or phrases that a user might search for to find a website selling the products or services they are interested in.   When optimizing your site, you should choose a few search terms (start with 2-4) to focus your website content around.
 
 
Why and How should I use Search Terms on my website?
 
By incorporating relevant Search Terms throughout your website, search engines know to display your site towards the top of the results page for those Search Terms.  You should try to incorporate each of your search terms a few times on each page. Also, don’t just include them in the plain text of your site; add them to the headers, page names, image descriptions, and page descriptions to get additional value. Make sure that you don’t overdo it though; search engines can tell when people are trying to cheat the system by writing one search term 50 times just to improve your ranking.
 
How do I choose my Search Terms?
 
When choosing your search terms, try to pick just a few to focus on (three is a good starting place). Think of all the possible terms your potential customers would search for, and make a list. If you’re a hair salon in Baltimore that specializes in hair extensions, try “hair extensions Baltimore”. If you’re a landscaper that focuses on gardens in Ft Lauderdale, try “garden design Ft Lauderdale”.  Some things to consider when choosing your search terms:
 
1. Don’t use Search Terms that are too broad, like “cakes”, as they will be too competitive and you won’t show up
 
2. Don’t use Search Terms that are too specific, like “cake decorator specializing in funky kid designs”, because it is less likely that anyone is searching for that phrase.
 
3. If you’re a local business, include your location in context with your keywords.  Using “cakes” as the example, something like “Cake decorator Lexington” would be a great search term to use. The locations doesn’t have to be used right next to your search term in your website text (“cake decorator Lexington”), but it should be close (“Our company provides excellent Cake Decorating services in Lexington”).
 
4. If your business carries specific brands that your customers may be looking for, include those brand names in your Search Term list.
 
5. Use a free tool like Google’s Insights for Search to get more ideas on Search Terms to use.
 
To conclude
 
Including strong, relevant search terms throughout your site is a very important part of Search Engine Optimization. Make sure to consider carefully which terms you’d like to use on your site and to incorporate them frequently. Before your know it, you’ll be driving more quality traffic to your site!

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